It’s a privilege for me to indicate I’m once again curating a book fair as part of the Constitution Hill’s annual multidisciplinary Human Rights Month celebrations in Johannesburg. Although the festival runs from 24 to 26 March, the book fair will take place on Saturday and Sunday.
South Africa, a country with a rich history and a vibrant culture, is also a land of struggles and challenges, especially in the realm of human rights. From the dark days of apartheid to the ongoing struggles for social and economic justice, South Africans have faced and overcome tremendous obstacles on their path to freedom and equality. In recognition of this legacy, a human rights book fair is being organized in Johannesburg, to showcase the best of South African and international publishing..
The fair will bring together authors, activists, and publishers from across the country, to engage with audiences on topics ranging from democracy and freedom of expression, to gender equality and environmental justice. Visitors will have the opportunity to attend book readings, panel discussions, and workshops, as well as to browse and purchase books from a wide range of publishers and booksellers.
The fair will also feature a dedicated children’s section, with storytelling sessions, book readings, and interactive activities focused on teaching children about human rights and social justice. This section will provide a safe and engaging space for young readers to learn and explore the world around them, and to become advocates for positive change in their communities.
At the core of the fair is a commitment to promoting human rights, social justice, and equality in all its forms. Through the power of literature and the arts, the fair seeks to inspire and empower individuals and communities to take action against injustice and to build a more just and equitable world for all. With its diverse and dynamic programming, the fair promises to be a vibrant and engaging event.
Whether you are a book lover, a human rights activist, or simply someone interested in learning more about the world around you, the human rights book fair in Johannesburg is a must-attend event. Come and join us for an inspiring and thought-provoking experience, and become a part of the movement for social justice and human rights in South Africa and beyond.
In addition to providing a platform for authors and publishers to showcase their works, the human rights book fair will also offer opportunities for attendees to engage with organizations and groups that are actively working to promote human rights and social justice. Visitors can connect with local NGOs and advocacy groups, and learn about their efforts to advance human rights causes in South Africa and beyond. These interactions can lead to meaningful partnerships and collaborations, as well as inspire individuals to take action in their own communities.
The fair will also feature a range of cultural events, such as music performances, film screenings, and art exhibitions, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of South Africa and the many ways in which art and culture can contribute to the struggle for human rights and social justice. These events will provide a space for artists and cultural workers to showcase their work, and for attendees to explore the many ways in which art and culture can be used to promote social change.
Overall, the human rights book fair in Johannesburg promises to be an exciting and engaging event that celebrates the power of literature, art, and culture to promote social justice and human rights. It offers a unique opportunity for individuals and communities to come together, share their experiences and insights, and learn from one another. By bringing together authors, activists, publishers, and cultural workers from across South Africa and beyond, the fair will contribute to building a more just and equitable world for all.
In addition to the cultural and educational aspects, the human rights book fair will also provide economic opportunities for local authors and publishers. By showcasing their works to a wider audience, authors and publishers can increase their visibility and potentially attract new readers and customers. This can have a positive impact on the local literary industry, which in turn can contribute to the broader cultural and economic development of the country.
Moreover, the fair will create a platform for South African authors and publishers to network among themselves and with the general public, and potentially expand their reach beyond the borders of South Africa. This can lead to increased collaboration and exchange of ideas, which can benefit both local and international authors and publishers, as well as contribute to the global conversation on human rights and social justice.
Finally, the human rights book fair will be a celebration of the resilience and determination of the South African people, who have faced immense challenges in their struggle for freedom and equality. By showcasing the best of South African literature and culture, the fair will demonstrate the richness and diversity of South Africa’s heritage, and its potential to continue contributing to the global discourse on human rights and social justice.
Overall, the human rights book fair is an important event that brings together the best of South African and international literature, culture, and activism. It provides a unique opportunity for individuals and communities to engage with one another, learn from one another, and inspire one another to work towards a more just and equitable world. If you are passionate about human rights and social justice, or simply love books and culture, then the human rights book fair in Johannesburg is an event not to be missed.
