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Lineup for the 2014 Time of the Writer Festival

Programme for the 17th Time of The Writer Festival Announced

The programme for the 17th Time of The Writer: International Festival of Writers has been announced.

The week-long showcase, which takes place from 17-22 March at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, is set to provoke, inform and inspire, abd brings some of the world’s finest novelists, authors and storytellers to Durban, from as far afield as India, Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana, Togo, and Guinea.

30th CandleSouth Africa's Suspended RevolutionA Nation in CrisisUntitledWay Back HomeMaid in SA

20 writers will be gathering for a week of literary dialogue, exchange of ideas and stimulating discussion under the theme Freeing Our Imagination, in solidarity with Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina’s clarion call for Africans to use their creativity to imagine and create a continent free of the existential burdens of colonialism.

The opening night, March 17, will feature all participating writers making brief presentations at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, and will be dedicated to the late, great South African thinker, academic and prolific writer Professor Mbulelo Mzamane, a past participant of Time of the Writer, who Nelson Mandela described as a “visionary leader, [and] one of South Africa’s greatest intellectuals.”

Prof Mzamane passed away on 15 February, having made his mark through writing and scholarship including The Children of Soweto, Children of Paradise, The Children of the Diaspora and Other Stories of Exile and Where There is No Vision the People Will Perish: Reflections on the African Renaissance.

The rest of the week’s evening presentations will be panel discussions with writers talking about their writing and the issues dealt with in their work.

New Voices from India

The first panel discussion of the festival on Tuesday, 18 March will focus on writing from the sub-continent, featuring Indian authors Satyagit Sarna and Prajwal Parajuly.

Sarna is an author and lawyer based in New Delhi. His debut novel Angels Share, described as a love story, a political commentary, and coming-of-age novel, was published in 2012 by Harper Collins. He will be joined by Parajuly, whose books The Gurkha’s Daughter: Stories and Land Where I Flee have been lauded in international press. This panel discussion will be facilitated by author, Shubnum Khan.

Mzansi Women Voices

The second panel of the evening features South African writers Angela Makhlowa and Praba Moodley.

Returning to Time of the Writer after her debut in 2007, Makhlowa is an author and public relations consultant. She became the first black female crime author with her debut novel Red Ink. She has since published a drama novel, The 30th Candle, and will be releasing her third later this year.

Moodley published her first novel, The Heart Knows No Colour, in 2003, which was followed by two more novels, A Scent So Sweet (2006) and Follow Your Heart, the sequel to her debut. Her writing has been featured in publications such as Elle and Oprah Magazine.

The panel discussion will be facilitated by author Shafinaaz Hassim.

Writing the Policy Debate

Wednesday’, 19 March, kicks off with a panel discussion featuring Professors Adam Habib and Paulus Zulu.

As one of the country’s most recognisable political analysts and vice chancellor and principal of the University of the Witwatersrand, Habib has long been considered one of South Africa’s most astute experts in the areas of transformation, democracy and development. He holds qualifications in Political Science from the University of Natal and Wits. He earned his masters and doctoral qualifications from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His latest work is South Africa’s Suspended Revolution.

Zulu is author and director of Human Sciences Research Council. A noted writer, academic and community leader, Zulu holds a PhD from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and has published extensively in the fields of politics and sociology both nationally and internationally. His latest book is entitled A Nation In Crisis: An Appeal for Morality.

The discussion will be facilitated by Ben Fogel.

Writing in Francophone Africa: Trends and Issues.

The second panel discussion of the night will look trends in Francophone literature with a discussion by authors Sami Tchak (Togo) and Tierno Monénembo (Guinea).

Tchak studied philosophy before obtaining his PhD at the Sorbonne University in 1993. He won the Grand Prix of Black African Literature for his entire body of work in 2004. He has published Femme infidèle (1988), Place des Fêtes, (2001), Hermina (2003), La fête des masques, (2004), Le paradis des chiots, (2006) and Filles de Mexico (2008).

Monénembo was born in Guinea but lived in exile in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal before settling in France and Cuba. He has published nine novels and a stage play since 1983. He won the 2008 Prix Renaudot, a French award given to the author of an outstanding original novel, for The King of Kahel.

The panel discussion will be facilitated by Dr Bernard de Meyer of the UKZN French department and is presented in partnership with the French Institute of South Africa.

Writing the Historical Moment

Thursday night’s activities open with the panel discussion looking at key historical moments shaping the current South African political landscape. The panel will take the form of an in-depth interview featuring activist, researcher and political economist Professor Patrick Bond.

