The Daily Maverick has revealed some of the participants for this year’s edition of The Gathering.
The Gathering is one of the highlights of the year on the conference circuit, and some confirmed speakers this year include Premier David Makhura, Julius Malema, Mmusi Maimane, Zwelinzima Vavi, Dr Iraj Abedian, Riaan Manser, Dr Martyn Davies, Ranjeni Munusamy, Gareth Cliff, Richard Poplak and Justice Malala.
The event will take place on 11 June at The Dome at Vodaworld. A ticket costs R950, VIP tickets R2 950, and group/student deals are available. Meals, refreshments and goodie bags are included.
This year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival left no stone unturned as speakers and authors dove head-first into the contentious issues plaguing the South African literary landscape:
Jonathan Jansen, Moeletsi Mbeki and GG Alcock participated in a discussion on race, culture and identity chaired by Richard Poplak, and from the outset the panelists questioned the validity of the title of the event, “What is an African?”
Jansen, author of How to Fix South Africa’s Schools: Lessons from Schools that Work and We Need to Act, and Rector and Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State, said he believes “What is an African?” is a dangerous question, as it is rooted in exclusion: “I’m very worried about the shallowness of the discourse around African identity and blackness.”
Mbeki (Advocates for Change: How to Overcome Africa’s Challenges and Architects of Poverty: Why Africa’s Capitalism needs Changing) concurred, and admitted to being wary of providing an answer to the question. Born in the pre-apartheid era, Mbeki said he and his brother, former President Thabo Mbeki, grew up as Xhosa men with their identities being largely shaped by the frontier wars and the Xhosa poets’ accounts of these wars.
Poplak (Until Julius Comes: Adventures in the Political Jungle) remarked that “What is an African?” doesn’t take into account the hybrid identities of South Africans.
Alcock (Third World Child: Born white, Zulu bred) explained how growing up as a Zulu child in a mud hut in rural Msinga shaped his perception of culture and identity. “I’ve been commercially successful because of understanding culture,” Alcock said. He is the owner of Minanawe Marketing, an events company that started the Soweto Beach Party. Reflecting on the recent spate of xenophobic attacks Alcock, who views himself as a migrant worker, said: “The tragedy of xenophobia is that we’re all migrants.”
Jansen said the UFS has spent a significant amount of time and resources to address the issue of what it means to be a human being. He said that the recent attacks on statues and memorials show a “massive failure of education” and says he has seen a trend emerging in which people are turning against each other. He believes the question “What is an African?” enables these exclusionary practices. “I’ve been told I’m not a real coloured,” he offered as an example.
Mbeki said: “We live in different South Africas. To me the debate has really yet to start about the future of our country.” The author and economist said that South Africa has been run by nationalist parties for a very long time and argued that the National Party made the issue of identity problematic for themselves because on the one hand the Afrikaners hated the English and on the other they wanted to be included in colonial society.
Ending the discussion on a positive note Jansen said that he has seen incredible optimism among the youth of South Africa. He warned that talk of transformation should be a fluid discussion and not one that only occurs in times of crisis.
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Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw) tweeted from the discussion using #FLF15:
Long Story Short has shared a video in which contributors Masello Motana, Kabi Thulo, Keorapetse Kgositsile and Hlubi Mboya dicuss literature and its significance in shaping a “decolonial afrocentric World view.”
Motana, who is a performance artist and MC for Long Story Short, hasn’t had much opportunity to travel around Africa but says, “through literature I somehow feel like I have been around the continent,” because in writing you can “literally smell the places.”
Thulo believes that literature is a way to write Africanness in a way that pushes past colonial constructions. Kgositsile, poet laureate, says that African children are emptied of themselves as they are filled with Europe and North America by education. He says literature is a way to give African stories back to African people.
Mboya says she is very excited about the Long Story Short because it will put Africa on “global international stage when it comes to literature and the production of literature”.
Watch the video:
IT IS a career trajectory that would work in almost any profession. Start off with a full-time job where you can gain skills, experience and contacts.
And, important, become familiar with the ecosystem in your particular field. Then, when you tire of having your prospects determined by the whims of a boss, you develop your own vision for your career and set about making it happen.
In rugby, the process starts earlier and is more compressed.
Take Fourie du Preez, for instance. He was recruited by Heyneke Meyer while still at Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool and joined the Bulls as a contracted player as soon as he had matriculated.
Du Preez was a founding member of the killer squad, handpicked and moulded by Meyer, which went on to win the Currie Cup for three consecutive years and, in 2007, became the first South African team to bring home the Super Rugby trophy. Later that year, the same Bulls core helped the Springboks to their second Rugby World Cup victory under Jake White.
Two years later, Du Preez was key to one of the best ever years for a Springbok team. In 2009, they first beat the British and Irish Lions and, then the All Blacks. Not once but three times.
But, after a long golden run in terms of injuries, Du Preez finally succumbed. In 2010, he had surgery for a shoulder injury, followed by six months of rehab.
No sooner was he back on the field in 2011 than he injured his knee in a Super Rugby game.
And then, of course, he was part of the Springbok team which was ejected so ignominiously from the Rugby World Cup in 2011.
Despite the fact that he was only 30 and widely considered the best scrumhalf in the world, Du Preez turned his back on international rugby and settled for the relative obscurity of Japanese club rugby.
