I decided to interrupt my posting of the Black Portraiture III Conference panels; instead, I have included audio recordings from my attendance at the Abantu Book Festival that occurred from 6 – 10 December 2016 in Soweto, Johannesburg. The Abantu Book Festival included movie screenings, school visits, panel discussions, and musical performances from local South African artists, writers, and singers, such as Vangi Gantsho, Fred Khumalo, and many others. Also, attendees had the opportunity to purchase many literature from South African writers. It was hosted at the Eyethu Lifestyle Centre in Soweto with most events free-of-charge as a means to make it extremely accessible to the public. During the panel discussion I attended, a sign language interpreter was present on stage; hence, it was truly a book festival for the people.  The following is an excerpt from the Abantu Book Festival’s website (http://www.abantubookfestival.co.za/):

Abantu Book Festival is an annual literary event held in Soweto, South African’s artistic heartland, featuring authors from South Africa, Africa, and the diaspora. Abantu is the Nguni word for people, which makes this the people’s festival. Our vision is simple – We see a Soweto with a vibrant culture of reading.

Our mission is to set up a literature event that provides black writers and readers the platform and visibility they deserve. The first edition of Abantu Book Festival will be on 06 -10 December 2016, a five day experience of readings, discussions, music and other forms of storytelling folded in the mix.

I attended the panel discussion at the Abantu Book Festival called “Ghetto Is Our First Love” hosted by writer Bongani Madondo along with Fred Khumalo, author of Bitches’ Brew; Niq Mhlongo, author of Dog Eat Dog, and internationally acclaimed singer Thandiswa Mazwai. I was elated to be an audience member once again for Bongani Madondo and Thandsiwa Mazwai: Bongani presented on the politics of style and its crucial role in the humanitarian work of Winnie Mandela, who was a stalwart political activist in her own right, at the Black Portraiture III conference, and I experienced the awe-inspiring, tear-shedding musical performance of Thandiswa Mazwai in Durban, South Africa, at the Essence Festival in November 2016.

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Singer Thandiswa Mazwai from Eastern Cape, South Africa, performing live at the Essence Festival in Durban. Photo Courtesy from author.
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Writer Bongani Madondo. Copyrights: bookslive.co.za

The title of the topic discussion is inspired from the song by one of the panelist, Thandiswa Mazwai, called Nizalwa Ngobani:

The world changes, revolutionaries die
And the children forget.
The ghetto is our first love
And our dreams are drenched in gold.
We don’t even cry,
We don’t even cry
About it no more.
Are the beautiful ones really dead. (cont..)

Each panelist discusses, among others, the politics and poetics of the ghetto, a term that denotes a place of displacement, and its position/locale in each of their respective creative praxis along with their artistic goals. The following are links to the audio recordings of the discussion:

The images below are some of the books sold at the literary event.

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List of Complementary Readings and Media: 

Khumalo, Fred. Bitches’ Brew. Auckland Park: Jacana, 2009.
Mhlongo, Nicholas. Dog Eat Dog. Cape Town, South Africa: Kwela Books, 2013.

YouTube Video: Nizalwa Ngobani

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