Gordimer takes issue with secrecy bill

2011-11-19 10:20

Defeat is not an option for Nobel prize winner Nadine Gordimer against government’s imminent passing of the protection of information bill.

Speaking at the opening session of second African Women Writers’ symposium in Newtown Gordimer said: “We cannot accept defeat, we must reject the secrecy bill in its entirety – we cannot return to what we were under during apartheid.

“We cannot accept censorship to blind our eyes to the realities of our society and our politics.”

Gordimer lashed out at the government and called it “appalling” that the public consultations promised have never been held and no amendments had been made to the draft that was withdrawn from Parliament in September.

“The passing of the protection of information bill is appalling for what it will mean to freedom of expression in all media which define that freedom and its vital relation to the freedom which we uphold in our Constitution.

“It is the freedom of the poet, the playwright, the novelist, new media, the press and indeed that of the visual artist that is severely under threat.”

Gordimer said government was using political tactics like those of the apartheid regime and used the example of an artist’s work which was taken off the wall at an exhibition for political reasons at the time.

Gordimer is celebrating her 88th birthday tomorrow, and the panel discussion titled “Being African in World” was held in her honour.

Professor Keorapetse Willie Kgositsile apologised on behalf of Minister of Arts and Culture Paul Mashatile for his absence as he “was stuck in Germany”.

Guest speaker and also on the panel was Egyptian feminist writer Dr Nawal El-Saadawi, who reiterated the importance of “creative writing and transforming our education system to challenge the paradoxes and contradictions inherent in our society”.

Amongst those present were the Isidingo soapie actress Keketso Semoko, writer Andile Mngxitama as well as academics and students.

Writers from all over the continent are gathered at the Sci-Bono Centre in Newtown until tomorrow “in a continental dialogue about the future of African writing”.

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