[WITH GALLERY]: National Book Week Forum Launches

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“The single most determining factor of an adolescent’s success in the future is based on whether they read for pleasure,” words uttered by Tebogo Ditshego, Founder of @ReadaBookSA on twitter, which has close to 30,000 followers, and CEO of public relations agency Ditshego Media.

After melodies strung from the strings of the guitar and the African beats echoed throughout the hall at the University of Johannesburg’s Arts and Culture Centre, Ditshego indulged the crowd with an impromptu Hip-Hop rap accompanied by a band on stage which got the crowd up off their seats and clapping to the melody.

Following his short performance Ditshego welcomed business leaders, authors and celebrities to the launch of the second annual National Book Week Forum, to discuss how books have assisted them to progress in their careers as well as how we can spread a culture of reading books in South Africa.

Tebogo Ditshego, Founder of @ReadaBookSA on twitter, which has close to 30,000 followers, and CEO of public relations agency Ditshego Media.  Photo: Prelene Singh.

Tebogo Ditshego, Founder of @ReadaBookSA on twitter, which has close to 30,000 followers, and CEO of public relations agency Ditshego Media. Photo: Prelene Singh.

This forum is to encourage all members of South Africa to read, read for enjoyment, read for education, read for entertainment, but read nonetheless.

The South African Reading Foundation (SARF) in partnership with OR Tambo International Airport, Brand SA and the University of Johannesburg has made this possible.

This year’s theme for National Book Week South Africa is “going places” which conveyed to audiences in attendance that reading books enables one to expand their knowledge and capabilities in their careers and socially.

The sub-theme of the forum is Intellectual Swag which means it’s cool to be intelligent. This concept poses as a counter for negative stereotypes associated with reading books and has proven to increase the appeal of the activity amongst youth.

CEO of Shanduka Group Ms Phuti Mahanyele said a mere 14% of South Africans read, to the stunned crowd this seemed unrealistic, however it is the daunting truth she further said. Mahanyele went onto encourage people to read as a way of defining yourself and expanding knowledge. She said, “We must never undermine who we are, we never entirely know who we are but it is important to open ourselves up to knowledge and furthering our thought processes.”

The heart and purpose of the forum was brought to life when Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, OR Tambo International Airport Brand and Communications Manager, told the story of her daughter’s learning disability. She says, “As long as a child is reading – whether it be for fun or for school, they are still reading” and that is the most important factor she says parents need to in still in their children.

Brand SA Acting Director of Stakeholder Relations Mpumi Mabuza enlightened the crowd of the link between reading a book and playing your part. She says reading is one of the many ways people can help in taking South Africa forward. The culture of reading is a key component in active citizenship which is also one of the foundational layers of Brand South Africa’s initiative Play Your Part.

Mabuza challenged people sitting in the gallery to play their part by going out and visiting their local book store or library and reading, to start their own book club amongst their friends and family and make reading books a fun activity, challenge yourself to watch less TV and spend less time on social media and read, encourage others to read and tell Play Your Part what you are reading.

MC Pearl Thusi. Photo: Prelene Singh.

MC Pearl Thusi. Photo: Prelene Singh.

COO Airports Company South Africa Tebogo Mekgoe held the motif throughout his speech that one should read literature which offers a counter argument to your own personal views. He said it is important to read as broadly as possible because it’s the building blocks to widening your perspective on the world. Mekgoe said: “Real life is not as simply as science, there is no right or wrong answer, people can have very different views on the same thing but none of them is wrong.”

Mekgoe reiterated that knowledge is not measured by the number of degrees you have, it is measured by what you do with the knowledge you gained from reading, what change you create in the spaces around you, “Your richness comes from that,” he added.

Audiences were well aware of the role reading books plays in nation building and the importance of reading as well as what it means to be a reading nation. “Read for enjoyment” seemed to be the tagline of the forum. Ditshego said: “Reading should not be an activity you do to pass an exam, it should be because you are hungry for knowledge, you are reading to know the story, you are reading because you enjoy it.”

In the words of former president Nelson Mandela: “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination but when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

Advertisements

The art of afroculture

MAGICAL ILLUSIONS: Phumzile Sitole, BA theatre graduate from UCT in a timeless surreal space of dreams while performing the play Afrocartography at the Wits Theatre. Photo: Prelene Singh

MAGICAL ILLUSIONS: Phumzile Sitole, BA theatre graduate from UCT in a timeless surreal space of dreams while performing the play Afrocartography at the Wits Theatre. Photo: Prelene Singh

A stage performance called Afrocartography: Traces of places and all points in between launched at the Wits Theatre on Friday July 19, as part of its 30th birthday celebrations. Produced in conjunction with the Wits Repertory Company, the piece is billed as an explorative and truly African performance piece.[pullquote align=”right”]“Its new, fresh, exciting and poetic and a seminal work for every South African,”[/pullquote]

The main character is Traveller, who takes the audience on a mystical journey of self-discovery. The play takes its audience through a walking route around the Wits Theatre. “It serves as a walking metaphor to capture the essence of travelling, identity, location” as an African person, said co-director Khayelihle Dom Gumede.

Afrocartography carries overriding themes of migration in Africa. The experiences of black people who were faced with dislocation and its emotional consequences are depicted in the stage performance. The play incorporates issues faced by African people through the decades on this continent.

Phumzile Sitole, a graduate from UCT plays the role of Traveller and Tshego Khutsoane, a Wits graduate, plays the map maker who directs The Traveller in her journeys.

The performance is written by Mwenya B Kabwe. She co-directed the play with Gumede, who won the Emerging Theatres Directors’ bursary from the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts. Liya Gonga choreographed the performance.

Kabwe is a well-travelled, Zambian-born writer who has studied at many institutions in the UK and South Africa, including UCT. Gumede said the play was based on Kabwe’s journey in different parts of the world and it was her experiences that led her to “redirect her identity and her journey as a ‘politan’ of various kinds”.

The performance has been described as “Afropolitan” and as an alternative way of being in the world.

The play was first shown in Barcelona in 2009 and again in Cape Town, said Gumede. However, this was the first time it was having a full run. The play took seven weeks to produce, from rehearsal to performance night, said Gumede.

Audiences can expect a mixture of mystery, curiosity, humour and a suitcase of emotion. “Its new, fresh, exciting and poetic and a seminal work for every South African,” said Gumede.

Related articles: 

Wits VuvuzelaZest from the fest. 19 July, 2013

Wits Vuvuzela. Milking memory for drama. July 19, 2013

Wits Vuvuzela. Crowds a mixed bag at 969. July 19, 2013