Friday, 01 December 2017 05:35

Programme Director :  Mr Eugene Mokgoasi

Professor Jean-Jacques Sene

Professor Jesmael Mataga

Acting Head of Department Mr. Bonakele Jacobs

Friends and Compatriots ,

Fellow lovers of the word, esteemed guests.

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Evening , Goeienaand , Dumelang , Molweni

We gather here this evening for the 9th Annual Northern Cape Writers Festival. - A legacy project of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture in partnership with the Sol Plaatje University.


Therefore as part of ensuring that you understand and grasp the powerfulness of literature as a tool for social dialogue, social cohesion and nation building, we have entered into a partnership with Sol Plaatje University to promote the development of literature , indigenous languages and the development of capacity to sustain reading and writing activities in the Northern Cape.


The partnership with the University ensured that we held the first  Annual Summer School for Writing where 22 local authors participated . The summer school plays an important role in literacy development and we are of the view that it will ultimately enable the writers to develop into renowned writers and authors that can contribute to the building of our nation and society. By doing this we are deepening our democracy and helping to develop a people’s culture. I am pleased to announce that this programme will continue in 2018.

The partnership with University of Sol Plaatje also resulted in progressive creative writing workshops throughout the Province with aspiring local writers and poets. As part of continuing this developmental opportunity we will be hosting a poetry retreat for local poets in the month of December.

Ladies and Gentlemen
All the above interventions and programmes are held with the intention to create platforms for the development of young people in the Province so as to enable them to write their stories and get them published. The challenge is therefore for our young local writers to use their pens to tell their stories and empower themselves and their communities.

As the custodians of our nation’s heritage, it is the responsibility of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture to promote the culture of reading and writing and develop a sustainable book publishing industry that encourages equitable development of all South African languages.

Our efforts included a variety of strategic interventions where we assisted aspiring writers from the Province with the publishing of their books. We are proud to announce that we assisted a young woman, Nthabeleng Makgoka, to publish her first Novel as well as Mr. Joey Kers to publish his long awaited Biography. Both these books will be launched at the 2017 Writers Festival.

It is also further envisaged that the assistance provided to our local writers and poets will encourage a culture of reading amongst the communities from where those who are assisted emanates from. As the saying goes in Afrikaans “Local is Lekker “

The role of local writers in society was important then, as it is important today. They are the conscience of our communities. They chronicle our stories. They remind us of where we come from. They help us better understand the present and thus shape future perspectives of our society. They amplify the wishes, the aspirations and the cries of the people. And long as they are doing this they will be the umbilical cord between the Department and our communities in promoting social cohesion and nation building through there writings. Therefore as our communities evolve, we need writers and other thinkers to occupy the foremost trenches in ongoing efforts to find responses to the challenges of our time.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We are living in a society where young people seek pleasure by either partying or surfing the internet and social media. Gone are the days when young people bonded with each other or read a book. As part of our drive and initiative to drastically change this behavior where are vigorously embarking on a campaign to convince our youth to join book clubs in our various communities.  There are book clubs throughout the Northern Cape and the astonishing thing about them is that they emerge from the grassroots, initiated by community members themselves.

Book Clubs serve as opportunity to socialize and stretch one’s mind. It is also an intergenerational platform that brings together individuals of different ages as partners to explore, study, and work towards a shared goal, which foster cooperation and promote interaction among generations including children, youth and older persons.  These programs can be youth serving older persons, older persons serving youth, or youth and older adults serving together.

Research has also proven that women are more avid readers than men and this is even evident in the membership of book club members in the Northern Cape. Perhaps we need research of our own here on why men don’t join book clubs and what can be done to socialise them into a culture of reading.

This is imperative to me as it is an avenue for them to come into touch with their emotions and to cultivate them out of patriarchal values. As we find ourselves in the time of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign of Non Violence Against Women and Children I would encourage all males to read books, especially fiction which inherently deals with interiorities, feelings and emotions that will assist them in controlling their violent outbursts.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The prevailing lack of a culture of reading manifests itself in various
aspects of our lives, and especially on socio-economic issues such as
poverty and unemployment. There is an obvious link between illiteracy
and poverty on the one hand, and literacy and economic prosperity
on the other. Literacy underpins development in all sectors of society
and is central to economic prosperity. The cultivation of a culture of
reading therefore becomes one of the key imperatives in our project of nation-building

Programme Director

We are faced with a serious challenge where indigenous languages in South Africa are marginalised in all spheres of our life. Our whole democracy is conducted mostly in English, a language understood and used by a minority of South Africans.

Millions who don’t speak or read the language are left out. They cannot be full participants in our democracy when they are not informed participants.

As I stand here before you I am proud to announce that for the first time during the writers’ festival we have finally come to the point where we will have a festival of language promotion. A writers festival where we will be embarking on our journey to promote, develop and preserve the Nama Language. There will be a round table discussion that will only be held in Nama. We should be reminded that it is important to note that language and literature are very crucial for societal development. A society develops into modernity when its citizens are literate in the languages of the masses.
In other words, it is not possible to reach modernity if the language of literacy and education are only of those who have oppressed us and colonized us.

So if we believe that culture is the main determinant of our attitudes, tastes and customs, language is the central feature of culture. It is in language that culture is transmitted, interpreted and configured. Language is also a register of culture.

We are therefore pleased to welcome Nama speakers from as far as Kuboes, Riemvasmaak, Pella and Namibia to the Writers Festival. It is my wish that publications in Nama manifest themselves in all our Libraries.

The Writers Festival also marks the beginning of Reconciliation month in the South African calendar. This is no accident as books are integral in reconciling people and serve as purveyors of information, which will bring inner peace and forgives.

As Chinua Achebe, the giant of African letters eloquently puts it, “Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter…” As we celebrate twenty three years of freedom and democracy this year, the young lions of this Province must be the chroniclers of our own stories of Jacob Marengo, Kgosi Luka Jantjie, Kgosi Galeshewe, Kgosi Toto, Khotso Flatela, Tosh Tlhomelang and many others whose stories are waiting to be told.

If we want to determine our future and be in control of our fate as Africans, we have to closely study the past and how it impacts on the present. As a writer you must bring together through your work that connects the past, present and future. We know that those who do not know where they come from, will not know where they are going.

As writers you must shed that light. Our time in NOW.

Ladies and Gentlemen

In conclusion let me take this opportunity to encourage all of our young people from the Province to use this Event as an opportunity to network with those who have already experienced the disappointments, those who had their projects thrown in dustbins, those who persevered to become the household names that they are today.

There is no easy road to success, so use this Festival to learn from the best there is.

We look forward to seeing you engage and challenge in the various Round Tables, Master Classes and reading sessions.

More importantly, we look forward to hearing your "100 Words for OR Tambo" as your way of honouring this great Leader of our Country. We wish to challenge both the SPU and the Department to publish some of the works that will come out of that session.

Allow me Programme Director, to thank all of our esteemed guests who travelled from near and from across the oceans to be with us today. A special word of welcome to Dr. Lesego Malepe and Prof. Jean Jacques Sene who travelled all the way from the USA to come and share your knowledge with our future leaders. Siya namkela.

On behalf of the Provincial Administration, I hereby declare the 9th NC Writers Festival open.

I thank you


Baie Dankie