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Bhoowan Prakash (BP) Singh PDF Print E-mail


Bhoowan Prakash (BP) Singh (1963- ) was born in Tongaat located on the North Coast. The son of a former Grey Street Taxi operator and jeweler, he secured a bursary to study teaching at Springfield College after failing to obtain the necessary funds to study at Wits Medical School or UKZN. After completing college he was appointed as a teacher at the School of Industries for Girls in Newcastle, becoming the first level 1 educator to be appointed to the school. In 1987 he transferred to Foresthaven Secondary in Phoenix following his need to be closer to home.

He then went on to serve as Acting Principal at Mzingezwi Secondary School in Ndwedwe. In 1999 he transferred to Havenpark Secondary in Phoenix for a period of 6 months. During this year he completed his MBA via MANCOSA with Buckingham Chilterns University College in the U.K. He went on to work at the North Durban Regional Examination office which is based in Truro House.

Singh currently lives with his wife, Irene, and their three children in Cordoba Gardens, Verulam. Together BP and Irene founded KZN12, a provincial educational publication which enjoys a distribution rate of 100 000 copies per edition and on air radio programmes which discusses the material. 

Singh attributes the writing of his first novel, When the Chalk Is Down: An Odyssey, to his parents while the conception lies with Irene who is also responsible for the title. The novel is an autobiographical and nostalgic glimpse into his life that follows two plotlines: his quest to attain property ownership for his parent’s home in Buffelsdale, Tongaat while simultaneously focusing on his journey, experiences and his maturation as a teacher.

When The Chalk Is Down was launched at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Graduate School of Business Auditorium in 2010, a year which celebrated the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indentured Indians to South Africa. The novel enjoyed positive critical reception following its release, notably receiving praise from Ashwin Desai and Betty Govinden and was placed on a longlist for the Alan Paton Award for Non-Fiction Literature.

In 2016, When The Chalk Is Down was selected for the eThekwini Muni­cipality One City One Book launch (OCOB). The served to promote South African literary works in general and KwaZulu-Natal works in particular.


Selected Work

from When The Chalk is Down: An Odyssey (2010:10)

I was no stranger to the extended family concept. This was an unconscious survival strategy in vogue amongst the poor at the time. My college years saw me rotating between the residences of my sisters, Gita and Gyan, both of whom lived in Mountview in Verulam. Mountview is a township similar to Buffelsdale. Learning to drive my brother-in-law Roy’s Mini Cooper, and my cousin Anand’s Colt Gallant, and eating KFC whilst the country watched Dallas on a Tuesday night, were some of the many memorable experiences of this period. Occasionally I would visit my third sister, Shanti, who also lived in Mountview. Frequent visits to the house of my eldest sister, Malthi, in Emona allowed for the rare opportunity to collect water from the pond or search for mushrooms in the Hulett cane fields.

College commuting entailed the use of train and bus, intersped with much hitch-hiking. These experiences were made enjoyable by friends who shared the simple joys of life, like hanging out of a moving train window, or jamming the train doors, or playing ‘thunee’, or simply singing the college anthem at the top of our voices in packed trains. Running for the bus either from the train station or from college was part of the fun too. ‘Bunny chows’ were a favourite, as was black clothing.