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Tuesday, March 9, 2021


Festival series will address the zeitgeist of South Africa’s dinner conversations

The 24th edition of the Time of the Writer festival presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal will be offering an engaging, provocative and inspiring series of Dinner Table Seminars each evening at 19h00 from March 15 to 21, 2021.

This year’s festival is curated under five daily slots with a series of Brunch Time Conversations at 11h00, focusing on themes of new developments in the literature sector. The Tea-Time sessions at 15h00 offer interactive sessions which include professional actors reading from acclaimed novels. The Cocktail Hour series at 18h00 brings together authors and other professionals to discuss topics from their varied perspectives. A single Special Lunchtime Hour will provide guidelines for aspirant authors who want to see themselves in print.

“The Time of the Writer festival has for the past 23-years offered much food for thought. This year, the 24th edition will cater for even more varied tastes by drawing in novelists --- both fiction and non-fiction --- as well playwrights, poets and other leisurely writers to broaden the scope of the festival and to make it more accessible to a wider reading public”, says Siphindile Hlongwa, a member of this year’s festival curation team. Hlongwa also curates the hugely popular and successful Poetry Africa festival presented by the Centre for Creative Arts.

The Dinner Table Seminar series will be a moderated seminar with writers discussing themes that dominate our daily social discourses; and which themes are also the subjects of their novels, essays, plays or poems. Topics are inspired by the kind of conversations that occur when thinking minds gather around a dinner table’, adds Ismail Mahomed, the Director for the Centre for Creative Arts.

The Festival’s theme inspires the first in the series of Dinner Table Seminars: The Writer: Whistleblower, Canary In The Mine Or Testifier? A panel moderated by Marianne Thamm will unpack the festival theme in a webinar with authors Athol Williams, Brent Meersman, Mandy Wiener and Themba Maseko.

In Narratives Of Migration, cultural activist and researcher Philippa Kabali-Kabwa will moderate a conversation with Romalayn Ante (a poet), Vamba Sherif (a novelist) and Mike van Graan (a playwright) about their work and its relationship to how literary narratives read the phenomenon of migration from different perspectives, be it as a result of wartime crisis, political repression, religious/ethnic persecution, lack of economic possibilities or the stigma associated with gender and/or sexual orientation.

Academic and writer Shireen Hassim will moderate a panel of distinguished authors in Versions Of The Colonial And Its Future Pasts. The panel curated by Ari Sitas, prolific writer and sociologist, Emeritus Professor at the University of Cape Town and recipient of the Presidency’s Order of Mapungubwe for his contribution to social science and creative fields and a Gutenberg Chair from the University of Strasbourg will feature a discussion between Shireen Hassim and authors Anaheed Alhadad and Dilip Menon and Sarah Motsoesa.

Journalist and gender activist Tracey Saunders will discuss Gender, Power & Violence with authors Andy Kawa, Fred Khumalo, Jen Thorpe and Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema. South Africa has one of the highest rates of violence against women and gender non-conforming people in the world. Tracey Saunders will unpack how the Gender-based Violence (GBV) crisis has been allowed to fester in South Africa and worldwide. With reference to the authors’ works, the discussion will tackle the critical issue and contextualise it within political, social, economic, and other South African challenges.

In The Making Of Place: Political, Moral & Ethical Questions, authors Niq Mhlongo, Patric Tariq Mellet and Shafinaaz Hassim will discuss with Nancy Richards how the making of place has influenced their writing; and also about how their writing about places influences the political, moral, or ethical messages they wish to convey about the place to their readers.

Award-winning, non-binary playwright and columnist Ashraf Johaardien will tackle the subject of Dysphoria: Sex, Gender And Trauma In African Literature with authors Dee Marco, Fred Khumalo, Mary Watson and Ruth Ramsden Carelse in a discussion that will interrogate the role of the writer in re-inscribing trauma and dysphoria in the construction of gendered characters who reinforce rather than challenge the ideological hegemony of the dominant order.

Time of the Writer is made possible through partnerships with the KZN Department of Sports, Arts & Culture, Amazwi South African Museum of Literature, the French Institute of South Africa, Imbiza Journal of African Writing, the STAND Foundation, the National Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, and the Foundation for Human Rights.

To stay updated, follow @Timeofthewriter on Twitter and Instagram or like the Festival on Facebook at For the full programme visit:

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.

To stay updated, follow @Timeofthewriter on Twitter and Instagram or like the festival on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter