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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Book Bites: 28 October

Published in the Sunday Times

Melusi’s Everyday Zulu ****
Melusi Tshabalala, Jonathan Ball Publishers, R220

Peals of laughter shook me. The cat ran off without looking back. “Doctor” Tshabalala takes politics head-on, wades through current affairs, family, being a “grown-up” (so many aren’t!) and muses on 21st-century life as a Zulu man with the same wild abandon and unexpected humour. You can learn a Zulu word a day (actually about three), on his site or his Facebook page and blog, as this comedian/social guerrilla infiltrates White Monopoly Culture. But it’s the light touch that does it, the gentle prodding that makes you wish you were learning the entire depth of the Zulu culture and language. A really, really fun read. Ngiyabonga kakhulu Melusi! Ungaphumalela na! David Forbes

The Last GirlThe Last Girl: My Story of Captivity and my Fight Against the Islamic State ****
Nadia Murad and Jenna Krajeski, Virago, R225

Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad’s childhood in the Yazidi community was a happy existence in a village of peasant farmers in an area of Iraq that was a curious melting pot of religions – Muslims, Christians and the ancient Yazidi sect – who in the main tolerated each other. But in 2014 that all changed when Islamic State fighters destroyed her village, killed almost all the men, including six of her brothers, and many of the women and took Nadia and other young women to be sex slaves; to be abused, raped and dehumanised. She eventually escaped, and a Sunni Muslim family risked their lives to get her to safety. Resettled in Germany, Nadia is now an advocate for the Yazidi cause and has spoken all over the world, including at the UN. Her story is a stark and compelling reminder that victims of war include more than the corpses you see on the evening news. Margaret von Klemperer

An Unquiet PlaceAn Unquiet Place *****
Clare Houston, Penguin, R260

Neglected, lost and fragile, Hannah Harrison leaves everything she knows in Cape Town for a bookshop in the Free State. There, she discovers a diary dating back to concentration camps from the South African War. Hannah is intrigued by the idea that she could unravel the mystery of the diary and what happened to the person who wrote it, but she encounters many obstacles: new love, an ex-lover and a deranged woman living on a farm nearby. Houston manages to weave together a complicated tapestry of events in an unexpected and rich way. So masterful is Houston’s writing that at the end readers will likely be inspired to research our history. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

Book details


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“Just stick to cricket, Shane.” Good ol’ Warney has been indulged once more in this tedious biography, writes Archie Henderson

Published in the Sunday Times

No Spin: My Autobiography **
Shane Warne with Mark Nicholas, Penguin Random House, R320

Shane Warne deserves a good biography.

This is not it, even with Mark Nicholas as his amanuensis.

Nicholas, an accomplished broadcaster and writer, played a marathon innings, listening to his subject, recording him, transcribing their conversations and bringing some coherence to the garrulous Warne’s ramblings.

He fails to rein in Warne and a book of almost 400 pages (including seven of fascinating statistics) could have been half the length, enough to accommodate the best part of the book, the cricket.

Warne was a great cricketer – many aficionados believe he was one of the greatest – but he can also be a great bore.

His peccadillos with a variety of women and his affair with film star Liz Hurley are tedious.

His obsequiousness toward the rich (Kerry Packer et al) is embarrassing, especially his blatant pleading to be invited to Johann Rupert’s next golf outing at St Andrews.

And his participation during a TV reality show in the “jungle” near the Kruger Park is ludicrous and irrelevant.

Stick to cricket, a strong captain – Steve Waugh, perhaps, whom Warne loathes – might have advised.

But good ol’ Warney has been indulged once more.

When he does stick to cricket, he redeems himself and his book.

He is a deep thinker on the game, was a brilliant exponent of the difficult art of leg-spin bowling and would have made a very good Australian captain.

Sadly, part of his behaviour cost him that job. Now it’s cost him a good book.

One day, when time has created some distance for dispassion, Warne will get his deserved biography. It might even be by Gideon Haigh, the Australian who is as good a writer as Warne is a bowler and who has already compiled a series of essays on the player. In them Haigh describes Warne’s bowling action as being “both dainty and menacing, like Ernst Blofeld stroking his white cat”.

Now that’s a book that would be worth reading.

Book details


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“Children need to be encouraged from an early age to learn another language or languages” – a Q&A with academic and language activist, Zakeera Docrat

Nal’ibali Column 26: Term 4, 2019

By Carla Lever

Zakeera Docrat

 
Congratulations on your two recent awards – having your MA thesis voted the best in Southern Africa by the African Languages Association of Southern Africa and winning the Albertina Sisulu Doctoral Fellowship at the SA Women in Science Awards. What will this recognition mean for you personally, and for your research specialty professionally?

