Soweto set to host Gauteng's first International Book Festival

Author Niq Mhlongo is one of the founders of the Gauteng International Book Festival to take place in Soweto. Picture: Picasa

Author Niq Mhlongo is one of the founders of the Gauteng International Book Festival to take place in Soweto. Picture: Picasa

Published Dec 8, 2022


Johannesburg - The historic Vilakazi Street in Soweto is set to edge itself into more history books as it welcomes a new festival in the African literary scene, going by the name of the Gauteng International Book Festival.

Festival Director, and one of its founders, Lorraine Sithole, will host the inaugural Gauteng International Book Festival on Sunday, at Ubuntu Kraal.

The literary facilitator and activist said the idea behind the festival was that they wanted to bring a book festival to Sowetans.

“There is no shortage of literary celebrations in Gauteng. Everywhere you go, especially in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, you will find book events taking place such as the Kingsmead Book Fair, the Jozi Book Fair, and more. But mostly these happen in places that are too far for Soweto residents. Attendees need to consider transport fare, and a budget for the event as well, because you’d want to buy books when you’re there,” she said.

The festival is founded by her together with journalist and author Niq Mhlongo, and Dr Nokuthula Mazibuko Msimang. All three are from Soweto.

Dr Nokuthula Mazibuko Msimang is one of the founders of the Gauteng International Book Festival. Picture: Supplied

“How can we be involved in everything concerning literature outside of Soweto and not invest in something? That was the motivation for us – we had to bring it home to our people somehow,” said Sithole.

She added that they didn’t want it to only be for the Sowetans, but they wanted to broaden the audience.

“This is for the whole province and essentially the world. Literature is affected by everything that happens around it, including everything that happens outside the continent,” she said.

The Gauteng International Book Festival will be where African stories come alive. The best of South Africa’s literati will spend the day sharing their latest books with readers of all ages, from near and far.

Festival Director, and co-founder of the Gauteng International Book Festival, Lorraine Sithole. Picture: Supplied.

Fred Khumalo, Dudu Busani-Dube, Sue Nyathi, Mpush Ntabeni, Songezo Zibi, Chef Mbombi, and Lorato Trok lead a stellar line-up of biographers, historical novelists, and writers of iconic children’s books in discussions and signings.

The festival aims to “inspire the culture of reading for leisure within our communities, connect book lovers, and host conversations between our favourite writers and readers.” The theme for the Gauteng International Book Festival 2022 is: “Unlimited Africa”.

The festival centres Africa as inspirational and unlimited. The two headliners for 2022 are – Dudu Busani-Dube and Fred Khumalo, with the 2022 keynote address delivered by the multi-award winner, Dr Nokuthula Mazibuko Msimang.

A day’s pass costs R100 via Quicket and tickets will also be sold on the day at the gate. The day starts at 9am and ends at 5.30pm. The two-part family-friendly programme features an enthralling storytelling extravaganza for children and the young at heart where 12 children’s book authors will share stories, fireside-esque, games and illustrations, while the literary programme has 23 panellists: 18 authors and 5 moderators.

Sessions will cover topics such as the current state of our nation, to the importance of our stories, with a live cooking session where the Shisanyama will be elevated. Books and food will be sold at the venue.