Fortune favours witty newspaper columnist

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Award-winning novelist and newspaper columnist Fred Khumalo has landed a plum TV job.

Khumalo, a Sunday Times insight and opinion editor, and columnist with three books behind him - an autobiography Touch My Blood, and two novels Bitch's Brew and Seven Steps to Heaven - will host Encounters from next month.

The new TV show will be screened from February 3 on SABC2 at 12.30pm and will tackle "a range of topical, yet somewhat controversial, pertinent issues".

"Through his ability to introduce important thought-provoking debates in a humorous, warm manner, Fred Khumalo provides people with a platform to exchange opinions in a moment of drama and tension," said Kagiso Television, the producers of the show.

In the upcoming episode, the question asked will be "is it possible for South Africa as a nation to develop a shared moral code, taking into account our history, diversities as well as economic inequalities?"

The show will feature different, well-known opinion leaders in South Africa every week, providing clarity on important issues.

These will include doctors, church leaders, cultural workers and academics.

Khumalo and expert guests will tackle a range of topical but controversial issues that are pertinent to society.

Khumalo downplayed the challenges of venturing into an often tricky adventure for print journalists, the electronic media.

"Yes it is not easy, especially because the medium of writing for print is solitary, as opposed to TV where one works as part of a team that includes directors and producers," he said.

"At first I found it challenging, and even intimidating. But as a journalist one tends to be a Jack of all trades and this same principle applies here.

"This is very exciting for me having been in print media for 20 years. I am a toddler in television, toddling along," Khumalo told Sowetan yesterday.

About his sudden change of fortune, including writing three books within two years, and now hosting a brand new TV show, he attributed this to hard work and the blessings of his ancestors.

"It is a combination of hard work and being there at the right time. And of course I slaughter a lot," he said amid laughter.