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This year’s Jozi Book Festival takes place from 29 to 30 October 2022 at the Workers Museum in Newtown. In the midst of increasing degeneration and decay, so visible in the city of Johannesburg and in South Africa as a whole, the theme, Reimagine and remake is a welcomed focus on hope and that another world is possible! This is a festival for the whole family, to lift your spirits and see our children and our youth perform the work they have been working on throughout the year.

The JBF is now in its 14th year and was first established in 2009 in response to the poor culture of reading and writing evident even then. The JBF is a unique festival oriented to the working class, that creates readers and writers, makes literature accessible, promotes indigenous languages, and encourages debate and solidarity from amongst other progressive social classes.

The festival has been affected by Covid-19, which still continues to hover in South Africa, and must be treated with caution. Unlike many festivals throughout the world, and in South Africa especially, the JBF rose to the occasion during the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020 the JBF festival was successfully held online; in 2021 it was a hybrid festival, both physical and only. This year’s festival is physical, although much smaller compared to previous years.

Over the years the festival has changed and now focuses largely on work with constituencies within communities, children, school youth, out-of-school youth, cultural workers, and women and communities. This has brought a shift from marketing to organising constituencies.

This year, the festival on Saturday and Sunday will take place at the Workers Museum and Newtown Park, a space for families to put down a blanket and enjoy poetry, theatre, music, literature and a soccer tournament on both days.


The Children’s programme is on Saturday only and highlights include the children showcasing their work such as poetry, gumboots and fusion dances, song and face painting. Amongst others, Margaret Auerbach from Spellbound will bring puppetry to life with the Bookshop at Rainbow’s End and the Magic Ball of Happiness. The Listen to Children Speak, is a space for children to talk about their daily lives and express themselves. The children will also launch their poetry book, Poetry for Friends 6.

The Tsohang Batjha (arise youth) programme will provide space for the launch of Batjha Kaofela 7: the winners of the JBF Short Stories 2022. This is an opportunity to meet the young authors who will read extracts from their work.

The General Programme for the public includes seminars and round tables, book launches, book sales at the Bathekgi solidarity programme, independent publishers, and exhibitors. Given that this is the first year since the passing of the long-serving Khanya College director and the founder of the JBF, there is a clear focus on some of Lehulere’s writings. Lehulere was an organic intellectual and activist of the social movements and movement building in South Africa. He passed away in November 2021.

The seminar on the Labour Relations Act and the Foundations of Neoliberalism is based on one of Lehulere’s texts. The seminar will reflect, amongst other things, on the declining trade union movement in South Africa.

The Roundtable on The State of Journalism in South Africa since Covid 19 (Saturday, 12 noon) will include veteran journalists such as Gwen Ansell, and Al Jazeera’s Ebrahim Fakude. The seminar will explore the closing democratic spaces, the shift to online, and the increasing monopolising and repression against journalists in Africa and elsewhere.

There will be a special focus on Quality public healthcare and the plight of CHWs nationally (largely women volunteers) (on Saturday 4.14 pm). This together with Bhekisisa’s intervention on how to write about healthcare (Sunday 9.00 am), highlights the need to make writing the domain of broader communities and not only individuals.

Reading across borders (on Saturday 3.00 pm), brings together study groups, students and progressives from Britain, India, Bosnia and South Africa to discuss Oupa Lehulere’s text on Xenophobia and Strategic Questions of Organising. This is also part of movement building and praxis – theory and practice. This was originally a request from comrades at Sussex University to explore and honour the work of Oupa Lehulere.

The last session on Sunday will focus on Oupa Lehulere and Movement Building and the way forward (Sunday, 2.15 pm). This session is based on the engagement of two of Lehulere’s texts, available on the JBF website (jozibookfair@khanyacollege.org.za)

A new exciting addition to the festival is the Oupa Lehulere Soccer Tournament. The 5-a-side soccer tournament will take place on both days, on Saturday for youth and Sunday for social movements and fraternal NGOs. All teams must have 50% women. The aim of the soccer tournament is to have fun, build social movements, friendship and solidarity.

This article was submitted on 18 October 2022. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online ( www.Karibu.org.za ), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.


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