Fezekile Futhwa is a prolific writer and self-publisher. His passionate about the Afrikan story and Afrikan languages. We had a quick chat with him to find out why he writes what he likes.
How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children’s books, poetry, etc.)?
Well, my interest in writing about history was sparked by the lack of credible books in the market. I have always loved reading, so I started to research African history in 1995. What I found was that while there were plenty of books written by whites who are mostly from America and Europe about Africans, there were very few books written by Africans about Africa and its people. I found these books seriously lacking in correctness, biased and some outright insulting to me as an African. I wondered then how was it possible not to have many books by African since I know of so many African academics who have majored in history!
So over the years of reading and researching, I figured maybe I should write what I know about some of these topics. This way, I thought I would be setting the record straight, particularly in correcting the many myths about us as people. So for the me the pressing issue was our belief system. We have been so misrepresented in that area that my very first public writing was on African belief system, which was a website solely dedicated to our spirituality. Then the site grew from that to include other topics around our heritage as a people.
Then I started getting requests to convert content on the website into a book! That was remarkable to me because up to that point publishing in print had not really occupied my thoughts. And I tried copying everything into a book, but then realised print and web were very different, and that I could not just copy and paste what was on the site into a book; not if I wanted my work to be presentable and credible. And that is how I got to write books. My first book started as a project to make the content from my website,www.nalane.org.za, applicable into a book. But as soon as I started, the book took its own direction which was vastly different from the online content. So I just set up to finishing it, which somehow gave birth to other titles!
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part of writing in this particular genre is confirming your facts! Since my writings are historical, it is a challenge to get bodies of work that can support my theories, and this is related to the point I was making about the lack of Africans writing about Africa and Africans. I also find that our universities are not friendly to non-academics. So people like me who write about topics that are generally written by academics find themselves out in the cold. This makes writing unnecessarily expensive since I do not have readily available support structures in the form of libraries and research papers.
What’s the best thing about being an author?
For me it must be the freedom to express your thoughts. As a writer, particularly in non-fiction, I get to share what I think. And that, I have found, does influence people. Many of my writings have challenged people to see things differently, although we might still disagree.
What are you working on now?
I am working on an encyclopedia type of book that is everything about the Basotho and their way of life. The book is written in Sesotho (obviously) and I hope it will spark a lot of interest when launched.
I also have a nagging feeling while writing that someone should be writing about the history of the struggle for liberation in South Africa. So much remains unsaid, and this keeps popping up when reading for research purposes. So this is one of the books I would like to write on day.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Writing is not easy, it is a very lonely job. But whatever you do, you must write. I can also say that it helps have a passion in the genre you want to write about, because this reflects in the final book. You can tell if someone was writing because they wanted to or if they wrote just because it was something to do. Also be aware that you will face a lot criticism about your work. This usually comes from critics, who have nothing better to do than criticise. Many of these critics will not have written a single book in their life! So you will have to have patience and a thick skin to stomach all these.
But if you can write and complete a book, that is half the work. The hardest work is getting your book published, and getting people to buy thereafter! So thoroughly research your work before it goes out.
If you were to write a book about your life, what would the title be?
*laughs* Interesting because I am already writing a book about myself! I believe people should write their life stories themselves, it makes sense to me than having a third party do the job. I have chosen to title “The Life and Times of an African”
This hardworking author has published seven books, which include poetry in English and seSotho and history. Six of his books are available as paperbacks and ebooks at Book Lover’s Market.