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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Abantu Book Festival is calling for donations

Via Abantu Book Festival

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Ons Klyntji is calling for submissions!

Via Ons Klyntji

Deadline: 31 May 2018, midnight CAT

Ons Klyntji, a magazine published and launched every year at the Oppikoppi music festival is looking for submissions “written or visual”.

There is no set theme, but we do appreciate material that concerns the here and now: love & politics, drought & roll, the road & the verge, music & the movement, spirits & genes, the city & the land, origins & myth, cursor & click, if you liked this you might also like & suggested for you. (This means: you write what you left swipe.) Writings about South Africa, Africa, South Africans and Africans will be appreciated.

Send in:

  • Your three best poems
  • Short stories no longer than 2500 words
  • Photographs, graphics, sketches, images, doodles etc that work in black and white, and smallish (Ons Klyntji is printed the size of your back pocket)
  • Book and CD reviews of no longer than 150 words a shot (focus on South African and African material, fiction or non-fiction, poetry or non-poetry)
  • Interviews with a creative of your choice (max 2000 words)
  • A short thesis on why South Africans consider the orange traffic light to be an invitation to speed the hell up (max 100 words)

You can submit in any language to either or

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READ Educational Trust: celebrating the freedom to learn, this Africa Day!

Written on behalf of READ Educational Trust

On 25 May 2018 we celebrate Africa Day; a day marking the independence of 28 African countries from European colonisers. While South Africa only became part of the original organisation in 1994, our country became the founding member of the African Union, officially launched in 2002.

For READ Educational Trust, a non-profit organisation promoting literacy amongst the poorest of the poor for nearly 40 years, this day is about far more than liberation. It’s about the freedom to learn; the freedom to explore and be educated, and at the very core, it’s about access to reading and literacy.

READ’S reason for being has always been to bring change to the lives of disadvantaged children in South Africa through education. Sadly, after 38 years since the organisation’s inception, we still see the majority of young learners being negatively impacted by a range of social and economic inequalities. These children in predominantly rural areas face a childhood of adversity.

There is inadequate access to healthcare, education, social services and quality nutrition. This has undermined the development of these learners, resulting in significant deficits that limit educational progress.

This limited progress was highlighted in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) report, released in December 2017. A staggering 80% of South African Grade 4 learners cannot read with comprehension. South Africa’s average score is 261 points below countries like The Russian Federation, Singapore and Ireland. This difference represents six school years – meaning that our Grade 8 learners, entering secondary education, are reading at the same level as Grade 2 learners in these countries. Our top achievers are at the same mean level score as the lowest 25% performing countries. Over the past five years, our learners (including the top achievers) have not progressed at all. Rural learners are three years below their urban counterparts.

READ has successfully addressed some of these issues over the years, thanks to the implementation of Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programmes that assist caregivers, educators and principals of ECD Centres in overcoming our country’s challenges. READ also provides practical training, hands-on support and valuable resources which have been shown to be extremely effective.

The need, however, is both dire and vast. A collective effort can change the face of South Africa. The only way to succeed is for governments, non-profit organisations, big business and private individuals to stand together and do all they can to combat illiteracy by actively promoting and funding reading and educational incentives.

Visit to find out more and join the conversations on:


Twitter:, Instagram:

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Franschhoek Literary Festival 2018 has kicked off!

From invigorating discussions about feminism in 2018, to where our country stands with regards to macro-economics; the precarious state of SA’s political future to formulating ideologies into words; plus what intersectionality *actually* means – the first day of the annual Franschhoek Literary Festival provided enough stimulating conversation to exercise festival goers’ brain muscles, whilst festival-sponsor Porcupine Ridge supplied enough wine to keep them hydrated.

Hotter than expected, veteran FLF’ers were often heard remarking that “it ALWAYS rains during Franschhoek,” yet the pleasant weather made for an excellent excuse to enjoy a glass of in vino veritas.

To whet your appetite for whatever Saturday might bring, here are a few tweets of the vet pret first day of Franschhoek Literary Festival 2018:

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Call for Joburg creatives to make free children’s books

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SA illustrator wins international literary award

Via Golden Baobab: Accra, Ghana (9 May 2018)

Toby Newsome, a renowned Cape Town based artist has won the internationally coveted Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA) for his illustrations in the children’s book, Grandma’s List. The book was written by Ghanaian author, Portia Dery, who who jointly won the CABA with Toby Newsome.

