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Archive for the ‘Botswana’ Category

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.

» read article

‘I’m over it: African Immigrant Literature’ – Siyanda Mohutsiwa explains why


Perhaps I had begun to truly believe that the importance of African literature was to connect us ordinary Africans to each other’s lives.

Open CityWe Need New NamesAmericanahThe Granta Book of the African Short StoryWater

Siyanda Mohutsiwa, a young writer and thinker from Botswana, who is rumoured to working on her first book, has written a thought-provoking and somewhat controversial article for Okay Africa in which she categorically states:

“I’m done with African Immigrant Literature.”

Mohutsiwa, who was recently longlisted for the Short Story Day Africa Prize and won second place in the 2015 Bessie Head Short Story Awards, makes a call for African stories set on the African continent.

Read the article, and let us know what you think in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter:

I’m over it: Immigrant Literature

I don’t know when it happened. It might have been somewhere in the middle of Teju Cole’s Open City, as I followed his protagonist around the streets of New York. Or maybe it was at the end of NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, when I boarded the flight to America with its precocious star. Or perhaps it was a few weeks after finishing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, and I had finally begun to forget the stress carried by illegal African immigrants in Europe.

Whichever way it happened, it happened. And I found myself flinging my copy of The Granta Book of the African Story across the room, vowing to never read a piece of African Fiction again, or at least its “Afropolitan” variety.

Let me explain.

Mohutsiwa recently presented an inspiring TEDxTalk in Amsterdam entitled “Is Africa’s Future Online?”. She ends the talk on a powerful note:

I realised that, even though sometimes it’s very difficult to believe in Africa, Africa has no problem believing in me.

Is Africa’s future online? Yes. We are Africa’s future, and yes, we are online.

Watch the TEDxTalk, then read an article about her experience at the event:

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My TEDx speech was about hope. I didn’t mean it to be. The organizers certainly didn’t mean it to be. They’d invited me to give a speech about a hashtag (#ifafricawasabar) and possibly add a bit of color to a line-up of otherwise European intellectuals.

After my speech, I went backstage and something truly moving happened. I was met by every African person who had attended the TEDx conference that day. They hugged me tightly and told me how proud of me they were. And then one of them, a middle-aged man who I would later find out was once a refugee from Congo, told me that my speech had melted his heart and in-so-doing had lifted the anger and disbelief he had nursed about leaders like Kabila and Mobutu his whole life.


Related stories:


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Winners of the 2015 Bessie Head Short Story Awards announced



Alert! The Bessie Head Heritage Trust has announced the winners of the 2015 Bessie Head Short Story Awards.

The Bessie Head Short Story Awards reward original and unpublished short stories in English, and are open to citizens and residents of Botswana. The facilitators include three past winners: Wame Molefhe, Wazha Lopang and Lauri Kubuitsile.

This year’s award judges were Zukiswa Wanner, Karen Jennings and Fiona Snyckers.

Without further ado:

2015 Bessie Head Short Story Awards winners

  • First place: Donald Molosi, for “The Biggest Continent”
  • Second place: Siyanda Mohutsiwa, for “And Then We Disappeared into Some Guy’s Car”
  • Third place: Vamika Sinha, for “Love and Other Almosts”

Molosi and Mohutsiwa were both recently longlisted for the Short Story Day Africa Prize,

First place prize money is 2 000 pula (about R2 900), second place P1 500, third place P1 000. Prizes have been donated by Diamond Educational Publishers.

The award ceremony is being held on Saturday, 23 January, at the National Museum in Gaborone, at 2 PM, with a keynote speech by Kubuitsile.

Congratulations to the winners!

Go Tell the SunA Memory This Size and Other StoriesSigned, Hopelessly in Love

Book details

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All Things Wild and Wonderful – New Books to Take Along on Your Epic Holiday Get Away

Stress, smog and soul-destroying traffic – all the things we get to escape come year-end. Whether you’ll be getting away to the bush, the beach or some other wild beyond, there is a book for you.

Here is a list of some of the fine South African books devoted to enjoying wild and wonderful things. Birding, star-gazing, spotting animals are covered, and so is enjoying beautiful landscapes and local flora. Burchell and travel pioneer Geoffrey Kent will provide inspiration for the travel-timid.

So, which epic holiday get away will it be for you?
Sasol 300 Easy-to-see BirdsSasol 300 maklik sigbare voëls van Suider-AfrikaNew Guide for Beginner Birders: Sasol 300 Easy-to-see Birds by Chevonne Reynolds and Nicholas Tye

This practical, straightforward guide to some of the most commonly seen birds in southern Africa is aimed at beginner birders, or even juniors. Less daunting than a full-blown field guide, it’s handy and accessible, combining simple text with clear artwork and photographs to introduce 300 of the region’s easy-to-see birds.

100 Common Bird Calls in East AfricaNew: 100 Common Bird Calls in East Africa by Dave Richards and Brian Finch, with Accompanying CD

Recognise birds by their calls with this handy package of CD and accompanying book. These will help identify the sounds made by a range of the most common and widely distributed East African bird species.

This is the perfect starting point for those who wish to develop their knowledge of bird calls.

Sky Guide Africa South 2016New from the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa: Sky Guide Africa South 2016

This annual publication is an invaluable resource for anyone who has even a passing interest in the night skies of southern Africa and is “… an absolute must for first-time star-gazers and professional astronomers alike”.
Freshwater LifeCharles Griffiths, Jenny Day and Mike Picker Present Freshwater Life – The First Field Guide of its Kind

Freshwater Life – the first illustrated field guide of its kind for the wider southern African region – describes a vast range of plant and animal groups in a single volume. A ground-breaking concept that encompasses diverse groups from the large and conspicuous vertebrates to the diverse microscopic taxa, the book facilitates identification and describes the ecology of more than 1 000 freshwater organisms.

101 Kruger TalesPresenting Jeff Gordon’s 101 Kruger Tales: Extraordinary Stories from Ordinary Visitors to the Kruger National Park

101 Kruger Tales contains first-hand accounts of sightings, scrapes and encounters in one of Africa’s greatest National Parks. It details hair-raising experiences from the Kruger Park’s roads, camps, picnic sites and walking trails.

Wherever you are, this book will transport you directly into the bush. It’s a book to keep by your bedside in Kruger, to dip into at home when you’re missing the bush, to lend to friends who’ve never visited Kruger, or to pore over before your next trip.

50 Must-see Geological Sites in South AfricaEnjoy Our Rich Geological Heritage with 50 Must-see Geological Sites in South Africa by Gavin Whitfield

South Africa has just about the richest geological heritage on the planet. By showcasing 50 must-see sites, this guide describes why, where and how to enjoy it.

The book presents 50 of the most recognisable and geologically interesting sites around South Africa, including some of palaeontological or historical renown and some of mining interest.

Grasses & Grazers of Botswana and the surrounding savannaPresenting Grasses & Grazers of Botswana and the Surrounding Savanna by Veronica Roodt

An accessible reference to the grasses and grazers of this region, Veronica Roodt’s book details the fascinating ways in which these plants and animals have evolved together.

Nature lovers, farmers, students and tourists who seek an in-depth look at the interactions between grasses and the grazers that depend on them for life need look no further than this invaluable guide.

The Impossible Five“Warm, Fluffy and Sexy”: Justin Fox Tells John Maytham about Searching for The Impossible Five

The well-known travel writer, novelist and photographer, Justin Fox, launched his latest book, The Impossible Five: One Man’s Search for South Africa’s Most Elusive Animals early in July at The Book Lounge.

Publishing manager, Marga Stoffer, reflected on how many visitors to the Kruger Park know about “the big five” and evaluate the success of a trip on how many of these creatures were spotted. Fox, who has gone on these kinds of trips with his parents since he was a child, wanted to go a step further and seek out animals that even the game rangers seldom get to see.

Pocket Guide: Wild Flowers of South AfricaDiscover Our Country’s Floral Splendour with Pocket Guide: Wild Flowers of South Africa by Braam van Wyk

Wild Flowers of South Africa covers some 260 flowers representing all of the region’s major vegetation types.

This book showcases some of the region’s diverse, strikingly beautiful floral splendours.
My first book of Southern African FrogsPresenting My First Book of Southern African Frogs by Jeanne Tarrant and Sally MacLarty (Includes CD)

Frogs are appealing and colourful creatures. Children may be familiar with stages of the frog’s curious life cycle, and see their eggs or tadpoles in local streams; and everyone has heard their calls. My First Book of Southern African Frogs introduces 55 different types of frog and includes a CD of their calls. A short introduction outlines key features and includes an illustration detailing their life cycle.

Zulu Plant NamesWhat’s in a Name? Adrian Koopman Explores Language, Culture and Plant Life in Zulu Plant Names

In this book Adrian Koopman details the complex relationship between plants, the Zulu language and Zulu culture.

Zulu Plant Names do not just identify plants, they tell us a lot more about the plant, or how it is perceived or used in Zulu culture.

Burchell's TravelsBurchell’s Travels by Susan Buchanan; Illustrated with over 100 Sketches and Paintings

Burchell’s Travels tells the story of Burchell’s journeys, bringing to life an important figure who has faded into historical obscurity. It is a fascinating account of what travel was like 200 years ago – reconstructed from the rich source of Burchell’s own writings.

Beautifully illustrated with over 100 of Burchell’s sketches and paintings, this is a perfect book for anyone interested in history, art, nature and travel.

SafariPresenting Safari: A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer by Geoffrey Kent

Geoffrey Kent shares his secrets as an entrepreneur always on the edge of the travel industry and will detail the most unforgettable, daredevil and entertaining moments of his 50-year career with each chapter in the book focusing on a different trip and country. He will also present an inspiring bucket list of adventures for every class of traveler, as well as reveal inside tales from tours with his most famous clients.

Mooiloop!Presenting Mooiloop! The Book – The People, the Places and the Recipes as Seen on TV

The essence of the award-winning programme Mooiloop! (as seen on SABC 2) is captured in this book, which invites you to take South Africa’s provincial/regional routes and experience small-town South Africa.

