This week I picked up a book by a 30-year-old South African author, a young lady living in Cape Town. Alex van Tonder’s debut novel, ‘This One Time,’ is not only brilliant (Last night I dreamed about whether Jacob would escape the bed), but more: It is to South African writing what the Parlotones are to South African music; something that transcends a ‘regional’ feel and deserves to go international. 

I watched one of her interviews on YouTube. The Expresso team spoke to her about her book and I couldn’t help but notice her bold, no-holds-barred candour. I don’t think the presenter was expecting her to reference ‘revenge porn’ and ‘tits and guns,’ quite as boldly as she did (Kudos to him for rolling with it), but Alex is a straight shooter.  

Am I saying that rough is admirable? No, I’m saying that her capacity to speak boldly voice makes her stronger. That is what her book is about, and she was not afraid to say so on national television. She is a strong voice, a brave voice and a woman who will have her say. She is not desperate to be 'nice.' 

I predict Alex will go very far. Not just because her novel is exceptionally good (better, I think, than the Dean Koontz I read just before it), but because she’s also secure, direct, and unapologetically herself; all the ingredients necessary for an icon. 

The strength to ‘speak strong’ matters. It is a formidable thing and should not be the preserve of males. This Women’s Day, may noteworthy figures like Alex van Tonder inspire more women to become bold voices across our continent. We need more Oprahs, more Nigellas, more Sheryl Sandbergs. Speak strong, like this brave new voice, and you can own your industry.