Toby Newsome, the acclaimed illustrator of Grandma’s List.

The Children’s Africana Book Award is an annual prize presented to authors and illustrators of the best children’s and young adult books on Africa published or republished in the U.S.A. The awards were created by Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association (ASA) and its sponsors includes the African Studies departments of universities Harvard, Howard and Yale among others. Past winning illustrators of CABA include South Africa’s Niki Daly.

One of Newsome’s stunning illustrations.

Grandma’s List is a brilliant and colorful story about an 8-year old girl, Fatima, who wants to save the day by helping her grandmother complete her list of errands. The problem is, Fatima loses the list and she has to recall from memory what was written on it. The rest of story then takes the reader on a funny and heartwarming adventure with Fatima and her family.

Grandma’s List, published by African Bureau Stories, won the 2018 CABA Young Children’s category along with two other books from international publishers, Candlewick Press and Farrar, Straus and Giroux. This is the second international children’s book award that Grandma’s List has won. It previously won the prestigious Golden Baobab Prize for The Best Picture Book manuscript in Africa in 2014.

The new children’s publishing house, African Bureau Stories, has made an impressive move in publishing a truly Pan-African book like Grandma’s List, which is a powerful literary partnership between Ghana and South Africa. The publishing house’s aim is to produce world class and contemporary African stories for children. In addition to Grandma’s List, African Bureau Stories has produced three other children’s books which according to the publisher, Deborah Ahenkorah, are “super cool books that will delight children all over the world.”

Anastasia Shown, a CABA Reviewer from the University of Pennsylvania says:

Grandma’s List is an excellent read aloud book for school or storytime. The illustrations show a neighborhood in Ghana that is very typical of many African towns with shops, gardens, small livestock, and many people outside working and playing…One of the best features of the book is the characters of many ages. There are kids playing, vendors selling, teens on their phones, grownups working, and elders relaxing. They wear African prints and western styled clothes…The book can generate lots of great open ended questions.”


With illustrations like these it’s no wonder Newsome was the recipient of this coveted award!

Book details

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Q&A with the South African school representatives for the Global Kids’ Literature Quiz

Nal’ibali Column 12, Term 2: Published in the Sunday World, Daily Dispatch, Herald

By Carla Lever

From left to right – Jaskaran Rajaruthnam, Sam Walker, Jemma Kasavan, and Michaela Crankshaw.

Michaela Crankshaw, Jemma Kasavan, Jaskaran Rajaruthnam and Sam Walker are all grade seven students at Manor Gardens Primary – a small public in Durban. In July, they will represent South Africa in the World Finals of the Kids Literature Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. We interview them and their inspirational teacher, Isobel Sobey.

Congratulations to all of you on making the world finals of the Kids’ Lit Quiz – this must be hugely exciting! How stiff was the competition in the South African national finals?

Team: We were up against the best teams in the country, so it was difficult. It’s always stressful because we never know what to expect in terms of questions.

How long have you been practicing literature quizzes with Mrs Sobey?

Team: We have weekly morning book club before school and we sometimes do quizzes after to discuss our books. It’s mostly just about reading a lot of books and remembering what you read, who wrote it and when it was written – the quizmaster can ask absolutely anything!

Your school has an incredible track record when it comes to making the national and international finals of this competition. It seems that Mrs Sobey is your secret weapon! What’s your winning approach, Isobel?

Isobel: We are lucky to be in a school where reading is a priority from Grade 1 and students have been exposed to as many as 400 books in their first year of school. I’m just lucky to work with them once the Foundation Phase teachers have worked their magic. I guess I am saying that I’m not the magic; it’s Manor Gardens Primary School that is a magical place!

Isobel, you’ve said that children at Manor Gardens working toward getting a place on the team as early as grade one. How have you managed to develop such an incredibly powerful culture of reading at your school?

Isobel: Reading forms the basis of much of our teaching, is brought into lessons all the time and we give children and teachers half an hour a day to read solo for fun. With all that reading going on, most children make an effort to find books they enjoy.

It sounds like it’s a big deal to get on the Book Quiz team! What do the rest of the school think about the quiz and how do they support you?

Team: They are very proud and extremely supportive of our fundraising initiatives. They’re behind us all the way!

The international quizmaster says he can draw on any book published – two thousand years’ worth of literature is a lot to cover! How do you prepare?

Team: Read, read, read … we’re lucky that we don’t all like the same types of books, so we can divide what we need to cover. We’re allowed to read anything we want but Mrs Sobey looks for new books that might be part of the quiz.

