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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

Kate Sidley on what new book lists tell you about the world

Published in the Sunday Times

Every month, publishers send out This Month’s Highlights e-mails to reviewers like me. The point of the mail is for us to select books to review, but I use it as a handy snapshot of the state of the world. It’s almost as effective as reading the newspaper, and a lot quicker. From recent months’ offerings, I have developed the following worldview:

We wuz robbed

Books about the pillage of the public purse are a thriving industry in SA. There’s at least one new one a month – Licence to Loot; How To Steal a City; Shadow State; Other titles with the words ‘plunder’ and ‘capture’ – and they barely even overlap, so rich is the seam to be mined. There’s enough meat for sequels – I imagine Licence to Loot More, How To Steal Another City and Even Shadowier State.

Veg is the new Banting

The lists are littered with vegetarian and vegan recipe books like The Plant-Based Cookbook and Vegan Christmas. OK, so the titles lack the finger-licking allure of How To Be A Domestic Goddess, which made the full-creamy Nigella Lawson a welcome presence in our kitchens, but no animals were harmed in their making. South African restaurants still relying on pasta arrabiata and the “vegetarian platter” (aka, a plate of fried brown things) as their extensive vegetarian menu, could learn a thing or two.

#MenAreTrash

The number of stories about spousal abuse and gender-based violence is simply appalling. Famous names like Tracy Going (Brutal Legacy) and Vanessa Govender (Beaten But Not Broken) – and lesser-known but equally brave survivors – are telling their stories.

But people are pretty awesome

There they are, overcoming cancer, fighting apartheid (100 Mandela Moments), swimming long distances in very cold water, challenging injustice, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and climbing mountains on their one remaining leg – not at the same time, just to be clear. And we get to read about it. It’s properly inspiring.

Except for the ones that are psychos

There they are, murdering, abusing children, running apartheid death squads, mucking up the country (The Lost Boys of Bird Island being a case in point). And we get to read about it. It’s properly depressing.

We drink too much

The Craft Beer Dictionary, The Bourbon Bible, The Vodka Lover’s Guide to Cirrhosis, and wine, wine, wine. The world is all boozed up, and increasingly adventurously so – no longer does one simply add some T to one’s G – you toss in lavender and star anise and burnt orange peel.

We need help!

People, we are struggling! And there are books to help. From colour therapy to feng shui, to spiritual guidance, to diet secrets, to career advice, they make big promises – like Mr Bitcoin: How I Became a Bitcoin Millionaire at 21. I can’t vouch for the success of the methods, but the category is booming.

We need escape

Leave the predictable daily grind for the mystery of novels where people who are thought dead turn out not to be, or whether the assumed killer is but a red herring. Be transported to Tuscany, into the chiselled arms of a handsome stranger. Or to a Chicago speakeasy. Or to suburban London. Any place, really. Any place but where you are.

Book details
Licence to Loot
Licence to Loot by Stephan Hofstatter
EAN: 9781776093120
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How To Steal A City

How To Steal A City: The Battle For Nelson Mandela Bay by Crispian Oliver
EAN: 9781868428205
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Shadow State

Shadow State: The Politics of State Capture by Ivor Chipkin, Mark Swilling
EAN: 9781776142125
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The Plant-Based Cookbook

The Plant-Based Cookbook by Ella Mills
EAN: 9781473639218
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Vegan Christmas

Vegan Christmas by Gaz Oakley
EAN: 9781787132672
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Brutal Legacy

Brutal Legacy: A Memoir by Tracy Going
EAN: 9781928420125
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Beaten but not Broken

Beaten but not Broken by Vanessa Govender
EAN: 9781431426799
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100 Mandela Moments

100 Mandela Moments by Kate Sidley
EAN: 9781868429028
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The Lost Boys of Bird Island

The Lost Boys of Bird Island: A shocking exposé from within the heart of the NP government by Mark Minnie, Chris Steyn
EAN: 9780624081432
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The Craft Beer Dictionary

