Meet the Team

Felicity Keats Morrison

Right brain creative writing is my particular interest. I am proud to say that my committed team of trainers, editors, typesetters and graphic designers, that you are about to meet, are all exponents of the right brain philosophy.

This is a happy positive side of ourselves that never expects to fail, and where anything is possible – like building a new society of literate young with dreams  in which they aspire to achieve great things that will not only alter their own lives but assist the rest of the community, the country and the world at large.

Personally, I fell in love with writing more than 50 years ago and have had an exciting writing career that entailed taking writing courses in all genre, and putting them into practical use by getting published. I have also been an editor, a  children’s author, and an adult fiction writer though my most important contribution is in the books I have written on right brain creative writing that can train learners and teachers in schools on the use of the right brain method.

Our combined achievements through Dancing Pencils are many. Perhaps one of the most important is in becoming partners with the KwaZulu-Natal Office of the Premier with the intention of raising reading and writing levels in schools through setting up Dancing Pencils Writing Clubs in each district. This entailed  training teachers and learners non-judgmental, non-critical right brain creative writing with its huge benefits. You can read more about this method and its successes in other slots that we have.

On a personal level, I have four adult children, living in a various overseas countries, and  all are highly qualified professionals in very different spheres.  I have 11 grandchildren, all of whom are authors. (I caught them young!) I have watched their progress in their various countries and am proud of their high academic and sporting achievements and,  to myself, I say that a large part of this success was learning to use the right side of their brains when still young. As this is a life skill and with problem solving abilities, it is there to help each person in his or her life.

Besides my own personal family, I also have a very large family of young and old, of different nationalities that I dearly love. These are all the people I have mentored or whose lives have in some way touched mine.

In today’s society we all desire to succeed. If that success is on a win-win basis, the hard work we put into being the best we can, on an ethical and moral level as well as spiritual and intellectual, will give us great joy. This I consider to be the true measure of success!

 

Mariam Akabor

Mariam Akabor

Mariam Akabor

Mariam Akabor was fifteen years old and in grade ten when she attended her first creative writing lesson with Felicity Keats. That same year, she had two books published with Umsinsi Press. The following year, in grade eleven, she initiated a quarterly creative writing newsletter, called Ink-links, which was available to high schools in Durban. Mariam interviewed authors, wrote articles, and provided tips for young writers. By the time she was in Matric, she had two more books published by Umsinsi Press, including a non-fiction book called 101 Tips for Young Writers.

Following Matric, Mariam read for a BA degree in English and Media at the University of Natal, now University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College. She then completed her Honours degree, cum laude, followed by her Masters in English with a focus on Creative Writing. During her student years at the university, she created and edited the Dancing Pencils Club Magazine, catering for members of Dancing Pencils Clubs around the country.

In her Honours year, she started writing a collection of short stories, which was published by Umsinsi Press a year after completion of her degree. The collection of eleven stories, called Flat 9, is based in Durban’s Grey Street and is a rich and colourful collection of stories. Based on her own experiences of living in Grey Street after she got married, Flat 9 was chosen to be included in the UKZN’s Literary Tourism Project in the Grey Street Writers Trail. It was also approved as a high school reader by the Mpumalanga Department of Education. Mariam is one of forty-four South African Indian writers whose work has been chosen for inclusion in the literary anthology The Vintage Book of South African Indian Writers (STE Publishers, 2010).

Mariam is happily married to Mohammed and now is a mother to her energetic three-year-old son, Zayd. Before joining the team at Umsinsi again this year as an editor, she wrote articles for Living and Loving magazine and for international magazine, SISTERS.

detlefcropDetlev Diegel

Detlev Diegel was born in New Zealand, educated in the USA and Canada, and speaks English, German, French and Spanish. He is a student of philosophy, and an avid reader with a tremendous interest in thought,  the written word,  the world and its people.

AS a keen toastmaster, with a quirky sense of humour, he is an entertaining speaker.  With his deep interest in people, he makes an ideal Mentor. He is also interested in poetry.

Because of the fragility of thought, people with a longing to SAY something in the written form, need a caring mentor who is able to help them to release the spirit of that poem or story that hovers within. Detlev is such a person.

Detlev has been valuable  in the new premier’s priority project with his assistance at trainings in rural areas. With his huge interest in the developing minds of young people, he has been instrumental in helping to develop the first anthologies of stories recently launched at the ICC with present launches in rural areas.  His ability to pick an apt and appealing title gives the books that extra sparkle.

