Learn more about local authors and their books at the Hilton Arts Festival


Mazisi Kunene

BOOK lovers are in for a treat at this year’s Hilton Arts Festival, which takes place at Hilton College from September 15 to 17.

Celebrated author, Mazisi Kunene, will be the subject of a talk in lecture theatre A in the Centenary Centre on Saturday, September 16 at 11.40 am.

In his talk, Emperor Shaka The Great – A Zulu Epic Mazisi Kunene; Mathabo Kunene will give an insight into the work of the man who penned Emperor Shaka the Great (UNodumehlezi KaMenzi) and Anthem of the Decades (Inhlokomo Yeminyaka), as well as numerous poems, short stories, nursery rhymes and proverbs.

Kunene went into exile in the 1960s for more than 34 years, during which time he established and managed the African National Congress office in London.

He later moved to Los Angeles with his family to pursue his academic career.

In UNodumehlezi KaMenzi (Emperor Shaka the Great), which he wrote during this exile period, he positions Shaka as a legendary thinker, who had great skill as a strategic and military genius. He also views him as a unifying cultural and political force that defined the Zulu nation.

To mark the 10th anniversary of his death, the book is being re-released in both English and isiZulu. Tickets for this lecture about Kunene and his work are R80.


Former editor of The Witness, John Conyngham, will be sharing insights into writing a family memoir in the talk, Hazara: Writing a Family Memoir, lecture hall B in the Centenary Centre at 11.30 am on Saturday, September 16.

Conyngham, who lives in Hilton, will talk about why and how he wrote his own memoir, Hazara: Elegy for an African Farm, and will provide advice on how you could do the same.

To illustrate the talk, he will use historic photographs from his book to bring back to life a world that has largely slipped into the past.

Hazara is the name of a sugar farm, formerly owned by Conyngham’s family and named after his grandfather’s regiment in the British Indian Army.

In the tradition of memoirs such as Blixen’s Out of Africa, Hazara is a multi-layered tapestry of Anglo-South African life.

It is centred on a family and its farm, with its homestead in a park-like garden among sugar-cane fields, with a distant view of the Indian Ocean.

It is about sons fighting in wars and daughters nursing in military hospitals. It is about tennis parties, and drinks on the veranda. It is about people who love Africa but know that they don’t fully belong. Tickets for the talk are R50.

isiSHWESHWEThe final book-related talk of the weekend is by art historian, Juliette Leeb-Du Toit. She will be at the festival to speak about her new book, isiSHWESHWE: A History of the Indigenisation of Blueprint in South Africa (UKZN Press), at 11.30 am on Sunday, September 17.

Known locally as seshoeshoe or isishweshwe, this distinctive South African cloth originated in the Far East and East Asia and was eventually adapted and absorbed by the West.

Originally associated with trade, coercion, colonisation, Westernisation, religious conversion and even slavery, the cloth, with its vivid hues and patterns has come to reflect courage and survival.

Says Leeb-Du Toit: “In its indigenisation, isishweshwe has subverted its former history and alien origins and has come to reflect the authority of its users and their culture, conveying resilience, innovation and adaptation and above all a distinctive South Africanness.”

To find out more about the book and its fascinating subject matter, make sure you book your seats in lecture hall A in the Centenary Centre. Tickets are R80.

if you would like to book for these events log onto http://www.hiltonfestival.co.za


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