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Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

“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.

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Book Bites: 29 July

Published in the Sunday Times

Divided CountryDivided Country: The History of South African Cricket Retold 1914-1950s
André Odendaal, Krish Reddy and Christopher Merrett, BestRed, R295

Two years ago the first volume of a virtual lifetime’s work for the authors came into being. Cricket and Conquest began the retelling of South Africa’s cricket history, a saga misrepresented and distorted over more than 200 years since the game’s arrival in 1795. Now the second volume is here and the next two, Batting for Freedom (the 1950s to 2016) and Correcting the Record, cannot be far off. Divided Country is as impressive as its companion volume, continuing to correct a history that previously was written as a white man’s game. It follows the history of South Africa from union, when black people were all but written out of the constitution, to apartheid and the division of cricket into seven “South Africas” along the lines of the segregated state. It is also the story of the women’s game, a neglected aspect too. Archie Henderson

The Testament of Loki
Joanne Harris, Orion, R285

This follows on where The Gospel of Loki ended – Ragnarok has come to pass and the kingdom of Asgard has fallen. Loki, the charismatic trickster god who started all the trouble, finds himself imprisoned in the netherworld. But no prison can hold the god of mischief for long and Loki escapes into a realm where people still dream of the Norse gods. He follows the trail and finds himself inside a video game where the characters are all too familiar. The transition from being a dreamy retelling of Norse legends to urban fantasy is expertly done and Loki comes across as completely at home in the modern world. A highly entertaining romp filled with pop-culture references and old lore. Sally Partridge @sapartridge

The Man Who Didn't CallThe Man Who Didn’t Call
Rosie Walsh, Mantle, R290

It’s aptly called Ghosted in the US. Ghosted means cutting off contact with someone, ignoring all messages and phone calls, and the clincher: not providing a reason. This happens to Sarah. She meets Eddie. They fall in love and then he goes on holiday. He never contacts her again and she is convinced something must have happened to him. But what if her friends are right: he is not interested. Her search leads her to resolve a terrible incident in her past. The Man Who Didn’t Call is a refreshing mystery/romance. Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

Book details

  • Divided Country: The History of South African Cricket Retold 1914-1960 by André Odendaal, Krish Reddy, Christopher Merrett
    EAN: 9781928246169
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Mike Procter’s autobiography a witty, concise read on the events that shaped his life after his storied career as a player, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku

Published in the Sunday Times

By Khanyiso Tshwaku

Caught in the MiddleCaught in the Middle
Mike Procter, Pitch Publishing, R370

The title of Mike Procter’s autobiography Caught in the Middle is an apt one considering he found himself at the centre of two of cricket’s hairiest moments in the mid-2000s. Those events were the “ball tampering” Oval 2006 test match between Pakistan and England and the infamous “Monkeygate” New Year’s test between Australia and India in Sydney in 2008.

On both occasions, he was the match referee. After those acrimonious tests, the International Cricket Council changed the rules to ensure certain infractions were dealt with at a level higher than that of a match referee.

In the 2006 encounter, the Pakistan team led by Inzamam-ul-Haq refused to come out after tea on the fourth day after being accused by the abrasive and controversial Australian umpire Darrell Hair of altering the condition of the match ball.

The 2008 issue centred around Indian offspinner Harbhajan Singh racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds, who is of West Indian descent, by calling him a monkey.

These two moments are the centre of the well-crafted 239-page book, which focuses on Procter’s career as referee rather than player.

Procter said the incidents in London and Sydney changed his outlook on the game.

“The Darrell Hair thing was part and parcel of cricket. It was very unusual but that’s something you’d expect to see in cricket once in a while, but the Harbhajan Singh one, I would’ve preferred not to deal with that one,” Procter said.

It’s a book that can be devoured easily, thanks to Lungani Zama’s brevity and Procter’s witty but concise tone. With this book being Procter’s third, it was a smart move to speak less about his storied career as a player – cut short by anti-apartheid sanctions – and focus more on the events that shaped his life afterwards.

It’s worth remembering he was South African cricket’s first post-isolation coach, from 1991 to 1994, a tenure that included the five-run win over Australia in Sydney in 1994. – Khanyiso Tshwaku @kaymorizm

Book details

  • Caught in the Middle: Monkeygate, Politics and Other Hairy Issues; the Autobiography of Mike Procter by Mike Procter, Lungani Zama
    EAN: 9781785312168
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2017 Alan Paton non-fiction longlist

Published in the Sunday Times


Announcing the longlists for the most prestigious annual literary awards, the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, in association with Porcupine Ridge. The shortlists will be announced in May.

