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What keeps you awake at night? “A fear of losing our freedom” – a Q&A with Khusta Jack

Published in the Sunday Times

What book changed your life?

The Struggle is My Life by Nelson Mandela. I read it when I was at school before I became politically involved in the struggle.

Who is your favourite fictional hero?

I loved the animals in the African traditional stories, especially uMvundla, the Hare.

What phrase do you most overuse?

“That’s life.” I think what I am saying is accept your situation and work from there.

You’re hosting a literary dinner with three writers. Who’s invited?

Zakes Mda, the late Chris van Wyk and Peter Mtuze.

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

What novel would you give children to introduce them to literature?

My kids enjoyed Holes by Louis Sachar when they were young teens.

What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?

Xhosa Poets and Poetry by Jeff Opland, a collection of Xhosa literature. My children gave it to me as a Christmas present last year.

What is the last thing that you read that made you laugh out loud?

Parts of the book Shirley, Goodness and Mercy by Chris van Wyk – his life and how he portrayed it was poignant and funny.

What keeps you awake at night?

A fear of losing our freedom, and my children having to fight for emancipation all over again.

What books are on your bedside table?

The Broken River Tent by Mphuthumi Ntabeni and Still Grazing by Hugh Masekela.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

There is no substitute for hard work. Being humble is always safe. It is cheaper to keep yourself out of trouble than to get out of trouble.

To Survive and Succeed: From Farm Boy to Businessman by Khusta Jack is published by Kwela, R280

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