The Learned People Shall Govern

Abantu Book Festival, Eyethu Lifestyle Centre, Mofolo, Soweto.

My favourite poem Nikki Giovanni called Hot Chocolate starts with the words: ‘This is not a Poem…’ So to speak of the Abantu Book Festival one would say:

This is not a Book Fair
It’s an experience.
Not just a meeting place
For writers and buyers
But an intersection
Of ideas, values and perspectives
Of what it means
To be a man, a woman,
Or in-between

Every second and every inch of space
Ours to express ourselves
Unapologetically African
No fucks given
No offence taken
Consciously intellectual
No ‘woke woke’rhetoric here
Only honest conversations
Agree or disagree
We sit at the feet of experience
Yet learn from youth

A happy place
Where colleagues and contemporaries
Become friends
And friends reconnect with the joy
Of long-lost siblings
A safe space
where everyone acknowledges,
understands and accepts
Your particular brand of madness.
And realises its genius.

A place of reflection
Of introspection
A place of power
A place of resistance
The legendary township of Soweto,
Where Apartheid received
Its most deadly wounds
In this place
Babylon’s whiteness
Must Fall.

A stone’s throw from
That sacred place called Kliptown
In this place
We declare that:
The People Shall Write
The People Shall Read
The People Shall Learn and
The Learned People Shall Govern

Long Live the People’s Book Festival
Long Live!
Long Live the Spirit of Ubuntu!
Long Live!
Amandla!
Awethu!
Imfundo!
Eyethu!
Inkululeko yaBantu!
Mayibuye!

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