On the second day of The Time of the Writer festival in Durban, participants visited KwaZulu-Natal’s schools and libraries to bring the writing to the people. The KwaMashu library hosted panelists Fred Khumalo, Unathi Magubeni, Nomsa Mdlalose, Usha Roopnarain and Bronwyn Law-Viljoen for discussions about the art of writing and literature and memory in South Africa. Many members of the public as well as schoolchildren from Duke Ellington School of the Arts were invited for the event, and The Daily Vox spoke to some about their thoughts on Time of the Writer and libraries.
Henry Graham*, 17, Duke Ellington School of the Arts
I think this event will definitely help the kids want to write. We started fundraising a year ago to come to Johannesburg, and when we got the money, we came. The first part of the session caught me off guard because I didn’t know that would be as interactive as it was. I expected majority reading, but I enjoyed it. As a creative writing student, it wasn’t new to me, but the importance of reading is definitely something to take away from this experience.
Kelli Anderson, 30, new media instructor
I think the event is a great opportunity for writers to engage with other writers, and those that are unfamiliar with the world of writing to get a taste of it. With our group it was an opportunity to go the festival and meet writers for the first time, and being in Durban was great. I work as a media instructor and I encourage the writers to expand and be part of the digital age and not just focus on text. What gets me interested in a book is mystery and something that you know you will hold on too. Student have forgotten the beauty and intimacy of turning a page since the focus is on digital reading. I personally read Black and women authors because I identify with their experiences. It’s an extension of what I’d like to do.
Ofentse Masibi, 25, poet
I felt the event was great but we didn’t have enough time. We should have been given more time because I like to interact more. I use the library for reading and poetry sessions. I prefer e-books, and I feel like libraries should have more books from South African writers as young people need to learn from them. The government should try and make the libraries youth-friendly as well.
Annie Desmond*, 15, learner, Duke Ellington School of the Arts
We don’t have a school library at our school back home but the public libraries at very good. I think our school should get library in the future. The Time of the Writer discussions seemed to have been for adults, I would’ve definitely enjoyed them more if they had been for children. I like writing poetry and I love journalism work. I would rather read a newspaper than a book.
Lucy Gonzalez*, 16, learner, Duke Ellington School of the Arts
I hardly use the library but my siblings do for their school work and projects. I thought the first sessions were very informative, and I actually learned a lot. I am a writer; I write short stories and poetry. Honestly, I enjoy reading articles like newspapers because I’m a questioning person and articles help me answer questions.
*Names of minors have been changed
Reporting by Nomcebo Ndimande, Karuna Pillay and Mishka Wazar. Images by Karuna Pillay and Mishka Wazar.