Shaila Patel Leaves Audience In Awe

Award winning poet and Guest of the Jozi Book Fair 2017, held the audience in rapt attention on Saturday, 2 September when she performed some of her poems. Among other poems Patel performed ‘Shilling Love’, a poem that left those in attendance emotional and speechless.

The highlight was when she read one of her poems called “Migritude”. The poem is a journey in movements. It brings together family history and monologues of violence, colonisation and love in order to create a beautiful portrait of women’s lives and migrant journeys undertaken.

The audience were provided the opportunity to engage with Shailja and they used it to their full potential. Known for her political activism, Patel engaged the audience about the state of Kenya, where she is based. Kenya’s Supreme Court invalidated the result of the contentious presidential election and ordered a new vote. This is the first time in Africa that a court has nullified the vote of a sitting leader. In the last three years since she’s been home in Kenya, she’s been seeing an increasing escalation of the closing down of spaces.

“As a writer in a struggle, I think people should tell their own stories as they are the ones facing that certain situation. They are the ones who know and understand it much better than anyone else could,” she said.

By Busisiwe Themba


Poetry with Legends, Diana Ferrus and James Matthews

South African authors Diana Ferrus, born on 29 August 1953, and James Matthews born on 29 May 1929, are both poets, writers and publishers. Ferrus and Matthews engaged with pupils on poetry on both Thursday and Friday. The session was divided into two groups. Ferrus engaged with pupils that are 15 years and older and Matthews was with the younger ones.

Both the facilitators started the session by introducing themselves to the pupils and explaining what is poetry, the young pupils were instructed to come up with a sentence that will make them write a poem as a group, “I am in love with words so I write poetry” said one pupil as he volunteered to start with the first line. Matthews offered “writing a poem is not for a sleep”.

Nyeleti, a 10-year-old pupil from Basa Tutorial Institute said she was overwhelmed by the session. “The session was more than I expected, I learned a lot from it’’.

By Tshepo Matoko


Pregs Govender with Community Health Workers

Pregs Govender introduced her book Love & Courage to the Gauteng Community Health Workers (CHWs). She said that she wrote her book looking into the struggle of women in South Africa. “Women should be confident to take leadership and also motivate and encourage other women to have passion for their work”, Govendor said.

Discussions were on the challenges health workers face and the response from the Department of Health (DoH) and some of the issues raised include work with no benefits from the DoH and a labour broker called SmartPurse Solution.

 “As a care worker you have to risk your life as you take care of patients that are not able to visit the hospitals or clinics by themselves. And even when they get injured during working hours they are responsible for their lives,” said Zoleka Mbotshelwa, from the GautengCommunity Health Care Forum.

By Hendrick Khumalo


OVC takes home all the awards

The children’s programme was jam-packed with lots of interesting and fun activities aimed to showcase the kids talents. Some of those activities include: storytelling, poetry performances, drama presentations, dances, speech giving, singing and other fun activities like the puppet show and face painting.

Another major focus of the children’s programme is the Orphan and Vulnerable Children Centres (OVCs) spelling bee competition. This competition was open to all the OVCs that the JBF works with. Each of the 13 OVCs had 7 kids in their team representing  them. The words for the competition has been taken from the books the children have read over the past few months such as Penny and Puffy, Little Troll’s Tail, Zwai and The Little Creatures and so on. The competition was not only fierce but also fun packed with lots of fun exercises and activities.

Tlhokomelo Drop OVC took 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize. 1st prize went to Simphiwe Shabangu, 2nd prize went to Rathabile Khumalo and 3rd price went to Neo Lehleka.

By Bongani Dludla


The Yearning at the Fair

Visitors to the Fair  were filled with yearning to hear from authors, andfeast on all activities. Author, Carol (Mohale) Mashigo, was no different. She brought her own ‘Yearning’ to the Fair and left both children and adults wanting more. Mashigo published her first novel, The Yearning, under her pen name Mohale Mashigo. Mashigo also had a writing workshop at the Fair and it was soulful and exciting. She spoke of stories of the hardships she faced as a writer, from writing as a black woman to getting published.

“As a woman I got interest in writing, and writing about women. I encourage you to write, especially women, write,” she said. Mashigo encouraged young women to fight to get what they need and urged them not to quit, regardless of challenges they might face. Mashigo continued by addressing the struggles of  publishing and rejection, things that diminish most upcoming writers spirits. Students posed a lot of questions which made the workshop interesting and engaging. Sisanda Mbele from Metropolitan College had nothing but praise. “Listening to Carol I learned a lot of things, about storytelling and writing. It was a great workshop, and I’m glad I attended.”

By Zanele Nomdikinya


Batjha Kaofela Book Launch

The Fair saw the launch of the book Batjha Kaofela: Unbreakable – Women in our lives, an anthology of short stories from 10 authors between the ages of 13-17. The theme, Women in our lives,

coincides with the Jozi Book Fair 2017 theme Women and Literature. Learners were encouraged to write according to the theme or any topic of their choice. All stories were submitted to the Tsohang Batjha Short Story Competition from schools and Orphan and Vulnerable Centres that the JBF works with. The initiative, in its second year, received more than 120 entries. Present also at the launch were 8 of the 10 authors that wowed the judges with their stories, Guest of the Fair Kopano Matlwa, Diana Ferrus, Pali Lehohla and Mohale Mashigo.

Director of the Fair, Maria Van Driel, said the competition is to motivate school youth to develop the culture of writing. “The aim of the competition is to deepen the cuture of reading and writing. Children have so much talent that needs to be discovered and nurtured. We need to identify and groom authors while they are still young.”

By Thembelani Mtimde


You have written… Then what?

One of the sessions at the Jozi Book Fair was How to get your story published, which was facilitated by Neilwe Mashigo, who works with marketing and publishing at Jacana Publishing. This session was attended by pupils from different schools, together with their teachers.

It was interesting to see how passionate pupils are about writing. Mashigo explained to the pupils how easy it can be to publish a book. She said “it is always important to start small, one need not to force to quickly finish a book, but one can set up time for themselves each day to write”. She gave an example that 300 words per day on a continuous basis can be enough until they reach the number of pages that they need to have.

Children were also taught that they first need to figure out what type of story they are interested in writing, and also that they need to know how many pages they want to write as well as the size that they want their book to be. She explained that there are different types of books like fiction, non-fiction and children books.

By Esther Mathibela


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