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.@ShortStoryAFR has announced the longlist of 18 stories that will appear in Terra Incognita!

Enter the Nova Short Story Competition for Budding Sci-fi and Fantasy Writers

Tech-Savvy ParentingConquestThe Shining GirlsBroken Monsters

The closing date for entries for the annual Nova Short Story Competition, run by Science Fiction and Fantasy South Africa, is drawing near.

The competition, which is “open to everyone, even to international and extraterrestrial aliens, as long as they can write in English”, is divided into two sections, South African and General; with prize money of R2 000 for the former and R1 500 for the latter.

2013′s winners were Belinda Lewis, in the General section, for “Unearthly Creatures”, with David Platt taking the South African section with his short story “Doppelganger”.

Arthur Goldstuck, author of the newly released Tech-Savvy Parenting: A Guide to Raising Safe Children in a Digital World and head of WorldWideWorx, will judge the South African section, while the General section will be judged by Jenny Ridyard, co-author of Conquest, who takes over from last year’s judge Lauren Beukes.

The winning entries and finalists will be published in Probe.

The closing date for entries is midnight of 30 September 2014.

Press release

On 7/8/2014, an incident occurred in Southern Africa. We’ve all heard the jokes, the usual human reaction to disaster: “I was tremortised when the President dropped his wallet”; “Did the earth move for you, too?”, “It was all over in 90 seconds. Just like my husband”, and so on and so on. These comments trivialise the serious implications of which few people are aware: Seconds before the earthquake, NASA detected an EMP coming from the underground alien base hidden on the far side of the moon.

Exactly why the aliens aimed at Orkney, or how the pulse travelled through the centre of the moon, are known unknowns. Some say they were targeting the two mermaids found in the fire pool at Nkandla. Others say it was a premature emission from an uncompleted death ray. And there are more questions we’re not even aware of: the unknown unknowns, as Rumsfeld would say.

If this sounds fantastic, it’s because it IS fantastic. If your readers think they can do better; if fantasy for your readers means more than fifty shades of monochrome; if fiction for your readers has a strong scientific slant; if your readers are inspired by the fantastic tapestry of daily life in South Africa, then perhaps they should enter the Nova short story competition run by Science Fiction and Fantasy South Africa (SFFSA).

Prizes totalling R2 000 are on offer in the South African section of the competition (sponsored by the WorldWideWorx-renowned Arthur Goldstuck), with an additional R1 500 on offer in the General section. This annual competition is intended for budding writers of science fiction and/or fantasy short stories, and is open to everyone, even to international and extraterrestrial aliens, as long as they can write in English.

But the end is nigh! The deadline for Nova 2014 is 30 September 2014. So write right now.

Details can be found at, or by emailing, or by contacting Gavin on 084 830 0608.


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9000 Books to be Given Away During National Book Week (Plus: Programme Preview)

National Book Week 2014

The programme for the fifth annual National Book Week, which will take place from 1 to 7 September, has been revealed.

For the first time, the event will feature a “travelling bus” and a week-long tour around six provinces, during which National Book Week ambassadors, motivational speakers, authors and storytellers will visit towns from Ganyesa in the North West Province to Worcester in the Western Cape.

The slogan for the 2014 National Book Week is “Going Places”, with an emphasis on encouraging reading as a “fun activity”. Events will focus on promoting literature in indigenous languages, local authors as well as library awareness and access.

As part of the South African Book Development Council‘s (SABDC) Indigenous Languages Publishing Programme, every child or adult that “engages” with the National Book Week tour will receive a new book in the language of their region, with 9 000 books to be handed out.

In addition, the final Twenty in 20 stories, a collaboration between Books LIVE, Short Story Day Africa and the Department of Arts and Culture, will be launched as a new anthology. Find out more about the project and see the final twenty stories here.

Elitha van der Sandt, CEO of the SABDC, says: “In South Africa, the book is one of the most under-utilised tools to contribute to economic, social and educational empowerment. Reading a book has the power to transform the individual, the community and the country at large. Reading remains one of the few ways in which we access information. We need information to thrive in this world.

