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Left: Zakes Mda (Still from YouTube), Center: Basetsana Kumalo (Still from YouTube), Right: Mona Eltahawy (Andrew Toth/FilmMagic for Getty Images)

South Africa's Abantu Book Festival Announces This Year's Line-up of Speakers

Zakes Mda, Basetsana Kumalo, Mona Eltahawy, Chris Abani and more will feature at the country's biggest book festival for Black readers and writers.

Abantu Book Festival, South Africa's biggest book festival for Black readers and writers, is back for this year's installment of the cultural event. They've recently announced their exciting line-up of guest speakers and South Africans are here for it. Frankly, so are we.


Despite backlash in the past, the Abantu Book Festival has remained committed to providing a space where Black people (and Black people alone) can engage with both readers and writers about important literary works.

Veteran South African author Bra Zakes Mda, media mogul and recent author of a memoir entitled Bassie: My Journey of Hope Basetsana Kumalo as well as Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy and Nigerian-American author Chris Abani are part of the official line-up for the three-day event.

Joining them, will be Professor Pumla Gqola or "Feminist Rogue" as she's known on social media. Professor Gqola has written several books including Rape: A South African Nightmare and Reflecting Rogue: Inside the Mind of a Feminist. Let's not forget Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng or "Dr T" as she's affectionately referred to, the fierce reproductive health rights activist and author of A Guide to Sexual Health & Pleasure which has taken South Africa by storm. Travel enthusiast Lerato Mogoatlhe and Keletso Mopai, who just released her debut collection of short stories entitled If You Keep Digging, will also be hitting the stage.

The Abantu Book Festival will take place from the 5th to the 8th of December at the Eyethu Lifestyle Center in Soweto and entry is R20.

You can view the full list of speakers the festival has announced recently here.

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Photo: Mainimo Etienne

The Rwandan Woman Who Made Football History

We talked to Rwandan referee Salima Mukansanga, who is the first woman to officiate a match in the Africa Cup of Nations' 65-year history.

On the 18th of January, 2022, a woman stepped into the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé, Cameroon, whistle in hand, a walkie-talkie tucked behind her shorts. Taking up her post as central referee for the Zimbabwe-Guinea game, she would make history as the first woman to officiate a match in the Africa Cup of Nations. Chit-chat occupied the stands, as spectators waited for the curtains to be drawn at 17:00 hours for the match to begin. Whispers of “Hope she will deliver,” could be heard, as Salima Mukansanga prepared to take to the field.

During the match, some spectators counted the 34 yellow cards she handed out at the end; others found her soft and tender with no serious refereeing issues in the game. Mukansanga leads a quartet of women match officials for this year's AFCON, with Carine Atemzabong, from Cameroon, Fatiha Jermoumi and Bouchra Karboubi, both from Morocco, present as assistant referees. Until this year’s tournament, in its 65-year history, an all-women team of refereeing officials had yet to be designated for an Africa Cup of Nations match.

With this accomplishment, 35-year-old Mukansanga has emerged as a trailblazer for other women who aspire to step out and break sporting bounds. Her role in this year’s tournament signals a major moment in the development of women refereeing in football, on the continent and for the sport as a whole.

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