Margie Orford steps down from PEN South Africa presidency, welcomes Nadia Davids to the role
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Image: Margie Orford and Nadia Davids/Credit: PEN SA
Margie Orford is standing down from the presidency of PEN South Africa, with Nadia Davids set to take over.
Orford, a noted crime novelist and award-winning journalist, has served as PEN SA president since 2014. Davids is an award-winning writer who works across a range of forms: plays, articles, short stories and screenplays. Her latest work, the play What Remains, is currently on circuit.
Read Orford’s farewell letter:
It is with great pleasure that I write to you to say goodbye and to welcome Nadia Davids as PEN South Africa’s newly elected president. She is taking up this position at a critical political and moral moment for South Africa. The transitional month during which Nadia and I worked closely together to ensure that endings were beginnings, saw a court interdict taken out against a newly formed group, Black First Land First, to defend journalists’ safety and their right to freedom of expression. These events took place as the extent of fake news, dangerous spin and outright falsehoods orchestrated by the British public relations company, Bell Pottinger, on behalf of the Gupta family were exposed. There is no need for me to spell out the centrality of President Zuma and his family to these events – the nature and extent of ‘state capture’ is known to us because of the tenacity of journalists and writers and the independence of South Africa’s courts.
[…] Language has power – it is our currency as writers – and it is something we need to guard with an insistence on the truth, on facts, on integrity and on the capacity for empathy.
South Africa is a robust democracy. We have an outspoken press and a flourishing publishing industry and a great number of writers. South Africa has, for the most part, an engaged and active and skeptical citizenry. Satire is alive and well as is an astonishing creativity – as evidenced by our poets and novelists. These have been crucial factors in ensuring that our constitutionally protected right to free speech and artistic license remain protected.