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South African Book Fair

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

SA Book Events, or: Who Says South Africans Don’t Read?

There is no shortage of naysayers who make flat claims about South Africans never picking up books to read. But don’t they go to our book festivals? If they did, they’d have to concede that South Africans create, celebrate and generally pay great attention to books of all varieties. The bottom line is that our book culture is in greater health than conventional wisdom would have it.

South African litfests come in all sizes and guises: those with a single focus, e.g. Poetry Africa, those with a language focus, e.g. Aardklop and the KKNK, and those with a demographic focus, e.g. the Exclusive Books Children’s Literature Festival. There’s the intimate Wits University Festival of the Humanities and the enormous (even if we do say so ourselves) Cape Town Book Fair. There’s the established National Arts Festival, with Wordfest as a special book sub-festival, and the new Franschhoek Literary Festival, now into its second year.

In March alone literary activity erupted on the festival merry-go-round: the University of Pretoria’s Boekjol, the University of Stellenbosch’s Woordfees, and The Time of the Writer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Additionally, throughout the year there is a plethora of music and arts festivals celebrating matters bookish to choose from, including Innibos, the Suidoosterfees and the Spier Poetry Exchange.

Take your pick, but make sure you get to one of the wonderful literary festivals happening in South Africa over the next year. Here’s our preliminary list, with links to all the festivals above. Please post a comment if you spot a gap!

30 September – 4 October, Potchefstroom, North West

It’s mission:
• Aardklop is an annual national arts festival that wishes to distinguish itself as a festival of the highest standards.
• Aardklop makes a constructive contribution to the celebration and development of local arts in a universal context.
• Aardklop strives to provide a platform for the creative talents of South African artists.
• Aardklop is a showcase of the best in current and developmental tendencies within the local and international arts communities.
• Aardklop establishes a unique platform for up-and-coming artists to perform alongside established performers.
• Aardklop acknowledges its responsibility towards social development.
• Aardklop supports close working relations with other festivals.
• Aardklop, though it focuses on Afrikaans, is committed to a universal character, just as Afrikaans forms part of a wider community.

5 -8 March, Pretoria, Gauteng
Boekjol marked the University of Pretoria’s centenary with a wealth of local writers from a range of languages:

Well known English writers will take part in the programme: Sindiwe Magona, Michiel Heyns, Peter Horn, Darryl Accone, Fred Khumalo, Chris Mann, Sally-Ann Murray, Kobus Moolman, Ingrid de Kok, Anton Krueger, David Medalie, Chris Walton and Chris van Wyk. Shimmer Chinodya, winner of the Noma award, is from Zimbabwe.

The participating Afrikaans writers are alumni of the university: Joan Hambidge, Hans du Plessis, Johann Lodewyk Marais, Piet Haasbroek, Dolf van Niekerk, PG du Plessis, Jeanette Ferreira, Cas Vos, Helene de Kock, Henning Pieterse and Charl-Pierre Naudé.

The African languages are represented by Jerry Mojalefa (Sepedi), Buti Skhosana (Ndebele), Mandla Maphumulo (isiZulu) and Vanoni Bila (Tshivenda).

Exclusive Books Children’s Festival
8 – 29 March, EB stores countrywide

      (See individual events for details.)

Cape Town Book Fair

      Africa’s largest book event, and Cape Town’s largest consumer fair. You know where to find us!

Festival of Humanities, Wits University
3 – 6 April, Johannesburg, Gauteng

All Joburgers, old and young, hip and square, interested in the arts and literature should clear their diaries from Thursday, 3 April to Sunday, 6 April 2008. This is when the Faculty of Humanities hosts the 2008 Arts and Literary Experience at Wits University. From rock concerts to theatre productions, book fairs to art displays, this interactive experience will showcase the achievements of the Faculty’s staff, students and alumni, while introducing the public to the richness of fields within the humanities.

The Arts and Literary Experience will include various music, theatre and literary events at various sites on campus. It will also provide a platform for films and television documentaries produced by alumni, staff and students of the Faculty to be viewed by the public.

