Featured image: Mpho Matsitle (author of Celibacy and other little cute things), Andile Mngxitama (Sankara Publishers), Mbe Mbhele (author of Crazy father and other very short lies) at Rutanang.
By BO Staff Writer
Staging the first ever book fair in Ikageng, Tlokwe was a great success. The Rutanang Book Fair was opened by the Mayor of Tlokwe, Kgotso Khumalo, a graduate of African Literature from Wits University. He gave the lit fest the thumbs up. Filling Oom Donalds Tavern to its capacity, literary feasters were also treated to a rousing performance by Kgafela le Marabele.
The book fair saw heavyweights of South African literature such as Sabata-Mpho Mokae who also delivered the Sol Plaatjie lecture in view of the centenary of Plaatjie’s classical book NATIVE LIFE IN SOUTH AFRICA (published in 1916) – which is a comprehensive record of the suffering and horror black people endured following massive land expulsions resulting from the notorious 1913 Land Act.
The book fair was characterized by many enriching activities and graced by authors as far away as Kenya. To this end, James Murua who is associated with the growing and influential Kenyan literary scene was also in attendance.
There was a meeting of the written word and performance as the lead actor of Tsotsi, Presley Chweneyagae, read Mokae’s novel. On the last day of the fair, two new books published by Sankara Publishers and written by Mbe Mbhele and Mpho Matsitle were launched. Both Mbe and Mpho engaged in a critical, often funny but quite insightful, conversation facilitated by Sankara Publisher’s Andile Mngxitama. The two authors covered a range of issues, including the troubles of love and seduction in contemporary South Africa. The question of whether love is possible today was confronted head on, with unpredictable and delightful results.
The perennial question of what is literature was posed again and it remains open. The theme of the book fair was “decolonization”. The two authors warned that this concept has become a code for legitimation for authors whose works had nothing to do with decolonization. It has become a mandatory fashion statement. It was suggested that decolonization itself needs to be decolonized!
As the hordes of writers and publishers left Potchefstroom, the one resounding consensus was that the Rutanang book fair was a resounding success – may the next installment be a kasie only affair a re tlogeleng toropo.