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The local fiction to look forward to in 2016 (Jan - June)

The local fiction books to look forward to in 2016 (Jan - June)

Books LIVE is proud to present the list of fiction, short story collections and poetry to look out for in the first half of 2016.

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There are new novels by Lauri Kubuitsile, Paige Nick, Yewande Omotoso, Sam Wilson and Nthikeng Mohlele to look forward to, as well as Niq Mhlongo’s long-awaited collection of short stories, Affluenza.

In addition to the books listed below, Modjaji Books will be publishing two debut poetry collections, Gedigte by Shirmoney Rhode and How to open the door by Marike Beyers (working titles), as well as Tjieng Tjang Tjerrie and other stories, a collection of short fiction by Jolyn Phillips.

There is also a promising crop of debut novels.

Looking towards the second half of the year, the 2016 Short Sharp Stories anthology, Die Laughing, will be launched at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July, while Ekow Duker’s third novel The God Who Made Mistakes will be published by Pan Macmillan in August.

If you think we’ve left something out, feel free to let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Ed’s note: We usually make a point of not using the word ‘local’ to refer South African books, but include it the title of this bi-annual list simply to differentiate it from the many international lists that pop up at this time of year.

Without further ado, have a look at the list:

Note: Covers are subject to change, and information was provided by the publishers


From Man to Man, or Perhaps OnlyFrom Man to Man, or Perhaps Only by Olive Schreiner, edited by Dorothy Driver
UCT Press

Schreiner is best known for her youthful The Story of an African Farm, but the “new book” of her adult years may well be her greatest achievement. It is arguably more important and relevant, not only because it is a more mature study of early racial and imperial relations but also because of its more modern characterisation.

This new edition of From Man to Man, edited by Dorothy Driver, corrects the editorial and proofreading errors that marred previous editions. It also provides another ending, in Schreiner’s own words, as told in a letter to a friend.

More about the book


nullOutside the Lines by Ameera Patel
Modjaji Books

Outside the Lines is both a thriller and a family drama. It tells the story of two women: Cathleen, a troubled young woman living in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg; and Flora, who is the domestic worker at Cathleen’s house. Cathleen disappears and tensions and drama ensue.

Craig Higginson calls the novel “edgy, witty, fresh, engaging, moving, memorable”.

Ameera Patel is an actor who has worked on stage and in television (best known for her role as Dr Chetty in Generations). She is also an award winning playwright. Outside the Lines is her first novel.

Happiness is a Four-Letter WordHappiness is a Four-Letter Word by Cynthia Jele

Happiness is a Four-Letter Word won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, Africa region and the Film Category of the 2011 M-Net Literary Awards. This is the film-tie in edition to coincide with the new movie starring Khanyi Mbau, Renate Stuurman and Mmabatho Montsho.

Think Sex and the City, in Sandton …

Azanian BridgesAzanian Bridges by Nick Wood
NewCon Press

Nick Wood’s debut novel, which will be launched at the British Science Fiction Association Convention this Easter, was longlisted for the inaugural Kwani? Manuscript Prize in 2013 and has shouts from Sarah Lotz, Ian Watson and Ursula K Le Guin.

Azanian Bridges is a socially acute fast-paced thriller that takes place in an alternate modern day South Africa where apartheid still rules.

More about the book – and an exclusive excerpt

The PeculiarsThe Peculiars by Jen Thorpe
Penguin Fiction

Phobias abound at the Centre for Improved Living, where Nazma goes for help. She’s crazy about baking and desperately wants to become a pastry chef, but her fear of driving keeps her stuck working in a train-station kiosk, where she sells stale food to commuters while dreaming of butter croissants and fresh strudel.

Set in a Cape Town as peculiar as its characters, The Peculiars is Jen Thorpe’s heart-warming and humorous debut.

More about the book – and an exclusive excerpt

StationsStations by Nick Mulgrew
David Philip Publishers

In his the debut collection of short stories, Nick Mulgrew tells 14 subtly interlinked tales set along the Southern African coastline from Cape Town to Mozambique, in which relationships, dreams and even narrators die; where fields catch fire, towers implode, and the shadows of the past grow long.

But even from the most uneasy corners – tourist traps, colonial purgatories and libraries for the blind – these stories offer small mercies: glimpses of faith, beauty and the possibility of salvation, no matter how slight.

More about the book and launch

nullThe Cry of the Hangkaka by Anne Woodborne
Modjaji Books

Shamed by a divorce, Irene seeks to flee with her daughter from post-WWII South Africa. Jack, a Scotsman who works at the tin mines in Nigeria, seems to be the answer to Irene’s prayers. In the torrid heat of the Nigerian plateau, Karin is exposed to the lives of the colonisers, colonised, and most of all to the dictatorship of Jack.

Máire Fisher says: “I read compulsively, hoping Karin would find a way to escape, hoping she wouldn’t … because then this beautifully nuanced story would come to an end.”

The Cry of the Hangkaka is the debut novel by Anne Woodborne.


AffluenzaAffluenza by Niq Mhlongo

In his characteristically humorous and piercing style, Niq Mhlongo writes about the span of our democracy and the madness of the last 20 years after apartheid.

His short stories address issues such as crime, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, the new black elite, and land redistribution. They have been published to critical acclaim in France, Spain, Germany, Italy and in the USA but remain largely unknown in South Africa.

Affluenza follows on the success of Mhlongo’s three novels, and is his first collection of short stories.

More about the book – and an excerpt

nullPermanent Removal by Alan Cowell
Jacana Media

Permanent Removal is a beautifully written political thriller focusing on the nature of justice, truth, betrayal, sociopolitical and ethical quandaries, complicity and moral agency. The novel introduces readers to a cast of players whose destinies intertwine in a particularly gruesome murder.

Alan S Cowell is an award-winning New York Times journalist.

More about the book


nullNwelezelanga: The Star Child by Unathi Magubeni
Jacana Media

With a rich vocabulary that is poetic and uncluttered, this debut novel is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Thando Mgqolozana says the novel “will be a rare gift for the scholars, and we ordinary readers will not remember our lives before Magubeni happened”.

Unathi Magubeni is an Eastern Cape-based writer, sangoma and trainee herbalist, who left the corporate world in 2009. His first book, a collection of poetry called Food For Thought, was published in 2003.

Nwelezelanga is a BlackBird Books title.

nullLike It Matters by David Cornwell

Ed and Charlotte are trying to make a life in Muizenberg, but old habits die hard, and they become embroiled in a scheme that soon slips out of their control.

