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“I think a child without anyone to tell them stories is an abandoned child” – a Q&A with author and JRB City Editor, Niq Mhlongo

Nal’ibali Column 6, published in the Sunday World (18/02/2018), Daily Dispatch (19/02/2018), Herald (22/02/2018)

By Carla Lever

Niq Mhlongo, author and City Editor of the Johannesburg Review of Books

How do you think storytelling helps us understand place – can it make sense of where we are from?

It’s really fundamental. If Joseph Conrad didn’t write Heart of Darkness I don’t think people like Donald Trump would have had the audacity to call African countries ‘sh*tholes’. Perhaps is he had been forced to read Emecheta, Laye, Mphahlele, Ngugi and others he would have had a clear understanding of Africa.

So much of our cultural geography is imported – TV shows and novels glamorise places like New York or Paris. At the same time, African cities tend to be written about, often in negative terms, by outsiders. Why is it important that we write about African places and cities and create our own literary maps?

Someone once told me that the biggest commodity that America was able to sell to Africa was its culture. I agree. Cultural geography, as you call it, is a very powerful tool that powerful countries have used to dominate other countries. When South Africans today talk about ‘decolonization’ I think it is a legitimate appeal to break away from, among other things, the shackles of cultural dominance. So when authors write about African places and cities they contribute a lot in creating our own literary maps that have been disregarded by the imposed colonial narratives of places and spaces that we live in.

Your upcoming book Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree, takes us into the places you were born and raised in. Can you tell us a little about why you wrote the book and how it felt to be making a place meaningful to people through your writing?

I wrote Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree because I could not find a good written story about Soweto that I could read and actually identify with. I was tired of the meaning of Soweto always being confined to Vilakazi Street and the Twin Towers. I decided to write that story I was searching for myself – in fact, as an insider, it made perfect sense that I do it!

You have weaved African oral traditions, cultural practices and storytelling traditions into your previous novels, too – I’m thinking here particularly of your novel Way Back Home. What does it mean to you to be called an African author? Is that a useful description or one you find unnecessary?

There is no problem being called an African author. It all depends on the context in the context in which the name is used. If it means that my writing is inferior compared to the so-called ‘European author’ or ‘American author’, then such a name is already loaded with negativity.

I know you write adult fiction, but you have written for children too! Can you tell us a little about writing for the TV series Magic Cellar and why projects that get young people excited about stories are so important?

Ah, let me not exaggerate my involvement with Magic Cellar. In fact, I only wrote one script for them. But the project trained me as a children’s story writer. During the same period I actually wrote a script for children based on African folktales. It was animated for a children’s program on SABC 2…so I suppose I learned something!

I think a child without anyone to tell them stories is an abandoned child. Stories make all of us happy, and give us a sense of belonging in society. They guide us and give us hope in the world. Any project that give young people that kind of wholeness deserves full support from everyone.

What changes would you like to see in the South African literary scene? Are there things (maybe organisations, new spaces for writers or publishing initiatives) that you find exciting?

I would like to see a full government involvement in the South African literary scene by supporting any literary project, especially projects that make children read. I would like to see government officials and schools reading and prescribing more South African literature. I would like to see more political leaders at the ABANTU Book Festival this year and years to come. The JRB, ABANTU, Nal’ibali, Longstory Short are some of the most important literary projects in South Africa today which give me a right to write.

How can we get more children excited about reading, particularly proud of our own, rich African literary heritage?

We need to prescribe more South African books and make things like Shakespeare optional in our school curriculum. In that way we can show them our rich African literary heritage.

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:

Book details
Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree


Way Back Home

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, straight up – Michele Magwood reviews Joe Hagan’s account of Rolling Stone founder, Jann Wenner

Published in the Sunday Times

Joe Hagan, author of Sticky Fingers. Photo supplied (©Yeh/Getty Images).

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine
Joe Hagan, Canongate, R330

Jann Wenner is not happy with this biography. Despite persuading Joe Hagan, an investigative journalist, to write it and giving him hundreds of hours of interviews and access to his archives, Wenner has now pronounced the resulting book “deeply flawed and tawdry”.

