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Philani Dladla – The Pavement Bookworm (@BookVsDruggs) – Shares His Story with @TEDxJoburg:

Fiction Friday: Diane Awerbuck's New Short Story Day Africa-winning Story (Plus: Cover Reveal!)

SSDA new logo
Diane Awerbuck

Short Story Day Africa has organised a special treat for us this Fiction Friday: Diane Awerbuck’s winning story from the new SSDA anthology, Terra Incognita, and a cover reveal!

Awerbuck was announced as this year’s Short Story Day Africa winner last Friday, for her short story “Leatherman”, which judges Richard de Nooy, Samuel Kolawole and Jared Shurin called “dark, twisted and visceral”. You can read the full story below.

But before you do, feast your eyes on this year’s anthology cover, which was designed by Nick Mulgrew.

SSDA Terra Incognita cover

Mulgrew says: “I’d like to say that the design is about subverting colonial cartographic tropes, and as well as about undermining ideas of Africa as a dark, impenetrable continent, in order to reclaim and reposition them in a more modern, Afrofuturist context – and, sure, it is about that – but mostly I think it just looks nice.”

We’re delighted to announce that Short Story Day Africa has joined the Books LIVE community. Read more about the design of the cover on their blog at

Read Awerbuck’s story:

Diane Awerbuck's short story Leatherman by Books LIVE


Kingsley Holgate Shares a Wildlife Crime Tale with a Twist from Zambia

Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great ExplorersKingsley Holgate shared photographs from his expedition to Zambia and told a story of wildlife crimes with a different kind of perpetrator. The author of Africa: In the Footsteps of the Great Explorers embarked on a trip around the edge of Africa recently and regularly shares photographs, videos and notes from his trip on his Facebook.

Holgate shares the story of Nikedi the elephant, infamous for chasing police from their roadblock posts, breaking car windows and raiding the markets for fruit. He also learned about other local crime legends, from an apish mugger to a hippo who likes to do interior remodeling.

Read Holgate’s anecdote about the thieving wildlife:


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Ronald Adamolekun Reviews Foreign Gods, Inc. by Okey Ndibe

Foreign Gods, Inc.Verdict: carrot

‘Foreign Gods, Inc.’ is an overwhelming triumph, a bold testament to the invincible power of imagination and also to the ruinous obsession of its protagonist, Ike with life on high speed and the ‘here and now.’

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Bridges and Pathways: Programme for the 2014 Ake Arts and Book Festival (18 - 22 November, Nigeria)

The second annual Ake Arts and Book Festival – held in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State in southwest Nigeria – starts today, featuring esteemed international authors and artists and showcasing contemporary African literature, music, art, film and theatre.

Zukiswa Wanner, Siphiwo Mahala, Nomboniso Gasa will be representing South Africa, joining esteemed names such as Wole Soyinka, EE Sule, Binyavanga Wainaina and many others (including former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo) on the packed programme stretching over five days.

Mr LovermanAnother Man's WarForeign Gods, Inc.Are We The Turning Point Generation?
LagoonChildren of ParadiseLondon – Cape Town – JoburgThread of Gold BeadsOne Day I Will Write About This PlaceSterile Sky

This year the theme revolves around the concepts and constructions pertaining to “Bridges and Pathways”, asking critical questions relating to “building bridges between the African people along language, ethnicity, gender and religious lines, and charting new paths towards creative synergy and cultural cross-fertilisation on the African continent.”

Have a look at the programme:

Ake Arts and Book Festival, 18 – 22 November 2014

Also check out:

Press release

The second edition of Ake Arts and Book Festival will take place at June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto-Abeokuta from 18-22 November 2014. The theme is Bridges and Pathways and discussions will focus on building bridges between the African people along language, ethnicity, gender and religious lines, and charting new paths towards creative synergy and cultural cross-fertilisation on the African continent.

The Ake Arts and Book Festival (AABF), in partnership with Ogun State government, Etisalat, Access Bank and Annoying Logo, will once again play host to international authors from all over the world and will showcase the very best of contemporary African literature, music, art, film and theatre.