The Craft Beer Dictionary by Richard Croasdale
EAN: 9781784723880
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The Bourbon Bible

The Bourbon Bible by Eric Zandona
EAN: 9781784724573
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Mr Bitcoin

Mr Bitcoin: How I became a millionaire at 21 by Mpho Dagada
EAN: 9781431426720
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Which turn will the 21st century take? Michele Magwood talks to historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari about the challenges facing humankind

Published in the Sunday Times

21 Lessons for the 21st Century *****
Yuval Noah Harari, Jonathan Cape, R320


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“In a world deluged by irrelevant information,” writes Yuval Noah Harari, “clarity is power.”

The slight, unassuming Israeli historian shot to fame with his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind which was originally published in Hebrew. He followed it up with Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. Together they have sold tens of millions of copies and been translated into 45 languages.

Harari is a boldly original thinker and credits the Buddhist tradition of Vipassana meditation for his focus and insight. He meditates for two hours a day and for one or two months of the year takes a silent retreat with no books or social media. He is a vegan and chooses not to use a smartphone.

Now, having scrutinised the course of human history and forecast the future of the species, Harari presents 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, which drills into the here and now and the immediate future of human societies. What are today’s greatest challenges and choices? he asks. Where are we heading and what should we pay attention to? Divided into sections like “The Technological Challenge”, “Despair and Hope” and “Resilience” the book presents a deeply disquieting view. “As a historian, I cannot give people food or clothes – but I can try and offer some clarity.”

Yuval Noah Harari. Picture: Olivier Middendorp.

 

Here he answers questions for the Sunday Times:

What do you believe are the high-road and low-road scenarios in the 21st century? What is the best we can aspire to and what is the worst to fear?

The twin revolutions in biotechnology and information technology will give us godlike powers of creation and destruction. But technology doesn’t tell us how to use it. In the 20th century, some societies used the powers of electricity, trains and radio to create totalitarian dictatorships while other societies used exactly the same powers to create liberal democracies. Biotech and infotech can also be used to create very different kinds of societies.

Perhaps the worst-case scenario is that humankind will split into different biological castes, resulting in a situation far worse than apartheid. Artificial intelligence will push hundreds of millions of people out of the job market and into a new “useless class”. People will lose their economic worth and their political power. At the same time, bioengineering will make it possible to upgrade a small elite into super-humans. Revolt and resistance will be almost impossible due to a total surveillance regime that constantly monitors not just what every individual does and says, but even what every individual feels and thinks.

The best-case scenario is that the new technologies will liberate all humans from the burden of disease and hard labour and enable everyone to explore and develop their full potential. Bioengineering will focus on curing the needy rather than on upgrading the rich. Artificial intelligence will indeed eliminate many jobs, but the resulting profits will be used to provide everyone with free basic services, and to allow everyone the opportunity to pursue their dreams, in the field of art, sports, religion or community-building. State-of-the-art surveillance will be used to spy not on the citizens, but on the government, to make sure there is no corruption.

Which of these scenarios will come true?

At present, we seem to be heading towards the dystopian scenario, mainly due to growing global tensions. You cannot regulate bioengineering and artificial intelligence on the national level. For example, if most countries ban genetic-engineering of human babies, but China allows it, very soon everybody will copy the Chinese, because nobody would like to stay behind. The only way to effectively regulate such disruptive technologies is through global co-operation.

What role will religion, ethics and morality play in the 21st century? Are we “playing God”, for example, with bioengineering?

Ethics will be more important than ever, because humankind will be more powerful than ever. When you have the power to re-engineer life, your views on “right” and “wrong” acquire cosmic importance. But you don’t need religion in order to have a good moral compass. For morality doesn’t mean “obeying God” – morality means “reducing suffering”. In order to act morally, you just need to develop a deep appreciation of suffering.

