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Read an excerpt from Donald Molosi’s We Are All Blue – the first print publication of a play from Botswana

Read an excerpt from Donald Molosi’s We Are All Blue – the first print publication of a play from Botswana


This Fiction Friday, read an excerpt from actor and playwright Donald Molosi’s groundbreaking We Are All Blue, the first Botswanan drama to be published in print form.

We Are All Blue is a collection of two plays, “Motswana: Africa, Dream Again” and “Blue, Black and White”, and includes an introduction by Quett Masire, former president of Botswana.

“Blue, Black and White” tells the story of Botswana’s first democratically elected president, Seretse Khama, and his interracial, transformative marriage to Ruth Williams in the 1940s. It is the longest-running one-man show in Botswana’s history and the first-ever Botswana play staged Off-Broadway in New York, for which Molosi won the 2011 United Solo Best Short Solo Award.

2016 marks the 50th anniversary of Botswana’s independence, and Khama’s marriage is also the focus of a forthcoming film called A United Kingdom, which will David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King in Selma, and Oscar nominee Rosamund Pike, who starred most recently in Gone Girl. Molosi also has a small role in the film.

Molosi won the 2015 Bessie Head Short Story Award and was longlisted for the 2015 Short Story Day Africa Prize. He was also a facilitator for the 2015 Writivism creative writing workshops.

We Are All Blue was published by The Mantle in January.

“The publishing scene in Botswana favours textbooks, and so it is extremely difficult to publish and sell non-textbook material in Botswana,” Molosi said in an interview with World Literature Today. “What We Are All Blue offers is an opportunity to engage with Botswana of the past, present, and future at the same time.”

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Read an excerpt:

* * * * *
Donald Molosi


Based on the lives of Sir Seretse Khama (1921-1980)
and Lady Ruth Khama (1923-2002),
and the history of a nation.



Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. — Rumi

قوشعم روا قشاع
(“Lover and Beloved” in Urdu)

Present day is July 2002. A multiracial group of students enters and performs a folktale as the villagers of Serowe, perhaps accompanied by live guitar music. The students are also putting together the set and putting on costume as they tell the story.

This folktale is the theme to the class’s commemoration of Sir Seretse Khama Week, especially today (July 1) being Sir Seretse Khama Day. The class is also honoring Sir Seretse’s wife, Lady Ruth, who passed away two months prior to July 1, 2002.

ALL VILLAGERS: We begin this Sir Seretse Khama Week with the folktale that is our theme. The folktale is about a boy who brought his father back from the dead.

VILLAGER 1: It is said that there was once a boy who was living in a land far away from his kgota, his home. His father died while the boy was very young, so he did not know his father.

VILLAGER 2: When the boy was growing up and became aware that he did not have a father, he asked his mother.

ALL VILLAGERS: Mother, where is my father?

VILLAGER 3: And his mother replied—

ALL VILLAGERS: Your father is dead, my son. His name was Ngwedi, which means “the moon.”

VILLAGER 4: His mother had also since died. Hei!

VILLAGER 1: Now that the boy was growing older, he found himself wondering a lot about his father.

VILLAGER 4: People around him were treating the boy badly and beat him for no reason. He wanted his father’s protection.

VILLAGER 3: He wondered and wondered about his father and wanted desperately to see him. He wondered for days and weeks and months.

VILLAGER 2: One day he decided to yoke the donkeys to the wagon and set off for his father’s family dwelling place, his father’s kgota.

VILLAGER 1: Since his father’s name was Ngwedi, the kgota was also called Ngwedi, because he had been its headman when he was alive.

VILLAGER 2: It was evening when the boy left for his father’s kgota and the clouds were gathering over the moon. On the way he met a woman and sang out to her—

ALL VILLAGERS: Take heed, those who delay me! Where is Ngwedi’s kgota? Listen to what I ask, for the clouds are where the moon was. Don’t delay me.

VILLAGER 1: The woman said—

ALL VILLAGERS: Stay on this road, ngwanaka. You will meet some people going there. Ask them.

VILLAGER 3: Stay on this road. You will meet some people going there. Ask them.

VILLAGER 1: The boy continued his journey. On the way he met a man and he sang—

ALL VILLAGERS: Take heed, those who delay me! Where is Ngwedi’s kgota? Listen to what I ask, for the clouds are where the moon was. Don’t delay me.

VILLAGER 2: The old woman pointed to a place and said—

ALL VILLAGERS: That is the kgota you want over there, ngwanaka. Turn off the gravel road, walk a little bit and you will get to it.

VILLAGER 3: That is the kgota you want over there. Turn off the gravel road, walk a little bit and you will get to it.

VILLAGER 2: When the boy reached the kgota, he said to the people there—

LEFIKA: I am Morwangwedi, the son of Ngwedi. I want black sheep and white oxen; kill them for me. I am looking for the place where my father was buried.

VILLAGER 4: And so the people of the kgota took him to the kraal and showed him his father’s grave. The boy dug out his father’s bones and fastened them together. When he had done this, he took the meat of the sheep and oxen and put it on the bones. Then the boy began to sing—

LEFIKA: Take heed, those who delay me! Where is Ngwedi’s shirt? Listen to what I ask, for the clouds are where the moon was. Don’t delay me.

(As each item of clothing is mentioned, the villagers pull it out of their baskets and dress Lefika in it. Every time he puts on a new item of cloth- ing he transforms more into Sir Seretse Khama. Lefika is isolated from the rest of the ensemble. Soft, ethereal guitar music plays.)

VILLAGER 3: So the people of the kgota gave him his father’s shirt, and he put it on top of the meat of oxen and sheep, which was fastened to the bones.

VILLAGER 2: Then the boy asked for his father’s trousers in the same way.

VILLAGER 1: And his shoes.

VILLAGER 2: All the time urging them to hurry because the clouds were covering the moon.

VILLAGER 4: When the flesh was clothed, his father came to life! The boy yoked the donkeys, took his father, and set off back to where the boy had been living as an orphan. And when he arrived with his father, the people treated the boy like a king.

ALL VILLAGERS: They did not treat him badly like before, be- cause now he had his father to protect him.

(There is much jubilation and ululation. Lefika, one of the students has been transformed by the costume into Sir Seretse Khama. He poses as a statue of Sir Seretse and then melts out of the pose to deliver the follow- ing version of one of Sir Seretse’s speeches. Ensemble gathers around him and uses their bodies and configuration to establish a radio station studio and a microphone that Sir Seretse is speaking into. No music.)

LEFIKA: (Putting on his glasses.) Bagaetsho, we must write our history books to prove that we did have a past, and that this is  a past that is just as worth writing and learning about as any other. My fellow Batswana, we must excavate our history, dress it up in pride, intelligence, and foresight so that it may indeed come alive in our consciousness today.

(Lights fade and the rest of the speech is done in the fade-out to imply evanescent memory, or a glimpse.)

We must connect the present to the past so that the future may be secured. Because the past can disappear.

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka to speak at Soweto Theatre in celebration of Africa Month

Invitation to a talk by Wole Soyinka
The Lion and the JewelAkeYou Must Set Forth at DawnThe Open Sore of a ContinentOf AfricaSelected Poems


Alert! One of Africa’s most important literary figures, Wole Soyinka, will be at the Soweto Theatre to give a talk in celebration of Africa Month.

The Nobel Laureate is being hosted by Department of Arts and Culture in conjunction with the African Independent Newspaper and Press Club South Africa.

Soyinka will discuss “Politics, Culture and the New African” at the Soweto Theatre on Monday, 30 May:

Professor Wole Soyinka is one of Africa’s most famous literary figures. He was the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Soyinka has been a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments, especially the country’s many military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies. Much of his writing has been concerned with “the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it”. He has taught at several international universities including Oxford, Harvard and Yale.

See you there!

