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Thursday, March 20, 2014


A meeting of wonderflly creative minds. (Report by Keith Millar)
Durban is celebrating the written word as 19 writers from across Africa and India are in town for the 17th Time Of The Writer festival. Organised by the Centre For Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal the festival is a meeting of wonderfully creative minds in a weeklong programme of discussions, lectures, workshops, seminars, school visits, and book launches.
The theme for this year’s festival is Freeing Our Imaginations. This is in solidarity with Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina’s brave disclosure of his sexuality in an increasingly homophobic continent. This as well as South Africa’s democracy, the equality of Women and the youth led wave of insurrection and revolution which has taken place in North Africa and the Middle East in recent times are all issues which will be under discussion.  
This year the festival features young writers and writers who speak to the youth in their writing.
The writers were introduced to the media at a function which took place at The Chairman in Mahatma Ghandi (Point) Road on Monday. This new, and rather bohemian and quirky jazz club was an ideal venue for this casual get together. The guest of honour Thembinkosi Ngcobo who is the head of the Parks, Culture, and Recreation Department for the City spoke of the importance of the written word as a record, not only of our history, but of our culture and well. He also revealed that tenders had just been signed for the building of a new library for Durban city.
The official opening of the festival took place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on the campus of UKZN on Monday night.
The event kicked off with a musical welcome from the accomplished Isicathamiya choral group the High Stars.
After welcoming speeches each writer was afforded the opportunity of introducing themselves. Their diverse and insightful offerings, which were mostly delivered with good humour, offered many social commentary and succinct insights into the themes of the festival. All in all enough was heard to convince one that an inspirational, informative and entertaining week lay ahead.
Following is the programme of the panel discussions taking place during the rest of the week. However it is essential to check the festival web page at or phone 031 260 2506 for full details of the jam packed and diverse programme.
New Voices from India The first panel discussion of the festival on Tuesday, 18 March, entitled New Voices from India will focus on writing from the sub-continent with Indian authors Satyagit Sarna and Prajwal Parajuly. This panel discussion will be facilitated by author, Shubnum Khan.
Mzansi Women Voices The second panel of the evening, entitled Mzansi Women Voices features South African writers Angela Makhlowa and Praba Moodley.  The panel discussion will be facilitated by author, Shafinaaz Hassim.
Writing the Policy Debate Wednesday's night (March 19) programme kicks off with a panel discussion titled Writing the Policy Debate, featuring South African writers and political analysts Professors Adam Habib and Paulus Zulu.  This discussion will be facilitated by Ben Fogel.
Writing in Francophone Africa: trends and issues The second panel discussion of the night is entitled Writing in Francophone Africa: trends and issues. This panel discussion will look trends in Francophone literature with a discussion by authors Sami Tchak (Togo) and Tierno Monénembo (Guinea). The panel discussion will be facilitated by Bernard DeMeyer of UKZN French department and is presented in partnership with the French Institute of South Africa.
Writing the Historical Moment Thursday night's activities open with the panel discussion Writing the Historical Moment looks at key historical moments shaping the current South African political landscape. This panel will take the form of an in-depth interview that will feature activist, researcher and political economist Professor Patrick Bond. This panel discussion will be facilitated by Xolani Benedict Dube.
Chronicling The Contemporary African Story Time of The Writer has a strong history of spotlighting young talented writers dealing with contemporary topics. The festival aims to create an even greater focus on stories from the younger generation and this is highlighted in the second panel of the night. Chronicling The Contemporary African Story brings together two South Africa authors, Kgebetli Moele and Niq Mhlongo.  The panel discussion will be facilitated by Duduzile Mabaso.
Story-telling Programme Understanding the rich history that storytelling carries on the continent, The Time of The Writer festival is excited to present a story-telling programme, in collaboration with the Gcinamasiko Arts & Heritage Trust, taking place on Friday, March 21. This will see two storytellers, Nomsa Mdlalose (South Africa)  and Mshai Mwangola  (Kenya) in a panel discussion that will look at the art of storytelling.  The panel will be facilitated by Dr. Gcina Mhlophe.
From The Mouth of Babes The second panel of the night will focus on youth literature, From The Mouth of Babes, featuring youth literature writers, Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana) and Khulekani Magubane (South Africa).  Saneliswe Ntuli will facilitate the panel discussion.
In addition, Time of The Writer and the Gcinamasiko Arts & Heritage Trust will host a special matinée for children to be held at the UKZN Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Saturday, 22 March at 14h00 – 16h30. The matinée will feature Mdlalose and Mwangola where they will be joined by Gogo MaBhengu and Lwazi Thwala.
New African Women Writers Rising The final day of the festival features a discussion entitled New African Women Writers Rising, will focus on the stories and work being produced by young female writers from Africa. This panel discussion will feature prolific authors, Hawa Jande Golakai(Liberia) and Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria).   This panel discussion will be facilitated by writer Sandile Ngidi.
Finding the South African Funny Bone This features South African writers, Sarah Britten and Zukiswa Wanner. Britten has has published three novels focussing on the colourful and unique art of South African insults, The Art of the South African Insult, McBride of Frankenmanto: The Return of the South African Insult,  More South African Insults. Zukiswa Wanner is a journalist, author and blogger. Wanner's works include The Madams: A Wildly Provocative Novel (2007), Behind Every Successful Man (2008 Men of the South (2010). Her latest work is Maid in SA: 30 Ways to Leave Your Madam (2013). The panel discussion will be facilitated by writer and radio personality Ndumiso Ngcobo.
Seminars and Workshops. In addition to the nightly panel discussions at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, the festival's Community Outreach programme features a broad range of day activities including seminars and workshops that aim to promote a culture of reading, writing and creative expression. The festival also conducts visits to schools, and presents a prison writing programme. Book launches take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre's Wellington Tavern deck prior to the evening shows, from 18h45.
Tickets R25 for the evening sessions, R10 for students, and can be purchased through Computicket or at the door one hour before the event. Workshops and seminars are free.For more details about this years' Time of the Writer, visit or call (031) 2602506
Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University KwaZulu-Natal), the 17th Time of the Writer is supported by the City of Durban, the French Institute of South Africa, and the KZN Department of Arts and Culture. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter. - Keith Millar