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Opening of the Midlands Literary Festival 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 22 September 2015 14:28

by Sbongiseni Dladla


The KZN Literary Tourism Project team attended the opening of the Midlands Writers Festival at Ike’s Books, on 22 August 2015. The launch marked the beginning of series of book launches by the writers from Midlands and surroundings. Organiser Darryl David opened proceedings by thanking all writers and book-lovers in attendance. Ashwin Desai, Zainub Priya Dala, Ranjith Kally, Carol Campbell, and Vernon Head were there to speak about their books on the night. It was particularly good to see Zainub Dala making a public appearance after her ordeal during this year’s Time Of The Writer Festival that took place in March.

Review of Legends of the Tide: The Seine-netters & the roots of the Durban fishing industry PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 08 September 2015 22:12

By Neelan Govender and Viroshen Chetty

Review by Rasvanth Chunylall

As an Indian growing up in KwaZulu-Natal, seafood and fishing has been an inescapable part of my life. I remember my family’s pride when my brother caught his first fish on a trip with my uncle. I remember my mum and aunt’s experimentation with tin fish samoosas. I recall excited discussions by those anticipating the sardine run. Upon reading Neelan Govender and Viroshen Chetty’s nostalgic Legends of the Tide, I was therefore surprised to learn how ignorant I am – possibly like many Durbanites - of the history of Durban’s fishing industry and the key players in its development.

It began in 1865 when indentured labourers left the colonial canefields they had arduously toiled. They started a new life on Salisbury Island where they formed the Seine-netter community and became pioneers of Durban’s fishing industry. Legends of the Tide begins by examining the lineage of some of the “Master Fishermen” who plied their trade and provides details on their fascinating background and fishing practices. The community also included market-sellers of the Springfield flats who grew and sold vegetables along the Umgeni in the similar entrepreneurial spirit of the Seine-netters. Beyond their work, the book traces the rich and varied life the community lead. They erected temples, organised sport galas, built schools to educate their children, and formed football clubs. They took pleasure in cock-fighting matches and organised angling and casting competitions. Despite their success, it was not easy for this industrious community and the book reveals many of their challenges. They were met with antagonism and experienced restrictions on their fishing. Legislature such as the infamous Group Areas Act moved them away from their homes, their livelihood, and the community they had lovingly fostered.

Naturally, there is much to enjoy in this beautifully illustrated guide. In my opinion, the highlight is a chapter entitled “The Great Flood and Rescue of 1917”.  It effectively reveals the ravaging effects the disaster had on the inhabitants of the Springfield flats. Lives were lost. Families were broken. Livestock and pets went missing. Their homes were washed away and immeasurable blows dealt to their crop-based livelihood, leaving many destitute and completely helpless. Legends of the Tide overcomes its academic prose here by successfully capturing the often traumatic and heart-breaking stories of individual families.

Another positive aspect is the book’s descriptions of some of the more colourful characters who populated the community. There is a tribute to the Padavatan Six, a group of brave fishermen, who used their sea-faring expertise to combat the treacherous tides of the aforementioned flood. They were able to save 176 people and were awarded with newspaper tributes and medals for their efforts. Another favourite is the tale of Thumbi Aunty - a woman who should really be embraced by local feminists. She was a widow who took up fishing to provide for her hungry children and proved to be an adept fisherwoman in her own right. What is significant is that the book refrains from portraying the fishing community as entirely Indian with parts dedicated to the contributions of immigrants from Zanzibar, Saint Helena and Mauritius.

On a final note, the book represents only a tiny fragment of the history of the Seine-netters – much of it lost to memory. At the KZN Literary Tourism project we strongly believe in acknowledging the nuances of our province beyond the “sun, surf and sand” narrative touted by tourist advertising. For this reason, I applaud the efforts of Govender and Chetty in documenting this vibrant yet sadly forgotten community who deserve to be celebrated for their contributions to our province.


Legends of the Tide (2014) is published by Rebel Rabble. You can watch the book’s trailer here and learn more about the book through its Facebook page

Bhekisigcino Damasius Khawula PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 25 August 2015 22:06

Bhekisigcino Damasius Khawula (1967 - ) was born in Umzinto, KwaZulu-Natal. He studied at Kenterton Higher Primary School, St. Mary’s, Impunga High School and Sibonelo at KwaMashu.

Khawula started writing in 2004 and has been working in the machinery unit at the Hulletts sugar factory for 21 years. He is inspired him to write by a love for his native country and young people. In an online interview he revealed:

I decided to write books so that the young ones could take something out of these books that I have written. Whether you are writing a film or writing a novel or writing a drama, for me the most important thing is that there must be a message that you are putting across to your readers.

Khawula writes in isiZulu and his books include a collection of poems titled Izingwazi Zanamuhla, a collection of short stories titled Inyoni Kayiphumuli and Imikhombe Iyenanana, a play which won at the Actua Press in 2009.

Yihlathi Leli is Khawula’s debut novel, and was published in 2012. The novel is about Mchithwa, a young man whose goal in life is to be a teacher. However, when a taxi driver offers to help him on the side of the road, Mchithwa gets roped into a world trafficking.

Yihlathi Leli won a silver award in the African Languages category at the Sanlam Youth Literature Awards (2012). Relebohile Nephawe described the book as “a good read” and listed it as inspirational in her Live Magazine article.

Khawula currently resides in Ntokozweni, Durban, with his wife and three children.

Selected Work

Excerpt from Yihlathi Leli (2012:2-3):

Bangena emotini yakubo kaMchithwa ligamanxa ihora lesishiyagalombili kusihlwa. Ntondolo walayitha iwunga yakhe wabhema kabili kathathu, wase enika uMchithwa. Waqala wenqaba ukubhema, kodwa ngoba uNtondolo uyamncenga wagcina evumile.

“Mchithwa, uyawuzwa ukuthi umnandi kanjani lo gwayi?”

“Umnandi kakhulu,” evuma uMchithwa.

“Lo gwayi ubizwa ngewunga, wenza umfana abe umqemane, abe namandla amaningi, aphinde abe nesibindi,” kusho uNtondolo.

“Ngizwa kahle Dlamini.”

“Ngicela ungisize nawe Mchithwa.”

“Ngikusize ngani?”

“Izandla ingani uyazi ukuthi ziyagezana.”

“Yebo kunjalo,” kuvuma uMchithwa, inhliziyo yakhe isisekhaya ngoba uyazi ukuthi unina ujahe ukumbona.

“Uyabona ukuthi le wunga yohlobo oluphambili ukuthi imnandi kanjani? Yingoba yakhiwa ngezithako ezithize, okuhlanganisa ama-ARVs. Manje inkinga esivame ukuhlangabezana nayo ukudingeka kwawo ama-ARVs. Lokhu okunye kutholakala kalula, mfo kaNcokwane.


2012. Yihlathi Leli, Cape Town: Tafelberg


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