Head: Opening a new chapter in literary events

Leading South African authors — including Angela Makholwa, Joanne Joseph and Nathi Olifant — will participate in the inaugural iLembe Book Festival, which takes place in KwaZulu-Natal next month under the theme Our Time, Our Stories, Our Voices.

The not-to-be-missed literary event is being held at the Luthuli Museum in Groutville, KwaDukuza, in the iLembe District Municipality, from Thursday February 1, to Saturday February 3.

The festival will bring together more than 30 South African authors in 15 sessions and includes a poetry slam and a full children’s programme. The main book festival on the Saturday has a content-rich programme packed with insightful conversations and talks, lively debates and one-on-one author sessions.

The line-up includes discussions on the art of mining the past for writing inspiration, how would-be authors can get published, the rise of local book adaptations to television and film, the popularity of crime fiction and how to pen a memoir. There will be one-on-one sessions with KwaZulu-Natal authors Olifant, Nelly Page and Thenjiwe Msane.

Makholwa burst onto the literary scene in 2007 with her debut thriller Red Ink, one of the first crime fictions by a black author in South Africa

Makholwa burst onto the literary scene in 2007 with her debut thriller Red Ink, one of the first crime fictions by a black author in South Africa. The book — set in Johannesburg — has been adapted as a screenplay and will be streaming on Showmax from next month. This was followed by The 30th Candle, which has been adapted into a Netflix screenplay. Makholwa’s latest book, The Reed Dance Stalker, is a sequel to Red Ink and was published in October last year. Her other novels include Blessed Girl, which was shortlisted for the UK’s Comedy Women in Print Prize. The book was also shortlisted for the National Institute for the Humanities & Social Sciences literary awards.

Joseph is a broadcaster and media personality who has written a number of books including Drug Muled: Sixteen Years in a Thai Prison and Children of the Sugarcane, a novel set against the backdrop of 19th-century India and the British-owned sugar cane plantations of Natal.

Durban-based Olifant is a former crime and political journalist who worked for various newspapers including the Sunday Times, Independent Media and The Witness. He has 17 years of journalism experience. His debut novel Blood, Blades and Bullets — Anatomy of a Glebelands hitman won the 2021 The Book Behind Awards for best English movel: male. The Fugitives — Glebelands Hitmen is his second novel. The final book in the trilogy, Assassins Endgame, will be released this year.

The iLembe Book Festival is a collective effort by local authors including Nozizwe Cynthia Jele, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the acclaimed Hlomu series author and journalist Dudu Busani-Dube, and Scarred writer Ayanda Xaba, who are all part of this year’s organising committee.

The iLembe Book Festival will incorporate the following:

  • Creative writing workshops on February 2, aimed at upskilling local aspiring authors;
  • Visits to local primary and secondary schools to donate books and encourage young people to read and write. These will take place on February 1; 
  • A platform for independent booksellers to sell books at discounted prices. In addition, the festival will have a special book stall for local self-published authors to allow them space to showcase their writing; and
  • Food, arts and craft vendors on the final day. 

Issued by Neo Motlhala on behalf of iLembe Book Festival