For the record: archivists abound at Abantu

Three years after its launch, Abantu Book Festival continues to grow and is attracting a wide cross-section of African writers, historians and academics. After setting up a gazebo for some members of The Journalist team at the event this weekend, what we found was that our mandate intersects beautifully with that of the festival.

Founder and Festival director Thando Mgqolozana, said the initiative thrives on reciprocal partnerships, such as the one it is building with this platform, The Journalist.

The festival, held in Soweto, designated space for The Journalist to exhibit its work while the online media platform archived details of the groundbreaking festival for future reference.

Mgqolozana said the partnership with The Journalist was important because such monumental shifts were taking place in the SA literary landscape as a direct result of the Abantu entity.

He said that these changes must be recorded accurately by those who understand the African paradigm.

“When you look at the black consciousness movement, we are only able to know about it because the archives are there. If we (Abantu) had the power we would do it ourselves but in the absence of that we will continue to partner with The Journalist,” he said.

Thousands attended the festival this year. It provides a space for black authors of varying ages who want to build a positive culture that embraces African efforts to advance global and local knowledge systems from the culturally significant township of Soweto.

Legendary journalist, Aggrey Klaaste’s sons Peter and Jerome who stopped at The Journalist’s exhibition table had this to say about archiving.

“Gathering and documenting our African history is very important, we see this as we are pulling my dad’s works together to work on a compilation of his writings to reflect an era that was volatile, yet he rose above it and coined a Nation-Building philosophy,” said Jerome.

“What the Abantu Book Festival and The Journalist are doing is a necessary service required in the black community,” added Peter.

Media personality Penny Lebyane also praised the collaboration.

“This is just too beautiful to see Africans working together in harmony for the greater good,” she said.

An educator from the North West, Thebe Morake believed he could use the content from the festival generated by The Journalist into his study material.

“In putting together lesson plans and one struggles to find information in one central place, this is a remarkable effort. I now know that one can find a group of African writers’ works on one electronic platform,” he said.

Veteran journalist, and activist of the 70s, Magauta Molefe was instantly attracted to our stand said that the value of recording our history cannot be underestimate. “I would know this because the 70s was crucial and had it not been recorded, our history could have been obliterated,” she said.

Zubeida Jaffer, publisher of The Journalist said we were now in a time where we were called upon to create and not just react to senseless arguments that take our energy and leave us with nothing, and that being a media partner with Abantu Book Festival was confirmation that we can create by ourselves and for ourselves without overdue commercial and foreign interference.

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