Media personality Jani Allan, who left South Africa for the second time in 2001, made a return to the SA spotlight this month with a feature written by Rowan Philp for the Mail & Guardian.
Visiting Allan in Lambertville, Philp writes about her return to writing with a blog, My Grilling Life, originally written under the name Juliette, which shares observations from her job as a waitress.
Read the feature for a look back at Allan’s life – from her time as the Sunday Times columnist and media personality to the sex-scandal over her alleged affair with AWB leader Eugene Terre’Blanche, and her public feud with her former friend, astrologer Linda Shaw:
She was one of the country’s most celebrated and divisive media figures of the 1980s and 1990s, and the object of one of its greatest sex scandals.
The waitress known as ”Juliette” is a mystery woman in the small United States town of Lambertville, New Jersey.
Despite working at the same restaurant for the past nine years, the most people here know about her is that she only wears black, and that she knows Latin but doesn’t know how to cook an egg. She’s so broke that she can’t afford cigarettes, but has met people such as Charlton Heston and the Dalai Lama.
Allan has now launched a website where she will be posting stories that will serve as a work-in-progress autobiography, which she invites people to add to with their “experiences, insights and feelings about the people, the places and events” that she writes about. This can be done by commenting on the blog posts.
“Over the next few months I will be publishing on this site – in no special order – elements of my story that, ultimately, will knit together into my autobiography,” Allan writes. “Rather than publish a ‘coherent’ book-like memoir, I have decided at this stage to put my story into the cloud-crowd as a work-in-progress.”
Over the next few months I will be publishing on this site – in no special order – elements of my story that, ultimately, will knit together into my autobiography.
Rather than publish a “coherent” book-like memoir, I have decided at this stage to put my story into the cloud-crowd as a work-in-progress. I invite you to become more than just a reader; become a contributor to and a shaper of this story.
Two of the first posts on the site are in the “open letter” format, with the first addressed to South Africa and the second to Joost van der Westhuizen after his attempt to stop Joost and Amor: Behind the Headlines by Gavin Prins from being published was dismissed.
“Your job was to provide the fan club. You were doing rather well, sending me thousands of letters every week…Then I went to interview that overweight man who fell off his horse and suddenly I am persona non starter. What kind of loyalty is that?”, Allan writes to her former home country:
Dear South Africa…
It has been a quarter of a century – a generation-and-a-half – that you and I have been estranged. No, let us be frank, divorced.
I happen to believe in divorce because, as someone once said, there has to be in marriage, as in every other experience of life, a corrective of mistake and tragedy.
Image courtesy Jani Allan