In 2020, Thandiwe performed his poetry at Atlantic Canada’s largest literary event: Frye Festival and UNB’s 2020 Art Centre exhibit: Rediscovering the Roots of Black New Brunswickers. As a community advocate, he co-founded the New Brunswick Black Artists Alliance and helped republish the history book, The Blacks of New Brunswick. Thandiwe’s work has also been published in AfriCANthology: Perspectives of Black Canadian Poets.
Thandiwe lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick and his new memoir, Social Oblivion: Raised Black in Canada is available on Amazon.
As a child, Thandiwe loved words, “I only recently started writing prose and poetry in 2019. But as a child, I loved reading. I kept a journal in my teenage years to keep my thoughts straight. My birthday is February 9th, and every year white people would constantly ask me how I was celebrating Black history. I never had a response from them but felt like I had to.”
This expectation made Thandiwe depressed, “This caused me to have an annual depression every February. Not knowing how to celebrate myself when the world kept telling me that I should be celebrating my Blackness when all I knew was how to celebrate myself. It felt wrong to be me in February because I could never articulate the part of myself everyone was so focused on. This led to my journaling turning into poetry and essays that I began to share on free platforms like medium and open mic nights.”
Not only does Thandiwe write and create works himself, but he also founded the New Brunswick Black Artist Alliance to help other Black artists whose work has been cast aside.
“In the province of New Brunswick, Black art is constantly looked over, erased, and even disrespected. Across all disciplines, including music, the work a creative Black New Brunswicker has to put in to turn their creativity into a career is immense compared to other provinces. This has left many Black artists feeling that they are not worthy of the heights of creativity that other white artists receive casually and constantly.”
“The New Brunswick Black Artists Alliance is a professional multidisciplinary art non-profit dedicated to changing this narrative. We’ve had several professional art shows where artists have sold their artwork, put on large events, and are collaborating with other organizations to constantly recruit and re-energize the Black artist scene in the province.”
Thandiwe recently published his memoir, Social Oblivion: Raised Black in Canada, after worrying his family’s history would be erased like those of other Black folks. “Upon learning that I was a 7th generation Black New Brunswicker, where most of my history was erased, I decided to make sure my family would not be forgotten. To keep a record of the racism and ignorance my family and I faced in this province. I will not pass from this world without leaving the next generation of Black New Brunswickers in the 9th, 10th, and 15th generation with words to let them know what problems are still around; what hasn’t changed. My time in the public education system was a nightmare that to this day I still do not understand.”
“Social Oblivion: Raised Black in Canada speaks to things deeper than racism. It explores a topic fundamental to all New Brunswick communities, which is family values and treating others how you would like to be treated. New Brunswick has many problems. My book sheds light on some reasons why our next generation must have stronger characters and the courage to build a better world.”
Thandiwe hopes that his memoir will teach others “to start treating each other as family. To treat other people’s children with respect and to be role models for the next generation, so they don't run away from the places they are born and stay to create the worlds they want to live in.”