The first novel from writer and musician David Cornwell, who you may have heard of from the rock band Kraal. Cornwell’s writing has appeared in the Mail & Guardian, Prufrock, Aerodrome, Jungle Jim and New Contrast, among others.

nullBearings by Isobel Dixon
Modjaji Books

In this wide-ranging poetry collection, Isobel Dixon takes readers on a journey to far-flung and sometimes dark places. These poems are forays of discovery and resistance, of arrival and loss. Dixon explores form and subject, keeping a weather eye out for telling detail, with a sharp sense of the threat that these journeys, our wars and stories, and our very existence pose to the planet.

JM Coetzee calls Dixon “a poet confident in her mastery of her medium”. Bearings, her fourth collection, will be published in the UK by Nine Arches Press.

PredatorPredator by Wilbur Smith, with Tom Cain
Jonathan Ball

Hector Cross, Wilbur Smith’s most cut-throat and exciting protagonist, is back.

Two men are responsible for the death of Cross’s wife and only one is left alive: Johnny Congo – psychopath, extortionist, murderer, and the bane of Cross’s life. He caught him before and let him go. Now, Hector wants him dead. So does the US government.

Predator is a blockbuster of a novel, with rampaging action and edge-of-your-seat thrills.


nullPleasure by Nthikeng Mohlele
Pan Macmillan

Pleasure is one of the oldest and most enduring grand themes of literature, presented here through the eyes and thoughts of writer and dreamer Milton Mohlele.

Drawn against the canvas of 1940s wartime Germany/Europe and modern-day Cape Town, South Africa, Milton sacrifices all for glimpses into the secrets and deceptions of pleasure – and how little those are in the vast scale of life in its glory and absurdity.

Pleasure is Nthikeng Mohlele’s fourth novel.

nullThe Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
Penguin Random House

World rights in all languages for Yewande Omotoso’s new novel were snapped up by Chatto & Windus, an imprint of Random House, in April last year.

Omotoso’s first novel, Bom Boy, was published by Modjaji Books, and won a 2012 South African Literary Award for first published author. It was also shortlisted for both the Etisalat Prize and the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize.

The Woman Next Door tells the story of neighbours Hortensia James and Marion Agostino – one black, one white – both over eighty, and sworn enemies.

nullDutch Courage by Paige Nick
Penguin Fiction

Grace Hendriks has led a pretty sheltered life. So when her sister Natalie begs her to take her place as a Rihanna impersonator at a club in Amsterdam, no alarm bells go off …

Paige Nick’s new novel, hot on the heels of the hilarious Death By Carbs, is being described as Big Brother meets Showgirls. It’s a hilarious and revealing glimpse into the life and times of a group of career strippers and celebrity impersonators.

nullThe Scattering by Lauri Kubuitsile
Penguin Fiction

The Scattering follows the journeys of two women through history as they wrestle with betrayal, loyalty, hope and the struggle to survive.

Lauri Kubuitsile, who lives in Botswana, is the author of three children’s books, a book for young adults, three detective novellas, four romance novels, three collections of short stories for children (co-written), and a book of her own short stories.

nullOur Fathers by Karin Brynard
Penguin Fiction

With Plaasmoord and Onse vaders, Karin Brynard made her mark as one of South Africa’s most popular crime writers. Her much-loved characters now make an appearance in Our Fathers, the English translation of Onse vaders.

The novel is part of the hotly contested four-book deal won by Penguin in 2013.

When an apparent break-in goes awry in Stellenbosch, Captain Albertus Markus Beeslaar is drawn into the investigation, while 1 500 kilometres to the north, Sergeant Johannes Ghaap finds himself in a race against time to save the lives of a kidnapped woman and child who are being held captive in Soweto.

nullIn the Maid’s Room by Hagen Engler
Jacana Media

How to be white when you’re no longer centre of attention? When you no longer even matter? How to be white when everyone’s patience runs out?

These existential questions are addressed in Hagen Engler’s third novel, the satirical farce In the Maid’s Room.

Other crucial learnings are how to buy weed, how to handle a “brown mouse” and how not to rhyme 16 bars about wanking.

Namaste Life by Ishara Maharaj
Modjaji Books

Namaste Life is a South African Indian novel, set in Durban and the Eastern Cape, that tells the story of twin sisters who grow up in a sheltered traditional Hindu home.

The sisters’ lives change dramatically when they get to university in the Eastern Cape.

Ishara Maharaj has a background in background in organisational psychology, but is also a closet nomad and is the author of Nine Life Lessons: Answers from the Universe.

nullThe Yearning by Mohale Mashigo
Pan Macmillan

Mohale Mashigo is the pen name of Carol Mashigo, also known by her stage name, Black Porcelain. She is a radio moderator, storyteller, award-winning singer and songwriter.

The Yearning, her debut novel, comes endorsed by Zakes Mda. It is the story of Marubini, a young woman whose past starts spilling into her present. Something is making her sick and her mother is not willing to tell her what it is. She embarks on a journey that is both magical and frightening to find out what it is that haunts her.


nullGold Never Rusts by Paul-Constant Smit
Penguin Fiction

Reminiscent of Wilbur Smith and Tony Park, Gold Never Rusts is a unique and inventive adventure story that links the Queen of Sheba with Paul Kruger, and is as captivating as it is entertaining.

Gold Never Rusts is the debut novel from Paul-Constant Smit, a keen diver, spearfisherman, hunter and traveller, who has worked as a translator, art dealer, bespoke-furniture designer and international trader. The book will also be released in Afrikaans as Goud Roes Nooit in June.

The local non-fiction to look forward to in 2016 (Jan - June)

The local non-fiction books to look forward to in 2016 (Jan - June)


Books LIVE is proud to present the list of non-fiction books to look out for in the first half of 2016.

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Three eagerly anticipated books that will make an appearance this year are Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak’s magnum opus on Africa, Continental Shift, Alex Eliseev’s examination of the Betty Ketani murder investigation, Cold Case Confession, and Don Pinnock’s City Press Non-fiction Award-winning book, Gang Town.

Patrick Craven’s The Battle for Cosatu: An Insider’s View and The Bribe: How South Africa Stole the World Cup by Ray Hartley are sure to make a splash.

Letters of Stone: Discovering A Family’s History In Nazi Germany by Capetonian Steven Robins is already receiving some very favourable reviews, with Antjie Krog calling it “a most exceptional and unforgettable book”.

Finally, William Dicey, the author of the critically acclaimed Borderline (2004), has a new book of essays out titled Mongrel, which comes highly recommended by Ivan Vladislavić.

Looking ahead towards the second half of the year, Jessica Pitchford’s Switched At Birth – the true story of the boys who were accidentally swapped at an East Rand hospital in 2010 – is out in July, and is sure to capture the imagination. In November, Trevor Noah’s collection of essays will be published, while the long-awaited sequel to Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom is expected in November or December.