Thank you very much! It’s an incredibly gratifying feeling to know that my research is being recognized at the highest levels of academia and government. It also casts the national spotlight on a relatively new field of forensic linguistics – or language and the law. Including African languages in the legal system enables real justice: it’s an issue that’s finally being placed on the national stage.

Your academic work looks at how African languages are represented in the legal system. Can you tell us a little about your current research?

My PhD research focuses on language and the law, specifically looking at the language of record in South African courts. In 2017, English was made the sole language of official record, but only 9.6% of the population in South Africa speak English as their mother tongue. Language affects people’s rights in courts. If you are an African language or Afrikaans mother tongue speaker and you have no or limited linguistic competency in English, then you are solely reliant on an interpreter. In my opinion, that’s both unfair and untransformative.

How do you think it changed your worldview, to be able to communicate with a wide variety of people in their own language?

By acquiring an additional language, in turn you acquire a cultural key to navigate cultural barriers. We live in a diverse, linguistically rich country, where the majority of our people speak an African language as their mother tongue. I couldn’t imagine being unable to communicate with the majority of people in the province of my birthplace, the Eastern Cape. You’re able to see the world through someone else’s perspective, to relate to fellow citizens and be respectful and aware of their traditions.

Since 1996, courts have made translation available to anyone who needs it. Why, in your opinion, is this not enough to really ensure people are fairly represented? How can it still place defendants at a disadvantage?

All accused persons have a right to a fair trial and to be legally represented. But can a legal representative defend the accused fully when they communicate through an interpreter? In my opinion, no. When people use interpreters to give evidence, meaning is often lost or changed. If the presiding officer only speaks English there is no possibility of picking up any inaccuracies. There are also often cultural concepts and traditions that can’t be interpreted directly into English.

Are there countries in the world where legal language policies are inclusive and work well? Who can we look to as an example?

Indeed there are! We could emulate a Canadian model, which is fully bilingual with judicial officers and legal practitioners being fully bilingual. Cases are heard in either of the official languages. Although South Africa has eleven official languages as opposed to Canada’s two, there is no reason why there can’t be language policies for each province, given that there are two languages spoken by the majority in each province.

Academics are often theory-driven, but was there a practical moment or discovery that really brought home the injustice and shortcomings of a legal system that can’t accommodate people’s lived, language-based realities?

I’m actually trying to find the answer to a very practical question: how do we enable access to justice for the majority of our people who are not English mother tongue speakers? The case of State v Sikhafungana (2012) really brought home to me how difficult it can be for South Africans to navigate our legal system. It saw a Deaf complainant needing to testify about being sexually assaulted, but being at a severe disadvantage because she couldn’t understand English or communicate using South African sign language. It was heartbreaking to see how there were so many barriers to justice for her.

People often counter policy suggestions by saying expanding options will prove too expensive. In your opinion, are there incremental or simple changes that might already make a big difference, or should South African invest in a large system overhaul?

The expense argument is one that is constantly used, yet there is always money available for wasted expenditure. Language is seen as a problem rather than a right and a resource. It isn’t valued.

We can’t expect to wake up tomorrow and have the entire legal system fully functional in all eleven official languages. What can be done, though, is for universities to begin to train prospective lawyers in languages other than just English. African languages and Afrikaans should also be language of record where practical.

Of course, the legal system isn’t the only one that is failing to truly represent our country’s diverse needs. Education, healthcare, policing…do you think all these areas could benefit from drawing on the richness of our languages as resources rather than sideline them as problems?

Indeed. Miscommunication in services such as healthcare, education and the legal system can have disastrous effects. It’s sad that pupils and parents think that English is the only language that will give rise to job opportunities. The power of the mother-tongue in acquiring a sound education and learning content subjects isn’t recognized in policy. Language is also key to the decolonization and transformation of our universities, yet we continue to see an emphasis placed on what we learn rather than what language we’re learning in. There’s a real need to create awareness on the importance of language as a tool to empower and transform South Africa.

How do you think we can develop and nurture a love for, and practical engagement with, all of our country’s languages in South Africa?

It starts in the home! Children need to be encouraged from an early age to learn another language or languages. Mother tongue speakers also need to value the power and status of their language – by doing this, others will be encouraged to learn those languages too.

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit: www.nalibali.org.


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Editor needed for New Coin

New Coin is looking for a new editor to begin work in January 2019 (first issue: June 2019).

The editor should have a good sense of the range of genres and sub-cultures in South African poetry today, and be willing to engage constructively with new writing and writers.