The festival will feature book chats, school visits and several stimulating panel discussions. There will be a palm wine and poetry night, talks by both Nigerian and international writers and a comprehensive book fair/school programmes that will be open to pupils, publishers and book lovers.

In an event called ‘Muse as Memory’, Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka will sit in conversation with Jerome Okolo. Patrick Okigbo will also host the former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo, in a chat titled ‘Defining a Legacy’.

There will be nine book chats at the festival. At the book chat, we will be engaging Yejide Kilanko on her book Daughters who walk this Path, Bernadine Evaristo on Mr Loverman, Barnaby Phillips on Another Mans War, Okey Ndibe on his Foreign Gods Inc, and Chude Jideonwo on Are We The Turning Point Generation? Nnedi Okorafor will be telling us all about her new book, The Lagoon, Fred D’Aguiar will be talking to us about Children of Paradise, Zukiswa Wanner will be discussing London Cape Town Joburg and Nike Campbell Fatoki will tell us all about her bestselling book, Thread of Gold Beads.

Tayo Aluko‘s critically-acclaimed musical play, Call Mr. Robeson, will enjoy its Ogun State Premiere at the Ake Arts and Book Festival. There will also be a contemporary Dance performance by Qudus Onikeku titled, My Exile is in my Head. Tickets for these events are available online at

We will also be screening the film October 1, by actor/director Kunle Afolayan. The film Yeepa, by renowned movie director Tunde Kelani will also enjoy its Ogun State premiere at Ake Arts and Book Festival. Three documentaries will be shown at the festival. They include Barnaby Philips’ Burma Boy, The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo by Yaba Badoe and New Morning, a short film on domestic violence sponsored by the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

There will be masterclasses in Science Fiction Writing with Stella Duffy and Ben Aaronovitch, Documentary Making masterclass with Emmanuelle Mougne and Devising Theatre from Page to the Naked Stage with Femi Elufowoju, jr.

There will also be two Photo exhibitions at the festival; Vera Botterbuschs’ View and Secrets vom Abeokuta and Isara and Victor Ehikhamenor’s In the Lion’s Lair – intimate portraits of Wole Soyinka in his home.

Ake Arts and Book Festival is collaborating with Access Bank Nigeria to sponsor 50 Nigerian undergraduates to the festival. The sponsorship will include book tokens worth N20,000 which can only be spent at the Ake Arts and Book Festival bookstore where they will discover a great selection of books. The application form will be available at on 11 November 2014.

Full details of the Ake Arts and Book Festival program is available at the website. Tickets to all events can be purchased online or in person at the festival registration desk from 17 November 2014.

Book details

  • Are We The Turning Point Generation?: How Africa’s Youth Can Drive Its Urgently Needed Revolution by Chude Jideonwo
    EAN: 9789785205756
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Meyer's clever off-field game

He knows his politics: Heyneke Meyer, far right, with Sports Minister, Fikile Mblalula and Jean de Villiers

He knows his politics: Heyneke Meyer, far right, with Sports Minister, Fikile Mblalula and Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer boasts the highest winning percentage of any Bok coach — barring, of course, the full marks achieved in the very brief tenure of Kitch Christie almost 20 years ago.

But it is not this achievement that is likely to bring him the prize of being the first national coach to remain on the South African Rugby Union’s (Saru’s) books for more than four years. It is his exceptionally astute off-field game.

Coming from Pretoria, Meyer understands hierarchical structures, so he will have conducted his relations with his bosses with the necessary deference and ego-massaging, particularly the egos of self-important provincial presidents.

He will have done this from a position of knowing exactly what he wants out of them and negotiating hard to get it.

Another quality he would have gained as a Pretoria coach is toughness: a disappointed Bulls fan can be a nasty beast.

From the beginning, Meyer has, very politely, played hard ball with Saru.

Although the rugby bosses were desperate to see the back of Peter de Villiers when his contract expired at the end of 2011, they could not do so until they could announce a successor.