If you think we’ve left something out, feel free to let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Ed’s note: We usually make a point of not using the word ‘local’ to refer South African books, but include it the title of this bi-annual list simply to differentiate it from the many international lists that pop up at this time of year.

Without further ado, have a look at our list:

Note: Covers are subject to change, and information was provided by the publishers


RelocationsRelocations: Reading Culture in South Africa edited by Cóilín Parsons, Imraan Coovadia and Alexandra Dodd
UCT Press

Relocations brings together a selection of the Gordon Institute for the Performing and Creative Arts Great Texts/Big Questions public lecture series by world-renowned artists, writers and thinkers

The authors range from novelists André Brink and Imraan Coovadia (one of the collection’s editors), to poets Gabeba Baderoon and Rustum Kozain, to artist William Kentridge and social activist Zackie Achmat. The topics are as wide as Don Quixote, Marx and Lincoln, trout fishing, Hamlet, the 19th-century Russian writer Gogol and Nabokov’s novel Lolita.

More about the book

The Compassionate EnglishwomanThe Compassionate Englishwoman: Emily Hobhouse in the Boer War by Robert Eales
UCT Press

In 1899 the South African War broke out. As the war progressed, in London the upper-class Emily Hobhouse learned of the camps in southern Africa that contained mostly Boer women and children who had been displaced by the hostilities. She was so concerned that she decided to go to South Africa to investigate. By herself and on her own initiative, she travelled by ship to Cape Town, to begin the distribution of aid to these camps.

More about the book

Letters of StoneLetters of Stone by Steven Robins
Penguin Random House South Africa

“This is a most exceptional and unforgettable book” – Antjie Krog

Letters of Stone tracks Robins’s journey of discovery about the lives and fates of the Robinski family, in southern Africa, Berlin, Riga and Auschwitz. It also explores the worldwide rise of eugenics and racial science before the war, which justified the murder of Jews by the Nazis and caused South Africa and other countries to close their doors to Jewish refugees.

Most of all, this book is a poignant reconstruction of a family trapped in an increasingly terrifying and deadly Nazi state, and of the immense pressure on Robins’ father in faraway South Africa, which forced him to retreat into silence.

More about the book

Continental ShiftContinental Shift by Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak
Jonathan Ball

Africa is falling. Africa is succeeding. Africa is betraying its citizens. Africa is a place of starvation, corruption, disease. African economies are soaring faster than any on earth. Africa is squandering its bountiful resources. Africa is a roadmap for global development. Africa is turbulent. Africa is stabilising. Africa is doomed. Africa is the future.

All of these pronouncements prove equally true and false, as South African journalists Richard Poplak and Kevin Bloom discover on their nine-year road trip through the paradoxical continent they call home.

How to Invest Like Warren BuffettHow to Invest Like Warren Buffett by Alec Hogg
Jonathan Ball

This is the South African guide on investing like Warren Buffett by award-winning financial publisher Alec Hogg.

Learn how the investment genius of Buffett can be applied to South African investing. This book is packed with invaluable lessons and insights from the world’s greatest wealth creator.

Useful charts and graphics are included in the book to provide more details about concepts and shares.


nullTouched by Biko by Andile M-Afrika
Unisa Press

This is a political memoir of life in a rural South African township – with Andile M-Afrika weaving a lyrical tale from actual events surrounding this country’s struggle history, where Steve Bantu Biko played a pivotal role.

M-Afrika’s engaging narrative delves deep into his personal encounters with people, political events and day-to-day life in rural King Williams Town, Eastern Cape. What speaks volumes, are the pervasive echoes of Biko’s presence, on those who shared life in this historic village.

Written with a unique vibrancy and fine wit to enthrall readers from all walks of life, Touched by Biko will be enjoyed by all with an interest in the South African struggle history.

Murder at Small KoppieMurder at Small Koppie by Greg Marinovich
Penguin Random House South Africa

Renowned photojournalist Greg Marinovich explores the truth behind the Marikana massacre, looking specifically at the largely untold slaughter at Small Koppie.

Drawing on his own meticulous investigations, eyewitness accounts and the findings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry set up by President Jacob Zuma following the massacre, Marinovich accurately reconstructs that fateful day as well as the events leading up to the strike.

This is the definitive account of the Marikana massacre from the journalist whose award-winning investigation into the tragedy was called the most important piece of South African journalism post-apartheid.

More about the book

nullThe New Black Middle Class in South Africa by Roger Southall
Jacana Media

Despite the fact that the “rise of the black middle class” is one of the most visible aspects of post-apartheid society and a major actor in the reshaping of South African society, analysis of it has been lacking. Rather, the image presented by the media has been of “black diamonds” and corrupt “tenderpreneurs”.

This book presents a new way of looking at the black middle class which seeks to complicate that picture, an analysis that reveals its impactful role in the recent history of South Africa.

nullThe Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart
Jacana Media

The memoir of David Coltart, one of the most prominent political and human rights figures in Zimbabwe. Over the years, Coltart has been threatened, detained, spuriously prosecuted and has survived several direct attempts on his life.

As a young man, Coltart was urged by Robert Mugabe to return to Zimbabwe from South Africa, but he would become one of Mugabe’s favourite targets of vilification, branded a traitor to the state and worthy of remaining in the country only as a resident of one of its prisons.

Simply DeliciousSimply Delicious by Zola Nene

In Nene’s own words: “Food has always been a huge part of my life; important occasions were always marked with a feast of some sort …”

That’s exactly what Simply Delicious is all about; it’s Nene’s culinary career told through her recipes, interspersed with snippets and perspectives of her life journey, including tributes to the people who have inspired and influenced her cooking style and explaining the reason for certain culinary choices that she has made.

Nene is currently the resident chef on Expresso Morning Show.

More about the book

nullThe Dot Spot:A Journey into Sex and Love by Dorothy Black
Jacana Media

The Dot Spot will be South Africa’s first, fun and frank “how-to” guide on untangling the mysteries of sex, love and relationships.

Written in an upfront, entertaining and sassy style, the book uncovers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about dating and relationships, from kink to sexual self-empowerment.

All of us want to find the similarities and connections in the secrets, fantasies and desires that we have but are often too shy to talk about. This book will spark that conversation with unbridled candour.

nullDorothea Bleek: A Life of Scholarship by Jill Weintroub
Wits University Press

Dorothea Bleek (1873 to 1948) devoted her life to completing the “bushman researches” her father and aunt had begun in the closing decades of the 19th century.

