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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Abantu Book Festival 2017 is here!

Today marks day one of the annual Abantu Book Festival!

Abantu Book Festival has become an annual pilgrimage for black writers and readers held in Soweto to celebrate the rich and diverse literary heritage emerging from the African continent. The second edition is planned for 7-10 December 2017.

While the book remains the central medium of the festival, we have poetry and musical performances, writing and publishing workshops, panel discussions and in-conversations, as well as film-screening woven into the mix. The best poets, novelists, playwrights, biographers, literary scholars, musicians, actors, activists, thinkers, and readers from as far as can be imagined, take over the historic location of Soweto and make it a literary village.

The day events are held at the Eyethu Lifestyle Centre in Mofolo, and the night sessions at the Soweto Theatre in Jabulani. Entry is free for day events, and at night tickets cost R20.00 only. The designated bookseller has a fine selection of titles by black writers on sale for the duration of the festival.

This is the space we’ve been yearning for. Let there be healing.

Click here for the 2017 programme.

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Join Julie Mentor and her team at Embrace for a day dedicated to storytelling and reading as a family

Two sets of chubby legs sit on either side of mine. Sticky fingers tap at the page in front of us, ready to turn at the right time. I sniff the sweet mix of dried sunblock and apples and a day full of playtime. Raising toddlers means that there are very few moments of ‘quiet and calm’ in our home. Our boys prefer to be roaring dinosaurs exploring the tops of my furniture to doing activities that require them to sit still.

The current single exception? Story time. “Would you like me to read you a story?” I ask, and off they run to their bookshelf to choose which adventures we will go on for the evening.

We settle in our favourite story-time spot, my eldest on my right and my youngest on my left, and I begin. “Wise old man, won’t you help me please? My house is a squash and a … SKWARK!” I exclaim with a glint of mischief in my eyes that I believe would get Julia Donaldson’s approval. This sends them into a fit of giggles and exuberant head-shaking – every time!

“No, Mommy. It’s a squash and a SQUEEZE!” They both yell, wrapping their arms around me in demonstration. “Oh is it really?” I ask, squeezing them back.

There are times where I miss my babies. My growing boys are, rightly, more selective with their affection. They seldom nap in my arms. They are too busy enjoying their growing independence. I get it, I really do, but oh how grateful I am for story time. Our bodies hug each other, our heads bend in and my boys are happy to just be. We create our own little world and our own rhythm and I’ve come to treasure this space in the bustle of our daily lives.

As a working mom, the burden of guilt is constant. I do not have endless time to spend taking in the wonder of my precious boys. I have to find creative ways to be in their world. Reading together sparks endless and often surprising conversations. Story time can be so much more than the story. It can be tickles and songs and squeals.

Story time is not only for the kids. I find myself drawn to the baritone lilts in my husband’s voice as he brings the book characters to life. We are both amused and amazed by our three-year-old’s ability to recall and recreate his version of his favourite tales. More questions, more belly laughs, more interpretations. Our family comes together around books. They fill our home, our car, our conversations and our imaginations.

You can join Julie Mentor and her team at Embrace at the Kids at the Centre event which takes place on Saturday 18 November at the Company’s Garden in Cape Town from 10am – 2pm. Together with Nal’ibali and a host of partners, the event will celebrate all children and focus on fun interaction through a variety of activities including a dedicated space for sharing the love of storytelling and reading as a family.

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit:

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Launch: Khwezi by Redi Tlhabi (27 September)

In August 2016, following the announcement of the results of South Africa’s heated municipal election, four courageous young women interrupted Jacob Zuma’s victory address, bearing placards asking us to ‘Remember Khwezi’. Before being dragged away by security guards, their powerful message had hit home and the public was reminded of the tragic events of 2006, when Zuma was on trial for the rape of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, better known as Khwezi. In the aftermath of the trial, which saw Zuma acquitted, Khwezi was vilified by his many supporters and forced to take refuge outside of South Africa.

Ten years later, just two months after this protest had put Khwezi’s struggle back into the minds and hearts of South Africans, Khwezi passed away … But not before she had slipped back into South Africa and started work with Redi Tlhabi on a book about her life.

How as a young girl living in ANC camps in exile she was raped by the very men who were supposed to protect her; how as an adult she was driven once again into exile, suffering not only at the hands of Zuma’s devotees but under the harsh eye of the media.

