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Black to the future: Authors announced for the Abantu Book Festival

Authors announced for the Abantu Book Festival

Alert! The Abantu Book Festival has revealed a sneak peek of writers and performing artists who will be leading the inaugural event.

The Abantu Book Festival will be happening in Soweto, 6-10 December 2016.

The impressive lineup includes Angela Makholwa, Bheki Peterson, Bongani Madondo, Bontle Senne, Chika Unigwe, Dikeledi Deekay Sibanda, Duduzile Zamantungwa Mabaso, Don Mattera, Elinor Sisulu, Eusebius McKaiser, Florence Masebe, Fred Khumalo, Gcina Mhlope, HJ Golakai, James Murua, Khadija Patel, Khaya Dlanga, Khosi Xaba, Koleka Putuma, Lebo Mashile, Lesego Rampolokeng, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Malaika wa Azania, Mongane Wally Serote, Natalia Molebatsi, Ndumiso Ngcobo, Niq Mhlongo, NoViolet Bulawayo, Nozizwe Jele, Percy Mabandu, Phillippa Yaa De Villiers, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Redi Tlhabi, Rehana Rossouw, Sabata-mpho Mokae, Sihle Khumalo, Siphiwe Mpye, Siphiwo Mahala, Thabiso Mahlape, Thandiswa Mazwai, Thato Magano, Unathi Kondile, Unathi Magubeni, Vangi Gantsho, Xolisa Guzula, Yewande Omotoso, Zukiswa Wanner, and others still to be confirmed.

Panashe Chigumadzi, author of Sweet Medicine and the festival’s curator, says:

In this lineup we find depth and variety. Some of our authors have been telling stories for as long as others have been alive, while others have just begun but are bringing incredible innovations to the art. Together with our storytellers, we’ll be looking black to the future.

Black Widow SocietySigh The Beloved CountryPowers of the KnifeNight DancerThe Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story!Memory is the WeaponWalter and Albertina Sisulu
Run Racist Run#ZuptasMustFall and Other RantsHave You Seen Zandile?The ScoreTo Quote MyselfThese handsIn a Ribbon of RhythmA Half Century Thing

“Abantu” is the Nguni word for “people”, and the festival’s mission is to be “the literature event that provides black writers and readers the platform and visibility they deserve”.

The first annual Abantu Book Festival will be a five-day experience of readings, discussions, music and other forms of storytelling, as well as workshops and film screenings.

Organised under the theme – Our Stories – the festival celebrates African stories through written and spoken word, visual arts, music and film. It will explore the ways in which our stories are told, and how these inform, or are informed by, our ways of being.

The Soweto Theatre (Jabulani) and Eyethu Lifestyle Centre (Mofolo) are the main venues, and African Flavour Books will be on site to make sure your favourite African and diasporan titles are on sale.

The programme will be published in November 2016.

Full author profiles are available at the Abantu Book Festival website!

The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things and Other StoriesMemoirs of a Born FreeRumoursEat, Drink and Blame the AncestorsAffluenzaWe Need New NamesHappiness is a Four-Letter Word
The Everyday WifeRapeEndings and BeginningsWhat Will People SayGa ke ModisaAlmost Sleeping My Way to TimbuktuWhen a Man Cries
Ukuba MtshaThe Woman Next DoorLondon – Cape Town – JoburgSweet MedicineNwelezelanga

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'Picture Boris Johnson spliced with Gwede Mantashe': Andrew Harding on writing The Mayor of Mogadishu

Published in the Sunday Times

nullThe Mayor of MogadishuThe Mayor of Mogadishu: A Story of Chaos and Redemption in the Ruins of Somalia
Andrew Harding

I was sitting in the back seat of a car in Mogadishu, peering through tinted glass at the gunmen blocking our way, and wondering if maybe this hadn’t been such a good idea after all. I’ve been visiting Somalia regularly over the past 15 years, reporting on the extravagant supply of bad news – famines, pirates, warlords, militants and endlessly shifting frontlines. I’m used to the queasy experience of driving through Mogadishu’s ruins, braced for trouble.

But this time was different. I’d come not as a journalist, but as a guest speaker at the city’s fledgling book fair. I’d just written my book, The Mayor of Mogadishu, and launching it in Somalia seemed like the proper thing to do.

Except that I was on my own this time. No BBC News team beside me in the car. And Mogadishu was going through an upsurge in car bombings, assassinations, and coordinated attacks on hotels by the Islamist militants of al-Shabaab.

To add to my unease, the local media and the book fair’s organisers had publicised the timing of my speech at a downtown hotel. No chance of slipping in under the radar. My guards made no secret of their anxieties.

Then there was the book itself. My initial plan to write a traditional “journalist” book about my experiences in Somalia had been sideswiped by a chance encounter with a man known as Tarzan.