Bond is an academic whose research draws from work with NGOs in urban communities as well as global justice movements in several countries. He is currently the director of the Centre for Civil Society at UKZN and is involved in research on economic justice, geopolitics, climate, energy and water.

The discussion will be facilitated by Xolani Benedict Dube.

Chronicling The Contemporary African Story

Time of The Writer has a strong history of spotlighting young talented writers dealing with contemporary topics. The festival aims to create an even greater focus on stories from the younger generation and this is highlighted in the second panel of the night.

Chronicling The Contemporary African Story brings together two South African authors, Kgebetli Moele and Niq Mhlongo.

Moele’s debut novel, Room 207, was published in 2006 by Kwela Books and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book (Africa) in 2007. It was the joint-winner of the Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English fiction as well as joint-winner of the University of Johannesburg Prize for Creative Writing in the debut category. His second novel, The Book of the Dead, received the South African Literary Award in 2010. He released his third novel, Untitled, in 2013.

Mhlongo is a Soweto-born journalist and author who has presented his work at key African cultural events, including the Caine Prize Workshop, and was a 2008 International Writing Program fellow at the University of Iowa. His debut novel Dog Eat Dog, released in 2004, has been translated into Spanish. He has since published two more novels, After Tears (2007) and the highly praised Way Back Home in 2013.

The panel discussion will be facilitated by Duduzile Mabaso.

Storytelling Programme

Understanding the rich history that storytelling carries on the continent, The Time of The Writer festival is excited to present a storytelling programme, in collaboration with the Gcinamasiko Arts & Heritage Trust, taking place on Friday, 21 March.

The event will feature Nomsa Mdlalose and Mshai Mwangola in a panel discussion looking at the art of storytelling.

Mdlalose, who holds a Master’s Degree in Storytelling from East Tennessee State University, has years of experience in the artform and is the managing director of Kwesukela Storytelling Academy. Through her work at the Academy, she promotes the ancestral oral tradition as a heritage of sophistication, wisdom and philosophy.

Nairobi native Mwangola is talented performance scholar, storyteller, and oraturist. She has performed, conducted performance workshops, researched and worked with and for diverse performance ensembles and individuals across four continents in a career spanning over 25 years. She is the chairperson of the Governing Council of the Kenya Cultural Centre.

The panel will be facilitated by Dr Gcina Mhlophe.

From The Mouth of Babes

The second panel of the night will focus on youth literature, featuring Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana) and Khulekani Magubane (South Africa).

Kubuitsile is a writer living in Botswana who has published three children’s books, two detective novellas and three collections of short stories for children, co-written with two other Motswana writers.

She has published three romance novels with Sapphire Press, Kwaito Love, Can He Be The One?, and Mr Not Quite Good Enough. Kubuitsile was the 2007 winner of the BTA/ Anglo Platinum Short Story Contest and the recipient of the Botswana Ministry of Youth and Culture’s Orange Botswerere Award for Creative Writing in the same year. In 2009 she won the USA’s Baobab Literary Prize in the junior category and in 2010 in the senior category. She was on the shortlist for the 2011 Caine Prize.

Magubane is a journalist and author. At the age of 23 he has published more than 18 books. Although he is a children’s author his work deals with important issues such as class, race and religion.

Saneliswe Ntuli will facilitate the panel discussion.

Children’s Storytelling Matinee

In addition, Time of The Writer and the Gcinamasiko Arts & Heritage Trust will host a special matinee for children, to be held at the UKZN Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Saturday, 22 March, from 2.00 PM to 4.30 PM. The matinee will feature Mdlalose and Mwangola, who will be joined by Gogo MaBhengu and Lwazi Thwala.

New African Women Writers Rising

The final day of the festival features a discussion focused on the stories and work being produced by young female writers from Africa.

On the panel are prolific authors Hawa Jande Golakai (Liberia) and Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria).

Born in Liberia, Golaka moved around extensively with her family due to political and economic unrest. She has lived in Togo, Ghana and Zimbabwe, before arriving in Cape Town as a student in 2003. She trained and worked as a medical researcher in immunology, and her first novel, The Lazarus Effect, is a gripping fictional drama set in Cape Town.

Onuzo is a young author whose debut novel The Spider’s King Daughter has received critical acclaim. She has been shortlisted for this year’s Commonwealth Book Prize and was shortlisted for the 2012 Dylan Thomas Prize, as well as longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize in the same year.

The panel discussion will be facilitated by writer Sandile Ngidi.

Finding the South African Funny Bone

This discussion features Sarah Britten and Zukiswa Wanner.

