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Raymond Louw Awarded the Inaugural PEN SA Freedom of Expression Champion Award

PEN South Africa is delighted to announce that the inaugural PEN South Africa Freedom of Expression Champion Award will be awarded to Raymond Louw.

The annual PEN South Africa Freedom of Expression Champion Award has been established to recognise the people and organisations in South Africa who help to ensure freedom of expression in the country. The Award will celebrate people and organisations that are working to protect the value of freedom of expression that PEN is committed to.

The announcement of this award coincides with an important day in PEN’s calendar – the Day of the Imprisoned Writer. On 15 November each year PEN highlights cases of imprisoned writers from across the world and campaigns to get them released. PEN South Africa will be drawing attention to these cases, along with the other PEN Centres from across the world, as well as celebrating the work being done in South Africa to protect freedom of expression with this award.

The cases that are being highlighted by PEN this year are novelist and journalist Ahmed Naji (Egypt), novelist Aslı Erdoğan (Turkey), student leader Cesario Alejandro Félix Padilla Figueroa (Honduras), poet Dareen Tatour (Israel) and publisher Gui Minhai (China).

PEN South Africa member Zapiro, a talented political cartoonist who is no stranger to issues of press freedom himself, very kindly drew an incredible portrait of Louw to commemorate the award.


PEN South Africa President Margie Orford had the following to say about PEN South Africa’s decision to give the inaugural award to Louw: “Raymond Louw has championed the cause of free speech throughout his illustrious career. His wisdom, experience and integrity make him the most deserving candidate of PEN’s inaugural Freedom of Expression Champion Award. We celebrate this career and his ninetieth birthday on this, The Day of the Imprisoned Writer. Raymond has worked tirelessly – and he continues to do so – to ensure that each and every writer and journalist can express their views without fear or favour.”

Louw, who celebrated his 90th birthday this year on 13 October, is a veteran South African journalist and media freedom activist.

Louw started his career in journalism in 1944, which notably included being the Editor of the Rand Daily Mail from 1966 to 1977, as well as the paper’s News Editor from 1960 – 1965. He was also the founder, editor and publisher of the Southern Africa Report from 1983-2011 and worked on a number of other newspapers throughout the years, including the Sunday Times and the UK’s North Western Evening Mail and Worthing Herald.

In 2010, he was named a World Press Freedom Hero by the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) for his “commitment to press freedom and his outspoken defence of journalists’ rights”. Louw also twice received the Pringle Medal for services to journalism from the SA Society of Journalists as well as the Media Institute of Southern Africa’s Media Freedom Award; the South African National Editors’ Forum’s Wrottesley Award; the Mondi-Shanduka Newspaper Lifetime Achiever Award and a Lifetime Achiever Award in the Vodacom journalist of the year awards.

During his 72 year career Louw has been at the forefront of the fight for press freedom in South Africa. During apartheid he headed the Media Defense Trust which was set up to defend journalists, publications, film and video producers, broadcasters and authors against court actions or other censorship actions. He was then part of the Independent Media Commission to ensure state broadcasting and state-financed publications were impartial in their coverage of South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994 and was later part of a special Task Group on Government Communications to restructure the apartheid government’s propagandist division.

In the early 1990s Louw co-chaired the Campaign for Independent Broadcasting, which called for the establishment of an independent SABC, an open process for selecting SABC board members, and an independent broadcasting regulator, which later became the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).

Louw’s work in establishing and protecting press freedom continued after apartheid with his involvement in a number of press and freedom of expression-related organisations. As well as being the Vice-President of PEN South Africa, Louw is a former Chairperson of the Media Freedom Committee of the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF), a former member of the Executive Board of the International Press Institute, former Chairman of the Freedom of Expression Institute, Executive Committee member of the Freedom of Expression Institute, a Fellow of the International Press Institute and a member of the New Era Schools Trust.

