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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

13-year-old Praises Banda has been announced as the winner of Nal’ibali’s 2018 Story Bosso contest!

Via Nal’ibali

Praises Banda, a 13-year-old Grade 7 pupil from Leboho Primary School in Limpopo, has been announced as 2018′s Story Bosso winner!

 
Story Bosso is a multilingual storytelling contest designed to provide aspiring storytellers with an opportunity to showcase their talent and to promote storytelling in all official South African languages. It’s an initiative of South Africa’s national-reading-for-enjoyment campaign, Nal’ibali.

The theme for this year’s talent search was ‘South African Heroes’. By remembering and telling the stories of our heroes, the campaign aimed to inspire greatness in all South African children.

Says Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali Managing Director:

“Heroes guide us about how to live our lives; they give us hope and motivate us to overcome challenges. We were blown away by young Praises Banda from Ga-Kibi, Dankie Village, in Limpopo, as her story, skillfully told in her home language Sepedi, did exactly that.”

Told with both sadness and passion, Banda’s story is about her personal hero, Kholofelo Sasebola, who put an end to the bullying she endured at school.

“The sadness in Praises’ voice is palpable. You can tell the bullying was traumatic, but, at the same time, you can hear her passion for celebrating the deed of her hero. Her command of Sepedi is commendable. Though the story is told in simple sentences, Praises uses the language playfully, and the story is easy to understand,” comments Lorato Trok, Story Bosso judge and children’s story development expert.

Storytelling is an important part of South African heritage and plays a key role in children’s literacy development by encouraging the use of imagination, curiosity, and empathy.

More than 50 special storytelling events were held across the country throughout September to allow members of the public to practice and build their storytelling skills before entering the contest.

Banda’s story was selected from over two thousand entries and, as this year’s Story Bosso, she will be receiving R5 000, a book hamper, and R500 worth of airtime.

A further five prizes will be awarded to provincial winners. Thabiso Khoeli from the Free State; Sibongile Mofokeng from Gauteng; Afika Cwecwe from the Eastern Cape; Mandisa Madlala from KwaZulu-Natal and Mbalentle Mangete from the Western Cape will each receive R1 000, a book hamper as well as R250 of airtime.

“Stories need to be valued for the critical contribution they play in the development of young minds. They help build neural circuits in our brains, particularly in young brains, that ultimately enable sophisticated thinking and reasoning,” says Jacobsohn.

“We know that well told stories – where a word may be a snarl, a shout, a whisper, or a cry – can be a colourful trail of chocolate Smarties that lead children to books! Those bonding moments of sharing stories with children help to root the seeds of a culture of reading into South African homes. We are proud of all of our winners this year for showing us what good storytelling can be,” concludes Jacobsohn.

To listen to the winning stories, or to find out more about Story Bosso and the Nal’ibali campaign, visit the Nal’ibali website on www.nalibali.org.


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“Poetry has a unique way of humanising the players in a political story” – a Q&A with slam poet and performer Siphokazi Jonas

Nal’ibali Column 29: Term 4, 2018

Sunday World 4 November 2018, Daily Dispatch 5 November 2018, Herald 8 November 2018

By Carla Lever

Slam poet par excellence, Siphokazi Jonas

 
Your poetry engages very deliberately with political and personal questions of identity. What kinds of ideas are you most passionate about spreading through it?

It’s all about the importance of autonomy in telling your story. I’m really interested in writing about and staging narratives which are not seen regularly, particularly about the lives of black women.

Do you think that there’s a space for poetry to reach people politically where newspaper reports or debate can’t? How can we all use or be open to that space?

Absolutely – poetry has a unique way of humanising the players in a political story. There is room for publishing poetry in newspapers and other media which could widen the scope of who has access to our work.

We come from a long history of protest poetry – literature, storytelling, theatre and so on. But now, it feels like there is a generational shift: a group of passionate young people who are ready to make their own political points outside of the traditionally political works of the past. Does this feel to you like a good time to be a young poet?