Britten is a former journalist, artist and author from Johannesburg. She has been published extensively, wrote her Master’s research report on South African humour (with a focus on Madam & Eve) and has a doctorate in Applied English Language Studies. She has published three novels focusing on the colourful and unique art of South African insults, The Art of the South African Insult, McBride of Frankenmanto: The Return of the South African Insult, and More South African Insults.

Wanner is a journalist, author and blogger whose work includes The Madams: A Wildly Provocative Novel (2007), Behind Every Successful Man (2008) and Men of the South (2010). Her latest work is Maid in SA: 30 Ways to Leave Your Madam (2013). She is a founding member of ReadSA, an initiative encouraging South Africans to read local books.

The panel discussion will be facilitated by writer and radio personality Ndumiso Ngcobo.

Seminars and Workshops

In addition to the nightly panel discussions at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, the festival’s Community Outreach Programme features a broad range of activities during the day, including seminars and workshops aiming to promote a culture of reading, writing and creative expression. The festival will also conduct visits to schools, and present a prison writing programme. Book launches take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre’s Wellington Tavern deck prior to the evening shows, from 6:45 PM.

Tickets are R25 for the evening sessions, R10 for students, and can be purchased through Computicket or at the door one hour before the event. Workshops and seminars are free.

For more details about the Time of the Writer, visit the Centre for Creative Arts website at or call 031 260 2506

The 17th Time of the Writer Festival supported by the City of Durban, the French Institute of South Africa, and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture. It is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts, which is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is a special project of the deputy vice chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.

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Writers on Racism and Sexism at the 2011 Time of the Writer

Andrew Oken, Anthony Ojowe, Mike Mwale, Petina Gappah and Ethel Chingu

Special to the CCA blog by Sarah Frost

An Elegy for EasterlyThe first half of Wednesday night’s Time of the Writer Evening Session was ably chaired by Sarah Nuttall, who asked probing questions that got Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe) and Ellen Banda-Aaku (Zambia) talking in constructive ways. When asked about how she foregrounds character in her short stories, Gappah responded that her collection An Elegy for an Easterly is currently being translated into Tswana, Venda and Shona and that the stories have been given characters’ names as titles. She said for her focusing on character is a way of writing ‘big’ short stories.

Responding to Nuttall’s question of how she writes about ‘the ordinary’, while bringing in the element of the ‘spectacular,’ Gappah explained that she had tried to write ‘the Great Zim novel’ but that it didn’t work. She prefers to tell ordinary stories as a way into the extraordinary. She noted how useful ‘eavesdropping’ is for her, in order to gather new material.

Ellen Banda-Aaku spoke of growing up in Lusaka in Zambia, and of how when Zimbabwean military squads came in and bombed freedom fighters’ houses there, she and her siblings still had to dress and go to school – she reminded the audience that in the midst of political turmoil, ordinary life must go on, emphasising that literature must reflect this.

Nuttall noted that both writers’ texts evince an “ascerbic, even caustic, wit”. Gappah recognises that “the world is a very strange place,” and tries to capture that in her writing. In contrast, Banda-Aaku said she was not even aware that she wrote in such a way.

Gappah is at present unable to write about Zimbabwe. She wrote An Elegy for an Easterly while working as a trade lawyer in Switzerland. She noted that distance gives perspective. She is currently writing a book that she says has “nothing to do with Zimbabwe”. Banda-Aaku said the literary culture in Zambia is quite stagnant. She said a fresh mindset was needed at all education levels. She called for a stronger feminist approach towards writing in order to change patriarchal attitudes.

On the topic of Feminism, Nuttall asked Gappah why she so admires Michelle Obama. Her response was that “she’s a brilliant, stylish woman”. More soberingly, and possibly more substantially, Ellen Banda-Aaku reminded us that Michelle Obama has the benefit of a platform that many equally capable black women do not have. The two writers embraced before Nuttall thanked them for their contributions to what was a fruitful discussion.

Sally Howes, Kerry Cullinan and Sarah Nuttall

Fine Lines from the BoxJohannesburgThe tone was somewhat more elevated after the interval as Karabo Kgoleng invited esteemed academics Professors Njabulo Ndebele and Achille Mbembe to talk about “literature as a country’s conscience”. Ndebele make the solid point that he is “tired of racism”, referring, more specifically, to the furore at the University of the Orange Free State. He argued that the OFS occurrence was not an issue of racism, but one of “how to raise kids to behave properly”.