Which is pretty much how Wenner comes across himself over 500-odd pages. It’s a story of barrelling ambition and excess, of sheer genius and sordid appetites.

The cocky, sybaritic college dropout was just 21 when he dreamed up Rolling Stone. It was San Francisco, 1967, and the only music journals that existed were fanzines and an obscure magazine called Crawdaddy.

Wenner saw an opportunity in the Haight-Ashbury scene: not only did fans want to read more about bands, but record companies needed to be connected to them. With a loan of $7500 from his girlfriend’s wealthy parents, he put out his newspaper.

His first subscriptions came with a roach clip. It took off.

Wenner effectively bottled the ’60s and ’70s, making stars of singers and songwriters and extending the editorial reach to politics, sexual liberation, investigative reportage and drugs, of course.

“It was a man’s magazine,” writes Hagan, “though women read it; it was a white magazine, though African-Americans were fetishised in it.” It was a left-wing magazine but Wenner was unashamedly establishment.

He minted some of the most famous names in journalism: Hunter S Thompson, Tom Wolfe and Greil Marcus.

The former two invented “Gonzo” journalism, making an indelible mark on writing forever.

He’s a complicated man, hiding his bisexuality for decades, described variously as “a fascist”, an “incorrigible egotist” and “a troll”. Yet he boasts among his greatest friends Mick Jagger, Bono and the late John Lennon.

Now 71, it’s hard to believe he is still standing, such was his intake of booze and cocaine. Instead of a canteen, Rolling Stone had its own inhouse drugs room. There were outlandish parties, sex on the desks and wild rides on his private jet. Tawdry but riveting.

Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, straight up. – Michele Magwood @michelemagwood

Book details

Book Bites: 18 February

Published in the Sunday Times

What It Means When A Man Falls From The Sky
Lesley Nneka Arimah, Headline, R305

Lesley Nneka Arimah’s debut is a vibrant collection of 12 compelling stories set in the US and Nigeria. From fantastical myths to a post-apocalyptic world, all the shorts are varied but cleverly connected by the theme of complexities in relationships, focusing on women in particular. “When Enebeli Okwara sent his girl out in the world, he did not know what the world did to daughters. He did not know how quickly it would wick the dew off her, how she would be returned to him hollowed out, relieved of her better parts.” Women find themselves in extraordinary situations: a daughter whose mother’s ghost appears to have stepped out of a family snapshot, another woman, who, haunted by childlessness, resorts to fashioning a charmed infant out of human hair. Arimah is a new literary talent to watch out for. – Nondumiso Tshabangu @MsNondumiso

Can I Speak to Someone in Charge?
Emily Clarkson, Simon & Schuster, R285

Emily Clarkson was tired of seeing clothes that only catered for size 12 women. She was surprised at the emergence of online trolls and, like many women, had tons of thinspiration. So, she started a blog, Pretty Normal Me, which led to this book. It is a series of letters to herself, Hollywood, trolls and, well, just about everything and everybody who is living and affected by various societal norms. It’s often funny, sometimes sad but always honest. – Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

Keep You Safe
Melissa Hill, Harper Collins, R285

Hill jumps straight into modern-day controversy, pitting anti-vaccination parents against pro-vaccination. Two five-year-olds come down with the measles. The first is Clara, whose parents didn’t vaccinate their children due to personal choice. Three days later, Rosie, who is allergic to the vaccination, is ill. But unlike Clara, Rosie doesn’t get better and ends up in hospital fighting for her life. Tension fills the small Irish village while internet opinions explode: should Clara’s parents be held accountable for what happened to Rosie? A fast-paced drama with twists. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

Book details

Hartpionier by die Woordfees

Christiaan Barnard is ’n naam wat almal dadelik herken. Ná die geskiedkundige eerste hartoorplanting, 50 jaar gelde, was sy naam op almal se lippe en in al die media. Sy navorsing lei tot tegnieke wat steeds wêreldwyd gebruik word en sy roem verseker dat hy ʼn permanente plek in geskiedenisboeke het.