This is a fantastic time to be a poet! The shifts happen as politics and concerns change. Poetry gives us a platform not only to wrestle with past and present but also to engage with an imagined future.

Sometimes, no matter how familiar we are with a work, we can still read something and have a strong emotional reaction to it. Can you give us a couple of lines of your own poetry that still hit home for you?

Sure. Here’s an extract from my poem Making Bread:
Every December, in exchange for Tupperware full of roosterkoek
Tried over coals, I present uMama with English poems
To match the decadence of the season.
(English, with its heavy hand of sugar, corrodes my vernacular,
English poems do not let me forget that the bowl I work in is borrowed)
.

It’s always a challenge to get work out into the public, particularly as a poet. In 2016 you released some of your poetry in a very unusual format: a DVD. Can you tell us a little about why you did that and how it’s been received?

The DVD was to capture the verve and fire of spoken word which often disappears once you leave the stage. Although the work was received well, we didn’t quite account for the move away from physical DVDs and CDs – the best platforms for distribution are now online.

You’ve had some great successes in big slam poetry competitions. What has been the most exciting experience for you?

Slam is quiet a competitive format of performance and poses a challenge to the poet because of all the rules and time constraints placed on a performance. My favourite thing is how the slams tend to feel like collaborations instead of competitions.

I first encountered your work when you performed with the ‘Rioters in Session’ poetry collective. Can you tell us a little about them?

I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a number of their performances, though I’m not officially part of their collective. In their own words, Rioters in Session was “organized [as] an intuitive community for POC poetry womxn to share their work in a soft and safe space with a gentle audience”.

Why is it important for poets, storytellers, performers to have spaces to share their work and for people to be able to share and discuss it together? What does sharing stories do for communities of people?

We have an incredible history of storytelling and poetry in this country which has been integral as a way of archiving history, holding communities together, holding leaders accountable, protesting injustice, etc. I believe that we are seeing the same in the contemporary moment.

How can we encourage young people to get involved with poetry and storytelling? Are there resources or organisations you could direct them to?

The best way is to read poetry and also watch material online, follow poetry houses on social media such as Hear My Voice, Word and Sound, Poetry Africa, Poet in a Suit, Inzync Poetry, Grounding Sessions, Current State of Poetry, Words in My Mouth Poetry Slam. If there are no existing book clubs or poetry groups, start them right where you are!

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: www.nalibali.org.


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Magical, inspirational, life-affirming – notes on the 12th Book Dash, held in Johannesburg

By Anna Stroud

Photographer Urvesh Rama was there from start to finish, capturing all the action. Visit Book Dash on Facebook for more images.

 
Energy crackled in the air – the kind that makes every hair on your body jig, from your nose to your toes.

It’s a powerful sensation watching nine teams brainstorm, craft and chisel away to create nine beautiful children’s books in less than 12 hours. And that’s exactly what happened on Saturday, 27 October, as volunteers drove into the heart of Johannesburg to participate in the 12th edition of Book Dash.

The Streetlight Schools in Jeppestown was the perfect home for the Book Dash crew. The schools started in October 2013 in a small store-room in Bjala Square and their aim is to create globally competitive schools in the most underserved areas in South Africa.

In 2016, they launched the flagship Streetlight Schools: Jeppe Park where we hung our hats for the day. Judging from the drawings on the wall and the wholesome menu on the blackboard, it’s a nice, caring place to learn.

The nine teams of three – writer, illustrator and designer, plus one editor for two teams – experienced that care first hand. The school’s support staff kept us fed, hydrated and happy as we worked our way to the finish line.

“Everything we do today is a gift to the world,” said Book Dash founder Arthur Attwell at the start of the day, while his six-year-old son (and unofficial Book Dash cheerleader) beamed at us from across the room.

Book Dash originated in 2014 from the founders’ belief that each child should own 100 books by the age of five. The books are available for free under the Creative Commons Attribution licence and in all 11 official South African languages.

