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Gift of the Givers in Mali: Seeking to Arrange the Safe Release of Stephen Malcolm McGown

Imtiaz Sooliman and the Gift of the GiversGift of the Givers, the international aid organisation that is the subject of Imtiaz Sooliman and the Gift of the Givers: A Mercy to All by Shafiq Morton, is currently actively seeking an opportunity to negotiate for the release of Stephen Malcolm McGown.

McGown is a South African who has been held hostage in Mali for more than three years along with Johan Gustafson, who is from Sweden. Sooliman, at the request of MacGown’s father, began looking into negotiations for the two men’s safe release last year.

Naledi Shange reported on the efforts for News24:

Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman said they had sent a negotiator to Mali where the two men have been held captive, reportedly by al-Qaeda, since November 2011.

“We have our man there and we are trying to let the captors know that we have sent someone they can trust, someone who is neutral and honest, who is from [their] area,” said Sooliman.

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SL Grey Discuss the Racial Tension and Claustrophobia in Their New Novel, Under Ground

Under GroundThe Ginger Nuts of Horror website, run by Jim Mcleod, recently did an interview with Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg, aka SL Grey, about their new novel, Under Ground.

The thriller will be released in August by Pan Macmillan, and tells the story of The Sanctum, a luxury self-sustaining underground survival facility where a group of people hide away when a global virus outbreak brings on the apocalypse.

In the interview, Lotz and Greenberg talk about their collaborative pen name and the meaning behind the surname “Grey”. They talk about the process of working together, and shares their views on the booming South African genre scene.

Turning the conversation to Under Ground, the authors discuss the racial tension and claustrophobic atmosphere prevalent throughout the book. “Claustrophobia was essential to this novel,” Greenberg says.

Read the article:

I particularly liked the scene where their hatred for another family is based the assumption that they come from China, which is the source of the deadly plague that is sweeping the world. Was this a move designed to highlight the ignorance displayed by people of hate?

L: I don’t think deliberately. It was just part of the set-up and a fairly believable reaction to that. Maybe we’re so surrounded by racism that racist characters’ views are pretty easy to channel.

S: That’s not to say we’re racist (!) just that hate-speech is becoming ubiquitous: an obvious example is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to read anything on the internet without at least one arsehole weighing in with a racist or sexist comment intended to hurt or shut someone up.

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How Antjie Krog Uses Literary Tropes to Speak Poetry to Power - Anthea Garman

Antjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public SphereAnthea Garman’s recently released book, Antjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public Sphere: Speaking Poetry to Power, explores the significant role that Antjie Krog has played in the post-apartheid public sphere.

The associate professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University obtained her PhD on “Antjie Krog: Self and Society, the Making and Mediation of a Public Intellectual in South Africa” from Wits University in 2009. She did research on Krog’s currency as a writer of testimony, witness and public intellectual.

Garman has shared an essay entitled “Antjie Krog, the ‘African’, Afrikaans, South African Citizen and Intellectual” on her page. The article can be found in African Intellectuals and Decolonization, a collection of essays edited by Nicholas M Creary.

Read the article, in which Garman explains how Krog uses her stance as a literary figure to address social ills:

The study of Krog’s position as a public figure in post-apartheid South Africa shows very clearly that she does not enter the public domain as a Saidian-type intellectual “speaking truth to power” or as an African drawing on rational-critical debate to make an argument, or even from the base of national democratic struggle speaking on behalf of the majority. Krog’s style of operation is to use the literary and its formulations of public address, and the licence literary styles and devices provide, and to bend this to her particular purposes. She continues the TRC work she did as a journalist through her poetry, curations, collections, translations and other writings. She ventures into the performance of Saidian public intellectualism only occasionally via the opinion and comment pages in newspapers. Unlike commentators like Xolela Mangcu, who boldly self-describes as a “public intellectual” and an “African”, she never does so. Her firm location in the literary – coupled to her reach way beyond the literary field – gives Krog the freedom to continue to use literary tropes and techniques to perform in public the responsibilities of new South African citizenship in relation to the majority – still functionally dispossessed. She uses the autobiographic and the personal to deftly craft a public persona for herself which shows itself to be responsive to national concerns of damage and discrimination, access to voice and the crafting of a democracy that gives rights and benefits to the majority of South Africans.

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Alex van Tonder Shares the Images and Ideas that Inspired Her Online Frankenstein in This One Time

This One TimeThis One Time is a novel about a man who creates a fake persona that becomes a monster, spawning monstrous consequences.

