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Archive for the ‘Academic’ Category

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!

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New JM Coetzee novel announced

JM Coetzee
The Good StoryJM Coetzee: Two ScreenplaysThe Childhood of Jesus

Alert! A new novel by JM Coetzee has been announced, according to The Bookseller.

The book is titled The Schooldays of Jesus and will be a sequel to Coetzee’s 2013 novel The Childhood of Jesus, following the same characters.

Coetzee’s long-time editor Geoff Mulligan told The Bookseller: “The Schooldays of Jesus is an intriguing and wonderful novel and we are delighted to be publishing it.”

Liz Foley, publishing director at Harvill Secker, said: “The Childhood of Jesus was one of my favourite books of 2013 so I am over the moon that we have this brilliant new novel following the same unforgettable characters to look forward to.”

The Schooldays of Jesus will be out from Harvill Secker in September.

Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003. He was also the first writer to be awarded the Booker Prize twice, for Life & Times of Michael K in 1983 and Disgrace in 1999. Peter Carey and Hilary Mantel have since earned the same honour.

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Ekow Eshun reviews Secure the Base: Making Africa Visible in the Globe by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Secure the Base: Making Africa Visible in the GlobeVerdict: carrot

The West was founded on the slaughter of millions of people of colour, from the genocide of Native Americans in the US to Europe’s various acts of butchery and repression in Algeria, Kenya, the Congo and elsewhere in Africa. For Ngugi, the horror of such violence is made all the more bitter by being dressed up in narratives of progress and enlightenment. “The fact is, for the last 400 years, Europe and the West have been Africa’s hell, with Africa a European heaven,” writes Ngugi. The West has always insisted that the opposite is true. Secure the Base aims to make visible the real state of affairs.

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The 2016 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award longlist

Published in the Sunday Times

The 2016 Sunday Times Literary Awards longlists

Alert! The longlist for the 2016 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction has been announced, in association with Porcupine Ridge.

This is the 27th year the Alan Paton Award will be bestowed on a book that presents “the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power”, and that demonstrates “compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity”.

This year’s Alan Paton Award judging panel is Achmat Dangor (chair), Tinyiko Maluleke and Pippa Green.


Chairperson Achmat Dangor’s remarks on the Alan Paton Award longlist:

The 2016 Alan Paton Awards longlisted books examine topics that cover almost the whole spectrum of macro subjects – culture, race, politics, economics – that impact on South Africa today.

There are personal stories about very high-profile figures as well as ordinary people such as street kids and women sangomas in patriarchal rural environments, all of whom deal with the challenging realities of their lives in different ways. Questions are asked: what is race and racism; how is inequality defined; is a true democracy solely embedded in its political order; and how can the constitution be made to work for the true liberation of all citizens.

The books selected for consideration are those that are honest, do not hesitate to challenge power and convention, and are engaging enough to reach a broad general readership.

Finally, whatever the writer has to say, his or her book will achieve enduring impact because of how well he or she can write.

Last year’s Alan Paton Award winner was Jacob Dlamini for his book Askari: A Story of Collaboration and Betrayal in the Anti-Apartheid Struggle (Jacana Media). Damon Galgut was awarded the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize for his novel, Arctic Summer (Umuzi).

The shortlists will be announced on Saturday, May 14 at the Franschhoek Literary Festival. The winners of the 2016 Alan Paton Award and Barry Ronge Fiction Prize will each receive R100 000.

2016 Alan Paton Award longlist

Empire, War & Cricket in South AfricaEmpire, War & Cricket in South Africa by Dean Allen
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JM Coetzee and the Life of WritingJM Coetzee and the Life of Writing by David Attwell
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DemocracyDemocracy: More Than Just Elections by Brigalia Bam
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The Secret SocietyThe Secret Society: Cecil John Rhodes’s Plan for a New World Order by Robin Brown
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The Black SashThe Black Sash: Women for Justice and Peace by Mary Ingouville Burton
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PapwaPapwa: Golf’s Lost Legend by Maxine Case
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BirthmarkBirthmark by Stephen Clingman
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The Pavement BookwormThe Pavement Bookworm by Philani Dladla
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To Quote MyselfTo Quote Myself by Khaya Dlanga
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RapeRape: A South African Nightmare by Pumla Dineo Gqola
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What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?What If There Were No Whites In South Africa? by Ferial Haffajee
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Operation Lock and the War on Rhino PoachingOperation Lock and the War on Rhino Poaching by John Hanks
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In Enemy HandsIn Enemy Hands: South Africa’s POWs in World War II by Karen Horn
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Eugene de KockEugene de Kock: Assassin for the State by Anemari Jansen
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Leading for ChangeLeading for Change by Jonathan Jansen
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How Long Will South Africa Survive?How Long Will South Africa Survive?: The Looming Crisis by RW Johnson
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We Have Now Begun Our DescentWe Have Now Begun Our Descent: How To Stop South Africa Losing Its Way by Justice Malala
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Capitalist CrusaderCapitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth by Herman Mashaba
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God, Spies and LiesGod, Spies and Lies: Finding South Africa’s Future Through its Past by John Matisonn
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Run Racist RunRun Racist Run: Journeys Into The Heart Of Racism by Eusebius McKaiser
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The Rainy SeasonThe Rainy Season: Three Lives in the New South Africa by Maggie Messitt
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Deliberate ConcealmentDeliberate Concealment: An Insider’s Account of Cricket South Africa and the IPL Bonus Saga by Mtutuzeli Nyoka
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A Perfect StormA Perfect Storm: Antisemitism in South Africa 1930 – 1948 by Milton Shain
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Jan SmutsJan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness by Richard Steyn
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Showdown at the Red LionShowdown at the Red Lion: The Life and Times of Jack McLoughlin, 1859–1910 by Charles van Onselen
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Jacob Dlamini and Imraan Coovadia among the winners at the inaugural NIHSS Book, Creative and Digital Awards

Jacob Dlamini and Imraan Coovadia among the winners at the inaugural NIHSS Book, Creative and Digital Awards


Alert! The inaugural National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) Book, Creative and Digital Awards ceremony took place last night in Parktown, Johannesburg.

Winners included Jacob Dlamini for Askari (Jacana Media); Imraan Coovadia for Tales of the Metric System (Umuzi); the 2014 Short Sharp Stories Award anthology Adults Only, edited by Joanne Hichens; and recent UKZN Press publication Class in Soweto.

AskariTales of the Metric SystemAdults OnlyClass in Soweto


Awards were also handed out in the categories Digital Humanities and Creative Collections. Each award is valued at R60,000.

Submissions for the awards were open to academics from the humanities and social sciences, as well as creative curators and artists based at South African universities, in any of South Africa’s official languages.

The NIHSS is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

From the NIHSS:

The awards will honour and celebrate outstanding, innovative and socially responsive scholarship, creative and digital contributions that advance in the humanities and social sciences fields. The awards are consequently a platforms to laud outstanding contributions to the humanities and social sciences through scholarly and creative work.

Through its core functions of enhancing and coordinating scholarship, research and ethical practice in humanities and social sciences, the NIHSS seeks to redress existing deficits and also coordinates programmes, projects, collaboration and activities in the humanities and social sciences disciplines through existing public universities.

Ashraf Garda was the master of ceremonies, and the keynote address was given by Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande.

Jacob Dlamini and Imraan Coovadia among the winners at the inaugural NIHSS Book, Creative and Digital AwardsNzimande expressed his delight at the overwhelming response and high standard of entries that the awards received from academics and other practitioners in the field.