The Book Dash model has been replicated by various groups in and outside South Africa, and the Android app recently hit just over 100 000 downloads worldwide!

This 12th edition was made possible by the Otto Foundation Trust, which allows Book Dash to print and distribute the books.

One of the reasons why I volunteered as a Book Dash editor is the feeling of positivity and goodwill that permeates the room.

Throughout the day, the love spreads from writer to editor, designer to illustrator, facilitator to support staff, barista to photographer to videographer, and back again, like a never-ending cycle of good vibes. (Yes, we had our own barista!)

In the morning, all the writers and editors gathered in the library to read their stories aloud and to give each other feedback. I’ve never experienced such an affirming group of people, who gave each other advice on how to make their stories better and built each other up every step of the way.

It wasn’t an easy feat.

As the day progressed, illustrators’ hands started to cramp, designers started to see double, writers and editors went back and fro with coffee, snacks and kind words to motivate them to the finish line.

Then the final stretch: proofreading for wayward punctuation, frowning at fonts with their own free will, and watching the clock count down to the final minutes.

And then – sweet release – the work was done and we could bask in each other’s glory.

The teams took to the stage and the writers read their stories aloud to roaring applause. The final book caused all the tired creatives to collapse in fits of laughter: somewhere in the night, a car backfired just as one writer read the line: “What’s that noise behind the tree?”

The books will be available soon – but here’s a sneak preview of the magical titles that came to life during the day:

• I don’t want to go to sleep!
• The Great Cake Contest
• The very tired lioness
• Dance, Mihlali!
• Let’s have an inside day!
• Mali’s Friend
• Auntie Boi’s Gift
• Lions are always brave
• What’s at the park?

To experience some of the magic, follow the hashtag #BookDash for live coverage on the day or visit their website to find out how you can get involved.


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“It’s vital that children growing up in harsh environments can imagine worlds beyond those harsh realities” – a Q&A with speculative fiction author, Mandisi Nkomo

Nal’bali Column 28: Term 4, 2018

By Carla Lever

Mandisi Nkomo

 
What’s the place of speculative fiction – a broader term than science fiction that covers everything from superheroes to fantasy – in Africa right now?

It’s a big scene, just somewhat underground! Apart from certain big names that have managed to break into the pop culture hive mind, there’s a ridiculous amount of African Spec Fic around if you’re willing to dig. I can’t even keep up.

You have said that your writing is influenced by pop tech – highly visual, graphic forms of storytelling in videogames, comic books, anime and so on. What kind of feeling does this give your work?

At first it was more about creating a strong sense of the kind of mood that often comes with a lot of audio-visual platforms, or even taking the weird fiction path where plot takes a backseat in favour of cinematography, music, themes and surrealism. It’s taken a bit of a new turn recently though. Now I’m working on something where I’m building a whole story world around gameplay ideas, like ammo drops.

Another really interesting thing about your work is how it draws from real, often underrepresented, African histories. So, for instance, you’ve made references to the Namibian border war, the TRC, corruption. How can speculative fiction help us to understand or re-process our own worlds?

Most speculative fiction is about understanding or re-processing our own worlds. Authors just choose how much real life influence they want to give readers as clues to what they’re actually discussing in their work. George Orwell’s Animal Farm for example, was set in an almost childlike fantasy world of talking animals, but was actually an way to talk about very serious world issues.

Afrofuturism is very trendy worldwide right now, particularly with the success of Black Panther. But imagining an African knowledge system that has power and commands global respect is something that many are trying to do with the decolonisation project. Have you found there are links that writers are able to make where business people and politicians often can’t?

Definitely! Business people and politicians are not necessarily taught to push creativity and imagination when problem-solving.

Do you think that being able to imagine worlds differently is a skill that we should encourage all our children to develop through reading more?

I really do. It assists with problem-solving and increases your ability to think outside certain norms or embedded cultures. From a South African perspective, it’s vital that children growing up in harsh environments can imagine worlds beyond those harsh realities.