The main responsibilities would be:
• selecting and compiling material for each issue
(two issues a year – typically 50 poets submit work to each issue)
• selecting cover art for each issue
• identifying and selecting new books to review, and finding knowledgeable reviewers
• corresponding with poets, notifying them of acceptances and rejections, as well as making constructive editorial suggestions
• appointing a judge for the annual DALRO Prize
• liaising with the designer of New Coin on production matters
• proofreading
• maintaining the New Coin page on Facebook
• promotion of New Coin
• liaison on administrative matters with the publisher – the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA) at Rhodes University in Grahamstown.

The editor can be based anywhere in South Africa. He or she will have the support of an editorial advisory board appointed by the ISEA. A small stipend is paid for the work.

If you’re interested, please send a letter of motivation spelling out your vision for the future of the journal, together with a short CV, to isea@ru.ac.za before 31 October 2018.


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Launch: Ambassadeur III (28 September)

Ambassadeur is an annual literary lifestyle journal featuring art, literature and travel. The third edition of this journal will be revealed at the launch event on Friday, 28 September 2018, at Just Like Papa, 73 Harrington Street, Cape Town.

The latest edition will feature: the photography of Jaco S. Venter, an in-depth interview with vanguard artist J.E. Foster, a discussion on the relationship between art and cuisine with renowned chef, Johnny Hamman, a near-death experience in the Congo, a look inside Bulgaria’s Soviet monuments and much more.

Ambassadeur have also once again collaborated with the Italian luxury brand Gucci, to bring to life another revered South African novel through a unique photo-essay where fashion meets literature. This time around the novel is André P. Brink’s literary tour de force, The Ambassador, first published in 1963.


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Submit a review of your favourite children’s book and stand a chance to win!

Click here for more!


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Deadline for 2018 Short Story Day Africa Prize extended

Via Short Story Day Africa

The deadline for the 2018 Short Story Day Africa Prize anthology, themed ‘Hotel Africa’, has been extended.

Entrants have until October 31st to submit their stories.

Visit their website for more information on the theme and entry details!


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Apply for the 2018 ANFASA grant scheme for authors (academic and non-fiction)

ANFASA, the Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ Association of South Africa, has announced the next round of the grant scheme to benefit authors of academic and general non-fiction works.

As per the site:

If you are currently working on a scholarly or a general non-fiction work, you are eligible to apply. However, if selected, only ANFASA members may actually receive an award.The grants are intended to provide a sum of around R25 000 to be used for an author to “buy time” – to take leave, for instance, and devote herself or himself to writing; or to travel in order to conduct research.

Visit their website for more information.


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Jozi Book Fair is here!

Via Jozi Book Fair

The Jozi Book Fair is celebrating its 10th annual festival this year, making it one of the longest running book festivals in South Africa, and the longest running book festival outside the Western Cape. In partnership with the City of Johannesburg the Festival will run from 30 August – 2 September 2018, at Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown.

This festival is a celebration of year-long educational programmes, designed to create readers and writers of the working class. Our programmes are directed towards youth, schools, children and working people. Basically, this is a festival for everyone. This is the only fair where the public hosts events, entrance is free of charge and books are sold at discounted prices. The Festival will have specifically designed entertainment by children and youth for children and youth.

See full programme on website: https://www.jozibookfair.org.za/

The JBF will be opened with the Photography Exhibition, The Cordoned Heart, by Omar Badsha, on 30August, at Museum Africa. First commissioned for the Carnegie Commission on Poverty (1984), this exhibition captures the theme of the JBF, Literature and Working People, and the current context of working people in South Africa.

This year’s theme ‘Literature and Working People’ highlights the literature of the working class, often ignored and disregarded, negating its impact and influence. While the stories that have a lasting literary influence in South Africa (and internationally) are about the working class, ironically, this literature is often not read nor shared by the working class. With this theme, the JBF strives to bridge this gap by mak Festival.

Festival highlights:

Authors with the likes of Lindsey Collen, Jacklyn Cock, Jolyn Phillips, Luli Callinicos, Motsoko Pheko, Farayi Matondo, Oscar Banda, Brian Unmaki, Hertha Nekwaya, Janet Smith and Rabbie Serumula feature on the programme.

Legends, patrons & internationally acclaimed authors: Lindsey Collen, James Mathews, Wally Serote, Diana Ferrus & Ronnie Govender.

International authors: Lindsey Collen (Mauritius), and four worker poets from Sweden: Emil Boss (supermarket worker), Magnus Gustafson (journalist), Jenny Wrangborg (restaurant worker) and Athena Farrokhzad.