What kinds of added benefits do you find reading gives you all?

Team: We can actually go to different exotic places in books themselves! We also learn a lot of general knowledge and vocabulary and it’s a relaxing way to escape the world.

Only four students get to take part in the competition, but how do you keep encouraging everybody in the school to get excited about reading?

Isobel: I do lots of book talks, I introduce new books, we watch movies based on children’s books. We have our own school inter-house Children’s Book Quiz – this way more children have a chance to answer questions about books and we all get to watch the quiz.

Who do you think your biggest competition is this year?

Team: New Zealand and the UK.
Isobel: I say Singapore.

I know you mentioned some programmes that Manor Gardens is running to partner with other schools to spread the reading bug. Can you tell us a little about that?

Isobel: The Phendulani Quiz was started by Marj Brown, the National co-ordinator of Kids’ Lit Quiz in South Africa. Schools sponsor other under-resourced schools who receive a set of books which they have a set amount of time to read before we all get together to hold our own quiz. Every year the Phendulani Quiz grows a little bit and a few more children get to enjoy bonding over shared books.

Not everybody gets the chance to fly to New Zealand, but why is it important that every child in South Africa has the opportunity to read books in their language?

Team: Reading develops your mind and your world. We wish everyone could find a lifetime friendship with books, like we have!

From Sunday April 15, Nal’ibali will be publishing its supplements in two new languages. An English-Setswana edition will be published in the Sunday World in the North West, and an English-Xitsonga edition will be donated to reading clubs in Limpopo. Clubs in both provinces will collect their copies from select post offices. The post offices (10 in each province) will also have 50 additional editions each to give away to member of the public.

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Book Bites: 22 April

Published in the Sunday Times

The Last RomeoThe Last Romeo
Justin Myers, Piatkus, R285

What would you get if you were to combine Adrian Mole and almost any Marian Keyes novel? Justin Myers’s brilliant debut novel and its lead, James. James is at a crossroads. He’s 34, gay, has broken up with his toxic boyfriend, and isn’t loving his job making up celebrity gossip for a hot London rag mag. He starts online dating and blogging about his encounters using the nom de plume of “Romeo”. The idea is simple; James dates and then blogs anonymously about the encounters. If a date is rude to him, it’s open season. But if he meets someone who turns out to be The One, he’ll give up the blog. James meets a series of weird/gross/hot men and the results are hilarious, sad and mostly true to life. Then he meets a closeted Olympian and his drunken blog post about the encounter sends Romeo’s social media profile through the roof, and all hell breaks loose. The Last Romeo is sharp, witty and combines a good laugh with touching sincerity. Russell Clarke @russrussy

Woman of State
Simon Berthon, HarperCollins, R295

Maire McCartney, a moderate Belfast Catholic, was persuaded by her extremist boyfriend to be part of a honey-trap, the seduction of a British policeman who would be blackmailed into betraying British operatives. Except the policeman was murdered, and Maire forced to flee, assume a new identity, and move to England where she becomes a human-rights lawyer, and eventually Minister of State for Security. What of her past though? Berthon presents an enthralling and believable tale of love, loyalty, and death. Aubrey Paton

The Boy Made Of Snow
Chloe Mayer, Orion, R295

It is 1944. Annabel is left alone to look after her son, Daniel, while her husband is away at war. The connection between the pair is fragile, due to Annabel having never fully recovered from her postpartum depression. They do, however, share a love of fairy tales. Like sweet magic, a German PoW enters their lives; yet well-read readers know that the original fairy stories are dark and harrowing. Artfully, Mayer has woven the shadows of the Snow Queen into the narrative, creating a story that will haunt long after the final pages are read. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

Book details

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Nal’ibali adds two more South African languages to their literacy newspaper supplements

Via Nal’ibali

Nal’ibali – South Africa’s national reading-for-enjoyment campaign – is proud to be adding two more South African languages to their literacy newspaper supplements. Setswana and Xitsonga readers can now enjoy the Nal’ibali supplements in their mother languages from mid-April 2018. This latest addition brings the total number of languages to eight, for Nal’ibali’s bilingual supplements. It is a significant milestone for Nal’ibali, who fully promotes reading and writing in mother languages.

