Ailing journalist and author to be honoured

AUTHOR Lewis Nkosi is to be honoured by the Miriam Tlali Reading and Book Club at the African Literature Book Shop in Orange Grove tomorrow at 2pm.

AUTHOR Lewis Nkosi is to be honoured by the Miriam Tlali Reading and Book Club at the African Literature Book Shop in Orange Grove tomorrow at 2pm.

Nkosi ,73, is recovering at a rehabilitation and frail care centre in Johannesburg after taking ill in June last year.

There will also be a sale of some of Nkosi's books in aid of his health and welfare.

Actors Sello Maake ka Ncube and Macs Papo, guitarist Bheki Khoza, academics Pitika ka Ntuli, Andries Oliphant and columnist Andile Mngxitama will feature at the event titled The Writer as Critic, Artist and Activist - Lewis Nkosi's Special Place in African Letters.

In 2006 Nkosi received the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the South African Literary Awards - a nation-building partnerships project of wRite Associates, Nutrend Publishers, Sowetan and the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.

In 2008 former president Thabo Mbeki honoured Nkosi with the Order of the Baobab.

This celebrated former 50s Drum journalist, critic and author of the topical post-apartheid novel, Mandela's Ego, who worked for many years in Durban for the Ilanga laseNatal.

He received a scholarship to study at Harvard University in the United States in the 60s.

While in exile Nkosi was editor of The New African in London, and NET in the United States.

He was also a professor of literature at the universities of Wyoming and California-Irvine.

Nkosi also held professorships at universities in Zambia and Warsaw, Poland.

Nkosi's essays include Home and Exile, Home and exile and other selections, The Transplanted Heart: Essays on South Africa, and Tasks and Masks: Themes and Styles of African Literature.

His plays include The Rhythm of Violence and The Black Psychiatrist. Nkosi's novels include Mating Birds, Underground People, and Mandela's Ego.

Nkosi has shared the writing credits on the film, Come Back, Africa, about South Africa during the hard times of racist rule under the National Party.

Launched last year the Miriam Tlali Reading and Book Club is the brainchild of the wRite associates, and is a legacy programme of the South African Literary Awards. It is named after, and honours another South African literary great, Miriam Tlali.

The club seeks to make reading and writing popular among the youth and mature readers through discussions, book and story exchanges and special theme events such as the Lewis Nkosi Tribute, which features mainly prose, poetry, music and drama-tinged performances.

The City of Joburg's Library and Information Services support the book club.

wRite Associates director Sindiswa Seakhoa this week said this year Lewis Nkosi's award-winning play, The Rhythm of Violence is 46 years old, "yet, like all of his plays, it continues to be shunned by theatre houses in South Africa".

Seakhoa said: "As we celebrate Nelson Mandela's release from jail 20 years ago, we felt it also fitting to pay tribute to this great author who has written the most captivating novel about the psychological impact the incarceration and release of Mandela has had on the hopes and dreams of our people."

"Too often, South Africans underestimate the special role played by exiled writers such as Nkosi, E'skia Mphahlele, Lauretta Ngcobo, SA Literary Awards's poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile, Dennis Brutus and Mandla Langa - among others - in contributing to the democracy we enjoy today.

"They proved that the pen is mightier than the sword. Sadly, because they were exiled, these superb writers have constantly had to be reintroduced to their country and people.

The Miriam Tlali Reading and Book Club seeks to change this embarrassing situation."

lFor more information phone 011-791-3585 or e-mail