What’s the best way to keep up to date with your latest writing?

I keep my website up to date whenever I get published, and post updates regularly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ve also started a Patreon page, where I plan to self-publish writing exclusives for paying patrons.

https://thedarkcow.com/
• Facebook: @darkcowproductions
• Instagram: @mandisithepolymath
• Twitter: @mandisinkomo
https://www.patreon.com/thedarkcow

What online resources are out there for fans of African speculative fiction who might not have access to published books?

The African Speculative Fiction Society is an excellent source. They maintain a list of African Speculative Fiction from novels to works readily available online: http://www.africansfs.com/resources/published

Why is telling – and reading – our own stories in Africa so important?

Well, for one, history tends to be written by the victors, but now we have this little thing called the internet which is making it harder to erase underrepresented voices. And, as you mentioned, with the rise in popularity of things like Black Panther, we have to make an effort to not get written out of the narrative by those with more money and influence.

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: www.nalibali.org.


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Book Bites: 28 October

Published in the Sunday Times

Melusi’s Everyday Zulu ****
Melusi Tshabalala, Jonathan Ball Publishers, R220

Peals of laughter shook me. The cat ran off without looking back. “Doctor” Tshabalala takes politics head-on, wades through current affairs, family, being a “grown-up” (so many aren’t!) and muses on 21st-century life as a Zulu man with the same wild abandon and unexpected humour. You can learn a Zulu word a day (actually about three), on his site or his Facebook page and blog, as this comedian/social guerrilla infiltrates White Monopoly Culture. But it’s the light touch that does it, the gentle prodding that makes you wish you were learning the entire depth of the Zulu culture and language. A really, really fun read. Ngiyabonga kakhulu Melusi! Ungaphumalela na! David Forbes

The Last GirlThe Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and my Fight Against the Islamic State ****
Nadia Murad and Jenna Krajeski, Virago, R225

Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad’s childhood in the Yazidi community was a happy existence in a village of peasant farmers in an area of Iraq that was a curious melting pot of religions – Muslims, Christians and the ancient Yazidi sect – who in the main tolerated each other. But in 2014 that all changed when Islamic State fighters destroyed her village, killed almost all the men, including six of her brothers, and many of the women and took Nadia and other young women to be sex slaves; to be abused, raped and dehumanised. She eventually escaped, and a Sunni Muslim family risked their lives to get her to safety. Resettled in Germany, Nadia is now an advocate for the Yazidi cause and has spoken all over the world, including at the UN. Her story is a stark and compelling reminder that victims of war include more than the corpses you see on the evening news. Margaret von Klemperer

An Unquiet PlaceAn Unquiet Place *****
Clare Houston, Penguin, R260

Neglected, lost and fragile, Hannah Harrison leaves everything she knows in Cape Town for a bookshop in the Free State. There, she discovers a diary dating back to concentration camps from the South African War. Hannah is intrigued by the idea that she could unravel the mystery of the diary and what happened to the person who wrote it, but she encounters many obstacles: new love, an ex-lover and a deranged woman living on a farm nearby. Houston manages to weave together a complicated tapestry of events in an unexpected and rich way. So masterful is Houston’s writing that at the end readers will likely be inspired to research our history. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

Book details


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“Just stick to cricket, Shane.” Good ol’ Warney has been indulged once more in this tedious biography, writes Archie Henderson

Published in the Sunday Times

No Spin: My Autobiography **
Shane Warne with Mark Nicholas, Penguin Random House, R320

Shane Warne deserves a good biography.

This is not it, even with Mark Nicholas as his amanuensis.

Nicholas, an accomplished broadcaster and writer, played a marathon innings, listening to his subject, recording him, transcribing their conversations and bringing some coherence to the garrulous Warne’s ramblings.

He fails to rein in Warne and a book of almost 400 pages (including seven of fascinating statistics) could have been half the length, enough to accommodate the best part of the book, the cricket.

