Meet PEN SA intern, Tasneem Allybokus

19 Mar 2019
Meet PEN SA intern, Tasneem Allybokus

PEN SA would like to extend a warm welcome to Tasneem Allybokus, who recently joined the organisation as an intern.

We asked Tasneem to introduce, which she has done by way of the Q&A below.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself

A: I grew up on the small Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, where I completed my schooling before assuming language studies (English and French) at the University of Cape Town. In addition to languages, I enrolled in some religious studies classes where I learnt about diverse religions including African traditional religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Rastafarianism and many others. I further enrolled in sociology and philosophy courses, which I believe have broadened my perspective and helped to shape how I think about literature and the world more generally.

Q: You are currently pursuing an honours degree in English (English Language & Literature) at UCT: what motivated your choice of study?

I majored in both English and French language and literature at undergraduate level. Literature is a field which has always captivated me. English simply happens to be the language which I have chosen instead of French. I believe that language is just a medium to access the literary world. If I had to explain my views on literary studies in a few words, it would be: irrespective of whether or not you appreciate a particular piece of writing, painting, film, artistic expression, you can write about it, expressing your thoughts and opinions be they negative, positive or ambivalent.

Q: What motivated you to apply for the PEN SA internship?

A: I hold a particular interest in freedom of expression, which PEN SA advocates for. Over the past few years, I have closely followed PEN’s engagement in the protection of writers and artists targeted for their free expression work. I respect the ways in which PEN is involved in defending the right to freedom of expression. I find it unacceptable that in the 21st century, artists and writers are condemned for voicing out their thoughts and opinions. I strongly adhere to PEN SA’s values and principles when it comes to the protection of writers who, through their works, are at risk for challenging the status quo.

Q:What are your initial impressions of PEN SA at the inception of your internship?

A: I look forward to making a meaningful contribution to PEN SA and engaging writers and artists at a local and global level. I am positive that this journey will be a rewarding one. So far, the team at PEN SA has been truly welcoming. I am eager to get on board and take in the valuable experience which PEN SA has to offer.