By Rasvanth Chunylall
Established in June 2007 under the leadership of Vigie Padayachee, the writers club is one of the many outreach programmes held by Tongaat Central Library. With the motto “Growing minds… to grow a nation” the club places a strong focus on growth and development of local talent. It provides an outlet for writers with the potential and ability to write but who have no platform to be published. Through various group meetings the club attempts to foster the individual talent of each of their members and promote writing within the community. Notable writers have lent their support and experience with the group receiving advice from the likes of prize-winning short story writer, Deena Padayachee, Rubendra Govender of Sugar Cane Boy fame and When the Chalk is Down writer, BP Singh. The club has received significant media coverage by local newspapers and has been praised for their work.
Their debut publication, Prose & Poetry, is a rich compendium of short stories and poetry from experienced and novice local writers diverse in race, gender, and economic backgrounds with ages ranging from the youngest, 25, and oldest contributor at 70. This mixture has contributed to a novel that tackles themes ranging from abuse, HIV/Aids, loss of life, interrogation of identity, struggle, race relations and women’s issues. With such a range this contemporary piece of work has a multigenerational and cross-cultural appeal.
A socially conscious institute, the library attempts to address issues raised by the presidents keynote speech through its various projects. With the intention to be marketed to school going children of grades 8-10, the novel attempts to address the issue of illiteracy by providing them with simply written stories and relatable stories by ordinary individuals. The hope is that children will foster a love for reading and develop critical analytical skills so that upon reaching the secondary phase of their education, they will be equipped and able to tackle more complex literature. As a multicultural pastiche written by varying races it also aims to encourage interaction between learners that will cross racial and cultural boundaries. As a novel that focuses on contemporary South African issues, the aim is to introduce works of fiction that learners will be able to identify with as opposed to set works with little relevance to the lives of youth and the issues they face.
A growing number currently standing at 35 the club meets every month at the Tongaat Central Library. Membership is free and the club welcomes all that are passionate about writing and interested in developing their abilities.
Selected Work: “The Broom Lady” by Joey Ernst from Poetry & Prose (2012)
“What is a pretty thing like you doing alone in the street, my sheila?” Lerato looked at him – a youth, obviously younger than she was, tight jeans, windbreaker, hat with upturned brim pulled low over his forehead. She did not reply but looked away instead. Two more youths joined them. She quickened her step, noticed the arcade and started running. The one caught her by her left arm, with all her strength she broke loose, ran to the arcade with all three of them on her heels.
“Hey, are you a skarapafet (prostitute)? You must be careful or you’ll get pasa with a gonnie (stabbed with a knife)”
She kept running and then nearly tripped over an old woman sitting with her back against the wall, legs outstretched, brooms next to her. She fell down next to the old woman, “I am so sorry” she gasped almost out of breath.
“It’s okay, sit next to me.” The three youths came to a halt in front of them, they stared down at Lerato.
“Check this, my bra” said the first one pointing at Lerato.
The broom lady picked up one of her brooms. “Leave her alone, dirty tsotsis, leave her alone! Off with you!”
“Is the ouma trying to scare us, my china?”
“Look my bra”, replied his pal, “this is the old witch of Church Street. We’d better beat it!”
“You know very well I am a sangoma, I’ll put a spell on you, you good-for-nothings!” They started moving away. All their so-called bravery and street wisdom deserted them for they still feared witchcraft. It did not take long for them to disappear into an alleyway.
2012. Prose & Poetry
For more information on the North Coast Writers Club contact Vigie Padayachee:
Tel: 032 9444734