“A renewed focus on the importance of the humanities and social sciences is absolutely critical in a world that increasingly values the Sciences, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) as the only measure of development and progress,” Nzimande said.

“The role of the humanities and social sciences must not only assist us in analysing and interpreting the world we live in, but it must enable us to change the material conditions and lived experiences of those most marginalised and alienated in society.”

The judges summations were given by Joyce Myeza (Digital Humanities), Thembinkosi Goniwe (Creative Collections), Shireen Hassim (Books: Non-fiction), and Pumla Dineo Gqola (Books: Fiction)

Winners: Books

Winner Best Non-fiction Monograph:

Jacob Dlamini for Askari

(Shortlisted: Isabel Hofmeyr for Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading, Stephanus Muller for Nagmusiek, Corrine Sandwith for A World of Letters: Reading Communities and Cultural Debates in Early Apartheid South Africa)

Winner Best Non-fiction Edited Volume:

Class in Soweto, edited by Peter Alexander, Claire Ceruti, Keke Motseke, Mosa Phadi and Kim Wale

(Shortlisted: Peter Delius, Laura Phillips and Fiona Rankin-Smith for A Long Way Home: Migrant Worker Worlds 1800-2014, Salim Vally and Enver Motala for Education, Economy and Society)

Winner Best Single Authored Fiction (novel, short stories, poetry, drama):

Imraan Coovadia for Tales of the Metric System

(Shortlisted: Antjie Krog for Mede-wete, Bishop Makobe for Tsa Ngweding wa Letopanta)

Winner Edited Fiction Volume:

Adults Only, edited by Joanne Hichens

(Shortlisted: Amitabh Mitra and Naomi Nkealah for Splinters of a Mirage Dawn: An Anthology of Migrant Poetry from South Africa)

Winners: Digital Humanities

Best Digital Humanities Tool or Suite of Tools:

Nirma Madhoo-Chipps for Future Body: Technological Embodiment in Digital Fashion Media

Best Digital Humanities Project for Community Engagement:

Shirley Walters and Astrid von Kotze for Popular Education

Creative Collections

Best Public Performance:

Jay Pather for Live Art Festival

Best Musical Composition/Arrangement:

Sazi Dlamini, Neo Muyanga, Sumangala Damodaran, Ari Sitas (produced by Jürgen Bräuninger) for Insurrections

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Watch a video from the event:

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View some tweets from the event:

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New light on Angola’s old shadows: Ayesha Kajee reviews Justin Pearce’s Political Identity and Conflict in Central Angola, 1975-2002

By Ayesha Kajee for the Sunday Times

Political Identity and Conflict in Central Angola, 1975-2002Political Identity and Conflict in Central Angola, 1975-2002
Justin Pearce (Cambridge University Press)
**** (4 stars)

Most narratives of the Angolan civil war, once dubbed “the worst war in the world” by the UN, view it through the lens of ethnic difference or as a Cold War proxy war — the Marxist MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola), now the ruling party, versus the Maoist-turned-capitalist Unita (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola). With Cuba, the Soviet Union and South Africa all having entered the fray at some point, these perspectives have long been accepted as fact.

But Justin Pearce offers a fresh version, based on interviews with ordinary people in towns and rural areas. Pearce’s understanding is that at the time of Angola’s rushed independence from Portugal in 1975, there was no broad identity or ideological split across the Angolan citizenry. “People simply became MPLA or Unita supporters depending on the proximity of the armed groups.” With each side providing jobs and services in the areas it controlled, the war became a never-ending story, feeding on itself and lasting 27 years with a total body count of about half a million.

Many people changed allegiances on the basis of self-interest and expediency, some doing so multiple times. One narrator tells how for the first part of a train journey, his mother had to pledge loyalty to Unita, but after a certain station, when they had entered MPLA territory, she swore allegiance to the MPLA.

Pearce’s even-handedness is evident in the narrative, favouring neither side, even though the majority of his interviews are from former Unita strongholds, as he ventures into the little-studied central areas of the country. He lays bare the devastation that the war and its aftermath have wreaked on the population of this oil- and diamond-rich nation, and is chillingly bleak about the short- to medium-term prospects for change, despite the sporadic anti-regime protests that have erupted in Luanda in recent years. Pearce notes that recent economic reverses will make it “more difficult for the government to maintain its patronage networks and to continue to invest in repression [of critics]”.

On the prospects for a cohesive national identity, Pearce says that “while people may have a sense of being Angolan regardless of their political affiliation” they have divergent ideas about what “Angolan” means. “The MPLA comes out of an urban, Portuguese-speaking nationalism [while] Unita comes out of a central Angolan nationalism in which African identity was far more important.”

Since the war ended, these differences “have become less explicit”, but the government propagates “a not-so-subtle message that anyone who is not with the MPLA is not properly Angolan”.

Follow Ayesha Kajee on Twitter @ayeshakajee

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RIP Martin Legassick (1940 – 2016)

Martin Legassick and Peter Alexander
Towards Socialist DemocracyArmed Struggle and DemocracyThe Struggle for the Eastern Cape, 1800-1854The Politics of a South African FrontierThe Struggle for the Eastern Cape, 1800-1854

Acclaimed historian and lifelong activist Martin Legassick died yesterday at the age of 76, after a battle with cancer.

Legassick was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and moved to South Africa in 1947. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford, and completed his PhD at the University of California.

Martin LegassickWhile working at universities in the United Kingdom and Tanzania, Legassick became active in the ANC and the South African Congress of Trade Unions in exile. In 1979, however, he was suspended from the ANC with a group of other activists, allegedly for creating a faction, and co-founded the Marxist Workers Tendency of the ANC, which later became the Democratic Socialist Movement. He was later expelled from the ANC.

Between 1981 and 1991 Legassick worked full-time as an anti-apartheid activist. He returned from exile after the unbanning of the ANC and returned to academia, although he remained involved in activism and politics.

In 2007 Legassick exchanged a famous series of public open letters with then-Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu about the N2 Gateway project. In 2009 he was arrested while supporting the Macassar Village land occupation near Cape Town.

Between 1992 and 2005 Legassick lectured in the History Department at the University of the Western Cape, and was an Emeritus Professor of that institution. He wrote extensively on South African history, from the precolonial period to the present day.

South African History Online has shared a tribute by Noor Nieftagodien:

Martin Legassick has passed away at 76 (1940 – 2016)

“Comrade Martin Legassick passed away this morning, 1 March 2016, after a protracted and brave fight against cancer. Despite ill-health and excruciating pain, he completed his final book project at the beginning of this year.

Comrade Martin was a revolutionary socialist, brilliant scholar, teacher and mentor. He was an outstanding scholar and a pioneer of radical revisionist history in South Africa. From the 1960s when he was a university student, Martin immersed himself in the struggle against apartheid, including mobilizing some of the first international student demonstrations in the United States. In the mid-1970s he became a founding member of the Marxist Workers’ Tendency of the ANC (MWT of the ANC) and left his academic post to work as full-time political activist. He served on the editorial committee of the journal, Inqaba yaBasebenzi, and newspaper, Congress Militant. For this, he was expelled by the ANC in 1985. On his return from exile, Martin continued to play a leading role in the MWT of the ANC and simultaneously became active in working class struggles in the Western Cape. He was also appointed professor of History at UWC, where he continued his excellent scholarship and mentoring of students. When anti-eviction struggles exploded on the Cape Flats, he spent most of his time working with activists, contributing to build these new movements of the working class.