I hope to see you all, as families, at the Human Rights Month festival on 24-26 March 2023 – particularly at the book section on Saturday and Sunday: attending literary discussions and buying books from the exhibition stalls.
For those who are not on Facebook, let me share with you the three tributes I paid to our luminaries through my jazz music programme, “Sunset Serenade”, broadcast on 101.9 Chai FM every Sunday from 17h00 to 19h00. I’ll just quote my post verbatim:
“Imagine a painter ascends the stage, he stands on the side so that he doesn’t obstruct the audience’s view of the jazz band on stage; he puts a huge framed canvas on an easel stand that he has just assembled; out of his bags are small cans of paints, he puts them in between the front legs of the easel stand. He puts a number of brushes on the easel stand’s tray. He meditates for a few seconds.
“The music band starts playing. His soul is enmeshed in the jazz piece that’s playing. He takes one brush, dips it in a can of paint; he paints strokes on the canvas rhythmically with the song that’s played; the audience’s rapturous clappings, whistles and ululations make him accelerate the speed at which he pulls his strokes; each stroke speaks to each note a particular music instrument make; each melody; each chord; solos; it’s all pure magic.
“This goes on for an hour of music and the artist’s strokes, the building blocks to a masterpiece of an abstract artwork.
“This in your imagination my dear friend, is Nico Phooko, a fine artist, a painter who captures his interpretation of jazz virtually through his project he calls, “Notes & Strokes” – he paints on stage to a live music performance. His works are often auctioned. Some make it on the covers of jazz albums and books. Today, we celebrate Nico Phooko, a live jazz music painter from Ekurhuleni. He had exhibited here and abroad.
“So this Sunday, I’ll give you a radio equivalent of Nico’s de/construction of our jazz idiom…”
“They say a picture tells a thousand words. This Sunday I’ll be revising it to say a picture sings a thousand melodies. This is inspired by the iconic black & white documentary photography of our not-so-young but legendary lensman, Siphiwe Mhlambi. This multiple international award winning lensman has dedicated decades of his life to documenting the artistic excellence of our jazz musicians, jazz performances and every jazz scene through his art of photography.
“Perhaps I should emphasise his photography is a living monument as by mere looking at any of his photos, each one of them speaks to our soul as it brings every musician or a band to life and inspiring our minds to create a beautiful music which we literally hear humming in our ears.
“As I always argue an instrumental jazz piece may evoke many interpretations, so it is with his photography which sings more than a thousand jazz melodies. Passion, serenity, calmness, innocence, peace, sensuality, love, energy and all manner of emotions are eloquently displayed. Generous as Siphiwe Mhlambi is, he shares his passion and expertise with jazz lovers and the general public through a series of exhibitions and what he calls “The art of jazz workshops”.
“My dear friends, the South African musical landscape – basically, the entire music sector value chain – is littered with under-appreciated visionaries. We should hate ourselves if Siphiwe Mahlambi was to be counted among them. This will be a grave disservice to our children and future generations.
“So this Sunday as we deconstruct the South African jazz idiom, I will celebrate some of those visionaries who were under appreciated by showcasing how streams of their rhythms such as Kwela, Marabi and even mbaqanga enriched the DNA of our kind of jazz, making the South African jazz idiom as distinctive and unique as it is. Yes, obviously I’ll also feature younger musos who – like Siphiwe Mhlambi – are preserving the legacy of our unsung heroes and heroines…”
“Jazz music in South Africa emanated in the early 1920s from Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, but it was perfected in Johannesburg. So this Sunday I’ll be paying tribute to the capital city of the Gauteng City Region (GCR) through jazz music. Did you know the GCR contributes 35% to South Africa’s GDP – 5% more than the combined GDP contributions of KZN at 16% and the Western Cape’s 14%. Johannesburg is Africa’s economic hub – Sandton is the home to Africa’s richest square mile. The GCR is Africa’s seventh biggest economy – which means it’s bigger than the economies of 48 African countries. Although South Africa is the third biggest economy after Nigeria and Egypt, it is Africa’s most sophisticated economy – courtesy of the city of Johannesburg.