Kgoleng then asked Ndebele and Mbembe their opinions on a quote from Che Guevara that states “Revolution is inspired by love”. Ndebele said that, for him, love was “a dangerous word, in that it can be both trite, and profound”. He said one should care first for the citizens of one’s country, rather than the political party one belongs to. He called for a system of electoral representation, rather than party representation “so that we can choose excellent leaders”.

Mbembe said he believed the role of the arts is “to testify to that which is emerging, pointing to possibilities of what might be, premised on love and an ethics of care – the belief that each life counts and must be protected against premature unjustified death”. He said we have to learn to close the gap between life and text, and that listening was an important tool for doing this.

Questions from audience members followed the discussion, responding to Kgoleng’s plea to “tweet it, but on the mike”.

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Deconstructing the “Inner City” at the 2011 Time of the Writer

Achille Mbembe, Marie Darrieussecque, Boris Diop, Lauren Beukes

Special to the CCA blog by Sarah Frost

The Lotus PeopleZoo CityKicking off the evening event for Tuesday at the Time of the Writer 2011, chair Achille Mbembe, from Cameroon, asked South African writers Lauren Beukes and Aziz Hassim to define the “inner city” that appears in their fiction. It soon became apparent that the urban areas they depict in their texts – Beukes’ Hillbrow (as rendered in her novel Zoo City), and Hassim’s Casbah (as described in his novel The Lotus People) – are quite different phenomenae.

Hassim’s novel has a strong nostalgic quality, while Beukes brings in fantastical elements (there are magical creatures in her version of the city). At the same time her work as a journalist for the last 12 years has made her anchor her writing in the real, albeit subverted in interesting ways.

Beukes said she wanted to write about the city because “it interested her more than the hidden cosy enclaves of the suburbs”. She said she found Johannesburg’s ‘breakpoints’ fascinating, in that it is in these troubled, vibrant “ghetto” spaces that people make their lives, and come to terms with what haunts them. She emphasised that she sees Hillbrow as a “vital ambitious community”, not a “desperate slum”.

Hassim said he feels that writing about where he’s from (he grew up in Durban’s Casbah) is not fiction, it is more like documentary work. He spoke of the Casbah as a place where everybody was a “broer”, where race was not an issue, where the community insisted on keeping things safe. For this listener, he came across as romanticising a time past, which made his description less credible. He mentioned that each city has its ‘own ethos,’ saying that Durban’s allowed for ‘anonymity’.

Beukes alluded to a discussion with Ben Williams, editor of BOOK SA, who believes that the time of the “introspective white man’s pastoral” in SA has passed, to be replaced by writing that describes the intense teeming life of cities. She apologised to any JM Coetzee fans in the audience.

Mbembe summed up the debate succinctly, saying it is clear that current fiction about the inner city portrays it as a space of fragility, vulnerability and potentiality.

Aziz Hassim, Thayalan Reddy

EntanglementThe Value of NothingNext up were two authors who, in this listener’s opinion, did not really connect. Sarah Nuttall, cultural theorist, whose most recent book is called Entanglement, challenged Raj Patel, whose book Stuffed and Starved deals with global food policy, to move past the ‘bankrupt’ idea of ‘revelatory academic critique’ towards one of ‘critical intimacy’ with the reader that will enable them to make change possible.

Nuttall said although people have learned, through social media, to deconstruct their worlds, “we are still not affective”. To me, Patel did not seem to be disagreeing with Nuttall at all, arguing for the “radically democratic idea that pleasure needs to be democratised” – for instance peoples’ enjoyment of “slow food”. I did not see him as punting himself as an “intellectual unravelling truth”, as Nuttall labelled him. (One also had a hard time agreeing with Nuttall’s description of herself as a “deep dilettante”.)

Richard Pithouse, from the Rhodes Philosophy Department, did a good job of holding the at times fragmented conversation together, concluding with an interesting banner held up in Tahrir Square that read “I used to watch TV, now TV watches us”.

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The 2008 Time of the Writer, Day by Day

Faces of the Time of the Writer 2008

We’re pleased to announce that the programme for the 2008 Time of the Writer, which runs from Tuesday 25 March to Sunday 30 March in Durban and surrounding areas, has been finalised and is now available for all to see!

With a line-up of 18 new and established writers, predominantly from the African continent, the festival will provide a stimulating platform for dialogue and exchange between writers, and an opportunity for the public to gain insight into the creative processes and perspectives which inform their work.

Click here for the programme’s homepage – where you’ll also find participant biographies and photos, and click here to download the programme as a PDF (1.3 MB).

Complete text version of the 2008 Time of the Writer Programme


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