Inanda residents learn about writing and publishing in their own languages

The muggy weather could not stop the crowd from seeking literature knowledge on the second day of the Time of the Writer festival held at Ohlange Library at Inanda. Teachers and learners from Ohlange High School and Nhlanhleni junior secondary school were invited to join the panel discussion. KWAZI DLAMINI spoke to some young people who attended the event to hear what they learned from the event.

Nozipho MbheleNozipho Mbhele, 27, Inanda Newtown, social worker
I came here for WiFi but I decided to join because it seemed interesting and there was a crowd. I learnt a lot from those publishers; I learnt why IsiZulu books are not well represented in the society. They also asked us questions [like] why are we not reading; well for me I love reading but I cannot afford a book. A book usually costs around R250 and when I have the money there is always something important that comes up. I Google information on the internet [and] even my Bible is on my phone, I can read it anytime I want. I also wish that they come back or even send a few people once in a while to groom us here in the township to be writers.

Vukani NcananaVukani Ncanana, 24, Mawoti, unemployed
I came here to speak to the management and ask for piece jobs like gardening and painting but now I have learnt new things from these publishers. I once thought of being an author but I did not know which steps to take to realise that dream. This event helped me a lot and will help a lot others like me. Today we learnt what really goes behind the book that we read at the library, what are the challenges faced by the writers and the publishers as well. I am currently a poet, meaning I write every now and then but to be good at something you need guidance. I don’t read books at all but if I had the library card I would take a book home to read.

Nosipho MavundlaNosipho Mavundla, 17, Inanda Newtown, pupil
My teacher told me about this festival and said we should come. It is nice to be here, we are learning new things about literature – a subject that is not usually talked about in black communities. It is an opportunity for us as pupils to think about venturing into literature in the future, but my dream is to be a civil engineer. I learnt that black people do not want to read and do not want to write unless they are begged for it. I don’t read books besides reading my Life Sciences textbook so that I can pass to the next grade – nothing else. However, I was inspired by the festival to start reading.

Sabelo SheziSabelo Shezi, 19, KwaMashu, unemployed
I came with my friend who is interested in writing but I have also learnt a lot in this festival. It is important to write and read books, especially writing books in our language to promote it because no one will do it for us. The event will benefit the community a lot; they know the importance of writing and reading books and they will also know the process of writing books. The publishers and writers also explained that the reason isiZulu books are not well represented is because their target audience does not read. When you pitch a book you have to motivate why it should be published and that is difficult to do if you are writing in Nguni languages.

Tina ShabalalaTina Shabalala, 23, Durban, student
I came here as an eager student wanting to know what this is about and what can I gain from it. I learnt that language is still a serious problem in the literature society; the supply of books written in indigenous languages is not enough. Writing books in our languages can help the coming generation to learn more about our language and we will also be preserving it in the process. I was glad I got the chance to meet these publishers and also had a chance to ask them questions, I asked a lot of questions because I want to be a journalist one day.

The Daily Vox is the official media partner of the 2016 Time of the Writer Festival, which runs from 14-19 March 2016. For the full programme, click here.