The South African literature landscape is abuzz with excitement and anticipation for the opening of the 26th edition of the Time of the Writer festival presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. From Thursday, 16 March 2023 – Tuesday, 21 March 2023, the festival will present an impressive and diverse literary offering as part of this year’s edition of the festival, which will host a live and online component.
This year’s festival theme is “Placemaking: Influence, Roots, Imagination & Expression”, and under the umbrella of this theme, the festival’s curators will explore a range of subjects which include The Rooted Legacy of Women in History, Queer Representation in Literature, Feminist Imaginings, a live panel that continues a conversation that began at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, Crime and Policing in SA, Writing Through Grief which features Durban author Kumi Naidoo, Fiction Expression with Siphiwo Mahala in conversation with Award-winning authors and journalists Fred Khumalo and Niq Mhlongo, and The South African Contemporary Dating Scene facilitated by Sue Nyathi featuring Dudu Busani Dube, Lebohang Masango and Thabile Shange.
“Our wonderful curators, led by Sibahle Khwela, have come up with an extremely strong programme to make sure that a wide section of readers and book lovers are catered for, whether they’re joining us in-person or virtually during the online sessions,” said Ismail Mahomed, the Director of the Centre for Creative Arts.
Audiences are certainly taking note. Many have expressed interest in joining the festivities across platforms and are thrilled to find out that some of their favourite authors will be in town. In fact, the live festival programme, which opens with legendary Featured Author Dr Sindiwe Magona in conversation with Zukiswa Wanner, has already sold out – a testament to her legend status.
Later this year, Georgia State University (USA) will host a conference honouring Dr Sindiwe Magona, and the University will bring together scholars from Africa, Europe, North America and further afield to discuss the many compelling themes that are found in her extensive oeuvre. The conference will mark her 80th birthday and honour her contributions as a leading global public intellectual.
Other sessions that are expected to sell out are The South African contemporary dating scene taking place at 19h00 on Sunday 19th which will feature Dudu Busani Dube, author of the Hlomu series, Thabile Shange, Lebohang Masango, and Sue Nyathi.
For those not in Durban, the festival’s online programme will be just as exciting and launches on Thursday, 16 March, at 15h00. It will stream on Time of the Writer’s Facebook page and The Centre For Creative Arts Youtube channel.
Among the most anticipated webinars that form part of the online festival programme are the webinars on Nobel Laureate and literature icon Toni Morrison, titled Toni Morrison and/in Africa and its Diaspora, presented in partnership with The African Centre for the Study of the United States at the University of Witwatersrand. The webinar will feature Professor Aretha Phiri, Professor Yvette Christiansë, Professor Ashleigh Harris, Dr Rocio Cobo Piňero, and Professor Dana Williams. The speakers will explore her multifaceted historical and contemporary influence on authors, artists and thinkers and critically shaping our global political narratives.
The festival will close with a staged reading from the works of Toni Morrison, directed by Nondumiso Msimanga, who also directed a staged reading of Nokuthula Msimang’s book, The Daughters of Nandi for the 2022 Time of the Writer festival.
“It is remarkable when the curators of this year’s Time of the Writer festival are four women all under the age of 30 that they are heading a programme bookended by these two literature veterans. I suppose this speaks strongly to the inter-generational identity of the Time of the Writer festival”, said Ismail Mahomed, the Director of the Centre for Creative Arts.
The curators for this year’s Time of the Writer festival are lead curator Sibahle Khwela, joined by a developmental editor and bookstagrammer Nolwazi Nene, Scout Fynn from the Market Theatre Laboratory, and Nomthandazo Shandu. Three of the women are on a year-long Emerging Arts Manager’s programme funded by the National Arts Council PESP Fund and the YES Youth Empowerment programme. Lead curator Sibahle Khwela is an alumnus of the programme and a graduate of DUT cum laude.
Tickets for Time of the Writer’s live events, happening at Alliance Française de Durban in Morningside, are available on Webtickets at R30 per event, and online sessions will be streamed on Facebook and the Centre for Creative Arts Youtube channel.