How has history treated Dorothea Bleek? Has she been recognised as a scholar in her own right? Was she an adventurer, or was she conservative, a researcher who belittled the people she studied? These are some of the questions with which Jill Weintroub starts this thoughtful biography.

Weintroub is Research Fellow at the Wits Rock Art Research Institute.

More about the book

The Banting SolutionThe Banting Solution by Bernadine Douglas and Bridgette Allan
Penguin Random House South Africa

At last, the banting book that will answer ALL your questions about the banting lifestyle AND provide you with the solution to permanent weight loss!

The Banting Solution answers banters’ most pressing questions, including mythbusting, meal plans, and how to bant on a budget.

Most importantly, it teaches us how to get rid of those unwanted kilos and keep them off forever.

nullThe Reb and the Rebel: Jewish Narratives in South Africa 1892-1913 by Carmel Schrire and Gwynne Schrire
UCT Press

Unedited, unbowdlerised memoirs of the origin and development of the South African Jewish community are few and far between.

The Reb and the Rebel contains three previously unpublished autobiographical works – a diary, a poem and a memoir – by Yehuda Leib Schrire (1851-1912) and his son, Harry Nathan. Few of the early immigrants to South Africa were writers, let alone poets, and the social history provided in these documents embellishes and enlivens the picture of South African Jewish communities at the turn of the 20th century.

Mongrel: EssaysMongrel: Essays by William Dicey

From the author of the critically acclaimed Borderline (2004), Mongrel investigates a range of topics – radical environmentalism, the faultlines between farmer and farm worker, the joys and sorrows of reading – yet drifts of concern and sensibility draw the collection together. Several essays touch on how books can move, and sometimes maul, their readers.

Ivan Vladislavić says: “Dicey is what I look for in a writer: he has something to say and he puts it across with skill, intelligence and wit.”

More about the book

To Quote MyselfTo Quote Myself by Khaya Dlanga
Pan Macmillan

In To Quote Myself, Khaya Dlanga recounts entertaining and moving stories about his roots and upbringing in rural Transkei, how he made his mark at school as well as his time spent studying advertising and as a stand-up comedian.

Dlanga also shares his political views, and how he overcame homelessness to become one of the most influential marketers in South Africa.

The cover of this new edition, designed by Ayanda Mbanjwa, was the winning entry in a competition held by Pan Macmillan last year.


Gang TownGang Town by Don Pinnock

Gang Town is the winner of the 2013 City Press Non-fiction Award.

Why is Cape Town one of the most violent cities on earth? What is it that makes gangs so attractive to young people? Why is it getting worse? Bestselling author Don Pinnock answers these questions in Gang Town, and looks at solutions to the problem.

More about the book

nullUmkonto We Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle by Thula Simpson
Penguin Random House South Africa

Written in a fresh, immediate style, Umkhonto we Sizwe is an honest account of the armed struggle. It does not seek to glorify or to whitewash, but rather to chronicle a fascinating series of events from the beginning of the struggle to the negotiated settlement of the 1990s.

Thula Simpson is a senior lecturer in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria. He has spent a decade researching and writing on the history of the ANC’s liberation struggle. His research has been conducted in Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, the United Kingdom and most extensively in South Africa.

nullExit! by Grizelda Grootboom
Jacana Media

Exit! is the story of Grizelda Grootboom life of prostitution and her ultimate escape from it all.

Grizelda’s life was dramatically changed when she was gang raped at the age of nine by teenagers in her township. Her story starts there. It is a story about the cycle of poverty, family abandonment, dislocation, and survival in the streets of Cape Town.

Grizelda is now an activist against human trafficking who supports fellow survivors undergoing rehabilitation.

Exit! is a BlackBird Books title.

nullOwn Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman by Nadia Bilchik and Lori Miller
Pan Macmillan

Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women.

The book will provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level.

nullThe End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in South Africa by Nicky Falkof
Jacana Media

Towards the end of apartheid, white South Africans found themselves in the middle of new social and political change that showed itself in some strangely morbid “symptoms”. This book discusses two of the primary symptoms that appeared in the media and in popular literature at the time – an apparent threat from a cult of white Satanists and a so-called epidemic of white family murder.

Nicky Falkof is senior lecturer in Media Studies at Wits University.

nullThe Code: The Power of “I Will” by Shaun Tomson
Pan Macmillan

This book is about many things – faith, courage, creativity, determination – but above all it’s about the promises we make to ourselves about the future.

Shaun Tomson is a former World Surfing Champion, and considered one of the 16 greatest surfers of all time. He is a business finance graduate from the University of Natal and the creator of two popular apparel brands: Instinct in the 1980s and Solitude in the 1990s. He lives in Santa Barbara, California, and is an inspirational speaker.

nullTrail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner by Ryan Sandes with Steve Smith
Zebra Press

What does it take to run a six-day race through the world’s harshest deserts? Or 100 miles in a single day at altitudes that would leave you breathless just walking? More than that, though: what is it like to win these races? South Africa’s ultra-trail-running superstar – and former rudderless party animal – Ryan Sandes has done just that.

Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner is written with bestselling author and journalist Steve Smith.

nullIs It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? The Zuma Years by Tim Richman
Burnet Media

Although we thought we’d got it all off our chests in the late 2000s with the original Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? series, well, it’s back on our chests, isn’t it?

After the annus horribilus Saffercanus of 2015 – after the doom and gloom of How Long Will South Africa Survive? and We Have Now Begun Our Descent (NB: bestsellers!) – it’s time once again for a book that unites South Africans in their misery and allows us to laugh it off. Just in time for the National Elections, of course!

nullThe 29th Hour by Brett Archibald, with Clare O’Donoghu
Burnet Media

In April 2013 news broke that a South African man had fallen overboard in a storm in remote Indonesian waters without anyone else on board realising. A frantic search was underway.

The 29th Hour is the incredible tale of what it takes to defy needle-in-a-haystack odds and survive an essentially unsurvivable ordeal.

nullThe Story Of A House: Fables And Feasts From La Creuzette by Louis Jansen van Vuuren and Hardy Olivier

It took 15 years to fully restore the impressive Château de la Creuzette to her former glory. She continues to rest in her shaded park, surrounded by centuries-old trees, and welcomes her expectant guests with open arms.

Apart from the almost 90 new recipes, there is an additional Crookbook in which the two hosts share their easy shortcut recipes and tips. The Story of a House is not only two cookbooks in one, but also a richly adorned reading book that traces the history of a manor house and follows the story of its people.

Writing the DeclineWriting the Decline by Richard Pithouse
Jacana Media

This book tracks the steady decay of the democratic promise in recent years. Written from an understanding that democracy should be for everyone, rather than merely a contest between elites, it explores the growing authoritarianism of the state, the deepening social crisis, and avenues of hope and possibility.