Stop and get out … admire some of the breathtaking, picturesque settings, take a walk down the streets and explore the shops and places of interest

Wildlife Southern Africa National Parks and ReservesWatch an Elephant Tackling a Buffalo in the Kruger Park, and Find Your Own Incredible Sightings (Video)

Wildlife Southern Africa National Parks & Reserves covers all the major national parks and reserves in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho.

The guide includes an overview of Southern Africa with coverage of country facts, peace parks, malaria areas, time zones, cities and towns. This handy specialty atlas provide information boxes covering park size, fauna and flora, nearest town and airport location, contact details, camp facilities, accommodation and seasonal information

Book details

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Fiction Friday: “Blood of Mine” by Wame Molefhe – Now an Opera to be Performed this Month in Cape Town

Go Tell the SunA short story by Wame Molefhe has been made into an opera, and will be performed later in November at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town.

The story, “Blood of Mine”, comes from Molefhe’s short story collection Go Tell the Sun, published by Modjaji Books in 2011.

“Blood of Mine” will be performed from 21 to 28 November, alongside three other new homegrown operas, in Four: 30 – Operas made in South Africa, a Cape Town Opera production in collaboration with the UCT Opera School and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

The music for “Blood of Mine” is by Sibusiso Njeza, the libretto by Janice Honeyman. Marcus Desando will direct.

Read Rustum Kozain’s summation of the collection, from Modjaji Books:

Wame Molefhe’s stories have a gentle, unassuming yet intimate and captivating feel to them. Set in Botswana, the stories trace the lives of characters whose paths cross and re-cross each others’, some times in and through love, at other times through tragedy. And through them the author brings to bear a woman’s perspective on the societal mores in which sexual abuse, homophobia and AIDS, among others, flourish and spread. The social content and views are never proclaimed as a loud agenda; instead, it forms a ‘natural’ backdrop to the lives of the characters, something that may raise a wry comment or thought in one character, while eliciting a mere shrug from another. Molefhe’s voice is, to some extent, a world-weary voice, weary of all she has seen of society’s failures, but never without the gentleness often absent and much needed in broken societies, and never without the hope and redemption that can be found in love and the imagination.

Book your tickets, and then read the story:

* * * * *

Blood of Mine

No, Sethunya thought, this is not how her life was meant to be.

She was educated, with multiple degrees. She gave up a blossoming career to be a home-maker. But in the society in which she lived, in which a woman’s worth was
measured in terms of her marital status and the number of children she bore, Sethunya’s score was middling to low. Granted, she married young, for love, but she struggled to conceive. In the end she had only one child, where four would have been more respectable.

She was married only one year when her in-laws began to remark, when she was in hearing range, about the foolhardiness of Ntsimane, her husband. Served
him right, they said, marrying a woman and paying bogadi without guarantee that she was fertile.

The snide remarks bounced off Ntsimane’s huge frame. He was a towering figure of a man, with a baritone voice to match. When he spoke, it was as though he had a microphone in his throat. He liked to boast that he was as strong and virile as the Brahman bulls he bred. No one ever thought to question that Ntsimane was fertile; he himself least of all.

One day, during the early days of her marriage, Sethunya heard her mother-in-law’s footsteps approaching. She wondered whether or not to hide, but it was too late.

“Mma Ntsimane, Dumela! How lovely to see you!” But Sethunya’s heart sank as she opened the door to her mother-in-law.

“I was in the dress shop down the road, I thought I should come and see how you are looking after my son.” She raised an eyebrow and inspected her daughter-in-law
from head to toe, her gaze lingering at Sethunya’s midriff.

“Tea, mme?”

“Tanki, ngwetsi yame.”

Mma Ntsimane shouldered the younger woman out of the way and strode into the kitchen, swinging her child bearing belly and heavy breasts triumphantly before Sethunya.

Sethunya’s face flushed hot, and tears stung her eyes as she filled the kettle.

Her mother-in-law’s words speared her heart, spoken as they were in her shrill voice.

Sethunya thought of her own mother, who always said a good woman was virtuous, kept her own counsel and, by so doing, kept her name out of peoples’ mouths.

Sethunya had been raised in prayer and she trusted in the Good Lord. Every morning when she rose, she thanked God for giving her a fine husband, for the bread on their table and for her good health. She asked Him to help her grow to love her nagging mother-in-law but, most of all, she asked Him to bless her with a child. And
she knew He would answer her prayers, of that she was sure.

But as the months went by and she still did not fall pregnant, desperation sometimes grabbed hold of her and wrested her faith away. She felt incomplete without a child. And lonely.

Ntsimane, however, was engrossed in a never-ending quest to find the perfect bull to mate with his cows and swell his herds. Sometimes when Sethunya felt the time was right, when she knew that all she needed was his seed, he would not be there and so another month would go by. And then another, until the months became years.

As the years dragged by, Sethunya struggled to keep her mind occupied, but sometimes she just got tired and her resolve to be positive waned.

She tried white medicine. She sat patiently in the stark, sterile waiting rooms of different gynaecologists and obstetricians, sandwiched by women in various stages of pregnancy. Hers was the only plank-flat abdomen. She knew the regimen. Fill the clear plastic bottle with urine. Check blood pressure, weight, temperature. Wait. Strip. Don’t tense when the ice-cold metal instrument is pushed deep inside and probing fingers searched to find the reason for her barrenness.

“There is nothing wrong with you,” they all said. The last one said: “You are strong as a horse. Just keep trying – and enjoy it.”

She thought she must have imagined the wink-wink that accompanied the last rejoinder. She reported back to Ntsimane and suggested that maybe, maybe he should be tested. A sperm count, something, just to make sure.

“No,” he barked.

Perhaps his mother and aunts were right, he thought. He should have married a simple woman, one who knew how to make babies.

Sethunya tried traditional medicine too, though she told no one. She sat on the ground on the skin of a goat which still had the shape of the animal from which it came. The traditional healer scattered the bones from his pouch in the sand and declared that he saw a son in her future. He brewed a bitter tasting concoction from leaves he ground together and instructed her to inhale the vapour as she sipped the hot liquid. Within three months she would be pregnant. For this prognosis, she paid a goat. She returned to the loneliness of her home in the belief that it would happen – soon.

During these times she had plenty of time to fret, alone at home, with nothing to keep her busy save her thoughts. She shunned the company of the young women in her neighbourhood who seemed to taunt her with their protruding stomachs. When Ntsimane came home, she sensed impatience in him. She spoke to God less often and sometimes just sat idle. An idle mind was fertile ground for the Devil.

One Saturday, when she was alone in the house, Ntsimane having left soundlessly that morning, there was a knock on the door.

“Tsena, come in.”

It was Botshelo. She remembered then her husband saying that Botshelo would come and collect some of the sour milk Ntsimane had brought for him from the cattle post. She was happy for the company and they conversed over a cup of bush tea. They spoke about the drought, the potholes, elections. When they finished, he followed her out into the little house that served as both kitchen and storeroom. As she opened the door, she felt his warm breath on her neck.

And then he took her in his arms and held her close. She shook her head but he held her tighter. When he kissed her, Sethunya felt a stirring in her soul. When he
cupped her breast with one hand and foraged inside her skirt with the other, she made as though to say “no”, but her body seemed to belong to someone else. She closed her eyes and imagined it was Ntsimane. She felt her heart beating wildly, in time with Botshelo’s. When it was over, he held her close.

“I love you Sethunya,” he breathed. And those words made it all right.

“You must go.” She handed him the enamel bucket with the sour milk and he left.

That evening, when she heard the roar of the diesel engine as Ntsimane returned, she went straight to him and opened her arms to him. She could smell the faint smell of cow-dung on his khaki overalls and his leather hat. So she peeled them off as she led him into the bedroom.

She opened her arms and legs to him and they made love with an intensity that surprised her. And when it ended, she was sure Ntsimane had flushed all traces of Botshelo from her.

Two months later, after a bowl of bogobe, she felt her insides churning. She figured it was the sour porridge which lately had seemed to emit an overpowering, rancid smell that clogged her nose. But she thought nothing of it. In fact, it was only when her mother-in-law, whose cloying perfume seemed stronger than usual, commented on the size of her breasts that Sethunya suspected she might be pregnant.

The home pregnancy test confirmed her suspicions. After six long years, Sethunya was pregnant. Her mother said it was a miracle.

“Ntsimane, we are going to have a baby. I’m pregnant.”

“Are you sure, Sethunya?”

“I’m sure. The doctor confirmed it this morning.”

That night, husband and wife slept with legs entwined like the branches of the vine that crept up their bedroom wall. But Sethunya slept fitfully. Dreams of Ntsimane and Botshelo made her sit bolt upright in the middle of the night. She disentangled her legs from Ntsimane’s, afraid that he might hear her heart beating as though it would burst through her ribs.

She was grateful she was pregnant. “I’m pregnant” saved her having to explain the niggling feeling that would not let go of her. Sethunya devoured all the baby books in the library, stocked her house with Living and Loving, Baby and You, and all other how-to-be-a-wonderful-mother magazines.

The excitement that filled the house was infectious. Ntsimane came home more often now, and stayed longer. When she felt the baby’s first kicks at four months, he was there. He shared her excitement when she felt a hard mass pressing against her side. Was it his head, or elbow, a knee, they wondered together. She attributed the niggling feeling to the pregnancy. She told herself it was heartburn. The feeling would disappear when the baby was born. When the first pains of labour came, Ntsimane was there to drive her to the hospital.

It was a natural delivery, no complications. “A beautiful baby boy,” the midwife pronounced as she placed the baby in his mother’s arms.

At once, the pains of labour were erased by the wave of love she felt as she held her son in her arms and he started to suck on her breast. She looked into his eyes
and in that moment she knew that he was her child. But just as soon as the nurse took him away, so the niggling resumed in the pit of her stomach. She scoured the baby’s face for signs of Ntsimane, but there were none. And so she fashioned them herself and her uneasiness was stilled. When Ntsimane walked into the labour room, she was ready.

“He has your nose,” she declared with finality and held the baby out for Ntsimane to hold.

“He does?”

“He does. And those are your ears.”