Evenings and weekends were dedicated to meetings and political education classes. After the Marikana massacre, he immediately travelled to the platinum mines to show solidarity and to be part of the movement emerging there.

Similarly, he stood by the farm workers under the leadership of CSAAWU. He lived for the struggles of the working class. From 2008 he also dedicated some time to efforts to rebuild the socialist left, especially in the form of the Democratic Left Front and was hopeful that the United Front and a new trade union movement would galvanise the working class in co-ordinated struggles against poverty, inequality and racism. When I met on his birthday in December last year, he wanted to know about the new wave of students’ struggles and, despite physical weakness, was excited about the prospects of a new generation of activists emerging from this movement.

Hamba Kahle Comrade Martin

Noor Nieftagodien

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Nal’ibali calls for more books in local languages for International Mother Language Day

Knowledge is power. Where do we keep knowledge? Books! So lots of books means … lots of power!

This is the central message of an inspiring new video produced by Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, with which they are launching their call for more books in South African languages.

The call is made as part of the Nal’ibali celebration of International Mother Language Day, happening on 21 February. This year’s theme, as selected by the UN, will be “Quality education, language(s) of instruction and learning outcomes”.

All children deserve to learn to read, and to be read to in the language that they are most familiar with and comfortable in. In this way their experiences of books and stories become far richer through greater comprehension of the tales within. This is a crucial component in building children’s motivation to read, a desire which we know has significant implications for their future learning success. – Jade Jacobsohn, Managing Director of the Nal’ibali campaign.

A look at the Children’s Book Availability Report by The South African Publications Network (SAPnet) reveals that very few children are able to read books in their mother tongues owing to a lack of such books:

Between 2000 and 2015, 53 599 children’s books were published in South Africa. Of these 21 714 were English (40%), 12 934 were Afrikaans (24%), 3 638 isiXhosa (6%), 3561 isiZulu (6%), 2 341 Setswana (4%), 2 273 Sepedi (4%), 2 200 Sesotho (4%), 1 309 Xitsonga (2%); 1 144 Tshivenda (2%), 1 119 Siswati (2%) and 912 isiNdebele (1%). This does not take into account the number of these books that are school textbooks. The remaining books published were dictionaries.


Watch the video and be inspired to heed to Nal’ibali’s call for an increase in the production and distribution of books in indigenous languages:

YouTube Preview Image

Related story:


Press release

Nal’ibali launches powerful PSA this International Mother Languages Day

Highlighting the critical lack of books available in all African languages to children in South Africa, Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, has produced a powerful public service announcement that illustrates the breakdown of books available per language and calls for support for African language reading materials for children. The video has been developed in recognition of International Mother Languages Day on Sunday, 21 February.

“All children deserve to learn to read, and to be read to in the language that they are most familiar with and comfortable in. In this way their experiences of books and stories become far richer through greater comprehension of the tales within. This is a crucial component in building children’s motivation to read, a desire which we know has significant implications for their future learning success,” explains Jade Jacobsohn, Managing Director of the Nal’ibali campaign.

“Without this, many African language speaking children are likely to continue to find learning to read and write a burdensome and difficult task. The accelerated growth and use of a multilingual children’s literature is a sign of appreciation of and care for the cultural and educational interests of all children. It also offers the chance to embrace diversity and grow common understandings”, adds Carole Bloch, Executive Director of PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa) cofounder and literacy content and quality assurance partner of Nal’ibali.

What motivates children to read? Research has shown that choice and relevance are two of the most critical components. When children can choose from a wide selection of books and stories that they understand, inspire them and are relevant to their lives, they are more likely to want to read.

However, a recent report issued by SAPnet (The South African Publications Network) shows that of the total number of books published in South Africa between the year 2000 and 2015, 40% of these were in English, 24% in Afrikaans and just 6% in isiXhosa and isiZulu. The remaining official languages were represented with percentages smaller than six. Most notably, the percentage of books for isiNdebele is just 1%*, an alarmingly small portion of books given the population breakdown per language.

It is also important to note that these figures do not take into account the number of books that are school textbooks, as this would further reduce the number of books available.

“We want our children to grow up to be strong and powerful readers, and to have the best chance of success in the classroom and in the workforce. We need to increase quantity and access to literacy materials in all languages. We need to start by promoting the importance of mother tongue languages and celebrating them,” concludes Jacobsohn.

Using languages which people understand deeply plays an important role in social and economic development. African languages must be accorded cultural capital. Nal’ibali would like to thank SAPnet and the Cape Town Central Library for their kind support in the production of the video and the Nal’ibali campaign.

For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, to watch the video or to access children’s in a range of South African languages, visit and You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA.


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The local non-fiction to look forward to in 2016 (Jan – June)

The local non-fiction books to look forward to in 2016 (Jan - June)


Books LIVE is proud to present the list of non-fiction books to look out for in the first half of 2016.

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Three eagerly anticipated books that will make an appearance this year are Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak’s magnum opus on Africa, Continental Shift, Alex Eliseev’s examination of the Betty Ketani murder investigation, Cold Case Confession, and Don Pinnock’s City Press Non-fiction Award-winning book, Gang Town.

Patrick Craven’s The Battle for Cosatu: An Insider’s View and The Big Fix by Ray Hartley are sure to make a splash.

Letters of Stone: Discovering A Family’s History In Nazi Germany by Capetonian Steven Robins is already receiving some very favourable reviews, with Antjie Krog calling it “a most exceptional and unforgettable book”.

Finally, William Dicey, the author of the critically acclaimed Borderline (2004), has a new book of essays out titled Mongrel, which comes highly recommended by Ivan Vladislavić.

Looking ahead towards the second half of the year, Jessica Pitchford’s Switched At Birth – the true story of the boys who were accidentally swapped at an East Rand hospital in 2010 – is out in July, and is sure to capture the imagination. In November, Trevor Noah’s collection of essays will be published, while the long-awaited sequel to Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom is expected in November or December.

If you think we’ve left something out, feel free to let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Ed’s note: We usually make a point of not using the word ‘local’ to refer South African books, but include it the title of this bi-annual list simply to differentiate it from the many international lists that pop up at this time of year.

Without further ado, have a look at our list:

Note: Covers are subject to change, and information was provided by the publishers


RelocationsRelocations: Reading Culture in South Africa edited by Cóilín Parsons, Imraan Coovadia and Alexandra Dodd
UCT Press

Relocations brings together a selection of the Gordon Institute for the Performing and Creative Arts Great Texts/Big Questions public lecture series by world-renowned artists, writers and thinkers

The authors range from novelists André Brink and Imraan Coovadia (one of the collection’s editors), to poets Gabeba Baderoon and Rustum Kozain, to artist William Kentridge and social activist Zackie Achmat. The topics are as wide as Don Quixote, Marx and Lincoln, trout fishing, Hamlet, the 19th-century Russian writer Gogol and Nabokov’s novel Lolita.

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The Compassionate EnglishwomanThe Compassionate Englishwoman: Emily Hobhouse in the Boer War by Robert Eales
UCT Press

In 1899 the South African War broke out. As the war progressed, in London the upper-class Emily Hobhouse learned of the camps in southern Africa that contained mostly Boer women and children who had been displaced by the hostilities. She was so concerned that she decided to go to South Africa to investigate. By herself and on her own initiative, she travelled by ship to Cape Town, to begin the distribution of aid to these camps.

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Letters of StoneLetters of Stone by Steven Robins
Penguin Random House South Africa

“This is a most exceptional and unforgettable book” – Antjie Krog

Letters of Stone tracks Robins’s journey of discovery about the lives and fates of the Robinski family, in southern Africa, Berlin, Riga and Auschwitz. It also explores the worldwide rise of eugenics and racial science before the war, which justified the murder of Jews by the Nazis and caused South Africa and other countries to close their doors to Jewish refugees.