Criminal defamation in Africa has been a particular issue that Louw has focused on in recent years. In 2007 he drafted the Declaration of Table Mountain, which called for the elimination of “insult” and criminal defamation laws in Africa and for a review and subsequent repeal of other laws restricting the media. Louw persuaded the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) to adopt this Declaration as well as getting it passed as a resolution by PEN International at the organisation’s Congress in Dakar in 2009. He is currently working on a PEN International UNDEF project focused on criminal defamation on the African continent.

Louw was informed yesterday that he would be receiving the Award: “I am overwhelmed. You have chosen to pay me the honour of being the first recipient of this prestigious award from a great institution for trying to do what all writers do constantly and for which many undergo brutal treatment and often imprisonment. You have chosen to announce this on the Day of the Imprisoned Writer and I am deeply conscious of the many writers, editors and journalists who have in the last few days and over the last several months been summarily imprisoned in Turkey and their newspapers closed. The right to know and to read and hear what others say and think is an essential element of life and I am pleased I discovered that truth. I am deeply appreciative of the award and will treasure it.”

PEN SA Dialogue on #FeesMustFall and the Media

PEN South Africa, in association with Wits Journalism, invites you to attend a dialogue on the #FeesMustFall movement and media representation.

The upcoming anniversary of the #FeesMustFall movement offers a time to reflect on the students’ relationship with the media, how the movement has been reported in mainstream media and what alternatives have been offered by social media. This is an opportunity for media practitioners, researchers and activists to reflect and assess traditional tools of the reporting trade.

Speakers: Researcher Selina Linda Mudavanhu and journalist Sarin Drew will be discussing the relationship between the media and the #FeesMustFall movement.

Date: Tuesday 4 October 2016
Time: 6 PM for 6:30 PM
Venue: King Kong, 6 Verwey Street, Troyeville, Johannesburg
RSVP: Oratile Mashazi on


PEN SA – Young Writers to Watch Event at Open Book Festival 2016

PEN SA is excited to announce that there will be an event at Open Book Festival profiling two of the very talented winners of the PEN SA Student Writing Prize.

Koleka Putuma and Puleng Lange-Stewart will be speaking to PEN SA Student Writing Prize judge and PEN SA member Nick Mulgrew. The discussion will be chaired by PEN SA member Karina Magdalena Szczurek.

They will be discussing the PEN SA Student Writing Prize and Putuma and Lange-Stewart will be giving readings of their work.

PEN SA – Young Writers to Watch
Where: Homecoming Centre Workshop, District Six, Cape Town
When: Wednesday 7 September 2016, 8 PM to 9 PM
Cost: Free
RSVP: Open Book

See you there!

Responses to UCT’s disinvitation of Flemming Rose


The responses received by PEN SA are linked at the bottom of the page

The University of Cape Town’s annual TB Davie Lecture on Academic Freedom was scheduled for this month. The lecture is not taking place because the invitation extended by the Academic Freedom Committee to this year’s speaker, the Danish journalist and editor Flemming Rose, was retracted by the Vice Chancellor, Max Price. The Vice Chancellor claimed that this was necessary because threats of violence had been made that necessitated the cancellation.

This unusual and disturbing event caused heated public discussion, including a response from the Academic Freedom Committee and pieces by Index on Censorship, Kenan Malik, David Benatar, Justin McCarthy, Mohammed Jameel Abdullah, Nathan Geffen and Pierre de Vos. This debate – and the range of opinions expressed – were reflected in the deep and at times difficult conversations that the board of PEN South Africa had around our responses to the “disinivitation” of a speaker whose views and whose actions are controversial and, to some people, deeply offensive.

This is a vital and highly complex conversation about free speech and academic freedom. It is a conversation that address its limits, its value, and its definitions in a world that is, both within the academy and without, grappling with how to hold the conversations that we need to have in order to shape a future that is inclusive, tolerant of diversity, and which addresses the great asymmetries of power and access that distort the world in which we live.

In order to honour this discussion, in order to hold that discursive space and to give the time needed to think through these issues that go to the heart of our identities, our freedoms, and our ways of being together, I invited PEN South Africa members to respond to this issue.