They named their son Thapelo, which meant “prayer”. He had his father’s nose and maybe his ears too. Even if the father didn’t see it, she did.

As was customary, the proud parents inherited the name of their first-born child. They became known as Mma Thapelo and Rra Thapelo, Mother and Father of Thapelo.

Tradition also dictated that baby and mother stayed indoors for 3 months. So, just as soon as she was discharged from the hospital, she was whisked away to the familiarity of the home in which she was raised. Sequestered in her parents’ home, she was granted a temporary reprieve. Only close relatives were allowed to view the child. After three months, there would be a big celebration as the baby was officially introduced to the rest of the world. Then there would be no more hiding from prying eyes.

“Who does he look like?” the relatives asked over and over again. “Does he look like his father?”

Sethunya bristled every time she heard that question. Who he looked like was inconsequential. She had a son, finally. She and Ntsimane had a son. That was all that

On the morning of the celebration, Sethunya woke up with a resounding headache. The feeling of unease seemed to grow heavier throughout the day, until it felt as though it were lodged permanently in the pit of her stomach. It got so heavy sometimes that even her mother’s tried and tested remedy of Milk of Magnesia failed to dispel it. But somehow she made it through the day. By the time everyone had left and she was on her way to her home with Ntsimane, she felt normal again.

But the relief was fleeting. The next day it was back.

So she strapped Thapelo on her back and swept her yard. When the feeling failed to yield, she took down the curtains, room by room, and washed them. By the time she had dried, pressed and re-hung them, the feeling had disappeared.

When Thapelo started to walk, the fear in her was reawakened. Her own legs were straight as the wooden pestles she used to pound the millet grains into powder for bogobe. Rra Thapelo’s feet faced outwards when he walked. But Thapelo was bow-legged. As she watched him cling onto whatever he could and draw his little body upright, she wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. The feeling rose inside her and voices screamed in her head and she shook her head clear of the images that played in her head. Machinations of a guilty mind.

Sethunya was never ever really free of worry. She thanked the Lord for her son and prayed especially loudly when she got to the part about being forgiven her trespasses. She needn’t have worried so. Thapelo’s legs straightened out. Everyone said he was going to be tall, taller maybe than his father. Rra Thapelo was glad about that. Any son of his had to be tall and strong, like him.

One evening, earlier than usual, when Thapelo had taken his first steps, Sethunya heard the roar of Rra Thapelo’s van as he careened into the yard. He had said that he was going to arrive home early so he could play with Thapelo before he fell asleep. But he was too late. Thapelo was already asleep, with his tiny mouth slightly open and his left leg curled under his body. Rra Thapelo stood quietly, unmoving, watching his son sleep. Something inside him made him want to straighten Thapelo’s little legs and turn him on his back so that he slept like him. But he didn’t touch him. Instead, he pulled the little stool out from under the study table he had bought when Thapelo was born and perched on top of it as he continued to examine his son.

There had been talk. There was always talk when a child did not look like his father. Whispers, like the sound of the dry grass brushed by a cool summer breeze. It irked him sometimes that Thapelo did not look more like him. And when he sat around the fire with other men in the village and one of them glibly said “Ngwana o itsiwe sereto ke mmaagwe*,” he felt a lump rise in his throat but which he flushed down with a few swigs of beer. Sometimes he needed more than a few to drown out the doubts that gnawed at him. But by the time he had had enough, his confidence was restored. He was a strong African man from whose loins sprung strong African sons, just like his bulls.

He picked his son up and lay down on the bed with him. He put Thapelo on top of his chest and he could feel his warm baby breath on his skin. It tickled a little. Thapelo smelt like baby lotion. He loved that smell.

Ntsimane had big plans for his boy. He was going to provide for his son and his son’s mother like a real man was supposed to. Thapelo would be a policeman or a soldier. Or a football star. He could just see him, 2010, a striker on the Botswana national team.

Mma Thapelo lay on her side of the bed, unmoving, pretending to be asleep but watching Rra Thapelo. Thapelo stirred and changed positions. He was fast asleep, on his knees, with his bum in the air. Rra Thapelo smiled. He remembered the first time he had seen him sleeping like that. He had been so worried. But Mma Thapelo had calmed him down.

“He is comfortable. All babies sleep like that,” she had reassured him.

It was strange how Mma Thapelo had become an expert on all matters of childrearing. When he commented about his son’s legs, his wife was always quick to tell him how their son’s legs were like his own, or like her brother’s brother’s, or uncle’s sister’s brother’s. It made him wonder sometimes. Some people said the baby looked exactly like him. He didn’t really see the resemblance, but whenever someone said so, he acknowledged the likeness.

“Yes, this is my boy,” he would say and he would pull his stomach in just a little and push his chest out, just a little.

He remembered the day he had brought mother and child home from the hospital. The day before they were discharged, he had gone to the mall and spent the whole afternoon looking for a carrycot. He finally found the perfect one just before the shops closed. The friendly lady at the shop had helped him choose it.

“It’s for my son,” he had told her, “my first born.”

And now Thapelo, his son, was nineteen. He had grown tall and strong and was doing well at University. Ntsimane’s only complaint was that he did not come home as much
as he would have liked. His son didn’t spend enough time at the cattle post.

But Thapelo was on his way for such a rare visit. He had phoned earlier the previous afternoon to say that he would be coming home the next day.

Mma Thapelo could hardly sleep. She was like a child on the eve of its birthday, anxious for the sun to rise. Over the years it had become easier to believe that Rra Thapelo was Thapelo’s father. But there it was, that worry whose origins she did not understand.

She busied herself with getting the house ready and a meal cooked for when Thapelo arrived. She was sweeping the yard, deep in thought, when the phone rang. She raced
into the house. It was probably Thapelo calling to ask if she needed anything from the shops.


“Dumela mma. Is that the mother of Thapelo Malatsi?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Mma, I am calling from Princess Marina Hospital. Your son was involved in a car accident early this morning along the Gaborone-Francistown road. He hit a cow. You need to come to the hospital at once. You and his father.”

Mma Thapelo put down the phone. Her hands were shaking. She needed to get hold of Rra Thapelo. But there was no telephone at the cattle post and he could be anywhere. He had left early in the morning with the herd boy to go and find a missing cow. She had to go to the hospital.

She was just getting into the taxi when Rra Thapelo arrived. He had aged visibly since that morning.

“Mma Thapelo, we found the cow. It is the one that Thapelo hit.”

Mma Thapelo did not know what to say. She wanted to scream and shout at him. She wanted to tell him how much she hated those cows of his, how she had hated them all her life, but instead she just cried. They drove in silence to the hospital.

The doctor looked across at them with sad, sorry eyes.

“We need to give your son more blood, but he has a rare blood type. We will need to test your blood and Rra Thapelo’s. You are probably the most likely donors.”

Mma Thapelo was grateful she was sitting down. Blood tests? She prayed that her blood would match Thapelo’s. But behind her eyes a drummer began his drumbeat. He
started slowly at first, and then faster and louder until she felt as though her head would explode.

Mma Thapelo looked at the doctor. The words tumbled out his mouth too fast for her to understand what he was saying. Fear filled her bladder. She stood up to go to
the toilet. When she got back, Rra Thapelo was already folding down the sleeve of his shirt. Mma Thapelo felt like she was careening down the side of a hill, without

“You next, Mma Thapelo. Don’t worry. It’s just a little prick.”

Mma Thapelo hardly heard as she stretched her arm out. She looked the other way when the needle pricked her arm.

“We have not found a match. In fact, the preliminary results indicate that Thapelo cannot be your son.”

Thapelo cannot be your son. Thapelo cannot be your son. The words rang over and over in her head. She tried to search out Rra Thapelo’s eyes but he seemed to be looking at a spot above the picture in the doctor’s office. He had not said a word since they entered the doctor’s rooms.

“I am sorry,” the voice continued. “We did everything we could to save him. We lost him this morning.”

Botshelo was dead. And now her son, her only son, was dead too. His parents killed him. His father’s beast and his mother. When he needed his mother to give her
blood to keep him alive, she could not, neither could his father.

The silence that descended upon their household strangled all the voices that used to sing in her head. At her son’s funeral, Mma Thapelo had wanted to cry, but she
had no tears. They flowed into a reservoir which she had built over the years, into which she had bottled her fears. They buried their son together. Rra Thapelo stood next to her with his head bowed. Since the day the doctor had said the blood tests showed that Thapelo could not be his son, Rra Thapelo had aged. It was as though the weight that Mma Thapelo had carried all these years had shifted to his shoulders and was weighing him down. His son was dead, but he had never had a son. Would never have a son.

No, this was not how things were meant to be.

* The child’s totem is best known by its mother

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The Local Books to Look Forward to in 2015 (July – December)

The Local Books to Look Forward to in 2015 (July – Dec)

The second half of the year is well underway, so take a look at what lies in store, books-wise, until December.

Fiction fans have a lot to look forward to, with new novels from Fiona Snyckers, Deon Meyer, Wilbur Smith, Kathryn White, Alexander McCall Smith, Justin Cartwright and Zakes Mda, as well as eagerly anticipated second novels from Claire Robertson and HJ Golakai.

Fans of speculative fiction should look out for Tracer, the debut novel from Rob Boffard, and the new SL Grey, Under Ground.

There’s also quite a lot happening on the poetry front, with a new collection from Lesego Rampolokeng and the launch of the uHlanga New Poets series, starting with collections by Genna Gardini and Thabo Jijana.

Herman Mashaba’s Capitalist Crusader, the follow-up to his bestselling Black Like You, is out in August, and there are exciting new books by Breyten Breytenbach and Moeletsi Mbeki, as well as a collection of never-before-seen letters between André Brink and Ingrid Jonker that is sure to cause some hearts to flutter.

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

Take a look at equivalent story from earlier this year to see if there was anything you missed:


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


The Unknown Van GoghThe Unknown Van Gogh, by Chris Schoeman
Zebra Press

Much has been written about Vincent van Gogh and his tempestuous relationship with his brother Theo. But few people know that there was a third Van Gogh brother, Cornelis, who was raised in the Netherlands, but worked, married and died in South Africa.

