From sex to slam poetry: Women write #OURSTORIES at SA Book Fair

The 2019 SABF line-up includes women writers from SA and the continent, as well as acclaimed international authors

12 August 2019 - 13:32 By South African Book Fair
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Inaugurated in 2017, the South African Book Fair aims to locate books and reading in the everyday lives of South Africans through a fair that has relevance for all citizens, is accessible and engages audiences who ordinarily do not form part of mainstream book-industry events. Viva!
Inaugurated in 2017, the South African Book Fair aims to locate books and reading in the everyday lives of South Africans through a fair that has relevance for all citizens, is accessible and engages audiences who ordinarily do not form part of mainstream book-industry events. Viva!
Image: SA Book Fair

The 2019 South African Book Fair will showcase the range and diversity of women’s literary voices through a programme that includes seasoned authors and those publishing for the first time.

It takes place from September 6 to 8 at Johannesburg's Constitution Hill.

The line-up includes women writers from South Africa and the continent, as well as acclaimed international authors. Among them are British-Nigerian writer Sarah Ladipo Manyika, who will be re-releasing her iconic work, In Dependence, and Sweden's Elisabeth Åsbrink, best known for her historical tome, 1947: When Now Begins. 

Mesmerising Jamaican-Canadian poet d'bi.young anitafrika will launch her new collection of poetry on September 8 (4pm). The acclaimed feminist dub poet and activist will also be part of the line-up at Saturday’s Keorapetse Kgositsile Poetry Café, along with Malawi’s Upile Chisala and several other performance poets.

A highlight of the programme is Life Reclaimed, facilitated by Karabo Kgoleng (Saturday, 10am). It sees Letshego ZuluGabi Lowe and Ndileka Mandela share their inspirational stories of survival, catharsis and transcendence as captured in their recently released books.

The hotly anticipated Dr T: A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure is being published in August. The book’s author, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, will be at the fair to host the session, Sex Talk with Dr T, on Saturday at 11.30am.

Other not-to-be-missed women authors on the programme include:

●     Continental drifter and avid traveller Lerato Mogoatlhe.

●     Renowned art expert Dr Cobi Labuscagne.

●     Lesego Tlhabi, aka Coconut Kelz.

●     New authors Kelly-Eve KoopmanMakanaka Mavengere-Munsaka and Keletso                   Mopai, and many more.

Tickets are available via Webtickets.

Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, author of 'A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure'.
Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, author of 'A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure'.
Image: Supplied.

Author bios


Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng obtained her medical degree (MBChB) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban and now runs a women’s health clinic, DISA, in Johannesburg.

She is a thought leader on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), a contributor to 5FM and Metro FM’s sexual health radio features, the "Let’s Talk About Sex" columnist for the Sunday Times, and her writing has appeared in international publications such as The Guardian, Teen Vogue and Project Syndicate.

The field of sexual and reproductive health chose her during her community service year when she worked in clinics in Johannesburg, on the West Rand. Most of her patients were young women and, in true Dr T style, affirming of sexual pleasure, she made them feel comfortable to share their sexual health and relationship concerns. This ignited the spark in Dr T to pursue a career advocating for and defending sexual and reproductive rights and health for womxn.


Cobi Labuscagne holds advanced degrees in painting and animation from Michaelis School of Fine Art and Wits University. In 2011 she received a PhD as a doctoral fellow at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research.

She has worked and taught in the fields of software and visual art, and calls herself a “design evangelist”. Cobi is the director of Artlogic and has been part of the FNB Joburg Art Fair team for the past 11 years. In addition, she curates the Nirox Sculpture Fair, as well as the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair.


Upile Chisala is a storyteller from Malawi and a graduate of the University of Oxford. She is known for her short and powerful poems. Chisala recently signed a three-book publishing deal with US publishing house Andrews McMeel. soft magic (2015/2019) is her first collection of poetry and prose. She has featured in several publications, including Okay Africa, Huffington Post, Elle SA and Essence, and was among the 2018 Poetry Africa cohort. She lives in Johannesburg.


Vangile Gantsho is a poet, healer and co-founder of impepho press. Unapologetically a black woman, she has travelled the continent and the globe participating in literary events and festivals. Gantsho is the author of two poetry collections: Undressing In Front Of The Window (2015) and red cotton (2018). She holds an MA from Rhodes University (2016) and was recently named one of Mail & Guardian’s Top Young 200 South Africans of 2018.

Dub poet par excellence d'bi.young anitafrika.
Dub poet par excellence d'bi.young anitafrika.
Image: Supplied


Jamaican-born and raised d’bi. young anitafrika is a queer black feminist artist.

Canadian Poet of Honour, YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Arts and three-time Dora Award-winning playwright-performer, she is internationally celebrated for her work as a dub poet, monodramatist, director and educator.

