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Franschhoek Literary Festival

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Archive for the ‘Lesotho’ Category

Chris van Wyk, Zukiswa Wanner and Wessel Ebersohn Talk Inspirations at the FLF

Michele Magwood, Chris van Wyk, Zukiswa Wanner and Wessel Ebersohn

Michele Magwood had the envious pleasure of chatting to three charming writers; Chris van Wyk, Zukiswa Wanner and Wessel Ebersohn about the inspiration behind their work. Wessel draws inspiration from the political activity and social injustices around him. He’s been writing since the 1970′s which means that a number of his works were originally banned in South Africa (Store up the Anger). Ebersohn eventually “left the muse” of politically-driven writing for some time and went to live in the Knysna forests until 1994.

Behind Every Successful ManEggs to Lay, Chickens to HatchThe October KillingsZukiswa Wanner, like many modern women, looks to woman’s magazines like True Love for inspiration. The fact that so many South Africans seem caught between tradition and “what Oprah tells us” is a prominent feature of many of her books.

Her latest work Men of the South takes a turn away though in that it is written from a male perspective. Wanner jokingly questioned whether people would now stop calling her a “black chick-lit author” and rather a “dick-lit” author. Time will tell…

Chris van Wyk looked to his childhood for both his memoirs: Shirley Goodness and Mercy and Eggs to Lay and Chickens to Hatch. Eggs to Lay revolves primarily around his friendship with their housekeeper – Agnes. Together the maid from Soweto and the young boy from Riverlea navigated the chaotic worlds they lived in. Van Wyk was also quick to point out that he could only write about his and Agnes’s stories post-apartheid.

Most of the authors agree that after apartheid was when SA writers started looking inward, no longer writing novels about resistance, but looking to themselves, ready to tell their own stories. South Africa is a nation with a wealth of untapped stories, stories that will continue to be unearthed in our attempts to get to know both ourselves and each other.

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Tadjo, Ebersohn, Mhlongo Talk “Who Wants to be an Author?” at the FLF

Karabo Kgoleng and Veronique Tadjo

It was a trip across the Sahara desert that finally helped Veronique Tadjo make the choice between becoming a photographer or a writer. Tadjo, together with Wessel Ebersohn and Niq Mhlongo shared stories on how they became writers at the Who Wants to be an Author panel discussion chaired by Karabo Kgoleng at the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

The October KillingsQueen PokouAfter TearsTadjo recounted how she couldn’t take her camera with her, because they didn’t want to attract any danger on their journey. However, she felt she had to record this life changing experience and so Tadjo started writing. “At the end of the journey I had a whole collection of poems.” Her poems were published, but it was only when she won a literary prize that Tadjo really believed it would possible for her to continue writing.

Wessel Ebersohn has a day job, but he continues to make time to write. He considers writing simply as “something I do”. He wrote his first novel when he was eight years old. “It was about a rugby match and it had lots of action, but no character development.” Ebersohn’s eighth novel, The October Killings, has just been published.

When Mhlongo was growing up, there was a rich lawyer and a popular journalist living close to him in Soweto. He wanted to take on one of these professions to also achieve fame and fortune. Because Wits University didn’t have a Journalism course Mhlongo had to do a BA degree and he specialised in African literature.

After unsuccessful postgraduate studies in Law he came to Cape Town, where reading old diary entries about his life in Soweto made him feel less lonely. He started writing to entertain himself and enjoyed it. At last Mhlong had found his true calling.

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