- Created: 28 September 2015
Vonani Bila was born in 1972 in Shirley village, Limpopo, and studied at Tivumbeni College of Education. His father was an amateur musician, his mother a historian and story-teller.
A poet and musician himself, he is the founding editor of the Timbila poetry journal, publisher of Timbila books, founder of the Vhembe International Poetry Festival and founder of Timbila Writers’ Village –a rural retreat centre for writers. He holds an MA (Creative Writing – with distinction) from Rhodes University. He has written eight story-books for newly literate adult readers in Sepedi, Xitsonga and English, the latter two being the languages in which he writes poetry. He edited New Coin poetry journal in 2013. He has released a CD of music and poetry, as well as five volumes of poetry, namely; No Free Sleeping (with Alan Finlay and Donald Parenzee); In the Name of Amandla; Magicstan Fires, Handsome Jita and Bilakhulu. He co-authored the celebrated monolingual Xitsonga dictionary Tihlungu ta Rixaka with his friend Max Marhanele.
He has read and performed his poetry widely in South Africa and abroad, and some of his poems have been translated into German, Dutch, Finnish, Turkish, Swedish, Portuguese, French, Arabic and Indonesian Bahasa. He has conducted creative writing classes locally and abroad, inspiring toddlers, kids, teenagers and adults alike.
Married with three children, Bila teaches in the Department of English Studies at the University of Limpopo, and in the MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes University.