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Writing in English is a waste of ink if we consider the shortage of books in African languages - Vonani Bila at the launch of A Ri Hlanhlekangi

By Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho

Writing in English is a waste of ink if we consider the shortage of books in African languages.

- Poet and publisher Vonani Bila during the launch of Samuel Malamulele Risenga’s Xitsonga autobiography, A Ri Hlanhlekangi

Launch of A Ri Hlanhlekangi
Moses Mtileni, Valerie Risenga (author’s wife), Prof. Samuel Malamulele Risenga and Vonani Bila

 

Professor Samuel Malamulele Risenga, who is head of the Department of Paediatric Pulmonology and Allergy at the University of Limpopo and at the Polokwane Provincial Hospital, has just launched his autobiography, A Ri Hlanhlekangi.

What makes his story unique is that he has written the book in his mother tongue, Xitsonga.

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It took Risenga about five years to finish the book, and he says the writing experience was full of emotion because he was reliving things he went through in his life, both good and bad.

“I would at times feel sad and at times feel happy for having overcome obstacles on the way,” he said.

Risenga decided to write his autobiography in Xitsonga because he says he can express himself much better in the language.

“The other reason is that there is a need to promote our indigenous languages,” he said. “If we do not do that, these languages will slowly be forgotten. Our languages are actually very rich in expression and this needs to be maintained.”

He said that the book showed that poverty should not be a determining factor in terms of achievement. It is possible to make it against all odds. “I would like to recommend it to the youth as it is an inspirational work,” he said.

Samuel Malamulele Risenga

 

The book was launched a fortnight ago at a glittering evening at Oasis Hotel in Giyani. The launch was well attended by professionals across many fields and community members who all came to celebrate a life told on paper and told in the language of the people. A talented Afro-soul singer, Mphuzi Chauke (below), rendered some songs during the launch.

Mphuzi ChaukeAttendees who had read the book before the launch all praised Risenga for his amazing use of the Xitsonga language in telling his story. Some even quoted from the book, while others spoke fondly about certain parts or chapters that they had found entertaining or touching.

A prominent poet and publisher, Vonani Bila, said that the significance of writing an autobiography was that your adventures in life were preserved for posterity.

“Although not every life lived bears the same weight, it is nonetheless crucial to record each life using your own pen so that your life is not misrepresented by secondary observers,” Bila indicated. “Of greater importance is to write in our indigenous languages, which carry the richness of cultural expression. Writing in English is a waste of ink if we consider the shortage of books in African languages.”

The director of Nhlalala Books, Moses Mtileni (below), who published the autobiography, said that A Ri Hlanhlekangi was one of only a handful of books in the genre in the Xitsonga language, with the ones preceding it published largely pre-1994. “A Ri Hlanhlekangi is published as part of Nhlalala Books’s effort at pushing boundaries in the language, publishing genres neglected and experimental works in other genres,” he stated.

Nhlalala Books' publisher Moses Mtileni

 

The publisher’s statement on the book reads:

It was his N’wa-Khimbini, when asked to name the son of Ben and Rossy Makhanani Makhubele, who said: “We will call him Buwa, a particle of soil, it will crumble like the two before it. She referred here to his two late brothers who had died in infancy. But it is 66 years today, and Buwa (Samuel Malamulele Risenga) has not crumbled. Hence the title, A Ri Hlanhlekangi (It has not crumbled). He has wrestled poverty, having lost his father at around age 14, leaving school at some point to work as a builder to save for school fees and accommodation. He reflects on the forced migration following the adoption of the Group Areas Act, on the challenges of studying medicine in the Black Section of the University of Natal, the inspiration he drew from the Chris Barnard story. It is story of triumph and loss, of perseverance and patience and a deeper thirst for learning and service.

Those interested in A Ri Hlanhlekangi can contact the publisher at nhlalalabooks@gmail.com or 0725943448.

nullThe Violent Gestures of LifeA Traumatic RevengeTshifhiwa Given Mukwevho is the author of A Traumatic Revenge and The Violent Gestures of Life, and a Tshivenda novel, A Thi Nga Tendi, which he serialised on Facebook.
 
 
 

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Lessons from a heartbreaking Zulu heritage: Jennifer Platt chats to Nomavenda Mathiane about her book Eyes in the Night: An Untold Zulu Story

Published in the Sunday Times

Nomavenda Mathiane

 

Eyes in the NightEyes in the Night: An Untold Zulu Story
Nomavenda Mathiane (Bookstorm)
****

Nomavenda Mathiane is one of those people you immediately feel comfortable talking to, but at the same time you want to impress her. Her book Eyes in the Night: An Untold Zulu Story sticks in your head and plays with your emotions. Mathiane was one helluva journalist who worked on most major South African newspapers. She started off at The World during the uprisings of 1976. Later she worked at Frontline magazine – one of the few black women journalists who wrote about how people really lived in Soweto and other townships.

