We came across the Book Club Society while working on a project aimed at mapping book club’s across the continent. Their page depicts a homey environment where a a large group of readers gather to engulf the knowledge of books. We spoke a bit to Tshepo Masuku about the importance of such a movement.
Tumelo: What was the thinking behind the establishment of the Book Club Society (BCS)?
Tshepo: Book club society was started because we saw that people do not read and there is limited access to books.
Tumelo: What was the initial reaction to a book club in Jabavu, Soweto?
Tshepo: Initially the response was slow, books are often seen as academic chores and tend to be a foreign culture due to language and cultural differences. There is a book for everyone, in any topic, so slowly people are finding their niche and start to enjoy reading more in a literary environment.
Tumelo: What would you say is the main ingredient for keeping a book club afloat?
Tshepo: The magic in starting a book club is finding passionate and like minded, knowledge hungry individuals. Curious book enthusiasts often emerge once exposed to the right space. A book club is social, thus needs to be fun and interactive, adding elements like music and play to compliment the books.
Tumelo: When we started the NERDAFRICA clubs, we were fortunate to have Bridge Books and U-The Space to call home, what is your relationship with the Credo Mutwa Cultural Cultural Village, and how did you come to host your club sessions on their premises?
Tshepo: The Credo Mutwa Village is relevant to us as the BCS because it is a central landmark in Soweto. We chose it because of its rich historical background and the artifacts and sculptures built by Dr Credo Mutwa himself. Making the environment very cultural and reminding us of our African origins and our beautiful chronology of royalty. We were welcomed with a warm heart by the Village caretakers and since it was not our first visit we already had a healthy relationship. A cause to promote literature is imperative in the townships and the caretakers shared the sentiments. It has since been a home that we always go back to, even as we have grown and visit other areas, including the Jo’burg CBD.
Tumelo: How important do you think book reviews are to the book club set-up?
Tshepo: Book reviews are what essentially calls for a book club meeting. Its a chance to share the same book from many perspectives and therefore gain a broader understanding of the discussed book or books.
Tumelo: If you had to pick three, which are the best books you’ve reviewed at BCS?
Tshepo: The best books we’ve reviewed to date are Black skin White Masks by Franz Fanon, Ancient Secrets Of The Flower Of Life by Drunvalo Melchizedek and Nwelezelanga by Unathi Magubeni.