Event: Franschhoek Literary Festival
The 2022 Franschhoek Literary Festival started on a wet and cold Friday morning, but things quickly warmed up once the thought-provoking book discussions kicked off.
News24, a sponsor of this year's event, is hosting two venues in the centre of the quaint Western Cape town at the NG Church and Church Hall.
It was our very own editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson who hosted one of the first events of the day, where he discussed the possible futures of the ruling party with political analyst Ralph Mathekga (The ANC's Last Decade) and News24's assistant editor: politics and opinions, Qaanitah Hunter (Eight Days in July).
All three were in agreement President Cyril Ramaphosa is a shoo-in to win the ANC leadership contest this December, a statement that former DA leader Tony Leon echoed later during the day in a conversation with Basson at the New School Hall.
"I am willing to bet anything," Leon confidently told Basson.
According to Mathekga, "there is no question who will win this conference", but, he added, "if you want to see the future of the ANC, you have to look at who will be in number two, three, four … not number one".
One of the favourites on Friday was undeniably Booker Prize-winner Damon Galgut who drew large crowds during both his discussions with Marthinus Basson and Mark Gevisser (The Pink Line: Crossing the World's Queer Frontiers) around his work and its reflections on post-apartheid South Africa.
Asked by theatre legend Basson how his life and bank balance had changed since his big win, a humble Galgut said: "The bank balance, by writer's standard, is not bad. I've been asked to talk a lot more."
He added he had already missed his deadline for his new book by a year and negotiated to deliver it by the end of this year. However, Galgut joked, he doubted he would be able to make that deadline due to all the talking he had to do these days.
Other highlights of the day included News24 legal specialist writer Karyn Maughan and advocate Hermione Cronjé, former head of the Investigating Directorate, on stage talking about South Africa's failed nuclear deal with Russia. Maughan just published the book Nuclear with Kirsten Pearson.
"Many of us were blissfully unaware of what was happening with the Russian nuclear deal," Cronje noted. Maughan praised civil society groups who brought litigation, argued by David Unterhalter SC, which halted the Russian nuclear deal.
Another crowd-pleaser was the charismatic Captain Ben "Bliksem" Booysen.
The former policeman, who gained popularity after appearing in the hit Showmax docu-series Devilsdorp, was joined by co-author Nicki Gules to discuss their book, On the Devil's Trail - How I Hunted the Krugersdorp Killers, with Andrew Brown.
Although Cecilia Steyn described herself as the bride of Satan and claimed she had special powers, Booysen said he never found her intimidating or self-confident.
He described her as a "clown", saying: "After she got arrested, she made everything out to be a joke. She even pulled faces at the photographer. She thought she was again going to get away with it."
Events to look out for tomorrow at News24's venues:
Queer & Now (10:00 to 11:00, Church Hall)
News24 book editor Shaun de Waal tackles the LGBTQ+ rights revolution with Mark Gevisser (The Pink Line: Crossing the World's Queer Frontiers) and Robert Hamblin (Robert - A queer and crooked memoir for the not so straight and narrow).
Putin & I (Virtual) (13:00 to 14:00, NG Church)
Tony Leon speaks to Bill Browder (Freezing Order), the businessman who played a long, blood-soaked chess game against the Putin regime and lobbied for the Magnitsky Act, a key weapon against the Kremlin.
The Story Party (14:30 to 15:30, NG Church)
John Maytham chews the fat with thriller wizard Jeffrey Archer, whose new William Warwick thriller Over My Dead Body is out now. For starters, how does one man sell 275 million books? (Via Zoom).
Around The Corner (16:00 to 17:00, Church Hall)
Ferial Haffajee invites Tony Leon (Future Tense) and Ralph Mathekga (The ANC's Last Decade) to peer through their crystal balls at South Africa after the 2024 elections.