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Alert! The programme for this year’s @OpenBookFest has been revealed! Click here to see it:

Exploring landscapes and heartspaces

Sonja Kruse is returning to all the uBuntu families to give them a copy of the book. Here she is, pictured with Maryam Alie in Langebaan, whose story appears on pages 71-73.

Sonja Kruse is returning to all the uBuntu families to give them a copy of the book. Here she is, pictured with Maryam Alie in Langebaan, whose story appears on pages 71-73.

Face2Face is the proud publisher of The uBuntu Girl, by Sonja Kruse. Sonja will be signing copies of the book at Exclusive Books in Cavendish Square on Saturday, 30 April, from 11am to 12pm. Here she reflects on her journey across South Africa, and how the book came about.

For many it seems brave to quit one’s job, give one’s car away and to pack a 33lt backpack, a camera, a R100 and walk and hitchhike around South Africa. I think not. For me, it would take bravery to live in a country where I don’t know my fellow South Africans. Because that would make every interaction with others, a trip into the unknown.

Instead I opted to step into a vision that explored the heartspaces as much as the geography of our land. It was to be a journey of discovery – discovery of the sincere hospitality offered by complete strangers and the uncovering of my own fears, apprehensions and preconceived ideas. I left without a tent, sleeping bag or bank cards. Instead I carried a deep belief that I am because of others.

The astonishing reality is that along the unplanned route, 150 families from 16 different cultures opened their homes and hearts to, in essence, a stranger. I stayed in affluent suburbs and dusty townships, in shacks and in mansions; meeting pensioners, school children and students, farmers and labourers, rich businessmen, poor widows, artists, housewives, truckers, curio sellers. And everything in between.

What they all had in common was the spirit of ubuntu that compelled them to reach out to a lonely traveller. In doing so they filled my journey with extraordinary stories, teaching me about humility and grace. From the first night spent in the home of a Scenery Park mother who slept on the floor so that her guest could sleep in her bed to meeting the only white induna in the history of the Zulu Royal House on my last day.

The families taught me that ubuntu is not about your space or mine. It is about our space. And that is how the book – The uBuntu Girl – having generated an energy all of its own, decided that it needed to be written. And so began a whole new journey…

I had to learn to QWERTY type, to write and, more importantly, how to honour each person in our collective story. There were over 14 000 photos to pick from. Because one thing was for sure: our country is not a black and white book with a few colour plates. Our country is full-colour explosive!

To help me on this journey, I was fortunate to find a like-hearted and like-minded editor, graphic designer and publisher who were able to share and expand the vision. And with their guidance, we created a 240 page full-colour book that captures the essence of the journey and the lessons that we can take from it.

This book has been described as a travelogue, but I think it is more of a ‘humanlogue’ – a celebration of the human spirit.


Title: The uBuntu Girl
Author: Sonja Kruse
Publication Date: June 2014
Pages: 240
Size: 244x210mm Portrait
ISBN: 978 0 9922018 3 8
Recommended retail price: R390.00
Published by: Face2Face an imprint of Cover2Cover Books
Websites: /

Available from bookstores countrywide and On the Dot distributors (021 918 8810 or

Link Love: Jalada, a Pan-African Writers' Collective (Plus: Excerpt from "The Bobbitt Wars" by Nkatha Obungu)

Jalada Africa, which describes itself as a “pan-African writers’ collective”, has published its second anthology of short fiction, entitled Sext Me: poems and stories.

Jalada Sext Me

The aim of the Jalada collective is to publish literature by African authors on a regular basis, and make it as easy as possible for member to publish their work.

The first Jalada anthology, “Sketch of a Bald Woman in the Semi-Nude and Other Stories” was loosely based around the theme of insanity, and published online in January this year.

Stories in Sext Me include “Coming down” by Akati Khasiani, “Sex Ed for village boys” by Alexander , “The sportsman” by M Neelika Jayawardane, “Prey” by Zak Waweru, “Bound” by Anne Moraa, “Mourning lover” by Dele Meiji, “Rose water” by Kate Hampton, “The first time” by Aisha Ali, “Diaphoresis” by Victoria and “Miss fucking you” by Orem Ochiel.

Read an excerpt from Nkatha Obungu’s contribution to the latest anthology: “The Bobbitt Wars”:

I am wearing a red skirt which he calls “the destroyer.” When I walk into the office, he is sitting on his recliner, staring at the wall with a blank bovine expression on his face. I don’t look at him as I stride past.

He writes me emails which he thinks are anonymous, calls me a whore. My boss has failed to grasp the concept of named e-mail accounts. I think he was one of those boys in primary school whose idea of graffiti was spelling their names with smeared shit on latrine walls. He has a yellow-toothed leer.

My desk is to his left. When my skirt rides up my thighs as I sit, he wolfs down the view in fascinated disgust. I don’t say a thing, and this morning he does not berate me for disrespectfully failing to acknowledge him. I imagine he has extracted his mental prayer beads and is calculating how best to fuck me without losing the dignified carriage of his high-horse. I cross my legs and hear a belatedly suppressed gasp. He swallows and pretends not to look at me.