Dr Richard Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University, where he lectures on contemporary political theory and urban studies.

Writing the Decline has received high praise from Niren Tolsi and Eusebius McKaiser.

nullThe Goddess Mojo Bootcamp by Kagiso Msimango
Jacana Media

The Goddess Mojo Bootcamp will help you discover an authentic you to find real long-lasting love.

This is the book for you whether you want a man for a reason, a season, a lifetime, or one to match each of your handbags … it has zero moral pontifications. It won’t warn you against sleeping with a man on the first date. There are no 90-day rules in this book.

Kagiso Msimango is the founder of The Goddess Academy and the author of The Goddess Bootcamp.

The Goddess Mojo Bootcamp is a MFBooks title.

nullRiver of Gold: Narratives and Exploration of the Great Limpopo by Mike Gardner, Peter Norton and Clive Walker
Jacana Media

Here for the first time is the only full account of South Africa’s most iconic river, its history, its ancient past, wildlife, landscapes, early kingdoms and their people, warfare, trade, slaves, 19th-century hunting, travel and adventures and the conservation efforts of four national parks of which the renowned Kruger National Park is one.

The book (and the river) encompasses two world heritage sites, two Transfrontier conservation areas, private game reserves, some of the richest rock art sites in southern Africa with the river’s “source” centred at the site of the world’s richest gold deposits ever discovered, Johannesburg.

nullThe Sword and the Pen: A Lifetime in South African Journalism by Allister Sparks
Jonathan Ball

Legendary journalist Allister Sparks joined his first newspaper at age 17. In The Sword and the Pen, he tells the story of how he watched and chronicled and participated in his country’s unfolding drama for more than 60 years.

Nelson Mandela said Sparks’s “outspoken views have served the cause of democracy in this country magnificently”.

In trenchant prose, he has written a remarkable account of both a life lived to its fullest capacity as well as the surrounding narrative of South Africa from the birth of apartheid, the rise of political opposition, the dawn of democracy, right through to the crisis we are experiencing today.

nullThabo Mbeki: A Jacana Pocket Biography by Adekeye Adebajo
Jacana Media

This is a fresh and concise reappraisal of Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s second democratic president in succession to Nelson Mandela.

Though his term of office was controversial in many respects and ended in a spectacular palace coup at the ANC’s Polokwane Conference in 2007, his reputation has been gradually undergoing rehabilitation since then, particularly because of widespread disillusion his successor as president, Jacob Zuma.

Part of the Jacana Pocket series.

nullJack Simons – Teacher, Scholar and Comrade: A Jacana Pocket Biography by Hugh Macmillan
Jacana Media

Jack Simons (1907–1995) was one of the leading left-wing intellectuals – and one of the greatest teachers – in 20th-century South Africa.

As a lecturer in African Studies at the University of Cape Town from 1937 until he was prevented from teaching by the government in 1964, and thereafter through his lectures and writings in exile, he had a profound effect on the thinking of generations of white and black students and on the liberation movement as a whole.

Part of the Jacana Pocket series.


nullThe Disruptors: Social Entrepreneurs Reinventing Business and Society by Kerryn Krige and Gus Silber

Can business change the world? Can the world change business?

For a new breed of social entrepreneurs, striving to build and grow enterprises that fight social ills, foster opportunity, and help to improve society, the answer is not can, it’s must.

From healthcare to mobile gaming, from education to recycling, from dancing to gardening, these are the game-changers, the difference-makers, the doers of good. Here are their stories.

Kerryn Krige heads up the Network for Social Entrepreneurs at GIBS, and has worked in the social sector since 2001. Gus Silber is an award-winning journalist, editor speechwriter and author, with a special interest in social entrepreneurship.

nullThe Maverick Insider: A Struggle for Union Independence in a Time of National Liberation by Johnny Copelyn
Pan Macmillan

Johnny Copelyn is the CEO of Hosken Consolidated Investment (HCI) Limited and Johnnic Holdings Limited, a position he has held since 1997. From 1974 he was general secretary of various unions in the clothing and textiles industries before becoming a member of parliament in 1994.

The Maverick Insider provides a rich and detailed recording of the important years of building trade unions in South Africa from the 1970s onwards, in particular the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU).

nullZimbabwe’s migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence by Maxim Bolt
Wits University Press

“In precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. [...] It is a significant achievement.” – Jonny Steinberg

During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for ways to make ends meet. Maxim Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependants, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa.

nullSouth Africa’s Settler Colonialism and Liberal Democracy by Thiven Reddy
Wits University Press

Two unmistakable features describe post-apartheid politics. The first is the formal framework of liberal democracy, including regular elections, multiple political parties, and a range of progressive social rights. The second is the politics of the “extraordinary”, which include a political discourse that relies on threats and the use of violence, the crude re-racialisation of numerous conflicts, and protests over various popular grievances.

In this highly original work, Thiven Reddy shows how conventional approaches to understanding democratisation have failed to capture the complexities of South Africa’s post-apartheid transition. Rather, as a product of imperial expansion, the South African state, capitalism and citizen identities have been uniquely shaped by a particular mode of domination, namely “settler colonialism”.

nullFrom Protest to Challenge: Volume 2: Hope and Challenge, 1935–1952 by Thomas G Karis and Sheridan Johns, revised and updated by Gail M Gerhart
Jacana Media

From Protest to Challenge is a multi-volume chronicle of the struggle to achieve democracy and end racial discrimination in South Africa.

Beginning in 1882 during the heyday of European imperialism, these volumes document the history of race conflict, protest, and political mobilisation by South Africa’s black majority.

Volumes 3, 5 and 6 of the series were launched in 2013.

nullThis Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organised Crime by Stephen Ellis
Jacana Media

Successful Nigerian criminal networks have a global reach, interacting with their Italian, Latin American and Russian counterparts. Yet in 1944, a British colonial official wrote that “the number of persistent and professional criminals is not great” in Nigeria and that “crime as a career has so far made little appeal to the young Nigerian”.

This latest book by celebrated African historian Stephen Ellis traces the origins of Nigerian organised crime to the last years of colonial rule, when nationalist politicians acquired power at regional level.

nullScorched Earth: 100 Years of Southern African Potteries by Wendy Gers
Jacana Media

Scorched Earth will be the first comprehensive history of fine art potteries in southern Africa, with a focus on pioneer ceramic studios and workshops.