Event Details

Book details

Alan Paton Award shortlist: Interview with Khaya Dlanga on his memoir To Quote Myself

By Jennifer Platt for the Sunday Times

To Quote MyselfTo Quote Myself: A Memoir
Khaya Dlanga (Pan Macmillan)

Your book is the only memoir to be shortlisted this year. Was it difficult putting yourself on the page?
The difficulty was writing down a version that was not better than I was, or making the circumstances that I went through appear worse than what they were. You have to make sure you come across as being the real you, even though every person has different selves – all depending on where you are or who you are with. Every person is multidimensional and it’s important to get that correct on paper.

What challenges did you face writing the book?
Deadlines. Seriously, one of the challenges was making sure that what I remembered was accurate. I spoke to my mother and my aunt. My mother was surprised at what I remembered.

Did the book bring about a healing or closure for you?
It helped me remember my roots and where I came from. It helped me appreciate what I’ve been through. It made me appreciate what so many people did to get me to where I am. I mention a lot of people and this was a way of honouring them. Unfortunately, there is no way of thanking each person individually and there is no way to include everyone.

What message do you want your book to convey?
One of the things I say in the Foreword of the book is that every story is worth telling. The message that I want to get out there is for people to know that our stories can be told. We should be able to see ourselves and relate, and not get other people to tell our stories on our behalf. There are lots of books written about South Africa and black South Africans that are not written by black South Africans. What these books describe and how they describe it will always be from an outsider’s point of view. They can be very empathetic but they always miss the nuances of being in that other person’s skin. This book has brought a new reader to the market. It’s hopefully brought a freshness.

You have spoken out about the writing style of your memoir, and how black stories should be allowed to be told in whatever style the writer chooses. Can you expand on this thought?
The one thing I found particularly interesting is that people said my book was too conversational, or it was too simple and not academic. My response to that criticism is that some people want us to tell our stories the way they want. Saying “You cannot write like this” is a way of gatekeeping storytelling. Many people are buying the book and relating to it. Isn’t that what’s more important – the fact that you can see yourself in the book? For me, my writing shouldn’t be a display of how smart I am but rather about connecting with people.

How did you start to put your memories down on paper?
It had to be chronological. It was important for me to start at the beginning. It was also important to describe my roots and talk about people who had an impact on my life – my mother, grandmother and grandfather. I wrote a synopsis for my publisher where I had to describe in a paragraph what would be in each chapter. So that got me thinking in a chronological way: when I was born, my biggest memory of my childhood (my father’s death when I was six) and so on.

How do you feel about being the author of one of the most stolen books in South Africa?
There is a hunger for people to see themselves in books but they don’t have the access to them. Why are we making access to books so difficult? It makes me angry and frustrated knowing that this is what we are doing.

What was your first memory?
One strong memory I have is of my father. I was four or five at the time. It’s my only memory of my father, but it’s really of my mother as well. She and my aunt went to visit my father. He had come back from Joburg where he had disappeared for a while. I remember my father holding me in his arms and I can feel the tension between him and my mother. I can feel that my father is feeling small. I can remember my mother’s strength and beauty in that moment, and just by a look, she is saying to him, “See, I told you I could do this by myself”.

Follow Jennifer Platt on Twitter @Jenniferdplatt

Book details

Barry Ronge Fiction Prize shortlist: Claire Robertson on the genesis of her book The Magistrate of Gower (Plus: Excerpt)

Published in the Sunday Times

The Magistrate of GowerThe Magistrate of Gower
Claire Robertson (Umuzi)

I came across the story of General Sir Hector MacDonald, a British officer in the Boer War. He was the epitome of the noble outsider, a brave and brilliant general who was hounded to death for being of humble birth and gay (I am still not sure which the Establishment felt less able to forgive).

The discovery of his story (and the fact that one of his lovers was said to have been a Boer prisoner of war) coincided with growing unease on my part at the resurgence of nationalism and the current rise of false history – a distortion of the recent past to serve a dishonourable political agenda.

