Book celebrates life in Galeshewe

2015-09-09 06:00
PROF. DAVID MORRIS from McGregor Museum and Sol Plaatje University gettting his book signed by author Sabata-mpho Mokae at William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley.
Boipelo Mere

PROF. DAVID MORRIS from McGregor Museum and Sol Plaatje University gettting his book signed by author Sabata-mpho Mokae at William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley. Photos: Boipelo Mere

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“I READ his columns on a regular basis and am looking forward to reading this book. I am just concerned about the Tswana language, if there is any used in the book. But I do not anticipate any challenges, really.”

Those were the words of Prof. David Morris of the McGregor Museum and Sol Plaatje University after queuing to be among the first buyers of Kanakotsame: In My Times, a book written by Sabata-mpho Mokae.

Morris also did not allow the opportunity of asking for Mokae’s signature to pass him by at the launch of the book at the William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley on Saturday, 28 August. The event was part of the Gariep Festival.

According to Mokae, who was pleased about the good turnout at the second launch of this particular book, the book is all about celebrating life after apartheid.

The book is a collection of short fiction pieces, all building upon one another. The stories are set in the township of Galeshewe in Kimberley, mainly at one of the township’s oldest taverns, Parks’ Tavern.

The writer has used few characters, the protagonist being Kanakotsame, who faces different situations.

Kanakotsame’s drinking buddies are Jack Mogale and Tebogo Vuilgoed. The trio loves good music, jazz, whisky and stylish clothes.

Kanakotsame’s nephew is Tema. The latter’s girlfriend is Mosidi, Jack Mogale’s eldest daughter. Mogale is a single parent.

The writer lets his readers see the world through the eyes of these characters.

The stories deal with a range of issues, from absent fathers to rape.

Mokae is inspired by the 1950s Drum-era writers such as Bloke Modisane, Cassey Motsisi and Can Themba.

The writing in this book is a celebration of the township, not as a geographical space, but as millieu with its people, culture, fashion, music, iconic cars and the human spirit that survived all sorts of tests and refused to be broken down by apartheid.

Referring to the first launch, held the night before at Parks’ Tavern, Mokae expressed how pleased he was by the warm response the book had received from the community.

“It is taking off well – the launch at Parks’ Tavern was more successful than I expected,” said Mokae.

He said Kanakotsame: In My Times was a tribute to his grandmother Bahedile, who always used to share with him the story of Sophiatown before it had been destroyed.

“Although the stories are written in English, there is a sprinkling of Kimberley Tsotsitaal in some. These stories are set in the late apartheid era – between the late 1980s and the early 1990s.”

Mokae said it took a mere three to four months to publish the book, as the editor had not experienced any difficulties with it.

He encouraged young local writers to pay more attention to getting their work published and to attend workshops he would be running at the Sol Plaatje University regularly. Mokae welcomes writers to consult him for referrals, as he no longer struggles to find publishers.

“I wish to open doors to other writers, especially those who use African languages.”

More about Sabata-mpho Mokae

MOKAE writes in two languages: English and Tswana.

He is the author of the biography The Story of Sol T. Plaatje, a youth novella, Dikeledi (Tears) and a poetry collection, Escaping Trauma.

His debut novel, Ga Ke Modisa (I’m Not My Brother’s Keeper), won the M-Net Literary Award for Best Novel in Setswana, as well as the M-Net Film Award in 2013.

Mokae also won the South African Literary Award in 2011.

His short story Down Sol Plaatje Drive was performed on theatre stage during the Global Express in Iowa City in the United States of America (USA) in 2014.

His latest book, Kanakotsame: In My Times, a collection of fiction ­pieces, was launched in 2015.

Mokae holds an MA degree in Creative Writing at the Rhodes University.

In 2014 he was a writer-in-residence at the University of Iowa, where he was also awarded an honorary fellowship.

Mokae is a creative writing lecturer at the Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley, South Africa

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