KwaZulu-Natal artworks are finally getting deserved recognition and are being likened to British modernism, while writers and poets are also getting accolades in A Literary Guide to KwaZulu-Natal. This is an authoritative literary tourism guide that helps readers trace the steps of famous authors and poets from the province. While this can be considered a niche audience, the literary history in the book forms an important part of the South African identity, which makes the guide a must-have.
A Literary Guide to KwaZulu-Natal by Niall McNulty, Lindy Stiebel
ISBN: 978 1 86914 357 2
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.
Professor of English Studies at UKZN Lindy Stiebel together with fellow colleague Mr Niall McNulty have managed to get the North Coast Writers Trail ready for avid literary tourists recently.
The literary tourism duo both worked tirelessly to create a niche area which links writers, places and their works through literary tourism. This was the case with the North Coast Writers Trail that saw the team creating a route a fictional character charts in a novel, visiting particular settings from a story or tracking down places linked to a writer, such as a birthplace, home or burial site.
This particular trail focused on well-known writers from the North Coast such as Mafika Gwala, Dianne Stewart, Rosamund Kendal and BP Singh. Some of the sites to visit that make the trail interesting are the site of the first sugarcane mill at Morewood, the Chief Albert Luthuli Museum and the burial site of King Shaka.
‘We developed a partnership with the Ilembe Municipality based at Ballito to train up to 10 community guides to run this literary trail and provide knowledge to tourists and visitors. We had three days of training that included workshops and practical sessions in the field.’
‘The guides were chosen based on their interest in writing, culture and heritage tourism,’ explained Stiebel.
She pointed out that it is a challenge to create connections for the trails between writers, their works and related sites but they managed to do this on the North Coast Writers’ Trail as with others they have developed. The feedback for those that did embark on the trail with the community guides was positive and enlightening.
‘We had to go on research trips to the places, take photos and get interesting information about the writers. It was a lot of fun to find out about the North Coast, its writers and related places and we got to learn the most fascinating things,’ said McNulty.
Words by Melissa Mungroo
Compiled together with Lindy Stiebel.