Warne was a great cricketer – many aficionados believe he was one of the greatest – but he can also be a great bore.

His peccadillos with a variety of women and his affair with film star Liz Hurley are tedious.

His obsequiousness toward the rich (Kerry Packer et al) is embarrassing, especially his blatant pleading to be invited to Johann Rupert’s next golf outing at St Andrews.

And his participation during a TV reality show in the “jungle” near the Kruger Park is ludicrous and irrelevant.

Stick to cricket, a strong captain – Steve Waugh, perhaps, whom Warne loathes – might have advised.

But good ol’ Warney has been indulged once more.

When he does stick to cricket, he redeems himself and his book.

He is a deep thinker on the game, was a brilliant exponent of the difficult art of leg-spin bowling and would have made a very good Australian captain.

Sadly, part of his behaviour cost him that job. Now it’s cost him a good book.

One day, when time has created some distance for dispassion, Warne will get his deserved biography. It might even be by Gideon Haigh, the Australian who is as good a writer as Warne is a bowler and who has already compiled a series of essays on the player. In them Haigh describes Warne’s bowling action as being “both dainty and menacing, like Ernst Blofeld stroking his white cat”.

Now that’s a book that would be worth reading.

Book details


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“Children need to be encouraged from an early age to learn another language or languages” – a Q&A with academic and language activist, Zakeera Docrat

Nal’ibali Column 26: Term 4, 2019

By Carla Lever

Zakeera Docrat

 
Congratulations on your two recent awards – having your MA thesis voted the best in Southern Africa by the African Languages Association of Southern Africa and winning the Albertina Sisulu Doctoral Fellowship at the SA Women in Science Awards. What will this recognition mean for you personally, and for your research specialty professionally?

Thank you very much! It’s an incredibly gratifying feeling to know that my research is being recognized at the highest levels of academia and government. It also casts the national spotlight on a relatively new field of forensic linguistics – or language and the law. Including African languages in the legal system enables real justice: it’s an issue that’s finally being placed on the national stage.

Your academic work looks at how African languages are represented in the legal system. Can you tell us a little about your current research?

My PhD research focuses on language and the law, specifically looking at the language of record in South African courts. In 2017, English was made the sole language of official record, but only 9.6% of the population in South Africa speak English as their mother tongue. Language affects people’s rights in courts. If you are an African language or Afrikaans mother tongue speaker and you have no or limited linguistic competency in English, then you are solely reliant on an interpreter. In my opinion, that’s both unfair and untransformative.

How do you think it changed your worldview, to be able to communicate with a wide variety of people in their own language?

By acquiring an additional language, in turn you acquire a cultural key to navigate cultural barriers. We live in a diverse, linguistically rich country, where the majority of our people speak an African language as their mother tongue. I couldn’t imagine being unable to communicate with the majority of people in the province of my birthplace, the Eastern Cape. You’re able to see the world through someone else’s perspective, to relate to fellow citizens and be respectful and aware of their traditions.

Since 1996, courts have made translation available to anyone who needs it. Why, in your opinion, is this not enough to really ensure people are fairly represented? How can it still place defendants at a disadvantage?

All accused persons have a right to a fair trial and to be legally represented. But can a legal representative defend the accused fully when they communicate through an interpreter? In my opinion, no. When people use interpreters to give evidence, meaning is often lost or changed. If the presiding officer only speaks English there is no possibility of picking up any inaccuracies. There are also often cultural concepts and traditions that can’t be interpreted directly into English.

Are there countries in the world where legal language policies are inclusive and work well? Who can we look to as an example?

Indeed there are! We could emulate a Canadian model, which is fully bilingual with judicial officers and legal practitioners being fully bilingual. Cases are heard in either of the official languages. Although South Africa has eleven official languages as opposed to Canada’s two, there is no reason why there can’t be language policies for each province, given that there are two languages spoken by the majority in each province.

Academics are often theory-driven, but was there a practical moment or discovery that really brought home the injustice and shortcomings of a legal system that can’t accommodate people’s lived, language-based realities?

