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Thursday, March 4, 2021


Festival’s Cocktail Hour series explores the personal, the political and the professional

The Cocktail Hour Conversation series at the 24th edition of the Time of the Writer festival, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts from March 15 to 21, 2021, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, will be a gathering of writers, thought-leaders and professionals who will discuss a range of subjects that draw from both their personal, political and professional experiences.

Last year’s 23rd edition of the Time of the Writer festival was the first South African arts festival to be affected by the National Lockdown gazetted by government to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. With extensive logistical support from the Festival’s media service provider, iSupport, the Festival immediately went online, leading a string of South African festivals and arts events to follow suit.

“iSupport, headed by Marlyn Knol, rendered remarkable frontline services to the Centre for Creative Arts with the revised curation of a programme, and engaging with all the writers and facilitators, organising Q&A's, Skype sessions, online book launches and workshops”, says Ismail Mahomed, the Director of the Centre for Creative Arts. “iSupport rendered the kind of services that grow arts initiatives when there is synergy and a shared vision between service providers and arts institutions”, he added also paying tribute to the Centre’s Senior Administrator, Siphindile Hlongwa, who embraced new roles that came with working on the Centre’s online festivals.

(Left: Siphindile Hlongwa)

“By presenting four online festivals last year, the Centre for Creative Arts has deepened its connections with both artists and audiences for whom the digital space has been the only platform at which artists and audience could continue to engage each other creatively, artistically and intellectually”, says Siphindile Hlongwa, a co-curator of the Time of the Writer festival and the curator and champion for the Poetry Africa festival.

The Coronavirus crisis has sucked away what writing time most writers might otherwise have also to shoulder an array of other burdens such as responding to emails from worried friends, providing pastoral care for anxious family and community members, shopping for elderly relatives, home-schooling restless children, shoring up newly unemployed family members – to say nothing of looking after their own physical and emotional wellbeing and still being able to focus on writing.

(Right: Carice Anderson. Photo by Kevin O’Reilly)

In the first in the series of Cocktail Hour Conversations that takes place at 17h00 each evening, SA Fm radio journalist Michelle Constant will speak to psychologist Coralie Trotter, medical surgeon/author Emmanuel Taban, playwright Nadia Davids and author Helen Moffett about writing in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic and the social and psychological coping mechanisms that writers and other creatives had to consider during this time.

Cultural producer, Russel Hlongwane, will moderate a discussion with film-maker Firdoze Bulbulia and Durban International Film Festival curator Chipo Zhou with author and academic Maik Nwosu about his book The Comic Imagination in African Cinema & Literature. The book is a seminal study that significantly expands the interdisciplinary discourse on African literature and cinema by exploring Africa’s under-visited carnivalesque poetics of laughter.

(Left: Lethokuhle Msimang)

Journalist Ayesha Kajee will discuss FEMINISM & WRITING: a Path to Self-Realisation and Empowerment with authors Abi Dare, Carice Anderson, Lethokuhle Msimang, Shafinaaz Hassim and Oksana Zabushko.

Sam Mathe will chat with journalist, author and activist Zubeida Jaffer about her remarkable career, her pursuit into publishing and her book about the phenomenal life of Charlotte Mannye Maxeke. Even though South Africa’s oppressive colonial laws meant that Charlotte Maxeke was not allowed to study in her own country, she beat all odds and studied at Wilberforce University in Ohio, graduating with a BSc degree in 1901. She returned to South Africa to teach, dedicating herself to the upliftment and self-determination of black South Africans and was heavily involved in one of the first recorded women’s movements.

Nancy Richards will moderate a discussion on the value of literature and the arts in teaching reconciliation in schools with author Sindiwe Magona about her book, Mother to Mother, which deals with the critical theme of reconciliation at a personal level. They will be joined by theatre-makers Yvette Hardie and Bobby Rodwell, who have also produced work that supports educators and schools across South Africa in nurturing citizenship, agency and self-confidence by providing opportunities for students to foster reconciliation and equity in their schools and communities.

Time of the Writer festival runs from March 15 to 21, 2021, and will stream live on the festival's Facebook page:, Twitter page @timeofthewriter and YouTube Channel,

For more information visit, where you can register to be part of the Zoom room from next week.

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