In Conversation: Mbali Sebokedi’s Take on African Literature & Make-Up

Mbali Sebokedi, better known as ‘Flowahh’ by her Instagram followers, is a Masters canditat‘bookstagrammer’ who writes book reviews and matches each book with a make-up looks under the hashtag #booksaslewks. Her perfectly curated page is filled African/Black literature prioritizing women and LGBTQIA+ writers, with her top genres being Speculative Fiction, Historical Fiction and Domestic Fiction. We had the pleasure of soaking in her warm, bubbly personality while she spoke about staying true to her love for reading, as well as #booksaslewks.

Which book changed your life? Did you feel as though you were represented?

I cannot mention one book because there has just been so much to consume, but I will just mention four:

Under The Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta.

Waterbirds on the Lakeshore edited by ZukisaWanner

The Quiet Violence of Dreams by K. Sello Duiker

Collective Amnesia by Koleka Putuma 

Do you have a favourite author you would love to meet?  Why? Tell us more about them?

I am so shy, I would not want to embarrass myself, so I am okay with fangirling from a distance but if fortune favoured me, I would love to meet Mohale Mashigo who is the author of The Yearning and Intruders, Koleka Putuma, who is the author of Collective Amnesia and Hullo Bu-Bye Koko Come In.

If you were to read literature from one African country forever, which country would it be?

This is a life-or-death question. I enjoy so much of African literature I am not too sure, but it is a tie between South Africa and Nigeria and Uganda. I am not too sure what they feed Nigerian people, but they can write. God bless their souls. At the same time, I am just so excited for the new direction South African writers are taking in their work. I think about Ugandan literature deeply. I think I just want to read at the end of the day. I would die for African literature.

Books are embodiments of love. Do you consider reading to a loved one or your partner a serious act of love? Do you at least enjoy being read to?

That is such a cute question. I am aware that some book lovers want to be with other book lovers in their lives, but reading has always been such a personal endeavour for me. There are moments where I just stop and re-tell my partner the most thrilling parts of a book, but that usually only happens when I have finished a read. Maybe in the near future when I have children, I will make it an active decision of love to read to them.

If you were sit down and write a book, what themes would your book touch on?

That is a question a lot of people like asking me because I obviously read a lot and study literature. Funny enough, I have never imagined myself writing a book, but if push comes to shove, I will probably write an academic book about women in literature. So, I would write about Buchi Emecheta, Flo Nwapa, all the way up to now with Jennifer Makumbi and Mohale Mashigo. I would just love to detail the story of when women writers emerged in their countries.

What book would you die to see turned into a movie or theatre production?

There is this book called, Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James.  It is a planned trilogy. The novel draws on African history and mythology, blended into the landscape of the North Kingdom and South Kingdom and the political tensions between these two military states, as well as various city-states and tribes in the surrounding landscapes. That book felt like a fever dream!! I heard recently that the rights to produce a film adaptation for this book have been purchased by Michael B. Jordan, so maybe in the near future my dream will come true.

Do you read multiple books at a time?

In my previous years I used to read one book at a time, but in just this year I have found myself picking at different books all at once. I use Goodreads to keep track of what I am reading and what I want to read next. I will not be surprised though if it says I am reading 5 different books now.

Follow @flowahh_ on IG.

Written by: Ntsako Mlambo

Between 10 and 5