Wat minder bekend is, is die rol wat sy navorsingspan in die lewe (en internasionale aansien) van die hartchirurg gespeel het. Daar was dokters en tegnici wat nooit erkenning gekry het vir hul werk nie en daar was verpleegsters en susters van wie net die pasiënte geweet het. En daar was Winston Wicomb, die Volkswagen-werktuigkundige wat uit die bloute aangestel is om beheer van Barnard se navorsingslaboratorium oor te neem.

Winston, die jonger en donkerder broer van die meer bekende Randall, se lewensverhaal lees soos ’n moderne sprokie. As kind moes hy telkens agter sy ma se laaikas wegkruip as iemand aan hul deur geklop het. Terwyl die res van die gesin die apartheidsinspekteurs kon flous, was die arme Winston baie duidelik nie ‘suiwer blank’ nie. Die familie se pogings om die twee seuns as ‘wit’ geklassifiseer te kry, het veroorsaak dat beide Winston en Randall se geboortedatums aangepas was. En al het Winston uiteindelik op papier ‘blanke’ status verkry, het sy voorkoms enige hoop op vaste werk gekortwiek.

Amos van der Merwe beskryf Winston se jeug in Vital Remains, the Story of the Coloured Boy behind the Wardrobe. Die verhaal herinner die leser wel aan die werklikhede van apartheid, maar is deurspek met humor en deernis. Vital Remains is ’n eerlike weergawe van ’n gekleurde seun se ervarings in die 60’s en 70’s, sonder om die storielyn met politiek te besoedel.

Winston se verhaal is uitsonderlik. Hy herleef sy kinderjare en sy vroeë drome om mediese geskiedenis te maak. Hy vertel van sy pogings om universiteitstoelating te kry en die ironie daarvan dat hy, as sogenaamde nie-blanke, diensplig moes doen. Geld en werk was altyd ’n probleem en derhalwe verkoop hy ensiklopedieë, werk in ’n klerewinkel, word betaalmeester op die hawe en oes oë in die lykshuis. Hy word uiteindelik toegelaat om in te skryf vir ’n BSc-kursus by UCT, maar selfs met hierdie graad bly hy werkloos weens sy velkleur. Noodgedwonge moet hy terugval op sy ou stokperdjie: Om Volkswagens in sy agterplaas te diens en herstel.

Terwyl hy pamflette op die universiteitskampus uitdeel om hierdie dienste te adverteer, merk hy die goue Mercedes langs die pad staan. Die lenige figuur van Chris Barnard langs die voertuig is ’n prentjie van moedeloosheid en Winston gryp die kans aan om die hartman te hulp te snel. ’n Week later is hy in bevel van Barnard se navorsingslaboratorium en dis hier waar Winston uiteindelik mediese geskiedenis maak. Hy ontwerp en bou ’n apparaat om harte mee te vervoer – maar gaan dit werk? Dit is egter nie waar hierdie ongelooflike storie eindig nie.

Vital Remains is ’n storie van hoop, liefde en deursettingsvermoë. Dit vertel van toeval, rebellie, onwaarskynlike gebeure en onlogiese gevolge – soos dit in almal se lewens soms gebeur. Feite is voorwaar vreemder as fiksie! Dis ’n verhaal om te koester as ’n kosbare stukkie geskiedenis, maar ook as ’n aanmoediging vir gewone mense om bo politiek uit te styg en in hulself te glo.

Die Woordfees is dus trots om Winston en die skrywer van Vital Remains kans te gee om met Hanlie Retief oor die boek te gesels by Die Boeketent, om 15h30 op 6 Maart 2018. Winston, wat sy navorsing in die VSA voortgesit het en sodoende ’n bekende in internasionale wetenskaplike kringe geword het, reis spesiaal van Seattle om die geleentheid by te woon.