In her latest book, Mathiane tells the story of her grandmother. It’s a story she didn’t know, one she stumbled upon at her mother’s funeral.

“There was no other time I could have written it,” Mathiane says. “Because I didn’t know about my grandmother’s life. I heard about the story two years before I retired. In retrospect, if I had known the story a long time ago, I wouldn’t have done a proper job. I would’ve been too emotional. I found my voice and now I am able to sit back and look back at my life and their lives.”

It’s the story of how her grandmother, Nombhosho (which means bullet), survived the Anglo-Zulu war as a young girl. “A tale of woe and triumph,” Mathiane writes.

It’s a story of hardship and dispossession that traces the fate of one Zulu family since 1897. Mathiane says the British colonialists were “ruthless” with the Zulus. “The English torched their homes. People had no homes. That narrative [of what] happened to the Zulu people still hasn’t been told properly.”

During the time of the Anglo-Zulu war, after their land was stolen by the Abelumbi (literally “sorcerers”, the term King Shaka used for white people), her grandmother and great-grandmother and their family had to live in a cave. They had only roots and rats to eat.

There’s a heartbreaking moment when Nombhosho’s mother realises her husband is dead. She finds his shield and assegai at the entrance of the cave. That was a sign from his fellow warriors that he had died.

“It was challenging to write,” Mathiane says. “I was an alien coming into Zululand and listening to the stories. We hardly know where my grandmother’s home was. All we know is she lived next to ‘the shadow mountain’.” Mathiane had to question family members and make many visits to KZN to piece together Nombhosho’s life.

The accounts of what Nombhosho was subjected to as a young girl make the reader angry and sad. Her mother is forced to marry a man she doesn’t know and work with him on a farm, “hell on earth”, as Mathiane describes it. The white farmer beats Nombhosho and tries to rape her.

But it’s not all dire. Mathiane tells her own story of discovering the past, and discovering who she really is. There are light moments when she talks about her family and her visits to them. “There we were, young and old females sharing this huge bedroom. We were like high-school girls having a pyjama party.”

Mathiane hopes that Eyes in the Night will inspire readers to examine the past more closely.

“I want my book to make young people question who they are. When we were told about the Zulu wars at school, we were taught superficially about what happened. We never learned about the Zulu warriors.

“My father was Christian, we lived in the townships. My sister [Sis Ahh] was different, she lived with my grandmother. She was in touch with the soil. She was brought up in the Zulu rituals. None of us other six girls performed the rituals. But I’m richer for knowing what happened. I know who I am now, after writing this book.

“There are so many stories still to be told about that era. This book is just a drop in the ocean. We need people to tell and write these stories.”

Follow Jennifer Platt on Twitter @Jenniferdplatt

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Book Bites: 27 November 2016

Published in the Sunday Times

Fifty Shades of FeminismFifty Shades of Feminism
Edited by Lisa Appignanesi, Rachel Holmes & Susie Orbach (Virago)
Book buff
The term feminism has never left my mouth; simply because I was raised by my grandparents, and my grandfather did everything for my grandmother, including bringing her breakfast in bed every morning. I always believed it’s logical to do things in a fair and equal way without putting a word to it. And if your thoughts are like mine, I suggest you read this book. It looks at 50 women, exploring what feminism means to them and what still needs to be done – from sexuality and politics to family and fashion. Even readers who have never considered themselves to be feminists might change their minds. – Rea Khoabane @Rea_Khoabane

On BowieOn Bowie
Rob Sheffield (Headline Book Publishing)
Book real
****
Sheffield is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and a lifelong David Bowie fan. He was up late at night working when he heard the news of the star’s death, and immediately leaned over to press play on his Bowie mixtape. Later that morning, his editor phoned to ask him to keep writing about Bowie for the next month. The result is this hastily written “love letter”, with a breathless quality that seems fitting in the face of genius. Sheffield’s observations are acute and his anecdotes illuminating, and he is able to lay his hand on the perfect lyric to illustrate a point. Bowie’s arcane wisdom is a reassuring presence. – Jennifer Malec @projectjennifer