Chris Schoeman’s biography of Cor van Gogh recreates South Africa in the last decade of the nineteenth century, tells the personal story of this young uitlander, as revealed in his letters, and describes his relationship with his famous brother Vincent. With new insights based on original research, this book is an important addition to South African and world history.

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Incredible JourneyIncredible Journey: Stories that Move You edited by Joanne Hichens
Jacana Media/Burnet Media
Fiction (Short Stories)

The new Short.Sharp.Stories anthology, Incredible Journey, is out now – containing the winning short stories from this year’s Short.Sharp.Stories competition, which were announced in July.

Two Dogs/Mercury will be doing a series of interviews with the winning authors on Books LIVE – check out the first, with Andrew Salomon, here!

As the only regular collection of short fiction writing in South Africa, the Short.Sharp.Stories initiative, published in conjunction with the National Arts Festival, is playing an increasingly important role in the nurturing and development of South African writing talent. Bloody Satisfied and Adults Only were both positively reviewed, and have given widespread exposure to more than 40 local authors.

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HomeHome. Food from My Kitchen, by Sarah Graham
Struik Lifestyle

Building on the success of her two previous books, and in support of her TV series, Sarah Graham’s Food Safari, Home. Food from My Kitchen encapsulates cooking throughout southern Africa.

Within the standard cookbook format of Brunch, Salads, Soups, Snacks, Meat, Poultry, Pasta, Seafood, Desserts and Baking, Sarah Graham presents food that is simple but beautiful, delicious and healthy.

TracerTracer, by Rob Boffard
Jonathan Ball

Rob Boffard is a South African journalist and author who slits his time between London, Vancouver and Johannesburg. Tracer is his first novel.

Sarah Lotz calls Tracer “fast, exhilarating and unforgettable”.

Our planet is in ruins. Three hundred miles above its scarred surface orbits Outer Earth: a space station with a million souls on board. They are all that remains of the human race.

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nullPappa in Doubt, by Anton Kannemeyer
Jacana Media

With Pappa in Doubt, Anton Kannemeyer returns to the fertile land that he explored to brilliant satiric effect in Pappa in Afrika (2010). Once again parodying Herge’s Tintin in the Congo (1931), Kannemeyer exposes the contradictions and paradoxes of life in the postcolony.

The artist is as provocative as he is playful, and does not spare himself the relentless, humorous scrutiny to which he subjects politicians, despots and his neighbours in the leafy suburbs.

Kannemeyer and Conrad Botes founded Bitterkomix as students at Stellenbosch University.

Under GroundUnder Ground, by SL Grey
Pan Macmillan

Under Ground is the new high-concept thriller from the combined talents of Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg.

A global outbreak of a virus sends society spinning out of control. But a small group of people have been preparing for a day like this. Grabbing only the essentials, they head to The Sanctum, a luxury self-sustaining underground survival facility where they’ll shut themselves away and wait for the apocalypse to pass.

But when a body is discovered, they realise that the greatest threat to their survival may be trapped in The Sanctum with them.

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A Death in the FamilyA Death in the Family, by Michael Stanley

The latest Detective Kubu crime novel from Michael Stanley, A Death in the Family is a must read.

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, both South Africans by birth. Both have worked in academia and business, Sears in South Africa and Trollip in the USA. Their love of watching the wildlife of the African subcontinent has taken them on a number of flying safaris to Botswana and Zimbabwe. On one such trip, they had the idea for their first novel, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective Kubu. Kubu has now featured in five novels and a short-story collection.

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Homeless WanderersHomeless Wanderers: Movement and mental illness in the Cape Colony in the nineteenth century by Sally Swartz
UCT Press

Lunatic asylums in the colonies in the nineteenth century mirrored those of “home”, in Britain. But in a European settler context, the administration and policies of the asylums, and the treatment of their patients, took on many different nuances.

There was a complex interface between lunacy legislation, colonial government, families and communities, and the ways in which these elements affected individuals’ experiences of treatment before and after committal to a lunatic asylum. Homeless Wanderers breaks new ground in tracing the route of people thought to be “of unsound mind” from their homes and families to eventual committal to a lunatic asylum in the Cape Colony in the late nineteenth century.

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nullA Half Century Thing by Lesego Rampolokeng
Black Ghost Books

Lesego Rampolokeng will be launching his eighth collection of poetry, A Half Century Thing, on Saturday, 1 August, as he celebrates his 50th birthday.

The publication comes 25 years after his debut, Horns for Hondo. His most recent collection is Head on Fire: Rants / Notes / Poems 2001-2011.

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Hour of DarknessHour of Darkness, by Michéle Rowe
Penguin Books

A page-turner from one of South Africa’s exciting new crime novelists. Readers familiar with Michéle Rowe’s exhilarating plot twists and authentic South African characters will love her latest spine-chilling thriller.

Hour of Darkness sees the return of Rowe’s popular Detective Percy Jonas, who has to investigate a series of child abductions that evoke her own childhood abandonment.

What Hidden Lies, Rowe’s first crime novel, won the 2011 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award.

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The Seed ThiefThe Seed Thief, by Jacqui L’Ange

The debut novel from Jacqui L’Ange, The Seed Thief is an entrancing and richly imagined modern love story with an ancient history, a tale that moves from flora of Table Mountain to the heart of Afro-Brazilian spiritualism.

L’Ange was born in Durban and grew up across five continents. She has worked in advertising, television, film, and multimedia over the past 20 years, and has a MA in creative writing from the University of Cape Town. She is also the author of the children’s book Miss Helen’s Magical World.

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Signs for an ExhibitionSigns for an Exhibition by Eliza Kentridge
Modjaji Books

Eliza Kentridge’s poems are autobiographical. She was born in Johannesburg shortly after her father defended Nelson Mandela in the Treason Trial. She was a teenager when he represented Steve Biko’s family at his inquest. In her twenties, at the height of apartheid, she left South Africa for England. Against this dramatic backdrop, her focus is quieted, small and interior. With her mother now afflicted by a serious neurological illness, she writes about family, love and place, as a woman who vividly recalls her girlhood self, gently and almost incidentally approaching one of the biggest questions: how does one live a life?

Real Food - Healthy, Happy ChildrenReal Food – Healthy, Happy Children by Kath Megaw, Daisy Jones, Phillippa Cheifitz and Jane-Anne Hobbs

Sustained energy? Check. Reduced sugar cravings? Check. Improved concentration? Check.

Check-marks, too, for: increased health and vitality, enhanced athletic performance, longer and deeper sleep, improved digestion, strategies for fussy eaters, and helping your child reach and maintain a healthy body weight.

All these topics are addressed by South Africa’s leading paediatric dietician Kath Megaw in Real Food – Healthy, Happy Children, Co-written with Daisy Jones, Phillippa Cheifitz and Jane-Anne Hobbs. Set to be released in August this year, the book offers a low-carb solution for the whole family – with recipes for moms, dads and kids of all ages.

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nullThe Low-Carb Solution for Diabetics, by Vickie de Beer and Kath Megaw

A book that marries science with good sentiment, strategies with real solutions, The Low-Carb Solution for Diabetics is an invaluable guide to understanding and practically managing Type-1 diabetes.

Beyond the science of diabetes and the advice of both Vickie and Kath lies a fantastic low-carb cookbook with meals that the whole family can enjoy.

Focusing on a move to healthy, natural food shared in a loving family environment, The Low-Carb Solution for Diabetics is an inspiration. It’s not about what’s ‘allowed’, it’s about what’s healthy – for diabetic children and their families.

Capitalist CrusaderCapitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth by Herman Mashaba and Isabella Morris

The much anticipated follow-up to Herman Mashaba’s bestselling Black Like You, in which self-made entrepreneur Herman Mashaba outlines his crusade for economic freedom for all South Africans.

Mashaba suggests concrete macroeconomic solutions to South Africa’s poverty crisis, deftly combining biography, politics and business.

nullDeliberate Concealment: An Insider’s Account of Cricket South Africa
and the IPL Bonus Saga
, Mtutuzeli Nyoka

Pan Macmillan

In 2008, Mtutuzeli Nyoka was appointed as the President of Cricket South Africa (CSA), a position he held until October 2011 when, after a protracted battle with the CSA board, he was dismissed.

In Deliberate Concealment, Nyoka shares his behind-the-scenes experiences and personal journey as events unfolded, including his own mistakes, the repercussions of the scandal on the game of cricket in South Africa, and his fight for the truth to prevail.

The Democratic Republic of BraaiThe Democratic Republic of Braai by Jan Braai

Over 60 000 Jan Braai books have been sold – from South Africa to the USA and the Czech Republic! Jan Braai is a South African phenomenon – he started Braai Day in 2005 and the day has grown from strength to strength.

It is your democratic right to gather with friends and family around braai fires throughout the country and celebrate with a meal cooked over the coals of a real wood fire. This is the promise of Jan Braai’s Democratic Republic of Braai.

Raising SuperheroesRaising Superheroes, by Tim Noakes, Jonno Proudfoot and Bridget Surtees
Jacana Media

Jacana Media will be distributing the latest book published by the Real Meal Team. Raising Superheroes, by Tim Noakes, Jonno Proudfoot and Bridget Surtees will revolutionise the way you feed your kids.

The Real Meal Revolution was all about taking on the global obesity epidemic with a revolutionary approach to eating; it challenged ingrained beliefs, it sold (and still sells) in record-breaking numbers throughout South Africa, and it changed people’s lives.

With Raising Superheroes the authors have now set out to revolutionise the way we feed our children. It’s time, they believe, to challenge the kids’ food industry and our old assumptions; it’s time to give our children the best nutrition possible, and the best start in life.

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Rape UnresolvedRape Unresolved: Policing sexual offences in South Africa by Dee Smythe
UCT Press

More than 1 000 women are raped in South Africa every day. Around 150 of those women will report the crime to the police. Fewer than 30 of the cases will be prosecuted and no more than 10 will result in a conviction.

Rape Unresolved is concerned with the question of police discretion and how its exercise shapes the criminal justice response to rape in South Africa.

