Out of Pure Curiosity: Tuleka Prah
Tuleka Prah

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working full-time as the English audio production lead at a company that publishes bite-size non-fiction content.

What skills are you learning that you do not currently have?

I’m definitely developing and strengthening my audio content production skills. It’s not just about writing things in a way that informs and educates, but writing in such a way that it’s engaging and inspirational. That’s not as straightforward as it sounds!
In this lockdown, I’ve also challenged myself to learn inline skating. So fitness without putting too much strain on my knees and ankles.

What great thinkers would you have loved to work with? Or with whom would you like to work in the future?

I would’ve loved to have had conversations with and/or be mentored by Audre Lorde, Franz Fanon, Maya Angelou, or Bessie Head.
I’d love to work with artist and performer, Nakhane, on anything. He’s exceptionally talented and has a really unique and creative way of thinking and approaching his various crafts. I’d love to work with him on a Black Mirror-ish, sci-fi series centering Black characters, and inspired by African folklore.

What would you have been if you hadn't become an academic?

I no longer work in academia; it just wasn’t for me. I really enjoy the discursive environment and the challenges that writing and lecturing bring, but I wasn’t really willing to accommodate the limitations of academia. Besides its exclusivity, it’s often a quite racist and restricted environment to have to work in. Added to these issues is how much one has to rely on "who you know" in order to get anywhere, despite your merits. That’s not to say these problems don’t exist in other industries and fora. It’s just that I, personally, am not willing to direct my energies to that fight. I feel I’m better suited to other battles.
I’m very happy where I am now – working in content production that directly impacts and potentially improves the lives millions of people on a daily basis. The role brings a whole new set of challenges, and presents many avenues for innovation. It’s dynamic, and the unique perspectives that my background and experiences bring are welcomed.

What advise would you give to yourself if you were just starting out your studies?

Start writing the moment you pick up any title with relevant material! And while you do that, make sure you have these noted in the correct, ready-to-be-published format in your bibliography. It’ll save you so much stress at the end of your writing journey!

Which three books have had an influence on you?

Visual Culture – The Reader, edited by Jessica Evans and Stuart Hall
King Leopold’s Ghost, by Adam Hochschild
And They Didn’t Die, by Lauretta Ngcobo

Is book writing still relevant to today?

Yes. Book writing should always be relevant. The process of organizing your thoughts and crafting them into a book that others can read and potentially learn from stimulates a specific and remarkable set of skills. As does reading.

Does the future belong to OpenAccess?

I think so. I’m not actively engaged in this ongoing debate, but my view is: Out of necessity, academia should be (and probably will be) more inclusive, especially as more and more people have to go to university in order to have a chance at competing for most jobs out there. If OpenAccess allows for inclusivity, then it may just be the future. As long as the writers/scholars are correctly credited, and the system allows for a sustainable financial model that makes it possible for the authors to be paid what they want for people to download or access their work, then OpenAccess will definitely be the future/a good alternative to the outgoing practices.

Tuleka Prah is currently employed as a Lead Content Specialist in Berlin. She previously worked as a freelance videographer, writer, and editor. Her interest in society, history and memory, with a focus on Black identities within these, is always reflected in her personal work.
Tuleka Prah: “You Must Be African!“. A Heuristic Deconstruction of Black Identity Production Through the Use of African Elements in African American Film