Quanta Henson

Quanta works from home as a Soul Psychologist and Creative Writing Editor; she has worked with Felicity Keats since October 2007. She has a B.A. Degree in Psychology and a B.A. Honours Degree in English Literature. She lives in Assagay with her 9-year-old daughter, Sarah – a happy learner at Roseway Waldorf School – and two cats and six hamsters!

Rabia Cassimjee

RabiaRabia Cassimjee is a nurse academic and community activist. She has a Masters in Nursing from UKZN and is currently completing her Phd on the history of Indian nursing in South Africa. She has lectured at UKZN, DUT, Rosebank College and The University of the Western Cape.

She was many publications in international and local journals in the fields of nursing education, women’s health and history.  In 2007 she was awarded Researcher of the year in Health Sciences UKZN. Rabia is an avid reader and writes articles for five local newspapers.

Rabia is married to Councillor Moulana Ismail Cassimjee who is also completing his PhD. They have three children, Shahnoor, Johaara and Taahir aged 12, 11 and seven years old respectively.

Rabia co-founded the Chatsworth Community Forum in 2008 and she founded the Chatsworth Dancing Writing Academy in 2009. This initiative uses right-brain creative writing to teach children and adults how to write their own books.

The writing club is in direct supervision of Felicity Keats Morrison and is well established in Chatsworth. It has a children’s holiday writing workshop, which is run three times a year and it has an adult novel writing component. Thus far we have launched 23 stand alone children’s books. In the future we hope to get some schools and their teachers involved in this project.

Vera Castleman

1983. The dawn of personal computing was breaking in South Africa. The Education Department was offering a part time computer course to a small group of teachers.

I was a maths teacher. One day my matric class was working on past papers to prepare them for the finals. A learner requested help on a geometric rider. A thought buzzed around my head, “If I have to explain this problem one more time I will explode!”

This was quickly followed by another thought, “Be calm. You have seen this a 100 times but this learner is seeing it for the first time.”

A light bulb went off in my head and I realised that I had to change direction. I was a teacher, I loved teaching and I knew I was good at it but the subject content was now “old hat” I needed something challenging. I applied for the computer course. I sat an aptitude test and two years later I was the proud possessor of an FDE (Honours) in computing.

The world of computing satisfied my entire persona. I was a creative, logical person. Maths only drew on my logical side so I found some limited outlets to my creative side. But now with computing these two sides were at last married! I was as happy as a sand boy – teaching an exciting, growing subject. Boredom went out the window!

After six years of teaching computers, I was promoted to the post of computer lecturer at Edgewood College. In 2000 the universities were preparing to take over teacher training and the education department offered a voluntary severance package which I took.

I worked as a computer trainer at New Horizons Computer Training centre until I was offered a Governing body post in a school. I was back in main stream education. I stayed there for 8 years and decided to terminate my post in 2011 in order to pursue my other interests.

In the meantime I had taken up Ballroom and Latin dancing. My teacher started to train me to teach dancing. I have been teaching dancing for nearly 10 years. My speciality is with children – all children applying to the studio get steered in my direction.

I have been tinkering with writing for many rears. The first poem that I can remember writing was about butterflies. I have no idea where that poem is today it is lost to posterity! During my early married life I wrote children’s stories about a doll named Esmeralda. Again these are lost to posterity.

I have designed an alphabet card game and have generated many children’s puzzles. I hope one day to sort them out and put them into a book.

Recently my writing has taken a firm direction under the guidance of Felicity. I first met Felicity in the mid 90’s when I required help publishing a computer self help book that I had written. She also helped me publish a Word Processing book. I lost touch with her but was reunited in 2011. I saw a repeat broadcast on New Years day and there was Felicity. I took the bull by the horns and contacted her immediately. We set up a meeting. I have received training from her and have helped her in small ways. One of the ways was to establish and upkeep the e-book side of UmSinsi.

My writing includes:

  • 4 stories about a toy bunny called Easter. This was mainly for my granddaughter who was visiting from the UK. It was my way to keep in touch with her over a long distance. 3 more are ready for reworking and 5 ideas are sitting in the wings waiting for their turn to take the stage.
  • My dealings with troubled teens helped produce a short story about teens who have no direction from parents.
  • Two Computer books have been published by Felicity with more sitting in the wings waiting to be aired.
  • Many unfinished short stories and one unfinished novel.

I have recently joined the team as a typesetter with a bit of editing thrown in. I have also helped with sundry computer tasks and hope to be of great use in 2013.

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