Agent 407Agent 407: A South African Spy Tells Her Story, by Olivia Forsyth
Jonathan Ball

Olivia Forsyth was a Lieutenant in the South Africa Security Police in the 1980s. She spent four years at Rhodes University where she infiltrated various anti-apartheid organisations.

Having reached the end of her studies, she turned her attention to the ANC in exile. But what should have been her greatest triumph as a spy turned into disaster when the ANC threw her into Quatro, the notorious internment camp in Angola.

Here, for the first time, South Africa’s most notorious apartheid spy lays bare the story of her remarkable life.

IcarusIcarus, by Deon Meyer
Jonathan Ball

The new novel from South Africa’s leading crime writer, featuring his much loved detective Benny Griessel.

After 602 days dry, Captain Benny Griessel of the South African police services can’t take any more tragedy. So when he is called in to investigate a multiple homicide, it pushes him close to breaking point – a former friend and detective colleague has shot his wife and two daughters, then killed himself. Benny wants out – out of his job, his home and his relationship with his singer girlfriend, Alexa. He moves into a hotel and starts drinking. Again.

nullDagga: A Short History, by Hazel Crampton
Jacana Media

This book is not intended as a comprehensive take on dagga, aka cannabis, marijuana, bhanga, ganga, pot, zol, weed, etc., but as a conversation piece. It is, as a pocket book, simply a brief overview. Its hope is to provide a background to dagga in South Africa and, by putting all the dope into one joint, so to speak, ignite debate on emerging issues such as licensing, legalisation and taxation.

Hazel Crampton is the author of The Sunburnt Queen (2004) and The Side of the Sun at Noon (2014), and was coeditor of Into the Hitherto Unknown: Ensign Beutler’s Expedition to the Eastern Cape, 1752 (2013).

nullRape – A South African Nightmare, by Pumla Dineo Gqola
Jacana Media

South Africa has a complex relationship with rape. Pumla Dineo Gqola unpacks this relationship by paying attention to patterns and trends of rape, asking what we can learn from famous cases and why South Africa is losing the battle against rape.

Gqola looks at the 2006 rape trial of Jacob Zuma and what transpired in the trial itself, as well as trying to make sense of public responses to it. She interrogates feminist responses to the Anene Booysen case, among other high profile cases of gender-based violence.

This is a conclusive book about rape in South Africa, illuminating aspects of the problem and contributing to shifting the conversation forward.

nullThe Black Sash, by Mary Burton
Jacana Media

This is the story of a remarkable organisation of white South African women who carved out a unique role for themselves in opposing the injustices of apartheid and working towards a free and democratic country.

It is written by Mary Burton, herself national president of the Black Sash for many years and, later, one of the Truth and Reconciliation commissioners.

nullThe Refined Player: Sex, Lies and Dates, by Stevel Marc
Jacana Media

The Refined Player: Sex, Lies and Dates is the first publication under Jacana’s exciting new imprint, BlackBird Books.

The book not only helps men to understand their role in relationships, but it also inspires women to be empowered and to expect and demand better from their men.

Stevel shows us that it is possible to have those difficult conversations about money, sex, honesty and trust. With Stevel’s help you can transition from singlehood into a meaningful relationship.

Lusaka Punk and Other StoriesLusaka Punk and Other Stories
Jacana Media
Fiction (Short Stories)

Now entering its 16th year, the Caine Prize is Africa’s leading literary prize, and is awarded to a short story by an African writer published in English, whether in Africa or elsewhere.

This collection brings together the five 2015 shortlisted stories, along with stories written at the Caine Prize Writers’ Workshop, which took place in Ghana in April 2015.

Zambia’s Namwali Serpell won the 2015 Caine Prize for her short story entitled “The Sack” from Africa39 (Bloomsbury, London, 2014).

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Stoked!Stoked! by Chris Bertish
Zebra Press
Non-fiction (Biography)

Stoked! is an inspiring true story about courage, determination and the power of dreams. Chris Bertish was a skinny little kid from Cape Town when he started surfing with his brothers. Fiercely driven and constantly pushing his boundaries, Chris was not content with conquering “ordinary” big waves. What began as a personal quest to prove to himself that he was one of the best in the ‘big-wave brotherhood’ culminated a decade later with Chris being crowned South Africa’s first Mavericks BigWave Champion.

With his infectious enthusiasm, Chris tells how he pulled off death-defying antics time and again, overcame overwhelming obstacles and fears, and parried every blow that fate dealt him, all without ever losing faith or focus on his dreams.

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True Blue Superglue by Jenny Hobbs

In the 1950s it was important to please your man. As the twentieth century wore on, it became more important to please yourself …

Following the lives of Anne and Doug Perceval, from big-dreaming students to strung-out parents to a couple at the end of their tether, True Blue Superglue is a love story with a sting in its tale that moves from South Africa to swinging London and back home again.

Witty and poignant, Jenny Hobbs’s novel is also a tribute to a life lived as a woman in changing times.


Tribe, by Rahla Xenopoulos

Ibiza, 1997: a period of drug-taking, dancing and hedonism forges an unbreakable bond between six friends, and “the Tribe” is formed. Their dependence on one another deepens as the years pass, but when Jude overdoses and almost dies, his wife, Tselane, makes a decision that breaks up the Tribe.

12 years later, after Jude attempts suicide, the group decides to reunite …

A compelling story of friendship, love and life, Tribe is Rahla Xenopoulos’ third book. She is the author of A Memoir of Love and Madness, her personal account of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and the novel Bubbles.

IcarusThe Magistrate of Gower, by Claire Robertson

The new novel from Claire Robertson, who won the 2014 Sunday Times Fiction Prize for The Spiral House.

When an illicit affair in British Ceylon comes to light in 1902, 17-year-old Boer prisoner-of-war Henry Vos is disgraced. Months before, a short film made his face widely recognisable, but now he is shunned by Boer and Brit alike. Three decades later, Henry is the magistrate of Gower …

Impeccably written and researched, The Magistrate of Gower is a sweeping, exquisitely told story about the courage to choose love over fear.

nullThe Shouting in the Dark, by Elleke Boehmer
Jacana Media

Ella is locked in a battle for creative survival with her domineering father, and apartheid South Africa, the troubled country in which he passionately believes. While seeking political refuge in Europe, Ella makes an unexpected discovery that forces her to confront both her father’s war ghosts and the shape of her own future. In the country of his birth, her father, Ella finds, never officially recognised her existence. Boehmer has written a raw, intense and involving story.

“The story, as disturbing as it is enthralling, of a girl’s struggle to emerge from under the dead weight of her father’s oppression while at the same time searching for a secure footing in the moral chaos of South Africa of the apartheid era.” – JM Coetzee

Elleke Boehmer is the author of, among other books, Screens against the Sky (short-listed David Hyam Prize, 1990), Bloodlines (shortlisted SANLAM prize) and an edition of Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys that was a 2004 summer bestseller. Her acclaimed biography of Nelson Mandela (2008) has been translated into Arabic, Malaysian, Thai, Kurdish, Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. She is a judge of the Man Booker International Prize 2015 and lives in London.

Anna Peters’ Year of Cooking DangerouslyAnna Peters’ Year of Cooking Dangerously, by Kathryn White

Anna Peters’ Year of Cooking Dangerously is the new novel from Kathryn White, author of Emily Green and Me and Things I Thought I Knew.

Anna Peters has been dumped by her long-term love, Garry, and needs to figure out what to do with her broken heart. Tackling her misery by trying to cook her way back into her beau’s life, she learns a few things …

Witty, irreverent and highly entertaining, with food descriptions will have readers salivating, Anna Peters’ Year of Cooking Dangerously will appeal to readers of popular fiction and romantic novels as well as aspiring chefs.

nullTwo, by Seline and Leandri van der Wat
Struik Lifestyle

During the screening of the MasterChef South Africa 2013 series, TV viewers were both fascinated by, and impressed with, the Van der Wat sisters. Since then their foodie careers have taken off, albeit in differing directions.

But in Two, they are back in collaboration to present a really fascinating cookbook concept: taking the same main ingredient and creating two different
dishes from it, or taking a classic recipe and making one for family and casual dining, and the other version to impress for serious entertaining.

Diane AwerbuckHelen MoffettStray, edited by Diane Awerbuck and Helen Moffett
Modjaji Books
Fiction (Short Stories and Poetry)

A collection of stories and poems by mostly well-known South African writers. Some of the pieces have been previously published, and others are new. Each story and poem explores different ways in which animals and humans live together, co-exist and change each other.

List of writers includes: Arthur Attwell, Diane Awerbuck Gabeba Baderoon, Robert Berold, Margaret Clough, Mike Cope, Colleen Crawford-Cousins, Gail Dendy, Richard de Nooy, Isobel Dixon, Nerine Dorman, Finuala Dowling, Tom Eaton, Justin Fox,Damon Galgut, Robyn Goss, Michiel Heyns, Colleen Higgs, Jenny Hobbs, Liesl Jobson, Rustum Kozain, Jacqui L’Ange, Sarah Lotz, Sindiwe Magona, Siphiwo Mahala, Julia Martin, Joan Metelerkamp, Niq Mhlongo, Thando Mgqolozana, Helen Moffett, Mmatshilo Motsei, Paige Nick, SA Partridge, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Bev Rycroft, Alex Smith, Fiona Snyckers, Ivan Vladislavić, Zukiswa Wanner, James Whyle, Makhosazana Xaba.

nullNow Following You, by Fiona Snyckers
Modjaji Books

Jamie Burchell is a digital native – social media comes as naturally to her as breathing. She Instagrams, tweets and Facebooks her every move. Then a stalker starts using social media to track her movements. As his behaviour escalates, so does her fear. But her blog has never been more popular. The fans can’t get enough of reading about her stalker. She is closer than ever to achieving her dream of becoming a writer. Should she take herself offline out of fear for her own safety or should she refuse to be intimated? Soon the stalker starts threatening the people she cares about. But now it’s too late for Jamie to go offline, because he is already following her in real life.

nullPiggy Boy’s Blues, by Nakhane Touré
Jacana Media

Nakhane Touré’s debut novel is for all intents and purposes a portrait of the M family. Centred mostly on the protagonist, Davide M, and his return to Alice, the town of his birth, the novel portrays a Xhosa royal family past its prime and glory.

