The Time of the Writer festival, organized by UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities ended on March 21 with a staged reading from the works of Toni Morrison, directed by Nondumiso Msimanga.
The opening night on March 16 featured legendary author Dr. Sindiwe Magona in conversation with Ms. Zukiswa Wanner.
Dean and Head of the School of Arts Professor Nobuhle Hlongwa said: ‘This is an important event to showcase the work of writers. The festival focused this year on powerful women in the literary arts space and we were delighted to honour Dr. Magona as she celebrates a milestone 80th birthday.’
It was announced at the event that Georgia State University in the United States would host a conference honouring Magona, in which UKZN will bring together scholars from Africa, Europe, North America and further afield to discuss the many compelling themes that are found in her extensive oeuvre. The conference will mark her 80th birthday and honour her contributions as a leading global public intellectual.
Magona is a celebrated South African writer, storyteller, and motivational speaker known mainly for her autobiographies, biographies, novels, short stories, poetry, and children’s books. She worked as a teacher, and domestic worker and spent two decades employed by the United Nations. She has received many awards for her fearless writing.
In conversation with Wanner, Magona reflected on her time as a writer.‘My writing is my response to this ever-changing world. Although I may refer to the past, the time of my earlier years, or even further back than that, it is always and ever the present that consumes me and the future it will or may birth.’
Talking about the South African literary landscape she said: ‘Literacy is the cornerstone of development politically, socially and economically. Stories are an integral part of socialization. Stories can heal our children and arm them for life so that they grow up realizing their potential and the gifts they bring to the world.’
Magona also spoke about her new book being released in July titled: I Write the Yawning Void. It is a collection of essays that highlight her engagement with writing that span the transition from apartheid to the post-apartheid period and addresses themes such as HIV/Aids, language and culture, home, and belonging.
CCA Director Dr. Ismail Mahomed said: ‘It is remarkable that the curators of this year’s Time of the Writer festival were four women all under the age of 30 leading a programme bookended by literature veterans such as Dr. Magona. This speaks strongly to the inter-generational identity of the Time of the Writer festival.’
This year’s festival theme was: Placemaking: Influence, Roots, Imagination & Expression. Under the umbrella of this theme, the festival’s curators explored a range of subjects which included The Rooted Legacy of Women in History; Queer Representation in Literature; Feminist Imaginings; Crime and Policing in SA; Writing Through Grief which featured Durban author Kumi Naidoo; Fiction Expression with Siphiwo Mahala in conversation with Award-winning authors and journalists Fred Khumalo and Niq Mhlongo, and The South African Contemporary Dating Scene facilitated by Sue Nyathi featuring Dudu Busani Dube, Lebohang Masango and Thabile Shange.
In addition, to live and online showcases, there were daily activities including book launches, seminars, and workshops to promote a culture of reading, writing and creative expression.