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Besoek die aktiewe LitNet-platform by www.litnet.co.za

This is the LitNet archive (2006–2012)
Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za


 
Menings | Opinion > SeminaarKamer | Seminar Room > English

English


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All PEN centres adhere to the PEN charter
Naomi Meyer - 2011-12-08
Untitled Document Margie, as executive vice-president of South African PEN, could you please explain to LitNet readers how you see South African PEN’s relationship with PEN International and Pretoria-PEN respectively? All PEN centres (144 of them) are autonomous and make up the body of PEN International, to which member centres in good standing pay annual dues. Pretoria-PEN is, therefore, an autonomous centre. All PEN centres adhere to the PEN charter – a simple and direct document...

Victims and victors: winners and losers in a post-apartheid arts dispensation
Mike van Graan - 2011-12-05
Is Limpopo sucking the hind teat of arts funding in South Africa today? According to the NAC’s 2010 annual report, out of a total of 615 funded applications, Limpopo had only 33. Or maybe it was Mpumalanga with 16 projects. Or the Northern Cape, with only 3? Gauteng, the richest province in the country, had 291 projects funded – accounting for 40 percent of the total funding of R81 m. The six poorest provinces in the country between them received 20 percent of the total funding, half...

Legal opinion relating to the passing of the protection of state information bill
Melanie Schoeman - 2011-11-23
Untitled Document Aim of the Act This new controversial law has been proposed in order to protect the state against "espionage" and guard "national interests", but among other things it will have the effect of being able to gag the media. Opponents of the law dubbed it the "secrecy bill" due to the severe restrictions it places on the freedom of information and the excessive penalties it imposes upon those who infringe the law. The new draft sought to create a law that would allow any organ of...

In defence of lost causes: giving the devil his due
Abri de Swardt - 2011-11-01
Untitled Document Despite being at best a contested figure within the canon of contemporary South African sculpture, Dylan Lewis somehow manages to perpetually show his works in public. Abri de Swardt traverses exclusive golf courses, millionaire country estates and numerous botanical gardens, and most recently the Rooi Plein of Stellenbosch University, where he settles to probe the sizeable matter of public art within a student community, only to realise, much to his surprise, that...

Copying, circulating, concealing and contesting in Cape Town’s reading cultures
Archie Dick - 2011-10-13
Delivered at the Open Book Literary Festival as part of the session “Reading Cape Town - Who reads what and so what?” As an outcome of this boekjol the social movement Equal Education will hand over a fully stocked and functioning library to Matthew Goniwe High School in Khayelitsha. I’m a product of a Cape township high school and I remember that the library was kept under lock and key in the principal’s office, more for the benefit of reporting to the school inspector...

Understanding the Julius Malema phenomenon: A South African necessity
FM Lucky Mathebula - 2011-10-04
Untitled Document In one of his seminal speeches Martin Luther King Jnr warns society that “[I]n the end, we will remember not the words (or noises) of our enemies, but the silences of our friends.” The ascendance of Mr Julius Malema to what is arguably the most powerful position to be held by a young adult in South Africa has attracted noises and silences that only history will tell of their animosity or friendliness. Whatever the answer turns out to be, Mr Malema has entrenched himself...

The artist's reaction to traumatic events in society: How do societal traumata impact on, or even define, the works of artists?
Antjie Krog - 2011-09-22
Untitled Document Antjie Krog delivered the keynote address at the Goethe-Institut's Über(W)unden Art in Troubled Times conference which took place from 7–11 September 2011. Antjie Krog at the Über(W)unden Art in Troubled Times conference Photo: Delwyn Verasamy/2point8 I will look at three artworks: one by an artist who responded to a traumatic revelation before the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission; the second, a piece of sculpture made...

