Writers flock to FS for festival

2016-03-23 06:00

TH E University of the Free State (UFS), in partnership with the Vrystaat Arts Festival, will present the first Literature Festival in Central South Africa from 11 to 16 July in Bloemfontein.

Afrikaans books and writers will feature prominently, in addition to other indigenous languages such as Sotho and Zulu. Several authors will be celebrating literature in English.

“The aim of the festival, part of the bigger Vrystaat Arts Festival, is to strengthen a culture of reading, not just in the Free State, but nationally,” said the rector of the University of the Free State, Prof. Jonathan Jansen.

The festival will market books, as well as embrace new developments in the field of writing.

The theme of this year’s literature festival is Our Africa and promises to provide all booklovers and readers tantalising food for thought.

Some of the authors attending the festival include, amongst others, the Hertzog-prize winner Adam Small, celebrating his 80th birthday as well as the release of his latest drama.

Another legendary writer, playwright and actor, John Kani, will be speaking at the festival about his most recent theatre productions.

The ever-popular Marita van der Vyver will be visiting the festival from France, and the highly-acclaimed writer Zakes Mda will be flying in from the United States to deliver the inaugural Sol Plaatje Lecture.

Mda, also a visual artist, will have some of his works on display.

Other international guests include Chika Unigwe, originally from Nigeria, who rose to fame in Belgium and was described by South African writer Zukiswa Wanner as one of the five most renowned writers from Africa.

Also attending will be Iranian writer Kader Abdolah, whose novels have been translated into more than 21 languages.

Abdolah, a political refugee who escaped from Iran to the Netherlands in the 1980s, went on to establish himself as one of the most prominent Dutch novelists.

Wilfried N’Sondé, originally from the Congo, who now lives in France, will also be a festival guest.

“It is critical for us that robust debate on current affairs takes place as part of the festival,” says Theo Kemp, coordinator of the Literature Festival.

Critical topics covered include themes such as the state of Africa’s economies, the relevance of the Anglo-Boer War in contemporary society and the changing face of Africa.

The aim of the festival, part of the bigger Vrystaat Arts Festival, is to strengthen a culture of reading, not just in the Free State, but nationally.

– Professor Jonathan Jansen

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