Writers’ house

We are grateful towards Mrs Phoebé Gerwel for the donation of Prof. Jakes Gerwel’s beloved historical home at the foot of the Bosberge mountains in the picturesque Somerset East – about 200 km north of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape – to the Foundation.

The property that is being restored this year will become our writers’ house. One of our current projects is to give upcoming writers the opportunity to stay there in Somerset East as participants in an intensive mentorship programme, working on and perfecting their manuscripts. We are looking for young writers with a story to tell but who may not quite know how to put pen to paper – upcoming writers without the means to register for creative writing schools. Together with Penguin Random House SA we are going to accompany these writers as they turn into books exactly the kind of stories not yet represented on the South African literature scene.

Keep watching this website for more information.

Yoh! project

The Jakes Gerwel Foundation will be presenting Yoh! for the first time at the Grassy Park High School on the Cape Flats where both Mrs Phoebé and Prof. Jakes Gerwel left deep footprints. Yoh! will be facilitated by Dr Thérèse Hulme, an experienced narrative therapist and presenter of a number of creative writing projects for young people in the Western Cape over the last 13 years.

Yoh! is both a creative writing project for the youth of Grassy Park and a mentorship project for their teachers.

Thérèse says: ‘I’ve come to realise that there is a richness of authentic experience, language usage and wisdom in the lives of young people. These riches are waiting to be exploited and brought to light. The project is about creative writing as a means to bring these riches to light. It is also about my own reactions to the traumas marking the lives of so many of the young people of the Cape. The project aims to become a place where anger, neglect, displacement, despair and hurt can be brought into the open and recognised. At the same time, young people discover what they value, such as respect for others, social justice, compassion for those who suffer and finding the beauty in everyday existence.’

Beyond the exploitation of language, the project also aims at establishing a relationship of trust with young people so that they can discover that they have something of value to say and that there is someone who wants to listen to them. The project is about believing in the experience of young people and learning to listen.

Thérèse has found that, when teachers follow this narrative approach, they discover talents that surprise them, insights and language that touch the heart, sometimes coming from learners from whom it was least expected. Yoh! is finally a project of mutual discovery and development, and of finding expression in various forms of poetry. In the words of Adrienne Rich:

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed.

I have to cast my lot with those
who, age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.

Jakes Gerwel Commemorative Celebration

Through the annual commemorative celebration in November, our foundation wants to pay tribute to the heritage of Prof. Jakes Gerwel by encouraging innovative thought and open discourse. A day-long programme with stimulating and thought-provoking panel discussions, alternating with poetry and music offerings, film work and other art forms are being planned for this year.

Keep watching this website for more information.

Suidoosterfees Books and Discourse Programme

Prof. Jakes Gerwel was instrumental in the conception of the Suidoosterfees that annually takes place in the Artscape Theatre Centre in Cape Town. Every year the Foundation presents a books and discourse programme, platforming the latest in books and discussions.

The 2018 Suidoosterfees takes place from 26 April to 1 May.