The essays published here are impassioned and thoughtful. The views are diverse and nuanced. Together they bring a vitality and an energy that will, I hope, inform the work that lies ahead of us as this part of an ongoing debate that needs principled thought each and every time such issues confront us.

My own view, as a writer and as a journalist, is that the principle of free speech – especially at a university, especially in South Africa’s developing and often fractious democracy, especially in this troubled world of ours that is so filled with conflict and intolerance – is vital and should be defended. I am convinced that free speech is a principle that has sufficient tensile strength and responsiveness to provide a protective frame for the many women and men who express views that go against the grain. I believe too that the principle of dialogue, of discussion, of listening is equally important. I am persuaded that how this is done – in this context and at this time – needs thought, consideration and flexibility. For this I am indebted to my colleagues and fellow writers. This discussion is held in that spirit. I thank all of you who have taken the time to think and to write.

With warm regards

Margie Orford
President PEN South Africa

The responses are linked below:

The Freedom to Rescind: Universal Freedoms, Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom – Reflecting on the events surrounding UCT’s 2016 TB Davie lecture by Gabeba Baderoon and Nadia DavidsGabeba Baderoon is a poet, academic and journalist and is a member of the PEN SA Board. Nadia Davids is a writer, theatre-maker and scholar and is on the PEN SA Board.

Raymond Louw Comments on UCT’s Decision to Disinvite Flemming RoseRaymond Louw is the Vice-President of PEN SA and is a veteran journalist and media freedom activist.

Albie Sachs: UCT Needs to be a Paragon of ToleranceAlbie Sachs is an author, activist, and former Constitutional Court justice.

Paul Trewhela: The Disinvitation of Flemming Rose is a Disgraceful Act of Effective CensorshipPaul Trewhela is an author, journalist, activist and historian.

Jacques Rousseau on UCT’s Disinvitation of Flemming RoseJacques Rousseau is an author, academic and activist, who was serving as the Chair of the Academic Freedom Committee during the time these events unfolded.

Flemming Rose and Academic Freedom by Elisa GalgutElisa Galgut is a poet and teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town.

Today’s Lecture Has Been Cancelled by David AttwellDavid Attwell is an author and Professor of English at the University of York.

Freedom of Speech by Gillian GodsellGillian Godsell is a senior lecturer at the Wits School of Governance.

Please send any further responses to

Margie Orford on UCT’S Disinvitation of Flemming Rose and a Call for Responses

Dear friends

Many of you will have followed the intense debate that has swirled around the rescinding of an invitation to the Danish journalist and writer, Flemming Rose, to give the TB Davie lecture on Academic Freedom at the University of Cape Town this month. The letter by the Vice Chancellor, Max Price, disinviting him stirred both confusion and controversy and heated debate as is evident in the response from the Academic Freedom Committee. There have been a number of damning responses in the press including pieces from Index on Censorship, Kenan Malik, David Benatar, Justin McCarthy, Mohammed Jameel Abdullah, Nathan Geffen and Pierre de Vos.

The ‘disinvitation’ of a speaker – Flemming Rose is a controversial one, to be sure – by the University of Cape Town throws into question the nature of academic freedom and free speech.

PEN South Africa has to make a response – issues like this one is at the heart of our work – and this issue has occupied the board and served as a lightening rod for a robust, thoughtful and invigorating debate between colleagues I respect and admire. We have discussed at length the nature of free speech, academic freedom, asymmetries of power and access in the context of South Africa’s history and its complex and fractious present moment of radical re-imagining.

Freedom of speech carries with it the reciprocal obligation to listen. Many hold the view that free speech is a political and conceptual frame without which it is difficult, if not impossible, to defend the rights of individuals to say things that are disruptive, critical and unsettling with safety. There are others who feel a more nuanced view is needed, that content – i.e. the nature of the speech that is defended – is important, as is context and history.

