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Kopano Matlwa's Book 'Coconut' Will be Adapted into a Film

KIWI Films has acquired the rights to the South African author's wildly successful book 'Coconut'.

South African author Kopano Matlwa's wildly successful debut novel Coconut will soon be adapted into a film. The news comes after KIWI Films recently acquired the audiovisual rights to the book, according to Brittle Paper.


In 2007, Matlwa burst onto the literary scene with her debut novel, published by Jacana Media, quickly becoming a national bestseller and going on to win the European Union Literary Award.

Coconut explores the lives of two Black South African youth who grow up in White neighborhoods, attend predominantly White schools and have White friends. The book explores the complex themes around identity and has connected with many Black readers who've grown up similarly have been labelled coconuts—Black people who are considered to be White people "on the inside".

READ: The Curious But Violent Case of the Coconut

Dineo Lusenga, who is a part of the team working on the film adaptation, took to social media to express how excited she was at the opportunity. "I read this incredible book Coconut 10/11 years ago. At the time, I was still a TV & Film student at Wits just wanting to tell stories. Today, I have optioned film rights for this masterpiece by Kopano."

Talks with regards to the details of the film adaptation are still in the early stages and no dates have yet been set in stone.

Since the release of Coconut, Matlwa has gone on to publish three more novels. Spilt Milk, another national favorite, broadly explores the state of South Africa and its "born-free" generation immediately post-Apartheid era through two central characters of different races. Period Pain, on the other hand, poignantly looks at issues such as xenophobia, rape, crime and the nightmare that is public health. Her most recent novel Evening Primrose has been described as the "best kind of political novel" by Hodder & Stoughton.

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This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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