Way of Life Church in Makhaya was abuzz with excitement on Saturday April 9, when author and businessman Tshepo Nketle officially launched the first bookshop in Khayelitsha.
The aim of the bookshop, called a “Passage of Black Ideas”, is to play a critical role in encouraging young black authors to showcase their writing ability and to help them get their work published.
Mr Nketle, 30, said one of the fundamental intentions of the bookshop was to promote African literature and inculcate a culture of reading among black people, particularly in the township.
Recalling the challenges he faced when he wanted to publish his first book in 2011, he said 37 publishing companies rejected his book, saying it was of poor quality. But, he says, that did little to dampen his spirit and he eventually managed to sell more than 5 000 copies of the book through his networks, in 2012.
“The book was named End of Freedom. In the same year, the book was recognised as a national best seller and I never received any form of assistance from a publishing company,” he said. Realising how difficult it is for unknown black authors to publish a book, he decided to dedicate his time to assisting up and coming writers.
His desire to assist writers resulted in him launching Lesedi publishing company in February last year.
Mr Nketle said funding and making his books accessible, were among the major challenges he faced.
But, his business mentor, Luvuyo Rani, who owns an internet franchise called Silulo Ulutho, helped him by allocating space in his internet café to display and sell his books.
And now that he has launched his book store, he is working toward his next goal – to have a book store in every township. He also plans to host reading and writing sessions on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with authors being invited to read from their books.
Talking to Vukani about his background, Mr Nketle said that after he matriculated in 2003, he worked as a delivery boy at Builders Warehouse for many years, but he never let go of his dream to have his books published. Now his company has published the work of “well-known people such as Phiwe Nozewu, Don Laka, a music producer and businessman and Andile Gaelesiwe, who presents Ukhumbula Ekhaya on SABC1”.
A recent addition to that list is Umhlobo Wenene FM radio personality, Phiwe “DJPastor” Nozewu, who launched his rib-tickling book, Imihlinzo, published by Lesedi, at the opening of the book store.
Mr Nozewu told Vukani that the book, a collection of his jokes, evolved from a segment on his popular breakfast radio show. He expressed his gratitude to his colleague Putco Mafani for coming up with a catchy name for the book.
Mr Nozewu added that he is grateful to Mr Nketle who helped him get his book published. “I had been struggling to get publishers to publish my book as the publishing companies did not understand the concept of Imihlinzo. We have not yet calculated how many books have been sold so far, but I can promise you that the second book of Imihlinzo is done already. “It was important to me to write this book because our jokes and the funny stories we grow up listening to have never been documented and it is important to write our stories in our languages. This the first book of its kind in isiXhosa,” he said.
A group of people who attended the launch giggled as Mr Nozewu told some of the jokes in the book.
As Vukani wrapped up the interview with Mr Nketle, he said, “ Patience is the key to success and never for a second take your dreams for granted. I have learnt not to give up.”