Gcina Mholphe, Refiloe Moahloli, and Lindiwe Mabuza

Time of the Writer 2018 official panel days wrapped up on Friday March 16, 2018 in Durban, South Africa. Holding starring roles in the evening were Lindiwe Mabuza, Refiloe Moahloli, Yewande Omotoso, and MK Asante.

Festivals start and festivals end. A day would have to come that all the fun would end and that day for Time of the Writer 2018 was Friday March 16. Like in previous days, the panels that had run at the big stage at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre were run again for the public in a more accessible place. This time all roads would lead to the Austerville Library.

The panellists from the previous evening Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, Themba Qwabe, Patrick Bond, and Kirsten Miller as well as their moderators Lukhona Mnguni and James Murua would go through their paces. Just like in previous rehashes, the sessions would have a bit of an inspirational feel to them as there was a mix of both adults and learners in uniform. The only major difference with these panels was that with the younger audience, the rapper Sizwe would get to rap a lot more leading to rapturous applause from the assembled youth.

The evening at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre promised the best panels at the festival yet. The first of these was “shaping the emerging minds” with two writers for children Lindiwe Mabuza and Refiloe Moahloli moderated by Gcina Mhlophe. The actress, storyteller, poet, playwright, director and author Mhlophe run a tight ship starting her session reading something she had written specifically for this occasion before introducing her panellists.

Lindiwe Mabuza who we have mentioned earlier in this blog is a diplomat, academic, poet and children’s writer who was presenting her book Mbindi and Gogo. Refiloe Moahloli is the new kid on the block with two children’s books How Many Ways Can You Say Hello? and Tulula.

The two writers would read from their books to the audience, which incidentally was a full house, before questions would begin. The questions they had to handle were on writing, writing specifically for kids as well as the general ones you would ask any writer like if they felt that country supported their writing endeavour. One questioner asked what their target markets for their writing as well as their distribution plan was. Heavy questions there.

Salim Washington, Yewande Omotoso, and MK Asante
Salim Washington, Yewande Omotoso, and MK Asante

This would be followed by “The World Through Our Pens” which featured Yewande Omotoso and MK Asante moderated by Salim Washington.  Yewande Omotoso is the author of two books Bom Boy and The Woman Next Door both of which explore the space of not belonging fully. MK Asante is a best-selling author, award-winning filmmaker, recording artist, and distinguished professor who the LA Times calls “One of America’s best storytellers.” He is the author of Buck: A Memoir, praised by Maya Angelou as “A story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style.” Yep. Endorsed by Maya Angelou.

Our moderator of the evening was one of the best at this conference and he would go deep into both of their books The Woman Next Door for Omotoso and Buck: A Memoir for Asante. For the former he would focus on these octogenarians who have mad agency, with sexual desire and other qualities that are associated with younger characters in fiction. He also asked about the hateship of these two women.

For Asante, the focus was on this memoir of a young man as a teenager and whether he was influenced by other coming of age stories that were penned by his contemporaries and many other questions.

With the moderator wrapping up, the floor would be open for the audience and the two would handle the questions ably.

The official panels of the time of the writers would then end for 2018.