Wordfest is about current issues and South African voices. Our book launches, lectures and panel discussions feature prominent South African writers who explore authentic South African issues.
Wordfest is also about development. Central to the festival’s ethos is the desire to inspire new and aspiring authors to sharpen their skills at the creative writing workshops conducted in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa each morning. Speak out on burning literary issues or perform their own work at Open Mike and the Wordfest Free Speech Stand each afternoon. The Young Reader Buzz reading and writing programme is jam-packed with children’s literary activities.
At the heart of Wordfest you can discover these emerging Eastern Cape word artists. Spot talented writers of poetry, fiction and drama at the Literature Live performances, Wordfest’s Xhosa component of authors. And join the Isivivane Street Parade, a colourful toyi-toyi for books down High Street.
Officially opened by the MEC Eastern Cape Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, and attended by district officials, this year’s literature live performances will be punctuated by the appearance of several prominent and published Xhosa-speaking writers.
Sindiwe Magona launches her book, Mother to Mother, and in discussing the background to this book about the death of Amy Biehl poses the question: â€œDoes a writer choose her subject or does the subject choose the writer?â€ and attempts to trace this journey of trepidation – from conception of the work to the present – where it has taken her as a writer, a woman, and a human being. Dr Sindiwe Magona, motivational speaker, author, poet, playwright, story-teller, and actor recently relocated to her home country, South Africa, after a successful career spanning two decades at UN Headquarters, New York, USA. Besides Writers’ Conferences, Magona has given readings and addresses at numerous other international fora, including the United Nations, the Kennedy Centre, The Riverside Church, the Ford Foundation, Temple and Columbia Universities, to name a few. She has received numerous awards in recognition of her work in women’s issues, the plight of children, and the fight against apartheid and racism. Her first 10 years at the United Nations were in the Department of Public Information where she worked in the Anti-Apartheid Radio Programmes.
Mtutuzeli Nyoka launches I Speak to the Silent, a disturbing first novel by a powerful storyteller who tells his history as he sees it. Mtutuzeli Nyoka, a medical surgeon now in private practice, has first-hand experience of what it was like to work with victims of political violence in an Eastern Cape hospital during the political unrest in 70s and 80s. In 1985, perhaps the bloodiest year in the history of our political struggles, he was an intern at the Livingstone Hospital. This put him at the forefront of the battle where he tried to revive wounded souls, sometimes succeeded but often failed. He is also an avid historian and his book tells a lot of the history of the Eastern Cape and its people. â€œThis book tells the stories so many of us are familiar with but the veracity of which is bound to be doubted by younger generations. The author tells it with simplicity of diction and poetic beauty. And yet it is a captivating ‘insider’s’ tale that has many lessons for us in contemporary, democratic South Africa.” Barney Pityana – Human Rights Commission
E.K.M Dido launches Å‰ Stringetjie Blou Krale and discusses her fascinating exploration into Afrikaans re-identity. Her first novel, Die Storie van Monica Peters, appeared in 1996 and with that she became the first black woman to publish in Afrikaans. Dido serves on the board of directors of several voluntary organizations striving for arts and culture awareness, promoting the use of the mother tongue, and promoting literacy â€“ amongst other issues, of all citizens. She is also a member on the board of directors of the Suid-ooster festival; and of the Klein Karroo National Arts (KKNK). In September 2005 Dido received an honorary D. Litt. Degree from the University of the Western Cape for contributions made to the literary world. Dido, the third eldest of twelve children, was born in Tsomo, Transkei. On completing grade six in her home town she had to continue her schooling in Cofimvaba. She completed grade ten in Cradock whereafter she had to abandon her education as well as her dreams due to lack of finances. She chose nursing as a career and trained in Kimberley where she obtained a diploma as a General Nurse. She moved to Cape Town where she obtained her diplomas as a Midwife and a Psychiatric Nurse. Thereafter she fulfilled her dream by obtaining her Matric certificate through a correspondence course. She became a part- time student at UNISA and achieved her BA (Cur) degrees in Nursing Administration, Nursing Education and Community Health Nursing. Dido is a nursing lecturer at Netcare Training Academy, Cape campus.
Mzi Mahola launches and reads from his book Dancing in the Rain. Mzi Mahola must rank as one of South Africa’s most seasoned and profound poetic voices currently at work. His poetry, though deeply rooted in the literal and cultural earth of his traditional upbringing, has a global and contemporary reach. His is a praise singer’s voice, perfectly attuned to the political and social complexities of the moment, intensely patriotic but also boldly outspoken in its criticisms of leaders and populace alike. Mahola laments for the loss of the cultural values of respect and humanity and yearns for reconnection with the rhythms of nature and rurality. He expresses a general disillusionment with â€˜man’s rotten morals’, and is critical of the different standards that apply to rulers and â€˜commoners’. His plea is for an accountable humanity. Mahola runs a voluntary poetry project for young writers at their Port Elizabeth community library. He has started a programme of creative writing workshops with educators for learners. They have established a structure called Isithatha Literature Programme whose objectives are to restore the forgotten culture of reading and writing in the classroom; to inspire young people to love their languages which are going to be their tools as writers.
Dumisani Ntshentshe, editor of the Xhosa edition of Bona magazine, talks about the complexities of producing a national magazine in translation, keeping language usage current, the contribution of Bona magazine to language development and the magazine’s mission to inform, educate and entertain. Dumisani Ntshentshe was born in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape. He did his primary education at Mkankomo Junior Secondary School and then moved to Qaukeni Junior Secondary, matriculating from Botha Sigcau High School. He joined Bona magazine as a Xhosa translator in 1986, working under two former Xhosa Editors, Ms Primrose Williams and Mr Osborne Dzingwa. He attended courses on translation, interpreting and editing at UNISA and the Durban Institute of Technology. In 1995 he was promoted to his current position as Editor of the Xhosa edition of Bona magazine. He has since attended many Xhosa language workshops organised by the Eastern Cape Provincial Language Board and Pan South African Language Board.
Two other events on the programme include Poet of Africa, Zolani Mkiva, featuring isiXhosa poetry in performance to music brought to Wordfest by Old Mutual Encounters @ Wordfest. And Professor Mini, head of Lexicography at Fort Hare, will talk about language terms.
For more information visit www.wordfest.co.za
Wordfest is based at the Institute for the Study of English at Rhodes. The event is held in the Eden Grove Building on campus. Administration is in the hands of an experienced team led by Prof Chris Mann (convenor). The finances are controlled by the Financial Division of Rhodes.
Our principal support comes from the NAC (National Arts Council), the NLDTF (National Lottery Development Fund), Rhodes University and the Institute for the Study of English in Africa which support Wordfest as an outreach project, the Eastern Cape Government, BASA (Business Arts South Africa) and Exclusive Books.
See more about this Event at: Wordfest – http://www.sa-venues.com/events/easterncape/wordfest/