FRESH Ayers: Stephanie Urdang - "Mapping My Way Home"

Saturday, February 24, 2018 - 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Stephanie Urdang

"I love Stephanie Urdang’s writing. She brought me right in from the first chapter. She makes nonfiction feel like the kind of fictional novel I don’t want to put down." Ellen Friedland, documentary filmmaker, Delicious Peace

Stephanie Urdang discusses her new memoir Mapping My Way Home: Activism, Nostalgia, and the Downfall of Apartheid South Africa. She will be joined in conversation by Bill Ayers

At 57th Street Books

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About the book: Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Urdang learned to hate the apartheid regime from her socialist parents. At the age of twenty-three, no longer able to tolerate its grotesque iniquities, she chose self-exile and emigrated to the United States. From the perspective of an anti-apartheid activist, a feminist and journalist, she tracked and wrote about the slow, inexorable demise of apartheid, as well as the victory over Portuguese colonialism in Africa. She trekked through the liberated zones of Guinea-Bissau; returned repeatedly to newly independent Mozambique where she witnessed the impact of the conflict fomented by South Africa against its neighbor; and participated in the vibrant divestment movement in the United States.

Urdang’s memoir maps out her quest for the meaning of home, as she grapples with the power of nostalgia, and for the lived reality of revolution with empathy, courage, and a keen eye for historical and geographic detail. This is a personal narrative, beautifully told, of a journey traveled by an indefatigable exile who, while yearning for home, continues to question where, as a citizen of both South Africa and the United States, she belongs. “My South Africa!” she writes, on her return in 1991, after the release of Nelson Mandela, “How could I have imagined for one instant that I could return to its beauty, and not its pain?”

About the author: Stephanie J. Urdang was born in South Africa and lives in the US. She is the author of two books on Africa including And Still They Dance: Women, War and the Struggle for Change in Mozambique, as well as articles in magazines, newspapers and academic publications. She has worked variously as an anti-apartheid and women’s movement activist, a journalist and writer, with a focus on Africa. She was the senior advisor on Gender and HIV/AIDS for UNIFEM, the United Nations women’s organization, and worked as a consultant on gender equality and development for the United Nations over three decades. Her memoir, Mapping My Way Home: Activism, Nostalgia, and the Downfall of Apartheid South Africa was published in November, 2017. 

About Bill Ayers: Bill Ayers is a social justice activist, teacher, Distinguished Professor of Education (retired) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of two memoirs, Fugitive Days and Public Enemy.

Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E 57th St
Chicago 60637