Book fest has readers crying, laughing, dancing

Read to Rise hosted the Cape Flats Book Festival. In the middle is Mavis Williams, the mother of Athol Williams who co-founded the literacy non-profit organisation. On her right is Taryn Lock, Mr Williams’ wife and co-founder. They are flanked, at the back by Williams’ brothers Nicholas and Roscoe.

The third edition of the Cape Flats Book Festival in Lentegeur had about 1 000 readers on their feet, crying, laughing, dancing and sharing their love of literacy.

They met to greet authors, listen to poetry and storytelling, attend workshops, buy books, enjoy puppet shows and to connect with publishers at West End Primary School at the weekend.

The festival hosted by Read to Rise, a non-profit literacy organisation, co-founded by Westridge-raised Athol Williams and his wife Taryn Lock, started on Saturday November 4 with Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis, who shared from her book Magic; and ended with poets from the Cape Cultural Collective on Sunday November 5.

In September the organisation celebrated its tenth anniversary of taking the Oaky book series to primary schools in Mitchell’s Plain and Soweto (“Read to Rise marks a decade of inspiring young minds”, Plainsman Spetember 27). The collection of books were written by Mr Williams and illustrated by Ms Lock.

Mr Williams, who was a witness in the state capture inquiry, has left South Africa, saying that his life is in danger. He testified against global consulting company Bain & Company at the inquiry last year.

Ms Lock welcomed guests and told the Plainsman that the annual festival had met its goal to promote literacy and books.

“To promote new and local authors as well as to bring in established and well-known authors to the Cape Flats. We had an amazing programme and all the authors and poets enjoyed the festival and meeting fans and other writers,” she said.

Ms Lock said the crowd included young and old.

“It was wonderful to see parents bringing their children to the sessions. The crowd enjoyed the poetry readings, exhibition, poetry workshop and the opportunity to meet authors. The highlight was having Banyana Banyana head coach Desiree Ellis at our opening ceremony,” she said.

Mr Williams said, by email: “This festival is for the people of the Cape Flats. We would like to see greater support from local individuals and businesses to grow the festival to reach many more people. We continue to believe in our mission for the festival, that it will contribute to the love of reading which will have a profound impact of uplifting the Cape Flats. Just like the love of reading has lifted me personally, it is our vision at Read to Rise, that every Cape Flats child and adult grows to love reading and experience its transformative power.”

Poet Diana Ferrus had readers dancing and clapping during her presentation of the poem Ek verlang na jazz.

Another reader got into a heated debate with author Yusuf Daniels about authenticity and his fight to keep things “real“.

Andrew Koopman, founder and coordinator of AK Snapshots Study Group, brought his pupils to meet the authors and encouraged them to stick with books.

The fest hosted 69 speakers, 40 sessions and 20 exhibitors and Read to Rise are already planning next year’s event.

Author Hani du Toit, from Athlone, tells a children’s story.

AK Snapshots Study group members with author Yusuf Daniels of Ottery. Pictured at the back, from left are Nehemia Simons, from Eastridge, his brother Daniel and Abdul-Khaaliq Albany, from Tafelsig. In front are Gabriella Taylor, from Portland, Zachariah Ambraal, from Searidge Park, and his brother Mateo.