This is the 28th year the Alan Paton Award will be bestowed on a book that presents “the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power”, and that demonstrates “compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity”.

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

2017 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award Judges

Pippa Green (chair) Green is communications and media manager of the Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution and Inclusive Growth. Head of the journalism programme at the University of Pretoria from 2009 to 2014, she was educated at the University of Cape Town and Columbia University in New York City, where she earned an MSc in journalism. She is the author of Choice, not Fate: The Life and Times of Trevor Manuel (2008). Green is a recipient of many awards such as the Nieman Fellowship.
Tinyiko Maluleke Maluleke serves as adviser to the principal and vice-chancellor at the University of Pretoria, and is an extraordinary professor at the University of South Africa. He has been a visiting professor at various universities, including Hamburg University in Germany and Duke University in the US. He is an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, a columnist for the Mail & Guardian and Sunday Independent newspapers, and reviews books for the Sunday Times.
Johann Kriegler After 25 years at the bar and 20 on the bench, when Kriegler’s term as a Constitutional Court judge ended he looked forward to sitting on the stoep and catching up on all the books he’d missed out on. It didn’t work out like that. Having chaired the Independent Electoral Commission for the 1994 elections, he has been engaged by the African Union, the UN and a variety of NGOs in a range of electoral and judicial activities across the world. At home, arbitrations, advocacy training and his activities in human-rights and rule-of-law organisations occupy much of his time.

Chairperson Pippa Green’s remarks on the Alan Paton Award longlist:

There are 27 books on the longlist. This is more than usual but reflects the excellence and originality of many of the non-fiction books published in 2016. They include a number of memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, which tell the stories of intimate family relationships against a backdrop of the huge historical forces that have swept the last century. There are books about and by key public figures; there are those that focus on fascinating people who are not well known, such as stowaways, gangsters, police officers, miners, transgender people, and foot soldiers. There are important topics covered too: the history of the independent trade union movement, of science, of African languages, as well as key moments of disjuncture in our current society. The books raise critical questions about our past, present and future. Together they tell a story of our fractured and bound humanity, not only in South Africa but around the world and through time. — Pippa Green

Last year’s Alan Paton Award winner was Pumla Dineo Gqola for her book Rape: A South African Nightmare, published by MF Books Joburg. The winners of the 2017 Alan Paton Award and Barry Ronge Fiction Prize will each receive R100 000.


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Alan Paton Award shortlist: Maxine Case talks about the importance of the story of Papwa: Golf’s Lost Legend

Published in the Sunday Times

Alan Paton Award shortlist: Maxine Case talks about the importance of the story of Papwa: Golf’s Lost Legend

PapwaPapwa: Golf’s Lost Legend
Maxine Case (Kwela)

Briefly outline Papwa Sewgolum’s life.

The reductive facts – illiterate caddie, champion of the black golfing circuit, three-time winner of the Dutch Open, Indian golfer who beat Gary Player several times, 1965 Natal Open champion forced to receive his prize in the rain – are also the facts I attempted to rise above. If Papwa is remembered at all, it is for one of these things. I wanted to show him as a nuanced character and contextualise him in his world.

His story has been told before. What new insights do you bring to it?

When writing and researching this book, I found myself constantly wanting to correct published inaccuracies around Papwa’s life. It bugged me if a reported score was a stroke out in one source, when three other sources had it as something else. More seriously, a previously published work has Papwa dying in a shebeen. While this is dramatic and makes for a good cautionary tale, I felt that the true, unplumbed details of his life were dramatic enough without need for embellishment. I like to think that I bring a woman’s perspective to a story that in some parts is seen as belonging to the domain of men – and golfers!

How did you go about the research?

I was able to interview several members of Papwa’s family and had access to more than 40 hours of video interviews and transcripts of his friends, family and fellow golfers – all of whom had their own opinions of what motivated Papwa and how he’d experienced certain pivotal events. In addition, I spent weeks going through various newspaper and magazine archives, so that much of what I wrote, or alluded to, stemmed from published interviews Papwa had given. I had a copy of Graham Wolfe’s unpublished autobiography, which detailed the intersection of his and Papwa’s lives. I also had access to an extensive library of photographs. When writing about him winning his first tournament, for example, I examined the photograph taken of an exuberant Papwa clutching his trophy and used that as a prompt.

