Abantu Literature Festival that was launched with much fanfare and as a knee-jerk reaction to the boycott of the highly-acclaimed Franschoek Literary Festival, is inviting average citizens to be its patrons. The Festival aims to attract 1000 patrons – each paying R450 over 9 months – to self-fund the Festival.

Abantu Literature Festival is far from perfect, but it is a perfect African start. And for such an economic giant as South Africa, we are far behind many African countries who write more, who publish more and who have more meaningful festivals on half the resources that we have.

I have three (oh well, maybe four) reasons why we – as average darkies – must participate in this amazing Festival.

  1. It is too important to fail
    Abantu Literature Festival is ours. It is an important feature of the literary landscape of the country and if it is to grow into the powerful force that we want it to be, we have to pull together. Our people started this Festival for us, for our authors and publishers. We are being asked to invest in a literature festival and to become part of the solution of the big problem of our literature being defined by the “other”.
  2. To prove that we can do anything if we put our minds, mouths and money to something
    This is a test of character – for black people of South Africa, especially the literati and readers. This is a clarion call for us to march and unite behind one goal – to keep our own literature festival running and afloat. It is peculiar to be asked for this kind of donation, but this is not a bad thing. We are being asked to unite behind one African agenda item. And we must do that … If this was a kwaito festival, we would be donating more that we are being required to. This is a time to rally behind something really worthwhile.
  3. To be part of the solution
    We have been complaining about (not) being included in white festivals for too long. We have been complaining about accessibility of these upmarket, white and often discriminatory festivals for too long. This call is for us to be part of the solution – to fund our own festival, to give our professional services to such an important festival, to volunteer our time, to spend our money in this Festival and in the township of Soweto to build the economy there.
  4. To decolonise literature (festivals) and everything around it
    We can call the shots – for once at least – and pat ourselves in the back once this Festival is a success. Of course we still need corporate sponsorships, but as black folks, let us support and fund our own courses and initiatives. There is no white funder who is going to fall from the sky and give us money that we need for our initiatives.
  5. To be part of the African agenda
    Apartheid ghouls and fathers met in dark corners and started universities, TV stations, radio stations and festivals and academic journals and media houses and and and … They did this on the back of one objective – to build a strong Afrikaaner agenda. We have not done that. Instead we wish each other to fail. That stops now. Take R450 and support this Festival. Your children will thank you later. We are supporting an African agenda here. We have not defined what this agenda is as a collective, but at this point, it is any good initiative that is started by other Africans. We have to stand behind it – if it benefits us all, and if it takes the African forward.

I am donating the R450 required and my professional service to this amazing effort at uplifting our literature and these are my reasons, what are yours?

Donate to Abantu Literature Festival here

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