It was a bold move for a man who had never lived anywhere but Pretoria. But he was burnt out from the emotional and physical toll of having played 80 minutes in a pivotal position of almost every Currie Cup, Super Rugby and Springbok game for 10 years.
If it wasn’t for Japan, he says, he might have stopped playing rugby altogether after the 2011 World Cup.
Not only has his stint at Suntory Goliath taught him a new approach to the game, being immersed in a foreign culture has revitalised him.
Simple things, such as using public transport to get to training, delight him, as does the equilibrium he has managed to achieve between work and family.
Most of his teammates at Suntory Goliath have other jobs at the company so rugby is confined to half the day. Du Preez says he has learnt from this that it is entirely possible to balance professional rugby with study and family.
These days many players are taking a more entrepreneurial approach to their careers. They mix and match clubs and countries: they play Super Rugby but eschew Currie Cup, opting instead to spend the South African summer playing in Europe or Japan.
This means they are available for selection for some Springbok games.
Where Du Preez has broken the mould is that he won’t even play Super Rugby. He told me that one of his chief reasons for leaving SA was Super Rugby, with its punishing toll on players’ bodies and the endless travel. For most players, this would be a risky move — after all, Super Rugby is the parade ground where players hope to catch the eye of the Springbok coach. But Du Preez is experienced and confident enough to know he can get away with it and still make it into the Bok squad. In fact, judging by the injury list at the Springbok camp a few weeks ago, it is a wise move.
Anyone playing Super Rugby now could break down with a long term injury which could rule them out of the World Cup.
Luck is on his side in that no one has emerged to seriously challenge him for the scrumhalf berth. Even if there had, it is unlikely Meyer would have gone to the UK without one of his most trusted proteges.
The Japanese season runs from September to the end of February. Du Preez told me that, since 2013, he has been returning to SA for our winter months and following his own training and conditioning routine.
He has been doing rehab for an ankle injury and cross-training in a private gym three times a week. Soon his routine will include speed training and contact fitness and possibly a few games with the Bulls’ under-21s.
His regimen was worked out by specialists in Japan. He makes it clear that he has moved on from what he learnt at the Bulls. Du Preez is honing and refining his game. With the new nimbleness in his approach to life, we can expect Du Preez to add a layer of sophistication to the Springbok game.
Because there is no doubt that this is where he is headed. Heyneke Meyer has made it clear Du Preez is part of his plans for the World Cup. He will be integrated into the squad during the Rugby Championships and hopefully be at peak game fitness during the key World Cup games.
Unlike most of the rest of the team, who will be worn out by months of Super Rugby, Du Preez will be fresh and fit.
*This column first appeared in Business Day
The 2015 Writivism Short Story Prize Longlist has been announced, including one South African – Saaleha Bhamjee – on the list of 14 writers.
Here’s the full longlist:
- “A Ball of Thread” by Vivian Ogbonna (Nigeria)
- “Being a Man” by Adeola Opeyemi (Nigeria)
- “Blues for Absalom” by Erica Sugo Anyadike (Kenya)
- “Caterer, Caterer” by Pemi Aguda (Nigeria)
- “Devil’s Village” by Dayo Adewunmi Ntwari (Rwanda)
- “Dream” by Saaleha Bhamjee (South Africa)
- “Dying Gracefully” by Sima Mittal (Tanzania)
- “Legacy by Muthi” Bentley David Nhlema (Malawi)
- “Roses for Betty” by Sneha Shibu (Uganda)
- “Social Studies” by Nnedinma Jane Kalu (Nigeria)
- “The Crusade” by Oyebisi Dairo (Nigeria)
- “To have and to hide” by Walter Ude (Nigeria)
- “Voices” by Priscillar Matara (Botswana)
- “Wise-aching” by Hassan Higenyi (Uganda)
According the her Writivism profile, Bhamjee is a “grower of children and of all things green. A baker of cakes and of stories. She is currently working on the God-alone-knows-how-many-eth draft of her novel, and blogs at Afrocentric Muslimah about her experience of writing, the South African Mulsim community and whatever else tickles her fancy.”
Unfortunately, the longlisted stories are not available online. However, we have found a story by Bhamjee written earlier this year after her participation in the Writivism Creative Writing Three Day Workshop.
For this week’s edition of Fiction Friday, read Bhamjee’s short story entitled “Sunkissed”:
The insistent scream of the telephone wrenches me back from the edge of deep sleep. I groan. I’ve only just managed to get Amal to settle down. She’s been feverish and fretful all day. And now this. I reach over for the receiver, knock her medication and a glass of water to the floor.
“Fuckit!” I hiss.
Hello?” Lord, I sound like a smoker.
I clear my throat. “Hello?”
I hear a sniff. A very definite sniff. And now I’m fully awake, swinging legs off the side of the bed, raking fingers through the stork’s nest that passes for my hair at night and sliding feet into my slippers.
“Asma…is this you?”
“Yes, I’m Asma. Who is this?”
“Asma, kind, it’s your father…. He… he had a stroke.”
The Writivism Festival is an annual Literary Festival held every June, in Kampala, featuring the leading contemporary African writers, where the winner of this competition will be announced.
The longlist was selected from 277 entries received before the deadline for the prize submission. The panel of judges this year is chaired by Chika Unigwe and comprises Mukoma wa Ngugi, Tendai Huchu, Ainehi Edoro and Rachel Zadok.