A Book Fair and Language Festival will be held from 3 to 5 April and will include displays by local publishing houses, readings by published alumni and writing workshops to inspire young writers.

Franschhoek Literary Festival
16-18 May, Franschhoek, Western Cape

Building on the success of the inaugural Franschhoek Literary Festival last year, the FLF 2008 will once again draw book lovers to this beautiful valley. For three days Franschhoek will become a bustling get-together of readers, writers, booksellers and publishers.

The 2008 line-up of writers, discussions, poetry, literary breakfasts, plays and interviews includes Pulitzer Prizewinning American novelist Richard Ford, celebrated poet Gabeba Baderoon, Thabo Mbeki biographer Mark Gevisser, crime writers Deon Meyer and Margie Orford, academic and businesswoman Dr Mamphela Ramphele and many more. The visiting authors have been selected for their exceptional writing, their approachability and their passion for promoting reading.

25 – 29 June, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga

The InniBos Arts Festival will celebrate its fifth year in 2008. The festival has grown from an attendance of 25 000 in 2004 to almost 90 000 in 2007. A festival attendance of more than 100 000 is expected for the four day festival in 2008.

Apart from the high-impact concerts staged on the Standard Bank stage on the main festival terrain every evening, InniBos also hosts an array of theatre, cabaret, classical and rock productions at various venues in and around Nelspruit, as well as Boeke Innibos. The visual arts are also well represented, including an arts meander and several art exhibitions.

21-29 March, Oudshoorn, Western Cape

The Absa Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (Absa KKNK) is a South African Section 21 Company established in 1995. The arts and activities supporting the arts are the Absa KKNK core business. It is the Absa KKNK goal to promote, encourage or preserve the arts, culture or customs mainly by means of Afrikaans. The Absa KKNK strives towards the mission to establish the arts as an indispensable cornerstone of our South African nation. The Absa KKNKs mission is to be a trendsetting celebration and extension of the arts, mainly by means of Afrikaans.

National Arts Festival
26 June – 5 July, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape

While the promotion and furtherance of the English language may have been a major goal of the organisers of the early festivals, the event has always had a broad base. In 1974 the programme comprised drama, dance, opera, music, visual art, films, lectures and tours (of the city and surrounding historic places).

With the Festival having become more varied with the passing years, today there is virtually no art form which is not represented with the major categories of craftart, student theatre, jazz, street theatre and a children’s arts festival being added to those above, it is at the cutting edge of cultural development in the country. Craft and book fairs, workshops and demonstrations also form part of the line-up.

Increasingly, the Festival has come to reflect the richness of South Africa’s cultural tapestry. Although English dominates, languages such as Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa are widely used; and a growing trend is the emergence of “collaborative” works that are examples of cultural synthesis.

Poetry Africa
29 September – 4 October, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

This 6 day international poetry festival features over 30 participants representing 12 countries. Activities include theatre performances and presentations, poetry seminars and workshops, poetry competitions, performance opportunities for aspirant poets, poetry in prison, wide-reaching school visits, live music and book launches.

Spier Poetry Exchange
1 – 2 February, Spier, Western Cape

The Spier Poetry Exchange developed as a formal collaboration between the Africa Centre and the Winternachten International Literature Festival. Winternachten is a writers’ and poets’ network in The Netherlands and historically related countries that annually hosts a festival in The Hague, with writers, music and film from these countries.

The Spier Poetry Exchange Creative Curators Malika Ndlovu and Lorelle Viegi facilitated engagements between local and visiting poets; this exchange provided Cape Town with its very own festival dedicated to the celebration of this art form. Poetry is at once transcendent and integrally part of our everyday rhythms, nuances and social interactions. This event honoured poetry as a potent medium for authentic and effective communication – opening up spaces and presenting an exciting range of voices. Audiences were inspired by this feast of words, music, movement and free expression.

