As part of our collab with The Flamboyance Clique, we spoke to one of the event speakers, Jowhari Trahan. The Delightful Budtime Matinee meet took place this last Saturday on the 8th. See a gallery on the event here.
Jowhari, an international art curator and what we’ll sum up as a multi-talented creative, has been back and forth between the States and South Africa since 2015. While she obviously wears many many hats, she admits that she is not one for titles. She says, “I’m not into titles, I move around a lot in the creative space. I’ve written a book, I do artist management, I do a lot. I live. Where we from, you better do a lot because you gon die one day, you’ve gotta live.”
In 2019, Jowhari breathed life into one of the many passion pies she has her fingers in, ArtLit. “ArtLit is a movement that bridges the gap between ART and LITerature. I brought 5 artists from the US here, and not on government money, I just figured it out. Our purpose was to interpret South African literature through art. People don’t really see writing as an art form, but it is. It’s also a game of perspective, I read and interpret things differently because of where I’m from and that is likely different from your interpretation. Most of the artists had never came to Africa at all and they were able to experience a bit of it here in South Africa. I was supposed to take artists from the Northern Cape back to the US but then COVID happened,” she explains.
After COVID, Jowhari moved to SA, got married and then divorced. “It was all happening almost at the same time, but I had created a solid network here and I decided to stayed.”
WELCOME TO AFRICA: A WELCOME TRANSITION
The irony of life is how often you’ll find tweets of people wanting to leave South Africa permanently because so much is happening. But for Jowhari, it’s not as bleak an outlook on life here. “Economically it’s good here, believe it or not. It’s safer here compared to the States as well.” Jowhari now lives her with youngest son who was 13 when they first moved down here. “Taking a child from their friends and telling them boom this is your new life, it’s not always the easiest thing for both parties. I have two older boys who are 27 and 24, so naturally, it’s been just him and I for a while. I mean there were bad days when he hated me and I would be like we’re all we got, you want to go eat? But he has acclimated really well. It took him about a year to make friends because he was attending school online, but him being able to play baseball has been a great tool of transition for him, because it’s something ‘American’ that he can hold onto. Now he moves around so much!”
We have a good chuckle about how she could call him and he’ll say ‘I’m at Alex mall’ and she’d respond, ‘Alex got a mall?’ “I know my way around Alex but until he told me, I didn’t even know Alex had a mall! He’s doing fine now.”
On the day we spoke, she was taking him driving. One hopes it wasn’t a disaster keeping left and passing right… Just a tease!
THE FLAMBOYANCE CLIQUE EVENT: Flamingling and speaking on all things women
So we do eventually get to the very thing that brought us together. Jowhari was a speaker at The Flamboyance Clique’s Delightful Budtime Matinee event held on the 8th of October in Witbank. “The event was amazing, it was awesome.”
She and the social group’s co-founder Nompumelelo Mondlane met on Instagram, to the best of her memory anyway. “I think it was pictures, her liking my pictures or me liking hers. I do a podcast as well with my sister back home, it’s called SistHER Tales. On it we tell stories on life. I’m 44, Precious is 32 I think, so the perspective is totally different. I’m big on women loving themselves first. As women we have to pour into ourselves first. You shouldn’t wait for a man, whoever he is to come and create your world. Teach yourself how to eat first, and when he comes, he’ll just add flavour to your world. A lot of times on the podcast we’d talk about things like that. I actually told my wedding or marriage story on SistHER Tales and I think Nompumelelo may have listened to that and that kind of hit,” she shares.
Now very chilled on that previously terrifying experience, she says “I went through a lot! Black magic or whatever, is everywhere. We were dealing with some stuff and I was asking him questions like hey, this feels like somebody dancing backwards, are you okay? Everything they say happens, happens. Stuff flying into the car, the brakes not working. It was just a lot okay?!”
It’s typically uncharted territory being all alone in a foreign country. “It’s still scary sometimes, just thinking I’m here by myself.” Even though she’s been here back and forth since 2015, the only person she’d dealt with and actually knew was the one she eventually married. “The disaster”, she goofs. “But, it’s my responsibility, I talk about responsibility a lot. As women, it’s our responsibility to encourage and to uplift each other. Even if it means I have to open myself up for you to get it, then I’ve done my part.”
Before she shares the podcast link with me, Jowhari jokes “we talk kinda bad because that’s who we are.” Although her experiences, which you can learn all about on the SistHER Tales podcast, were hardcore, she’s able to laugh about it. We’re quickly learning that Jowhari will laugh about a lot of things chile!
THE WORLD IS HAPPENING, GO SEE FOR YOURSELF
Jowhari encourages people, especially South Africans to travel. “I tell people all the time, you’ve got to travel. SA is an amazing place but you gotta leave! You can come back. Apply for the research, make a plan, even if it’s a year from now. Because the world is happening, and we can only live through social media so far, go see for yourself. And it doesn’t even matter when or where you go. If you go somewhere during off peak time where it’s just three people there or in the winter, guess what your story is? It’s very cold in Ireland, I know because I was there. The bottom line is you went.”
“I died. It wasn’t until my phone reminded me of old pictures that I took that I realised I was walking dead. The pictures were nice and I was still semi-feel good but I looked so sad in the face. My family would call me and ask if I was okay, because they could see I really wasn’t; our eyes don’t ever lie. I think on that day of the reminder I had the same shirt on. When I looked at myself, I wasn’t sad anymore and I was like this is the resurrection.”
Jowhari articulated her restoration to life with grace and wrote this fabulously amazing piece titled The Resurrection, YOU HAVE TO CHECK IT OUT.