SA authors head for UK

Author Fred Khumalo, publisher Phakama Mbonambi and Limpopo cultural activist Vonani Bila are leaving for the United Kingdom this weekend for the annual London Book Fair.

The book fair, which starts today, runs until April 23. The three join a huge contingent of local authors and publishers sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture and the British Council.

Khumalo said: "The focus will be on us since we are hosting the World Cup. There will be panel discussions as well as a range of issues."

Bila said: "I am going to London to highlight the importance of not only writing in African languages but also having our work translated into other languages."

Bila, who hails from Elim in the Vhembe district, is a proud Shangaan who converses easily in all the country's indigenous languages.

He has teamed up with renowned Xitsonga poet MM Mathanele.

The two are working on an encyclopaedia and dictionary to be published next year.

Bila is the founder and director of the Polokwane-based Timbila Project, which publishes poetry, novels and other artistic work from up-and-coming local artists.

Other South Africans leaving for the fair are Pumla Dineo Gqola, Fiona Snyckers, Kgebetli Moele, Masoja Msiza, Lesego Rampolokeng, Gail Smith, Zachariah Rapola, Zukiswa Wanner, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Elitha van der Sandt, Sandile Ngidi, Liesl Jobson, Khanyiso Mnguni, Isaac Shabangu, Dr Shah Shandrah Allan, Kolski Horwitz and Brian Wafawarowa.