These discussions have been challenging and complex. Complexity takes time. South Africa and its universities are at a critical juncture in terms of defining themselves and how their freedoms are exercised. I have given this a great deal of thought – ably assisted by the members of the board.

It is for that reason that we are making use of the discursive space that PEN holds, an interrogative space in which members of the board and PEN members and members of the wider community can contribute to this discussion that goes to the heart of our identity as writers and as citizens.

The next newsletter will be in three weeks time. At that point we will publish a range of opinions on this matter. All of us are fully committed to the principle of free speech and to academic freedoms but this seismic event has made all of us – me especially – consider how one takes this debate forward. How one ensures reciprocity and generosity of thought in a world increasingly riven by polarized views and a refusal of the views of others.

I look forward to your responses and to the conversation that will – I am sure – be very heated at times.

With best wishes in this cold winter

Margie Orford
PEN South Africa

Please send your submissions on this topic to by 15 August 2016.

PEN SA Demands the Immediate Reinstatement of Fired SABC Journalists

PEN South Africa, one of the two South African affiliates of the international institution composed of writers, poets, editors and journalists, who promote literature and freedom of expression, is outraged at the summary dismissal of eight journalists by the SA Broadcasting Corporation on July 19 following their suspension last week for protesting against the news censorship policies of the broadcaster.

The eight voiced their complaints after the SABC issued an instruction that pictures of violent protests, such as the setting fire to schools and other public buildings and other acts of destruction at those buildings, were not to be broadcast. The journalists described the instruction as imposing censorship which is not only unconstitutional but also contravenes the professional standards of news coverage as outlined in media codes of conduct.

In firing the eight the SABC is again showing its contempt for legal process. It has ignored the ruling by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) that it reverse the decision to ban broadcasts of pictures of the destruction and also the case in the Pretoria High Court where the Helen Suzman Foundation is applying for an urgent order suspending the SABC’s changes of editorial policy. In addition, the journalists have filed an urgent application directly to the Constitutional Court to have the charges brought against them by the SABC officials to be declared unlawful. The eight are also awaiting the outcome of an application against their suspension in the Labour Court.

PEN South Africa is concerned at the wider implications of the actions against the journalists which show that SABC senior officials have no qualms about interfering in editorial independence and the consequences arising from the SABC being unable to deliver on its public broadcasting mandate.

PEN South Africa demands the immediate reinstatement of the journalists and the withdrawal of the trumped up charges against them. The charges state that the eight have made it known that they will continue to disrespect their employer and undermine the SABC and the authority of the management.

The suspensions followed the journalists complaining about the editorial bans at routine news discussions where robust discussion is never regarded as disrespectful. PEN South Africa points out that suspension for raising issues at such meetings is unheard of in the media and is contrary to all normal rules of conduct. It has had an enormous chilling effect on remaining staff at the broadcaster who fear that voicing criticism of editorial conduct will cost them their jobs.

Finally, PEN South Africa calls for the dismissal of the SABC’s Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng who has taken on the role of Editor-in-Chief and is responsible for the editorial policy changes and the actions against the journalists.

Margie Orford
President of PEN South Africa

Mandla Langa
Executive Vice-President of PEN South Africa

Raymond Louw
Vice President of PEN South Africa

Joint Statement from PEN SA and PEN Afrikaans Regarding New Developments Around SA Copyright Law

When the Copyright Amendment Bill was tabled last year, both PEN SA and PEN Afrikaans submitted comments (read PEN SA’s statement here) and informed their members, consisting of writers, publishers, translators, editors and journalists, of the possible detrimental effects the proposed bill could have on the exclusive rights of copyright owners and their means of deriving income from their work. Legal experts were critical of the proposal to invest perpetual copyright in the state when the owner of the copyright dies or cannot be found. The other main concerns were the introduction of fair use for educational purposes, which allows works to be reproduced without compensation or permission if that use is for educational purposes, and the introduction of a compulsory state licensing mechanism, which does not require the normal contractual consent of the copyright owner.

