Durban International Book Fair celebrates those who kept the world alive during the pandemic

The Durban International Book Fair, which starts today, promises a stellar line-up of authors, publishers, promoters of language and musicians. The gathering is hosted by Durban Book Fair, a non-profit, civil-society initiative in support of Africa’s only Unesco city of literature. 

The setting for the event is the spectacular Sibaya complex in Umhlanga Rocks, which is surrounded by rolling green hills and flanked by the Indian Ocean.

Under the theme “Unlocked & Unleashed”, the fair pays homage to the many local and international storytellers who kept “the word alive” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Durban International Book Fair was launched in July 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela and to promote reading among children and the youth. The Durban Book Fair has since convened monthly fairs at Mitchell Park, in Durban townships and online. Hundreds of local authors have used the fair’s platform to launch and promote their books.

This year’s programme will see 46 sessions over a seven-day period, featuring more than 100 writers.​​

The Durban International Book Fair kicks off with the launch of Phoenix Buses by Zainul Aberdeen. It relates the rich history of the privately owned buses that provide communities with transport. Telling the stories of the bus drivers and other employees who have made the system a success, this is the first recorded history of this area since it was created in 1976.

The fair also features Bhekisisa Mncube, an award-winning journalist and the author of the bestselling memoir The Love Diary of a Zulu Boy, who will be launching his long-awaited book The Ramaphosa Chronicles. In it, Mncube focuses on one of the most challenging periods in this country’s history – plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic, PPE corruption, Zuma’s legal woes, failed insurrection,  and endless talk of the ANC renewal.

 “After 26 months of writing to the president weekly, I am yet to receive a response, let alone an acknowledgement of my labour of love. To say I am pissed is an understatement. I want my day with Thuma Mina,” says Mncube.

First-time authors have not been left out at the book fair. Priscilla Maistry will be launching a children’s book called A Little Girl Named Kira. Get ready to enter the forest and meet a little girl who has a special gift – she can talk to animals. It is a forest full of beauty and wonder, brought to life by enchanting illustrations. This is a must-read for children, with some important life lessons.

Poets also get their time to shine as Paul Falconer, Boitumelo Canady and Tilly Govender, as well as Ekta Somera ,who is a South African youth ambassador, an author and the founder of the Paper Trail Literary Journal, will be featured. Somera will launch twenty-two, a collection of poetry and prose reflecting on a year in her life full of spiritual growth, in a transition from a caterpillar to a butterfly, with carefully articulated anecdotes and imagery of nature, love and healing. 

  • The Durban International Book Fair takes place at Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom (1 to 5 August) and at Pick n Pay Hyper Durban North (6 and 7 August). For more information on the fair and to view the full programme visit www.durbanbookfair.co.za. Entrance is free.

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