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Black Magic At Abantu Book Festival


Black people seldom have spaces to be unapologetically black, but Abantu Book Festival is one of the few spaces that has allowed us to enjoy our blackness and indulge in black literature by black African authors without any interruptions. Do not be fooled into thinking that black people don’t read, because we do, we enjoy it and we are even teaching our children to not only read but to love it. The first week of December saw Eyethu Lifestyle Centre in Mofolo, Soweto and Soweto Theater filled with Black African authors as well as the black people who read their books meet to have panel discussions on issues that affect us. The book festival was a safe space were we cried together, laughed together and danced together.


Writers from different parts of Africa gave a few insights into their books as well as engaged in general discussions about different issues that affect us. What stood out for me is how the majority of discussions were on abuse, patriarchy and women as keeper of secrets. In a discussion with Marah Louw she talked about the cycle of abuse from her mother( who is actually her grandmother) , her sister (who is her real mother) and herself, the abuse they suffered at the hands of men they loved. Finding out that her sister was actually her mother and how nobody in her family was willing to tell her the truth. Family keeping secrets about a child’s biological parents is such a problem all over and it is damaging. In a separate discussion about Khwezi, Mmatshilo Motsei emphasized on the dangers of women keeping secrets when their kids and other women are raped by family members so as to not “disgrace” the family. Everyone who attended the discussion is in agreement that we need to stop protecting abusers and rapists in our families. Our mothers are huge supporters of patriarchy because that is all they know from their mothers and their mothers and they have protected patriarchy as way to survive in the world that has always been unfair to women and the change can only be brought by women of our generation who have already started to make great strides in dismantling patriarchy bit by bit.



Our African cultures from 500 years ago are not the same cultures that we have today because culture evolves and as we go on every day we create our own African identity. I love the way we are loving our black African selves without apologizing, rocking our hair in its natural state, celebrating our cultures as well as the cultures of our fellow Africans.

Abantu Book Festival in its greatness also exposed the challenges for the black media worker when it comes to the compensation and managing the creative and business aspect of their trade. There is a need to established media institution that will enforce the fair treatment, fair compensation of media workers. Those institutions need to make media work for blacks sustainable.

I cannot wait wait for the 3rd annual Abantu Book Festival in 2018 because the festival is a great initiative and I am pretty sure that it will grow bigger and better, I am proud of the work that Thando Mgqolozana and his team have done for us. AMANDLA ABANTU BOOK FEST! AMANDLA

All images from Abantu Book Festival


Abantu Book Festival


Abantu Book Festival kick of in SOWETO from the 6th to 10th of  December 2016. The festival is the first of its kind and magnitude, not just in terms of location but to centre black writers and readers.Organised under the theme – Our Stories – the festival celebrates African stories through written and spoken word, visual arts, music and film. It will explore the ways in which our stories are told, and how these inform, or are informed by, our ways of being.The Soweto Theatre (Jabulani) and Eyethu Lifestyle Centre (Mofolo) are the main venuesand the festival will be hosting hands-on workshops, film screenings, panel discussions, intimate conversations by writers and performing artists.

The lineup includes Angela Makholwa, Bheki Peterson, Bongani Madondo, Bontle Senne, Chika Unigwe, Dikeledi Deekay Sibanda, Duduzile Zamantungwa Mabaso, Don Mattera, Elinor Sisulu, Eusebius McKaiser, Florence Masebe, Fred Khumalo, Gcina Mhlope, HJ Golakai, James Murua, Khadija Patel, Khaya Dlanga, Khosi Xaba, Koleka Putuma, Lebo Mashile, Lesego Rampolokeng, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Malaika wa Azania, Mbali Matandela, Mongane Wally Serote, Natalia Molebatsi, Ndumiso Ngcobo, Niq Mhlongo, NoViolet Bulawayo, Nozizwe Jele, Pamela Maseko, Percy Mabandu, Phillippa Yaa De Villiers, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Redi Tlhabi, Rehana Rossouw, Sabata-mpho Mokae, Sandy Ndelu, Sihle Khumalo, Simamkele Dlakavu, Siphiwe Mpye, Siphiwo Mahala, Thabiso Mahlape, Thandiswa Mazwai, Thato Magano, Unathi Kondile, Unathi Magubeni, Vangi Gantsho, Xolisa Guzula, Yewande Omotoso, Zukiswa Wanner, and others 

“In this lineup we find depth and variety,” says the festival’s curator Panashe Chigumadzi, “Some of our authors have been telling stories for as long as others have been alive, while others have just begun but are bringing incredible innovations to the art. Together with our storytellers, we’ll be looking black to the future.” African Flavour Books, will have all your favourite African and diasporan titles on sale at the venues throughout the festival.The significance of this festival for the South African and African literary landscape cannot be overemphasized, particularly at a time when the Fallist movement has centralized decolonization in the South African discourse. The festival organizers see this initiative as part of the decolonization project. So too is the importance of holding it in Soweto -the country’s artistic and cultural melting pot- 40 years after June 16, 1976.

