Articulate Africa is the flagship literary and art fair for parks, recreation and culture.
 NQOBILE MBONAMBI African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - Actress and media personality Khanyi Mbau was a no-show at Articulate Africa Book and Art Fair yesterday.

She was one of the panellists on a “Blessers - Friends or Foes?” discussion with Jackie Phamotse, the author of Bare, and kwaito singer T’zozo, real name Thokozani Zulu.

There was no reason given by Mbau, who starred in Red Room and co-wrote Bitch, Please! I’m Khanyi Mbau which detailed her relationship with former husband Mandla Mthembu.

Black First Land First president Andile Mngxitama also did not appear at a discussion about land expropriation.

Before she began speaking broadly about the life of sugar babies, blessees and kept women, Phamotse urged the audience to be open-minded and also asked for children to leave the venue.

It was a no-holds barred conversation, with Phamotse revealing types of relationships in this lifestyle.

T’zozo, also shared his experiences as a blesser.

Phamotse called out blessers and blessees and highlighted the dangers these young women found themselves in and how difficult it was to get out of the lifestyle.

Hosted by eThekwini Municipality’s arts and culture department, the fair was about promoting arts and literature to Durbanites. This was its third edition which attracted lovers of art and literature in the city.

Guest speakers included noted authors Zakes Mda, Nozizwe Jele, Imraan Coovadia, Rosie Motene and Wally Serote. Panels included discussions on land, women at the helm, depression and mental health, social media, toxic masculinity and blessers.

At the Real Men Speak panel, which had Rees Mann, Musa Mseleku, Scelo Mncube and Siyabulela Jentile as speakers, the panel shared their experiences of what it means to be a man in the current climate and their thoughts on what needs to happen for there to stop the abuse of women and children. “The privilege that men enjoy in society comes with a responsibility,” said Jentile, president of Not In My Name SA. He organised a men’s march after the murder of Karabo Mokoena in 2017.

“The problem is not with masculinity, but rather toxic masculinity that has destroyed society. It’s a systematic and societal problem.”

It wasn’t only serious issues discussed. There were special sessions for children’s literature, music and drama. Artist Lebani Sirenje, who has become infamous for his badly-painted portraits of public figures, was also present.

Thembinkosi Ngcobo, the head of parks, arts and recreation, said he was pleasantly surprised at the turn-out. “I was a bit nervous leading up to the festival that people will not attend. But there has been so much interest, which excites me. I was also pleasantly surprised to see how many young people stayed for the depression discussion on Friday. It showed there clearly is a problem many youth are facing and it’s manifesting through depression. There needs to be a solution. I don’t think Friday’s session addressed all their needs.”

On the absence of Mngxitama, Ngcobo said he was disappointed, as it was the second time he had confirmed his attendance only to not arrive.

The festival ended yesterday afternoon with the launch of KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dlomo’s autobiography, My Journey to Robben Island.