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Helen Zille's autobiography Not Without A Fight - out soon

Not Without A FightHelen Zille’s long-awaited autobiography is one of the most fascinating political stories of our time:

Zille takes the reader back to her humble family origins, her struggle with anorexia as a young woman, her early career as a journalist for the Rand Daily Mail, and her involvement with the End Conscription Campaign and the Black Sash. She documents her early days in the Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance, at a time when the party was locked in a no-holds-barred factional conflict. And she chronicles the intense political battles to become mayor of Cape Town, leader of the DA and premier of the Western Cape, in the face of dirty tricks from the ANC and infighting within her own party.

This is a story about political intrigue and treachery, floor-crossing and unlikely coalitions, phone tapping and intimidation, false criminal charges and judicial commissions. It documents Zille’s courageous fight against corruption and state capture and her efforts to realign politics and entrench accountability. And it describes a mother’s battle to raise children in the pressured world of South African politics.

This book is as frank, honest and unflinching as Helen Zille herself, and will appeal to anyone interested in the story of South African politics over the past 50 years.

Pre-order your copy now:

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Hitler, Verwoerd, Mandela And Me: A Memoir of Sorts - the new book by Marianne Thamm

Hitler, Verwoerd, Mandela And MeTafelberg is proud to present Hitler, Verwoerd, Mandela And Me: A Memoir of Sorts, the new book by Marianne Thamm:

In her first openly personal book, Marianne Thamm delves deeply into her own unconventional life story.

Her German father fought for Hitler and designed munitions for Verwoerd. He married her Portuguese mother in England, where she was working as a cleaner. Thamm, an outspoken gay feminist and political activist, grew up tough amid Afrikaans neighbours in Pretoria’s less salubrious suburbs. Today she is a leading South African journalist and the proud mother of two teenagers …

Thamm’s story is the story of a father and a daughter, of the ghosts of history, of family and forgiveness. But it is also the story of the last century, of the defeat of fascism and bigotry and a new era ushered in by Nelson Mandela. Sad at times, deeply moving and, like Thamm, hugely entertaining, this genre-defying book has created a buzz even before publication. It will attract massive attention.

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Marianne Thamm is a top-selling author, comedian and commentator-at-large. She has written several successful books, including the recently filmed I Have Life, Alison Botha’s story. Thamm’s following is huge, and she as a presence across media including online and television. She is known in particular for her for her in-depth, off-beat journalism. She is assistant editor at The Daily Maverick.

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Ronnie Kasrils's Alan Paton Award-winning book The Unlikely Secret Agent published in French

nullThe Unlikely Secret Agent

Jacana Media is delighted to announce that The Unlikely Secret Agent by Ronnie Kasrils, recipient of the 2011 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, has just been published in French by Mardaga Publishing.

On hearing the news of the French edition, author Ronnie Kasrils had this to say: “I am particularly delighted that this book about an unsung heroine of South Africa’s national liberation struggle is appearing as a French-language publication.

“The anti-fascist resistance in Europe during World War Two has resonances in this book about a daring young woman who was prepared to sacrifice her freedom to a just cause. I believe French-speaking people of all ages will be inspired by this Scots-born woman who grew up in South Africa and became the first female operative in the clandestine armed struggle under Nelson Mandela’s command.”

Written after the death of his wife in 2009, The Unlikely Secret Agent tells the story of Eleanor Kasrils, one of the few white South African women to engage in armed struggle against the apartheid regime. A story written with humility and a pride that the reader can only share.

Ronnie’s response to Eleanor’s sudden death last year at home in South Africa was to write this extraordinary book at breakneck speed. It is a love story, a historical document of great importance, and a terrific tale of a clandestine success.

- Journalist and writer Victoria Brittain

A poignant and beautiful book.

- James McAuley, Washington Post

This “little” book about an “ordinary” woman with the heart of a lioness confirms the truth that our freedom was not free. From its pages rings out another truth that among the outstanding heroines and heroes of the South African struggle were those who did not set out to perform heroic deeds. These are the heroic combatants for freedom like the Unlikely Secret Agent, Eleanor Kasrils, the subject of this engrossing “little book”, who did the equally “little” things without which victory over the apartheid regime would have been impossible.