4 Girls About Girls: A New Sanctuary For High School Girls

4 Girls About Girls Logo

4 Girls About Girls is a mentorship campaign based in Soweto which was  initiated to select a group of girls based in Protea South, North and Protea Glen . The program is designed to empower, educate and develop these ambitious girls through social development and community based projects that will build their self-esteem and self confidence as well as provide them with career assistance. The organisation has been involved in charity drives, old age home visits and fundraising events based around Soweto in collaboration with Protea South Methodist church. Currently, they are having another charity drive in Protea South and  have identified a family that they will adopt and assist on monthly bases with clothes and food parcels.The community has also provided assistance with supporting the Nhlapho family with food and clothes. Production company Velocity Afrika has also been giving donations. 


4 Girls About GirlspROFILE picture

4 Girls About Girls was founded in January 2016 by Rephethile a young woman who has a passion for children and has been doing her best to mentor 10 high school student who are part of the program. The organisation will be part of the Student Expo that will take place on the 29th and 30th of July 2016 at the Glen in Johannesburg. As program gets bigger, there will be a need for more mentors and the criteria is quite simple:

+ Demonstrates a positive attitude and acts as a positive role model
+Compassion and genuineness
+ Have sincere desire to construct, empower, develop, build a relationship with mentees
+Have the ability to be a listen and speaker when expected
+Be sensitive to people of different educational, economic, cultural and racial backgrounds
+Ability to recommend alternatives and options
+Leadership skills

+Willingness to share skills and expertise

The program is for girls who have a clear understanding of their goals, motivated and ready to work at a relationship, be open minded and always willing to learn and proactive. At the moment 4 Girls About Girls could do with an additional mentor who would assist in preparing for potential events and assisting with organizing, planning and conceptualizing to generate exciting activities to allow the girls to engage more and be active more. 4 Girls About Girls vision is to invite more girls around Soweto who believe they owe it to the community to assist and be a leader. The girls have one main goal, the goal to be better and do better than their parents, they want their parents to be proud of their achievements and future plans . They have established themselves as different to the current youth but they’ve accepted their flaws and want to let go to become somebodies in their communities.

Having suffered and lived under the oppression of abuse and violence I always isolated myself from achieving what my heart desired, I was afraid to be at my best and do best, I was so consumed by low self-esteem and lack of confidence without blaming anyone With that being said the critical point that 4 Girls About Girls is sending out is that anything is possible even beyond all the negative situations that any person is forced into, anything is possible when you stay dedicated and passionate. I want these young girls to see themselves in me and even become better at everything they do, I want them to be able to stand firm for what they believe while achieving every little goal they desire or rather aspire to achieve. I want them to be go-getters without limitations or any excuses. I want my girls to inspire their peers and be a reflection of possibilities because I believe in them.- Rephethile

If you want to get involved you can contact the organisation:


Facebook Page: 4 Girls About Girls

Twitter: @4GirlsAboutGilr

Cellphone: 083 507 2758


Soweto Camp Festival 2015


I never ever thought that my first camping experience will be in the city. Wise people say never say never. I got to experience camping in Soweto courtesy of the organizers of the Soweto Camp Festival during the Easter weekend. I was so happy to be part of the 5th annual Soweto Camp Festival held at Lebo’s Backpackers in Phefeni Orlando West. The purpose of the camp festival is to introduce a culture of camping in Soweto and give local entrepreneur an opportunity to reach a broader market. This year a fashion show was introduced with designers like Zamaswazi. Soul Brown, Dung Beetle, bush Banger, Zola, Kasi Code & Urban Zulu showcasing.

I love how the Soweto Camp Fest organizers involved the youth in the event through leadership roles and also providing a space to showcase their talent. Games were played right through, all kinds of music was heard in the different corners of the camp. Grafitti artist also did their thing on the wall and left their mark to show how talented and creative the African youth is. My one regret is not going on the bicycle tour around Soweto, nonetheless. I would have to return to Lebo’s Backpackers for some more of Soweto. Spotted in the crowd were some of former Big Brother Africa contestants: Luis Manana & Permithias Osweb from Namibia and Mira from Mozambique. The crew seemed to enjoying comedian Smoky’s set.

I had my 5 minute stint in skating at the skate park and that was lots of fun. As a lover of music I really got serenaded by the sounds of Rockruler And the Jamgang and was really fascinated by Sintu the lady who owns the saxophone. Her performance really gave me goosebumps.I really got to do a lot of things that I have always wanted to do at the Soweto Camp Fest. Meeting people from different walks of life was one of my highlights because I got to learn new things and cemented my love for travelling even more.  I cannot wait to see what they come up with for 2016.

It’s evident from the pictures below that I had lots of fun.


Anam Xinwa

Lorraine Kinnear

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