Your debut novel, All We Have Left Unsaid, won several prizes. Were you keen to try your hand at non-fiction?

Initially, I began writing Papwa as a novel. However, the more I researched, the more convinced I became that the truth of Papwa’s life was more intriguing than any fictions manufactured around him, and so decided to write a biography instead.

Did you find the non-fiction form more difficult to write than fiction?

What was hardest was to cede my authority as a writer. In writing non-fiction, particularly in trying to re-establish the facts of a character like Papwa, who died so long ago, I had to rely on the memories, impressions and facts presented by others, as opposed to the freedom of fiction which allows me to make informed decisions regarding my character’s journey and the creative licence to make things up.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers will see that the book is about more than one man called Papwa Sewgolum. As a descendant, I wanted to tell the story of Indian South Africans. I set out to explore the effect of apartheid on an individual’s life, using Papwa as a vehicle for this, and in particular, the plight of sportspeople of colour during those years. I was interested to learn how boycotts and protests against the apartheid government’s sporting policies served as a catalyst for the dismantling of the entire system.

Transformation in sport is a contentious topic. How does your biography fit into the conversation?

It is my wish that the biography is a reminder of the great cost at which this transformation was achieved.

How has his family responded to this biography?

As far as I can tell, Papwa’s family are pleased, but you’d have to ask them. I could have taken a more salacious approach, but that was not the story I set out to write. That being said, I didn’t skirt around Papwa’s personal issues, or censor myself either.

Related stories:

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Q and A with Ryan Sandes, author of Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner

Published in the Sunday Times

Trail BlazerWhat was the first novel you read?

The first book that comes to mind is It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong.

What keeps you awake at night?

Thoughts of new adventures, like wanting to try to traverse the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda.

Who’s your favourite fictional hero?

He-Man from the animated TV show He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I had the whole set as a kid.

Which current book will you remember in 10 years?

Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Cool” and “awesome”.

What are you working on next?

Running 100 miles around Mont Blanc in Europe and planning an adventure in the Rwenzori Mountains.

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

There are too many, but I’ll go with Run or Die, Kílian Jornet’s autobiography.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

He is not around anymore, but it would be Nelson Mandela. He is my ultimate hero.

Do you keep a diary?

No, but I do keep a training log.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Why?

Non-fiction, as I like to keep it real and hear actual stories.

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Image credit: Kolesky Red Bull Content Pool

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Orlando Pirates to launch Reading Stars book club and mini library for children at Orlando Stadium

Orlando Pirates Football Club will launch its Reading Stars Programme next week at Orlando Stadium.

The launch coincides with World Read Aloud Day, Wednesday, 24 February.

National reading-for-enjoyment campaign Nal’ibali will also be celebrating World Read Aloud Day at Orlando Stadium, where Yvonne Chaka Chaka will give a reading in isiZulu of Neo and the Big Wide World – a story written specifically for the day and available in all 11 official languages.

A mini library and reading clubs are also planned at the Orlando Pirates Learning Centre at Orlando Stadium.

“We are right at the beginning of this project,” Orlando Pirates Learning Centre manager Jude Capel says, “but we will have regular visits from first team players to read to students and explain the importance of reading to them.”

Keep an eye on Books LIVE for more details on the Orlando Pirates Reading Stars.

Images courtesy of Orlando Pirates’s Facebook Page

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Michael Morris reviews Rugby at Newlands by David McLennan and Chris Schoeman

Rugby at NewlandsVerdict: carrot

A SELECT triumphant, or bloodied, few know the Newlands grounds as intimates of the arena itself, as the field of dreams or of despair.

And the effect, it’s obvious, has always been impressive.

“When you score a try…” Springbok Gio Aplon says, “it’s almost like an earthquake. It’s almost like you are in a room with surround sound.”

This Aplon quote at the beginning of Rugby at Newlands – A History in 50 Test Matches: 1891-2015, is paired with another from a different time.

