Open Book Festival 2013: Guinness World Record, Renowned Writers and Many More

Book lovers, artists, journalists and cultural enthusiasts from South Africa and around the world gathered and indulged their love for literature at the annual Open Book Festival. The five-day literary event converged leading and emerging writers from the continent from 7-11 September.


Books on display at the Fugard Theatre

With a great mix of free and ticketed events, Open Book included more than 130 events held in various venues such as the Fugard Theatre, Cape Town Central library and Book Lounge all within the Fringe district, Cape Town’s innovation zone. Over 140 global authors (majority from South Africa) showcased their latest works, engaged in panel discussions, readings and workshops. Notable wordsmiths who headlined the 2013 Open Book Festival included, renowned novelists, Brent Meersman, Michele Rowe, Pieter-Dirks Uys and Ian Rankin; Caine Prize winners NoViolet Bulawayo and Tope Folarin; Author, businessman and son to legendary political activists Steve Biko and Mamphela Ramphele,  Hlumelo Biko; Renowned playwright, former Secretary General of Arterial Network, a pan African cultural network and cultural activist, Mike van Graan;  Winner of Deon Hofmeyr award for creative Writing, Khosi Xaba; renowned cartoonist, Jonathan Shapiro and many more.


Books, books and more books!

New Generation African Writers
My most favorite event during the fete was the writers in conversation event featuring renowned new generation African writers. Caine Prize and Penguin Prize shortlisted writer and son to the legendary Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Mukoma wa Ngugi; 2011 Caine Prize winner from Zimbabwe, NoViolet Bulawayo; 2013 Caine Prize winner from Nigeria, Tope Folarin and award winning novelist, photographer and art historian, Teju Cole discussed how their locations and national identity has influenced their stories with architect and freelance writer, Yewande Omotoso.


NoViolet Bulawayo winner of the 2011 Caine Prize

Writers in conversation

Writers in conversation

Mukoma wa Ngugi signing books at Open Book Festival

Mukoma wa Ngugi signing books at Open Book Festival

Domino Chain Guinness World Record Attempt
As part of the build-up to the festival, Open Book Festival and City of Cape Town Library also made an attempt to break the record for the longest book domino chain. The attempt was held a few days before the festival at the Cape Town Central Library and 2 528 books were knocked down. Organisers are awaiting confirmation from Guinness World Records as to whether they officially broke the current world record of 2 131 books currently held by Seattle Public Library in USA.

 Promoting the Reading Culture
The programme also catered to younger avid readers and featured a range of events that not only cultivated a passion for reading and writing but also encouraged a love for books amongst learners. The festival has set an annual target of ensuring the young ones have access to books and assists one school per year in stocking its library. The festival attendees and general public were encouraged to purchase books and give donations during the festival in support of the 2013 library project at Westridge High School in Mitchell’s Plain.

Book lovers at Open Book Festival

Book lovers at Open Book Festival

This book fiesta was well organised, highly educative and insightful, intellectually stimulating, enabled networking and was fun. I look forward to the 2014 edition!


DJ Kolade, Nancy Onyango and Tope Folarin at Open Book Festival


Teju Cole signing book at Open Book Festival


African Writers Discuss The Impact of National Identity and Location in Story Telling


African Writers Talking About Their New Books Open Book Festival 2013

Open Book Festival 2013

Open Book Festival Book Club Morning Day 4: Mukoma wa Ngugi, Ian Rankin and Michele Rowe in conversation with Megan Hitchin about their latest novels at the Cape Town Book Lounge.

Exclusive: President Barack Obama in Cape Town

Angry anti-Obama outside UCT Campus

Angry anti-Obama protestors outside UCT Campus

The audience

The audience

President Barack Obama at UCT

President Barack Obama at UCT

Up Close With Nigerian Artist Kim Wonders

Bozza has created a business model that not only markets African creative content across platforms, but also focuses on creating economic opportunities for upcoming African artists. Artists from various genres such as film, poetry, fashion, visual arts and music can self-publish and express themselves by uploading their content on the Bozza platform.

Nancy Onyango  from Bozza caught up with Kim Wonder early June  for an exclusive interview in Cape Town after her Johannesburg trip in May which resulted to a successful music video shoot for her hit track ‘How You Dey’. The video shot in the heart of the central business district of Johannesburg was produced by George Beke.

Kim Wonder Quick Facts: Nigerian, Singer, Songwriter.

Kim Wonder also known as Kimwonder started her musical career in England four years ago. She recently relocated to Port Harcourt, Nigeria from England and started a dance/musical band. Kim is now making waves not just within the continent, but internationally. She is versatile in her music with genres ranging from inspirational pop, to R&B, techno, Afro Pop and urban music.