Most of all, this book is a poignant reconstruction of a family trapped in an increasingly terrifying and deadly Nazi state, and of the immense pressure on Robins’ father in faraway South Africa, which forced him to retreat into silence.

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Continental ShiftContinental Shift by Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak
Jonathan Ball

Africa is falling. Africa is succeeding. Africa is betraying its citizens. Africa is a place of starvation, corruption, disease. African economies are soaring faster than any on earth. Africa is squandering its bountiful resources. Africa is a roadmap for global development. Africa is turbulent. Africa is stabilising. Africa is doomed. Africa is the future.

All of these pronouncements prove equally true and false, as South African journalists Richard Poplak and Kevin Bloom discover on their nine-year road trip through the paradoxical continent they call home.

How to Invest Like Warren BuffettHow to Invest Like Warren Buffett by Alec Hogg
Jonathan Ball

This is the South African guide on investing like Warren Buffett by award-winning financial publisher Alec Hogg.

Learn how the investment genius of Buffett can be applied to South African investing. This book is packed with invaluable lessons and insights from the world’s greatest wealth creator.

Useful charts and graphics are included in the book to provide more details about concepts and shares.


nullTouched by Biko by Andile M-Afrika
Unisa Press

This is a political memoir of life in a rural South African township – with Andile M-Afrika weaving a lyrical tale from actual events surrounding this country’s struggle history, where Steve Bantu Biko played a pivotal role.

M-Afrika’s engaging narrative delves deep into his personal encounters with people, political events and day-to-day life in rural King Williams Town, Eastern Cape. What speaks volumes, are the pervasive echoes of Biko’s presence, on those who shared life in this historic village.

Written with a unique vibrancy and fine wit to enthrall readers from all walks of life, Touched by Biko will be enjoyed by all with an interest in the South African struggle history.

Murder at Small KoppieMurder at Small Koppie by Greg Marinovich
Penguin Random House South Africa

Renowned photojournalist Greg Marinovich explores the truth behind the Marikana massacre, looking specifically at the largely untold slaughter at Small Koppie.

Drawing on his own meticulous investigations, eyewitness accounts and the findings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry set up by President Jacob Zuma following the massacre, Marinovich accurately reconstructs that fateful day as well as the events leading up to the strike.

This is the definitive account of the Marikana massacre from the journalist whose award-winning investigation into the tragedy was called the most important piece of South African journalism post-apartheid.

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nullThe New Black Middle Class in South Africa by Roger Southall
Jacana Media

Despite the fact that the “rise of the black middle class” is one of the most visible aspects of post-apartheid society and a major actor in the reshaping of South African society, analysis of it has been lacking. Rather, the image presented by the media has been of “black diamonds” and corrupt “tenderpreneurs”.

This book presents a new way of looking at the black middle class which seeks to complicate that picture, an analysis that reveals its impactful role in the recent history of South Africa.

nullThe Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart
Jacana Media

The memoir of David Coltart, one of the most prominent political and human rights figures in Zimbabwe. Over the years, Coltart has been threatened, detained, spuriously prosecuted and has survived several direct attempts on his life.

As a young man, Coltart was urged by Robert Mugabe to return to Zimbabwe from South Africa, but he would become one of Mugabe’s favourite targets of vilification, branded a traitor to the state and worthy of remaining in the country only as a resident of one of its prisons.

Simply DeliciousSimply Delicious by Zola Nene

In Nene’s own words: “Food has always been a huge part of my life; important occasions were always marked with a feast of some sort …”

That’s exactly what Simply Delicious is all about; it’s Nene’s culinary career told through her recipes, interspersed with snippets and perspectives of her life journey, including tributes to the people who have inspired and influenced her cooking style and explaining the reason for certain culinary choices that she has made.

Nene is currently the resident chef on Expresso Morning Show.

More about the book

nullThe Dot Spot:A Journey into Sex and Love by Dorothy Black
Jacana Media

The Dot Spot will be South Africa’s first, fun and frank “how-to” guide on untangling the mysteries of sex, love and relationships.

Written in an upfront, entertaining and sassy style, the book uncovers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about dating and relationships, from kink to sexual self-empowerment.

All of us want to find the similarities and connections in the secrets, fantasies and desires that we have but are often too shy to talk about. This book will spark that conversation with unbridled candour.

nullDorothea Bleek: A Life of Scholarship by Jill Weintroub
Wits University Press

Dorothea Bleek (1873 to 1948) devoted her life to completing the “bushman researches” her father and aunt had begun in the closing decades of the 19th century.

How has history treated Dorothea Bleek? Has she been recognised as a scholar in her own right? Was she an adventurer, or was she conservative, a researcher who belittled the people she studied? These are some of the questions with which Jill Weintroub starts this thoughtful biography.

Weintroub is Research Fellow at the Wits Rock Art Research Institute.

More about the book

The Banting SolutionThe Banting Solution by Bernadine Douglas and Bridgette Allan
Penguin Random House South Africa

At last, the banting book that will answer ALL your questions about the banting lifestyle AND provide you with the solution to permanent weight loss!

The Banting Solution answers banters’ most pressing questions, including mythbusting, meal plans, and how to bant on a budget.

Most importantly, it teaches us how to get rid of those unwanted kilos and keep them off forever.

nullThe Reb and the Rebel: Jewish Narratives in South Africa 1892-1913 by Carmel Schrire and Gwynne Schrire
UCT Press

Unedited, unbowdlerised memoirs of the origin and development of the South African Jewish community are few and far between.

The Reb and the Rebel contains three previously unpublished autobiographical works – a diary, a poem and a memoir – by Yehuda Leib Schrire (1851-1912) and his son, Harry Nathan. Few of the early immigrants to South Africa were writers, let alone poets, and the social history provided in these documents embellishes and enlivens the picture of South African Jewish communities at the turn of the 20th century.

Mongrel: EssaysMongrel: Essays by William Dicey

From the author of the critically acclaimed Borderline (2004), Mongrel investigates a range of topics – radical environmentalism, the faultlines between farmer and farm worker, the joys and sorrows of reading – yet drifts of concern and sensibility draw the collection together. Several essays touch on how books can move, and sometimes maul, their readers.

Ivan Vladislavić says: “Dicey is what I look for in a writer: he has something to say and he puts it across with skill, intelligence and wit.”

More about the book

To Quote MyselfTo Quote Myself by Khaya Dlanga
Pan Macmillan

In To Quote Myself, Khaya Dlanga recounts entertaining and moving stories about his roots and upbringing in rural Transkei, how he made his mark at school as well as his time spent studying advertising and as a stand-up comedian.

Dlanga also shares his political views, and how he overcame homelessness to become one of the most influential marketers in South Africa.

The cover of this new edition, designed by Ayanda Mbanjwa, was the winning entry in a competition held by Pan Macmillan last year.


Gang TownGang Town by Don Pinnock

Gang Town is the winner of the 2013 City Press Non-fiction Award.

Why is Cape Town one of the most violent cities on earth? What is it that makes gangs so attractive to young people? Why is it getting worse? Bestselling author Don Pinnock answers these questions in Gang Town, and looks at solutions to the problem.

More about the book

nullUmkonto We Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle by Thula Simpson
Penguin Random House South Africa

Written in a fresh, immediate style, Umkhonto we Sizwe is an honest account of the armed struggle. It does not seek to glorify or to whitewash, but rather to chronicle a fascinating series of events from the beginning of the struggle to the negotiated settlement of the 1990s.