The revised bill, which has not been made public yet, has been approved by Cabinet and will be tabled in August 2016. Both PEN centres hope that the comments submitted on the Copyright Amendment Bill were taken into account and are looking forward to seeing the revised bill.

A meeting on the future framework for intellectual property in South Africa will be held by Nedlac (The National Economic Development and Labour Council) on Wednesday, 20 July 2016, in Johannesburg. A representative of PEN SA and PEN Afrikaans, Catrina Wessels, will be attending the meeting in order to keep authors informed about the latest developments.

PEN South Africa and PEN Afrikaans aim to keep their members and the public informed about the new bill and want to ensure that the interests of authors are duly considered in any amendments to our copyright law.

Announcing the PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize Winner

Koleka Putuma

PEN South Africa is very excited to announce the winner of the PEN SA Student Writing Prize. We ran this competition because we believe in the power of writing to effect change and inform the way we see the world and ourselves. We also believe in the talent and power of young South African writers. As PEN SA President Margie Orford said when the shortlist was announced, “These clear and welcome and articulate new writers distil and give form to the student movement that is changing and shaping a generation.”

Click on the titles of the pieces to read them and click on the names of the writers to read their bios and Q&As:

Winner: Koleka Putuma for “Water

Second place: Sithembiso Khalishwayo for “The Forgotten

Third place: Puleng Lange-Stewart for “A love poem to the ‘Problematic’ Black Womxn

Congratulations to all three writers, who were selected by the talented panel of judges, Gabeba Baderoon (chair), Panashe Chigumadzi, Nick Mulgrew and Masande Ntshanga.

Announcing the PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize Shortlist

PEN SA Student Prize Shortlist

We are pleased to announce the shortlist for the PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize.

We invited writers under the age of 30 to send in their fiction, creative non-fiction or poetry on the topic of the recent #FeesMustFall movement and the panel of judges, Gabeba Baderoon (chair), Panashe Chigumadzi, Nick Mulgrew and Masande Ntshanga, have chosen the shortlist.

“Here are three new voices. Here is writing that is muscular and poetic, incandescent with rage and luminous with pain. These are the finalists of the PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize. These clear and welcome and articulate new writers distil and give form to the student movement that is changing and shaping a generation.”
- PEN SA President Margie Orford

PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize Shortlist

  • “The Forgotten” by Sithembiso Khalishwayo
  • “Water” by Koleka Putuma
  • “A love poem to the ‘Problematic’ Black Womxn” by Puleng Lange Stewart

Read more about the shortlisted writers and the judges’ comments on their works:

Sithembiso KhalishwayoSithembiso Khalishwayo is an actor, dancer, teacher, writer, choreographer and facilitator who studied at the Wits School of Arts and Drama For Life majoring in Physical Theatre, Performance and Applied Drama, he is currently working towards his Masters Degree in Applied Drama (Drama in Education, Theatre as Activism) with his research focusing on the ability of Body to hold the story of many, with specific focus on the Fees Must Fall Movement. He is the current student representative for both the Masters Applied Drama students and overall student representative for all students under the Drama For Life Program. He is the recipient of The Pieter-Dirk Uys Theatre for Social Change Award for outstanding theatre for social change research by a postgraduate student, and winner of the 2015 Wits Photographic Competition. He has created and \or performed work for the NAF, Dance Umbrella, all DFL Festivals,the Young Artists Festival, My Body…My Space Festival in Mpumalanga and the Maitisong Festival in Botswana this year. For the past 8 years he has done work with students, youth and professionals having created and\or performed in over 40 productions. His passion lies in the heART.