In sensitive and considered prose, journalist Redi Tlhabi breathes life into a woman for so long forced to live in the shadows. In giving agency back to Khwezi, Tlhabi is able to focus a broader lens on the sexual abuse that abounded during the ‘struggle’ years, abuse which continues to plague women and children in South Africa today.

Book details

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Launch – Cancer: A Love Story by Lauren Segal (26 September)

When Lauren Segal receives a call from her husband one wintry morning in 2014, the furthest thing from her mind is her biopsy results. For two years she’s been living a cancer-free existence after a double mastectomy that has put her in the clear. The call shatters the foundation of her world – the lump she thought was scar tissue is malignant. Her cancer is back.

Cancer: A Love Story is the intimately searing memoir of a four-time cancer survivor. The book magnificently tracks Lauren’s journey to come to terms with the untold challenges of facing the dreaded disease. Forced to face her needle phobia, the author leads the reader into her crumbling world as she confronts the terrors of treatment – from debilitating chemo to nuking radiation. Death is her uninvited companion.

But in the midst of her lonely horror, in a quest for deeper meaning, Lauren discovers the unexpected gift of awareness of unanticipated opportunities that cancer presents – to confront her unmasked humanity – her fears, strengths and weaknesses.

“Throughout my arduous journey into the world of cancer, I have discovered that proximity to death brings with it a new proximity to life. I have learned that luck and unluck, happiness and distress, hope and despair are tightly coiled into a life well lived.”

Lauren’s story removes the enormous stigma that still surrounds breast cancer; it tackles the deep fear surrounding diagnoses and treatment and it encourages us to take control of our health. It ultimately triumphs by showing the reader how a person in any unwanted life situation can come out on the other side. The book also provides vital insights for professionals involved in the care of cancer patients and a hugely informative section on chemo tips for those undergoing treatment.


Book details

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Cape Town book signing: Killing Karoline (23 September)

Killing Karoline deals with important topical issues relating to adoption, identity, race, mental health and addiction.

Born Karoline King in 1980 in Johannesburg South Africa, Sara-Jayne (as she will later be called by her adoptive parents) is the result of an affair, illegal under apartheid’s Immorality Act, between a white British woman and a black South African man. Her story reveals the shocking lie created to cover up the forbidden relationship, and the hurried overseas adoption of the illegitimate baby, born during one of history’s most inhumane and destructive regimes.

Killing Karoline follows the journey of the baby girl (categorised as ‘white’ under South Africa’s race classification system) who is raised in a leafy, middle-class corner of the South of England by a white couple. It takes the reader through her formative years, a difficult adolescence and into adulthood, as Sara-Jayne (Karoline) seeks to discover who she is and where she came from.

Plagued by questions surrounding her own identity and unable to ‘fit in’ Sara-Jayne begins to turn on herself. She eventually returns to South Africa, after 26 years, to face her demons. There she is forced to face issues of identity, race, rejection and belonging beyond that which she could ever have imagined. She must also face her birth family, who in turn must confront what happens when the baby you kill off at a mere six weeks old returns from the dead.

Sara-Jayne King is a mixed-race South African/British journalist and radio presenter whose career spans over a decade and has taken her across the globe in search of remarkable stories and fascinating characters. While studying for an LLB degree in the UK, Sara-Jayne realised her passion lay elsewhere and, after graduating, she went on to complete a Master’s in Journalism in 2004. Her career began as a junior journalist in local radio in London and since then has included roles in the Middle East and Africa, most recently as a senior editor for news channel eNCA and presenter for Primedia’s talk radio station Cape Talk.

Don’t miss the opportunity to have your book signed by this singular author (and woman!)

Book details

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Literary Crossroads: Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Tania Haberland, Xabiso Vili (10 October)

Literary Crossroads is a series of talks where South African writers meet colleagues from all over the continent and from the African diaspora to discuss trends, topics and themes prevalent in their literatures today. The series is curated by Indra Wussow and Sine Buthelezi.