28 January – 9 February, Cape Town, Western Cape

This is the 5th year of the very successful Die Burger Suidoosterfees arts festival with a distinct Cape Town character

The Die Burger Suidoosterfees offers drama, stand-up comedy, music concerts, talent searches, craft stalls, a film festival, fine art exhibitions, children’s theatres and discussion forums.

The Time of the Writer
25-30 March, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

The Time of the Writer international festival of writers celebrates its 11th edition with a six-day programme of readings, presentations, discussions and book launches nightly at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

As part of the festival’s ongoing effort to promote and nurture a culture of reading, writing and creative expression, the presence of writers is spread across Durban and surrounding areas in wide-reaching day activities that include youth workshops, a prison writing workshop, a writers parliament, a publishing forum, and other seminars and workshops.

With a line-up of 18 new and established writers, predominantly from South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent, the festival provides a stimulating platform for dialogue and exchange between writers, and an opportunity for the public to gain insight into the creative processes and perspectives which inform their writing.

Volksblad Kunstefees
8 – 13 July, Bloemfontein, Free State

The Volksblad Arts Festival is presented annually during the winter school holidays in conjunction with the University of the Free State. It is an inclusive, unique and enjoyable opportunity through which an interest in and enthusiasm for the arts is improved and which holds economic benefits for all involved parties and the community in general.

The Volksblad Arts Festival aims to:
• develop local talent and secure opportunities for upcoming artists to perform with established artists in festival productions
• improve creative work in all art disciplines
• attract children and young people through the presentation of suitable programmes before and during the festival
• involve the community as a whole in the festival activities
• gain provincial and local government’s full support for the festival
• improve a love of reading and the written word
• improve the community’s interest in the arts

3 – 9 March, Stellenbosch, Western Cape
The eighth US Woordfees, an annual all-Afrikaans festival held in conjunction with Die Burger, was a great success. More than 20 productions of the 107 on the programme were sold out beforehand with an increase of 30% in ticket sales.

Dit was ‘n besonder warm fees, nie alleen wat die weer betref nie, maar ook die produksies. Daar was te veel hoogtepunte om op te noem, maar een hiervan was ‘n feeshuldiging by Neethlingshof vir prof. Elize Botha. Na pittige redes deur Ton Vosloo, Andreas van Wyk, skrywer Margaret Bakkes, Hennie van Coller (voorsitter van die SA Akademie) het Marlene van Niekerk en Floyed de Vaal ‘n besondere mis oor die skeppingskrag vergestalt aan die hand van ‘n skildery deur Marlene Dumas.

Daar is ook ‘n kortverhaalsimposium, -ete en huldiging van Abraham de Vries (by sy sewentigste verjaarsdag) gehou op die Dinsdag van die fees. Dit was boeiend én prettig om kortkunstenaars soos Hennie Aucamp, Braam, Elias Nel, Rachelle Greeff, Piet Haasbroek en Chris Barnard se menings te hoor.

Opvallend, met die meer as 30 000 feesgangers, was die gevoel van opwinding in die lug. Dit lyk of die Woordfees sy kinderskoene ontgroei het en steeds meer erkenning begin kry as ‘n unieke kultuurgebeurtenis op die Suid-Afrikaanse kunstekalender.

30 June – 6 July, Grahamstown, Eastern Cape

South Africa’s only national multilingual festival of languages and literatures with a developmental emphasis. Our aim is to foster a culture of reading and writing in South Africa and to promote innovation and excellence in the word-arts.

We provide a platform during the National Arts Festival for South African writers and publishers and for new and established writers from different disciplines with special emphasis for marginal languages.

There are over a hundred activities each year, including twenty to thirty book-launches, lectures, performances and seminars, exhibitions and workshops, open mic events, restaurants and retail book outlets, media contracts with the print and broadcast media and the publication of WordStock, a daily literary newspaper as well as school developmental projects

Wordfest is in its seventh year and growing. We have featured Nobel prizewinners, as well as providing a platform for community level writers and writers well-known in indigenous South African languages.


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