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Rugby 365 reviews Rugby at Newlands by David McLennan and Chris Schoeman

Rugby at NewlandsVerdict: carrot

It looks so beautiful, this wonderful history of a great rugby ground, one of the very greatest in the history of great grounds, older than Twickenham, Murrayfield and Eden Park and still where it was for its very first Test in 1891. The cover is so beautiful.

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The Perfect Gift for the Ardent Sports Fan: 15 Books about Sport from 2015

Ali Bacher and David Williams

2015 was a great year for books written about sport and the myriad players both on the field and behind the scenes.

This was also the year of the Rugby World Cup, which inspired a host of books on the legendary players, captains and teams that have represented South Africa on the world stage.

From cricket to cycling, from surfing to golf, you will not run out of ideas on what to buy your sports-loving family this Christmas.

Here are 15 books about sport from 2015:

* * * * * * * *


1. Defining Moments At The Crease

Defining Moments At The CreaseWho will ever forget Mark Boucher punching the sky after scoring the winning runs in the “438” game against Australia? Or when Makhaya Ntini took five wickets at Lords and knelt down to kiss the hallowed turf?

Defining Moments At the Crease commemorates the extraordinary journey travelled by the Proteas since readmission to world cricket in 1991 and is filled with the finest photographs that capture the triumphs and tragedies on the cricket field.


2. The Springbok Captains

The Springbok CaptainsThe Springbok rugby captain, over more than a century, has represented many things to many South Africans. He has united, and he has divided. He has thrilled, he has disappointed. He has inspired, he has disheartened. He has triumphed, he has failed. But he has always had an impact.

In this revealing narrative, Edward Griffiths and Stephen Nell depict the men who have been able to call themselves “Springbok Captain” through their backgrounds, triumphs and disappointments. Relive the heyday of rugby legends Bennie Osler, Danie Craven, Hennie Muller, Johan Claassen, Naas Botha, Francois Pienaar, Gary Teichmann, Joost van der Westhuizen, Andre Vos and others.

Now fully updated with the accounts of Bobby Skinstad, Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers, The Springbok Captains is the epic story that lies at the heart of South African rugby.

3. Springbok Rugby Quiz

Springbok Rugby QuizWhich Springbok match saw the least number of spectators ever attending a test match?

Who was the unofficial arm-wrestling champion in the Springbok side on the 1981 tour to New Zealand?

Which Springbok lock played with a glass eye?

Welcome to the ultimate rugby quiz book for real rugby fans! Springbok Rugby Quiz examines the lore of rugby in an unusually entertaining way: it comprises 1001 questions and answers. Rugby lovers can now enjoy some of the most outlandish anecdotes, as well as cold, hard facts and statistics, about this game we all love.

4. I Ran For My Life

I Ran For My LifeKabelo Mabalane, number one self-proclaimed “pantsula for life”, shares his journey and insights, from being a multi-platinum-selling musician, through the highs and lows of drug addiction, to finding hope and life again through running (eight Comrades Marathons and counting) and his faith.

In I Ran for My Life, this 10-time SAMA award-winner, TV presenter, athlete and entrepreneur talks about growing up between Soweto and the suburbs, the back story behind his phenomenal music career, and how getting into running literally saved his life. Along with his lessons for life, Kabelo shares his thoughts and advice on staying in shape, being prepared for anything and how to build a spirit of endurance in everything you do.

5. The South African Bike Book

The South African Bike BookIf you love cycling and want to learn more about this sport, then The South African Bike Book & Events Guide is for you.

Cycling is a complex sport and if you want to improve your abilities, whether it is just to make it to the top of your nearest hill without stopping, or whether to win a champion race, cycling takes dedication and sacrifice.

In this book we give you everything you need to equip yourself to become the best cyclist you can be.

6. 50 Years of South African Rugby

50Years_SARugby_SocMSpringbok rugby over the past 50 years has been part of a continuing story of South Africa, moving from apartheid to democracy. Its story has been told on the front as well as the back pages of the Sunday Times, by many fine sportswriters, whose five decades of reporting form the basis of this book.

50 Years of South African Rugby is a free, downloadable e-book and contains all of the major stories from the Springbok frontline, where green-and-gold heroes often overcame huge odds – as they did in 1965, and again in 1995 – to triumph over old enemies.

7. Errol Tobias: Pure Gold

Errol Tobias: Pure GoldWhen Errol Tobias was selected for the Springbok rugby team there was an immediate uproar. He became our first black Springbok in 1980 – in the middle of South Africa’s isolation from international sport and growing protest action against the government.