The guests for the October edition of #LiteraryCrossroads are:

Writer-performer Phillippa Yaa de Villiers is the author of three collections of poetry and lectures at Wits University. Her autobiographical play Original Skin toured South Africa and Germany between 2008-2012. Her work has appeared in local and international journals and has been translated into Burmese, Mandarin, German, Italian, Flemish and Dutch. She is on the judging panel of African Poetry Book Fund (University of Nebraska) and is part of the South African Poetry Project (Zapp). She performs her poetry internationally and locally.

Tania Haberland (BA, HDE, MA) is a Mauritian-German-South African hybrid poet-artist-teacher-bodyworker. Her book Hyphen won the Ingrid Jonker Prize. Tania’s work brings poetry into educational and therapeutic contexts. Artistically, she loves to co-create multidisciplinary pieces exploring ‘carnal poetics’. Her current projects include The Technology of Tenderness with movement artist Fabrizio Dalle Piane, JazzGa: creating & singing poem-songs with musicians, translating Dome Bulfaro’s poetry… Mille Gru will publish an Italian anthology of her poems in 2018. Her second book, Other, is searching for a home.

Xabiso Vili is a performer, writer, social activist, TEDx speaker and soul collaborator. His writings explore his inner world to relate to the outer world. He is the champion of multiple slams and WordNSound poet of the year 2014 and 2015. Xabiso has performed all over South Africa, in Scotland, UK, the U.S. and India. As part of his activism work, Xabiso works with Mthubi the Hub, an organisation that takes over abandoned buildings and transforms them into art hubs for the community. Xabiso also runs writing, performance and event organizing workshops through Scribe Rites, a performance writing collective he co-founded that has produced other award-winning writers and performers. He released his album, ‘Eating My Skin’, created with Favela Ninjas. His one-man show ‘Black Boi Be’ has travelled extensively to critical acclaim.

Event details

Date: Tuesday, 10 October
Time: 19:00
Venue: Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, 119 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood

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Launch: Race Otherwise by Zimitri Erasmus (18 September)

Race Otherwise brings together the full amplitude of Zimitri Erasmus’s thinking about how race works. It tunes into registers both personal and social. It is not without indignation, and not … insensitive to emotion and … the anger inside South Africa. It is a book that is not afraid of questions of affect. Eros and love, Erasmus urges, are not separable from the hard work of thinking.’ – Crain Soudien, CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa

How is ‘race’ determined? Is it your DNA? The community that you were raised in? The way others see you or the way you see yourself?

In Race Otherwise: Forging a New Humanism for South Africa Zimitri Erasmus questions the notion that one can know race with one’s eyes, with racial categories and with genetic ancestry tests. She moves between the intimate probing of racial identities as we experience them individually, and analysis of the global historical forces that have created these identities and woven them into our thinking about what it means to be ‘human’.

Starting from her own family’s journeys through regions of the world and ascribed racial identities, she develops her argument about how it is possible to recognise the pervasiveness of race thinking without submitting to its power. Drawing on the theoretical work of Frantz Fanon, Sylvia Wynter and others, Erasmus argues for a new way of ‘coming to know otherwise’, of seeing the boundaries between racial identities as thresholds to be crossed, through politically charged acts of imagination and love.

Zimitri Erasmus is a professor of Sociology in the department of Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She is the editor of the seminal volume Coloured by History, Shaped by Place: New Perspectives on Coloured Identities in Cape Town (2001) and in 2010 she was a UCT-Harvard Mandela Mellon Fellow. Race Otherwise: Forging a New Humanism for South Africa is her first monograph.

Race Otherwise

Book details

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In celebration of National Book Week, is encouraging bookworms to buy a book for a good cause

During National Book Week (4-10 September) South Africa’s leading online store,, is also encouraging bookworms to buy a book for a good cause.

The South African Book Development Council’s #BUYABOOK campaign, which Takealot is supporting, gives customers the chance to donate books to those who wouldn’t otherwise have reading material – by offering selected titles at the affordable price of just R20. A very worthwhile cause in a country where 58% of households – a worrying increase from the 2006 figure of 51% – don’t own a single leisure book.

The campaign was spurred following the South African Book Development Council’s 2016 survey on national reading behavior, which showed that only 14% of adult South Africans are committed book readers, with leisure reading levels having dropped since 2006.