“Sometimes I think: Fuck Africa.”
Fred de Vries - 2011-09-20
Untitled Document Über(w)unden, Art In Troubled Times Goethe Institut, Johannesburg, 7–11 September It was cheeky, even slightly provocative, of the Goethe Institut to organise an event that dealt with trauma, that bookended 9/11, but that did not have a single mention of the destruction of New York’s Twin Towers. Instead, the five-day Über(w)unden conference (Johannesburg, 7–11 September) presented artists, writers and activists from Sudan, DRC, Ivory Coast, Rwanda,...

Remarks at the unveiling of the UDF Memorial, Rocklands, Mitchell’s Plain
Allan Boesak - 2011-09-02
Remarks at the unveiling of the UDF Memorial, Rocklands, Mitchell’s Plain 20 August 2011 This is a great historic moment, and we all owe the City and the province a great debt of gratitude. I come today with a reminder and a plea: a reminder of what happened then, and what is possible today; and a plea for what is needed today. Twenty-eight years ago, at this place, a movement was born that signalled the coming together of a people, the strength of single-minded determination, and...

The politics of televisual postmodernism: Colour TV as case study
Rohan Magerman - 2011-09-01
The SABC’s website has the following press release for their new variety show Colour TV. I quote onlycertain parts of it: Never before have the conditions been so ripe to introduce a show to South Africans that challenges a thought process and teases diplomacy so outrageously and SABC 2 is the perfect platform to launch this first-of-its-kind series to the world … The definition of who coloured people are has shifted from being a one dimensional take based on skin colour and race...

Decoding “the Boer” in the “Kill the Boer” song: a South African necessity
FM Lucky Mathebula - 2011-06-23
Untitled Document The terminological, conceptual and political breadth associated with the term Boer, as well as its multiple applications to mean different things to different people and political constituencies, has evoked scorn and praise from a broad spectrum of South Africans. Whilst these interpretations are its strengths, in historical terms, it has also grown to become its prominent socio-political liabilities, particularly given the historical truths characterising a pre-Mandela South Africa....

Addicted to difference: thinking ''Africa'' from the Cape
Maria Geustyn - 2011-06-17
What does it mean to think “Africa”? And, more specifically, what does it mean to think “Africa” from a geographically unique location such as the Cape? These are the types of questions a recent inaugural panel addressed and discussed for the Stellenbosch University’s Locations and Locutions Lecture Series entitled Whose Africa? Which Africa? The first of three lectures was held on Tuesday 7 June 2011 in the Endler Hall in Stellenbosch. An initiative by the SU’s...

The Franschhoek Literary Festival: Clutching at mist
Fiona Snyckers - 2011-05-27
Attempting to grapple with Fred de Vries’s article “Franschhoek Literary Festival as a satire” is like clutching at mist. Just when you think you’ve pinned him down, he limbos off in another direction. By the last paragraph your head is spinning slightly with contradictions, U-turns and blind alleyways. De Vries opens strongly with what appears to be a swipe at the smugness of the writers at the festival – the “Men and Women of Letters” who received “a...

The Franschhoek Literary Festival: Think, feel, imagine
Lynda Gilfillan - 2011-05-27
So, what’s new, Fred? And why the either/or? C’mon: most young people prefer to live their own lives to reading about fictional lives – and those who do read would probably enjoy Lane Smith’s It’s a Book. It playfully and artfully subverts many assumptions of the digital age. The ageist/race thing is passé, too. Of course older white people (like me) with more leisure and disposable income are the more likely consumers of literary culture. But surely, by now,...

Franschhoek Literary Festival: The song of the dinosaur
Michiel Heyns - 2011-05-25
Untitled Document Fred de Vries’s hatchet job/elegy on the Franschhoek Literary Festival is a masterly piece of writing – or Writing, as he might prefer to call it. As a Writer, a middle-aged white male one, nogal, there is little for me to say but Guilty as Charged. Yes, his description both of the illusory pleasures of Franschhoek (“a revitalising bath, some wholesome food and a heartfelt pat on the back”) and of the writing life (“life behind a desk, with the odd...