Thula Simpson is a senior lecturer in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria. He has spent a decade researching and writing on the history of the ANC’s liberation struggle. His research has been conducted in Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, the United Kingdom and most extensively in South Africa.

nullExit! by Grizelda Grootboom
Jacana Media

Exit! is the story of Grizelda Grootboom life of prostitution and her ultimate escape from it all.

Grizelda’s life was dramatically changed when she was gang raped at the age of nine by teenagers in her township. Her story starts there. It is a story about the cycle of poverty, family abandonment, dislocation, and survival in the streets of Cape Town.

Grizelda is now an activist against human trafficking who supports fellow survivors undergoing rehabilitation.

Exit! is a BlackBird Books title.

nullOwn Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman by Nadia Bilchik and Lori Miller
Pan Macmillan

Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women.

The book will provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level.

nullThe End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in South Africa by Nicky Falkof
Jacana Media

Towards the end of apartheid, white South Africans found themselves in the middle of new social and political change that showed itself in some strangely morbid “symptoms”. This book discusses two of the primary symptoms that appeared in the media and in popular literature at the time – an apparent threat from a cult of white Satanists and a so-called epidemic of white family murder.

Nicky Falkof is senior lecturer in Media Studies at Wits University.

Critical Thinking, Science, and PseudoscienceCritical Thinking, Science, and Pseudoscience: Why We Can’t Trust Our Brains by Caleb W Lack and Jacques Rousseau

This unique text for undergraduate courses teaches students to apply critical thinking skills across all academic disciplines by examining popular pseudoscientific claims through a multidisciplinary lens.

From alien abductions and psychic phenomena to strange creatures and unsupported alternative medical treatments, the text uses examples from a wide range of pseudoscience fields and brings evidence from diverse disciplines to critically examine these erroneous claims.

nullThe Code: The Power of “I Will” by Shaun Tomson
Pan Macmillan

This book is about many things – faith, courage, creativity, determination – but above all it’s about the promises we make to ourselves about the future.

Shaun Tomson is a former World Surfing Champion, and considered one of the 16 greatest surfers of all time. He is a business finance graduate from the University of Natal and the creator of two popular apparel brands: Instinct in the 1980s and Solitude in the 1990s. He lives in Santa Barbara, California, and is an inspirational speaker.

nullTrail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner by Ryan Sandes with Steve Smith
Zebra Press

What does it take to run a six-day race through the world’s harshest deserts? Or 100 miles in a single day at altitudes that would leave you breathless just walking? More than that, though: what is it like to win these races? South Africa’s ultra-trail-running superstar – and former rudderless party animal – Ryan Sandes has done just that.

Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner is written with bestselling author and journalist Steve Smith.

nullIs It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? The Zuma Years by Tim Richman
Burnet Media

Although we thought we’d got it all off our chests in the late 2000s with the original Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? series, well, it’s back on our chests, isn’t it?

After the annus horribilus Saffercanus of 2015 – after the doom and gloom of How Long Will South Africa Survive? and We Have Now Begun Our Descent (NB: bestsellers!) – it’s time once again for a book that unites South Africans in their misery and allows us to laugh it off. Just in time for the National Elections, of course!

nullThe Story Of A House: Fables And Feasts From La Creuzette by Louis Jansen van Vuuren and Hardy Olivier

It took 15 years to fully restore the impressive Château de la Creuzette to her former glory. She continues to rest in her shaded park, surrounded by centuries-old trees, and welcomes her expectant guests with open arms.

Apart from the almost 90 new recipes, there is an additional Crookbook in which the two hosts share their easy shortcut recipes and tips. The Story of a House is not only two cookbooks in one, but also a richly adorned reading book that traces the history of a manor house and follows the story of its people.

Writing the DeclineWriting the Decline by Richard Pithouse
Jacana Media

This book tracks the steady decay of the democratic promise in recent years. Written from an understanding that democracy should be for everyone, rather than merely a contest between elites, it explores the growing authoritarianism of the state, the deepening social crisis, and avenues of hope and possibility.

Dr Richard Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University, where he lectures on contemporary political theory and urban studies.

Writing the Decline has received high praise from Niren Tolsi and Eusebius McKaiser.

nullThe Goddess Mojo Bootcamp by Kagiso Msimango
Jacana Media

The Goddess Mojo Bootcamp will help you discover an authentic you to find real long-lasting love.

This is the book for you whether you want a man for a reason, a season, a lifetime, or one to match each of your handbags … it has zero moral pontifications. It won’t warn you against sleeping with a man on the first date. There are no 90-day rules in this book.

Kagiso Msimango is the founder of The Goddess Academy and the author of The Goddess Bootcamp.

The Goddess Mojo Bootcamp is a MFBooks title.

nullRiver of Gold: Narratives and Exploration of the Great Limpopo by Mike Gardner, Peter Norton and Clive Walker
Jacana Media

Here for the first time is the only full account of South Africa’s most iconic river, its history, its ancient past, wildlife, landscapes, early kingdoms and their people, warfare, trade, slaves, 19th-century hunting, travel and adventures and the conservation efforts of four national parks of which the renowned Kruger National Park is one.

The book (and the river) encompasses two world heritage sites, two Transfrontier conservation areas, private game reserves, some of the richest rock art sites in southern Africa with the river’s “source” centred at the site of the world’s richest gold deposits ever discovered, Johannesburg.

nullThe Sword and the Pen: A Lifetime in South African Journalism by Allister Sparks
Jonathan Ball

Legendary journalist Allister Sparks joined his first newspaper at age 17. In The Sword and the Pen, he tells the story of how he watched and chronicled and participated in his country’s unfolding drama for more than 60 years.

Nelson Mandela said Sparks’s “outspoken views have served the cause of democracy in this country magnificently”.

In trenchant prose, he has written a remarkable account of both a life lived to its fullest capacity as well as the surrounding narrative of South Africa from the birth of apartheid, the rise of political opposition, the dawn of democracy, right through to the crisis we are experiencing today.

nullThabo Mbeki: A Jacana Pocket Biography by Adekeye Adebajo
Jacana Media

This is a fresh and concise reappraisal of Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s second democratic president in succession to Nelson Mandela.

Though his term of office was controversial in many respects and ended in a spectacular palace coup at the ANC’s Polokwane Conference in 2007, his reputation has been gradually undergoing rehabilitation since then, particularly because of widespread disillusion his successor as president, Jacob Zuma.

Part of the Jacana Pocket series.

nullJack Simons – Teacher, Scholar and Comrade: A Jacana Pocket Biography by Hugh Macmillan
Jacana Media

Jack Simons (1907–1995) was one of the leading left-wing intellectuals – and one of the greatest teachers – in 20th-century South Africa.

As a lecturer in African Studies at the University of Cape Town from 1937 until he was prevented from teaching by the government in 1964, and thereafter through his lectures and writings in exile, he had a profound effect on the thinking of generations of white and black students and on the liberation movement as a whole.

Part of the Jacana Pocket series.

nullFordsburg Fighter: The Journey of an MK Volunteer by Amin Cajee (as told to Terry Bell)

When Amin Cajee left South Africa to join the liberation struggle he believed he had volunteered to serve “a democratic movement dedicated to bringing down an oppressive and racist regime”.

Instead, he writes, in this powerful and courageous memoir, “I found myself serving a movement that was relentless in exercising power and riddled with corruption”.

nullThe Disruptors: Social Entrepreneurs Reinventing Business and Society by Kerryn Krige and Gus Silber

Can business change the world? Can the world change business?