These two preoccupations came together in The Magistrate of Gower. Very fortunately for the reader, though, such Big Ideas tend to take a back seat to the human lives and loves when one comes to tell the story, and in the end the book is about a young woman and the magistrate of a small town playing out the proof of Oscar Wilde’s subversive observation: “The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray.”


(The year is 1938, the scene a street in the town of Gower. Mrs Poley is a leading figure in the shack settlement on the town’s outskirts.)

It is almost summer, and on Church Street children in cotton nightdresses and pyjamas chase one another among the adults. About halfway down the street the magistrate is speaking quietly to Mr Theron, watching Mrs Cordier rattle her collecting box. And here it comes, a rough shriek. A shriek, a screech, a scream:

“Tim! You bloody bastard! Tim! I will bloody smash you!”

It is Mrs Poley, out of breath and in a terrible dress. She is trying to run and at the same time has one of her bosoms in her left hand to push it back behind the bib of her apron as she comes around a corner into the bright light of Church Street. She stops dead at the sight of them, a street of people playing Statues and all of them looking at her. For a long second she does not move either — her hand on her breast in its loose dress as though she is holding a spanspek high on her chest, breathing like a running dog, and a boy’s stupid giggle the only other sound.

She folds her arms across her bosom. She starts to smile a sorry-boss smile, then lifts her chin and scowls at them.

Somewhere among the stock-still people on the street the dog Tim is still running, and as he comes into the light they can see that he has in his jaws a leguaan, dead, its monkeylike black claws moving as he runs, as though they are reaching for something and falling back, reaching and falling. Its tail hangs almost to the ground and the dog has to hold its head high to keep it from dragging on the tar. Now the town dogs are streaking up the street to attack, and although men shout at them and try to block them, there is no chance that these dogs will not go after something that is, rolled into one, an intruder and limping and carrying a trophy.

In a second they have it from him.

The dog Tim trots a few steps away from them and looks back, as a jackal would, but the town dogs, curiously enough, just stop where they are, as though they are waiting for orders.

Mrs Poley, meanwhile, is on the move towards her dog, her face dark with risen blood. Mr Theron says, “No, man,” in Afrikaans, softly, and as Mrs Poley passes Vena Cordier, Vena lifts the fingers of one gloved hand to her nose, an extra unkindness.

Before the woman can reach her dog, Mr Villiers from the bank steps up and speaks the name of his dog; it is a ridiculous town name, Monroe. The big yellow dog with the leguaan in its mouth comes to its master at once. Mr Villiers waits a moment and then says, in the same actor’s tenor: “Sit. Sit. Drop it.”

Monroe obeys to the letter and Mr Villiers takes out his handkerchief and picks up the great lizard, holds it away from him with both hands, a strangler’s grip, and steps into the sanitation lane left over from when Gower was on buckets. They hear the dustbin lid lifting and being jammed tight again, then Mr Villiers is back in the light, wiping his hands on the same hanky. He gives Mrs Poley a schoolmaster’s look. She, breathless with anger, tries to catch sight of her dog among the people on the street, calling “Tim! Tim!”, but something in her voice scares him worse than the town dogs and he takes off, splashing urine on his paws. The giggling boy laughs like a bark. Mr Theron says again, under his breath, “Ag, no, man.”

The magistrate steps out from among the townsfolk and walks quickly across the street to where the big woman stands alone among the proper Gower people. He takes her elbow and turns her, and all the time he has his head down near her face, talking to her, pointing with his free hand. In this way he brings her away from staring Gower and back to her corner, where he takes leave of her with a tip of his hat.

The magistrate, returning to Theron’s side, is already regretting his actions. He had felt the heat and agitation of the woman’s outrage when he held her arm and brought her away from the lit street to the threshold of the darker part of Gower. He regretted doing so, regretted doing anything at all. She had hated him, was humiliated, he thought, had furiously strained against a world where cunning and strength and the essential art of veld foraging to feed a family (if that was the intended fate of the leguaan) must bend the knee to the bland ambitions of respectability, to this ascendancy of herd animals.

The dogs have returned to sit at their masters’ feet.