Conversations with authors

Lindsey Collen, author of Getting Rid of it, will be in conversation with Searatoa van Driel (director of “Gibson Kent”, “It’s Too Late”), Jolyn Phillips will be in conversation with Nosipho Mdletshe (JBF Coordinator) on her short stories, Tjieng Tjang Tjerries, Jacklyn Cock will be in conversation with Samson Mokoena (Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance) on her book Writing the Ancestral River and the Black Consciousness Reader authors will discuss their book with Janet Smit, Paballo Thekiso, Rabbie Serumula and Masego Panyane.

 Workshops

The festival boasts over 20 skills workshops which include: Writing (short stories, poetry), Photography, Creativity, Silk-Screening t-shirts, Philosophy for youth and Hockey and Soccer.

Book launches include the 3rd edition of Batjha Kaofela: an anthology of ten short stories by JBF’s Tsohang Batjha; women worker-writers will discuss their lives in Our Lives, Our Communities by Gauteng Community Health Workers. Hidden Voices (Jacana): Worker leaders and Writers by Alfred Qabula & Jabu Ndlovu, will be launched together with veteran cultural activists, Ari Sitas and Nise Malange.

Roundtable discussions include: The Future of Worker Literature in SA (Bheki Peterson, Ali Hlongwane, Wally Serote); The Land Question- Elite project or people’s demand? (with Lindsey Collen, Gwen Ngwenya and the EFF) and Workers Party, a political alternative in 2019 national general elections?

The Focus on Women includes, Beyond Policies: feminizing our organisations and our struggles (with Ruth Ntlokotse, NUMSA) and Assessing the #TotalShutDown march against violence on women and children and feminist struggles in SA (with activists). There is a substantial Focus on Labour & Politics: On the Making of the Working Class in SA (with Luli Callinicos and Isabel Hofmeyer); On Neoliberalism, LRA Amendments and worker responses (with Lynford Dor & Zama Mthunzi); on Marx@200 and colour and class in SA (with Adam Habib and Oupa Lehulere), The Fourth Industrial Revolution and implications for working People (with John Appolis) and Asssessing the The Con Court victory and its implications for the future of casual workers in SA (with Ighsaan Schroeder); and the Fractious relationship between unions and social movements (with Zwelinzima Vavi and Virginia Magwaza).

Exciting Exhibitions: Sculptor exhibition – Imbali Yo Mfazi/ The Legend Of Woman by Mazwi Mdima at Workers Museum.

Music: Jozi Book Fair and Fitzroy Ngcukanawill provide music at designated time. Theatre: Inner City Youth will perform an iconic street play, “It’s to late” by Gibson Kente and special tribute to late SA Poet Laureate and JBF Patron Keorapetse Kgositsile; JBF OPEN MIC Competition with prizes to publish your work and tribute performances by James Matthews, Lindsey Collen, Diana Ferrus, Wally Serote and worker poets.


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“I was surprised by how emotionally exhilarating looking at the past can be,” writes Vusi Thembekwayo of his biography-cum-business manual

Published in the Sunday Times

Vusi Thembekwayo, author of Vusi – Business & Life Lessons From a Black Dragon.
Pic: supplied.

 
There are few endeavours as daunting as writing a book; the idea that you are penning your thoughts, experiences and views for the world to critique and consume.

When the publisher first approached me to do a book on “the life and lessons of Vusi” project, I resisted the idea.

In fact, I rejected it outright, partly because of the idea that my life is just my collective set of experiences but also because I look at my life as a story in the making.

It is “being” every day. Writing about “the life of” seemed very final. But I love the idea that I get to share thoughts that stretch my perspective to colour the lenses of others.

I was inspired by the opportunity to inspire others. There can be no greater gift than the opportunity to inspire others into seeing themselves differently.

I was surprised by how emotionally exhilarating looking at the past can be. Remembering who you once were, parts of yourself that you’d forgotten, lost or minimised in the quest to grow into the person you are today.

As a group, entrepreneurs are notoriously bad at writing long books. We live in a world of instant action, ideation, collaboration and creation. Sprints, not long-winded marathons.

Every day we test, try, fail, and learn only to do it all over again, just a little smarter. Sitting down for an extended period to write or think through your thoughts is not only daunting, it is frankly foreign to our natural disposition.

Conquering this was a test of fortitude and discipline.

The book took two years and almost 100 three-hour sessions with my co-conspirator, Gus Silber, to complete. Every session we had the same set of emotions; deep introspection and reflection, anger at the state of affairs, and sometimes (admittedly seldom) an excited burst of excitement when I came upon a realisation.

I keep several pitbulls and leaving Gus on my outside patio unattended to refill our juice glasses was amusing. He would sit perfectly poised and still until I came back.

Eventually we decided that meeting at my clubhouse was a better bet. Indeed it was. From there we could enjoy the sights of the mountains pointed at Rustenburg. A wondrous and relaxing sight. Perfectly inspiring.

Book details


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