I love book festivals, as a writer and a reader. And when a book festival brings the joy of reading and engaging with writers to places that are not known for such events, it is an additional pleasure to participate. The first weekend in November, we gathered again at West End Primary School in Mitchells Plain to celebrate the wealth and wonder of local literature at the Cape Flats Book Festival. It was the third time the festival has taken place. According to the organisers, the festival is “an act of hope, an opportunity to dream beyond our circumstances”. I attended for the first time last year and could not wait to return. I was not disappointed and will be counting the days to next year’s event.
It was beautiful to witness the power of storytelling in action.
This year, I listened to Nancy Richards interviewing the inspiring Sindiwe Magona, whose knowledge, laughter and creativity always give me hope. She was speaking alongside an emerging writer, Unathi Kapa, who was inspired by Magona to write her own story, Whawha was here: A memoir. “She showed me to myself,” Unathi said. It was beautiful to witness the power of storytelling in action. Unathi is one of the contributors featured in Sindiwe’s gift, a collection of tributes from friends, family and colleagues on how Magona has touched their lives. The book was published three months ago in celebration of this literary icon’s 80th birthday.
I was involved in two events at the festival this year. I had the honour of interviewing Chantal Stewart and Mia Arderne about the strong women characters in their debut novels, The veil of Maya and Mermaid fillet respectively. I was deeply moved by what they had to say about their lives and work. There is no doubt that local creativity is bursting at the seams. Together with Joanne Hichens, I participated in an event where we spoke to other writers of all ages and experience levels about why stories matter. My heart was full after the conversation. And I want to give a shout out to young Zoe – I can’t wait to read one of your stories! I came home with a copy of Muhammed Yousuf Minty’s In search of who we are, a novel set in precolonial Africa, and I look forward to embarking on a journey of self-discovery along with Kanu, the book’s protagonist. I hope that the Cape Flats Book Festival goes from strength to strength. See you all there in 2024!