The first time my boss fondled my breasts, he circled my desk like a crazed vulture, his red-rimmed eyes like laser points aimed at my cleavage. I had been softer then, giggled at his non-jokes, eager to please, eager not to be trouble. Then he had dipped his great big paws into my chest and time had stood still. His fingers—rough cigarette stubs—scraped my nipples, made that sound that waves make when they slap across jagged reefs, and I had the overwhelming sensation that time existed only to drag me across this barren desert of middle-aged men bending over my desk, panting, and groping at me.

The hours drag along. Hope is a winged bird in my breast. He has not said a word to me. He grunts when I hand him typed correspondence. His fingers are poised over his keyboard and with his other hand he is rubbing his temple as though in a trance. I suspect he is in the middle of composing one of his sanctimonious, curse-filled emails to me.

“Get me a cup of tea,” he orders. I stand up slowly. I walk to the tea trolley at the corner of the room. There is a loud echo as my flats hit the linoleum floor. The room is a prison. Breathe in, breathe out. I pour milk over tea bags, scoop sugar into cup. All I can hear are the little noises his throat makes when words are choking him. I hand him the obnoxious tiny teacup which his wife brought to the office to mark her territory. He grins.

It begins. He places a claw on my thigh and I cannot walk away, trapped in an impossible zugzwang. The sun dips into angry clouds.

Riaan Manser en Vasti Geldenhuys gesels oor die roei en stoei New York toe

Vasti Geldenhuys het vir jare op haar drumpel gestaan en waai wanneer haar held Riaan Manser op nóg een van sy avonture gegaan het. Tot Manser eendag vir haar gesê het, “Kom ek gaan wys vir jou New York.”

Maar Geldenhuys moes toe geweet het, New York toe sou hulle beslis nie vlieg nie …

Hy het toe vir Geldenhuys saamgeneem Groot Appel toe – in ’n roeiboot.

Around Iceland on InspirationAround Madagascar on My KayakAround Africa On My Bicycle


Hanlie Retief het met hierdie avontuurlustige paartjie gesels oor hul reise in ‘n omvattende onderhoud vir Rapport waar hul dié staaltjie gedeel het.

Manser is die skrywer van Around Iceland on Inspiration, Around Madagascar on My Kayak en Around Africa On My Bicycle.

Die Amerikaners vra heeltyd: Was julle bang? Ja. Duh.

Maar nie bang jy breek jou voet nie, bang jy gaan dood.

“Ons het so ’n sêding gehad tussen ons: You gotta wanna. En as dinge sleg begin gaan, is dit verkort tot: You gotta.”

Sy’t nooit besef die Atlantiese Oseaan “is so woes nie, en heeltyd, dis nooit plat nie, net partykeer vir ’n paar dae, maar ander kere – vrek, dis erg! Gaan staan langs ’n gebou van so drie verdiepings – dís hoe hoog die golwe was. En as jy wil uitgaan, sê maar net om toilet toe te gaan, moet jy dit time – jy kan nie sommer die kajuitdeur oopmaak nie, want dan breek die golf dalk oor die boot, oorstroom die kajuit en dan sink ons.”


Poor Numbers Author Morten Jerven Believes Outdated Numbers Held Nigeria Back

Poor NumbersWhen Nigeria surpassed South Africa as the largest economy in Africa, it was revealed that the country had been using outdated methods to calculate their gross domestic product (GDP).

Morten Jerven, author of Poor Numbers: How we are mislead by African development statistics and what to do about it, says: “Does it seem to you that the Nigerian economy suddenly is growing faster?”

As Mandy de Waal writes, Jerven believes a change in methodology is needed across the continent:

Jerven’s study of the production and use of African economic development statistics reveals how patchy the continent’s economic data is, and how crucial it is that this changes. The reason for these numbers being poor, says Jerven, is not just one of technical accuracy but also because the “arbitrariness of the quantification process produces observations with very large errors and levels of uncertainty”.

Book details

  • Poor Numbers: How we are mislead by African development statistics and what to do about it by Morten Jerven
    EAN: 9781775820659
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Ama Biney Pens Poetic Rumination Entitled "The Africa I Want to See"

The Road to Democracy in South Africa 5Ama Biney, contributor to volume 5 of The Road to Democracy in South Africa, has written a poetic post for Pambazuka News entitled “The Africa I want to see”.

Biney introduces the piece with: “The Africa we shall all celebrate in another 50 years is one where the dreams of the liberation struggle are all realised”, and contemplates issues such as food, energy, respect for difference, education and Ubuntu, before touching on the subject of books:

Where the African love for reading will let a thousand books flourish daily in an African publishing industry from Cape Town to Cairo and from Banjul to Mogadishu,
Where a Pan-African university will be set up in West, East, North, South and Central Africa with a Pan-African curriculum that excites the minds of students
Where visas are abolished for visiting Diasporan Africans,
Where Diasporans continue to be welcomed to live and develop Africa,
Where we remember those that sacrificed their lives – from Lumumba, Cabral to Mohammed Bouazzi and countless, nameless women who also lost their lives so others could live.
The Africa I want to see is possible, it is realisable, it is achievable.
The Africa I want to see involves a new mind-set for revolution.
Are Africans ready to work for this revolution?

