Last week myself and Gugu Xaba were invited to the launch of The Youngsters book series at Shikisha in Newtown, Johannesburg. We had a chance to chat with some of the authors from the book series regarding June 16 Youth Day and the experience of being a young South African author. This is what they had to say.
What does June 16 mean to you and do you think it still has the value that it did 10 years ago?
Khaya Dlanga : “I don’t have kids and I’m not a youth either, so it’s a tricky day for me. I don’t think it’s changed much, but I think how people perceive it and represent it may have changed. Young people fought against the system when older people had actually given up on the fight.”
Sipho Hlongwane: “To me June 16 is about remembering that the youth of that time took their destinies in their own hands.”
Zama Ndlovu: “1976 June 16 is probably one of the most critical moments in history because, before that, it didn’t seem like black people were as militant about freedom as they had been in the previous decade, and that day changed the course of history.”
How was the experience of putting together the Youngsters book series?
KD: “It was quite nerve-wracking. I didn’t know how people would receive it or if they would even buy it.”
SH: “It was very difficult, and I do a lot of writing. But the thinking that goes into journalism is different from the thinking that goes into writing a book.”
ZN: “Initially it was tough because it was my first book and I hadn’t thought about writing a book at that moment.”
Why do you think you were selected to be part of the book series?
KD: “Well apart from being awesome (laughs), I actually have no idea. I felt a bit intimidated because I was selected with some of the best writers for this project.”
SH: “I personally don’t know, I guess my work speaks for itself as I am a journalist.”
Who is your favourite South African writer and why?
KD: “T.O Molefe, he really thinks and writes deeply with most of the things he writes.”
SH: “I really like the content that the young South African female writers are producing.”
ZN: “Sibongile Mafu because she is young and so authentic. She’s so true to herself and her writing.”
Any inspirational advice to young and upcoming writers out there?
KD: “Don’t try to show how smart you are, or how well you can write. All you have to do is tell the story you have to tell.”
ZN: “Just keep writing, as cliché as this may sound, all you have to do is just keep on writing.”
Read the sample material of the book series on: The Youngsters