Book details

Book Bites: 22 May 2016

Missing, PresumedMissing, Presumed
Susie Steiner (HarperCollins)
Book thrill
An intriguing look into how most crimes are resolved by dogged determination rather than hunches and exciting leads. The case of the missing Cambridge postgraduate Edith Hinds was always going to be high profile, not only because she was the beautiful daughter of successful parents but also due to revelations of her sexual shenanigans. DI Manon Bradshaw is more concerned with the plight of Fly, a boy whose brother’s murder she is investigating, but the author weaves the threads together seamlessly into a satisfying conclusion. – Aubrey Paton

Tokyo KillTokyo Kill
Barry Lancet (Simon & Schuster)
Book thrill
Jim Brodie is a dealer in Chinese and Japanese art and artefacts who becomes a sleuth by default when he inherits his father’s private-eye business. He is also a widowed father to a six-year-old daughter. Not a promising start for an action-packed detective series, but that turns out to be wrong. This time Brodie is investigating the mysterious murders of old soldiers who had been part of Japan’s vicious invasion of Chinese Manchuria, that lasted until the end of World War II. Lancet, through Brodie, has a fine eye for the subtleties of Japanese culture and an ability to decipher its impenetrability for the ignorant average Westerner. – William Saunderson-Meyer @TheJaundicedEye

A Different Kind of DaughterA Different Kind of Daughter
Maria Toorpakai (Pan Macmillan)
Book buff
Maria Toorpakai was born a natural athlete. Unfortunately, she was also born a woman in a country where Islamic fundamentalism is the political order of the day. At the age of four, Maria burnt her dresses, put on her brother’s clothes and cut off her long tresses. Despite the danger it posed, she became the number one female squash player in Pakistan. Strong, bold and independent, she went against what the Taliban deemed correct behaviour for a woman. Along with her family, Maria fled to Canada where she continues to play professional squash. Her story is a gripping one of unity, love and strength. – Varsha Lalla @varsh31

Into the Magic Shop
Into the Magic Shop: A neurosurgeon’s true story of the life-changing magic of compassion and mindfulness

Dr James R Doty (Hodder & Stoughton)
A rags-to-riches tale mixed with self-help tips that neurosurgeon James Doty learned as a 12-year-old boy in a magic shop make for an unlikely alchemy. But Doty has a not-so-secret ingredient infusing his story: compassion. The first part of his tale as a boy living in poverty is interspersed with tips on mindfulness and easy reading. Part two, on how he became a neurosurgeon worth millions, dragged on, but the final part on practising and researching compassion is inspiring. – Claire Keeton @ClaireKeetonST

Book details

  • Into the Magic Shop: From Lost Boy To Neurosurgeon: A True Story Of The Life-Changing Magic Of Compassion And Mindfulness by James R Doty
    EAN: 9781444786187
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

The best African books

The best African books


To celebrate Africa Day, we asked our Books LIVE community what their favourite African books were.

You can suggest contemporary books or classics, fiction or non-fiction. The list is a work in progress. If you feel something is missing, let us know on Twitter @BooksLIVESA or

Without further ado, the best African books – as chosen by you!
Do Not Go GentleDo Not Go Gentle by Futhi Ntshingila
Book homepage
EAN: 9781920590505
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Sweet MedicineSweet Medicine by Panashe Chigumadzi
EAN: 9781928337126
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MalikhanyeMalikhanye by Mxolisi Nyezwa
Book homepage
EAN: 9780958491594
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Born on a TuesdayBorn on a Tuesday by Elnathan John
EAN: 9781911115021
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Season of Crimson BlossomsSeason of Crimson Blossoms by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim
Book homepage
EAN: 9781911115007
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Easy Motion TouristEasy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle
EAN: 9781911115069
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The Lazarus EffectThe Lazarus Effect by H J Golakai
Book homepage
EAN: 9780795703195
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Half of a Yellow Sun Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Book homepage
EAN: 9780007200283
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Say You're One of ThemSay You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan
Book homepage
EAN: 9780349120645
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In Corner BIn Corner B by Es’kia Mphahlele
EAN: 9780143106029
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Lost and Found in JohannesburgLost and Found in Johannesburg by Mark Gevisser
Book homepage
EAN: 9781868425884
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Buy the ebook!

