Just a little over one month to the 10th Jozi Book Fair annual festival! All JBF book clubs -–poetry buddies (children), school library monitors, school youth, young workers and women – are completing their books and preparing to meet their favourite authors.

There are still a handful of stalls available for NGOs and public exhibitors. There is also space for schools who don’t usually attend the JBF annual Festival to attend. Please note: you cannot just arrive on the day of the schools programme. You must register your school with us and obtain acceptance from us first. This is to ensure crowd control and a pleasant experience for all participants.

There is still time to read and converse with authors at the Festival. The JBF will also host introductory sessions to make literature more accessible to everyone. The sessions are designed to improve your reading and writing skills, and enjoy the festival. We invite you to join us.

Enjoy your reading.

We look forward to seeing you.



• 10th Jozi Book Fair Festival, 30 August- 2nd September, Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown
• Readers converse at the JBF: Join us see article below
• Short Story Competition Winners announced at the JBF
• Exhibitors – NGOs and Publishers – a hand full of stalls available.
• Contact us: 011-3369190 /0843773003 Email:

JBF Makes Literature accessible! Read & Join us!

While the literature of working people is often ignored and unknown, most of our written literature is about apartheid and before South Africa achieved its democracy and mainly focuses on the conditions of working people. This goes to the heart of this year’s JBF theme, Literature and Working People. The problem is that we don’t always think about literature as the lives of working people. This is also because much of that literature is not known, or accessible in local libraries and bookshops.

In line with our theme this year, the JBF will have 30 minute sessions devoted to introducing young readers to some of South Africa’s great novels. The session will provide a brief introduction to the books and what the story is about, the characters and the lives of working people. These sessions are intended to make literature more accessible and to inspire readers to read more South African literature even after the Fair. Most of the hosts are readers who have volunteered to promote reading.

Some of the books that will be discussed include:
• Strikes Have Followed Me All My Life by Emma Mashinini
• Down Second Avenue by Eskia Mphalele
• Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams
• The Suit by Can Themba
• Too late (a play) by Gibson Kente
• Black Diamond by Zakes Mda
• In a Ribbon of Rhythm by Lebo Mashile
• Welcome to our Hilbrow by Phaswane Mpe
• Disgrace by J.M Coetzee
• Memory is the Weapon by Don Mattera
• Fools & Other Stories by Njabulo Ndebele
• To Every Birth Its Blood by Mongane Wally Serote

Welcome to a new patron, Lindsey Collen

The JBF is thrilled to announce our new patron, writer and activist, Lindsey Collen. Patrons assist in guiding the JBF through their own artistic and literary work and activism. They also assist the JBF to not only make literature accessible, but to ensure that we read the word and the world and exercise social agency.

Collen was the JBF’s first JBF Guest-of-the-Fair in 2010, chosen for her writing and her activism against oppression and exploitation. Based in Mauritius, Collen is an internationalist who believes that working people must unite, break their chains and free the world in the interests of everyone.

Collen is a storyteller and a prolific writer. Her books weave together the lives of ordinary people in diverse struggles wanting to control and shape their own lives. Her characters are real people – sugar plantation workers, women in prison, unemployed women, a boy who cannot speak – and they struggle to survive, to support each other and participate in neighbourhood struggles. Some of them are also active members of local political parties. The issues Collen discusses in her books are wide-ranging and topical and include climate change, food sovereignty, sugar-cane worker strikes, gender based violence amongst different classes of women, and women’s struggles to control of their own bodies.

Collen has been an activist– in South Africa and Mauritius. Twice, she’s won the Commonwealth Prize for Literature for Africa – for the Rape of Sita (1994) and Boy (2004).

Lindsey Collen was born in South Africa and grew up in Transkei. She attended Wits University and was an anti-apartheid activist. She has lived in Mauritius for more than 40 years with her partner, fellow-activist, Ram Seegobin.