The Monster's DaughterThe Monster’s Daughter
Michelle Pretorius (Melville House)
Book mystery
****
In her action-packed debut novel, Pretorius creates a skilful narrative involving a determined young sleuth whose work on a contemporary murder case reveals the unedifying history of South Africa and exposes the intrigues of unscrupulous individuals. Transferred to a dorp in the Western Cape, disgraced Constable Alet Berg becomes involved in investigations following a murder on a local farm. She pursues the case despite warnings and threats. The background to the murder extends as far back as 1901, when a medic performs experiments on women in the British concentration camps; and continues through apartheid, its deconstruction and the complexities of the present. A work of powerful imagination and profound insight. – Moira Lovell

What a BoykieWhat a Boykie: The John Berks Story
Robin Binckes (30 Degree South Publishers)
Book thrill
****
Who would have thought that a stammering young chap with an Afrikaans accent, who left school without passing Standard 8, would become one of the best-known voices on English radio in South Africa? This follow-your-dream tale traces Berks’s antecedents from Lithuania to South Africa, recounting his childhood on the West Rand, his military training, and his determination to become a radio jockey. Sensitive, witty and humorous, it shows Berks’s passion for drawing pictures with words. Berks became notorious for his pranks, for breaking taboos and handling (inciting?) controversy on air. This portrait touches on the challenges of navigating apartheid laws to bring relevant news to listeners. Prankster, raconteur and family man, this memoir reveals multiple facets of a unique personality. – Ayesha Kajee @ayeshakajee

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"Finding your voice": Announcing the 2016 Ba re e ne re Literature Festival in Lesotho (9-11 December)

Invitation to the 2016 Ba re e ne re Literature Festival in Lesotho (9 – 11 December)

 
Alert! The annual Ba re e ne re Literature Festival will take place from Friday, 9 December, to Sunday, 11 December. The theme of this year’s Lesotho-based festival is “Finding your voice” and the proceedings will kick off on Friday evening with a poetry slam event and the launch of the short story anthology Likheleke tsa puo.

This year’s guests include South African wordsmiths Sindiwe Magona, Masande Ntshanga, Ace Moloi and Joe Machina, as well as Efemia Chela, Karina Szczurek and Catherine Shepherd. Lesotho will be well represented by Thato Mochone, Liatile Mohale and Tumelo Moleleki.

The Ba re e ne re Literature Festival was first held in 2011 by the late founder Liepollo Rantekoa. Ba re e ne re is an educational organisation established to enrich the lives of Basotho people through improved literacy and creative platforms for expression. The festival aims to provide literary training for the next generation of writers and leaders, to connect Lesotho’s literary community with the rest of Africa, and to address issues through the use of literature.

The three-day event will close with a writer’s workshop hosted by The Alliance Française of Maseru and Short Story Day Africa.

For more information, visit the Ba re e ne re Literature Festival’s website and Facebook page.

Chasing The Tails of My Father’s CattleTo My Children's ChildrenThe ReactiveThe ReactiveHolding My Breath
Adults OnlyInvisible OthersWaterHer Heart

 
Press release

As the team behind Ba re e ne re, we’re extremely excited to announce that our annual event the Ba re e ne re Literature Festival will be held from 9 to 11 December, 2016. We have some incredible activities and guests lined up. We’ll be hosting a poetry open mic and Likheleke tsa puo short-story anthology book launch at Rockview in Khubetsoana from 6 to 10 PM on Friday the 9th. On Saturday, 10 December, from 10 AM to 5 PM we’ll have panel discussions, kids’ activities, a craft market with Nala Social Market and the annual Liepollo Rantekoa Keynote given by the renowned author Sindiwe Magona at Maseru Preparatory School. On Sunday, 11 December, at Alliance Française we’ll host a writing workshop facilitated by Cape Town-based collective Short Story Day Africa from 12 to 4 PM. The theme of the 2016 edition of the Ba re e ne re Literature Festival is “Finding your voice”.

2016 Ba re e ne re Literature Festival Guest biographies

International guests

Sindiwe Magona is a writer, poet, dramatist, storyteller, actress and motivational speaker. She has published autobiographical works, novels and several children’s books over the years. We are very excited to hear her address on the importance of finding our voices as writers. Until 1994 she presented UN radio programmes about the UN’s role in ending apartheid. She then worked in the UN’s Public Information Department until 2003.

Masande Ntshanga was the winner of the 2013 PEN International New Voices Award. He graduated with a degree in Film and Media and an Honours degree in English Studies from the University of Cape Town. He received a Fulbright Award and a National Research Foundation Freestanding Masters scholarship. His debut novel, The Reactive, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House South Africa. After much interest in the United Kingdom, publisher Jacaranda Books have acquired the rights to publish Masande’s acclaimed literary novel in the United Kingdom and across the Commonwealth. An American edition of the novel was published earlier this year, and German translation rights have also been sold.