Piggy Boy’s Blues will be published under Jacana’s new imprint, BlackBird Books.

Touré is a multimedia artist born in Alice in the Eastern Cape. His album Brave Confusion won a South African Music Award for Best Alternative Album in 2014.

nullSweet Medicine, by Panashe Chigumadzi
Jacana Media

Sweet Medicine, set in Harare at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic woes in 2008, is a thorough and evocative attempt at grappling with a variety of important issues in the postcolonial context: tradition and modernity, feminism and patriarchy; spiritual and political freedoms and responsibilities; poverty and desperation; and wealth and abundance.

Panashe Chigumadzi is a young and upcoming media executive, passionate about creating new narratives that work to redefine and reaffirm African identity.

Sweet Medicine will be published under Jacana’s new BlackBird Books imprint.

The Book of MemoryThe Book of Memory, by Petina Gappah
Jonathan Ball

The stunning debut novel from the award-winning author of An Elegy for Easterly, a short story collection that won the Guardian First Book Prize in 2009.

Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean writer with law degrees from Cambridge, Graz University and the University of Zimbabwe. She will be at the 2015 Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September.

nullInnovation: Shaping South Africa through Science, by Sarah Wild
Pan Macmillan

Sarah Wild is an award-winning science journalist. She is the Mail & Guardian’s science editor and in 2013 was named the best science journalist in Africa. In 2012, Wild published her first full-length non-fiction book, Searching African Skies: The Square Kilometre Array and South Africa’s Quest to Hear the Songs of the Stars.

Innovation takes a look at inventions – developed in South Africa by South Africans – to address issues in the areas of healthcare, energy, environment and industry, showcasing the country’s excellence.

Up Against the NightUp Against the Night, by Justin Cartwright
Jonathan Ball

“History . . . is seldom able to convey the essence of being human”

Justin Cartwright possesses that rarest of novelist’s skills – the ability to create fiction which is intensely serious but which also vividly encompasses the absurdity and comedy of life. Up Against the Night is a subtle, brilliant novel about South Africa, its beautiful, superbly evoked landscape, its violent past and its uncertain present.

Notes from the Lost Property Department by Bridget Pitt

“The struggle to forget, or not; courage in small things – Bridget Pitt’s new novel has found a voice for wounded memory. It’s a searching voice, evoking from jumbled discards something that perhaps we’ve all lost …. but which might still be found.” – Jeremy Cronin

Notes from the Lost Property Department is a beautifully written, captivating novel about family: mother-daughter relationships, marriage, memory, and familial secrets and lies.

Bridget Pitt’s novel The Unseen Leopard was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize in 2011 and the 2012 Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, and her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize, among others.

Golden LionGolden Lion, by Wilbur Smith
Jonathan Ball

Fans of Wilbur Smith will be delighted to hear that his next book – Golden Lion – will be released across the world in September.

In this sweeping adventure full of danger, action, and intrigue, the master returns to his longest-running series, taking fans back to the very beginnings of the Courtney family saga.

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nullLet’s Talk Frankly: Letters to Influential South Africans About the State of Our Nation, by Onkgopotse JJ Tabane
Pan Macmillan

Onkgopotse JJ Tabane is one of South Africa’s leading media and communications specialists, a community activist and a business executive. In a series of letters, addressed to people of influence from Helen Zille to Gwede Mantashe and from Revd Ray McCauley to Steve Hofmeyr, Tabane praises for work well done and castigates for poor judgement.

Let’s Talk Frankly tells some home truths in a satirical sense and is meant to offend sensibilities as well as raise things that people often say around dinner
tables but are too afraid or too constrained to say in the open.

The Woman Who Walked in SunshineThe Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, by Alexander McCall Smith
Jonathan Ball

The new Botswana book from bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith, this is Mma Ramotswe’s 16th wonderful adventure.

Mma Ramotswe is not one to sit about. Her busy life gives her little time for relaxation (apart from the drinking of tea, of course, which is another matter altogether). Nonetheless, she is persuaded to take a holiday from the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

But Mma Ramotswe finds it impossible to resist the temptation to follow the cases taken on by her business partner, Mma Makutsi, and to interfere in them – at one remove. This leads her to delve into the past of a man whose reputation has been called into question.

The Food of LoveThe Food of Love: Book 1, Laura’s Story, by Prue Leith
Jonathan Ball

The first installment of an epic three-volume multi-generational family saga by award-winning restaurateur Prue Leith.

The novels centre around an Anglo/Italian family that founds a restaurant business, from the 1940s to the present day. Television rights for the series have already been optioned.

Leith was born in South Africa, and is a cook, restaurateur, food writer and businesswoman. After publishing 12 cookbooks she changed tack and has now authored five contemporary romance novels. She lives in London.

nullSugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez, Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman

The fascinating story of the American musician who was famous in South Africa and Australia, but unknown anywhere else … until the Oscar-winning documentary.

Based on the authors’ first-hand knowledge, Sugar Man: The Birth, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez carefully outlines three separate journeys and the obstacles and triumphs that each presented: Rodriguez’s quest to make a life from music and his subsequent failure; the odyssey of two Rodriguez fans to find out what had happened to their hero; and the pursuit of die-hard filmmaker Bendjelloul to bring the story to celluloid, and his untimely death shortly thereafter.

The book covers topics and events that weren’t included in the film: the story of Rodriquez’s two wives, his tours to Australia in 1979 and 1981, his South African, British and American tours after the 1998 concert that forms the film’s climax, and events subsequent to the film itself.

Taking to the Witness Stand, by Jestina Mukoko
KMM Review Publishing

Jestina Mukoko is a former Zimbabwean broadcast journalist turned a human rights activist, who was incarcerated in 2008 and “disappeared” by the Zimbabwe government.

Told through flashbacks intertwined with information related to her childhood, her family and her work at the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Mukoko’s recollections give a birds-eye view of the social, economic and political situation during one of the most turbulent and repressive times in Zimbabwe’s history.

nullWhen Time Fails, by Marilyn Cohen de Villiers

The follow-up to A Beautiful Family, When Time Fails is set on a farm in South Africa during the death throes of the apartheid era and the emergence of the “new” South Africa.

The book follows Annamari and her family as they struggle to come to terms with a changing world and the past she has kept hidden for decades.


nullMatric Rage by Genna Gardini
uHlanga New Poets

uHlanga is proud to announce the launch of the uHlanga New Poets series, a platform for the publication of debut collections from South Africa’s most promising young voices.

Genna Gardini, based in Cape Town, is one of South Africa’s most decorated young poets and playwrights. She is the winner of the 2012 DALRO/New Coin Award for poetry, and a 2013 Mail & Guardian Young South African. Her plays WinterSweet (2012) and Scrape (2013) both won Standard Bank Ovation Awards at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

Supported by a grant from the Arts and Culture Trust, uHlanga New Poets will publish two debut collections in 2015: Matric Rage and Failing Maths and My Other Crimes by Thabo Jijana.

nullFailing Maths and My Other Crimes by Thabo Jijana
uHlanga New Poets

Thabo Jijana, based in Port Elizabeth, is a rising star in South African literature. In 2011, he won the Anthony Sampson Foundation Award. In 2014, he won the Sol Plaatje/European Union Poetry Award. That same year, he also published his first book, the memoir Nobody’s Business, published by Jacana.

nullGridlocked, by Moeletsi and Nobantu Mbeki
Pan Macmillan

“The reorganisation of South Africa’s economic system cannot, however, be postponed indefinitely as conflicts in the economic system are already threatening to undo the gains made with the new political system. This should come as no surprise since South Africa’s economic system has always generated major conflicts, many of them extremely violent.” – From Gridlocked

South Africa is immersed in a new phase in the long struggle to develop and consolidate democracy and to build an economy that is both sustainable and serves the needs of its entire people instead of the selfish interests of small elites as has been the case over the past 360 years. Moeletsi and Nobantu Mbeki explore the different dynamics of this reinvention and its chances of success or failure.

nullRecipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery, by Sally Andrew

Meet Tannie Maria: She’s 50-something, short and soft (perhaps a bit too soft in the wrong places) with brown curls and untidy Afrikaans. She is also the agony aunt for the local paper, the Klein Karoo Gazette. One day, her life takes a sinister turn when a woman in the area is murdered and she becomes entangled in the investigation…

Warm, poignant and entertaining, Sally Andrew’s delightful heroine blends together intrigue, romance and cooking in this irresistible new mystery, complete with a few mouth-watering recipes.

Recipes for Love and Murder includes 14 tried-and-tested Karoo recipes.

nullGlowfly Dance, by Jade Gibson

Glowfly Dance is a lyrical and poignant tale of family trauma, seen through the eyes of a child.

Through young Mai’s eyes, life is enchanting and full of beauty. She dances on her grandfather’s feet while he talks of freedom. But the world is hard and her mother is struggling. When her new stepfather Rashid arrives, he casts a deep shadow over their lives …

From Mexico to Scotland to London to North Africa, the West Indies and back again, Glowfly Dance is a powerful and haunting story of migration, resilience and, ultimately, hope.

Earlier versions of Glowfly Dance were shortlisted for the 2010 Dundee International Book Prize for an unpublished debut novel, and the 2011 Virginia Prize for Fiction.

nullChaka, by Thomas Mofolo

Thomos Mofolo’s Chaka is the first of many works of literature that take Shaka, the great Zulu leader, as its subject. A mythic retelling of Shaka’s rise and fall, the novel was written in Sesotho in 1909, translated in 1931, and forms the foundation for every subsequent telling of the Shaka legend. Chaka is a study of origins, passion, and uncontrollable ambition leading to the moral destruction of the human character.

nullParole: Collected Speeches, by Breyten Breytenbach

Breyten Breytenbach is hailed in South Africa and internationally as an influential writer and critical thinker. Parole is a collection of some of his most memorable and poignant speeches, which, through their resonating subject matter, continue to light literary, political and philosophical fires.