We Need New NamesWe Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
EAN: 9780099581888
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Portrait with KeysPortrait with Keys: Joburg and what-what by Ivan Vladislavic
Book homepage
EAN: 9781415200209
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Nervous ConditionsNervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
EAN: 9780954702335
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Purple HibiscusPurple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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EAN: 9780007189885
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UnimportanceUnimportance by Thando Mgqolozana
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EAN: 9781431409525
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The ReactiveThe Reactive by Masande Ntshanga
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EAN: 9781415207192
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African DelightsAfrican Delights by Siphiwo Mahala
Book homepage
EAN: 9781431402519
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Half of a Yellow Sun Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Book homepage
EAN: 9780007200283
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Under the Udala TreesUnder the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
Book homepage
EAN: 9781847088369
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The Book of MemoryThe Book of Memory by Petina Gappah
Book homepage
EAN: 9780571249626
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AffluenzaAffluenza by Niq Mhlongo
Book homepage
EAN: 9780795706967
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What Will People SayWhat Will People Say by Rehana Rossouw
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EAN: 9781431420247
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The FishermenThe Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma
EAN: 9780957548862
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The Woman Next DoorThe Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
EAN: 9781784740344
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EfuruEfuru by Flora Nwapa
EAN: 9780435900267
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Second Class CitizenSecond Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta
EAN: 9780807610664
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‘A damn fine collection of stories!’ Tjieng Tjang Tjerries by Jolyn Phillips launched at The Book Lounge

Jolyn Phillips

Tjieng Tjang Tjerries by Jolyn Phillips is “something that has not been done before,” said Mervyn Sloman of The Book Lounge, where the book was launched to a full house recently.

Many of the guests had come from Gansbaai by taxi to celebrate Phillips’s success. Tjieng Tjang Tjerries is a remarkable book that reflects something different in the South African literary canon, bringing South African readers a unique new literary flavour.

Meg Vandermerwe and Jolyn PhillipsTjieng Tjang Tjerries and other storiesSloman said the power of Tjieng Tjang Tjerries went beyond the use of language and Phillips’ representation of the Gansbaai’s fishing community. The author, who is a Mandela Rhodes scholar, was joined in a fascinating conversation with Meg Vandermerwe, who supervised her MA in Creative Writing at the University of the Western Cape.

Vandermerwe spoke about the joy of watching as “the student surpasses the teacher”.

“Many things make this a damn fine collection of short stories!” she said. “In particular, one of the outstanding and original points is Jolyn’s voice. There’s more than just the account of an underrepresented facet of society, there is also polylingualism operating where a fusion of English and Afrikaans occurs. The stories are written in English, but contains a lot of Afrikaans. The voice carries with it the timbre and melody of Afrikaans.”

Jolyn’s mother tongue is Afrikaans, but she wanted in the stories to introduce her home and people’s lives, as captured in the way they speak. The author spoke about how music and translation are vibrant aspects of her life. “Something about the way people speak is more than just the words. I wanted the rhythm to come through. As I wrote, I sounded it out loud, keeping words in that enabled a kind of cultural translation,” she said.

For Phillips, the aim is to carry the culture and feelings of her people into English. She said, “I was trying to translate the people, rather than the language.” She also noted the curious experience of being somebody who appeared in the lives of her characters who came knocking on her door at 2 AM to rouse her to write!

How does Phillips explain memory? She quoted Aristotle, who said, “Memories are the scribe of the soul.”

“My memory was doing the writing for me,” she said. “This book is a collection of my soul, who I am as a human being, and how I connect to the people I come from.

“Landscape and language are the melody of the book, but the characters defined themselves in the stories.”