She is the founding artistic director emeritus of the Watah Theatre, where she taught emerging and established BIQTPOC artists in Canada (2008-2018), and the founding creative director of the Anitafrika Retreat Centre, where she teaches artists globally.

Addressing issues of gender, sexuality, race, class and the human experience through her radical interdisciplinary arts practices, d’bi.young has written, performed and published four collections of poetry, nine plays and seven dub poetry albums. She is currently engaged in postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, researching Black Performance and the Anitafrika Method, a new decolonial arts praxis. d’bi.young’s latest projects include her newly published dubbin poetry: the collected poems of d’bi.young anitafrika, concrete jungle, a new monodrama exploring entangled identities, and dubbin theatre: the collected plays of d’bi.young anitafrika (2020).


Ndileka Mandela obtained a diploma in general nursing, followed by a diploma in midwifery, in the former Transkei. She then worked in ICU at St Aidan’s Hospital in Durban for six years. While employed there, she trained and qualified as a renal ICU nurse at Durban's King Edward VII.

She left nursing to work as a pharmaceutical representative for Sandoz and Scherag. After leaving the pharmaceutical industry, she worked in a pathology laboratory and later as a community nurse at Prime Cure Clinic. This was followed by two years as business development manager at Sizwe Medical Aid. In 2007 she was appointed project co-coordinator for an RDP housing project, until its completion in 2010.

In 2011, after her grandfather, Nelson Mandela, was discharged from hospital, she dedicated herself to spending time by his side. Thanks to her experience in medicine, she became the interface between the medical team and the Mandela family. In July 2012, after her grandfather’s birthday, she visited Clarkebury High School in the Eastern Cape, where her grandfather had been educated. She found the school in a state of disrepair and decided to adopt it as her project. The seed for Thembekile Mandela Foundation was born there, but due to her grandfather’s illness, the registration of the foundation was delayed until February 2014. She is the founder and CEO of the foundation.


Sarah is a writer, academic and overall lover of stories. She was raised in Nigeria and has lived in Kenya, France, Zimbabwe and England. Her bestselling debut novel, In Dependence, was required reading in a number of high schools and universities around the world, while her second novel, Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun, was shortlisted for the UK’s Goldsmith Prize and the California Book Award.

Her non-fiction includes personal essays and intimate profiles of people she meets, from Mrs Harris to Toni Morrison and Michelle Obama. Sarah was founding books editor of Ozy Books and a long-time lecturer at San Francisco State University. She currently serves as the board director for the women’s writers' residency, Hedgebrook.

Coconut Kelz's alter ego, Lesego Tlhabi.
Coconut Kelz's alter ego, Lesego Tlhabi.
Image: Supplied


Lesego completed a BA (honours) in theatre, with majors in musical theatre and playwriting in 2014 at Brunel University London. In 2013, she obtained a diploma in musical theatre at the New York Film Academy and a diploma in TV writing at Columbia University.

When she returned to Johannesburg after graduating, she began working behind the scenes as a content producer and scriptwriter for a variety of entertainment news and reality shows.

Her experience and training led her to create her character, Coconut Kelz, a growing satire/comedy figure. Coconut Kelz was inspired by Lesego’s time at a South African private school, still an inherently white space. She has used the outrage at microaggressions she experienced and witnessed from her white school friends, as well as race and class microaggressions experienced in her current space, to create a “coconut” character, whose voice is much like that of a sheltered and privileged white person (but also that of an out-of-touch black person) to shine a light on her aggressors’ obtuseness or wilful ignorance.

After an eNCA interview earlier in 2019, Lesego and Coconut Kelz remain very busy with many exciting projects, including a satirical book out in September, as well as regular features on’s Morning Show, The Tonight Show with Jane Dutton on eNCA, The Weekend Breakfast Show with Phemelo Motene on Radio 702, MTV’s Guy Code and Jacaranda FM’s Afternoon Drive with Rian (van Heerden). She also produced the Coconut Kelz Election Special, alongside Clive Morris Productions, which aired on BET last month. She has hosted the Media24 Awards, The Coconut Show, a stand-up comedy special featuring Donovan Goliath and Tats Nkonzo, and various other gigs. She was also nominated for the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans 2019.


Kelly-Eve Koopman writes across genres and disciplines. She has a background in theatre and currently works in film and TV. She is one of the co-creators of Coloured Mentality, a web series and online dialogue platform discussing identity. She is also one of the co-founders of FemmeProjects, an organisation dedicated to promoting sexual and reproductive health education in schools. Kelly-Eve is committed to telling stories that heal and transform.


Lerato is a journalist, editor and professional traveller, with a chronic case of wanderlust for Africa. Besides being her (glorious) home, the continent has also given her so much of herself that she values: her politics, her colourful personality, tenacious nature, creativity and a sense of being rooted in ubuntu. This is why she has always wanted to write about Africa, something she has been doing for 11 years and will probably do for the rest of her life. She curates and is the author of Vagabond: Wandering Through Africa on Faith.

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