Fred Khumalo kicked off the seventh day of Season 2 of the Afrolit Sans Frontieres Virtual Literary Festival from Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday, April 26, 2020. He was hosted by Makanaka Mavengere.
The Afrolit Sans Frontiers Virtual Literary Festival, an initiative by and for writers of African origin, was started in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdown. Season 2, like the first edition, features some of the leading names in African letters today with curation by Maaza Mengiste and festival founder Zukiswa Wanner. It sees 16 writers from 14 countries streaming either on Instagram or Facebook from 13 cities in English, French, and Portuguese over eight days under the festival theme “What I Wish You’d Ask Me.”
Since the festival started on April 20, bibliophiles have interacted with Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor from Nairobi, Kenya, Lola Shoneyin from Lagos, Nigeria, Elma Shaw from Kigali, Rwanda, Edwige Renee Dro from Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, Sulaiman Addonia from Brussels, Belgium, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi from Manchester, UK, Napo Masheane from Johannesburg, South Africa, and Mona Eltahawy from Montreal, Canada. There have also been sessions with festival curators Maaza Mengiste alongside Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda, Remy Ngamije, Bisi Adjapon, and Chike Frankie Edozien and Zukiswa Wanner alongside Chike Frankie Edozien, Kalaf Epalanga, and Leye Adenle.
The first session of Sunday had Fred Khumalo streaming on Instagram Live from Johannesburg, South Africa. Khumalo’s books include The Longest March (novel), Dancing the Death Drill (novel), Talk of the Town and Other Stories (short stories), Bitches’ Brew (novel), Touch My Blood (autobiography), Ngenxa yeMendi (a Zulu novel), Seven Steps to Heaven (novel), Zulu Boy Gone Crazy (essays), UManzekhofi nezakhe (a collection of Zulu short stories), The Lighter Side of Life on Robben Island (essays) #ZuptasMustFall and Other Rants (essays). Dancing the Death Drill based upon the sinking of the SS Mendi during First World War, won the 2019 Humanities and Social Sciences Award. A stage adaptation of it was performed to rave reviews at the Royal Opera House in London, and also at the Bergen International Festival in Norway, in 2019. He has been shortlisted twice for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and once for the Short Story Day Africa Award.
Fred Khumalo started by talking about his newest book The Longest March a historical novel about a legendary trek that happened at the tail end of the 19th century in South Africa. He then read a section from it before the event host Makanaka Mavengere took the reins of the broadcast. For the next half an hour, Fred spoke about his work schedule, The Longest March, and him going on the same march his characters went on a century ago, his work moving to other genres like film, TV and the stage, and much more.
You can watch video from Fred Khumalo’s session below.