Books by Lindsey Collen:
There is a Tide (1991)
Rape of Sita (1994)
Getting Rid of It (1997)
Mutiny (2001)
Boy (2004)
Malaria Man and her neighbours (2010)

Getting Rid of It – available on JBF Website

This year with the kind support of Lindsey Collen, the JBF will republish one of her of great books, Getting Rid of It. Affordable republishing ensures that the book will be accessible to working class that come the festival. The book speaks to a broad range of current issues that face working people, especially women. In preparation for the JBF Festival, book clubs have already been reading extracts of the book. The first 50 pages of this book is available from the JBF and also our website; and the selection of her short stories. See

Lindsey Collen @ the JBF Festival

Collen will participate in a range of discussions at the JBF on her books, on the Land Question and she will be in conversation about Getting Rid of It. Don’t miss the opportunity to read a great book and converse with the author.


Getting Rid of It by Lindsey Collen
By Searatoa van Driel (2017)

Getting Rid Of It was written by Lindsey Collen and published in 1997 by Granta Book (London). Collen’s second novel is set in Mauritius, and narrates the events that take place within one day for the three protagonists, Sadna, Goldilox Soo and Jumila. But within this single day, the narrator shares with us these three young women’s thoughts, feelings, memories.

Goldilox Soo works for a cleaning company as a ‘piecerate girl’, Jumila is a vendor who sells bras at a local market and Sadna works at a hospital as a cleaner. All these young women meet each other as neighbours in the same informal settlement, Kan Yolof, and learn that they have more in common than they thought. By taking us into the lives and pasts of these three women, we begin to piece together the many threads that connect and bond them together, all leading up to their collective decision to collectively act and change their circumstances.

But their plans are disrupted by matters that often only affect women. Jumila suffers a late miscarriage of a pregnancy she was unaware of, and because the law works against women in such situations, often criminalising and imprisoning them, Jumila seeks help from the other two in resolving the matter without trouble. Getting Rid Of It puts into sharp focus the tragedies many women endure in a patriarchal society and the struggles women face for control over their own bodies, and their reproductive rights.

The novel highlights the absurdities and strangeness of life, through the use of old Mauritian myths and fairy tales
interwoven with the experiences and histories of these women, and the women they encounter. Getting Rid Of It is distinctly Mauritian, as Collen depicts its vibrant culture, the beautiful landscapes of the island and Mauritius’ harsh
history- sometimes using Mauritian Kreole to do so. Although published 20 years ago and written in the particular context of Mauritian society, it is disturbingly relevant to South Africa’s society today, and women. Particularly black women’s position within it.

Women’s right to choose was a victory hard-won in South Africa, but still very few women enjoy that right that is meant to guarantee safe, accessible and free medical care. Domestic violence, femicide, rape and rape culture continue to remain apart of the majority of black women’s daily reality. It is too often fatal to be a woman or girl, in the home and in the public sphere in contemporary South Africa.

Original Article can be found here:
Book Review: Getting Rid Off It

More about Lindsey

The excerpt below is one of Collen’s short writings found in the New Internationalist,July 2007, and similar to her books interweaves the everyday lives of the working class, still with a strong focus on women driven narrative.

Lindsey through her letter details her discovery of how “Mauritius’ economic crunch is leading people to find desperate remedies.” Her writing even when not founded on fiction still plays on the idea of collective memory and community. However, it still has distinctive protagonists that carry the reader through the plethora of characters that we meet.

Letter from Mauritius

Dojo laughs as he tells the story. This kind of thing has become so common in Mauritius as unemployment increases, that it has given rise to a brand new series of audacious robber jokes. Most often the robberies involve little or no serious injury. The serious injuries and murders, one cannot avoid mentioning, are left mainly to the realm of the family, which is imploding in senseless violence as the economic crisis puts increasing pressure on an institution with no access to land or income.

The taxi driver who drove Dojo and his employer to the hospital ended up needing treatment too. So strong was the gas still emanating from his passengers’ clothing and hair that his eyes were burning too much for him to contemplate driving them home. Dojo recounts this, shaking his head philosophically.

At the exact same time that all this was happening, when the sun was up high in the sky, I was in a social centre at a local women’s association meeting on the outskirts of Port Louis. The association had invited our women’s organization that day. So 3 of us joined 25 or so of their members and we all sat in four neatly prepared rows of chairs as their elected president formally opened their monthly meeting. Ironically, at the same time as the four young men on bicycles were addressing the economic crisis in their way, the ambitious theme of the meeting was the effects on women of the selfsame economic crisis, and the political need for addressing the issues in a collective way.