…powerful series of echoes, through the form of the letter, always an intimate opening, a meditation on numbers and their erasure of the person they represent, of the distance between us before we even try, of what cannot be undone, what will never be said – heartrending

- Gabeba Baderoon on “The Forgotten” by Sithembiso Khalishwayo

Koleka PutumaTheatre Director, Writer, and Performance Poet- Koleka Putuma graduated with a BA in Theatre & Performance at the University of Cape Town. She has headlined at TEDx, SliPnet’s Inzync Poetry Sessions, and Word N Sound. Her work has been showcased in Scotland, Germany and around the US. Her plays include UHM (2014), Mbuzeni (2015/2016). In 2015, under the Magnet theatre directing residency, she created two original plays for young audiences which include Ekhaya for 2-7 year olds and SCOOP, the first South African play for 2 weeks-12 month old babies. She was crowned South Africa’s first national slam champion (2014). Nominated for the Rosalie van der Gucht Prize for Best New Directors at the annual Fleur Du Cap Theatre Awards (2015). She has been named One of Africa’s top 10 poets by Badilisha, and named one of the young pioneers who took South Africa by storm in 2015 by The Sunday Times. She is a resident poet and creative director of the collective Lingua Franca and Co-Founder of a theatre company called The Papercut Collective.

…I love the concept of water to understand the heart of petty apartheid. Importantly, the piece roots Fallism within the broader South African context and history, something which I often find is only ever done obliquely in the media coverage

- Panashe Chigumadzi on “Water” by Koleka Putuma

Puleng Lange StewartPuleng Lange-Stewart is a young poet, performer, illustrator and playwright from Johannesburg. Matriculating at Sacred Heart College in 2010, she went on to travel and teach in East Asia, before landing in Cape Town, South Africa to begin her degree in theatre at the University of Cape Town. Puleng is currently completing her Honours in Theatre Making at UCT. She is a queer black feminist, a mother, and a proud iconoclast who was involved in both protests and multiple performative interventions surrounding the removal of the Rhodes statue in 2015, and remains committed to the fight for decolonization in South Africa and further afield. Currently she is co-writing a theatre production (Figs) which will be showing at this years National Arts Festival, presented by the UCT Drama Department. She has performed in a number of short films and theatre productions and is currently working on her first independent short film. She is based in Cape Town, with her son and partner, and works towards creating innovative and critical artwork, that actively challenges notions of patriarchy, heteronormativity, and the violence of racialised class structures that underpin much of our existence as South Africans.

…I like the way in which the author played with and emphasized the common silencing and delegitimsing adjectives thrown at black women e.g. aggressive, angry and in so doing inverted them in the service of black women. I also love that it’s addressed as a “love poem” because we don’t always get to talk about love in a time of revolution

- Panashe Chigumadzi on “A love poem to the ‘Problematic’ Black Womxn” by Puleng Lange Stewart

PEN SA Student Writing Prize Judges Announced

PEN SA Student Writing Prize Judges

The judging panel for the PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize consists of Board Member Gabeba Baderoon (chair), Panashe Chigumadzi, Nick Mulgrew and Masande Ntshanga. Read more about these four accomplished writers below.

The PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize invited young writers under the age of 30 to send in their fiction, creative non-fiction or poetry on the topic of the recent #FeesMustFall movement and the student protests. The winning writer will receive R5000 and will get the chance to attend a seminar at the University of the Witwatersrand, followed by a prize-giving. The seminar aims to encourage public discourse around freedom of expression and will examine the role the media has played in the #FeesMustFall movement.

“PEN South Africa is proud to announce this literary competition – part of a wider social contestation of who we are and what we wish to be – that will bring together new South African voices. The #FeesMustFall movement shook South Africa’s rainbow complacency to the core. 2015 saw students protest in ever increasing numbers questioning the narratives of our past and posing as yet unanswered questions about our future. Protest is the raw material of history and journalism its first draft, but it is literature that endures because it speaks from the heart and revitalizes the imagination. This wonderful panel of judges will be reading what young writers have to say about #FeesMustFall. Young, angry, passionate, engaged, radical, questioning. This generation of young people and its writers – have reset the political and literary debate in South Africa for years to come.”