“Accessing that information allows us to make more informed decisions about our lives. It allows us to actively participate in the economy, in all aspects of life.

“National Book Week will therefore take the power of the book to many places. As the bus will be going places, so shall we be promoting the magic of the books to our diverse people, allowing them to go to faraway places, dreams, agonies and accomplishments of cultures everywhere.

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa believes books could play a crucial role in his department’s Mzansi Golden Economy strategy, which aims to create 5 million jobs over the next 10 years.

“The importance of reading in order to achieve success in life is foundational for the individual and essential for nation building and social cohesion,” Mthethwa says. “The Department of Arts and Culture’s Mzansi Golden Economy strategy recognises the power of the books sector to contribute to job creation, poverty reduction, skills development and, above all, economic growth. Thus as such, the National Book Week is a strategic intervention to promote a reading culture that will enhance the prominence and socio-economic impact of the South African books sector both locally and globally.”

2014 National Book Week programme preview:

National Book Week 2014 Programme by Books LIVE

Nat Nakasa's Family Express Relief and Happiness at His Impending Return to South Africa

Nat Nakasa

A Native of NowhereNat Nakasa’s sister Gladys Maphumulo says her family is “very happy” that his remains will finally be returned to South Africa in just a few days.

The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), in collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal Premier’s Office and Ethekwini Municipality, made a formal application to the Supreme Court of the State of New York earlier this year, and permission was granted this month.

Nakasa’s remains will be exhumed on August 15 and on August 16 South African government officials, including Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, and members of the Nakasa family will attend a public memorial at Broadway Presbyterian Church on West 114th Street.

Nakasa will return home to be reburied near his childhood home in Heroes’ Acre, Chesterville, outside Durban, on September 12.

Siphiwo Mahala, of the Department of Arts and Culture, tweeted a picture of the family’s first visit to Nakasa’s grave today:

Born in KwaZulu-Natal in 1937, Nakasa was a talented writer and journalist – the first black columnist of the Rand Daily Mail – who was offered a Nieman Scholarship at Harvard University, and was forced to leave South Africa on an exit permit – a one-way ticket – by the apartheid government.

But Nakasa came to regret his decision and, according to the New York Times, found it difficult to deal with the racism he encountered in America, and suffered from troubled finances, homesickness and a fear of becoming mentally ill like his mother. He told a friend at the time, “I can’t laugh anymore, and when I can’t laugh I can’t write.”

He passed away after falling from a seventh-story window in Manhattan, aged just 28.

For his family, questions linger, but more important is that Mr Nakasa’s remains are coming home. “Whoever did something wrong to Nat or pushed him or killed him, we can’t do anything,” Ms Maphumulo, his sister, said. “We cannot live on rumours. They cannot raise up Nat.”

The night of her brother’s death is seared in her memory. She remembers a phonecall from her brother Moses, breaking the news, and her father’s anguished response. “My father woke up at night and cried, ‘Where’s my son? Where’s my son? I can’t bury my son,’ ” she said. “So we’re very happy that at last the remainders are coming back home.”

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Image courtesy of New York Times

Link Love: Introducing Incomplete Without My Brother, Adonis by Kaizer Mabhilidi Nyatsumba

Incomplete Without My Brother, AdonisWe are excited to announce the latest book by Kaizer Mabhilidi Nyatsumba, Incomplete Without My Brother, Adonis. This is his seventh book, a tragic memoir of the day his brother, Adonis, was brutally murdered in Pretoria, South Africa, in June 2009.

“This story by the master craftsman, Kaizer Nyatsumba, is so absorbing that it is impossible to stop reading.” – Michael Mandl’aButi Mathabela

“We walked on a patch of grass that seemed to have been burnt a few hours earlier, with soot covering our feet. There, in front of us, lay my beloved brother, Adonis, lifeless, his body facing up. There were numerous stab wounds on his body, including his face, and his lumber jacket was half burnt.”