Julie-Anne Walsh, Chief Marketing Officer for, says the online store is delighted to be involved in the #BUYABOOK campaign. “Our selection of #BUYABOOK titles – from Khaya Dlanga’s autobiography to bedtime stories for kids – is a way for our customers to give back to those in need. For R20 each, you can add several books to your shopping cart, which we encourage customers to donate to local children, young people and adults who do not have such easy access to books.”

As part of the campaign, researched South Africans’ current reading interests by analysing data on the bestsellers from its extensive book range of over 3.5 million titles.

Walsh says that the reporting showed that Roald Dahl endures as a favourite children’s author. “Roald Dahl’s 15 Book Boxset of his classic family favourites is a stand-out bestseller from our children’s range. It is great to see that this collection of offbeat, funny books – wonderful for unlocking the imagination – are still on kids’ reading lists.”

Topping the ‘self-help’ category is Start with Why by Simon Sinek, which taps into the modern need to find a purpose amid our frenetic lifestyles. War Cry by the enduringly popular Wilbur Smith tops the fiction list as the latest in the Courtney family adventure series.

Walsh says the retailer is looking forward to playing a part in the National Book Week. “Books have always been one of Takealot’s biggest and most popular departments. Our customers can choose from millions of books at their fingertips, so we must all do what we can to support those less fortunate with limited access to fresh reading material.”

Visit to get involved in the #BUYABOOK campaign or to shop their wide range of titles.

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Teenager’s poem illustrates power of literacy at National Book Week launch

A sobering poem by primary school learner Mbali Mabangula (12) highlighting poverty and the importance of education stole the show at the launch of National Book Week at the Despatch Community Hall today.

Even though the grade 5 teenager is a literary novice, she managed not only to trump esteemed speakers; her turn of phrase encapsulates the importance of establishing a culture of reading.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Head of Libraries, Bongiwe Chigumbu, said prior to the implementation of National Book Week (NBW), a national study showed that only 14% of South Africans read. NBW takes place from 4 – 10 September this year and the theme is #OurStories.

“Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality became part of this national promotional week in 2012. It is based on the premise that the country will ultimately benefit with improved literacy levels.

“Like Mbali, we are not only encouraging writers to put pen to paper, we also endeavour to promote their stories as well.

“Last year Eastern Cape author Unathi Magubeni launched his novel Nwelezelanga The Star Child at the Nelson Mandela Bay rendition of National Book Week. This year his book is used as part of a reading and comprehension competition between Bay High Schools,” Chigumbu said.

She said activities for the week include a train ride by librarians from Uitenhage to Port Elizabeth from 07:00 tomorrow morning and a return trip from 13:00 to encourage commuters to read and write.

A workshop highlighting mobi sites also takes place at the Zwide Library from 09:00 today (Tuesday, 5 September).

Residents can also attend an e-media workshop at the Gelvandale Library from 10:00 to learn how to get free access to newspapers, magazines and e-books by having a valid library card.

On Wednesday, 6 September a parent and child interactive reading session starts at 09:00 at the Walmer/Gqebera Library. At 10:00 library staff will be competing in a comprehension competition at the Kwadwesi Community Hall after reading Zakes Mda’s Rachel’s Blue.

On Thursday, 7 September book donations to specially selected primary schools take place at the Newton Park Library from 09:00 and the Colchester Modular Library from 11:00.

Following a brisk walk, starting at 08:30 on Friday from Allanridge Library to Uitenhage Market Square, Nal’ibali storytelling takes place at 09:45 at the Uitenhage Town Hall. The closing ceremony takes place at the Uitenhage Market Square from 10:00 with a myriad activities including a book launch, an award ceremony and a motivational talk.

My dear future

by Mbali Mabangula

Hello, hello, hello!
I greet you my dear future.
I hope you’re bright and full of opportunities
Just like I’ve imagined being alive with possibilities.
And be equipped with new responsibilities
I am three steps ahead at reaching new frontiers
Escaping the heavy poverty left by my forefathers
Who said no to school, but yes to slavery!
That caused their death at Calvary

I’ve learned my A.B.C’s
And counted my 1.2.3’s
But still there’s no shadow of hope under my tree
Only leaves falling for me to see, that with no education you’re not free
Instead you’re like a person who’s walking on knees,
Trying to flee from poverty through the grace of the almighty.

I say to you my dear future
Be my teacher and make my life more richer.

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FunDza awarded UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy 2017

FunDza has been awarded the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy 2017!

