The 2016-17 One City One Book programme, delivered through the eThekwini Parks, Recreation and Culture Unit, saw the chosen novel brought home to the town and context within which the story is based. WHEN THE CHALK IS DOWN – An Odyssey, the novel written by Tongaat-born Dr Bhoowan Prakash Singh, was well-received by the audience of more than 180 people which comprised members of the eThekwini Library and Heritage Services, educators, authors, representatives from the SADTU Region and the US Consulate, characters from the novel, senior officials from the KZNDOE Mafukuzela-Gandhi Circuit Management Centres, was well as members of the public and well-wishers.
The intention of the ‘One City One Book’ project is intended to promote South African literary works in general, and KZN literary works in particular. This is the second major seminar on the novel and the programme included discussion on the themes of education, history, culture and transformation by the following panelists:
- SSS Lushozi (CES: Mafukuzela-Gandhi CMC);
- Govindaraj Moodley (character, educator and union activist);
- Elvis Padayachee (character, ex-educator and ex-union activitist);
- Daniel Frank (character and community activist); and
- Dr BP Singh (author).
The presentations and discussion was facilitated by the super-efficient Mrs. Yashica Moodley of the Glenashley Library who had also co-ordinated this programme on behalf of eThekwini Districts 1,2, and 3. The presentations by characters included thought-provoking contemplations of incidents in the book, together with its significance of relevance even today, both within the context of government administration in general, as well as on the plight of the poor and disempowered in South Africa. Mr. Lushozi’s address raised serious issues of contemplation on the nature of society today, the importance of action to belief, the importance of education and the role of stakeholders in taking joint responsibility for educational outcomes. All presentations illustrated the effect of the book as a catalyst for discussion, especially in the light of current events in the country.
The review by budding author Mrs. Mala Gounden highlighted the motivational aspect of the novel to budding authors with the eThekwini Municipality in particular, as well as to the province and country in general. Mrs. Gounden also presented a draft of the novel, a copy to which she had made input as editor. A heartening input was that of Ms. Sudhira Sham, an ex-educator who lauded the issues and incidents of educational transformational highlighted in the book, and whose values and ethics resonated within the actions of the protagonists within the story. The entertainment presented by the junior and senior citizens of Tongaat illustrated that there is not age-limit to being an activist, even in the field of entertainment.
The eThekwini Municipality also used this opportunity to pay homage to all the characters in the book that had attended the seminar. This gesture also included the author’s sister, Mrs. Gyan Singh, and the author’s brother, Mr. Rishi Singh. Mr. Singh currently lives in the house at 9 Tulip Avenue, Buffelsdale and Tongaat.
Ms. Sibo Majodina and the Mr. Thulas Dumakude, both of the eThekwini Municipality, emphasized the intent of the eThekwini Municipality to promote both reading and writing as these activities are critical to creating a literate society rich in culture.
There are more seminars and library activities that form part of the ‘One City One Book’ programme that will be held at other parts of the municipality.