I first met him in 2010, days after he’d returned from 20 years in London, to take on the seemingly impossible job of Mogadishu’s mayor. He seemed an almost cartoonish figure. Brash, brave and thuggish. Picture Boris Johnson spliced with Gwede Mantashe.

But then I dug into his past and came to realise there was more to Tarzan. That his story was also Somalia’s. Born into a nomadic family, dropped off in an orphanage during a famine, he was a ruffian who fell in love with an upper-class girl and took her on dates to open-air cinemas. Then came Somalia’s collapse, escape to London, and, two decades and six children later, Tarzan’s determination to come “home”.

Others have demanded to know why I chose to write a book about ‘a scumbag’

Today Tarzan is a profoundly divisive figure. A hero to some Somalis. But others have jabbed me in the chest to demand why I have chosen to write a book about “a scumbag like that”. He’s accused of corruption, and worse. And now he’s campaigning to be president in elections due later this year.

And so, as our convoy finally made it safely through the security cordon outside the book fair, I was braced for a different kind of hostility. Not just the “why should we listen to yet another foreigner, telling us about our country?” sort. But also the suspicion that I was trying to help Tarzan’s election campaign. Those questions came, but politely. The crowds at the book fair were young, huge, exuberant – relishing the chance to celebrate their city’s progress and culture, and to push back against the bleak brand of a “failed state”.

“What do you like best about our city?” An earnest student stood in front of me, my book clutched in his hand, awaiting my signature. He was proud of Mogadishu, and I was glad I’d come back.

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Celebrating Joburg as the inspiration for great South African writing: The 2016 Bridge Book Festival

Celebrating Joburg and South African writing: 2016 Bridge Book Festival programme revealed

On Saturday, 29 October, the Bridge Book Festival will celebrate Johannesburg as the inspiration for great South African writing, by bringing writers and readers together in the city’s historic core.

The daylong event brings a dozen writers, poets and illustrators to explore landmark sites in downtown Johannesburg.

Not to be missed!

Event Details

  • Date: Saturday, 29 October 2016
  • Time: 10 AM to 5 PM
  • Venues: Bridge Books, as well as The Rand Club, Oppenheimer Park and Corner House.
  • Tickets: Webtickets or Facebook

2016 Bridge Book Festival programme

null#ZuptasMustFall and Other Rants
1. Fred Khumalo
Time: 10am to 10.45am
Venue: Bridge Books
Fred Khumalo will be reading from his latest book #Zuptas Must Fall.
Ticket cost: R20
2. Poetree
Time: 10am to 10.45am
Venue: Corner House
Different artists from Poetree will entertain with their poems.
Ticket cost: R20
The Woman Next Door
3. Yewande Omotoso
Time: 11.15am to 12.30pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Yewande Omotoso will be reading from her latest novel The Woman Next Door.
Ticket cost: R20
nullThe Relatively Public Life Of Jules Browde
4. Daniel Browde
Time: 11.15am to 12.30pm
Venue: The Rand Club
Daniel Browde will be reading from The Relatively Public Life of Jules Browde.
Ticket cost: R50
nullEyes in the Night
5. Nomavenda Mathiane
Time: 11.15am to 12.30pm
Venue: Corner House
Nomavenda Mathiane will be reading from her book Eyes in the Night.
Ticket cost: R20
nullThe God Who Made Mistakes
6. Ekow Duker
Time: 12.30pm to 1.45pm
Venue: Corner House
Ekow Duker will be reading from his latest novel The God Who Made Mistakes.
Ticket cost: R20
nullBroke and Broken
7. Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki
Time: 1.45pm to 2.30pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki will be reading from their book Broke & Broken.
Ticket cost: R20
8. Niq Mhlongo
Time: 1.45pm to 2.30pm
Venue: Corner House
Niq Mhlongo will be reading from his collection of short stories Affluenza.
Ticket cost: R20
nullHappiness is a Four-Letter Word
9. Nozizwe Cynthia Jele
Time: 3pm to 3.45pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Nozizwe Cynthia Jele will be reading from her novel Happiness is a Four-Letter Word.
Ticket cost: R20
nullFrom Whiskey to Water
10. Samantha Cowen
Time: 3pm to 3.45pm
Venue: Corner House
Samantha Cowen will be reading from her memoir From Whiskey to Water.
Ticket cost: R20
bridge books
11. Cocktail party at Bridge Books
Time: From 4pm
Venue: Bridge Books
Drinks with the authors at Bridge Books.
Ticket cost: R100
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Don't miss the launch of Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins by Christa Kuljian

Invitation to the launch of Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins


Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human OriginsJacana Media and the Origins Centre invite you to the launch of Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins by Christa Kuljian.

