It was the end of March 2021 and the country was in lockdown Level 1. Conferences and outdoor meetings were permitted, so the New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) enjoyed a writing retreat at the beautiful Mont Fleur in Stellenbosch.
It has been customary for members of nGAP to attend a writing retreat every quarter. Timetable clashes mean that not everybody can attend every time, but there is generally a good turnout, with mentors, supervisors and writing collaborators also invited.
This writing retreat welcomed three of the new nGAP (Phase 6) lecturers – Simon Chili, Tendani Chimboza and Pumelela Nqelenga – who were able to meet their nGAP colleagues for the first time.
The writing retreats follow a tried and tested format, which includes formal lunches and suppers, teas and lots of writing time in between. With particularly care around COVID-19, one can choose to work in alone in one’s room or in the communal area, where each work station has a divider and cleaning materials to reduce any risk of infection.
The routine also includes an early morning run for those so inclined. There is only one route at Mont Fleur – a steady downhill towards the Dornier wine estate and then a long tough uphill return. The routine also includes an afternoon walk. This is normally led by Michael Gallant, but on this occasion he was recovering from COVID-19. Ricardo Adams, another sterling member of the Mont Fleur staff who knows UCT academics very well, led the walk to Lourensford saddle.
The writing retreats have been part of the winning nGAP formula, and it is heartening to read the responses of those who attended and confirmed the value of the recipe:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Please view the republishing articles page for more information.