The supplements are made possible through a media partnership with Tiso Blackstar (formerly Times Media Group), who produce the bilingual newspaper supplements every two weeks, during term time. The print rich material includes stories, literacy activities, reading and reading club tips and support, to inspire and guide parents, caregivers, teachers, librarians and reading clubs, to make reading and storytelling meaningful, enjoyable and accessible.

“The importance of mother language preservation and promotion is critical and should be addressed as such,” explains Nal’ibali Xitsonga language editor, Mr Gezani Chabalala, who believes language, culture and identity are inseparable and complement each other. Language assists in shaping one’s culture. It is important to preserve and promote mother tongue for the language’s continued existence, and as a minority language in SA, Xitsonga speakers will benefit from this milestone. People learn and understand better when lessons are conducted in a language they know and understand well, concludes Chabalala.

Nal’ibali places value on the power of language and cultural relevance in literacy development. To cultivate a reading culture and a nation that prides itself on high-level literacy, all children and adults need to understand what they are listening to and reading. Real understanding makes it meaningful and enjoyable which is significant for raising readers.

“I would like to commend Nal’ibali for giving the Batswana children, and children of other languages, an opportunity to read interesting stories in their own language! It is a great effort towards ensuring we cultivate a culture of reading in our children, at the same time preserving our language. In my opinion, children who can write and read in their language can easily learn other languages. Through storytelling, with special reference to Setswana, our language and culture will be hugely promoted, as Nal’ibali urges children to interact with others, to use their imagination and to learn from these stories” says Opelo Thole, Nal’ibali Setswana language editor.

Several Tiso Blackstar titles distribute 147,600 reading-for-enjoyment supplements fortnightly in the following language combinations, available during school term time only:

• Sunday World (North West Province) – English and Setswana – Sundays
• English and Xitsonga supplements will be available at selected SA Post Offices and reading clubs in Limpopo
• Sunday Times Express (Western Cape) – English and isiXhosa – Sundays
• Sunday World (KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng) – English and isiZulu – Sundays
• Sunday World (Free State) – English and Sesotho – Sundays
• Sunday World (Limpopo) – English and Sepedi – Sundays
• The Herald (Thursdays) and Daily Dispatch (Tuesdays) (Eastern Cape) – English and isiXhosa.

Each week, 53 000 supplements are also distributed free of charge through Tiso Blackstar Education directly to reading clubs, community organisations, libraries, schools and other partners in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, Free State, Limpopo, North West and KwaZulu-Natal. A limited number of free supplements will be available at select post offices in Limpopo and North West. Visit Nal’ibali’s website to see a list of these post offices.

To download digital copies of the supplements and more information about the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign, free children’s stories in a range of SA languages, tips on reading and writing with children, details on how to set up a reading club or to request training, visit,, or find them on Facebook and Twitter..

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Book Bites: 25 March

Published in the Sunday Times

A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa
Alexis Okeowo, Corsair, R315

Okeowo, an American-Nigerian New Yorker staffer, set off to better know the vastness of the continent of Africa and the people who are bravely fighting fundamentalism. She believed, “If I wanted readers to understand that the people I interviewed were not that different from them, I needed to practise empathy while writing.” This led to her pursuing four in-depth stories: a Ugandan couple who were kidnapping victims of Joseph Kony’s LRA; a Mauritanian who devoted his life to fighting slavery; two people who were affected by Boko Haram in Nigeria; and the brave girls and women who risk their lives by continuing to play basketball in Somalia. An emotionally tough read, yet beautifully done. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

The Blind *****
AF Brady, HarperCollins, R295

Sam James is a well-known psychologist at a psychiatric institution in New York. Richard is a difficult patient who nobody wants to treat but Sam is unfortunately assigned to him. Through Richard and his sordid history, Sam confronts her own demons, something she has always avoided. At the same time, Richard is moving from patient to counsellor, but only one person will walk away healed. Its clever plot and constant thrills will throw any reader off balance, but that is what makes this book a must-read. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle *****
Stuart Turton, Bloomsbury, R295

Tweeds, dinner jackets, valets and butlers, crystal stemware and a murder mystery with a small cast of characters in a once magnificent 1920s country house in England. It’s a few years after WW1, and the Hardcastle family have a masquerade ball to celebrate their children Evelyn and Michael. But Evelyn is murdered and the mysterious protagonist Aiden Bishop has to find the killer. He is in a time loop and lives the day over and over by inhabiting different guests to solve the murder. It’s a wacko plot, but Turton delivers a well-constructed concept and a refreshing read. Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

Book details

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