by Lerato Dumse
Apart from reading about it, and maybe seeing them in movies, the first time I attended a book launch in which I feature amongst many black lesbians and transgender individuals was on November 7, 2014 held at Market Photo Workshop (MPW), in Newtown.
Johannesburg was the proud host of the first instalment of the African launches, of Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases (2006-14) book.
I was filled with excitement, pride, enthusiasm, fear and worry (amongst other emotions) when I was requested by Muholi to start planning and organising the book launch.
Apart from the home alone birthday party I threw for myself when I turned 17 (which had a guest list of less than twenty people), I had no other event organising experience.
Fortunately, I had help from Bandile Gumbi, one of the staff members at MPW who assisted together with other staff members and students.
The first thought that came to my mind when I heard it was going to be an outdoor setting, was rain.
So when I was praying and asking for higher power to make the day a success, I asked the heavens to halt the rain, which was pouring hard during that week.
Coordinating with transport organisers, and inviting guests was top priority.
Muholi emphasized that I should understand that the launch is mainly for the participants, meaning those who are featuring in the newly produced African Lesbian/Trans Bible (photo book).
Inkanyiso/Zanele Muholi had two events on the same day, that I was working on.
The first part was the photo exhibition at Aurora Girls High School (which is part of Muholi’s social responsibility), in Soweto, which happened during the day, followed by the book launch at night.
Having worked non-stop prior to the event, all I wanted was for 8 November to arrive, as that would mean the events have passed successfully.
I was also anxious about disappointing people who had put their faith in me, especially Muholi.
Working without knowing the budget was hard, having a budget is very important, as it guides you.
Being on the phone for hours on end communicating with different people, gave me a ‘new’ found respect for dedicated individuals who are working at call centres.
When the time came and I saw people entering and filling up the open space at MPW parking lot was exciting, including those who were not part of the 17 taxis (from various Gauteng townships) organised to transport people to the event.
For a change I was not Lerato Dumse the journalist, and probably for the first time, I didn’t even touch my notebook.
I remember hearing speeches and thinking this is supposed to be my climax of the event, the time when I write what the keynote speaker was saying.
Instead I was going around picking up trash and cans, dashing out to get more ice, to ensure drinks are served cold, running inside to get copies of the book to be distributed to those who are featuring.
Having an event comes with its own challenges. Some of the shortcomings I encountered where the transport money was concerned. People took chances in an effort to get more money.
Together with the missing wine glasses, which I still fail to understand why someone would take something that clearly doesn’t belong to them. I mean we had no breakages, just missing glasses.
I heard someone comment about how the event was like a mini pride and a reunion of some sort. While another person was happy that there were no fights.
With my new experience (as a Public Relations consultant) I hope to better myself going forward, and looking forward to more launches.