The speeches in Parole, many of which have not been published before, will provide valuable insights into the mind of a literary icon. Available in Afrikaans as Parool.

nullI Ran for My Life, by Kabelo Mabalane with Nechama Brodie
Pan Macmillan
Non-fiction (Biography)

Kabelo Mabalane, known by his stage name as Kabelo or “Bouga Luv”, is a kwaito musician, songwriter and actor. He was a member of the kwaito trio TKZee.

In I Ran for My Life, South Africa’s number one self-proclaimed “pantsula for life” shares his journey and insights, from the highs and lows of drug addiction, to finding hope and life again through running and staying in shape.

nullCrashed, by Melinda Ferguson
Jacana Media
Non-fiction (Memoir)

To celebrate her 14-year clean and sober birthday, Ferguson organises to take a R3.2 million Ferrari California out on a test drive for the day. 20 minutes before she returns the car, she is involved in a spectacular car crash, during which she experiences a near-death collision.

Over the following months her long-term relationship implodes and she is faced with a litany of legal and financial nightmares as a result of the Ferrari being written off, while certain members of the dog-eat-dog motoring journo industry relish in her downfall.

Written in Ferguson’s trademark gritty tell-it-all and often hilarious style, Crashed is the highly anticipated final book of the three-part memoir trilogy, following in South African bestsellers Smacked (2005) and Hooked (2010).

What if there were no whites in South Africa?, by Ferial Haffajee
Pan Macmillan

In What if there were no whites in South Africa? Ferial Haffajee examines South Africa’s history and its present circumstances and dynamics in the light of a provocative question that yields some thought-provoking analysis for the country.

Ferial Haffajee is highly respected as one of South Africa’s thought leaders and commentators. She effectively uses her media platform to raise and discuss issues pertinent to the state of the nation. Before becoming the editor-in-chief at City Press, Haffajee headed up the Mail & Guardian. She sits on the boards of the International Women’s Media Foundation, the World Editors Forum, the International Press Institute and the Inter Press Service, and she has won several awards, including international ones, related to media freedom and independence as well as for her reporting over the years.

nullFlame in the Snow: The Love Letters of André Brink & Ingrid Jonker, by André Brink & Ingrid Jonker

More than 50 years on, the poignant, often stormy relationship between Ingrid Jonker and André Brink still grips readers’ imaginations.

In December 2014, three months before his death on 6 February 2015, Brink offered these never-before-seen letters, as well as personal photographs, for publication.

The letters provide astonishing new insights into the minds, writing and legendary love affair of two of South Africa’s greatest writers. Umuzi will be publishing a limited, numbered edition in Afrikaans and in English to coincide with the publication of this collection.

nullKarkloof Blue, by Charlotte Otter
Modjaji Books

Greenwashing, corporate intransigence and bloody secrets. Maggie Cloete’s back. After working in Berlin and Joburg, she returns to present-day Pietermaritzburg as the day news editor for The Gazette. When a well-known environmentalist commits suicide, Maggie finds herself caught in the crossfire of conflicting interests. Sentinel, a national paper company, intends to log a piece of natural forest in the Karkloof, home to an endangered butterfly. While her brother joins a group of environmental activists determined to stop the logging at any cost, The Gazette itself is ensnared in complicated negotiations with Sentinel over paper prices. When the loggers unearth a gruesome find in the forest, Maggie discovers a litany of secrets, lies and betrayal. As South Africa’s present confronts its past, Maggie herself faces the most bitter surprise of her life.

nullThe Score, HJ Golakai

The Score is the follow-up to the internationally acclaimed The Lazarus Effect.

Voinjama Johnson, aka Vee, has been banished. And to Oudtshoorn, of all places … and for what? For daring to do her job, for daring to be an investigative reporter. Luckily for Vee, and her ever-faithful sidekick Chlöe – and unluckily for everyone else – they are barely checked in to their lodge when the first body is discovered. Sex, drugs and BEE (or should that be B-BBEE), The Score is an unflinching romp through what remains of the dream of the rainbow nation …

nullUnnatural Relations, Casey B Dolan

All psychiatrists have a patient that gets under their skin. For Dr Felicity Sloane, forensic psychiatrist, Archie Ferber is that patient. Archie seemingly only needed one thing to make his life complete – a child. And Hannah was born. But somehow it all went wrong and now Archie is on trial in South Africa for murdering the surrogate. Unnatural Relations is the follow-up to the internationally acclaimed When the Bough Breaks.

nullJustice Served: The Trial and Conviction of Bob Hewitt, Jamaine Krige

The fascinating legal account of how a sporting legend was brought to book by his victims, 30 years later.

In 2012 former Grand Slam tennis champion Bob Hewitt was indefinitely suspended following multiple allegations of sexual misconduct from women he coached as girls. On 23 March 2015, Hewitt was found guilty of two counts of rape and one of sexual assault after a watershed trial.

Jamaine Krige was the court reporter from the start of the trial and has conducted extensive interviews with all the relevant parties.

nullAB: The Autobiography, by AB de Villiers
Pan Macmillan

AB de Villiers is one of South Africa’s most celebrated sporting heroes. He has captained the national ODI team since June 2011, and has been a member of the national team for 11 years since his debut test as a 20-year-old in December 2004. AB has excelled on the sporting field throughout his life and today he is considered one of the leading batsmen in the world in all forms of the game.

AB: The Autobiography will cover key events and influences that have shaped his life and career, and AB will offer access to the man behind the bat and beneath the helmet, exploring career-defining moments, on-and-off the field events and his relationship with various mentors. The autobiography will also explore AB’s interests in music and business and how he pursues these alongside his international cricket career.

Zakes MdaLittle Suns, by Zakes Mda

Zakes Mda’s new novel, a work of historical fiction titled Little Suns, will be published by Umuzi in 2015.

Little Suns intertwines an unusual love story with little-told, brutal history.

Click here for more
Book details (where available)

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Fiction Friday: Read Lauri Kubuitsile’s “Missing Bits”, from The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story!

In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata and other storiesLove in the ShadowsSigned, Hopelessly in LoveCan He Be the One?Kwaito LoveThe Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story!

Five hours, 32 minutes. That’s how long Rena has been divorced when she cuts off her long black hair, pulls on a red shirt and meets Claude in a coffee shop. His ad in the classifieds grabbed her: “I like swimming, orange cats, hot days and brown toast with butter. I don’t like never or always. I prefer grey areas where interesting things tend to happen. I like honesty. Do you think this sounds like a person you might be interested in?”

The Kalahari Review shared a short story by author Lauri Kubuitsile entitled “Missing Bits” from The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story!: Volume 1, edited by Duduzile Zamantungwa Mabaso.

“Missing Bits” tells the story of a recently divorced woman in Gaborone who leaps into a relationship with a new man who makes her feel things she’s never felt before.

Kubuitsile hails from Botswana and was one of the facilitators of the Writivism workshop in Gaborone this year. She will also participate in the exciting Long Story Short literacy initiative which has been taking place throughout the year.

For this week’s Fiction Friday, here is an excerpt from “Missing Bits”:

She waited at the coffee place, watching the mid-week Gaborone crowd. Busy. Busy. They wore ties and high heels. She smelt of roasted coffee. She lifted her shirt to her nose and sniffed and smiled.

He sat down at her table. “Are you Rena?”


She looked him over. He was brown like her which made her happy. It would allow them to jump over a lot of tired talk. Explanations about how she got to her colour were always required by non-brown people. White or black didn’t seem to require explanations like brown did. Reasons for being wrong were needed.

He was brown but his brown seemed more complex than hers. She suspected Arab mixed with Herero, he said he was from Namibia. Or maybe Chinese traders or Portuguese sailing folk. Colours with adventure built in. But then she sensed something deeper, something historical. Maybe Baster or Griqua. Proud, brown people with long twisting and turning paths leading to the present. She wasn’t sure, but she suspected there was permanence about his brownness unlike hers made casually on a whim with only one generation of staying-ness, when her white British mother met her black Kalanga father. A stiff breeze and she’d lose it, back to white or black, no longer golden. But his would stand up to most natural or man-made disasters she suspected, it had permanence. She already felt safer with him.

Book details

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Don’t Miss Achille Mbembe’s Lecture “Decolonizing the University Now” at Wits University

On the PostcolonyAchille Mbembe, celebrated political philosopher and author of On the Postcolony, will be presenting a public lecture hosted by WiSER.

The title of Mbembe’s lecture is “Decolonizing the University Now: Five New Directions”. It will be given at 6 PM on Wednesday, 22 April, at the WiSER Seminar Room at Wits University.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 22 April 2015
  • Time: 6 PM
  • Venue: WiSER Seminar Room
    6th Floor, Richard Ward Building
    Wits University
    1 Jan Smuts Avenue
    Braamfontein | Map
  • Refreshments: Drinks will be served

Book Details

  • On the Postcolony by Achille Mbembe
    EAN: 9781868146918

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Join Chirikure Chirikure, TJ Dema and Alan Finlay, with Ben Williams, for Poetry Across Borders at the Goethe-Institut in Johannesburg

Literary Crossroads

Goethe-Institut Johannesburg is hosting a series of talks called Literary Crossroads. The first of these, titled Poetry Across Borders, will take place on Tuesday, 27 January, at 7 PM.

Ben Williams, Sunday Times books editor will be chairing a discussion between three poets from three different Southern African countries: Chirikure Chirikure from Zimbabwe, TJ Dema from Botswana and Alan Finlay from South Africa. They will be discussing how new media affects their poetry, and sharing a few poems.

The first event also forms part of the Institute’s conference about Mobile Literacy and Literature, which is taking place from 26 to 28 January.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

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In Memoriam: A Tribute to the Writers Who Passed Away in 2014

In 2014 we had to say goodbye to many great writerly voices, including Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer, Chris van Wyk, Hennie Aucamp, Peter Clarke, Mafika Gwala, Verna Vels and Gerald Kraak. The international community also mourned the loss of Maya Angelou, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and PD James.

As a tribute to their lives and invaluable contributions, we present the Books LIVE articles that were published after we heard the news of their passing:

The Children of SowetoAcademic, poet and storyteller Prof Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane passed away in February.

