IMPORTANT NOTICE: For up to date information about the COVID-19 pandemic visit

Great Texts/Big Questions with Zukiswa Wanner

 Great Texts/Big Questions with Zukiswa Wanner

Zukiswa Wanner (credit: Troy Onyango)

Join us tomorrow, Wednesday 12 May @ 1pm, for the launch of our 2021 Great Texts / Big Questions Online Lecture Series! We kickstart the series with award-winning writer Zukiswa Wanner who will present her lecture on Creativity in the face of crisis.

Wanner explains: I will touch on how stories in their many forms – music, film, books – have helped and continue to help us as we live; how the artist’s voice has been amplified as it has become more needed, but against some very tough odds. I will also touch on the killings of Collins Khoza, George Floyd and Joao Pedro Matos Pinto, and how artists have reacted to their deaths. As well as the very real ‘loss upon loss’, not just of family members and income by artists, but how even the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP) has been handled shoddily. And still artists create in spite of, and South Africa and the world continue consuming art in spite of that.

The event will be facilitated by ICA Director, Professor Jay Pather, and Wanner’s lecture will be followed by a Q&A with online viewers.


Zukiswa Wanner is the author of four novels, four children’s books and two books of nonfiction. She has been a columnist for True Love (SA), The Star and Nation (Kenya), New African and Mail & Guardian and has written for publications like the New York Times and The Guardian. As a publisher, Wanner counts among her authors Mukoma wa Ngugi from Kenya and Angolan writer Yara Monteiro. She is the founder and curator of Artistic EncountersAfrolit Sans Frontieres and Virtually Yours. In 2020, Wanner became the first African woman to win the Goethe Medal, an official decoration by the German government conferred to non-Germans for outstanding service for international cultural relations. She was also selected by New African as one of Africa’s 100 Most Influential Africans and by literary journal Brittle Paper as the 2020 African Literary Person of the Year. 

Theme for the Series

The 2021 Great Texts/Big Questions Lecture Series – Loss upon loss – responds to the complexity of grief and grieving in South Africa and across the continent in the time of Covid-19, with a particular focus on the role and response of artists.

The most critical months of the pandemic have been defined by a near disintegration of cultural and familial rituals for mourning, gathering and coming to terms with death – individually, but especially collectively. A period in which, in so many communities, the deaths of loved ones have followed in such quick succession that there is no ordinary time or proper space to mark their passing. There have been other losses too – jobs, careers, financial security – equally without closure or the promise of resolution. And in the wake of both, a new vocabulary has quickly become part of our everyday speech: Zoom memorials, virtual funerals followed with alarming speed, deep cleaning, lockdowns, social distancing, masks.

The vision for the series draws from the concept of ‘ambiguous loss’ – a term that academic and therapist Pauline Boss coined in the 1970s to name and describe a rupturing of human relationships without closure or clear understanding. Ambiguous loss has since been applied widely across the world in approaching forms of grief that cannot be resolved. In the context of the pandemic, the term provides a possible starting point of collective recognition and reckoning, and opens pathways to healing.

 Schedule for the Series

  1. Wed 12 May @ 1pm: Zukiswa Wanner, Creativity in the face of crisis
  2. Wed 19 May @ 1pm: Yewande Omotoso, Death: unfathomable, inevitable 
  3. Wed 26 May @ 1pm: Athambile Masola, Grieving: surviving imiphanga through a black aesthetic  
  4. Wed 2 June @ 1pm: Lebo Mashile, Crisis catalysing creativity as rituals and as resistance 
  5. Wed 9 June @ 1pm: Percy Mabandu, A Call to artistry: Catharsis, and creative grammars against grief  
  6. Thursday 17 June @ 6pm: Ng?g? wa Thiong’o, Title to be announced
Join us each week, beginning tomorrow, Wednesday 12 May at 1pm. 

SA Creatives

Don't forget to click on the Find-a-Creative tab and advertise your creative services for FREE. If you'd like to showcase your work or would like to write an article please email info[at] @thesacreatives