- Former President of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Mbeki

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'I did not intend the book to be my resignation letter' - Andrew Brown on Good Cop, Bad Cop: Confessions of a Reluctant Policeman

Reservist Andrew Brown tells William Saunderson-Meyer why his hopes for a noble new SA police service hang in tatters

‘I did not intend the book to be my resignation letter’ – Andrew Brown on Good Cop, Bad Cop: Confessions of a Reluctant Policeman

Good Cop, Bad CopGood Cop, Bad Cop: Confessions of a Reluctant Policeman
Andrew Brown (Zebra Press)

After many years at the sharp end of policing, the cop who first made his debut in Street Blues: The Experiences of a Reluctant Policeman returns in a new collection of stories. The reluctant copper is Andrew Brown, an advocate, highly regarded author and long-serving police reservist. Good Cop, Bad Cop marks Brown’s passage from being a committed ANC activist to his present-day disillusionment, alienation and concern.

Street Blues was written, says Brown, in a kind of literary time-out, after he had won the Sunday Times fiction award for his novel Coldsleep Lullaby. “I felt completely intimidated by winning the prize and it had directly the opposite effect to what a prize is supposed to achieve, in that I felt intimidated and not sure whether I would be able to write fiction again.

“Now I’ve come back to the autobiographical short story, not simply to try to show what it’s like being a policeman, but more as a confessional … to express my concern and anguish at where policing is going in South Africa.”

The watershed moment for Brown was Marikana in 2012. “[It] brought home to me that the ANC, my party, the movement for which I took risks as a young activist in the apartheid years, is failing to deliver.

“I’m not here to bash anyone. I accept that Good Cop, Bad Cop might spell the end of my work as a reservist if it causes unhappiness at some high managerial level. But it is not my intention that the book should be my resignation letter.”

Whether the career of Sersant Brown of Mowbray police station can survive the political fallout remains to be seen. Managerial drones, the political appointees that he mocks so amusingly in the book, are generally not of a forgiving nature.

They will hate, too, one of the themes that links Brown’s vignettes – that the present-day police service is betraying not only its constitutional duties but also a unique burden, the promise to be different to the police of the apartheid state.

“The police force of the 1980s was all about quelling justifiable community protest. Some 20 years into democracy, not that much has changed.

“Mostly the protests are justifiable. It is not as if ordinary South Africans like throwing stones and burning tyres. They feel they have no other option. And in response, our policing is stepping backwards to the 1980s, while at the same time stepping forwards to another Marikana.

“Policing should be about dealing with the occasional aberrant individual, it should not be about dealing with the consequences of the failure of the state to provide constitutionally mandated services.”

Throughout the book, Brown draws a clear distinction between cops on the street and political appointees in the upper ranks. “Ordinary cops, by and large, are honest, trustworthy people. Every day they put their lives on the line for your or my flatscreen TV but you can be damn sure they don’t have flatscreens in their own working-class homes.”

Follow William Saunderson-Meyer on Twitter @TheJaundicedEye

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The books that built me, by Nadia Hashimi

Published in the Sunday Times


A House Without WindowsA House Without Windows
Nadia Hashimi (William Morrow)

The pages I’ve consumed since I first started to read, through today, have become essential to me, building and changing and rearranging all the parts of me at different times in my life.


As a girl I read His Majesty, Queen Hatshepsut (Dorothy Sharp Carter), the story of an Egyptian queen who names herself pharaoh. She presided over upper and lower Egypt and dismantled patriarchy for a time. Women could be leaders. Women had led. My young spine straightened and I set my sights a few degrees higher.


As a teen I read Beloved (Toni Morrison) and learned that the cry of the hurt was sometimes not much more than a whisper. My ears strained to listen, then to hear and grow into organs of compassion.


To Kill a Mockingbird
As an adult I read To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) and learned that injustice wasn’t nearly as tragic as inaction. Atticus Finch stood up so that his children would live in a more just world. I grew fingers that would curl with the healthy tension of outrage.


Zorba the Greek
As a sleep-deprived student I read Zorba the Greek (Nikos Kazantzakis). Zorba pulled his bookish friend into nights of debauchery. My legs twitched with a promise never to shy from celebration.


The House of God
As a fresh-faced doctor I read the witty and satirical The House of God (Samuel Shem). Medicine could break down the healer. It could make her weary and jaded and cynical unless she made a conscious effort to stay human first and foremost.