Secular people abstain from murder not because some god forbids it, but because killing inflicts suffering on sentient beings. There is something deeply troubling and dangerous about people who avoid killing just because “God says so”. Such people are motivated by obedience rather than compassion, and what will they do if they come to believe that their god commands them to kill heretics, witches or gays?

And it is noteworthy that secular morality really works. The most peaceful and prosperous countries in the world such as Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands are secular. In contrast, deeply religious countries such as Iraq and Pakistan tend to be violent and poor. @michelemagwood

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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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“It was the fascination of discovering the diverse paths taken by my childhood friends that made me write this book,” writes Jill Baker of The Horns

Published in the Sunday Times

The Horns is the first book in Jill Baker’s Zambezi-trilogy.

 
It was the fascination of discovering the diverse paths taken by my childhood friends that made me write this book.

Jabu, son of a respected amaNdebele chief, trained in Russia to become a leader within Joshua Nkomo’s military wing, Zipra, and determined to unseat the colonial government; Prune, whose mother was unknown at the clinic where she died giving birth to him, adopted by the Scottish nurse and guided by the clinic orderly as a Matabele boy; Themba who was born to be a slave under the Matabele but who excelled at school and university and represented Southern Rhodesia at international trade talks aged 26 and became a top political figure under Bishop Abel Muzorewa; and Carol, born into unusual circumstances and adjusting to a different world.

Finding out about their lives took eight years of meticulous and detailed research.

Joshua Nkomo was the leader and founder of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union. Picture: Paul Harris/Getty Images

 
I lost touch with Jabu. So I made contact.

Through single-word messaging of destination, time and date, I left Australia to find him in Botswana. A decade of ghastly war divided us.

From 48 hours of non-stop debate and disagreement grew mutual understanding, acceptance and renewal of that friendship.

I knew I had to tell that story because I had lived long enough to bring it to life for, hopefully, the greater understanding of the country we love.

What surprised me during my research was the machinations of man! The distortions — the vested interests – the manipulation – from all sides. And the savagery. I was at first shocked and appalled, then I had to understand it.

Then there was the courage, the benevolence, the interactions and the heart-stopping emotion of glorious moments.

The Horns: Book One of the Zambezi Trilogy by Jill Baker is published by Porcupine Press, R250.

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A Darker Shade of Pale adds to the growing genres of books about the everyday and painful experience of apartheid and racism in SA, writes Donnay Torr

Published in the Sunday Times


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Darker Shade of Pale: A Memoir of Apartheid South Africa ****
Beryl Crosher-Segers, Torchflame Books, R250

In an entry on her blog, Beryl Crosher-Segers ponders: “I couldn’t get to know white or black South Africans while growing up. But our lives were intertwined in some absurd way. I think absurd is the right word here …”

“Absurd” is the perfect word for the juxtaposition of what reads like a normal childhood – but set within the abnormal strictures of apartheid SA.

At its heart, A Darker Shade of Pale is about family. Beryl was born in Cape Town in 1955, seven years after the National Party imposed the system of apartheid. As the middle child of five, she was a quiet observer. “I was the typical ‘Dear Diary’ girl,” she laughs. “I didn’t speak much until I was about 17. But I wrote things down. I’ve always written things down.”

These early recordings of her life are what make her memoir an engrossing read. It weaves clear and poignant memories together in a straightforward, unsentimental way: of a hard-working survivor of a mother, a dissatisfied revolutionary of a father, the solace of good neighbours and friends, moments of joy, pain at the tragic loss of a brother … And finally, a grown-up Beryl and her young family emigrating to Australia. The things that make up a life. There’s one difference, of course. Beryl and her family were classified as “coloured” under the laws of apartheid SA. This meant separate schools. Forced removals from beloved homes and public spaces. Genial white bakers who called you “hotnotjie”, not “child”. Benches that read “Whites Only”.