Ace Moloi graduated from the University of the Free State where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Science. He was the editor of Young Minds Magazine, a founding editor of Student Leverage Magazine, as well as a former IRAWA Post news editor. In 2013 he self-published his first book, In her fall rose a nation, with New Voices Publishing. His second book, Holding My Breath, was published by Blackbird Books, an imprint of Jacana Media in May of 2016. Ace describes the Exclusive Books (Free State) bestselling memoir as a graveside conversation with his mother.

Joe Machina, born Norman Ncube in Bulawayo Zimbabwe, is a freelance journalist, a member of “Johannesburg writers” and a co-founder of Write Africa. Joe left Bulawayo in search of a new life in Johannesburg. When he first arrived in the new city, he worked as a journalist, and his writing appeared in the Mail & Guardian, and an array of other South African publications. Joe’s work is primarily inspired by the immigrant experience: why do people leave their homes in different parts of the world, to go to foreign lands where they were subject to discrimination, xenophobic attacks and even death? Who drives people to make these difficult decisions? Who is responsible for this suffering? His debut novel Victims of greed was published by Bahati Books.

Short Story Day Africa facilitators

Efemia Chela was born in Zambia in 1991, but grew up all over the world. She studied at Rhodes University, South Africa and Institut D’Etudes Politiques in Aix-En-Provence, France. Her first published story, “Chicken” was nominated for The 2014 Caine Prize For African Writing. Efemia’s subsequent stories and poems have been published in places like Brittle Paper, Jalada, Short.Sharp.Stories: Adults Only, Prufrock and PEN Passages: Africa. Efemia is currently a fellow of the inaugural Short Story Day Africa / Worldreader Editing Mentorship Programme and continues to write fiction whenever she can find a moment on the train and a working pen.

Karina Szczurek was born in Jelenia Góra, Poland, and lived in Austria, the United States and Wales, before finding a home in South Africa when she met and married the author André Brink. She was editor in chief of Water: New Short Fiction from Africa (with Nick Mulgrew, 2015) among many others. Her play for young adults A Change of Mind won the MML Literature Award in the Category English Drama in 2012. She writes short stories, book reviews, essays, and poetry. Invisible Others, her first novel, was longlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.

Catherine Shepherd started writing as a child but it was only recently through projects like Short Story Day Africa and Writivism Literary Initiative that she got the courage to put her writing out there. Catherine has a degree in journalism from Rhodes University. Catherine is currently a fellow of the inaugural Short Story Day Africa / Worldreader Editing Mentorship Programme and is editing an anthology of young writers under the supervision of Szczurek. Her short stories have appeared in various publications including My Holiday Shorts, My Maths Teacher Hates Me, Imagine Africa 500 and the 2016 Writivism Anthology. She lives in Cape Town, but has plans to build a writer’s retreat in Suurbraak.

Lesotho-based guests

Thato Mochone is an ambassador of World Vision Lesotho, a Kaya FM correspondent, Martin Luther King Fellow, Mandela Washington Fellow, media consultant and blogger. She is an advocate for youth and women empowerment as well as the LGBT community, an activist journalist interested in social justice, a volunteer fundraiser for an orphanage in her hometown and an English and Geography tutor. She is currently the Communication and Foundation Specialist at Vodacom Foundation after over five years working as a radio personality on Ultimate FM.

Liatile Mohale is a Fulbright scholar who graduated in May 2016 with an impressive 4.0 GPA for her Master’s Degree in Theatre Arts, at San Francisco State University. Before then she obtained her BA in Drama and Theatre Arts from the University of the Free State. Besides being an avid storyteller who tackles pressing social issues and Sesotho culture through theatre, she is a theatre teacher at Machabeng college and has sat as a judge on the Vodacom superstar contest.

Tumelo Moleleki started writing when she was still young and in high school as an outlet because the creative writing she did then always felt so stifling. She self-published a book called Her Heart after which she received an offer from an American company called Dorrance Publishing. In 2006 she got the opportunity to work in Belgium where she took French lessons and developed her grammar skills. She is currently working on manuscripts in French and Sesotho.

Sponsors

Ba re e ne re Literature Festival 2016 would not be possible without the generous support of Miles Morland Foundation, Vodacom Foundation, Unesco, Maseru Prep School, Alliance Francaise, MXXL radio, Bahati Books, Short Story Day Africa, Nala Social Market and Rockview.

