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Modjaji Books

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Jozi in August

Ten days in Joburg from the 1st – 10th August was a delightful treat. I lived there a long time. It smells and tastes like home, the climate is still and reassuring. It would take too long to write a proper account of all the joys and wonders, but for the Book SA record, these were the highlights:

Meeting Billy Kahora from Kwani? in Nairobi, Martin Njanga from Storymoja Hay Literature Festival and Bibi Bakare-Yusuf from Cassava Republic Press in Abuja, Nigeria. Getting Bibi’s catalogue. I loved their warmth and their “can do” attitudes.

Lunch at Gramadoelas with Louis Greenberg, Kate White, Jassy McKenzie, Dion de Jong, ar, Fiona & Frank Snyckers, Billy Kahora, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, and Zukiswa Wanner. Wild laughing conversations and confessions amongst virtual friends. Acquiring a signed copy of The Beggar’s Signwriter which I started reading on the flight home. And am savouring.

Seeing poet/publisher friends: Alan Finlay, Robert Berold, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Gary Cummiskey, Vonani Bila, and Allan Kolski Horwitz at the Pan African Indie Publishers meeting hosted by Khanya College at Museum Africa. Buying new editions of Botsotso and Kotaz.

Having Whiplash ordered by David Krut bookstores and then filling the order at the Jozi Book Fair.

Sharing a stand with the beautiful people of Wordsetc.

Meeting Philip Miller, Justice Malala and Fred Khumalo at the Sunday Times Awards. Being at the Awards as the proud publisher of Whiplash. What naches for a first novel published by a new publisher on the block!

Watching the Martin Scorcese doccie on Bob Dylan at my friend, Belinda’s house in Norwood.

Seeing Cape Town friends and colleagues in unfamiliar places, Ben-Editor, Liepollo from Chimurenga, Jane Henshall (British Council) and Robin Malan. Seeing Joburg bookish people in Joburg, instead of at the CTICC or FLF – Arja Salafranca, Tymon Smith, for example.

Remembering the short cut to the airport from Norwood via Orange Grove and Sylvia’s Pass without consulting a map.

Having coffee on the Newtown Square opposite Museum Africa – such a glorious public space. Driving back and forth over the iconic Mandela Bridge, past Wits. Dear old Wits.

The dry, warm, bright days.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Louis Greenberg</a>
    Louis Greenberg
    August 12th, 2009 @08:44 #

    More grist to my current pro-Joburg kick, Colleen. There are things happening here! It was great to see you.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    August 12th, 2009 @10:40 #

    Lovely, newsy, nostalgic piece. Made me want to visit Jozi (almost).

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Colleen</a>
    August 12th, 2009 @12:53 #

    (Taking a break from writing a funding proposal for the Bed book.)

    Another thing I loved about the Jozi Book Fair was having people like Luli Callinicos browse at the Modjaji table, and Jackie Cock, Eddie Webster, Bobby Marie, Shamim Meer, people I haven't seen for years, who were my profs, my icons when I was a student.

    The vibey huge iconic buildings, the way the roads have changed to accommodate the Gautrain, especially in Rosebank. I used to go to movies in Rosebank in the 70s.

    Can't believe you only almost want to go to Jozi, Helen.

    Driving up Jan Smuts I saw Victor's ad agency - Red Hot Chilli Pepper - fab, funky building quite near where the BenSusan Museum of Photography used to be.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    August 12th, 2009 @14:03 #

    Oh okay, I'm sold! I like the highveld winters, the way you have to screw your eyes up against the sun. Like the vibe, the people. But the traffic -- driving in Jozi frightens me so much, I cry with my eyes open...


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