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Saturday, February 25, 2017


A feast of literary offerings from Africa and the world will be showcased at this year’s 20th Time of the Writer International Festival set to take place from March 13 to 18, 2017.

The Festival, hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), will feature some of the country’s most prolific writers. This year’s Festival themed, The Past Paving the Future, will pay tribute to a century after the sinking of the SS Mendi and will see the historic launch of the original isiZulu version of the late Professor Mazisi Kunene’s Emperor Shaka the Great, uNodumehlezi kaMenzi.

Announcing this year’s line-up, the Director of the CCA, David wa Maahlamela says: “The 20th edition’s emphasis is on alumni, writers from KwaZulu-Natal, and more importantly, less known national writers who are indisputably deserving. The often overlooked genre of short story writing is central in this year’s festival, while on the other hand we give special focus to the adaptation of literature into film.”

This year’s line-up includes veterans such as Zakes Mda, a recipient of South Africa’s Order of Ikhamanga; to up-and-coming authors such as Sibongile Fisher who won the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Prize for her gripping story A Door Ajar.

Other participants are:

EKM Dido, who was instrumental in having Afrikaans acknowledged by the International PEN as an indigenous language of some inhabitants of the Republic of South Africa. Most of her work is currently prescribed material for Grades 3 to 12 in South Africa and Namibia, and at degree level in South Africa and abroad. She is also the recipient of an Honorary D. Litt. Degree from the University of the Western Cape for her contributions to literature.

Fred Khumalo is the author of Dancing the Death Drill; Bitches’ Brew (winner of the European Union Literary Prize 2006) and Seven Steps to Heaven, now prescribed work at the University of South Africa.

Bronwyn Law-Viljoen is Associate Professor and Head of Creative Writing at the University of Witwatersrand, where she supervises MA and PhD students and convenes the MA and Honours programmes. She is the editor and co-founder of Fourthwall Books, a former editor of Art South Africa magazine, and the author of The Printmaker. 

Unathi Magubeni is an Eastern Cape-based writer, sangoma and trainee herbalist, who left the corporate world in 2009. He published a collection of poetry called Food for Thought in 2003. Nwelezelanga: The Star Child is his debut novel.

Ralph Mathekga is one of South Africa’s leading political analysts. He taught politics at the University of the Western Cape and worked as a senior policy analyst at the National Treasury. He is often quoted by both local and international media houses, and comments regularly on television and radio. His book, When Zuma Goes, has been regarded as “an urgent and necessary book.”

Dale T McKinley, an independent writer, researcher, lecturer and political activist, has been deeply involved in the South African social movement, community and political struggles. This includes being a co-founder and leader of the Anti-Privatisation Forum and more recently, a founder member and leader of the Right2Know Campaign. Originally from Zimbabwe, his writings include The ANC and the Liberation Struggle; and South Africa’s Corporatised Liberation.

Nomsa Mdlalose is a folklorist, storyteller and a writer. She has self-published five children’s books in four languages, isiZulu, Setswana, Afrikaans and English. She is the founder of the storytelling organisation called Kwesukela Storytelling Academy and Zintsomi Story Company. She is attached to the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) heritage entity, Freedom Park.

Sabata-mpho Mokae, an English and Setswana writer, is a Creative Writing Lecturer at the Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley. Winner of the South African Literary Award in 2011, his first novel, Ga Ke Modisa, also won him the M-Net Literary Award for Best Novel in Setswana as well as the M-Net Film Award in 2013.

Lidudumalingani Mqombothi is a writer, filmmaker and photographer from Zikhovane in the Eastern Cape. In 2016, he was awarded the Caine Prize for African writing for his short story Memories We Lost, and the Miles Morland Scholarship, which will see him spend a year writing his debut novel titled Let Your Children Name Themselves.

Khethani Njoko, the author of The Man in Me, is a motivational speaker and social entrepreneur. He was recognised as one of the most inspiring students in 2015 and 2017 by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, where he is currently finishing his Bachelor of Social Science degree. He was also recognised as the KwaZulu-Natal Local Economic Development Champion in 2016.

Usha Roopnarain, a former Member of Parliament, is extremely passionate about social justice and gender issues. After spending 14 years as a parliamentarian and legislator, she worked in the health portfolio committee where she studied and witnessed the brutalities of AIDS ravaging the KwaZulu-Natal province. Hence, she started writing so that she could tell people that amidst hopelessness there is hope, amidst tragedy, there is a triumph. The Girl from Ceza is her debut novel.

Megan Ross is a writer and journalist from Gonubie, in the Eastern Cape. She has worked as a features writer for publications such as GLAMOUR and in a freelance capacity has written for GQ, BooksLIVE and O Magazine. Her first short story was published alongside Caine prize-winning writers in The Bed Book of Short Stories. Her story, Farang, won second-runner up in the 2016 Short Story Day Africa Award.

Nakanjani G. Sibiya is a short story writer, novelist, poet and playwright who has authored, co-authored and edited more than 50 isiZulu literary works across genres. His debut novel, “Kuxolelwa abanjani?” won the 2003 M-Net Book Prize as well as the BW Vilakazi Literary Award. In 2005, the same novel was recognized as the as the best isiZulu novel published between 1994 and 2004 by the national Department of Arts and Culture. He has also written several radio plays for Ukhozi FM and local community radio stations.

Nkosinathi Sithole is a lecturer in the English Discipline at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg. His first novel Hunger Eats a Man (2015) won the Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize and jointly won the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize for South African Literature in English.

Together with the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission (KZNFC), there will be a panel discussion that will shed light on the intricacies of the intersection of film and literature. The panel discussion will feature Jackie Motsepe, KZNFC’s Chief Operations Officer; multiple award winning television writer, producer and director, among other things, Busisiwe Ntintili. Ntintili is a winner of the Mbokodo Arts Award for Best Film for writing the 2016 box office smash hit Happiness is A Four Letter Word. The panel will be chaired by Anant Singh, a producer of more than 80 films, including: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; Yesterday; Red Dust; Cry, The Beloved Country; and the historic Sarafina.

The Festival’s evening programme will be held at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, UKZN Howard College campus. The daytime programme, in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality Libraries Department, will take place at various locations in Durban.

Presented by the UKZN Centre for Creative Arts, the 20th Time of the Writer is made possible with support from the eThekwini Municipality, KZN Department of Arts and Culture, Living Legends, and the Mazisi Kunene Foundation Trust. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the UKZN School of Arts.