Love in the Time of Cholera
As a woman I read Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel García Márquez). How beautiful and sad was the devotion of Florentino Ariza for Fermina Daza! Was it possible to pine so steadfastly for one unattainable person? Love, I learned, could be loud or quiet, quick or slow. My heart grew stronger, wiser.


The Poisonwood Bible
As a citizen I read The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver), a story about Nathan Price’s mission to save the soul of the Belgian Congo. His good intentions are met with bewilderment. No one wants to be baptised in the river thick with crocodiles. My eyes sharpened.


As a mother I read Bossypants. Tina Fey’s letter to her daughter is hilarious and insightful. How empowering and important it is to chuckle at ourselves, to see humour even when we’re stricken with fear about the world our children will venture into!


The books I’ve written have built me, too. I’ve infused them with the stories of my family: the uncle who hiked across mountains to escape into Iran, the grandmother who gave her children the motherly love she never felt. Their legacies are the bones that hold me up.

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'The Zulu part of me was taken' - Nomavenda Mathiane tells her grandmother's story, beginning as a child during the Anglo-Zulu War

nomavenda mathiane


Eyes in the Night

In Eyes in the Night, respected journalist and author Nomavenda Mathiane tells the story of her grandmother, who was a child during the Anglo-Zulu War.

Mathiane is at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town, where she shared a panel with Daniel Browde, author of The Relatively Public Life Of Jules Browde, and Marianne Thamm, whose memoir Hitler, Verwoerd, Mandela and Me was recently released.

Mathiane explained how she “stumbled” into her grandmother’s story.

“My mother died when I was about 66 years old,” she said, “and after her funeral we were seated at the table with my brothers and sisters, and casually I turned to my older sister, and I said ‘Mum never used to tell us about her mother, why is it so?’ And frankly I didn’t think she was going to answer me, but lo and behold she said, ‘It’s because her mother’s story was too sad.’”

Mathiane says she remembers her grandmother as an imposing and capable presence, but her early years were far more precarious.

“I knew gogo as this big woman who could make cheese, could make butter, could make soap. All the things we could not afford, because my parents were officers in the Salvation Army, so there wasn’t much money around.

“But my sister told me that gogo was 10 during the Anglo-Zulu War. She was hiding in the caves with her mother and her little sister. Her father, who was the chief inDuna of King Cetshwayo, was killed during the war, and when they went back their land had been taken, their homes had been destroyed, she doesn’t have a father, her mother doesn’t have a husband. Then the Zulu culture kicks in. The brother must marry her mother. She says, no ways. They make her uncomfortable, and they flee the homestead.”

There began an extraordinary story, and Mathiane says she felt shocked that she had never heard it before.

“My sister was telling me this, and I couldn’t take it. My mother had died without telling us these stories. When you look at how her mother suffered, you realise that the story was too painful. But more than that, we were growing up in the 70s and the Struggle was gaining momentum. Between themselves my father and my mother decided that they mustn’t tell us the story, because because we would get so angry that we would walk straight into the liberation movements. But we ended up getting involved anyway; you couldn’t live in the township and not get involved.”

Mathiane says at times while writing the book she felt angry that a part of her culture and history had been denied her.

“The story of my grandmother has been a journey for me. I grew up in the townships, and I knew very little about Zulu ways. I’d never been to Zululand except on the occasional visit. Even Zulu language, I knew Zulu as a spoken language, but in a language there are idioms and expressions that I wasn’t familiar with. Of course I had heard of the Battle of Isandlwana, but I never knew about the warriors, the generals, what actually happened.

“The sad part is that our parents didn’t talk to us about these things. So the book took me to various areas. Sometimes I would get so angry that I was denied, I was impoverished by being raised in the township. Because there’s a part of me that was cut off, that I didn’t know about. It was just a Christian upbringing, period. And yet there was the other side of me, the African in me, that was never discussed. None of the Zulu rituals were performed. We were Christian girls. The Zulu part of me was taken.”

Mathiane says she hopes her book helps to “inculcate a sense of questioning”.

“Young children, both black and white, must question their parents, their grandparents: where do we come from? You cannot know where you are going, if you don’t know where you come from. It’s time that we told our own narratives. This is the first book of the victims of the Ango-Zulu War. Nobody has ever written about what ordinary Zulu people went through. I would implore you to talk to your children.”

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