Author Alex van Tonder has shared some of the images and thoughts that inspired and informed her novel and its central character, Jacob Lynch.

Stephen King, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and a real-life psychopath socialite who lived in the 1800s feature in her archive. So do a number of reality TV sensations and social media fiends. Van Tonder writes: “Victor Frankenstein had to physically make a monster to make a monster, but Jacob just makes up a fake persona on the internet.”

Read the blog post:

While researching and gathering inspiration for the This One Time I collected images, ideas, scenes and quotes that evoked feelings or emotions I felt resonated with the characters, their motivations, the plot and the setting. Jacob – chained to a bed and faced with himself, with no phone or internet to distract him from himself – has to face some hard truths. Firstly, he’s been living a double life, and he’s made some mistakes. He’s got caught up in this revenge-porn and blogging and half-truths and half-naked photos and full frontal photos and sex tapes and smile-for-the-camera-with-a-product-in-your-hand and another day another party another girl in another bathroom pass the cocaine, do it all over again tomorrow, Instagram or it didn’t happen, don’t Add me on Facebook, I’ll add you, break all the rules and give no fucks lifestyle.

Except he does give a fuck. A lot of fucks. Everything he does he does for the approval of an audience – his blog following, his blog sponsors, his advertising agency, his agent, his publishers. He needs their approval, their support because that is his power. So he courts their likes, their budgets, their shares, their Tweets, their regrams. He serves them what they want: what will get clicks, likes, shares. It’s a sordid buffet. Revenge porn. Frat jokes. Party pictures. How To Be A Professional Dick manuals. Dan Bilzerian-esque selfies with bitches and beer, tits & guns. Sordid Tucker Max-style tales of sex, drugs and bastardry. The likes come in as his integrity seeps out. He sells his soul for money and fame, and in the process becomes an anti-hero, living the good life in a positively Crowlian Do-What-Thou-Wilt kind of way, a poster boy for the idea that ‘Evil pays better’.

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"Write and Rewrite Until the Language Begins to Hum" - Elaine Proctor on Her Writing Process

The Savage HourElaine Proctor, whose most recent novel The Savage Hour was shortlisted for this year’s Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, chatted to The Culture Trip recently about writing, inspiration, and tackling difficult subjects.

The Savage Hour is set in South Africa, where an elderly doctor is found drowned in the dam on her home farm. Her granddaughter and detective friend begin to question the cause of death, and cracks appear in the close-knit community.

Proctor says that although the novel is “not autobiographical in any literal sense”, she does have similar personal experiences, meaning that the writing “required a process of separation from the specifics of my own story”.

She also spoke a bit about her writing process:

Like all writers I work long and hard. The beginning phase of invention and experiment requires enormous discipline because it involves the conjuring of new material and the discovery of the voice of the book. I need to know the basic shape of my intention before I dive into the prose, maybe this is a function of my history as a film writer? As the work matures I work long hours more easily, I write and rewrite until the language begins to hum. When I have a complete draft I share it with my publisher and editor, I get their responses and then do another few drafts, each time checking in with them for their responses. I rely deeply on the conversation I have with them both.

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See Why Sam Linsell is One of Eat Out’s 5 Favourite Local Foodies on Instagram

SweetEat Out recently did a round up of their five favourite local foodies to follow on Instagram and included Sam Linsell – Cape town-based food stylist and author of the recently published cookbook Sweet – on their list. They also asked each of the foodies to share their top tip “to pimp your feed” and draw in the likes.

Linsell, whose blog Drizzle and Dip is a must-visit for food lovers, says that it is important to take the composition of the image into account before taking the photograph. “If you are shooting food and you publish in a square format, make sure your image looks square,” she told Eat Out.

Have a look at her Instagram account and give her a follow:


Also included on Eat Out‘s top five list are foodies Dianne Bibby, Nikki Albertyn and Siba Mtongana and Cook From The Heart author Alida Ryder.

Read the article:

Photographing food – whether your own creations or eggs Benedict from a favourite brekkie spot – has become somewhat of a ritual among foodie igers (also known as Instagrammers). We round up some of our favourite foodies on the Gram who inspire serious envy with each post.

Alida Ryder

When it comes to Alida Ryder, two words spring to mind: Simply Delicious. This is the apt name of her award-winning blog with posts that will, quite literally, get you drooling. As a photographer and food blogger, Alida loves nothing more than to share her images and receive instant feedback on Instagram, she says. Her favourite restaurants include Ginger and Fig, Five Hundred and Restaurant Mosaic.

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