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Podcasts and Quotes: Time of the Writer Opening Night

Dinaw MengistuMax du PreezKole Omotoso

Opening night at the 12th Time of the Writer was an electrifying affair, with Nigerian Professor Kole Omotoso setting the tone right from the start as he addressed the packed and readily amused auditorium on “African Leaders, Insanity and the need for politically correct behaviour amongst African writers and intellectuals”.

Mandla Langa Marlene van Niekerk Omotoso made a strong call for writers to acknowledge the role they play within their societies, rather than to identify themselves as separate observers. In response, Peter Rorvik, Director of the Centre for Creative Arts, noted that the writers at this festival don’t only present at the evening sessions, but also address the broader public through talks in schools and workshops.

(Thanks to Tymon Smith, we bring you several podcasts from the evening – please see the links below.)

Each writer got a (at times stretched) four minute chance to explain their reasons for writing. A few tastes of what was said:

Mia CoutoMike Nicol

    Max du Preez, SA journalist, explained that he writes “to put people back in history”. Angela Makholwa, SA crime writer, challenged her fellow “krimis” to “beat the SA headlines”. Mtutuzeli Matshoba, SA scriptwriter and novelist explained that he writes because he’s scared – “a country without literature is a country without a Bible”. Dinaw Mengistu, an American-Ethiopian novelist said memorably that “the writer’s imagination begs compassion from us, and makes us morally culpable as people”. Margie Orford, “queen of the krimis”, explained that “writing is part of my refusal of living in a violent society”.

    Moses IsegawaMtutuzeli MatshobaThe writer that by far and away drew the most laughs, though, was political cartoonist and wit of note, Zapiro, who told the story of refusing to carry a gun when in the army, and of being made to carry a lead pole instead. His point was that reality is bizarre, and the art can highlight this in a funny yet critical way. He also said that after the elections he would continue to draw pictures of “him” with a shower hose sticking out of his head.

    Here are Tymon Smith’s extended notes, followed by podcast links:

    Siphiwo MahalaAngela MakholwaSade Adeniran’s brief but amusing explanation for her career as a writer: She wrote a radio play called Memories of A Distant Past to avoid doing actual research for her university degree. The play was sent on a whim to the BBC who produced it. Her debut novel Imagine This was written as a form of literary revenge on her boss. Instead of actually killing, she got her payback on the page and the novel won her the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best First Book Winner Africa Region!

    Billy KahoraBotswana Student SocietyThe lyricism of Mozambique’s Mia Couto, who in response to the question asked one of his own: “How can anyone live without wanting to tell stories?” He then went on to say that he writes because he doesn’t “…have the confidence to exist,” and because “just being me is lonely.” Ultimately writing is a form of dreaming and, “dreaming doesn’t need an explanation.”

    Dinaw MengistuFatou DiomeFatou Diome from Senegal who though her English is not nearly as good as her French, managed to get her message across – She only started writing at the age of 30 and she is still writing because she is still trying to understand life.

    Podcasts: Time of the Writer Opening Night

    Zapiro – Complete talk on life, the army and reality’s bizarreness

    Kole Omotoso – Complete opening night address

    Moses Isegawa (Uganda) – stand up routine

    Marlene van Niekerk – poem

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://alexsmith.book.co.za/" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    March 11th, 2009 @16:25 #
     
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    Ahh, it looks so exciting, I'm loving seeing the photos and various posts as they go up, but thoroughly envious not to be there. What are those posters on this stage -- very patterny, colourful, and dramatic too hanging about like that, but I can't quite make out what's on them?

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  • <a href="http://alexsmith.book.co.za/" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    March 11th, 2009 @16:28 #
     
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    Oh, I went to Flickr, to see the bigger pictures -- are they beaded? Looks really great whatever they are.

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