Thabiso Mahlape is a South African Entrepreneur and Founder of Blackbird Books, an independent South African publishing house that gives young black authors a platform to become bestsellers.
While juggling submissions, proofs and sales, Mahlape is also a columnist who writes regularly for The Sowetan Newspaper and has contributed to magazines such as Destiny and VISI.
As a writer and a speaker, her focus is largely on self-development, body politics and what it means to be a black woman in South Africa. She is part of the Mail & Guardian Top 200 in 2017, OkayAfrica Top 100 Women in 2020 and was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for her work by the Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura.
Thabiso holds a Bachelor of Information Science degree specializing in publishing from the University of Pretoria.
In 2010 Thabiso Mahlape started as an intern at Jacana Media and in just five years she changed the DNA of South African publishing.
She launched her own book imprint and named it Blackbird Books. The imprint is nurtured by Jacana Media, it is home and pride to a new generation of black writers.
In an interview with ‘SheleadsAfrica’, Thabiso revealed that, the name of her publishing house, ‘Blackbird’ was suggested by a colleague of hers at Jacana.
The name stems from the Nina Simone song called “Blackbird”. The song refers to the struggles of a black woman and how that woman wants to spread her wings but finds a lot of difficulty in this due to societal issues bringing her down.
Thabiso refined her skills as a publisher with a lot of acclaimed bestsellers like Endings and Beginnings by Redi Tlhabi, My Father My Monster by Mcintosh Polela, and Malaika wa Azania’s Memoirs of a Born Free to name a few.
According to her, being the first black woman with her own publishing imprint has had its challenges, but Thabiso also makes it known that she is doing an incredibly important job of making sure that black authors voices, stories, and talents are being seen and heard.
Thabiso’s publishing imprint, Blackbird Books has garnered a lot of success and already has memoirs and autobiographies by big names under its belt. Blackbird Books aims to bring stories by black authors to life, giving them a voice and a platform to grow and hone their skills as successful authors.