The Director of the Centre for African Literary Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and former Vice-Chancellor of University of Fort Hare was called a “visionary leader, [and] one of South Africa’s greatest intellectuals” by Nelson Mandela.

Victor Dlamini recorded a podcast with Mzamane for Books LIVE in 2008, remarking that the professor “has the ability to plunge straight into the belly of a narrative and bring forth its gentle resonances”.


Morgan TsvangiraiZimbabwean William Bango, former Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) presidential spokesman and veteran journalist, passed away at the age of 62 following a car accident in February. Bango collaborated with MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai on Morgan Tsvangirai: At the Deep End.

Bango worked as a journalist before acting as Tsvangirai’s spokesperson from 2002 and then becoming the party’s director for policy implementation in 2008. He had since retired from the party. Thomas Chiripasi and Sithandekile Mhlanga report that Bango once served as the president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and that he has been described as “a doyen of the journalism fraternity in Zimbabwe” by one of his former colleagues.

SkulpHennie Aucamp, een van die mees geliefde en gevierde Afrikaanse skrywers, het op Donderdag 20 Maart 2014 stil heengegaan, berig Die Burger. Aucamp is bekend vir sy enorme oeuvre wat kabarettekste, gedigte, kortverhale en noemenswaardige akademiese tekste insluit. Hy het al ’n indrukwekkende hoeveelheid pryse ontvang, onder meer die Fleur du Cap-teaterprys vir lewenswerk en bydrae tot teater, die Hertzogpryz en Gustav Preller-prys vir Literatuurwetenskap.

Aucamp het onlangs sy 80ste verjaardag gevier, terwyl sy kollegas en vriende sy werk en wese gevier het met ’n verskeidenheid huldigingsgeleenthede wat dit duidelik gestel het dat Afrikaanse literatuur, en ook Suid-Afrikaanse literatuur, sonder hom baie arm sou wees.

Listening to Distant ThunderPeter Clarke, one of South Africa’s most versatile and talented artists, passed away in April, aged 84.

Clarke worked as a dockworker before becoming a professional artist in the mid-1950s, and was best known for his printmaking and woodcuts, although he more recently worked with collage. He also wrote essays, short stories and poetry.

In an interview with Artthrob in 2003, Clarke joked: “Had I been triplets, it would have made it much easier because each could have his own job. There are times when I go through a writing phase and there are times for phases of picture-making but there is never a dull moment.”

One Hundred Years of SolitudeGabriel Garcia Marquez, the Nobel Prize-winning author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, died in Mexico in April. He was 87 years old.

Marquez received 1982 the Nobel Prize in Literature, some fifteen years after his iconic – some would call it immortal – novel of magic realism was published. The Nobel committee cited his “richly composed world of imagination.”

I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsAmerican author, poet, historian and civil rights activist Maya Angelou died at her home in North Carolina, USA, in May, aged 86.

Angelou’s failing health had led to her cancelling an appearance at the Major League Baseball Beacon Awards, where she was to be honoured for her civil rights work.

Angelou leaves behind three books of essays, several books of poetry and seven autobiographies, but it was her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, that brought her international fame.

Angelou wrote a touching tribute poem to Nelson Mandela after his death late last year, “His Day is Done”.

Anthony Fleischer, the President of South African Pen for many years, died on 5 June at home in Cape Town. He was 85.

Fleischer, who lived in Cape Town, was the author of eight novels. His first novel, written under the pen name Hans Hofmeyer, was called The Skin is Deep, and published in 1958. It was well reviewed in England, but banned by the apartheid government when it reached South Africa, which was the catalyst for Fleischer to join South African Pen.


The Electronic ElephantAuthor Dan Jacobson, born and raised in South Africa, died in June, at the age of 85.

Following his childhood in Kimberley, Jacobson had married a teacher from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and moved to London where he “built up a substantial corpus of fiction dealing with his native country”.

John Sutherland writes in The Guardian that “it climaxed with The Beginners (1966). His longest work (Jacobson was never one to squander words), it was his equivalent to Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks, telling the story of a dynasty of Lithuanian Jews ‘beginning’ over again in South Africa”.

In this obituary, Sutherland comments on the pace at which Jacobson’s writing evolved: “He shed authorial skins like a snake … and in his later years he moved, powerfully, into non-fictional literary territories: autobiography, travel writing and even theology.”

DzinoZimbabwean author and political activist Wilfred Mhanda, described as “Mugabe’s longest serving nemesis”, passed away after a long fight with colon cancer, on 28 May at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare.

Mhanda, who was also known as Dzinashe Machingura or Dzino, was instrumental in Zimbabwe’s fight for independence, and later was vocal in his criticism of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, leading to his removal from his military position in 1977. After studying biochemistry in Germany, Mhanda helped found the Zimbabwe Liberators’ Platform.

No Time Like the PresentOne of South Africa’s most distinguished literary personalities, Nobel literature laureate Nadine Gordimer, passed away at her home in Johannesburg, aged 90.

Among her many literary achievements number the 1974 Booker Prize, the 2002 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991.

  • Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Paulo Coelho and More Pay Tribute to Nadine Gordimer
  • Moral, Quick-witted, Powerful: South African Writers Celebrate the Life and Work of Nadine Gordimer
  • Margie Orford: Tribute to Nadine Gordimer
  • A Complex Character: Memories of Nadine Gordimer
  • André Brink bring hulde aan Nadine Gordimer
  • Nadine Gordimer Tributes: Achebe Family, Gillian Slovo, JM Coetzee Share Their Thoughts and Memories
  • Nadine Gordimer and the Deep South: A Tribute by Jorge Heine
  • Liewe Heksie OmnibusVerna Vels, die skepper van die geliefde Liewe Heksie-karakter, het saggies in haar slaap gesterf na ‘n kort stryd met kanker.

    Huldeblyke stroom van oral in en almal is dit eens: Haar impak is van onskatbare waarde. Een aanhanger skryf, “even if you aren’t Afrikaans like me, we all know the unmistakable voice of Verna Vels”.

    ‘n Versameling van die beste Liewe Heksie-stories is beskikbaar in Liewe Heksie Omnibus, uitgegee deur NB-Uitgewers.

    No More LullabiesLegendary South African poet, writer, and activist Mafika Pascal Gwala died in September, at the age of 67.

    Gwala passed away after battling an illness, according to a statement released by Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa.

    Mthethwa said: “It is with deep sadness that we learned of the passing of legendary poet and short story writer, Pascal Mafika Gwala, after an illness.

    “Gwala was, in his own right, a committed anti-apartheid critic and cultural activist who, from a young age, was part of the Black Consciousness movement that espoused the principle of self-determination for African people.”

    Eggs to Lay, Chickens to HatchChris van Wyk, the beloved poet, editor and author who first came to prominence during the struggle against apartheid, then set a high water mark as a memoirist and writer of children’s books, died in Johannesburg in October.

    Van Wyk was born in Soweto in 1957, and grew up in Riverlea, a “coloured” section of south-western Johannesburg, where his two memoirs, Shirley, Goodness and Mercy and Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch, are set.

    He worked as an editor at the literary magazine Staffrider, as well as at Ravan Press, the storied publisher of dissident voices opposed to apartheid. In 1979, he published one of the most-quoted anti-apartheid poems, “In Detention”, which appeared in the collection It is Time to Go Home under the Ad Donker imprint, and for which van Wyk received the Olive Schreiner Prize.

    Ice in the LungsGerald Kraak, author of Ice in the Lungs and prominent figure in the South African LGBTI movement, lost his battle with cancer in October.

    The great number of tender tributes from various human rights organisations and prominent social activists bear testament to Kraak’s invaluable contribution to the South African society.

    Zackie Achmat writes on GroundUp: “Gerald’s work, love, activism, intellectual contributions and personal generosity lives on in all of us.” The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (SERI) writes, “We will always remember Gerald’s rock-solid support, his careful and wise counsel and his wicked sense of humour. He will be sorely missed.”

    Cover Her FacePD James, best-selling British crime fiction author, passed away in November. She was 94, and has more than 20 novels to her name.

    James wrote meticulously researched and critically acclaimed novels. Her debut novel, Cover her Face, was released in 1962. Her last book published was Death Comes to Pemberley, a spin-off of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. A number of her novels were adapted for film and television. Adam Dalgliesh, the detective hero who featured in many of her books, is well-known around the world.

    In an article for BBC News, Nick Higham wrote that James was determined to keep writing even in her old age because, as she said, “the thing about being a writer is that you need to write”.

    Into the River of LifeTributes have been streaming in from all over the world after news broke that Ian Player, author of The White Rhino Saga and renowned conservationist, passed away in November.

    “On Friday, rumours of Player’s death arose after his brother and renowned golfer Gary Player tweeted: ‘My beloved brother Ian has cast his canoe onto the river of life that will shortly take him across to the other side. I will miss you. Love’”, News24 writes in their obituary.

    In 1951 Ian Player initiated the Dusi Canoe Marathon, between Pietermartizburg and Durban. The race now attracts over 2000 competitors each year from around the globe. Ian Player won the first six-day race in 1951 despite being bitten by a night adder during the course. Two more victories followed in 1953 and 1954. He is the founder member of the Natal Canoe Club. Whilst warden of the iMfolozi Game Reserve he spearheaded Operation Rhino, which saved the few remaining Southern race of White rhino.

    Remembering the RebellionProfessor Emeritus Jeff Guy, a colossus on South Africa’s academic scene who reshaped our understanding of KwaZulu-Natal, wrote several distinguished biographies of its colonial inhabitants, and exerted enormous influence on a rising generation of South African historians, died suddenly in England on 15 December, at 74 years old.

    Guy was in London to give an address to a 200 year anniversary conference in honour of John William Colenso – the subject of one of Guy’s books – held at St John’s College, Cambridge. According to a person in attendance, his presentation was among the most insightful he had ever delivered, and drew wide acclaim.

    Since the confirmation of his death, tributes and memories have been appearing in social media, as colleagues and students remember Guy, who was known for his gruff humour, and for the unflagging encouragement he gave to his students. The possibility of a scholarship in his name is being discussed.

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