Tjieng Tjang TjerriesTjieng Tjang Tjerries


Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event:


Facebook album:


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English Academy of Southern Africa announce 2015 prize winners – including Thomas Pringle Awards

Jill Nudelman and Imran Garda win 2015 Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose
The Thunder That RoarsInheriting the Earth

Alert! The English Academy of Southern Africa has announced the full list of prize winners for 2015.

In addition to the Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose, which was announced by Books LIVE last week, these include the Thomas Pringle Award for Poetry in Periodicals, the Thomas Pringle Award for Best Article on English in education and the teaching of English, the Thomas Pringle Award for ad hoc reviews.

This year the Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose was jointly awarded to Jill Nudelman, for Inheriting the Earth (University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2012) and Imran Garda, for The Thunder that Roars (Umuzi, 2014).


English Academy Southern Africa

2015 English Academy of Southern Africa award winners:

English Academy of Southern Africa Thomas Pringle Award for Poetry in Periodicals (awarded biennially in odd-numbered years)

Rethabile Masilo, for his poem, “Swimming” (New Coin, Vol. 49 Number (1), June 2013)

Thomas Pringle Award for Best Article on English in education and the teaching of English

Professor Suriamurthee Maistry, for his article “Education for Economic Growth: A Neoliberal Fallacy in South Africa”, published in the journal, Alternation, 2014, Vol 21 (1)

English Academy of Southern Africa Thomas Pringle Award for ad hoc reviews

Historian John Bojé

* * * * *


Thomas Pringle Award for Poetry in Periodicals

Panel of Adjudicators
Finuala Dowling
Beverly Rycroft
Tom Eaton

Citation: Rethabile Masilo’s poem “Swimming”, the judges’ unanimous choice, is a technically flawless and emotionally profound lyric that crosses borders with the universality of its message. The poem stands out for its economical construction, enticing voice, compelling story and poignancy. The power of the poem lies in the beautiful duet of its imagery, which balances nightfall and dawn, home and foreignness, family and alienation, swimming and flying. All of this in a poem of only 17 lines: a remarkable achievement.

* * * * *

Thomas Pringle Award for Best Article on English in education and the teaching of English

Panel of Adjudicators
Dr Matthew Curr (Cape Peninsula University of Technology)
Dr Agnes Chigona (Cape Peninsula University of Technology)
Dr Candice Livingston (Cape Peninsula University of Technology)

Citation: Maistry’s article advocates vigilance about the trajectory of education in South Africa.

He cautions that “rural poor schools and their impoverished pupils are being left behind”. In the urban areas, on the other hand, a dichotomy exists between the urban poor and urban rich. “Ex-model C schools and private institutions are catering to a new multiracial elite.” He suggests that this “elite” and their offspring may create a plutocracy in future; a danger that must be guarded against. Urban poor “have their schools replaced by franchise type colleges which my well degrade opportunities”.

Maistry argues that “[t]his pattern of neo-liberal stratification is being replicated in many parts of the world”. Strong debate is taking place in the USA, Britain and as far afield as India between those that “welcome the commercialisation of schooling” and those who want to retain “community-controlled schools”. The result is a continuation of established class divisions so that the poor continue to be overlooked and the privileged wealthy remain a group entrenched in society’s structure. He concludes that the New South Africa cannot afford the continued separation of society along these class lines, especially in view of the expectation “of universal equality” in the late 1990s.

The adjudicators believe that “[Professor] Maistry’s warning should be essential reading for South African educators at all levels”.

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Thomas Pringle Award for ad hoc reviews

Panel of Adjudicators:
Dr Verna Brown
Dr Felicity Horne
Dr Jeanette Ferreira

Citation: According to the adjudicators, John Bojé is no ordinary critic. Reading his reviews, the reader recognises “his authoritative voice, breadth of knowledge and keen critical ability”. Bojé, himself explains that “well-written history is never monovocal but, becomes textured, multi-faceted, fragmented and ultimately inconclusive, as the disjuncture between events and the ideologically coloured perception of those events is brought to light”. He brings this sensitivity to his reviews.

