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Time of the Writer virtual festival announces dates and theme

The University of KwaZulu-Natal's Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) presents the 24th edition of the Time of the Writer International Festival that will be hosted virtually on the festival's social media channels from 15 to 21 March 2021.

The written word envelops online as South African, African and international writers meet for a thought-provoking week of literary dialogue, exchanging ideas and stimulating discussions. Time of the Writer features a diverse gathering of leading novelists, social commentators, activists, playwrights, short story writers and poets. This 24th edition features authors in conversation, panel discussions, a public participation programme and exhibitions focused on many socially relevant themes such as whistleblowing, migration, colonialism, gender-based violence and sexual identity.

The theme

The theme for this year's festival is 'The writer: Witness, canary in the mine or testifier?' The theme is inspired by an essay written by author Daisy Hernández in which she states: “While it may well be that no book has ever prevented genocide or fascism, we still have a necessity for literature to testify to the political conditions of our lives – not only so that we might have a record of those we have lost, but also that we might have a reason to gather with others to read and to continue resisting.”

This year’s festival has been extended to an additional day to mark the UN International Day of Poetry and South African Human Rights Day on 21 March.

“We will provide a platform for poets from across the globe to use their voices to speak to global concerns about human rights violations and a quest for a just society. The poetry programme will also honour the brave men and women whose lost lives in the Sharpeville massacre is commemorated by South Africa’s Human Rights Day,” says Siphindile Hlongwa, a co-curator of the Time of the Writer festival and also the curator of the Poetry Africa festival.

Background information

Time of the Writer is one of the largest and longest-running literature festivals in Africa. Over the years, it has hosted a wide variety of internationally acclaimed thought leaders such as Zakes Mda and NoViolet Bulawayo, and others from all over the world, with the main focus on Africa.

This year sees the Centre for Creative Arts mark its 25th anniversary. For 25 years, CCA has significantly contributed to the creative industry in Durban and South Africa. Time of the Writer has been a consistent feature on its calendar, and it is the first festival it will host during this celebratory year.

“The first day of this year's Time of the Writer festival will coincide with exactly one year since South Africa went into a national lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Festivals across the globe have adapted in significant ways to the challenges of a lockdown. Last year's Time of the Writer festival was the first South African arts festival to go virtual. Exactly a year later, we are forced by circumstance to remain virtual, but we also remain determined to bring to the virtual community a week of deep engagement, provocation, inspiration and entertainment,” says Ismail Mahomed, director of the CCA.

In 2017, the City of Durban was awarded the first African UNESCO City of Literature and at the fore is Time of the Writer. The festival promotes South African and African writers in the current cultural climate that sees literature as part of a more significant social process around nation-building and social cohesion within South Africa and our continent. This festival has encouraged, and continues to encourage debates and dialogue around all forms of the spoken and written word as part of the Centre for Creative Arts agenda to celebrate contemporary culture and histories, both local and international.

Time of the Writer is made possible through partnerships with the KZN Department of Sports, Arts & Culture, Amazwi South African Museum of Literature, the French Institute of South Africa, Imbiza Journal of African Writing, the STAND Foundation, and the Foundation for Human Rights.

To stay updated, please follow @Timeofthewriter on Twitter and Instagram or like the festival on Facebook at www.facebook.com/timeofthewriter.

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