- Mar 26, 2010
More at: https://www.iol.co.za/sundayindependent/news/nothing-wrong-with-book-festival-for-black-people-says-event-founder-19223398Johannesburg - Thando Mngqolozana is standing his ground on keeping the annual Abantu Book Festival black.
The festival, held in Soweto last year, drew flak from people who believed that excluding white people from the event was counter-productive because they had the financial muscle to ensure its survival.
However, the founder and director of the festival, Mngqolozana, said opening it up to “others” would further entrench “whiteness” at literary events.
“This issue of this so-called exclusion of white people is exactly what whiteness does. It centralises itself; that’s the success of colonisation... whiteness will always be the centre,” he said. “Each time it (the festival) gets bigger and better.... We’re talking about the so-called exclusion of white people and not the good things we’re doing.”
Mngqolozana then pointed out that people with different skin colours were welcome to make contributions to the “platform for black writers and readers - where they can for once, as a literary community, experience the fullness of their humanity without feeling that they are in the margin, or they have to be careful about who they are in that space”.
He said white people he had known for over 10 years “were the first people to donate (to the festival), and continue to do so. They never asked to attend the festival because they understood the nature of allyship,” he said, adding that allyship needed to be understood in a certain context.
Mngqolozana’s festival, now entering its fourth year, receives funding from the Department of Arts and Culture, the City of Johannesburg, Gauteng’s department of sports, arts, culture and recreation, and support from organisations such as the Miles Morland Foundation and the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences.