Reading for the Tortoise: The Mandela Bay Book Fair


“Reading for the Tortoise” is the ear-catching theme of the sixth annual
Mandela Bay Book Fair (MBFF). Billed as a “writers’ and public book and
exhibition event”, the MBFF gathers together a diverse line-up of award-
winning authors, poets, academics and school teachers alongside university
students, scholars, speakers, librarians, book publishers at the Port Elizabeth
Opera House on Friday March 23 and Saturday March 24.

New Brighton-based poet and lecturer in the MA Creative Writing department
at Rhodes University, Mxolisi Nyezwa is the co-curator of the book fair. In an
interview with The Herald earlier this week he explained that the aim of the
MBBF this year is “to create the necessary infrastructure to support young
South African writers practising in local languages, especially isiXhosa in the
Eastern Cape”.

Friday kicks off with Dr Zoliswa Matshoba (Nelson Mandela University),
Zongezile Matshoba (the National English Literary Museum) and Dr Hleze
Kunju (Rhodes Creative Writing department) tackling the topic of “Creative
Writing as an Industry”. Thereafter the main focus is on a children’s programme
of storytelling, performances, games and popular fairytales and African
iintsomis (folktales). These sessions will be supplemented by roundtable
discussions, writing workshops hosted by the likes of poet Vincent Oliphant, a
book launch by Mother City filmmaker, photographer, writer and comic
producer Ziyaad Rahman, and an open mic session.

Saturday’s line-up extends the festival’s infrastructural focus with workshops on
creative writing and independent publishing by Deep South veteran Robert
Berold, and scriptwriting and radio drama by Monde Ngonyama and Toffe
Zitshu. Additional highlights promise to be legendary poet Lesego
Rampolokeng’s session on the legacy of Drum Generation scribes such as Nat
Nakasa in relation to today’s poets and MCs, as well as the launch of outspoken
young Khayamnandi-based ‘literary thug’, Unathi Slasha’s debut novella, Jah

9am to 6pm. Admission is free. For full programme information visit the
Port Elizabeth Opera House Facebook page, or contact 041 585 1300.

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