For several years I was involved in a research project at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, researching authors, their books and places connected to them. We produced a number of author profiles and literary trails over the years (in collaboration with a number of co-researchers), which we published online. Working with UKZN Press, we have taken that research and compiled a literary guide, which was recently published.
KwaZulu-Natal is culturally rich, offering a wide range of writers – writing mainly in English and Zulu – who are linked through their lives and their writing to this province of South Africa. The writers include, to name just a few, Alan Paton, Roy Campbell, Lewis Nkosi, Ronnie Govender, Wilbur Smith, Daphne Rooke, Credo Mutwa and Gcina Mhlophe. And how better to understand a writer than to know about the places they are linked to? For example, who, after reading the lyrical opening sentences of Paton’s famous book Cry, the Beloved Country (1948) has not wanted to see this scene in reality?
There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.
A Literary Guide to KwaZulu-Natal introduces you to the regions and writers through word and image, leading you imaginatively through this beautiful province.
This could include following the route a fictional character charts in a novel, visiting particular settings from a story or tracking down the places linked to a writer, whether a birthplace, home, burial site or significant setting. Literary tourists are interested in how places have influenced writing and at the same time how writing has created place.
- A Literary Guide to KwaZulu-Natal by Niall McNulty, Lindy Stiebel
ISBN: 978 1 86914 357 2
- Read a few pages here …
I published an article in the latest issue of SubText, the Centre for Communication, Media and Society‘s quarterly magazine. The article, ‘ Trailing tales and the tellers’, was on the KZN Literary Tourism project, which I have been involved with for the past 7 years.
(Chapter written for Undressing Durban book)
Inyanga, Warwick Triangle. Photograph by Roger Jardine.
I’m hopping about on one leg, in the middle of a busy walkway, obstructing morning commuters. Directly across from me is the herb-sellers market, above me cars funnel into the city while below colourful aprons are strewn across stairs, the ladies selling them sitting on upturned crates. “Is this the right size?” I ask Crops as I squeeze my foot into a cross-strapped rubber sandal. “Sure, sure, stretch to fit,” he answers. Crops makes and sells imbadadada (a home-made shoe or literally ‘someone who walks with an awkward gait’) from a small outlet on the edge of Warwick Triangle. Pairs are lined up outside his shop, in rows based on style and size. The imbadadada is a thick, hard-wearing sandal, with two straps along the front and one along the back, originally made by Zulu tribesmen. Johnny Clegg made these shoes popular with a wider audience in the eighties, dancing in a pair on stages across the world.
“I make these myself from the car tires,” Crops tells me. “It’s an old design. They first started making them in the 1950s. The people buy it for the traditional dance or just to wear. It is comfortable and they last a long time. I am also making these new styles now, ones with the buckle and ones with Nike.” Continue reading
Compiled together with Lindy Stiebel.
Midlands Writers Trails, compiled together with Lindy Stiebel. Writers featured include Imraan Coovadia, Wilbur Smith, Fred Khumalo, Jenny Hobbs and John van der Ruit while stops include Michaelhouse, Hilton College, Caversham Mill and Press, the Howick Falls and the Mandela Capture site.