Wendy Gers is a former curator at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, and now lectures at l’Ecole Supérieure d’Art et de Design de Valenciennes, France. Gers curated the prestigious Taiwan Ceramics Biennale 2014 and is a research associate at the University of Johannesburg and an associate advisor at The Design Cradle, Cape Town.

nullPromise and Despair: The First Struggle for a Non-Racial South Africa by Martin Plaut
Jacana Media

Most people believe that black South Africans obtained the vote for the first time in 1994. In fact, for almost a century suitably qualified black people had enjoyed the vote in the Cape and Natal, and in certain constituencies had decided the outcome of parliamentary elections.

This is the story of the struggle for a non-racial constitution, with its centrepiece being a lively account of the delegation that travelled to London in mid-1909, led by a famous white lawyer and former prime minister of the Cape, Will Schreiner, brother of the novelist Olive Schreiner.


Sigh the Beloved Country by Bongani Madondo
Pan Macmillan

With his customary flair and eye for detail, Bongani Madondo will delight his readers in this new essay collection.

The book displays his unique take on all things South African, including people and places, issues ranging from “Kissing & Lynching the Black Body” to “New Money Culture” and “Student Politics”, along with criticism and homage to our Beloved Country and those who call it home.

With a foreword by Rian Malan.

I am the Girl Who was Raped by Michelle Hattingh
Modjaji Books

In the morning Michelle Hattingh presented her Psychology honours thesis on men’s perceptions of rape, and in the evening she was raped herself.

Within minutes of getting help, Michelle realised she’ll never be herself again. She’s now “the girl who was raped”. Her memoir of this experience is an act of reclamation for herself and for all the women in South Africa who are raped every day.

Michelle Hattingh works as senior online content producer at Marie Claire SA. Her work has been published in Elle SA, Marie Claire SA and the Mail & Guardian. I’m the Girl Who was Raped is her first book.

Cold Case Confession by Alex Eliseev
Pan Macmillan

Whether the real mastermind behind the Tandiwe “Betty” Ketani murder will be captured remains unknown, so does the true motive for the crime. In court, prosecutors said the case was like a mosaic, with all the pieces coming together to form a disturbing picture. Not all the pieces have been found. But already, this has become one of South Africa’s most intriguing crime stories.

Dubbed a “troublemaker” for his investigative work, Eyewitness News reporter Alex Eliseev is an award-winning hard news journalist who has reported from countries such as Haiti, Japan and Libya.

nullThe Battle for Cosatu: An Insider’s View by Patrick Craven

In The Battle for Cosatu, former Cosatu insider and national spokesperson Patrick Craven recounts the happenings of the last five years of the biggest and most powerful labour federation, leading up to the expulsion of Numsa and Zwelinzima Vavi.

Craven has become the go-to person for labour-related commentary. In this, his first book, we are given insight into one of the most tumultuous times for trade unions in post-apartheid South Africa.

Drawing strongly on personal recollections, media interpretations and official documents, Craven exposes the breakdown of the tripartite alliance – and the implications of this for South Africa’s labour movement and the country as a whole.

nullThe Road to Soweto by Julian Brown
Jacana Media

This account of the decade that preceded the Soweto Uprising of June 1976 will transform our understanding of this crucial flashpoint of South Africa’s history. It begins by showing how students at South Africa’s segregated white and black universities began to reorganise themselves as a political force; how new ideas about race reinvigorated political thought; and how debates around confrontation shaped the development of new forms of protest.

Julian Brown is a lecturer in the Department of Political Studies at Wits and the author of South Africa’s Insurgent Citizens.

nullYour First Year of Varsity: A Survival Guide for University and College by Shelagh Foster and Lehlohonolo Mofokeng

Essential reading for matriculants, first year university and college students – and their parents!

Your First Year of Varsity talks directly to Grade 12 learners and first year students who arrive at their place of higher education filled with hopes, expectations, fears and dreams; yet with little understanding of what this new world means and how to adapt, grow – and graduate.

Shelagh Foster is the author of the highly popular Your First Year of Work. Lehlohonolo Mofokeng is a Master of Education candidate from Wits as a Mandela-Rhodes Scholar.

nullNatures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms edited by Fiona Moolla
Wits University Press

Environmental and animal studies are rapidly growing areas of interest across a number of disciplines, but there are few books that show how nature in Africa is represented, celebrated, mourned or commoditised.

Natures of Africa features new research from East Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as the ecocritical and eco-activist “powerhouses” of Nigeria and South Africa.

Fiona Moolla is the author of Reading Nuruddin Farah: The Individual, the Novel and the Idea of Home.

nullApartheid and The Making of a Black Psychologist by Chabani Manganyi
Wits University Press

Few autobiographies exploring the “life of the mind” and the “history of ideas” have come out of South Africa, and this intriguing memoir details what it meant to be a committed black intellectual activist during the apartheid years.

Starting with his rural upbringing in Mavambe in Limpopo province in the 1940s, Chabani Manganyi’s life story unfolds at a gentle pace, tracing the twists and turns of his journey from humble beginnings to Yale University in the USA, and beyond.

nullLand Dispossession and Resistance in Gordonia: A Hidden History of the Northern Cape, 1800-1990 by Martin Legassick

This book presents aspects of a generally unknown “brown” and “black” history of the Gordonia region of the Northern Cape Province, which has received relatively little attention from historians.

The essays are intended to emphasise the lives of ordinary people, and are also in part an exercise in “applied history” – historical writing with a direct application to people’s lives in the present.

nullAlways Anastacia: A Transgender Life in South Africa by Anastacia Tomson
Jonathan Ball

Born into an orthodox Jewish family in Johannesburg and brought up as a boy, Tomson was never sure how much of her conflicted sense of self to blame on her often troubled family life and strict upbringing. It would take her nearly 30 years, a great deal of questioning and a bravery she could never have imagined to find the peace and self-acceptance she had always sought.

Tomson’s moving memoir is the first of its kind in South Africa.


nullBlacks DO Caravan by Fikile Hlatshwayo
Jacana Media

This book is written by a black woman whose voice so clearly disrupts the stereotypes that so many have grown accustomed to.

This trip began on 15 September 2014 and lasted three months. Fikile and her family visited over 25 caravan parks. They covered over 10 000 kilometres, and traversed all nine provinces. Fikile came to the realisation that South Africa is still a divided nation: “The idea that camping is for white people is so entrenched, and my question is, who set these standards?”

nullThe Bribe: How South Africa Stole the World Cup by Ray Hartley
Jonathan Ball

Behind the 2010 World Cup lay years of corporate skulduggery, crooked companies rigging tenders and match-fixing involving the national team.

In The Bribe: How South Africa Stole the World Cup, Ray Hartley reveals the story of an epic national achievement and the people who undermined it in pursuit of their own interests. It is the real story of the 2010 World Cup.