For a new breed of social entrepreneurs, striving to build and grow enterprises that fight social ills, foster opportunity, and help to improve society, the answer is not can, it’s must.

From healthcare to mobile gaming, from education to recycling, from dancing to gardening, these are the game-changers, the difference-makers, the doers of good. Here are their stories.

Kerryn Krige heads up the Network for Social Entrepreneurs at GIBS, and has worked in the social sector since 2001. Gus Silber is an award-winning journalist, editor speechwriter and author, with a special interest in social entrepreneurship.

nullThe Maverick Insider: A Struggle for Union Independence in a Time of National Liberation by Johnny Copelyn
Pan Macmillan

Johnny Copelyn is the CEO of Hosken Consolidated Investment (HCI) Limited and Johnnic Holdings Limited, a position he has held since 1997. From 1974 he was general secretary of various unions in the clothing and textiles industries before becoming a member of parliament in 1994.

The Maverick Insider provides a rich and detailed recording of the important years of building trade unions in South Africa from the 1970s onwards, in particular the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU).

nullZimbabwe’s migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence by Maxim Bolt
Wits University Press

“In precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. [...] It is a significant achievement.” – Jonny Steinberg

During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for ways to make ends meet. Maxim Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependants, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

nullSouth Africa’s Settler Colonialism and Liberal Democracy by Thiven Reddy
Wits University Press

Two unmistakable features describe post-apartheid politics. The first is the formal framework of liberal democracy, including regular elections, multiple political parties, and a range of progressive social rights. The second is the politics of the “extraordinary”, which include a political discourse that relies on threats and the use of violence, the crude re-racialisation of numerous conflicts, and protests over various popular grievances.

In this highly original work, Thiven Reddy shows how conventional approaches to understanding democratisation have failed to capture the complexities of South Africa’s post-apartheid transition. Rather, as a product of imperial expansion, the South African state, capitalism and citizen identities have been uniquely shaped by a particular mode of domination, namely “settler colonialism”.

nullFrom Protest to Challenge: Volume 2: Hope and Challenge, 1935–1952 by Thomas G Karis and Sheridan Johns, revised and updated by Gail M Gerhart
Jacana Media

From Protest to Challenge is a multi-volume chronicle of the struggle to achieve democracy and end racial discrimination in South Africa.

Beginning in 1882 during the heyday of European imperialism, these volumes document the history of race conflict, protest, and political mobilisation by South Africa’s black majority.

Volumes 3, 5 and 6 of the series were launched in 2013.

nullThis Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organised Crime by Stephen Ellis
Jacana Media

Successful Nigerian criminal networks have a global reach, interacting with their Italian, Latin American and Russian counterparts. Yet in 1944, a British colonial official wrote that “the number of persistent and professional criminals is not great” in Nigeria and that “crime as a career has so far made little appeal to the young Nigerian”.

This latest book by celebrated African historian Stephen Ellis traces the origins of Nigerian organised crime to the last years of colonial rule, when nationalist politicians acquired power at regional level.

nullScorched Earth: 100 Years of Southern African Potteries by Wendy Gers
Jacana Media

Scorched Earth will be the first comprehensive history of fine art potteries in southern Africa, with a focus on pioneer ceramic studios and workshops.

Wendy Gers is a former curator at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, and now lectures at l’Ecole Supérieure d’Art et de Design de Valenciennes, France. Gers curated the prestigious Taiwan Ceramics Biennale 2014 and is a research associate at the University of Johannesburg and an associate advisor at The Design Cradle, Cape Town.

nullPromise and Despair: The First Struggle for a Non-Racial South Africa by Martin Plaut
Jacana Media

Most people believe that black South Africans obtained the vote for the first time in 1994. In fact, for almost a century suitably qualified black people had enjoyed the vote in the Cape and Natal, and in certain constituencies had decided the outcome of parliamentary elections.

This is the story of the struggle for a non-racial constitution, with its centrepiece being a lively account of the delegation that travelled to London in mid-1909, led by a famous white lawyer and former prime minister of the Cape, Will Schreiner, brother of the novelist Olive Schreiner.


Sigh the Beloved Country by Bongani Madondo
Pan Macmillan

With his customary flair and eye for detail, Bongani Madondo will delight his readers in this new essay collection.

The book displays his unique take on all things South African, including people and places, issues ranging from “Kissing & Lynching the Black Body” to “New Money Culture” and “Student Politics”, along with criticism and homage to our Beloved Country and those who call it home.

With a foreword by Rian Malan.

I am the Girl Who was Raped by Michelle Hattingh
Modjaji Books

In the morning Michelle Hattingh presented her Psychology honours thesis on men’s perceptions of rape, and in the evening she was raped herself.

Within minutes of getting help, Michelle realised she’ll never be herself again. She’s now “the girl who was raped”. Her memoir of this experience is an act of reclamation for herself and for all the women in South Africa who are raped every day.

Michelle Hattingh works as senior online content producer at Marie Claire SA. Her work has been published in Elle SA, Marie Claire SA and the Mail & Guardian. I’m the Girl Who was Raped is her first book.

Cold Case Confession by Alex Eliseev
Pan Macmillan

Whether the real mastermind behind the Tandiwe “Betty” Ketani murder will be captured remains unknown, so does the true motive for the crime. In court, prosecutors said the case was like a mosaic, with all the pieces coming together to form a disturbing picture. Not all the pieces have been found. But already, this has become one of South Africa’s most intriguing crime stories.

Dubbed a “troublemaker” for his investigative work, Eyewitness News reporter Alex Eliseev is an award-winning hard news journalist who has reported from countries such as Haiti, Japan and Libya.

nullThe Battle for Cosatu: An Insider’s View by Patrick Craven

In The Battle for Cosatu, former Cosatu insider and national spokesperson Patrick Craven recounts the happenings of the last five years of the biggest and most powerful labour federation, leading up to the expulsion of Numsa and Zwelinzima Vavi.

Craven has become the go-to person for labour-related commentary. In this, his first book, we are given insight into one of the most tumultuous times for trade unions in post-apartheid South Africa.

Drawing strongly on personal recollections, media interpretations and official documents, Craven exposes the breakdown of the tripartite alliance – and the implications of this for South Africa’s labour movement and the country as a whole.

nullThe Road to Soweto by Julian Brown
Jacana Media

This account of the decade that preceded the Soweto Uprising of June 1976 will transform our understanding of this crucial flashpoint of South Africa’s history. It begins by showing how students at South Africa’s segregated white and black universities began to reorganise themselves as a political force; how new ideas about race reinvigorated political thought; and how debates around confrontation shaped the development of new forms of protest.

Julian Brown is a lecturer in the Department of Political Studies at Wits and the author of South Africa’s Insurgent Citizens.

nullYour First Year of Varsity: A Survival Guide for University and College by Shelagh Foster and Lehlohonolo Mofokeng

Essential reading for matriculants, first year university and college students – and their parents!

Your First Year of Varsity talks directly to Grade 12 learners and first year students who arrive at their place of higher education filled with hopes, expectations, fears and dreams; yet with little understanding of what this new world means and how to adapt, grow – and graduate.

Shelagh Foster is the author of the highly popular Your First Year of Work. Lehlohonolo Mofokeng is a Master of Education candidate from Wits as a Mandela-Rhodes Scholar.

nullNatures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms edited by Fiona Moolla
Wits University Press

Environmental and animal studies are rapidly growing areas of interest across a number of disciplines, but there are few books that show how nature in Africa is represented, celebrated, mourned or commoditised.

