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Here’s to misbehaving: the launch of Malebo Sephodi’s Miss Behave

Over a hundred people grouped together on the third floor. Straightforward conversations about the clitoris. An author rocking red lipstick and a bad-ass pair of Converses. Rosebank Mall was never ready for the launch of Malebo Sephodi’s Miss Behave, a memoir chronicling the life of a remarkable, outspoken, and witty woman.

The festivities – yes, this launch was a celebration and not just a congregation of bibliophiles honouring a writer’s work – kicked off with a decolonised version of our national anthem. Panel members and attendees alike joined in. And what a panel it was. Consisting of Cheeky Natives duo Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane and Dr Alma-Nalisha Cele, performance poet Natalia Molebatsi, and, of course, Malebo herself.

See for yourself:

BlackBird Books publisher Thabiso Mahlape delivered a heartfelt speech, tearing up whilst saying how in her many years in the publishing industry she has never been more proud of a book and the strong female presence at the launch.

A recurring theme in Malebo’s memoir is the necessity of defying norms. To disregard our patriarchal, heteronormative’s society inclination to police women’s bodies; women’s conduct. We’re expected to be submissive, feminine, ‘wife-material’. In short: well-behaved.

She was furthered inspired when she first came across the quote “well-behaved women seldom make history”; a quote often attributed to 1950s bombshell, Marilyn Monroe. In fact this powerful statement was coined by Harvard historian Laurel Ulrich in a 1976 academic article.

Malebo and the panelists discussed topics ranging from being the only black person in a boardroom, to discovering the inner-workings of women’s reproductive system (a whole chapter is devoted to Malebo’s discovery of her vagina); creating safe places where conversations cause discomfort, to what it means to be black; radical economical transformation, to reaching a wider audience with regards to social injustices.


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