Franschhoek Literary Festival as a satire
Fred de Vries - 2011-05-24
Untitled Document The Franschhoek Literary Festival (FLF) is not a bookfest, it’s a tribute to the old-style Writer, a celebration of the ancient Analogue world. It’s an event that offers the Men and Women of Letters, those who’ve swayed and sweated for years, a revitalising bath, some wholesome food and a heartfelt pat on the back. For a few days they are fêted and allowed to bask in the glow of admiring readers in a beautiful town, surrounded by blue mountains and endless...

“Enough is enough” - or is it?
Grace Kim - 2011-04-28
A male newsreader speaks about the recent service delivery strikes in Ficksburg as groups of people fill the TV screen. The camera zooms in on a banner with the words: “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – WE WANT THE OFFICE KEYS NOW!!”. Seconds later, the camera moves to a shot of a bare-chested man surrounded by policemen in body shields and helmets. There’s a scuffle. As the camera pans out, it shows two, three, four, five, six, seven, perhaps more, police, surrounding him, striking...

To e-Book or not to e-Book
Janet van Eeden - 2011-04-26
Untitled Document I had four plane flights in 48 hours last week. To make good use of the time in transit I decided to plan a story based on one of Jane Austen’s heroines or villains. So I took my tattered copy of Pride and Prejudice along to while away the in-between hours and to get into the right linguistic state of mind. As I sat on the metal seats which are ubiquitous in boarding queues, I felt a need to be furtive when I took my yellowing paperback out of my bag. Alongside me people...

TEDx Cape Town from an undercover crew ninja’s perspective
Grace Kim - 2011-04-20
My aim with TEDxCapeTown was to give exposure to the opportunities in water and innovation. We achieved that in a fun yet professional way, but what we saw on the day, was that the sense of community we [Capetonians] have is phenomenal. We can achieve anything because we have each other. – Bernelle Verster, organiser TEDx Cape Town stage “Agh, it’s still too low. And now it’s slanted!” It’s just past 8 on a slightly chilly Saturday...

Are South African critics too soft?
Phillippa Yaa de Villiers - 2010-12-03
Language is not neutral and everything we say is steeped in our historical/political context. Critics stand between the work and the audience and in South Africa I often feel that the word criticism is not well understood: it is taken as meaning "disapproval", which is only one interpretation of the word. Criticism is also the "practice of analysing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating literary or other artistic works", which requires more from the critic than just a "this is not my taste so...

Are South African critics too soft?
Richard de Nooy - 2010-12-03
When I first started blogging, I decided to review the books of authors I had met while promoting my own book in South Africa. I opted to write open letters, mainly because this ensured a more personal touch and greater sensitivity to the feelings of the authors. By posing questions or raising issues about their books, I hoped to prompt discussion. In some instances, this proved highly successful, sparking to a broad overview of opinions that offered new insight. In other instances, the attention...

Are South African book critics too soft?
Moira Richards - 2010-12-03
Are South African book critics too soft? Or is it that South African authors and publishers are too soft? Is it that South African authors, publishers and reviewers don’t understand the nature of book reviewing and are also unwilling to unpack and debate the subject? Not to repeat what I’ve said before about reviewing and the reluctance of authors and publishers to engage with what reviewers write, I’ll focus now on a redressing of the supposed writer-reviewer divide. (Although,...

Are South African critics too soft?
Rosemund J Handler - 2010-12-02
Some South African critics make little or no attempt to judge a book objectively, according to its literary merits. They offer few insights into the theme, characters and possible message of the work; in some cases the review could be written by admiring friends of the writer. Other reviews are poorly written and ill-informed; still others more closely resemble a personal attack rather than literary analysis. Colour and gender are major factors when it comes to reviewing space: white females, for...

Are South African critics too soft?
Karabo Kgoleng - 2010-12-02
JCW asked the same question at Franschhoek earlier this year on her panel “Reviewing the Reviewers”. I was on the panel. There is space for constructive criticism of a book or piece of art without crucifying the artist. There is too little space in our media for exposure as it is; to use it all up crapping on others’ work is not on. If I really don’t like something I prefer not to cover it at all. Having said that, there is no accounting for taste and that is what a reviewer...