Vital Remains word uitgegee deur Naledi en is beskikbaar by

Book details

Reading revolution reaches deep rural schools

By Michael Cekiso, Story Powered Schools Project Manager

What’s the best way to improve a child’s school results across the board? What if there could be one magical intervention that could skyrocket a child’s progress in every area of their lives? What a dream it would be for funders. What a gamechanger it would be for learners! As it turns out, there is a gamechanger: books.

Policy experts, educational specialists, and statisticians all agree: a child who reads and is read aloud to, is a child who learns. In fact, reading proficiency is the number one indicator of future academic success greater even than a child’s economic background or school choice. But what does this mean for South African children? The short answer is: a challenge.

Books are expensive and disposable income is tight. What’s published depends on what makes publishers the most profit and how many children’s stories have you seen in isiZulu or isiXhosa recently?

These are predominantly the mother tongues of children living in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal who are now well into the swing of 2018 and have either just started or are back at school. What that looks like for millions of children across SA is peak hour traffic jams, homework, and lost lunch boxes. But for children living in the rural areas of these provinces – it looks radically different.

In the Eastern Cape, for example, the lack of basic facilities is heart-breaking. Only 26% of schools in the province have a library, and only 10% of learners may borrow books. It will be no surprise then to discover that school results are just as poor and compounded by poor economic circumstances. Many children are attending school on an empty tummy, do not live with their parents, and live in homes without toilets. South African children simply aren’t getting the basic tools they need to make the leap out of poverty.

If access to books makes the difference between a child who can and can’t read, in one generation it makes the difference between a country that is economically thriving and one which is caught in a poverty trap. But rather than feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to remember that small actions can have big results, if they are sustained.

2017 was the first year of our pilot project, Story Powered Schools, which introduced the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign’s proven approach to literacy development to 240 rural schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. These are schools that have been given a powerful injection to move progress forward, schools that have been given books and literacy support.

Based in areas that would otherwise receive almost no developmental opportunities, these schools were identified by the Department of Basic Education who brought District Education officials on board to help with a roll-out that included principals, teachers, and community members. We employed 48 ‘Story Sparkers’ and eight Literacy Mentors from local communities to keep fanning the flames of our big idea.

How did it work? Every school that participated received five hanging libraries, one suited for each grade from R to 4. These mobile units each housed 150 exciting storybooks for children in their mother tongue as well as English. And, every fortnight, schools received copies of the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment supplement packed with bilingual stories and activities to keep any reading club motivated.

Although supplements are available in newspapers across the provinces, they often don’t reach deep rural areas, but, putting story power back in to the hands of communities, we made a commitment to take supplements to them and well over half a million were donated and delivered last year.

It doesn’t end there. Through continued face-to-face support, we made sure that each school received weekly visits from our Story Sparkers, who in turn were paid a stipend. Not a huge amount, but in many cases, it made a significant difference in their lives. Some financed studies through UNISA, others were finally able to purchase that two-bedroom house for their families. It’s a project that has knock-on benefits for the whole community.

And, although it’s hard to benchmark direct benefits – that depends on schools having the time to participate in far more monitoring and evaluation activities than they have resources for – what we have seen has been encouraging. Not one school we approached opted out.

Close to 100 000 children were reached last year and 799 reading clubs were launched by school children, parents, and community members. Schools reported a significant decrease in absenteeism and late-coming, and children became excited to attend schools where there were steady streams of new stories to feed their minds and imaginations. Teachers also noticed an increase in confidence with children telling stories and discussing ideas in class. Stories, it surprises none of us to hear, make children excited.

And that was just our first year! 2018 sees the graduation of our 2017 school group, and the intake of 244 new schools across the Umgungundlovu and iLembe districts of KZN and the Bizana, Lusikisiki, Mount Ayliff and Maluti districts in the Eastern Cape where we aim to keep changing the narrative of our schools, communities, and nation one story at a time.

Story Powered Schools is a Nal’ibali initiative endorsed by the Department of Basic Education and made possible by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For more information about the campaign or the power of reading and storytelling, visit: and

Johannesburg extends library hours in 11 regional libraries

By Nonhlanhla Sifumba, member of the Mayoral Committee, Community Development Department

The City of Joburg’s Executive Mayor, Cllr Herman Mashaba, pronounced in the 2017 State of the City’s address that the City will extend library hours to some of its regional libraries in line with demand, and to redress the imbalances of the past.