Book details

Final Author List for 2014 Open Book Festival

The final list for the 2014 Open Book Festival has been released, with international authors Billy Kahora, Geoff Dyer, Mike Carey, Philip Hensher, Raymond E Feist, Sefi Atta, Taiye Selasi, Tony Park, Satoshi Kitamura, Kader Abdolah and Keyi Sheng, as well as Johnny Steinberg and Wilbur Smith, all confirmed to be in Cape Town.

This year’s Open Book Festival takes place from 17-21 September at the Fugard Theatre, The Book Lounge, the Homecoming Centre, the District 6 Museum and the Central Library.

The final confirmed complete list is:
Adam Stower, Alison Lowry, Amy Kaye, André P Brink, Andrew Brown, Andrew Salomon, Antony Loewenstein, Ari Sitas, Arthur Goldstuck, Athol Williams, Barbara Boswell, Ben Williams, Bibi Slippers, Billy Kahora, Blaq Pearl, Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, Carol-Ann Davids, Damon Galgut, Dave de Burgh, David Klatzow, David wa Maahlamela, Deon Meyer, Derrick Higginbotham, Diane Awerbuck, Ekow Duker, Eusebius McKaiser, Felicitas Hoppe, Fiona Leonard, Francesca Beard, Futhi Ntshingila, Genna Gardini, Geoff Dyer, Greg Fried, Hakkiesdraad Hartman, Hedley Twidle, Helen Moffett, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Imraan Coovadia, Ivan Vladislavic, Jaco Van Schalkwyk, Jacob Sam-La Rose, Jacqui L’Ange, James Woodhouse, Jesse Breytenbach, Joan Metelerkamp, Joey Hi-Fi, Jolyn Phillips, Jonathan Jansen, Jonny Steinberg, Justin Fox, Kader Abdolah, Karen Jennings, Karina Szczurek, Kelwyn Sole, Keorapetse Willie Kgositsile, Keyi Sheng, Khanyisile Mbongwa, Koleka Putuma, Liesl Jobson, Linda Kaoma, Lwanda Sindaphi, Malaika wa Azania, Mandla Langa, Margie Orford, Marguerite Poland, Marianne Thamm, Marius du Plessis, Mark Gevisser, Mbongeni Nomkonwana, Melissa Siebert, Michele Magwood, Michiel Heyns, Mike Carey, Molly Blank, Nikki Bush, Niq Mhlongo, Oliver Rohe, Olivier Tallec, Philip Hensher, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Pieter Odendaal, Rabih Alameddine, Rachel Zadok, Raymond E Feist, Rebecca Davis, Richard Calland, Richard Peirce, Sally Partridge, Sampie Terreblanche, Sarah Lotz, Satoshi Kitamura, Sefi Atta, Shabbir Banoobhai, Simone Hough, Sindiwe Magona, Sixolile Mbalo, Songezo Zibi, Susan Hawthorne , Taiye Selasi, Thando Mgqolozana, Tiah Beautement, Tim Noakes, Toast Coetzer, Toni Stuart, Tony Park, Weaam Williams, Wilbur Smith, Zakes Mda, Zelda la Grange, Zethu Matebeni, Zoliswa Flekisi, Zukiswa Wanner.

Naughty KittyThe Other Side of SilenceDevil's HarvestTokoloshe SongProfits of DoomRough MusicTech-Savvy ParentingKwani? 05, Part 2Light on a HillThe Blacks of Cape TownArctic SummerJustice DeniedBetrayal's ShadowSejamolediCobraThe Ghost-Eater and Other StoriesWhite WahalaCould I Vote DA?HoppeThe Chicken ThiefDo Not Go GentleJeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
ParadiseA Girl Walks into a Blind DateNinevehTransformationsThe FollyThe Alibi ClubHow to Fix South Africa's SchoolsA Man of Good HopeWhoever Fears the SeaShort Story Day Africa: Feast, Famine Invisible OthersAbsent TonguesIf I Could SingRide the TortoiseMemoirs of a Born FreeThe Texture of ShadowsWater MusicHere I AmThe KeeperLost and Found in JohannesburgMbongeni Buthelezi
Garden of DreamsA Sportful MaliceThe Girl with All the GiftsDog Eat DogTaller than BuildingsSister-SisterMagician's EndThe Zuma YearsSharp EdgesWestern EmpiresThe ThreePot-San's Tabletop TalesA Bit of DifferenceInward Moon, Outward SunThe Ugly Duckling
Dear BulletRaising the BarGhana Must GoUnimportanceThis DayReal Meal RevolutionSouth AfricaIn the Heat of ShadowsDark HeartDesert GodRachel’s BlueGood Morning, Mr MandelaLondon – Cape Town – Joburg

Book details