Thus begins Kaizer Nyatsumba’s tragic story of his twin brother’s horrible murder. It is also an intriguing look into aspects of South African life hitherto unknown to many.

Watch the book trailer:
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PEN to US-Africa Leaders’ Summit: Trade Must Be Contingent on Human Rights

The US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, which took place in Washington from 4 to 6 August 2014, is an important moment in the promotion of US engagement on the continent.

However, the development of US-African trade relations must be paralleled by support for the cementing and extension of universal free expression norms in these countries, including the protection of writers and journalists from harassment and persecution.

“There is a saying in southern Nigeria that a people who trade in a foreign tongue will always struggle not to be short-changed,” said PEN Nigeria President Tade Ipadeola. “Beyond profit is the cultural capital which every human language embodies and which is our duty to preserve and protect. Language rights are human rights no less than the right to life and dignity. They are part of our human heritage and should therefore be respected by all municipal and foreign authorities.”

The involvement of several leaders in the meeting whose administrations have been marred by serious rights abuses and efforts to stymie and suppress free expression gives cause for great concern, as does the lack of attention to these issues in the summit itself.

“Over the past year, we have seen a worrying rise in impunity for officials, with the persecution of Zone 9 bloggers in Ethiopia and the sentencing in Swaziland of editor Bheki Makhubu and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko to two years in prison for libel,” South Africa PEN President Margie Orford said. “We are also worried that draconian LGBT laws throughout the continent are being used to stifle diversity and critical voices.”

PEN Nigeria
PEN South Africa
PEN American Center

New Excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie We Should All Be FeministsRead an extract from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new ebook short, We Should All Be Feminists, based on her TEDx Talk of the same name.

Adichie’s talk combined reflections on her personal experience growing up female in Nigeria with lucid and insightful observations about the nature and discourse of modern feminism. Part of the talk was sampled by American pop star Beyoncé in the song “Flawless” on her most recent album, Beyoncé.

Now, Adichie’s essay has been published as an ebook short by Vintage Books, and is available for download.

AmericanahHalf of a Yellow Sun Purple Hibiscus

Read an excerpt from the book:

The first time I taught a writing class in graduate school, I was worried. Not about the teaching material, because I was well prepared and I was teaching what I enjoyed. Instead I was worried about what to wear. I wanted to be taken seriously.

I knew that because I was female, I would automatically have to prove my worth. And I was worried that if I looked too feminine, I would not be taken seriously. I really wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss and my girly skirt, but I decided not to. I wore a very serious, very manly, and very ugly suit.

The sad truth of the matter is that when it comes to appearance, we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. Many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously. A man going to a business meeting doesn’t wonder about being taken seriously based on what he is wearing—but a woman does.

I wish I had not worn that ugly suit that day. Had I then the confidence I have now to be myself, my students would have benefited even more from my teaching. Because I would have been more comfortable and more fully and truly myself.

In an interview with Vogue, Adichie says she has become quite “bored” by the constant questions she receives about Beyoncé, but admits that she was pleasantly surprised by having her thoughts on feminism go “viral”.

What was it like to have your ideas about feminism go so viral?

It felt strange and surprising. I had done one TED Talk and I felt that I had already said what I could, in fact, say, and I didn’t think I had anything else worth talking about. But then I also realsed the one thing I cared about is gender, feminism. So I said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” But I thought, This is not going to be popular, because it’s obvious that feminism for many people is a bad word, even if you believe in it, the word is off-putting. I thought seven people would care. I was surprised, but pleasantly so.

What was your first thought when Beyoncé asked if she could sample the song?

I’m so bored by this question, but I will say that I’m happy that my thirteen-year-old niece calls herself a feminist—not because I made the speech, but because of Beyoncé. Having attained the status of “cool” to my niece is wonderful.

Watch the original TEDx video:

YouTube Preview Image

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