The programme was launched by the Executive Mayor accompanied by myself, the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development, on the 3rd of June 2017.

Since the extension of the operating hours from June 2017 to date, 11 908 more users have benefited. Libraries are a fountain of knowledge, and with the smart initiatives of the City, users have access to Wi-Fi, connecting them to internet learning resource and potential economic opportunities.

The extended library hours are in line with this administration’s priority to serve the forgotten people of Johannesburg by extending facility operating hours.

The operating hours have been extended to 11 libraries across the City:

• Diepsloot: Region A;
• Ivory Park North: Region A;
• Randburg: Region B;
• Florida: Region C;
• Protea North: Region D;
• Jabavu: Region D;
• Sandton: Region E;
• Yeoville: Region F;
• Ennerdale Extension 9: Region G;
• Orange Farm: Region G; and
• Johannesburg City Library: Region F.

Our libraries will now operate for additional 4 hours from 13h00 – 17h00 on Saturdays. This is to allowing working residents, who often have no time to visit our libraries, access to these facilities.

The extension also targets students from previously forgotten communities who need to study, but find their home environments are not conducive to productive studying over the weekends.

The Library Information Services (LIS) directorate, under Community Development in the City, is also exploring the possibility of increasing the number of libraries that offer extended hours in the following areas:

Kaalfontein: Region A;
Matholesville: Region; C
Paterson Park: Region E; and
Driezik, Lehae and Naturena: Region G.

“Walters creates a sense of claustrophobia and fear which is compelling” – Margaret von Klemperer reviews The Last Hours

Published in The Witness, 12/02/2018

The Last Hours

Minette Walters
Allen & Unwin

Minette Walters, better known as an author of psychological crime novels, has moved into new territory here – back to the 14th Century and the arrival of the Black Death in southern England.

The results, the loss of around half the country’s population and with that, a mortal blow to the old feudal system of serfdom, are well documented historically and form an important backdrop to what is planned to be a two novel saga.

In the manor of Develish, the brutal Sir Richard of Develish is planning to ride to a neighbouring estate to arrange a marriage for his deeply unpleasant 14 year old daughter, Eleanor. He leaves his wife Lady Anne in charge, and while he is away, news of the rapidly spreading plague arrives.

As the bodies mount up, Lady Anne bars the estate to all comers, including her dying and unlamented husband and his entourage. Only when the survivors are out of quarantine (she has considerable medical knowledge, considering her era) does she let them return. But besides the plague stalking the countryside there are other dangers: starvation and marauding bands of dispossessed and chancers.

Walters creates a sense of claustrophobia and fear which is compelling – her work as a writer of psychological drama standing her in good stead here. She also draws a hierarchical and patriarchal society, ruled by an often corrupt church.

Tensions rise within the barricaded estate as serfs begin to realise there will be advantages for them once they can sell their labour. Their loyalty to their mistress keeps things on a more or less even keel – she has protected them against her horrible husband, and, maybe a trifle anachronistically, taught many of them to read and write.

Once a group of lads, led by the bastard Thaddeus, heads out to see what is happening beyond their boundary and to look for desperately needed food, the story divides into two parts, and loses a little of its tension. But it still rollicks along, and should delight fans of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and the like.

My main criticism would be that the goodies are so good and the baddies so bad that there is little room for nuance. But Walters produces a suitably cliffhanging ending so that there will be plenty of readers keen to find out the further fortunes of Lady Anne and Thaddeus, and even nasty little Eleanor. - Margaret von Klemperer

Book details

World Read Aloud Day: over one million children reached!

World Read Aloud Day was celebrated on the first of February 2018 and South Africans certainly made a significant contribution to the 24 hours dedicated to reading aloud to children, thus encouraging a love of books and ensuring an increase in literacy achievements.