AB: The Autobiography by AB de Villiers
Pan Macmillan

This is AB’s story, in his own words … the story of the youngest of three talented, sports-mad brothers growing up in Warmbaths, of a boy who excelled at tennis, rugby and cricket, of a youngster who made his international debut at the age of 20 and was then selected in every single Test played by South Africa for the next 11 seasons, of a batsman who has started to redefine the art, being ranked among the world’s very best in Test, ODI and T20.

This is the story of a modern sporting phenomenon.

nullEntrepreneurship 101 Tackling the basics of business start-up in South Africa by Joshua Maluleke
Jacana Media

Entrepreneurship 101 aims to educate South Africans about the fundamentals of entrepreneurship while looking at a uniquely South African business environment.

Joshula Maluleke has included a section on frequently asked questions at the back of the book in an attempt to provide in-depth answers to some of the questions he gets asked at his entrepreneurship talks. Questions like: Can I register my spaza shop? I have registered a business with CIPC and government has not given me an opportunity to do business, what must I do?

The Thabo Mbeki I Know edited by Sifiso Ndlovu and Miranda Strydom
Pan Macmillan

The Thabo Mbeki I Know is a collection of contributions on and personal recollections about former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

In some cases, individuals have been interviewed about their interactions with Mbeki, specifically with this collection in mind, and other contributions have been authored by the individuals concerned.

These personal reflections present a fresh perspective on Mbeki’s time in office and his legacy.

nullA Citizen’s Guide to Crime Statistics by Anine Kriegler and Mark Shaw
Jonathan Ball

A Citizen’s Guide to Crime Statistics provides a basis to understand South Africa’s crime statistics in a manner that is accessible to the general public.

Each chapter challenges a set of oft-repeated assumptions about how bad crime is, where it occurs, and who its victims are. It also demonstrates how and why crime statistics need to be matched with other forms of research, including criminal justice data, in order to produce a fuller account of what we are faced with.

nullVerwoerd: Architect of Apartheid by Henry Kenney
Jonathan Ball

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr Hendrik Verwoerd by Dimitri Tsafendas.

Originally released in 1980, Henry Kenney’s incisive study of the architect of apartheid and paragon of Afrikaner nationalism will be republished in 2016 to coincide with this significant moment in South Africa’s modern history.

The new edition contains an introduction by David Welsh, Emeritus Professor at Stellenbosch University, bringing it into the 21st century and updating it for a new generation.

We need to make it fashionable to write in our own languages: Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho reports from the launch of two Xitsonga books in Giyani

By Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho

The fragrance of new books permeated the air inside Giyani Multipurpose Hall during the recent launch of two Xitsonga books, Ntsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula and Mpimavayeni.

nullNtsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula is a poetry anthology, featuring 10 poets and edited by Moses Mtileni (left). The title can be translated as “If Only it Could Rain”.

Mpimavayeni is a novel, authored by Mtileni. Both books have been published by Nhlalala Books, a publishing initiative that aims to produce books that tell interesting and ignored stories to bolster South Africa’s reading level in African languages.

Speaking about the making of Ntsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula, Mtileni says that the poets are young writers whose paths have crossed his at different times during the past five years.

“These are writers who presented to me complete manuscripts they had attempted to have published before, in full or in parts, and whose work I fell in love with,” he says. “They write differently from much of what existed in Xitsonga poetry and from each other, in concern and in style, and I felt they needed to be heard.”

nullnullnullPoets featured in the anthology are Basani Petronella Mathye, Hitekani Ian Ndlozi (left), Thymon Rivisi, Mkhongelo Prayers Chabalala, Onassis Mathebula (middle), Enock Dlayani Shishenge (right), Shikhumbuza Shadrack Vutlharimuni Mavasa, Khanyisa Vista Chauke, Nzam Noel Mathebula and Moses Nzama Khaizen Mtileni.

Mtileni says there is hope in the fact that these young people have chosen to write, and to do so in their own language. He believes publishers should give more time to books that transcend the education market.

“It is said that the levels of reading in African languages are very low,” he says. “As a result, much of what is published is aimed at the education market and not at general readership. The material published, both on language and fiction, is tailored in design, content and packaging to meet requirements outlined in bulky guidelines issued by the Department of Basic Education.”

Mtileni says that the criteria put in place by the Education Department do not allow much space for experimentation and innovation between and within genres.

“It limits writing for enriching the language and the cultures they embody,” he points out. “It limits the infinite possibilities language, writing and literature present for cultural preservation, sustenance and growth.”

Mtileni also notes that because much of the writing material developed for education is produced within very tight deadlines, there is limited time to hunt for new talent, new voices, new publishers, new writers, and by extension new stories and experiments.

“Many publishers confine themselves to this space, because it promises guaranteed purchase of books, it guarantees a market, an audience,” he says. “And emerging publishers who do not immediately penetrate this market battle for survival, the numbers they reach are too few to generate sufficient profits.

“Then there are the libraries, under the Department of Arts and Culture, which do not procure sufficient African language titles, especially in the cities.”

The answer, Mtileni says, is to try harder to cultivate a culture of reading and writing.

“We need to have as many book clubs and writing workshops and competitions as possible,” he says. “We need to make it fashionable to read and write in our own languages, because they allow us to speak more deeply about ourselves and for ourselves and with ourselves, and in doing so, to speak better to the world.”

Mtileni says writers writing in African languages need to engage with other languages and cultures from a position of authority, and to allow for richer cross-pollination of cultures and wisdoms embodied in their writing.

“And so we must find ways of opening up processes of book selection for education and for libraries and for archivism,” he says. “Having said all these things, I must qualify that I speak solely from my own experiences as a Xitsonga writer, translator and publisher and I do not assume that these challenges I cite apply across the board.

“Through concerted collective effort, it is possible to enrich our own languages, and to be enriched by them.”

nullProud poet Basani Mathye says: “I’m honoured to be featured in Ntsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula. I am excited to be part of a group of young writers who are passionate about writing and preserving our mother tongue. We need to make reading fashionable, and especially books in our own languages.”

Mathye sees a bright future for herself as a writer. “I’m looking into writing Xitsonga children’s books and also working on a book about my family history. I hope to publish a collection of my poetry as well in the future.”

Everyone who attended the launch were offered free copies of both Ntsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula and Mpimavayeni.

The launch has opened more doors for more books to be written and published, and for more literary activities to happen in and around Limpopo.

The Violent Gestures of LifeA Traumatic Revenge

Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho is the author of A Traumatic Revenge and The Violent Gestures of Life:
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'I'm over it: African Immigrant Literature' - Siyanda Mohutsiwa explains why


Perhaps I had begun to truly believe that the importance of African literature was to connect us ordinary Africans to each other’s lives.