After a short interactive DVD focusing on how the sugar industry’s collapse is being handled, Marie-Antoinette explained, pushing back strands of hair, how she and her daughter both lost their jobs when a textile mill was closed. Her daughter then got a new job in a factory further away. ‘Maybe I’ll set up a small enterprise,’ she announced, her voice tinged with sarcasm.

‘Like me,’ another woman laughed. ‘I took one of those loans. Now I have to change what I make every few months. First, children’s clothes, but I could only sell the initial few batches, so I turned to sewing flowers. That only worked for a while. Now I cover cushions.’ An older woman in a sari solemnly predicted, from a lifetime of experience, ‘Things will get worse’. Everyone smiled.

But perhaps most evocative was what Manta said: ‘I finally got a permit to sell food inside a textile factory yard. So I took a loan and got a tricycle made, equipped with a big see-through box, handsome green parasol over it and all. My business was a success – until the factory closed.’ She has loan repayments and nowhere to work. ‘So you don’t even have to work at the factory to lose your job there,’ she smiled across to Marie-Antoinette.

For more of Lindsey Collen’s writing about social justice
issues in Mauritius go to the ‘New Internationalist’ website:



JBF Tribute to JBF Patron and Poet Laureate

The Jozi Book Fair will host a special tribute to our beloved patron and Poet Laureate, comrade Keorapetse Kgositsile. This is a 3 part tribute that will take place at the JBF on Sunday, 2September 2018 from 3.00pm to 5.00pm.

The first part will be a JBF Tribute featuring veterans such James Matthews, Mongane Wally Serote and a special reading by Lindsey Collen. The second part is the launch of his book Home Soil In My Blood, hosted by Xarra Books leading to the final part of our tribute. This will be a music and jazz tribute featuring various artists.

If you wish to participate in the tribute to Bra Willie, please contact us at


Batjha Kaofela Short Story Competition: Meet the Winners at the JBF

Come and meet the winners of the 3rd JBF Schools Short Story Competition at the Festival. In the first year of the competition, 2016, we received 86 short stories submissions, and this increased to 120 in 2017 and 136 in 2018. This is a steady increase and we thank all of you, writers, teachers and schools for your submissions.

Unfortunately, we had to choose 10 stories and these 10 authors, schoolchildren, will be announced at the JBF Schools Programme. We will try to publish some of the other stories later in the year. However, congratulations to all of you who submitted a story. Keep writing and keep reading. Remember, readers are the best writers! Thank you too to our moderators for their time and supporting our school youth and the JBF.

Another big thank you to: Jenny Hatton, Tsepiso Makwetla, Neilwe Mashigo and Prof. Hui Jiang. Copies of the Batjha Kaofela Short Stories will be available at the Festival later this year, and all school youth who attend will receive a free copy.

James Matthews pays tribute to Bra Willie in the language of the Cape Flats

my bra issie meer sarm met ors ie
die koerante het die mense wys gemaak
dat bra willie het die wereld verlaat
dit was nogal ‘n downer vi my
ek kan dit ie vas vat because why
die laaste time toe ek met hom gewietie het
het hy 100% gelyk: a man salie gerieken
hy was in ‘n situation wat jou sal worry nie
ek kyk deur een van sy boeke wat ek het
hy is a poet virrie mense; die woorde is powerful
wat hy het ge aim tien annie gattes
ons innie township het vol geraak van sy woorde
die government moet sien lat sy boeke moet innie
skool libries wies so lat die lighties kan
check oor wat hy geskryf het en ken sy krag
ek notch bra willie se funeral op tv
my gesig was nat met tranne toe ek dink
van die tyd toe ors bymekaar gewies it
ek het hom baie keer geterg en laat hom wiet
ors is twins van different ma en pa
dan gie hy vir my vuil kyke; ek het dit gegloe
bra willie – poet laureate – ek sal jou never vergiet ie
jy sal altyd liewer in my hart en jou woorde
echo in my mind


Previous MY CLASS 2018
Next Workers Museum Time:08h45-10h00 Know your history