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Victor Dlamini

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Pictures of the Johannesburg Post Office Inferno

Johannesburg Post Office Inferno

A high quality version of one of the photos I captured last night as the Johannesburg CBD Post Office was burning down. What a horrible, horrible experience. More photos at The Daily Maverick; and click here for a video of the inferno.

I photographed the same tower around this time last year:

Johannesburg Inner City (i)

This morning, the Post Office was gutted and smoldering:

After the Fire: The Johannesburg CBD Post OfficeAfter the Fire: The Johannesburg CBD Post Office


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Podcast with South Africa’s Great Homme des Lettres, André Brink

André P Brink

André Brink is one of the world’s major writers – and has been so for several decades. He is best-known as a novelist, but has also distinguished himself as a lecturer, poet and essayist. An homme des lettres of the kind that are far and few between in South Africa, his fascination with language can be felt in all his writings.

Brink’s books, such as An Instant in the Wind, A Dry White Season, Rumours of Rain and The Other side of Silence, established his ability to tackle head-on Africa’s “big” subjects in in fiction, colonialism, Apartheid, and a rapidly changing world. Join me on the Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast and hear Brink share how he developed as a writer, what led to his discovery of the power of language and how the distance supplied by 1960s Paris helped him to see very clearly the dark evil that was Apartheid. (Some of this is also set down in his latest work, A Fork in the Road, which records his memoirs.)
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Podcast with Master Storyteller Gcina Mhlope

Gcina MhlopeSinging ChameleonIt is often said of the supremely talented that they possess gifts that are innate – that they are born for their craft – and in many ways this reflects our belief that, beyond a certain point, no amount of personal effort can explain success. Gcina Mhlope is a storyteller who has been the object of observations like these. She doesn’t tell, but performs her stories, blending movement, dance and song into her delivery. Hers is a style that invokes the jazz vocalist as much as the praise singer or imbongi, and even carries the touch of the griot.
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Podcast with Poet Laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile

This Way I Salute YouKeorapetse KgositsileIt is his ability to capture, in movingly lyrical poetry, his very deep love for the musicians who brought us jazz – the stand out art form of the 20th century – that has endeared Keorapetse “Bra Willie” Kgositsile to lovers of poetry. Keorapetse is South Africa’s Poet Laureate: a fitting role for a writer whose work is littered with lines that elevate the human spirit and oppose all that limits freedom. But it shows the measure of the man that, even as he performs his official duties, he has maintained the delicate balance of the celebrated griot – the one who praises and chastises his patron and society in the very same moment.

In his collection, This Way I Salute You, Keorapetse pays homage to jazz artists with distinctive voices on their chosen instrument, whether it be the trumpet of Hugh Masekela, the double-bass of Johnny Dyani, the saxophone of John Coltrane, Billie Holiday’s delicate and Nina Simone’s gruff vocals, or the incomparably beautiful singing of Cassandra Wilson. He also pays homage to other poets, like Senghor, and it is an affirmation of his status as a proponent of Pan Africanism that his references to African leaders cut across the arbitrary borders that were the result of the Scramble for Africa.
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Podcast with Anne Landsman in New York

The Rowing LessonAnne LandsmanReading Anne Landsman‘s The Rowing Lesson, one is reminded that the divisions between prose and poetry are not natural – that these words, “prose” and “poetry”, mostly serve external, classificatory purposes. Death, a very slow death, is the subject of this novel, and Anne brings to her subject a language that is highly charged, as Betsy Klein contemplates the impending loss of her father. It is a language at once of prose and poetry – of loss, memory, imagination, belonging and grief. Harold Klein and his daughter engage in vigorous conversation through Betsy’s rememberings even though Harold lies comatose in a Cape Town hospital bed – and we believe it.
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Live Podcast with Breyten Breytenbach and Emmanuel Dongala

Emmanuel DongalaBreyten Breytenbach

“Culture” is one of those words that can conjure up so many meanings – yet on close observation these meanings often lose their power, and fail to communicate something tangible.

During the Time of the Writer Festival held at the coastal city of Durban, South Africa, earlier this year, I had the honour of sitting down in front of a live audience to chat to Emmanuel Dongala and Breyten Breytenbach about “changing cultures”. They provided some fascinating views on this important topic.
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Podcast with Njabulo Ndebele: Live at the Cape Town Book Fair

Fine Lines from the BoxNjabulo NdebeleIt was my great pleasure to interview Njabulo Simakahle Ndebele about his latest book, Fine Lines from the Box (Umuzi) at the recent Cape Town Book Fair. I’m thrilled that I now have the opportunity of sharing this wonderful conversation with you as a ‘live’ podcast, the second live podcast in my series of Literary Podcasts. I have no doubt that I’m not alone in regarding Ndebele as one of South Africa’s greatest intellectuals. He is known for writing that always raises the bar, and each page of his writing sizzles with lexical gems that are anchored in deeply considered thought. Ndebele has held the position of Vice Chancellor at two universities in South Africa, and is the author of short stories, novels and essays that have been more influential on South African thought and imagination than, it can well be argued, any other single voice. Apart from Fine Lines from the Box, his books include the monumental Rediscovery of the Ordinary and Fools and Other Stories, and the post-modern fictional meditation on South African identity, The Cry of Winnie Mandela.

I recorded our conversation, and present it here as the latest Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast, along with the liveblogged report that BOOK SA’s Johannesburg editor, Liesl Jobson, filed after the conversation:
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Podcast with Publishing Titan Henry Chakava

Henry ChakavaHenry Chakava is, quite simply, an outstanding publisher and a great man. He is one who has never hesitated to innovate, and who uses his instincts and knowledge to develop the enterprise of book publishing in Africa seemingly round-the-clock. Among other things, he has invested heavily in the publishing of educational books, and through his children’s series has served East Africa’s community of children with literature in both English and their own languages. Join me on the Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to a man whose life’s work is bringing books to readers across many parts of the African continent.
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Podcast with an Adventurous Writer, Mario d’Offizi

Bless Me FatherMario D'Offizi Every now and again a book comes along in which a small part – a chapter or less – seems to overshadow the whole, until it becomes almost impossible to remember that the work is about much more than the passage that receives most of the attention.

Mario d’Offizi’s memoir, Bless Me Father (Ge’ko Publishing) is one such book. The chapter in which he describes his abuse at the hands of Father Reginald Orsmond whilst at Boys’ Town in the Magaliesberg has come to stand for the entire text. (See, for instance, coverage of the book in The Times.) But reading Bless Me Father yields a clearer view: it is, in fact, mostly about Mario’s unexpected trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with a veteran journalist – and that’s certainly where the majority of its rewards lie.
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Podcast: Live from the Launch of Lebo Mashile’s Flying Above the Sky

Lebo Mashile Flying Above the SkyThis episode with Lebo Mashile – our second together – marks a first for the Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast: it’s the first one I’ve ever done “live”, in front of an audience.

The audience in question comprised those who turned out, in large numbers, to witness the launch of Lebo’s second collection of poems, Flying Above the Sky, earlier this month. What a night it turned out to be, with Lebo first delivering a powerful and deeply felt recital. As she took hold of the mic at at Johannesburg’s Dance Factory, she planted her feet firmly on the ground – then transported us to a soaring world. Her poetic vision lifted our consciousness, dislodging preconceptions and beliefs and replacing them, sometimes with doubt, but as often with hope.

After the performance, Lebo graciously invited me to join her on stage to chat to her about her new work, and I recorded our conversation. Tune in as I chat to this extraordinarily talented poet with a fiery voice.
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