By FIONA DE VILLIERS
Fantastic bargains at the White Elephant Stall, books to lose yourself in, a fine range of drought-resistant plants and a chance to catch up with friends over a cup of tea were some of the highlights of the Friends of the Library (FoL) annual fete in the Trinity Hall in Makhanda last weekend. With an impressive banner on show outside Pick n Pay for the week running up to it, the public were eager to see what was on offer.
The event on 28 September 2019, was the fifteenth fete the FoL has held to raise funds to assist public libraries in Makana Municipality.
The occasion also marked the 20th birthday of the FoL. Over the years, many volunteers have taken their place on the committee and have offered invaluable service. Today, the committee finds itself reconsidering how it might best help public librarians – who have limited resources at their disposal – to engender a love of reading in communities.
In this regard, the committee has some new members: highly respected retired Rhodes University lecturer Tim Huisamen (who recalls original discussions about what sort of committee to constitute 20 years ago), Vuyo Ntamo, Faculty Liaison Assistant Librarian: Humanities and Education at the Rhodes University Library, and Vuyokazi Jamieson, Head Librarian at St Andrew’s College.
The committee is keen to attract other new members from across Makhanda, especially young people passionate about literacy who may have themselves witnessed the tough job librarians have in serving the public in Makana. Prospective committee members who are digital gurus are also welcome.
The FoL committee is small, and relies annually on generous extra volunteers to collect plants, books, white elephant treasures and tasty nibbles ahead of time. These volunteers help to man the book stall, the plants stall, the tea table and the white elephant stall on the day.
But the real work begins on the previous Friday, when all the volunteers come together to set up their tables. It’s tiring work, but the atmosphere is always cheerful.
This year the book stall workers were thrilled to have the assistance of some pupils from St Andrew’s College for Boys. Uvuyo Mvaphantsi, Olwethu Pule and Elijah Sejjaakah unpacked books from boxes, sorted fiction from non-fiction and arranged an attractive display to tempt buyers. Some of their peers had also helped to distribute posters advertising the fete around town.
Over at the plants stall the organisers, aware of our drought conditions, priced water-wise plants for sale. Beautiful proteas and yellowwood saplings were also available.
On Saturday, as soon as the doors opened at 9am, members of the public rushed en masse to the white elephant stall. One customer was heard to say of a handsome red pot with a lid, “I don’t what it’s for, but my wife says we need it!”
Our loyal supporters then turned their attention to the books stall. St Andrew’s boys Uvuyo Mvaphantsi and Liyema Mntonintshi rolled up their sleeves and joined in the selling of literary treasures.
After perusing the plants, people could enjoy a relaxing cup of tea and a biscuit or piece of cake. Friends caught up with each other and compared their wares.
At 11am the doors closed and all volunteers faced the arduous task of repacking items. A collective cheer went up when Sam Naidu, the fete money manager, announced the takings.
The FoL wishes to thank everyone who volunteered to make the fete such a success. The day was characterised by a real desire to celebrate 20 years of supporting literacy. The committee also thanks the stalwart ‘friends’; those who attend our bi-monthly Monday night talks and subscribe to become a ‘friend’, who came out on 28 September to buy books, plants and other items of interest.
- Fiona de Villiers is the secretary on the FoL Makana committee.