Apart from the Jakes Gerwel Foundation’s accommodation programme for writers in Somerset-East, we also undertake the following projects annually:


Blue Crane Book Project

If you cannot read properly, you cannot learn. Without sufficient school education, many children in our country still do not have equal opportunities. In line with one of our goals, namely to bridge the growing gap of inequality, the Jakes Gerwel Foundation undertakes a project in which books and rucksacks are taken to children in the poorest of communities in the Eastern Cape.

We reach more than 3 000 learners in the foundation phase of about 20 schools in the Blue Crane municipal area (including Somerset East, Pearston and Kommadagga). Our partner, Book Dash, assembles illustrators, writers and designers every year, and the result of this team effort is new books. These books tell local stories and are available in Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa.

Because many of the target learners of this project do not have rucksacks, we sponsor a rucksack for each child. These rucksacks are made by women who were previously unemployed and are now part of the Bags4Good Project in Elsies River on the Cape Flats.

In collaboration with the Suidoosterfees, one of our valued partners, we produce a puppet show which tours with us to the schools.

Jakes Gerwel Commemoration

With this event, we celebrate Jakes Gerwel’s rich legacy and his encouragement of innovative thought and sincere participation in conversation. We invite high-profile speakers and writers annually to present the Jakes Gerwel Commemoration. The 2023 event took place at Youngblood Africa on 23 November and the speaker was dr Imtiaz Sooliman (Gift of the Givers).

A video recording of dr Sooliman’s lecture as well as a photo gallery of the event is available here.



Jakes Gerwel Discussion Series

Jakes Gerwel played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Suidoosterfees. This is why the Foundation is a proud partner of this festival which pursues social cohesion in a united South African society. The Jakes Gerwel Foundation every year presents a series of book discussions at the festival which aims to bring writers and their readers closer to one another and to contribute to the South African discourse.