The event will take place at Wednesday, 2 November at 6 PM.

See you there!

About the book:

In 1871, Darwin predicted that humans evolved in Africa. European scientists thought his claim astonishing and it took the better part of a century for Darwin to be proven correct. From Raymond Dart’s description of the Taung Child Skull in 1925 to Lee Berger’s announcement of Homo Naledi in 2015, South Africa has been the site of fossil discoveries that have led us to explore our understanding of human evolution.

Darwin’s Hunch reviews how the search for human origins has been shaped by a changing social and political context. The book engages with the concept of race, from the race typology of the 1920s and ’30s to the post-World War II concern with race, to the impact of apartheid and its demise. The book explores the scientific racism that often placed people in a hierarchy of race and treated them as objects to be measured.

In 1987, the publication of “Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution” suggested that all living humans could trace their ancestry back to an African woman 200,000 years ago. Again, many scientists and the general public in the West were slow to accept such a claim.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 2 November 2016
  • Time: 5:30 for 6 PM
  • Venue: Origins Centre
    Cnr Yale Rd & Enoch Sontonga Ave
    Wits University
    Johannesburg | Map
  • RSVP:

Book Details

New from Irikidzayi Manase and Unisa Press - White Narratives: The depiction of post-2000 land invasions in Zimbabwe

White NarrativesNew from Unisa Press – White Narratives: The depiction of post-2000 land invasions in Zimbabwe by Irikidzayi Manase:

The post-2000 period in Zimbabwe saw the launch of a fast-track land reform programme, resulting in a flurry of accounts from white Zimbabweans about how they saw the land, the land invasions, and their own sense of belonging and identity.

In White Narratives, Manase engages with this fervent output of texts seeking definition of experiences, conflicts and ambiguities arising from the land invasions. He takes us through his study of texts selected from the memoirs, fictional and non-fictional accounts of white farmers and other displaced white narrators on the post-2000 Zimbabwe land invasions, scrutinising divisions between white and black in terms of both current and historical ideology, society and spatial relationships.

Manase examines how the revisionist politics of the Zimbabwean government influenced the politics of identities and race categories during the period 2000-2008, and posits some solutions to the contestations for land and belonging.

About the author

Irikidzayi Manase teaches in the Department of English at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein Campus. His areas of research fall within the broader area of literary cultural geographic studies of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa and Africa. He has read papers at both local and international conferences and published on: Imaginaries about and urban youth cultures of Johannesburg, Harare and South Africa’s Limpopo Province; the human condition and mapping of spaces in South African science fiction and speculative literature; transnational African migrant experiences; and literatures about the constitution of senses of self and belonging in relation to the land issue and crisis conditions in post-2000 Zimbabwe.

Book details

  • White Narratives: The depiction of post-2000 land invasions in Zimbabwe by Irikidzayi Manase
    EAN: 9781868888252
    Contact Unisa Press for more information:
    Laetitia Theart
    Tel: 012 429 3448

Africa needs 'genuinely new ideas' from its elite - before it's too late: Read an excerpt from Thomas Sankara Speaks

Africa needs ‘genuinely new ideas’ from its elite – before it’s too late: Read an excerpt from Thomas Sankara Speaks


Thomas Sankara’s assertion that ‘a soldier without any political training is a potential criminal’ is the basis upon which we wage the struggle for economic emancipation. The book is an important contribution.

- Floyd Shivambu

Thomas Sankara SpeaksKwela Books has shared an excerpt from its new publication Thomas Sankara Speaks – plus stand the chance to win one of three copies of the book!

“We must dare to invent the future. Everything man is capable of imagining, he can create.”

When Thomas Sankara gained power in Burkina Faso in 1983, he saw his first task as expunging the effects of colonialism. A dedicated pan-Africanist, he believed that Africa could sustain itself. He rejected all foreign aid and nationalised land and mineral wealth.

This book brings us Sankara in his own words, with a selection from his writings and interviews from 1983 until his tragic and untimely assassination in 1987.

An African leader and intellectual in many ways ahead of his time, Sankara’s ideas are as current today as when first formulated.

Sankara was a military captain, Marxist revolutionary, pan-Africanist theorist, feminist, and President of Burkina Faso (1983-1987). Viewed as an iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara”. However, his policies alienated an array of groups. As a result, he was assassinated on 15 October 1987.


Read an excerpt from the book:

Freedom must be conquered

An excerpt from Thomas Sankara Speaks (Kwela, 2016)

I make no claim to lay out any doctrines here. I am neither a messiah nor a prophet. I possess no truths. My only aspiration is twofold: first, to be able to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Burkina Faso, in simple words, words that are clear and factual. And second, in my own way to also speak on behalf of the “great disinherited people of the world”, those who belong to the world so ironically christened the Third World. And to state, though I may not succeed in making them understood, the reasons for our revolt.