Open CityWe Need New NamesAmericanahThe Granta Book of the African Short StoryWater

Siyanda Mohutsiwa, a young writer and thinker from Botswana, who is rumoured to working on her first book, has written a thought-provoking and somewhat controversial article for Okay Africa in which she categorically states:

“I’m done with African Immigrant Literature.”

Mohutsiwa, who was recently longlisted for the Short Story Day Africa Prize and won second place in the 2015 Bessie Head Short Story Awards, makes a call for African stories set on the African continent.

Read the article, and let us know what you think in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter:

I’m over it: Immigrant Literature

I don’t know when it happened. It might have been somewhere in the middle of Teju Cole’s Open City, as I followed his protagonist around the streets of New York. Or maybe it was at the end of NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names, when I boarded the flight to America with its precocious star. Or perhaps it was a few weeks after finishing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, and I had finally begun to forget the stress carried by illegal African immigrants in Europe.

Whichever way it happened, it happened. And I found myself flinging my copy of The Granta Book of the African Story across the room, vowing to never read a piece of African Fiction again, or at least its “Afropolitan” variety.

Let me explain.

Mohutsiwa recently presented an inspiring TEDxTalk in Amsterdam entitled “Is Africa’s Future Online?”. She ends the talk on a powerful note:

I realised that, even though sometimes it’s very difficult to believe in Africa, Africa has no problem believing in me.

Is Africa’s future online? Yes. We are Africa’s future, and yes, we are online.

Watch the TEDxTalk, then read an article about her experience at the event:

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My TEDx speech was about hope. I didn’t mean it to be. The organizers certainly didn’t mean it to be. They’d invited me to give a speech about a hashtag (#ifafricawasabar) and possibly add a bit of color to a line-up of otherwise European intellectuals.

After my speech, I went backstage and something truly moving happened. I was met by every African person who had attended the TEDx conference that day. They hugged me tightly and told me how proud of me they were. And then one of them, a middle-aged man who I would later find out was once a refugee from Congo, told me that my speech had melted his heart and in-so-doing had lifted the anger and disbelief he had nursed about leaders like Kabila and Mobutu his whole life.


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The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is akin to Black Lives Matter - former TRC national research director

Charles Villa-Vicencio

The African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab SpringCharles Villa-Vicencio, co-editor of The African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab Spring: A Season of Rebirth?, recently addressed Georgetown University Working Group on Slavery, Memory & Reconciliation, where he shared on the experience of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The “teach-in” conference focused on a specific set of questions relating to the ongoing American debate around intolerance, slavery and reconciliation. These questions are equally relevant in the South African environment:

“How does a community go through a process, or deal with, a set of historical problems like the ones we [the US] are facing? Not just problems that are historical, but problems that have a legacy.”

Villa-Vicencio, a visiting professor in the Conflict Resolution Programme at Georgetown University, followed presentations on Georgetown’s history where these issues are concerned and an overview of Brown University’s Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice.

Speaking from a place of expertise in matters related to transitional justice and reconciliation, Villa-Vicencio presents a fascinating lecture entitled “Reflections on South Africa’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission”. From 1996 to 1998 he played a central role in the TRC, as national research director.

Here are some highlights from his speech:

We [the TRC] discovered that memory, and the sharing of memory, became a first step in a dialogue between victims and perpetrators. Now let me change that: between slaves, ans slave owners, because effectively that’s what apartheid was in South Africa.

It initiated a dialogue, a dialogue that continues and that has not transformed the nation, but has began a process of learning to live together.

In South Africa, we initiated this three-year national memory and reconciliation process called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and we soon realised that the TRC was no cure-all. It wasn’t going to solve everything. It wasn’t a fairy godmother’s wand. It wasn’t the beginning of the Kingdom of God.

But it broke the silence. It broke the silence on personal and national suffering. In that sense, it is akin to to the unfinished slavery debate in your country. And it’s akin, if I may say so, to the Black Lives Matter process that is unfolding in your country, and I would hope that in investigating slavery, you will take the Black Lives Matter process very, very seriously.

We realised we couldn’t eliminate the past, because the past is something that is always present, but we could begin to deal with it.

Maybe we should talk about conciliation, rather than reconciliation, but we’ve got to find a way to look each other in the eye and talk about this terrible, terrible thing that is now behind us. We’ve got to learn to trust. We’ve got to learn to listen. We’ve got to learn to talk. We’ve got to learn to dialogue and in the process cobble together some sort of policy that will take us forward from the past into the future.

I’m suggesting that forgiveness, a wonderful thing, is not the most practical political option that we have. I think it’s reconciliation.

Politically, we don’t have to love one another. We don’t have to embrace one another. We don’t have to forgive one another. We’ve merely got to agree to sit down, stop killing one another and collectively together forge a new future.

Villa-Vicencio offers practical steps to achieving reconciliation and explains why co-existence “is not enough”. His presentation starts at 47:24, and he responds to audience questions towards the end of the recording. Watch the video:

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'Street trading is a reality that all African cities face' - Claire Benit-Gbaffou of CUBES

Popular Politics in SA CitiesGreg Nicolson of the Daily Maverick interviewed Claire Benit-Gbaffou recently about the informal street trading charter.

The Charter For a Street-Trading Friendly African City was launched by the Save the Hawkers campaign at the Africities Summit at the end of November.

Benit-Gbaffou is a professor in the Wits’ Centre for Urbanism and Built Environment Studies (CUBES) and the author of Popular Politics in SA Cities: Unpacking Community Participation, published recently by HSRC Press.

In 2013, Johannesburg initiated Operation Clean Sweep, during which police evicted 7 000 street traders. It was this action that prompted Save the Hawkers to launch the informal street trading charter.

“Street trading is a reality that all African cities face, but very few take seriously,” Benit-Gbaffou says.

Read the interview:

Why was it necessary to draft such a charter?

The main objective of the charter is to demonstrate, through quite practical and simple steps (based on international ‘best practices’ as well as lessons from Johannesburg street traders practices and experiences in particular), that inclusive street trading management is actually possible. Many officials tend to dismiss any attempt to accommodate and integrate street trading in inner-cities on the basis that street trading management is ‘intractable’. That was the motivation behind Operation Clean Sweep – ‘it is unmanageable’, let us ‘clean sweep’ – but also behind policies conducted since the late 1990s: ‘let us clean the streets and put all traders into markets’, which we know from global experience cannot work for all traders. So, the charter is bringing together what we could learn from mistakes, from street traders’ own initiatives, from other municipalities’ initiatives, on what are concrete steps that would make street trading management possible, inclusive, sustainable.

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