Background

Ba re e ne re is a registered educational organisation whose mission is to enrich the lives of Basotho people by promoting initiatives that support improved literacy and creative platforms for expression. Through our work, Basotho, and youth in particular, access training and outlets to practice literacy and share the unique stories Lesotho has to offer with local and international audiences.

Our flagship project is the Ba re e ne re Literature Festival, first held in 2011 by our late founder Liepollo Rantekoa. The festival is an annual international literary arts event, which brings writers, readers and leaders together to share ideas and creative works.

The three goals of the Ba re e ne re Literature Festival are focused for high impact. Through our programming, we aim to:

  • Cultivate the next generation of writers and storytellers in Lesotho through literary training and platforms for expression.
  • Connect Lesotho’s literary arts community with creatives in other African countries and beyond for creative exchange and improved publishing opportunities.
  • Instigate the use of literature as a tool to address pressing socio-economic and political issues within Lesotho.

For more information please visit our Facebook, our website www.bareenere.com, send us an email at Barelitfest@gmail.com or give us a call on 28322405.

Ke tšomo ka mathetho!

Ends

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Kom geniet ’n Boek en Koek-viering van Lugkasteel deur Annelie Botes in Pretoria

Uitnodiging na die bekendstelling van Lugkasteel deur Annelie Botes

 
LugkasteelGraffiti Zambezi Junction en Penguin Random House nooi jou graag na die bekendstelling van Annelie Botes se jongste boek, Lugkasteel.

Die geleentheid vind plaas op Donderdag, 1 Desember by O’Galito Zambezi Junction en begin om 9:00 vir 9:30. Kaartjies kos R70 per persoon en sluit in heerlike versnaperinge.

In Lugkasteel vertel die gesoute skrywer die verhaal van haar destydse pos in Engeland as goewernante van vier onhebbelike bloubloed-seuntjies.

Moenie dit misloop nie!

Besonderhede

Boekbesonderhede

Kom luister na Albert Grundlingh in gesprek met Hermann Giliomee oor Historikus: ’n Outobiografie in Stellenbosch

Uitnodiging na die bekendstelling van Historikus: 'n Outobiografie deur Hermann Giliomee

 
Historikus: 'n OutobiografieHistorian: An AutobiographyTafelberg nooi jou graag na die bekendstelling van Historikus: ’n Outobiografie deur Hermann Giliomee.

Albert Grundlingh gesels op Saterdag, 3 Desember met die skrywer oor sy jongste boek waarin hy sy eie lewensverhaal verweef met dié van die land en die mense wat hom fassineer. Die gesprek begin om 11:00 by Protea Boekwinkel Stellenbosch.

Giliomee is bekend as uitgesproke politieke kommentator en wêreldkenner van die Afrikaners. Moenie die opwindende geleentheid misloop nie!

Besonderhede

 
Oor die boek

As uitgesproke kommentator wat voor en ná 1994 met die regering gebots het, een van die Dakar-gangers wat al in die 1980s die ANC gaan ontmoet het en wêreldkenner van die Afrikaners, is Giliomee ten nouste betrokke by ons land se geskiedenis – en hoe ons dit verstaan. Hier verweef hy sy eie lewensverhaal met dié van die land en die mense wat hom fassineer in leesbare, narratiewe vorm, vol staaltjies en onvertelde verhale.

Ook beskikbaar in Engels.

Oor die outeur

Hermann Buhr Giliomee is op 4 April 1938 op Sterkstroom in die Oos-Kaap gebore. Hy gaan skool op Porterville en studeer Geskiedenis aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch.

Hy werk daarna by die Departement van Buitelandse Sake en gee ook klas aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch. Vanaf 1983 tot 1998 was hy Professor in Politieke Studies aan die Universiteit van Kaapstad. Van 1995 tot 1997 was hy president van die Suid-Afrikaanse Instituut vir Rasseaangeleenthede. Hy is tans ’n Buitengewone Professor in Geskiedenis aan die Universiteit van Stellenbosch.

Giliomee is die skrywer van verskeie geskiedkundige en politieke publiasies. In 2003 verskyn The Afrikaners – Biography of a people en dit is ook in Amerika en Engeland uitgegee. ’n Jaar later verskyn Die Afrikaners: ’n Biografie. Hy ontvang in 2008 die Helgaard Steyn-prys vir letterkunde vir Die Afrikaners. In 2007 het Nuwe geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika en New History of South Africa verskyn wat hy saam met met die historikus Bernard Mbenga geskryf het.

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