A “whites-only” beach. Picture courtesy of Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Getty Images.

 
Beryl is now living in Sydney, Australia, and was named one of the country’s most influential Africans, receiving the Celebrate African-Australia’s Captain’s Award. She’s received a human rights award from the University of Technology in Sydney, participated in the organisation of the 2000 Olympics and has worked for senator Penny Wong, parliamentary leader for the opposition. Despite her success, the humiliation of apartheid still lingers and she shares a vignette that illustrates how the hurt is still there, even decades after leaving SA.

“In 2017, a filmmaker from the Australian Film and Television School made a documentary about my story. We went to visit my mother, she’s 86 now and also living in Australia. I took two of the original ‘Whites Only’ signs from the trains along. My mom would not touch them. She would not look at them. She’s been out of SA for 40 years, she hasn’t seen these signs for that long, but she just wouldn’t …”

Writing the book opened old wounds, but also purged some of the more traumatic experiences Beryl had while growing up, such as the night she and her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Chris, went to the Rhodes Memorial to make out – and witnessed a mixed-race couple being arrested by the cops. The (white) male got to sit in the front of the police van, the (non-white) woman was thrown in the back.

“Chris and I still talk about that night,” says Beryl. “I can still hear the woman’s screams. I wonder what happened to her. Where she is now, if she is still alive. And I wonder what we could have done, if we weren’t so scared and helpless to do anything back then.”

Writing the book has also opened the floodgates for more memories from her friends and family.

“My mother told me something that she’d never mentioned before … She grew up in a suburb called Retreat in Cape Town. She said that one morning, the bridge they’d always had to cross to get to the train station was suddenly off limits to them. It happened overnight. She said, ‘We were herded like cattle down to the railway crossing to walk around and go on to the other side.’ She’d never told me that before. To go from human one day, to not-quite-human the next … She told me this story, and I thought she probably has so many more she hasn’t told me …”

Engaging people with the power of story is the point of this book. “People really need to tell their stories,” says Beryl.

“We need to make it clear that all this is not forgotten. There needs to be dialogue. I think if we can engage and talk about how wrong it was … That’s all we want to hear. Because we, and I’m talking about myself, I live with that. It was an abuse of our human rights.” @SAPixi

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Sefika Awards & Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice Award winners announced!

Issued on behalf of the SA Booksellers Association and Publishers Association of South Africa by Native Worx PR & Communications

29 August 2018

Last night the much-anticipated Grammy’s of the book industry were announced at a packed ceremony held at the Wanderers Club in Illovo, Johannesburg. The annual event forms part of the booksellers and publishers of South Africa co-joined Annual General Meetings (AGM) where topical issues in various sectors of the book industry are discussed. The Awards acknowledge and celebrate booksellers and the role they play in promoting literacy and a culture of reading.

The winners are:

• Academic bookseller of the year – Protea Books
• Education bookseller of the year – Books 24/7
• Library supplier of the year – Hargraves Library Services
• Trade bookseller of the year (chain stores) – Bargain Books
• Trade bookseller of the year (independent) – The Book Lounge
• Academic publisher of the year – Juta Books
• Education publisher of the year (large) – Best Education
• Education publisher of the year (small) – Berlut Book
• Trade publisher of the year – Jonathan Ball Publishers

Winners are selected through a voting process which enables publishers to select the best among booksellers and in turn booksellers choose the winners among publishers.

The evening culminated with the most coveted accolade, the Nielsen Booksellers Choice Award. The award is bestowed upon a local author for a South African published book that booksellers most enjoyed selling or that sold so well that it made a difference to the bottom line of booksellers across the country.

The award went to The President’s Keepers by investigative journalist Jacques Pauw. Published by Tafelberg Publishers, the book exposes a secret at the heart of Jacob Zuma’s compromised government. To date the book has sold over 200 000 copies worldwide.

Mr. Pauw gave a riveting speech by sharing the journey of the book from the moment it hit shelves across South Africa.