Nal’ibali – the reading for enjoyment campaign – called on South Africans to contribute towards creating a South Africa where children read for enjoyment, meaning and understanding, emphasising the value of reading aloud to children:

Reading aloud to a child is one of the most important things a parent and caregiver can do with children. Not only does it build a strong language foundation, it introduces vocabulary and can help develop empathy, curiosity and critical thinking.This World Read Aloud Day we’re calling on YOU to add your pledge to read to the children in your life.

This year’s story was ‘The final minute’ written by Zukiswa Wanner (available to download in all 11 official languages) and over one million (1 294 345, to be precise) children countrywide were treated to a reading!

Viva, World Read Aloud Day, viva!

Woordfees Writers Festival 2018 programme

The countdown for the annual Woordfees Festival has begun…

From the second to the eleventh of March, the quaint Western Cape town of Stellenbosch will play host to an array of authors, poets, actors, playwrights, musicians and artists.

2018′s programme is certainly one for the books and the following Writers Festival sessions should not be missed:

Friday 2 March

In conversation with Marianne Thamm
Presented by Pan MacMillan
Marianne, a well-known journalist and writer, sits down with two women whose lives are characterised by sheer willpower to pursue the truth. With Thuli’s memoir in the pipeline and Glynnis’ Rule of Law on the shelf, they discuss their formative influences, defining moments and fighting the odds still facing females today.
2 March 10:30
60 min | ATKV-Boektent | R50 | R60 at the door

Monday 5 March

With Max du Preez, Ray Hartley, Koketso Sachana and Jeremy Thompson

What does Ray Hartley’s Ramaphosa – The Man Who Would Be King say about the enigma that is the new ANC president – ambitious, charming, a born negotiator, astute businessman, the boy who at a young age told his friend that he would one day be president? In this centenary year of Nelson Mandela, who anointed him as his successor, everyone wants to know: Does he have what it takes to turn SA around? Max du Preez will lead the discussion with Hartley, Cape Talk’s Koketso Sachana and former Sky News achorman Jeremy Thompson.
5 March 09:00
60 min | ATKV-Boektent | R50 | R60 at the door

Presented by Pan MacMillan
The Man Booker nominated writer, who shot to fame with Kafka’s Curse, then made it onto to prestigious awards’s shortlist with Bitter Fruit, chats to Martie about growing up in the extraordinary days of apartheid, the role of the women in his family (his sister is Jessie Duarte) and in his latest novel, Dikeledi – the story of a young girl born in Harlem, and her grandmother back home.
5 March 14:00
60 min | HB Thom-seminar room | R50 | R60 at the door

Tuesday 6 March

In coversation with Karina Szczurek

Presented by Jacana Media
As Ali Adams starts a new job as a political reporter at The New Times, a weekly newspaper in Cape Town, her stories make front page. But back home in Bo-Kaap the community has expectations, and none of them involve a woman running all over the place chasing stories. Apartheid, religion, homosexuality, Mandela The Sellout, politics of the newsroom, and post-traumatic stress all come to the fore in this gritty novel by a veteran political reporter.
6 March 09:30
60 min | HB Thom seminar room | R50 | R60 at the door

In conversation with Ingrid Winterbach

She grows up during the bush war that helped turn Rhodesia into Zimbabwe –the family’s bombproof Landrover is nicknamed Lucy. She survives a terrible, avoidable death that turns her fun-loving Scottish mother into a crazy drunk and for which she, as a child of eight, feels responsible … These last days of colonialism are at the heart of Alexandra Fuller’s internationally acclaimed 2002 memoir, Don’t Let’s go to the Dogs Tonight. She talks to Ingrid about a world of taboos and projected shame, about living in Wyoming after being separated from her all-American husband of 20 years, and “the beautiful and terrible” she wrestles with in writing.
6 March 19:15 for 19:45
60 min | ATKV-Boektent | R50 | R60 at the door (glass of wine included)