What’s the relevance of this economic data to music? Everything! Although jazz isn’t elitist, it is a music of choice for consumers in the middle to top LSM categories – these are the audiences who listen to ChaiFM 101.9fm (or stream live from www.chaifm.com or https://listenonlineradio.com/south-africa/chai-fm). So join me this Sunday from 17h00 to 19h00 as my jazz programme, “Sunset Serenade”, celebrates Africa’s most metropolitan city, Johannesburg – that I call “Johustleburg” – through music (some of which inspired by the sophisticated and vibrant culture of, and dedicated to, Jo’burg or Jozi) of the Elite Swingsters; Spyro Gyra (United States); Abdullah Ibrahim; African Jazz Pioneers; Dennis Mpale; Shane Cooper and Mabuta; Ali Farka Touré (Mali) and Ry Cooder (US); Miriam Makeba Foundation; The Skylarks; Ayanda Sikade; Thuto Motsemme; Thandi Ntuli; Souad Massi (Algeria); Schalk Joubert; Noxolo Seti; Femi Koya (Nigeria); Johnny Fourie; Shabaka and the Ancestors (UK/Barbados); and Skyjack (a South Africa/Switzerland collaboration). This star-studded line-up can’t be missed.
“Let me take you down memory lane to the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s during the time of the vinyls – long before streaming services. A jazz album was always accompanied by a detailed prosaic and poetic narrative – which was a critical appreciation by one of the wordsmiths. So this Sunday I’ll be celebrating one such legendary jazz music critic, Zuluboy “ZB” Molefe. He rose in media circles to become the Deputy Editor of City Press.
“His peers described him as colourful; a man about town in his own right. He was thoroughbred of the “tigers-don’t-cry” war cry. Soweto-born-and-bred, this quiet man always wore professorial look. Although he had a low-voltage voice, his proverbial pen was louder than a trumpet. He oozed confidence, eloquence, versatility and dynamism. He inspired confidence. He was the sort of “music-digging type simply and deeply referred to as a ‘jazz cat’”. That’s not an affectation, this merely denotes a cognitive awareness of the universal traditions of jazz which are endowed with radicalism. He utilised “the searching, lyrical and questioning sonic traits of jazz in his daily work as a journalist”. He did not live for jazz or with jazz. He jazz-lived. This means he lived by “the exacting tenets of jazz as a soundtrack to the multi-varied” people’s experience. Jazz, to him, was philosophy of life.
Partnering with an ace photographer, Mike Mzileni, they gave us “A Common Hunger to Sing: A Tribute to South Africa’s Black Women of Song 1950 to 1990” – this is a book that every music lover should have on their bookshelf. Dear reader, this is how bra Len Kalane, former Editor of City Press; and Bongani Madondo, a scribe under ZB’s tutelage, paid tribute to our legend. So please join me in paying tribute to ZB Molefe, the scribe who made me fall in love with this music genre…”
Let me also remind you I still appear on Monnye Kunupi’s Radio Bop SA programme as a guest everyday to present my fifteen minute slot, “Across the continent with Saul Molobi”, in which I report about current affairs on the continent.
Before closing, let me register my utter disappointment at our countries’ deafening silence and inaction in response to the disaster that is taking place in Malawi. Where are our governments? Where are our NGOs? Where’s the private sector? Is it another way of saying African lives don’t matter? Cry my beloved Africa.
Enjoy your weekend.
Saul Molobi (FCIM)
Publisher, Group Chairman & CEO
Tel: +27 11 759 4297
Mobile: +27 83 635 7773
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