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Gcina Mhlophe and Enrique Diaz

- By Wits University

Enrique Perez Diaz

Cuban writer, critic, publisher & researcher of children's literature

Enrique is currently the Director of Gente Nueva Publishing House in Havana.  He is also the Director of the theoretical magazine En julio como en enero, working with the IBBY Cuban Committee, since 2007.  He is a writer, critic, editor and children’s literature researcher, as well as President of the Children’s Literature Section of the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists. He was the founder of the first Cuban bookshop for children: El Cochero Azul, with a sociocultural approach to community works with children and teenagers.

His books are known in many countries including Japan, Switzerland, the USA, and most of Latin America and are prescribed in primary schools in several countries.  He has published scholarly works and is the author of some twenty anthologies. Diaz is a recipient of numerous international accolades including the Hans Christian Andersen Award Winners.

Diaz will share lessons with SA on literacy and education in Cuba and discuss the impact of 50 years of US sanctions on culture, literacy and the arts. He will also talk about the role of children’s literature in building a progressive national culture, and look at how books can be made more affordable and accessible.

Gcina Mhlophe

Acclaimed storyteller, poet,  author, playwright and actor 

Nokugcina Elsie Mhlophe is a well-known South African freedom fighter, activist, actor, storyteller, poet, playwright, director and author. Storytelling is a deeply traditional activity in Africa and Mhlophe is one of the few woman storytellers. She does her most important work through charismatic performances, working to preserve storytelling as a means of keeping history alive and encouraging South African children to read. She tells her stories in four of South Africa’s languages: English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa.

Gcina is a multi-talented, multiple-award winner who has set an ineradicable path for herself and has made history in the South African literature. Born on the 24th of October 1958 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal to a father who speaks isiZulu and a mother who speaks isiXhosa, Gcina's love for poetry and storytelling started at a young age, her very first performance being over the fence to an open field which became a transition to bigger and better things.

Gcina has been writing for more than 25 years, publishing over 25 books, for children and adults: Have you seen Zandile, Golden Windows, Love Child, The singing dog, to name a few. Some of her books have been turned into plays for instance Have you seen Zandile which is a reflection of the nourished relationship Gcina had with her late grandmother. 

A wondrous experience awaits at the Children’s Tent with Gcina  starting at 09:30 on Saturday. Zakes Mda and Mpapa Mokhoane will launch the Sesotho edition of Penny and Puffy on 12 September at 10:00 at the Children’s tent. Both authors will be present for a special reading. All will engage in  creativity workshops and serious debates about South Africa.

Another highlight is a session with Joan Rankin writer and illustrator of children’s books. She will facilitate a creativity workshop for kids and adults on Saturday at 10:00 in the Dolly Rathebe Room. Author Jenny Hatton will later deliver a tribute to Rankin at 15:00 in Lecture Theatre 4, Science Stadium.


Children's Tent on Saturday and Sunday

The politics at the Jozi Book Fair

Overall programme inclusive of poetry, jazz, film festival, debates, exhibition and workshops on writting, language and getting published.