All this indicates our interest in the United Nations. We understand that demanding our rights requires from us a vigorous and rigorous awareness of our duties.

No one will be surprised to see us associate the former Upper Volta, today Burkina Faso, with that hodgepodge held in such contempt – the Third World – invented by the other worlds as many countries became formally independent in order to better ensure our intellectual, cultural, economic, and political alienation.

We want to place ourselves within this world, without lending any credence to that gigantic fraud of history, and certainly without accepting the status of “hinterland of a satiated West”. Rather, we want to assert our awareness of belonging to a tricontinental whole and, with the force of deeply felt convictions, acknowledge, as a Nonaligned country, that there is a special relationship of solidarity uniting the three continents of Asia, Latin America, and Africa in a single struggle against the same political traffickers, the same economic exploiters.

Therefore, recognising that we are part of the Third World means, to paraphrase José Martí, “asserting that our cheek feels the blow struck against any man in the world”. Up to now we have turned the other cheek. The blows increased. But the wicked-hearted were not moved. They trampled the truth of the righteous. The word of Christ was betrayed. His cross was transformed into a club. And after they put on his robe, they slashed our bodies and souls. They obscured his message. They Westernised it, whereas we had understood it as one of universal liberation. Then our eyes opened to the class struggle. There will be no more blows.

It must be proclaimed that there can be no salvation for our peoples unless we decisively turn our backs on all the models that all the charlatans, cut from the same cloth, have tried to sell us for the past twenty years. There can be no salvation without saying no to that. No development without breaking with that.

Moreover, all the new “intellectual leaders” emerging from their slumber, awakened by the dizzying rise of billions of men in rags, aghast at the threat that this famished multitude presents to their digestion, are beginning to revamp their speeches. In an anxious quest, they are looking in our direction once again, for miracle concepts and new forms of development for our countries. It’s enough to read the numerous proceedings of innumerable symposiums and seminars to be convinced of this.

Far be it from me to ridicule the patient efforts of those honest intellectuals who, because they have eyes to see, are discovering the terrible consequences of the devastation imposed by the so-called specialists in Third World development. The fear haunting me is that the fruit of so much effort may be commandeered by Prosperos of all kinds to make a magic wand, designed to return us to a world of slavery redone in the fashion of the day.

This fear is even more justified by the fact that the educated petty bourgeoisie of Africa – if not the Third World – is not prepared to give up its privileges, either due to intellectual laziness or simply because it has tasted the Western way of life. So it forgets that any genuine political struggle requires rigorous, theoretical debate, and it refuses to make the effort to think out and invent new concepts equal to the murderous fight awaiting us. A passive and pathetic consumer, the petty bourgeoisie abounds in terminology fetishised by the West, just as it abounds in Western whiskey and champagne, enjoyed in lounges of dubious taste.

We would search in vain for genuinely new ideas that have emanated from the minds of our “great” intellectuals since the emergence of the now-dated concepts of Negritude and African Personality. The vocabulary and ideas come to us from elsewhere. Our professors, engineers, and economists content themselves with simply adding colour – because often the only things they’ve brought back from the European universities of which they are the products are their degrees and their velvety adjectives and superlatives!

It is both necessary and urgent that our trained personnel and scribes learn that there is no such thing as unbiased writing. In these stormy times we cannot leave our enemies of yesterday and today with an exclusive monopoly over thought, imagination, and creativity.

Before it’s too late – because it’s already late – these elites, these men of Africa and the Third World, must come back to who they are – that is, to their societies and to the misery we have inherited. They must understand that the battle for a system of thought at the service of the disinherited masses is not in vain. They must understand too that they can only become credible on an international level by being genuinely inventive, that is, by painting a faithful picture of their people. This picture must allow the people to achieve fundamental changes in the political and social situation, changes that allow us to break from the foreign domination and exploitation that leave our states no perspective other than bankruptcy.

This is what we glimpsed – we, the Burkinabè people – during the evening of 4 August 1983, when the first stars began to sparkle in the skies of our homeland. We had to take the leadership of the peasant revolts, signs of which were visible in a countryside that is panic-stricken by the advancing desert, exhausted by hunger and thirst, and abandoned. We had to give meaning to the brewing revolt of the idle urban masses, frustrated and weary of seeing limousines driving the elites around, elites that were out of touch, succeeding one another at the helm of state while offering the urban masses nothing but false solutions elaborated and conceived by the minds of others. We had to give an ideological soul to the just struggles of our popular masses as they mobilised against the monster of imperialism. The passing revolt, the simple brushfire, had to be replaced forever with the revolution, the permanent struggle against all forms of domination.

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