Are South African critics too soft?
Helen Moffett - 2010-12-02
Among the worst debacles I saw this year (leading to cancelled friendships, etc) were folk responding angrily or passionately to bad reviews, or even just one critical line in an otherwise good review. Unless you have actually been slandered in a review (as I was in 2008 in a local paper, which later set things right via their ombudsman), or a reviewer admits in the review to not having read/finished the book (this actually happened in the case of Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City – and...

Are South African critics too soft?
Zukiswa Wanner - 2010-12-02
Having been both a writer and a critic I found the debate very interesting (I saw the original when Fiona brought it up.) In being critical I am always anxious to criticise in such a way that future works are made better. Jabulile Ngwenya’s I Ain't Yo Bitch was one such a text. I felt that the text showed much promise for the teen reader but what it lacked was a good content edit – and this was by no means the fault of the author but rather of the editor and/or publisher. I have, however,...

Are South African critics too soft?
Gary Cummiskey - 2010-12-02
First of all, Fiona has some very valid points. A couple of years ago, when I first started writing for The Bookseller in the UK, I wrote a piece saying how wonderful it was that South African readers were beginning to read and positively respond to South African writers and were finally shedding that colonial mindset that dictates that anything not produced in "the mother country" is probably inferior. However, I also sounded a warning, right at the end, that in our enthusiasm we should not lose...

Are South African critics too soft?
Isabella Morris - 2010-12-02
Who are the reviewers? Academics, journalists, housewives, readers, writers? Important to know, because these perspectives shape and colour the review. It isn’t a question of whether reviewers are too soft or even too harsh. It’s more a case of some reviewers not understanding their role, which is to inform readers / would-be readers about the book. Publications should avoid using reviewers whose ego gets in the way of their job of reviewing. As a reader I basically want a brief idea...

Are South African critics too soft?
Janet van Eeden - 2010-12-02
This is a difficult question. Would anyone really want reviewers to launch into South African writers across the genres to prove how clever they are at dissecting and comparing their work with UK and USA literature? Would it serve any purpose to discourage the fle dgling literary and film industry? I think not. I have felt this way ever since I was first asked to review books and plays and occasionally films for the Witness. I was incensed by the vicious critiques critics meted out especially to...

Media gag or media power?
Chrisna du Plessis - 2010-12-01
I too am appalled at the proposed legislation and the roughshod manner in which the ruling party treats basic freedoms, the zeal with which they protect the interests of the party elite at the expense of the man in the street, and the utter arrogance of those in power that is matched only by their incompetence. We can all point out rationally that the proposed legislation flies in the face of everything the Constitution and the Freedom Charter stand for, but the ANC has long ago lost its capacity...

Big Book Chain Chat #21: On writing, on Winnie the Pooh, electric blankets and the importance of wearing a panty
Joanne Hichens - 2010-11-23
A friend calls me, says, “Did you see the headlines of Die Son today? ‘Woman arrested without panty!’” she hoots. As an aspiring crime-fiction writer resident in a bizarrely crime-ridden Cape Town, no wonder I take my inspiration from what happens out there before I put it through the wringer to create fiction. Writing, for me, is less of a shoowah and more of a keeping my arse glued to the chair type of effort, in a darkened space, staring at the blank screen while I intermittently...

A language act for South Africa? The role of sociolinguistic principles in the analysis of language legislation
Theodorus du Plessis - 2010-11-11
Die Afrikaanse weergawe van hierdie artikel het eers in LitNet Akademies verskyn. Lees dit hier. A language act for South Africa? The role of sociolinguistic principles in the analysis of language legislation1 1. Introduction A central or national language act for South Africa is currently a topical issue, as a result of the summons that was served by an attorney from Brits, one Cornelus Lourens, on 14 August 2009, in an endeavour to enforce the promulgation of the South African Languages Bill...