They rushed into their announcement of Meyer as the new coach at the end of January 2012, before he had signed off on his contract. Thus Saru made a public commitment to Meyer before he had made his to them.

This put him in a strong position and he was able to negotiate the appointment of a management team of his choice — a luxury denied his predecessors. He was able to take with him men he had appointed and nurtured over several years — all of whom had to be prised from their contracts with the Bulls, at great cost to Saru. The most important appointment was probably that of Ian Schwartz, the Bok manager, a calm, thoughtful man who is always one step ahead.

Meyer also refused to move to Cape Town, where he would inevitably have had to deal with Saru politics. Saru declined to give him an office in Pretoria.

So he conducts business from a coffee shop in a suburban mall. This modest setting reflects Meyer’s style and is replicated throughout his management team. They are, to a man, a likeable bunch: hard working, humble and friendly. And 100% loyal to their leader.

Meyer has been equally clever with the media. He understands that what journalists crave is the feeling of being an insider, privy to information and insights available to no one else. Partly, this sort of relationship suits Meyer’s personality: he is far better at one-on-one encounters than in more public settings. And, once he has established a relationship of trust, he is remarkably open and honest.

The results are extraordinary: in his first year as Bok coach, Meyer was subjected to much the same sort of public vilification that De Villiers endured throughout his four-year tenure.

Everything he did was criticised: his continuing support for Morne Steyn in the face of erratic form; his appointment of an all-Bulls management team and his preference for Bulls players; his Bulls-honed kick-and-chase game.

Meyer, an emotional man, was openly upset by this and took steps to address it. Unlike De Villiers, who responded with defiance, Meyer engaged with journalists. He listened to critics.

The result, two years later, is sweetness and light. He is hardly ever subjected to criticism and, when he is, it is more likely to be of the constructive kind.

This attitude tends to be emulated by the public and on social media.

Meyer’s ability to adjust public opinion like this is a huge achievement. Every mistake he and his team make is visible to millions of avid stakeholders.

His performance could not be more transparent. Being able to take fans along with him says a lot for his branding talents. Even shocking failures like the loss to Ireland last week failed to evoke the kind of vitriol he encountered in his first year and which De Villiers endured.

Meyer’s other success has been with the provincial coaches: no other Springbok coach has succeeded in persuading the provinces to rest their Boks during the last few games of the Currie Cup.

This, too, is the fruit of much diplomacy and effort. The coach has worked hard to cultivate a good relationship with the Super 15 coaches.

Saru says it has been talking to Meyer about extending his contract. Anything could happen in the next year but it seems likely that, for the first time, the institutional knowledge built up by a Bok coach over four years will not be tossed away.

*This column first appeared in Business Day



There's No How-to Manual on How to Scratch Out a Living: An Excerpt from The Chicken Thief

The Chicken ThiefAerodrome has shared an excerpt from The Chicken Thief by Fiona Leonard.

The novel is set in Southern Africa, in a remote town which the powers-that-be have conveniently neglected. Alois, the book’s eponymous thief, is a young man trying to scratch out a living. His town is one in which many people, and a number of hardy hens, are trying to scratch out a living.

In the excerpt, Alois is out stealing chickens. He has learned how to do this the hard way. He says there is always a manual for the easy things that you could really figure out yourself. For the difficult and dangerous things, you are on your own.

Read the excerpt:

Alois smelt the intruders before he saw them–or rather, he smelt their anger first. He knew the smell of anger well. He had learned to smell it coming, and to duck and run. The chickens knew too; they were restless, wings brushing against the wire that caged them in. They knew something was wrong, and yet it was not him they smelt. He had been here many times before. Even though tonight his bag was lighter than it should have been, Alois pulled himself back up into the branches and waited.

On average, Alois stole five to ten chickens per night. Five was a good take, easily achieved: ten, and his spirits soared. He kept his operation tight, spacing each grab, with no more than two chickens per house. Any more than two and he figured he might as well be running bare-arsed down the road and in the front door of police headquarters. No bird will stay quiet forever while its sisters disappear head first into a flour sack. Solidarity amongst chickens had been the death knell of many a careless thief.

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