“When criminal charges were instituted against me in an effort to ban the book, everyone went out and bought a copy of it and it sold out. In the midst of all the publicity it also become an international best seller on eBooks,” commented Pauw.

The short-listed books for Nielsen Booksellers Choice Award 2018 were:

90 Rules For Entrepreneurs by Marnus Broodryk, published by Tracey McDonald Publishers.
Khwezi by Redi Tlhabi, published by Jonathan Ball.
No Longer Whispering To Power by Thandeka Gqubule, published by Jonathan Ball.
I Write What I Like by Steve Biko, published by Pan Macmillan

The President's Keepers

Book details
The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and out of Prison by Jacques Pauw
EAN: 9780624083030
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90 Rules for Entrepreneurs

90 Rules for Entrepreneurs by Marnus Broodryk
EAN: 9780620758352
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Khwezi

Khwezi: The Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo by Redi Tlhabi
EAN: 9781868427260
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No Longer Whispering to Power

No Longer Whispering to Power: The Story of Thuli Madonsela by Thandeka Gqubule
EAN: 9781868427314
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I Write What I Like

I Write What I Like: 40th Anniversary Edition by Steve Biko
EAN: 9781770105102
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An African refugee finds her struggle is not over once she makes it to the US, writes Margaret von Klemperer

Published in the Sunday Times

Clemantine Wamariya says being reunited with her parents on TV, with no warning, made her feel like the subject of an experiment. Picture: Julia Zave.

 
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After
****
Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil, Hutchinson, R320

Clemantine Wamariya’s story opens in 2006. She was an 18-year-old high-school student in the US and a finalist in an Oprah Winfrey essay competition. As one of the finalists, she set off for the filming of an episode of Oprah’s show on Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace prize winner Elie Wiesel, as her essay was about Wiesel’s book, Night. But Wamariya is also a survivor – in her case, the Rwandan genocide.

Wamariya attended the shoot with her sister, Claire, who, nine years older than the six-year-old Clemantine, had protected her through six horrific years in the refugee camps of seven African countries. By 2006, they knew their parents had also survived, although they had not seen them for 12 years. With no warning, Oprah reunited the family on screen, in front of a worldwide TV audience – and of course there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Oprah had done an amazing thing, reuniting a family after years of devastation, death and loss. And she had raised awareness of a terrible event. But when I read about it, I could only see it as the commodification of grief and suffering, calculated to load the disengaged watchers with warm fuzzy feelings, but shattering to those to whom it mattered.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads is partly an articulation of what that evening in a television studio meant. Wamariya says she was grateful to Oprah, of course, but goes on: “But I also felt kicked in the stomach, as though my life were some psychologist’s perverse experiment.”

Claire and Clemantine Wamariya on ‘Oprah’.

 
Wamariya tells her story with almost unbearable honesty and a palpable anger as she describes the refugee years with Claire, a survivor who was always on the hustle. In that time Claire had two children who Wamariya made it her mission to keep alive, clean and attractive – because clean, attractive infants score better in the hand-to-mouth refugee existence.

Once the sisters were granted refugee status in the US, Wamariya was taken in by a family who saw to her education so successfully that eventually she was accepted to go to Yale. But her main struggles were never going to be academic: Wamariya had to deal with people who wanted, often from the best of motives, to see her as a kind of “genocide princess”, particularly after Oprah. She tried to live up to that, but boiling away beneath the surface was distrust of people’s motives, learnt in her years trailing around the eastern side of Africa.

Then there was the difficulty of forming a relationship with the family she had been torn from at the age of six. Wamariya is honest about her problems and the loss of a sense of self that came from her horrendous childhood. She writes of her hatred of the word “genocide”, because it is an easy catch-all. Each person caught up in it has their own personal story, a private horror that can become lost in the general.