Big Book Chain Chat #19: Judging a book by its cover – The decline of a reading culture and the danger of little knowledge
Jameson Maluleke - 2010-11-10
Way back in the seventies it took a parent or a guardian in a rural setting six months to a year to buy a prescribed book which cost a mere R2,50. Textbooks were scarce. Sometimes our shopkeeper ran out of stock or the publisher took months to deliver. I still cannot figure out how we pupils managed to become bookworms. It must surely be due to divine intervention that we became avid readers. When one of us managed to obtain a novel, we devoured it until it was in tatters. On becoming students at...

Big Book Chain Chat #18: Some notes on delving
Louis Greenberg - 2010-11-10
As the next link in this Big Book Chain Chat, I’m very lucky to be following Craig Higginson’s piece, “Is it Possible to do too Much Research?” because I agree fully with him and won’t have to build a compelling counter-argument. Higginson’s approach to research in fiction is brave for a historical novelist. As he notes, many writers in the genre are so keen to show off how much they’ve read about the period that they bog their stories down in detail. Readers...

Big Book Chain Chat #17: Is it possible to do too much research?
Craig Higginson - 2010-11-03
I thought I’d raise something that concerns most writers but is seldom discussed in any detail: the matter of research. How important is it? One can clearly do too little. Can one also do too much? Some years ago, while I was working at a bookshop in Fulham Road, London, a greying, benevolent-looking man shuffled in. He bought some books, and when I swiped his card I noticed his name: Peter Shaffer. I asked him if he was the same man who had written Equus and Amadeus. He said he was. We got...

Big Book Chain Chat #16: Someone came knocking
Shaida Ali - 2010-10-29
Some one came knocking At my wee, small door; Some one came knocking, I'm sure – sure – sure; I listened, I opened, I looked to left and right, But naught there was a-stirring In the still dark night; Only the busy beetle Tap-tapping in the wall, Only from the forest The screech-owl's call, Only the cricket whistling While the dewdrops fall, So I know not who came knocking, At all, at all, at all. – Walter de la Mare (source) My mother...

Big Book Chain Chat #15: Sustaining creativity
Chris Marnewick - 2010-10-19
Helen Brain wrote: “So if you’re engaged in an everyday job that isn’t very satisfying, how do you keep your creativity fresh?” I can see the problem. Boredom at work may lead to boredom at home. And elsewhere. I would like to pose – and answer – the question turned on its head: Does being engaged in a satisfying and even challenging job facilitate creativity in your writing? It does. There seems to be a strange phenomenon at work here. I spend my working days...

Big Book Chain Chat #14: A quick read but certainly not fast food
Meg Vandermerwe - 2010-10-13
A few years ago I read an excellent article by the scholar and feminist Germaine Greer in which she condemned pornography, not simply because it debased and objectified women, but because it pandered to our increasing fast food culture. Pornography, for Greer, is the Big Mac of the love world: immediate satisfaction but zero nourishment. Those who “consume” pornography, Greer argued, ultimately leave the banquet feeling empty, with a greater hunger than they arrived with. What has this...

Big Book Chain Chat #13: To read or not to read ...
Harry Owen - 2010-10-07
There’s a debate going on in certain quarters at the moment – indeed it’s been going on in one form or another for a long time – about whether poetry readings in public are A Good Thing or A Bad Thing. And much academic discussion of this (pseudo or otherwise) centres on exactly what poetry is or is for. Zzzzzzzzzzzz! This is much like the argument that might be made about whether breathing is a good thing or a bad thing. On the whole, we tend not to consider the matter:...

Big Book Chain Chat #12: Sustaining creativity
Helen Brain - 2010-09-30
For most creative people there is a tension between doing what we love and the need to earn money. A few people have reached a place where these two things mesh, and some lucky people have a patron, but for most creatives it’s hard to find a balance between expressing creativeness and making a living. So if you’re engaged in an everyday job that isn’t very satisfying, how do you keep your creativity fresh? Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to keep the creative spring...

