Durban, South Africa

Durban became the 22nd UNESCO City of Literature in October 2017, on the same day as Bucheon (South Korea), Lillehammer (Norway), Milan (Italy), Utrecht (Netherlands), Manchester (UK), Québec City (Canada) and Seattle (USA) joined the existing 20 Cities of Literature in the Creative Cities Network.

Durban sits on the east coast of South Africa, with a population of over 3,442,400. It is the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal, and is known as the gateway to Africa due to it being a major Port City. Over the years it has been home to a number of writers, such as Luthuli, the first African Nobel winner, Alan Paton, Bessie Head, Gandhi, Mandela and the Dhlomo’s.

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The city was built on the pillars of learning and literature, and is home to the University of KwaZulu-Natal, one of the top ranked universities in South Africa and one of the few that offers a PhD in Creative Writing. The city has partnered with the Centre for Creative Arts at UKZN to host four major cultural highpoints on Durban’s calendar: JOMBA, a dance festival; Poetry Africa; the Time of the Writer Literary Festival; and the Durban International Film Festival. The city also has a robust legacy of pioneering newspapers such as John Dube’s Ilanga and Gandhi’s Indian Opinion.

The Time of the Writer Literary Festival was the brainchild of acclaimed South African, Parisian poet Breyten Breytenbach. In its 20 year history it has hosted writers from virtually every African country and over 70 countries from all over the world. It has hosted the likes of Arundathi Roy, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thionga, Nadine Gordimer, John Pilger, Abdelkader Benali; Mahmood Mamdani, Nurrudin Farah, and Chimamanda Adichie.