NO: Artists have always been at the forefront for inspiring change, freedom of creative expression and political transformation. Bozza is keen at supporting such stars.  What inspires your work as an emerging artist from Nigeria?

Kim Wonder: By listening to African artists like the king of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti and reading about artists like Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba then  reflecting on the current societal challenges, it is evident that the society is in need of music that makes audiences not only nod their heads but more importantly, content that can inspire, move and empower. We are seeing a new generation of artists from Nigeria like Nneka and Chimanda Ngozi Adichie doing exactly that with their work. Yes. I am not there yet but, my work speaks for itself.

NO: Describe yourself in one word

Kim Wonder : Hmmm… I’d love to go with colourful and inspirational. Those are two words.

NO:  Why chose South Africa? It is always perceived that Nigeria has an established music industry.

Kim Wonder : Yes. We have an established music industry in Nigeria that has recently produced new Stars. As an upcoming artist, who has gained some ground already in Nigeria, I am currently striving toward establishing new audiences in new African countries south Africa just being one of them. Also, South Africa is a beautiful country and have been keen to visiting the Table Mountain.

NO: Album vs. Singles? Most artists are in a hurry to release best sellers albums, what are your thoughts?

Kim Wonder: I believe in quality and it takes time to write and release music that will be received well and gain quick popularity. As for me, am working on my singles that will all culminate to an album. I have to thank all my fans who have supported me during this journey that I only began four years ago. I have no album yet, but I released singles. I think it is with this backdrop in mind that has led to my songs notably ‘How U Dey’ ,‘Kilo Kilo’, ‘Work, Rock & Dance’  to rock the airwaves not only in Nigeria but internationally. My music is available on Iroking and I have been recently profiled on African Magic. Not to forget to mention, my music will soon be available on the Bozza Platforms.

NO: As an emerging artist, how has new technology contributed to you building new audiences?

Kim Wonder : Technology is the new platform for connection. I have an active twitter of following 11,000 +. My latest music video ‘How you Dey’ available on You Tube so far has over 40,000 views. I must say that as an artist intending to make an international break, you must be techno savvy. My notable connection happened today, again attributed to technology. I connected with Bozza Star Anto Neo soul based in Nairobi and upcoming poet G.O. from South Africa who recently performed in the US, both connections via Twitter. With technology you can meet anyone anywhere, anytime. You can share your work and you build audience quickly and in real time.

If you are an emerging African artist and would like to find out more about Bozza, e-mail them on or go to for more info.




Babylonstoren Farm House – Cape Town


Century Old Painting of South Africa by Lady Anne Barnard

Panoramic painting of Cape Town from the late 18th century by Lady Anne Barnard has come back home.The authourised copy of the painting now hangs at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town while the original piece hangs in a passage in their family home in England.The copy was donated by the current 29th Earl – a connection to to the Castle of more than 200 years.

Originally from Scotland, Lady Anne was the daughter of James Lindsay 5th Earl of Balcarres. She was married to Andrew Barnard (12 years her junior). After her husband’s appointment as the Colonial Secretary of Cape Town the Barnard moved from London to Cape Town in 1797. Anne was confident, adventurous and empathetic. She climbed the Table mountain, accompanied her younger husband on his trips into the interior and painted the local residents with deft and observant touch.

Her letters written to Dundas, then secretary for war and the colonies, and her diaries of travels into the interior have become an important source of information about the people, events and social life of the time. She is also retained in popular memory as a socialite, known for entertaining at the Caste of Good Hope as the official hostess of Governor Earl Macartney. The remarkable series of letters, journals and drawings she produced was published in 1901 under the title South Africa a Century Ago

Lady Anne is commemorated in several ways in South Africa. A chamber in the Castle of Good Hope is known as “Lady Anne Barnard’s Ballroom”; a road in the suburb of Newlands where the Barnards lived, is named “Lady Anne Avenue”; and a carved effigy of her is displayed in the foyer of the civic centre in Claremont.

Robben Island

Robben Island (Afrikaans: Robbeneiland) is an island in Table Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. The name is Dutch for “seal island”.

From the 17th to the 20th centuries, Robben Island served as a place of banishment, isolation and imprisonment. Today it is a World Heritage Site and museum, a poignant reminder to the newly democratic South Africa of the price paid for freedom.

I visited the Island on 28th July few days after Nelson Mandela celebrated his 94th birthday. Mandela Day is celebrated in South Africa highlighting the fact that:,Nobel Laurete, Nelson Mandela gave 67 years of his life fighting for the rights of humanity.To participate one gives 67 minutes of their time, whether it’s supporting a chosen charity or serving local communities. Mandela Day is a call to action for individuals – for people everywhere – to take responsibility for changing the world into a better place, one small step at a time, just as Mr Mandela did.

Alkmaar Cheese Market


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Zanzibar Spice Tour

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