#TOW2016: Gatekeepers of the book and other stories

The Time of the Writer festival is upon us, and The Daily Vox team will be following it all over Kwazulu Natal, as authors and artists work on “Decolonising the book”. You can follow the happenings right here. Click here for what happened on day 1.

TOW2016 programme Wednesday

The panel wraps up its discussion for today. We’ll be back tomorrow morning, good people, to capture the continuing conversations around decolonising the book.

Our team took a walk around the library to ask participants why they’re here today.


 Nomkhosi – “We never get a response from teachers [on stories]. Are they keeping us from benefiting ourselves?”




Zenzo GumedeZenzo Gumede – “In our libraries there are no relevant books if we are to start as writers.”




TeachersHlobisile and Slindile – high school teachers who came to expose their learners to the  literature world.






Lungelo Gumede

Lungelo Gumede, grade 11 – came to get ideas on how to write his own book and tips on making it into the industry.




Vukani Ncanana

Vukani Ncanana –  “I’ve been wanting to write for a long time but I’ve always been restricted by the fact that I know I’m not that good with English. I now know that I am free to write in my indigenous language.”




Lindokuhle Mahlela – “I’m a poet who has something ready and would like to get it to the people. I came here to learn how I can go about publishing my work and how publishing operates.”




Rodney Roskruge – [On tackling your own attitude, which acts as the gatekeeper within] “I came to learn and grow ‘umntu‘ because the ‘umntu‘ is the god within. ‘Umntu‘ is the agent of change and ‘abantu‘ are agents of change.”



Ooooh, this is an important one, at least for us as journos. Journalist Niren Tolsi speaks about how reading poetry and fiction helps him to write his stories in a more narrative way. He asks, how do we get the stories about people, to those people? Is it right that a book about Marikana was written by a white female journalist?

The issue of the cost of books is a real one, fam. Are university students spending more on fancy phones than books? One tweep asks, how can we buy books when we are hungry? Duduzile Mabaso, from Black Letter Media says that we need to find ways to make books cheaper. But a balance does need to be struck between cost of production and selling price. The Department of Arts and Culture’s Siphiwo Mahala says that we need to introduce a culture of book buying and start buying books as gifts. And if books still aren’t affordable, well, that’s why we have libraries.

12:46 PM

12:10 PM- From the look of our Twitter feed it seems language is once more central to the discussions – and it’s controversial too. Mandla Matyumza from the Centre of the Book has called on student movements calling for Afrikaans to be scrapped as a medium of instruction to rethink their demands. According to him, there’s more ample room “for all our indigenous languages”.



12:05 PM- How do you get a book published anyway? Schoolchildren and other bookish types who’ve come to the Luthuli Museum this morning, are curious about how exactly the publishing process works. And their curiosity is not in vain. The processes governing what gets published and what not, must be scrutinised – and revolutionised – if we are indeed to have a decolonised literature in this country.


11:45 AM- At the Luthuli Museum, Nakhane Toure and Mandla Ndlovu have been speaking to learners about the wonders of writing and reading. Our team sent us pictures from there.

Luthuli Museum Time of the writer school children

Luhtuli Museum Time of the Writer

11:35 AM – We’ve scoured the headlines for all things Time of the Writer related, and we see The Witness reports that the  eThekwini muncipality “as increased its financial support of the Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to R4 million per year for the next three years”. And the extra funds are specifically aimed for the Time of the Writer Festival, the Durban International Film Festival, the Jomba! Contemporary Dance Festival and Poetry Africa.


11:30 AM – The literati are running late this morning. Our reporter Dana da Silva who’s travelling with the festival authors tells us they’ve just arrived at the Ohlange library and the programme should commence shortly.