In addition “to an informed and refined appraisal of his subject matter”, Bojé’s uses English precisely so that his style of writing is “scholarly yet accessible”.

He is a worthy recipient of the Thomas Pringle Award for ad hoc reviews.

John Bojé received his award at function on 5 May, 2016 hosted by the English Academy of Southern Africa and Unisa. The event, Africa Alive, was held to celebrate Africa month.

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2016 Media24 Books Literary Awards shortlists announced

2016 Media24 Books Literary Awards shortlists announced

Alert! The shortlists for the 2016 Media24 Books Literary Awards have been announced.

The awards recognise the best work published by Media24 Books – including NB Publishers and Jonathan Ball – during the previous year. An exception occurred in 2014, when Dominque Botha’s Valsrivier, published by Umuzi, was deemed too strong not to be included and the won Jan Rabie Rapport Prize.

The winner in each of the six categories receives R35,000, with the MER Prize for Illustrated Children’s Books being shared by the author and illustrator. Independent panels of judges compiled the shortlists.

The prizes will be awarded in Cape Town on 22 June, 2016.

Last year’s six winners were Willem Anker, Michiel Heyns, Antjie Krog, Mark Gevisser, Andre Eva Bosch and Fiona Moodie.

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2016 Media24 Books Literary Awards shortlists

WA Hofmeyr Prize for Afrikaans Fiction (novel, short stories or drama)


Wonderboom by Lien Botha (Queillerie)
Brandwaterkom by Alexander Strachan (Tafelberg)
Vlakwater by Ingrid Winterbach (Human & Rousseau)

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Recht Malan Prize for Afrikaans or English Non-Fiction

Black Brain, White BrainA Perfect StormShowdown at the Red Lion

Black Brain, White Brain by Gavin Evans (Jonathan Ball)
Perfect Storm by Milton Shain (Jonathan Ball)
Showdown at the Red Lion by Charles van Onselen (Jonathan Ball)

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Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English Fiction (novel, short stories or drama)

The FetchThe Shadow of the Hummingbird

The Fetch by Finuala Dowling (Kwela)
The Shadow of the Hummingbird by Athol Fugard and Paula Fourie (Human & Rousseau)

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Elisabeth Eybers Prize for Afrikaans and English Poetry


Vry- by Gilbert Gibson (Human & Rousseau)
Takelwerk by Daniel Hugo (Human & Rousseau)
Bladspieël by Marlise Joubert (Human & Rousseau)

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MER Prize for Afrikaans and English Youth Novels

Elton Amper-Famous April en Juffrou BromBambaduzeSwemlesse vir 'n meermin

Elton amper-famous April en juffrou Brom by Carin Krahtz (Tafelberg)
Bambaduze by Derick van der Walt (Tafelberg)
Swemlesse vir ’n meermin by Marita van der Vyver (Tafelberg)

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MER Prize for Illustrated Children’s Books in Afrikaans and English

Hendrik LeerdamDie Dingesfabriek: Jannus en Kriek en die tydmasjienProfessor Sabatina se wetenskapboek

Hendrik Leerdam: Kaap van storms by James Home en Peter Mascher (ill.) (Tafelberg)
Die Dingesfabriek 4: Jannus en Kriek en die tydmasjien by Elizabeth Wasserman and Astrid Castle (ill.) (Tafelberg)
Professor Sabatina se wetenskapboek by Elizabeth Wasserman, Astrid Castle (ill.) and Rob Foote (ill.) (Tafelberg)

The prizes will be awarded in Cape Town on 22 June 2016.

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North American edition of The Reactive by Masande Ntshanga reviewed by Minneapolis Star Tribune‎

The ReactiveThe ReactiveVerdict: carrot

Even as “The Reactive” hits some story beats that readers of a certain melancholy strain of crime fiction will find familiar, it also evades them. This is as much a book about atmosphere and states of mind as it is about the activities in which Lindanathi is enmeshed. And fundamentally, it’s not so much about the dangers that Lindanathi encounters on a daily level.

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