Natures of Africa features new research from East Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as the ecocritical and eco-activist “powerhouses” of Nigeria and South Africa.

Fiona Moolla is the author of Reading Nuruddin Farah: The Individual, the Novel and the Idea of Home.

nullApartheid and The Making of a Black Psychologist by Chabani Manganyi
Wits University Press

Few autobiographies exploring the “life of the mind” and the “history of ideas” have come out of South Africa, and this intriguing memoir details what it meant to be a committed black intellectual activist during the apartheid years.

Starting with his rural upbringing in Mavambe in Limpopo province in the 1940s, Chabani Manganyi’s life story unfolds at a gentle pace, tracing the twists and turns of his journey from humble beginnings to Yale University in the USA, and beyond.

nullLand Dispossession and Resistance in Gordonia: A Hidden History of the Northern Cape, 1800-1990 by Martin Legassick

This book presents aspects of a generally unknown “brown” and “black” history of the Gordonia region of the Northern Cape Province, which has received relatively little attention from historians.

The essays are intended to emphasise the lives of ordinary people, and are also in part an exercise in “applied history” – historical writing with a direct application to people’s lives in the present.

nullAlways Anastacia: A Transgender Life in South Africa by Anastacia Tomson
Jonathan Ball

Born into an orthodox Jewish family in Johannesburg and brought up as a boy, Tomson was never sure how much of her conflicted sense of self to blame on her often troubled family life and strict upbringing. It would take her nearly 30 years, a great deal of questioning and a bravery she could never have imagined to find the peace and self-acceptance she had always sought.

Tomson’s moving memoir is the first of its kind in South Africa.


nullBlacks DO Caravan by Fikile Hlatshwayo
Jacana Media

This book is written by a black woman whose voice so clearly disrupts the stereotypes that so many have grown accustomed to.

This trip began on 15 September 2014 and lasted three months. Fikile and her family visited over 25 caravan parks. They covered over 10 000 kilometres, and traversed all nine provinces. Fikile came to the realisation that South Africa is still a divided nation: “The idea that camping is for white people is so entrenched, and my question is, who set these standards?”

nullThe Big Fix by Ray Hartley
Jonathan Ball

Behind the 2010 World Cup lay years of corporate skulduggery, crooked companies rigging tenders and match-fixing involving the national team.

In The Big Fix, Ray Hartley reveals the story of an epic national achievement and the people who undermined it in pursuit of their own interests. It is the real story of the 2010 World Cup.

AB: The Autobiography by AB de Villiers
Pan Macmillan

This is AB’s story, in his own words … the story of the youngest of three talented, sports-mad brothers growing up in Warmbaths, of a boy who excelled at tennis, rugby and cricket, of a youngster who made his international debut at the age of 20 and was then selected in every single Test played by South Africa for the next 11 seasons, of a batsman who has started to redefine the art, being ranked among the world’s very best in Test, ODI and T20.

This is the story of a modern sporting phenomenon.

nullEntrepreneurship 101 Tackling the basics of business start-up in South Africa by Joshua Maluleke
Jacana Media

Entrepreneurship 101 aims to educate South Africans about the fundamentals of entrepreneurship while looking at a uniquely South African business environment.

Joshula Maluleke has included a section on frequently asked questions at the back of the book in an attempt to provide in-depth answers to some of the questions he gets asked at his entrepreneurship talks. Questions like: Can I register my spaza shop? I have registered a business with CIPC and government has not given me an opportunity to do business, what must I do?

The Thabo Mbeki I Know edited by Sifiso Ndlovu and Miranda Strydom
Pan Macmillan

The Thabo Mbeki I Know is a collection of contributions on and personal recollections about former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

In some cases, individuals have been interviewed about their interactions with Mbeki, specifically with this collection in mind, and other contributions have been authored by the individuals concerned.

These personal reflections present a fresh perspective on Mbeki’s time in office and his legacy.

nullA Citizen’s Guide to Crime Statistics by Anine Kriegler and Mark Shaw
Jonathan Ball

A Citizen’s Guide to Crime Statistics provides a basis to understand South Africa’s crime statistics in a manner that is accessible to the general public.

Each chapter challenges a set of oft-repeated assumptions about how bad crime is, where it occurs, and who its victims are. It also demonstrates how and why crime statistics need to be matched with other forms of research, including criminal justice data, in order to produce a fuller account of what we are faced with.

nullVerwoerd: Architect of Apartheid by Henry Kenney
Jonathan Ball

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr Hendrik Verwoerd by Dimitri Tsafendas.

Originally released in 1980, Henry Kenney’s incisive study of the architect of apartheid and paragon of Afrikaner nationalism will be republished in 2016 to coincide with this significant moment in South Africa’s modern history.

The new edition contains an introduction by David Welsh, Emeritus Professor at Stellenbosch University, bringing it into the 21st century and updating it for a new generation.

» read article

Thabo Mbeki rails against his ‘deadly image of being aloof’

Ragged GloryThe African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab SpringThabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANCThabo MbekiFit to Govern

Former president Thabo Mbeki has released another extraordinary statement through his Facebook page.

In the piece, Mbeki addresses his alleged “aloofness”, with references to numerous uses of the word to describe him in various newspaper articles around the world over the years.

However, Mbeki contends: “… I have never been able to answer the question – from whom and what was I ‘aloof’?”

Read the article:

* * * * *

By Thabo Mbeki
February 1, 2016

In 2001, the ANC National Working Committee (NWC), of which I was a member, issued the seminal document, “Through the eye of a needle? Choosing the best cadres to lead transformation.” [‘The eye of the needle’.]

Among others, this document specifies the critical requirement that, “A leader should constantly seek to improve his capacity to serve the people; he should strive to be in touch with the people all the time, listen to their views and learn from them. He should be accessible and flexible; and not arrogate to himself the status of being the source of all wisdom.”

Six years after this document was issued, the ANC held its elective 52nd National Conference in Polokwane. At this Conference I lost the contest for the position of President of the ANC, with the delegates electing Comrade Jacob Zuma as President.

Before the Conference there had been much public/media discussion about the possible outcome and meaning of this election, which continued long afterwards, to date.

Some of this discussion advanced the proposition that one of the reasons I would and did lose the election was that I was ‘aloof’, a leadership defect which had allegedly alienated the majority of the ANC members, and therefore the delegates at the Conference.
If this charge of being ‘aloof’ was correct, this meant that even as I was President of the ANC, with the obvious obligation to serve as a role model, I had disrespected the directive contained in ‘The eye of the needle’ to “strive to be in touch with the people all the time, listen to their views and learn from them … (to) be accessible and flexible; and not arrogate to (oneself) the status of being the source of all wisdom.”

The reason the ‘Eye of the needle’ raised this matter was that it had been discussed by the ANC leadership in both the NEC and the NWC, as well as in our National Conferences and the National General Councils.

One of the observations that had been made in these discussions was that because so many of the ANC leaders were involved in demanding Government work at National, Provincial and Local levels, the ANC leadership as a whole was losing direct and immediate contact with the people and that this had to be corrected.

However, in my specific case, the charge of being ‘aloof’ rested on the assertion that whether intentionally or not, my very style of leadership meant that I deliberately chose to be ‘not in touch with the people’, (and the membership of the ANC), obviously having ‘arrogated to myself the status of being the source of all wisdom.’

Some elected constantly to propagate this notion as an established and self-evident truth which did not even require that any evidence should be produced to substantiate this ‘truth’.