- PEN SA President Margie Orford

Gabeba BaderoonGabeba Baderoon is a poet and scholar and the author of the poetry collections, The Dream in the Next Body and A Hundred Silences, and the monograph Regarding Muslims: from slavery to post-apartheid. Her short story “The Year of Sleeping Badly” was selected as one of the Best Short Stories of South Africa’s Democracy in 2014. In 2005, Baderoon received the Daimler Chrysler Award for South African Poetry and held the Guest Writer Fellowship at the Nordic Africa Institute. She is a member of the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund, and teaches Women’s Studies and African Studies at Pennsylvania State University. She received a PhD in English from the University of Cape Town, and has published widely on representations of Islam, slavery, race and sexuality. In 2009, she was a Future of Minority Studies/Mellon Fellow in the Summer Institute on Queer Studies in Transnational Contexts at Cornell University and in 2010-2011, she held a Research Fellowship in the “Islam, African Publics and Religious Values” Project at the University of Cape Town. She has also held fellowships at the African Gender Institute and the University of Sheffield and is the recipient of awards from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Sainsbury/Linbury Trust. Her poems and articles have appeared in journals such as Feminist Studies, Social Dynamics, African and Asian Studies, Research in African Literatures, and World Literature Today. With Sa’diyya Shaikh and Nina Hoel, Baderoon is the co-organizer of an international research project on Theorizing Gender, Subjectivity and Islam in Africa. Gabeba is an Extraordinary Professor of English at Stellenbosch University.

Panashe ChigumadziPanashe Chigumadzi is an author who grew up in South Africa and was born in the Mbuya Nehanda maternity ward of Harare’s Parirenyatwa Hospital in 1991, a birthplace she shares with millions of other Zimbabweans, but nonetheless feels is auspicious as a writer interested in the narratives of black and African women.

In 2015 her debut novel Sweet Medicine, was recently published by Jacana’s BlackBird Books imprint to both critical and popular acclaim. She is also the Founder and Editor of Vanguard Magazine, a womanist platform for young, black women coming of age in post-apartheid South Africa. Prior to this, she gained media experience as a TV journalist for CNBC Africa, where she produced a documentary titled “Africa’s Upstarts”. She went on to work in the office of the Managing Director as the Project Executive of the Africa Business News (ABN) Group. In this time she was also a columnist for Forbes Woman Africa and contributor to Forbes Africa.

In 2015 she became a Ruth First Fellow where she delivered a memorial lecture titles “Of Coconuts, Consciousness and Cecil John Rhodes: Disillusionment and disavowals of the Rainbow Nation”.

Chigumadzi is also a co-founder of the Feminist Stokvel, a collective of eight young black women in media and arts who aim to address issues facing young black women through events such as “Hair Soirees”, film screenings and panel discussions.

She is also a regular speaker at local and international platforms. Events include her TEDxJohannesburg 2013 talk titled “A New Self-Identity for Africans” and her participation as the youngest keynote speaker at the 2014 Arts Electronica Festival held in Austria.

Chigumadzi is currently studying towards a Masters degree in African Literature at Wits University.

Nick MulgrewNick Mulgrew was born in Durban in 1990 to British parents. He is the author of a collection of poetry, the myth of this is that we’re all in this together, and Stations, a collection of award-winning short fiction. In addition to his writing, he is the founding associate editor of Prufrock magazine, the Deputy Chair of Short Story Day Africa, and the founder and publisher of uHlanga, a poetry press. He currently lives in Cape Town, where he studies at the University of Cape Town.

Masande NtshangaMasande Ntshanga is the winner of the inaugural PEN International New Voices Award. He was born in East London in 1986 and graduated with a degree in Film and Media and an Honours degree in English Studies from UCT, where he became a creative writing fellow, completing his Masters in Creative Writing under the Mellon Mays Foundation. He received a Fulbright Award, an NRF Freestanding Masters scholarship and a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship. His work has appeared in Laugh It Off, itch, Imago, Chimurenga, VICE and The White Review. He has also written for Rolling Stone magazine. The Reactive, his first novel, was nominated for the Etisalat Prize as well as shortlisted for the UJ Debut Prize and the 2015 Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.