The prize, supported by the Government of the People’s Republic of China, rewards work that benefits rural populations and out-of-school youth, particularly girls and women. The award ceremony will take place on International Literacy Day, celebrated on 8 September, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. This year it focuses on literacy in a digital world.

The event brings together stakeholders and decision-makers from different parts of the world to examine how digital technology can help close the literacy gap and gain better understanding of the skills needed in today’s societies.

Says Mignon Hardie, executive director of FunDza, “We feel deeply honoured by this recognition for our work to get teens and young adults across South Africa reading and writing for pleasure. Thanks go to UNESCO and the Government of the People’s Republic of China for this incredible recognition for our work. Thanks too go to all the individuals and organisations that have supported and worked with our organisation since inception.”

The other two laureates receiving the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy are:
AdulTICoProgram of the Secretariat of Information and Communications Technologies of the city of Armenia (Colombia), for teaching digital competencies to seniors.

The Citizens Foundation (Pakistan) for its Aagahi Literacy Programme for Women and Out-of-School Girls, which conducts digital educational needs assessments and provides teaching services to support the education of younger girls and older women.

There are also two awards given for the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize, dedicated to mother-tongue literacy education and training, sponsored by the Republic of Korea. These go to:
Centre for the Study of Learning & Performance (CSLP) at Concordia University (Canada), for the Using Educational Technology to Develop Essential Educational Competencies in Sub-Saharan Africa project, which develops and distributes its material internationally free of charge.

We Love Reading (Jordan), a programme with a virtual community that offers online read-aloud trainings for parents, mobilises volunteers to read aloud in community spaces to children and provides age-appropriate material through a digital library.

Click here for the official UNESCO press release.

FunDza’s online platform – – houses a library that is accessible through mobile phones, tablets and computers and is reaching thousands of young readers on a daily basis. FunDza is continuously creating new content for the platform to encourage young people to make reading a daily habit, and to inspire them to write too.

In the last financial year, reached more than 570,000 individual readers. And, at present it is reaching around 70,000 committed readers each month, who read on average for 15 minute periods on their phones.

In addition to the online platform, FunDza is supporting beneficiary groups around the country with locally-created, exciting print books that ignite a love of reading. Since inception, FunDza has supported more than 500 groups who on average reach 100+ individual learners or readers. Through this network, FunDza is getting reading materials into the hands of those who need it most.

Mignon Hardie notes, “We believe that reading stories changes lives. We get incredible feedback from our readers who say that they are now able to read first thing in the morning or last thing at night thanks to They also share how stories are impacting on their lives – not only in terms of language acquisition but also through the power of stories to connect with their hearts and minds.”

Here are just a few quotes from readers saying what reading with FunDza has meant to them:

“What I enjoy on Fundza is I like reading some stories and almost it is true. Some stories made me think of how to be in life, how to fight battles and believe in yourself. I enjoy reading stories on Fundza.”

“Whenever I get an update on the Fundza whatsapp contact about recent stories I don’t hesitate to forward the message to my friends and dive head first into reading them. They are by far the best short stories I’ve ever read and they sure know how to quench one’s thirst.”

“Life and love lessons. I love reading the awesome stories writen by the brilliant writers. Some times i get carried away with reading that i even forget my house chores and burn pots while cooking!”

“I enjoy stories that are told by South Africans writers about South African people. It inspires me because I realize that there is too much talent and I’m happy that fundza is there for people who are book worms because a person who reads is an interesting person and interested in people.”

“It has improved my comprehension skills which still need polishing hence I need to join the online course but mostly fundza has inspired me to learn to be a writer because I’ve got an adventurous imagination and fundza has given me hope that one day I’ll will be able to write an award winning story.”

“Since the stories are almost published in almost every South African languages I get to learn how to read and understand new languages and also learn some of the words I didn’t know that they even existed.”

“From one of the stories I’ve read,I’ve learned that I should report a person who is violating human rights such as mistreating people with disability. Young people give up on their future because of the background they’re coming from, but I’ve learnt not ever to let the background I’m coming from describe who I am and to use the opportunity I’m given to build myself a better future.”

“Fundza is more than just a website where we read but it is a page where we learn, experience and grow … it also helps people to solve their problems … there are stories that some of us relate to and in the end we find solutions…”

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