Wednesday 7 March

In conversation with Edwin Cameron

Presented by Penguin Random House
The world-renowned human-rights lawyer talks to Judge Edwin Cameron about his new book, a touching homage to his friendship with Nelson Mandela and a fascinating tale of two men whose work affected the lives of all South Africans– arguing in favour of the Constitution, which is under threat in the current political climate.
7 March 10:30
60 min | ATKV-Boektent | R50 | R60 at the door

With Fred Khumalo, Alexandra Fuller and Achmat Dangor

How important is it to keep telling accurate and unembellished stories about the past – even if it’s offensive or hurtful? Three writers discuss this with Sandra Swart. Fred used the sinking of the crew ship SS Mendi during the First World War as backdrop for Dancing the Death Drill. Alexandra wrote about growing up during the Rhodesian war in her debut and for her new novel, Quiet Until the Thaw, investigates the history of two Native American boys in a South Dakota reserve, while Achmat returns to the apartheid history in Dikeledi.
7 March 14:00
60 min | HB Thom-seminar room | R50 | R60 at the door
Thursday 8 March

In conversation with Adriaan Basson

Presented by Jonathan Ball Publishers
The book touched a nerve: More than 400 people attended the launch; 10 000 copies were sold in a week. Adriaan Basson asks the well known talk show radio host and author why, and what price Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo – better known as Khwezi – ultimately paid as the woman who dared to accuse Zuma of rape.
8 March 14:00
60 min | HB Thom-seminar room | R50 | R60 at the door

Saturday 10 March

With Thuli Madonsela, in conversation with Tim du Plessis
Adv Thuli Madonsela shows without question that dynamite comes in small packages. In seven years the former Public Protector has achieved what few accomplish in a lifetime, often praised and vilified in equal measures. Looking back at her time in office, she said the role is akin to that of the Venda traditional spiritual female leader, the Makhadzi, who whispers truth to the king or the ruler. And a ruler who ignores the Makhadzi does so at his peril. Sample a three-course meal prepared by the legendary Rust en Vrede chef, listening to former Rapport editor and columnist Tim du Plessis enjoying some rare personal time with this woman of steel.
10 March 12:30
180 min | Guardian Peak Winery and Restaurant | R950

No Longer Whispering to Power

Book details


Rule of Law

Ramaphosa: The man who would be king


Kafka's Curse

Bitter Fruit


New Times

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight

65 Years of Frienship

Dancing the Death Drill


“This was a series of stories that needed to be told” – Jeremy Maggs on writing Win!

Published in the Sunday Times

In a 30-year broadcasting career I’ve had many tough moments.

I’ve interviewed people who didn’t want to talk. I’ve been threatened. I’ve experienced the naked terror of launching television shows.

And having makeup put on me every day is something I’ve never gotten used to. Even more so as you need shovelfuls the older you get.

But nothing was more difficult than sitting down night after night, watching a flashing cursor on a white screen with the ghostly voice of Nadia the publisher resonating in my ear using the word deadline over and over again. Don’t believe authors when they pontificate about books being a labour of love. They are a labour of extreme pain.

This was a series of stories that needed to be told. I encounter successful people all the time. People who are making a real difference. The older I get the more interested I’ve become in what makes a person a winner.

I had five rules driving the choice of 20 people I spoke to including Pravin Gordhan, Cheryl Carolus and Bryan Habana. They needed to be people I had encountered and looked up to. They had to have a real story to tell; had to have the power of inspiration; needed to have failed and overcome adversity and had to have real life lessons to impart.

My subjects all gave me 30 minutes. Pravin saw me just before a performance at a corporate conference. Cheryl was late but she had a good excuse, telling a group of ANC politicians to “grow a pair”. Bryan taught me it’s okay to live with regrets. He wishes he’d studied more as a youngster, something he’s now pursuing. Industrialist Mark Lamberti explained that the more successful one becomes, the more responsibility one has to shoulder. Ryan Bacher, of home gift delivery service Netflorist, taught me never to forget the importance of family. Wendy Lucas Bull was late for her interview because she said she couldn’t find parking in her own basement.

At the end of each chapter there are three takeouts from each interview. Cumulatively I hope they provide readers with a blueprint for what will be inevitably be another tough year in South Africa.

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