We object
Gaseope Motsepe - 2010-09-29


We object: The POIB and the MAT pose a deadly threat to our democracy
Dave Steward - 2010-09-28
The Protection of Information Bill (POIB) and the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) are irreconcilable with the founding principles of openness, accountability and transparency upon which our constitutional democracy has been based. Section 16 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression which is limited only by the prohibition of propaganda for war; incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement...

We object: Dragged back to the darkest days
Joe Latakgomo - 2010-09-28
I would like to record my opposition to the government’s planned media and freedom of speech gag, for that is what it is, and so join in petition to the government to desist from proceeding with plans to implement any law that will effectively proscribe the media and other published works from expressing their thoughts in a free manner as envisaged in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. I wish to call upon all right-thinking South Africans to oppose the planned Media Bill, and...

Writers against protection of information bill: Petition text in English, Afrikaans, Sepedi and Zulu
2010-09-27
WRITERS AGAINST PROTECTION OF INFORMATION BILL / MEDIA TRIBUNAL Freedom of expression along with the vote – universal suffrage – is the basis of democracy. Muzzling this freedom affects directly print and other media in the responsibility and necessity of their function, which is to keep citizens informed of all aspects that affect life in the country, whether by government edict, the law, economic practice, or the ethical standards of individual behaviour. Denial of freedom...

Jan Rabie / Marjorie Wallace Lecture: Ground Zero – the South African literary landscape after apartheid
André P Brink - 2010-09-22
It is with particular pleasure that I am giving this Jan Rabie / Marjorie Wallace lecture today – for academic and professional reasons, but above all to say thank you to two people who for fifty years formed a very special part of my life. Each of them contributed in a unique way to the world of South Africa and decisively influenced my life. Marjorie through her painting, Jan through his writing. Marjorie with her joy of life, her frolicking on the colourful surface of a world below which...

Big Book Chain Chat #11: Why I publish poetry
Colleen Higgs - 2010-09-22
First and foremost, I’m a passionate reader, and have read voraciously ever since I could. Starting Modjaji Books, and becoming an indie publisher, is a way of taking that passion to another level. I hope that it is possible for a small, niche press to thrive in this tough economic climate. I attempt to take each title on its own merit and find readers for it. In 2010, with the internet, e-books, Print on Demand, digital printing, Book SA, LitNet, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social networks,...

We object: Silenced?
Ingrid Andersen - 2010-09-22


We object
Rauwane Herman Motsomane - 2010-09-22
We strongly object to the legislation which is specifically meant to inhibit all bad deeds of those in power or get in the good books of those in power. It is a drastic step backward which places all citizens at risk of being arrested if they voice their dissatisfaction with the ruling party or expose corruption. The media is a tool to the taxpayers, citizens and voters to know and to evaluate the government they put in power. The tendering of everything as indicated by Minister Blade Nzimande is...

We Object: Are the media too free?
Carly Brown - 2010-09-21
I am a South African citizen currently living in the UK and I am concerned about both the proposed Media Tribunal and the Protection of Information Bill. Why would I care if I live in the UK? I plan to move back to South Africa next year, so these changes to media freedom will affect me directly. I may be concerned, but I am not sure where I stand with regard to the proposed changes. My initial reaction to the Bill and the Tribunal was distrust. I distrust the ANC’s motives for these changes...

Big Book Chain Chat #10: Editing
Helen Moffett - 2010-09-15
With total freedom to choose a topic, I find myself returning to a song I’ve been singing for many years – the question of editing and its quality. It’s no secret that I regularly bemoan the lack of (good) editing I see in locally published books (and books published abroad, but let’s stick to our own backyard for now). This afflicts all categories and genres of writing, but here my focus is quality fiction – so-called “literary” novels, short story collections,...


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