Thus in September 2009, Blade Nzimande, General Secretary of the SACP, was quoted by the Mail and Guardian as having said that “there is an almost complete national consensus that Mbeki’s aloof and intolerant personality was a disaster … Thankfully we are now once more in a situation in which national dialogue and debate are possible.”

Earlier still, in September 2008, the UK Financial Times had carried a report from its correspondent in South Africa, Alec Russell, entitled “Thabo Mbeki: Aloof leader who fell from grace”. Russell went on to say:

“It was clear even then (when he succeeded President Mandela) that Mr Mbeki was a curious politician. He made clear he would never be a crowd pleaser … His undoing, friends and enemies agree, was his aloofness.”

Another September 2008 article in the US Chicago Tribune, entitled “South Africa’s Mbeki aloof to the end”, said, “Even to the bitter end, Thabo Mbeki stayed true to his aloof self. ‘He was never much good at connecting with his own people,’ said Raenette Taljaard, the director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, a pro-democracy think tank in Johannesburg.”

In June 2013, the Daily Maverick published an article by Ranjeni Munusamy entitled “Zuma, Mbeki, and the shifting sands of public perception”, in which she wrote:

“Once upon a time, people detested their president (Thabo Mbeki), believing he was too aloof, too disconnected, too scholarly, too proud to admit his mistakes and impervious of criticism.”

In January 2014, the Financial Mail carried an article by Justice Malala in which he wrote; “Remember when people said all those nasty things about Thabo Mbeki – “aloof, educated, too much Shakespeare, old chap” …”

With regard to the ANC, the first point I would like to make is that (i) the National Office Bearers (NOBs) met at least every Monday, (ii) the NWC met at least every fortnight, and (iii) the NEC met at least every quarter. I regularly attended all these meetings as President of the ANC, never standing aloof from the ANC leadership.

Further, one of the decisions we took in the NWC to help ensure that we maintain closer contact with the ANC membership was to hold our meetings in the Provinces, spending two days in each Province.

We would divide the NWC members into small delegations, in which I participated, each of which would spend the first day in one of the Regions in the Province, to familiarise itself with the state of organisation at this lower level. On the second day the delegations would then report to the NWC as a whole, which thus gained a more detailed understanding of ANC affairs in the Province concerned.

Further, the participation of ANC Provincial Chairs and Secretaries and the Chairs and Secretaries of the Women’s and Youth Leagues in the NEC, meant that our national leadership was regularly informed of developments and views in the Provinces and the Leagues.

On various occasions the ANC National Office Bearers, the NWC or other NEC delegations would have to engage some of our Provinces to help find solutions to the then extant problems. The President of the ANC would be involved in these initiatives.

Even when, as President of the Republic, I ceased to be a Member of Parliament, I continued periodically to attend the meetings of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus.

At Government level, we instituted the “Presidential Izimbizo Process”. This resulted in our holding many meetings with both urban and rural local communities, in which as many people as possible spoke directly to the President to communicate whatever they considered important.

By the time I left Government we were very concerned about the security challenges posed by the increasingly enormous size of these local Izimbizo which derived from their popularity. Our concern arose from the fact that it was proving impossible to allow time for everybody who queued to speak actually to reach the microphones and address the President, which, we feared, might result in conflict.
Nevertheless we always took the necessary action to respond to what had been raised at these Izimbizo, covering all three spheres of Government.

To ensure that the National Government remained exposed to the thinking of our country’s broad leadership, we established a number of standing Presidential Working Groups, during all of which I, as President of the Republic, would lead a Ministerial groups which would engage the leadership delegation in each Working Group.

The Working Groups were made up of leaders in each of these areas, constituting (i) the women, (ii) the youth, (iii) the trade unions, (iv) big business, (v) black business, (vi) agriculture, (vii) the religious communities, and (viii) academia.

The relevant Ministries would then assume the responsibility to cooperate with the appointed representatives of each of these sectors to follow up on relevant matters that had been raised at these Presidential Working Group meetings.

It is also important to understand that, of course, in addition to the instances I have mentioned relating to the ANC and Government, there were also other countless instances during which I interacted with ANC members and structures and the South African population in general, at all times ready to listen and engage.

Thus I have never been able to answer the question – from whom and what was I ‘aloof’?

Shortly before our 2004 General Election, the 9 April 2004 edition of the UK newspaper, The Guardian, published an article by Rory Carroll which, among other things, said:

“In recent weeks (during the election campaign, Thabo Mbeki) … has reinvented his public persona by playing with children and dancing, an astonishing departure which has won rave reviews, but for a decade, as Nelson Mandela’s Deputy and then as President, he abhorred the common touch. Give him an opportunity to empathise with the poor and sick and he would retreat into technocratic jargon. Give him a baby and he would plop it into the nearest lap.”

Thus did Rory Carroll, years ahead of the 2007 ANC Polokwane Conference, provide a simple answer about what I would have to do to shed the deadly image of being ‘the aloof’, and thus win ANC elections and popular approval – display the common touch, play with children, dance, cry publicly for the poor and the sick, and kiss babies, all this in front of the television cameras!

But of greater significance in terms of the future of our country was neither an alleged aloofness nor what a British journalist thought. Much more relevant were the views expressed by a leading South African journalist, Ms Karima Brown, who clearly sought to convince all who would listen that – Mbeki must go!

As early as August 2006 she had written that my “sell-by date” was ‘stapled on (my) back’. She even thought that what might happen would be that I might face “the ignominy of an investigation … (being) the focus, or the centre, of a new criminal probe into the arms deal … Is it any wonder then that the smart (ANC) MPs are beginning to look at life beyond Mbeki? … The writing is on the wall.”

In November 2007 she went on to write, “In the hurly-burly of the ANC succession battle, the question still needs to be asked, let alone be answered, why it is that the ruling party is willing to countenance the perpetuation of Mbeki’s rule beyond its natural and constitutional end-date, all because of the false obsession of “legacy”.

“After all, with the “benefit” of the past eight years of Mbeki’s rule to look back on, it does not appear that the legacy – creditable macroeconomic management peppered with a dangerously pathological denialism – is worth preserving …

“It is a bitter irony of African politics that our leaders stay in office beyond their welcome, so that they may fix problems that are wholly of their own creation. Johnson diagnoses it perfectly (remember he gets to be right twice in a 24-hour cycle): “We are at a crossroads where the central possibility is the indefinite extension of one-man rule by a paranoiac. In a word, Mugabeism.” …

“It is of course nearly impossible to love Mbeki. Not in the way one can love Mandela, or even, for that matter, Zuma. “Let me have men about me that are fat, sleek-headed men, and such as sleep a’ night,” said Caesar to Mark Anthony. “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.”

Writing five years later in October 2012, Zweli Mkhize, the current Treasurer General of the ANC, commended Ms Karima Brown for her reporting ahead of that year’s Mangaung ANC National Conference and said:

“Very few journalists are confident to find a positive side of this very important conference of the ANC. Journalist Karima Brown seems to have been one of the few brave ones to buck the trend. Her recent article in the Sunday Independent about the trends in the ANC structures is correct but under the atmosphere, it swims against the dominant trend in most media.”

As Zweli Mkhize had correctly stated concerning Ms Brown’s reports about the 2012 ANC National Conference, history suggests that she was also very accurate in foreseeing that her wishes would be fulfilled at the 2007 ANC National Conference.

In this regard, she obviously had the correct understanding of the impact the sustained charge of aloofness, and other similar negative assessments of the then President of the ANC, would have on the delegates gathered at the 2007 Polokwane Conference.

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