In Errol Tobias: Pure Gold he talks openly about his sporting career: from childhood to the great moments in the green and gold. Here are the joys, the losses, and the controversy.

8. South Africa’s Greatest Batsmen

South Africa's Greatest BatsmenSouth Africa has produced some of the best batsmen in the world, with AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla dominating the recent ICC rankings. Previous teams and generations have included their own legends. But who are the greatest of them all?

Following the success of their book Jacques Kallis and 12 Other Great South African All-Rounders, Ali Bacher and David Williams now turn their attention to South Africa’s top batsmen.

9. Deliberate Concealment

Deliberate ConcealmentMtutuzeli Nyoka grew up loving and playing the game of cricket. In 2008, he 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. However, he continued to call for a commission of inquiry into irregularities in CSA. And when retired Judge Chris Nicholson conducted an investigation into CSA, his findings on the corruption and maladministration in the game were damning, particularly in terms of Gerald Majola.

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.

10. South Africa’s Rugby Legends

South Africa's Rugby LegendsSouth Africa’s Rugby Legends celebrates those players who have become truly immortal in the eyes of their fans – the greatest South African rugby players of the amateur years.

This beautifully illustrated book covers the immense achievements of those players who ran out against the mighty All Blacks, the cunning Aussies and the fiery Welsh, among others, and played their way into rugby folklore. These are the best of the best, the players who make you say, “Those were the days!”

11. Stoked!

Stoked!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. He wanted more: bigger waves, bigger swells, more adrenaline. 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. Competitors in the 2010 event were faced with the biggest and heaviest waves ever recorded in the history of the sport and Chris, on his own budget, on the back of a 40-hour plane journey and on borrowed equipment, outsmarted and outperformed the world’s best-paid professional surfers.

12. Empire, War & Cricket in South Africa

Empire, War & Cricket in South AfricaCecil John Rhodes once said he had only met two creators in South Africa: himself and James Douglas Logan, the Scottish-born founder of Matjiesfontein. Empire, War & Cricket in South Africa explores in detail how Matjiesfontein was created and how Logan developed this little Karoo town into a renowned health resort, attracting the rich and famous – including the likes of South African novelist Olive Schreiner and England cricketer George Lohmann.

But above all, this is the untold story of how James Logan was instrumental in developing the game of cricket in South Africa at a time when the country was heading towards war with the British Empire.

13. The Greatest Springbok Teams

The Greatest Springbok TeamsWe live and breathe rugby. This book celebrates the Springbok teams that really knew how to pump the air into our rugby lungs – the greatest South African rugby teams ever.

Inside these pages are profiles and statistics of the players and teams who smashed the All Blacks and Australia in their own backyards in 1937, the conquerors of Europe in 1951/52, those who faced the hungry British Lions in 1924, 1980 and 2009, the Boks who lifted the World Cup in 1995 and 2007, plus many other great sides.

14. Tri the Beloved Country

Tri the Beloved CountryWhat makes a working mother and average athlete decide to take on a massive physical and mental challenge to run, cycle and kayak the perimeter of South Africa, covering 6 772 km in less than five months? Kim van Kets was inspired by her desire to demonstrate to her daughter the fact that mothers are heroes too. Married to adventurer, Peter van Kets (two times Atlantic Rower and only African to have rowed solo across any ocean and one of the few South Africans to have trekked to the South Pole, detailed in his book The Eight Summit), she was able to justify the “time-out” after having built up a credit balance of 150 days owed to her by her husband.

15. Papwa: In the Grip of a Champion

PapwaSewsunker “Papwa” Sewgolum (1930–1978) was a South African golfer who carved a niche for himself in golfing folklore when he became the first golfer of colour to win a provincial open in South Africa (in 1963). Sewgolum, a former caddie, with his wrong-way-round grip (left hand beneath his right), beat 103 white golfers in the Natal Open at the Durban Country Club. He became a symbol of the sports boycott movement when pictures of him receiving his trophy outdoors in the rain, because, due to apartheid, he was not allowed to enter the clubhouse, were published across the world.

Papwa is the story of one man who triumphed again unbelievable odds, only to have his dream snatched from him. Written as fiction, this is a uniquely South African story told by a master storyteller.


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