We all know the compassion fatigue that stories of refugees and their situation can engender. Wamariya lays her experience before us without asking for pity or even understanding, but simply for the time it takes to read her book. And it is well worth every minute.

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“I wanted to interrogate the legacy that belonged to me” – Panashe Chigumadzi on These Bones Will Rise Again

Published in the Sunday Times

By Rea Khoabane

Panashe Chigumadzi looks beyond the ‘big men and guns’. Picture: KB Mpofu.

 

These Bones Will Rise Again
****
Panashe Chigumadzi, Jacana, R185

In search of mothers of the nation, Panashe Chigumadzi discovered that black women need to be seen in all their complexity. Her latest book, These Bones Will Rise Again, is an interrogation of the liberation movement that was created through the spirit of a woman but led by men and guns.

How did the book come about?

Essentially the book was a commission by Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, the publishing director of Indigo Press. I happened to tell her about the research I’ve been doing independently at Wits University, about the figure of Mbuya Nehanda, an anticolonial heroine, amongst, if not the most famous person in Zimbabwe’s liberation history. She was a spirit medium who was also one of the first leaders of the Zimbabwe liberation movement Chimurenga. At the same time I had been thinking about my grandmother, who’d just passed away, and thought of a photograph of her that I’d lost.

Why did you choose to present this through the structure of a woman?

I was inspired by Alice Walker’s essay “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens”, which speaks to the way that, even as black people, we learn to take on the eyes of the world in the ways that we look at ourselves and in the ways that we look at other black women.

It was difficult for me to see beyond my grandmother as a person, so it was really saying, how do I take on new eyes? It’s seeing her and others; I see our humanity, our fullness. I see the complexity of our humanity and that means crafting an image of a strong black woman. It’s an image of a rock but also an image of someone who loves, who cries, dreams, prays and can be nasty and nice. Complexities that black women are denied.

The title is from the words that Mbuya Nehanda spoke before she was executed…

The image of her when she was about to be executed is one we continually use within Zimbabwe … Grace Mugabe last year said she sees herself as Mbuya Nehanda. She’s always present, but it was also important for me to interrogate what this spirit has meant to us as the people. What does it mean that an ancestor who really is an ancestor spirit initially belonging to the Zulu people has now come be an ancestor of the Zimbabwean nation, and what does it mean if she is the ancestor that is spoken of to other ancestors? To question if there is maybe one primary ancestor…

You see Robert Mugabe’s ousting as a way for Zimbabweans to refer back to history…

Zimbabwe’s national history and its versions of history, and this moment of history, are created by a clash of big men and guns. I was interested to speak about this moment that is outside the figure of Mugabe and outside of our usual understanding of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. I wanted to understand this moment through Zimbabwean people and particularly women, using the figure of Mbuya Nehanda, and I thought it was my way of inventing history through her history.

I also wanted to interrogate what is the liberation struggle to me and what does it mean to the Zimbabwean people outside of what we’ve been taught? I wanted to interrogate the legacy that belonged to me, to my mother and to my grandmother, and that would one day belong to my grandchildren.

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Launch: Skin we are in by Sindiwe Magona and Nina G. Jablonski (1 September)

When we meet someone, one of the things we notice is the colour of their skin. But what can someone’s skin colour tell us about them? Despite what some people say, your skin means very little! Inside we’re all the same.

Join Njabulo, Aisha, Tim, Chris and Roshni as they discover why humans have different skins, and how people’s thinking about skin colour has changed throughout history. Skin we are in is a celebration of the glorious human rainbow, both in South Africa and beyond.

One of South Africa’s best-selling authors, Sindiwe Magona, has teamed up with well-known American anthropologist, Nina G. Jablonski, and award-winning illustrator Lynn Fellman to create a much-needed book about race and skin colour – for children. Magona has written a story of five friends as they explore and discuss the skin they are in. The scientific narrative, written by Jablonski, expands and supports the conversation topics generated by the children’s adventure.

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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.

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