The thick green vegetation and lazy rivers of KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast inspire exotic stories of adventure which is why a meeting of authors and artists in Ramsgate on November 11 and 12 for a book and art festival seemed a perfect fit.
Mpume Makhaye, a writer and industrial relations student and myself, Carol Campbell, a former journalist and author of three books, had worked together for 18 months but only met in person twice before we attended the festival. We were there to represent Fundza and to speak on a panel about the importance of reading.
What the festival ensured was that Mpume and I came to know each other much better, cementing our working relationship and building a friendship. We travelled together from Durban and, on arriving in the seaside resort, immediately reported for duty at the Crayfish Inn.
Our talk was well attended and we had an opportunity to speak about Fundza and how it worked to promote reading as well as writing. Mpume and I have worked in a mentor/mentee relationship and many festival-goers were interested to understand how the relationship worked, if they could be involved and how they could access Fundza stories.
After our session we crossed the road to The Waffle House for refreshments – Mpume went big on chocolate and I kept focussed with something divine covered in ice-cream and banana. We were joined by a 13-year-old festival-goer and her mom who wanted to speak to Mpume about her writing.
By mid-afternoon we were exhausted and booked into the Bellevue self-catering cottages near South Broom where we had an incredible view of the Mbizana River glistening in the late afternoon sun as it wound its way into the Indian Ocean. Our hostess Sally Booker told us a dramatic story about a crocodile that lived in a dam nearby that had chased her son when he went fishing – this really was a great place to feed one’s imagination.
Well rested the next morning we were ready for a good walk and we joined the book and art festival ramblers for a 4km hike along the beach and through the coastal vegetation. After that we thought we had earned another visit to The Waffle House! Yes, really, we went again! By lunch time we were saying goodbye to each other in Durban, our wonderful time together already at an end.