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It’s Durban’s 17th annual Time of the Writer Festival

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The 17th Time of The Writer: International Festival of Writers — a weeklong showcase that brings novelist, authors and storytellers to Durban, South Africa, featuring participants from the United States, South Africa, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Botswana, Togo and Guinea — runs from March 17 to March 22 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

Twenty writers will gather for a week of literary dialogue, exchange of ideas and stimulating discussion under the theme Freeing Our Imagination in solidarity with Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina’s clarion call for Africans to use their creativity to imagine and create a continent free of the existential burdens of colonialism.

Opening night (March 17) features all participating writers as they make brief presentations at the UKZN Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, with the first night of the festival dedicated to the late great South African thinker, academic and prolific writer, Professor Mbulelo Mzamane, a past participant of Time of the Writer, who died on February 15 and who the late Nelson Mandela described as a “visionary leader, [and] one of South Africa’s greatest intellectuals.”

The rest of the week’s evening presentations will be panel discussions with writers talking about their writing and the issues dealt with in their work.

New Voices from India
The first panel discussion of the festival on Tuesday, 18 March, entitled New Voices from India will focus on writing from the sub-continent with Indian authors Satyagit Sarna and Prajwal Parajuly. Satyagit Sarna is an author and lawyer based in New Delhi.

Mzansi Women Voices
The second panel of the evening, entitled Mzansi Women Voices features South African writers Angela Makhlowa and Praba Moodley.

Writing the Policy Debate
Wednesday’s night (March 19) programme kicks off with a panel discussion titled Writing the Policy Debate, featuring South African writers and political analysts Professors Adam Habib and Paulus Zulu.

Writing in Francophone Africa: trends and issues.
The second panel discussion of the night is entitled Writing in Francophone Africa: trends and issues. This panel discussion will look trends in Francophone literature with a discussion by authors Sami Tchak (Togo) and Tierno Monénembo (Guinea).

Writing the Historical Moment
Thursday night’s activities open with the panel discussion Writing the Historical Moment looks at key historical moments shaping the current South African political landscape. This panel will take the form of an in-depth interview that will feature activist, researcher and political economist Professor Patrick Bond, Director of the Centre for Civil Society at UKZN.

Chronicling the Contemporary African Story
Time of The Writer has a strong history of spotlighting young talented writers dealing with contemporary topics. The festival aims to create an even greater focus on stories from the younger generation and this is highlighted in the second panel of the night. Chronicling The Contemporary African Story brings together two South Africa authors, Kgebetli Moele and Niq Mhlongo.

Story-telling Programme
Understanding the rich history that storytelling carries on the continent, The Time of The Writer festival is excited to present a story-telling programme, in collaboration with the Gcinamasiko Arts & Heritage Trust, taking place on Friday, March 21. This will see two storytellers, Nomsa Mdlalose and Mshai Mwangola in a panel discussion that will look at the art of storytelling.

The panel will be facilitated by South Africa's most famous living storyteller, Dr Gcina Mhlophe.

From The Mouth of Babes
The second panel of the night will focus on youth literature, From The Mouth of Babes, featuring youth literature writers, Lauri Kubuitsile (Botswana) and Khulekani Magubane (South Africa).In addition, Time of The Writer and the Gcinamasiko Arts & Heritage Trust will host a special matinée for children to be held at the UKZN Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Saturday, 22 March at 14h00 – 16h30. The matinée will feature Mdlalose and Mwangola where they will be joined by Gogo MaBhengu and Lwazi Thwala.

New African Women Writers Rising
The final day of the festival features a discussion entitled New African Women Writers Rising, will focus on the stories and work being produced by young female writers from Africa. This panel discussion will feature prolific authors, Hawa Jande Golakai (Liberia) and Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria).

Finding the South African Funny Bone features South African writers, Sarah Britten and Zukiswa Wanner. Britten is a former journalist, artist and author from Johannesburg. She has been published extensively and wrote her Master’s research report on South African humor.

Seminars and Workshops

In addition to the nightly panel discussions at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, the festival’s Community Outreach program features a broad range of day activities including seminars and workshops that aim to promote a culture of reading, writing and creative expression. The festival also conducts visits to schools, and presents a prison writing program. Book launches take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre’s Wellington Tavern deck prior to the evening shows, from 18h45.

Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University KwaZulu-Natal), the 17th Time of the Writer is supported by the City of Durban, the French Institute of South Africa, and the KZN Department of Arts and Culture. For more details about this years’ Time of the Writer, see the Centre for Creative Arts website.

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