Precedents have been set. There is an National English Literary Museum (NELM) in Grahamstown and an Afrikaans Literary Museum in Bloemfontein (NALN). But 18 years since democracy no African language has managed to get a literary museum off the ground. A literary museum is truly the Holy Grail in literary circles. It is in this regard that I have invited a 30 strong line up of the country's top writers to share this historic moment with us, to say 'tsaubona' to this new addition to the literary family of SA
The theme of the festival, 'The Stars say Tsau - Bona' is a literary play on Antjie Krog's famous book, The Stars say Tsau
in which she translated poetry of the San people, thereby bringing it into the mainstream.
The line-up for the festival includes among others, Gcina Mhlope; struggle icon, Ahmed Kathrada; Miriam Tlali,first black woman to write a novel in English; Anton Harber, founder of Mail & Guardian
and Paton Prize
finalist; McIntosh Polela, Paton Prize
finalist; Judge Chris Nicholson; Oswald Mtshali, Schreiner Prize
winner; David Robbins, past winner of the CNA Prize
and author of The 29th Parallel
; Ian Player and Ashwin Desai.
"Everyone of course is asking me why Pietermaritzburg? Why not Durban or Ulundi?," says David. "Well, I have always maintained Pietermaritzburg should be the literary capital of SA. Alan Paton, Bessie Head, John Conyngham, Mahatma Gandhi (yes, he wrote volumes for his autobiography), David Robbins, Moira Lovell, Kobus Moolman, DJ Opperman, Ina Rousseau."
And to these acclaimed authors we need to add the Zulu writers - Herbert Dhlomo, first black man to publish a drama in English; Sibusiso Nyembezi whose book, The Rich Man of Pietermaritzburg
was voted one of Africa's 100 best books of the 20th
century; Reginald Dhlomo, first black man to publish a novel in English; and Magema Fuze who was the first man to publish a book in Zulu.
And make no mistake, Zulu writers in the rest of the country read like the who's who of South African literature. Benedict Vilakazi is the man whose name adorns the street on which Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu lived in Soweto. He was the first black man to earn a doctorate in SA; the first to publish an anthology of poetry in Zulu and the highest literary award in Zulu literature is the Vilakazi Prize
. DBZ Ntuli has won the Vilakazi Prize
the most times and will go down in history as having translated A Long Walk to Freedom
into Zulu; John Dube, first president of the ANC was the first man to publish a novel in Zulu; Albert Luthuli, South Africa's first Nobel Laureate; Nat Nakasa; Mazisi Kunene, first Poet Laureate of SA; Oswald Mtshali, winner of the Schreiner Prize
; Lewis Nkosi; Credo Mutwa; Mbongeni Ngema of Sarafina
fame; Johnny Clegg; Gcina Mhlophe; Njabulo Ndebele; Mandla Langa; Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Fred Khumalo, winner of first European Union Literary Prize
for Witches Brew
; Sifiso Mzobe, who scooped the Sunday Times Award
last year- reason enough to create a Zulu Literary Museum to archive the immense role Zulu writers have played on the South African literary stage.
For programme details contact Darryl David on 081 391 8689 or on firstname.lastname@example.org