I’m actually trying to find the answer to a very practical question: how do we enable access to justice for the majority of our people who are not English mother tongue speakers? The case of State v Sikhafungana (2012) really brought home to me how difficult it can be for South Africans to navigate our legal system. It saw a Deaf complainant needing to testify about being sexually assaulted, but being at a severe disadvantage because she couldn’t understand English or communicate using South African sign language. It was heartbreaking to see how there were so many barriers to justice for her.

People often counter policy suggestions by saying expanding options will prove too expensive. In your opinion, are there incremental or simple changes that might already make a big difference, or should South African invest in a large system overhaul?

The expense argument is one that is constantly used, yet there is always money available for wasted expenditure. Language is seen as a problem rather than a right and a resource. It isn’t valued.

We can’t expect to wake up tomorrow and have the entire legal system fully functional in all eleven official languages. What can be done, though, is for universities to begin to train prospective lawyers in languages other than just English. African languages and Afrikaans should also be language of record where practical.

Of course, the legal system isn’t the only one that is failing to truly represent our country’s diverse needs. Education, healthcare, policing…do you think all these areas could benefit from drawing on the richness of our languages as resources rather than sideline them as problems?

Indeed. Miscommunication in services such as healthcare, education and the legal system can have disastrous effects. It’s sad that pupils and parents think that English is the only language that will give rise to job opportunities. The power of the mother-tongue in acquiring a sound education and learning content subjects isn’t recognized in policy. Language is also key to the decolonization and transformation of our universities, yet we continue to see an emphasis placed on what we learn rather than what language we’re learning in. There’s a real need to create awareness on the importance of language as a tool to empower and transform South Africa.

How do you think we can develop and nurture a love for, and practical engagement with, all of our country’s languages in South Africa?

It starts in the home! Children need to be encouraged from an early age to learn another language or languages. Mother tongue speakers also need to value the power and status of their language – by doing this, others will be encouraged to learn those languages too.

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: www.nalibali.org.


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Editor needed for New Coin

New Coin is looking for a new editor to begin work in January 2019 (first issue: June 2019).

The editor should have a good sense of the range of genres and sub-cultures in South African poetry today, and be willing to engage constructively with new writing and writers.

The main responsibilities would be:
• selecting and compiling material for each issue
(two issues a year – typically 50 poets submit work to each issue)
• selecting cover art for each issue
• identifying and selecting new books to review, and finding knowledgeable reviewers
• corresponding with poets, notifying them of acceptances and rejections, as well as making constructive editorial suggestions
• appointing a judge for the annual DALRO Prize
• liaising with the designer of New Coin on production matters
• proofreading
• maintaining the New Coin page on Facebook
• promotion of New Coin
• liaison on administrative matters with the publisher – the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA) at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

The editor can be based anywhere in South Africa. He or she will have the support of an editorial advisory board appointed by the ISEA. A small stipend is paid for the work.

If you’re interested, please send a letter of motivation spelling out your vision for the future of the journal, together with a short CV, to isea@ru.ac.za before 31 October 2018.


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Launch: Ambassadeur III (28 September)

Ambassadeur is an annual literary lifestyle journal featuring art, literature and travel. The third edition of this journal will be revealed at the launch event on Friday, 28 September 2018, at Just Like Papa, 73 Harrington Street, Cape Town.

The latest edition will feature: the photography of Jaco S. Venter, an in-depth interview with vanguard artist J.E. Foster, a discussion on the relationship between art and cuisine with renowned chef, Johnny Hamman, a near-death experience in the Congo, a look inside Bulgaria’s Soviet monuments and much more.

Ambassadeur have also once again collaborated with the Italian luxury brand Gucci, to bring to life another revered South African novel through a unique photo-essay where fashion meets literature. This time around the novel is André P. Brink’s literary tour de force, The Ambassador, first published in 1963.


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Submit a review of your favourite children’s book and stand a chance to win!

Click here for more!


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