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Jacket Notes: Brett Archibald tells the story behind his book Alone - lost at sea and forced to swim for over 28 hours

nullAloneAlone: The Search For Brett Archibald
Brett Archibald (Jacana Media)

On the day of my rescue, where I spent close to seven hours with the Aussie blokes aboard the Barrenjoey, I scribbled down everything I could remember of being lost at sea and forced to swim for over 28 hours in the Indian Ocean. I was then re-united with my friends on the Naga Laut, and over the next 10 days we spent hours sharing the stories and recounting our feelings, emotions and thoughts of my time being lost in the ocean.

I soon realised that there were a number of uncanny comparisons between our trip and those of the lads on the Barrenjoey. We were nine mates on a surf trip to celebrate a 50th birthday; they were too. Our trip had been dogged by a number of mishaps; theirs had too. It seemed to be a tale that was meant to be told. My main objective was always to document the details for my young children, as I knew that the enormity of what had happened to all of us was beyond their comprehension at the time. I wanted the full story to be available for them to read as they grew up.

Fortuitously, I had found a wonderful author with whom I felt an immediate connection, and who agreed to write the story. Over a year I spent almost every morning at her house exploring the nuances and depths of my memories and arranging for her to conduct interviews with the people involved.

The process itself was a form of extended therapy for me. Reliving my experiences in the finest detail was a deeply moving process, though at the time mostly subjective. It was only on reading the full manuscript some 12 months later that the fuller picture unfolded for me and I came to grasp the magnitude of what had transpired during my time in the ocean.

The inexplicable unity of people from around the world who had prayed for me or sent wishes via the “Searching for Brett Archibald” Facebook page blew me away. Over the past three years, I have gone on to learn these amazing stories from people all over the world, many of whom I had never previously met, who played some role in this crazy drama.

They all affect me and contribute to my comprehension of my experience. There is simply no way that a person can spend 28-and-a-half hours thinking he is going to die, and then surviving by the slimmest of margins, without gaining a completely new perspective on life. I get to contemplate this thought every day.

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PE Book Launch: I'm the Girl Who Was Raped by Michelle Hattingh

I'm the Girl Who Was RapedMichelle HattinghFogarty’s and Modjaji Books invite you to the Port Elizabeth launch of I’m the Girl Who Was Raped, a memoir by Michelle Hattingh. The author comes from Port Elizabeth, so she is back in her home town talking about her incredibly courageous book.

“Compelling, clear and beautiful writing on such a necessary topic. She shatters rape myths on every page.” Jen Thorpe, gender activist and author of The Peculiars.

“Many people think middle class women are magically immune to rape or that if they are raped their easy access to the resources they need will be everything they need to recover completely. A book that discusses the cross cutting nature of the pain all women must feel when a man rapes them can only be welcomed in a time when communities across South Africa struggle with high rape rates.” Kathleen Dey of Rape Crisis

More about the book:
That morning, Michelle presented her Psychology honours thesis on men’s perceptions of rape. She started her presentation like this, “A woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read …” On that same evening, she goes to a party to celebrate attaining her degree. She and a friend go to the beach; the friend has something she wants to discuss. They are both robbed, assaulted and raped. Within minutes of getting help, Michelle realises she’ll never be herself again. She’s now “the girl who was raped.”

This book is Michelle’s fight to be herself again. Of the taint she feels, despite the support and resources at her disposal as the loved child of a successful middle-class family. Of the fall-out to friendships, job, identity. It’s Michelle’s brave way of standing up for the women in South Africa who are raped every day.

About the author:

Michelle Hattingh was born in South Africa in 1988. She attended school in Port Elizabeth and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Stellenbosch University. She went on to do her Honours in Psychology at Cape Town University and now lives in Cape Town. Michelle works as senior online content producer at Marie Claire SA. Her work has been published in Elle SA, Marie Claire SA and Mail & Guardian. I’m the Girl Who Was Raped is her first book.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 12 May 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: GFI Gallery, 30 Park Drive, Central, Port Elizabeth
  • Guest Speaker: Emily Buchanan
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine and snacks
  • RSVP: Fogarty’s,, 041 368 1425

I'm the Girl Who Was Raped
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Wits paleoanthropologist Lee Berger among TIME's 100 most influential people in world

lee berger homo naledi time 100Field Guide to the Cradle of Human KindWits University paleoanthropologist Professor Lee Berger‚ renowned for his discovery of Homo naledi and Australopithecus sediba‚ among other achievements‚ appears on TIME magazine’s 2016 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

The list‚ now in its 13th year‚ recognises the activism‚ innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.

“The TIME 100 is a list of the world’s most influential men and women‚ not its most powerful‚ though those are not mutually exclusive terms. While power is certain‚ influence is subtle. As much as this exercise chronicles the achievements of the past year‚ we also focus on figures whose influence is likely to grow‚ so we can look around the corner to see what is coming‚” editor Nancy Gibbs says.

Berger is an award-winning palaeoanthropologist‚ researcher‚ explorer‚ author and speaker from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at Wits University in Johannesburg.

His explorations into human origins in Africa over the past two-and-a-half decades have resulted in many new and notable discoveries‚ including the most complete early hominin fossils found so far‚ which belong to a new species of early human ancestor‚ Australopithecus sediba and‚ in 2013‚ the richest early hominin site yet found on the continent of Africa and a new species of human relative‚ Homo naledi‚ announced in 2015.

“It is an honour to be included in the TIME 100 and a tribute to the world-class and influential science being produced on the African continent by African scientists and African institutions such as Wits University.

“This recognition also reflects on the hard work of my colleagues‚ who are all critical to both the discoveries being made‚ as well as the interpretations put forward in the scientific literature‚” Berger said.

Source: TMG Digital

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Image: Wits

Give Allister and Stick a sporting chance

THE appointment of Allister Coetzee and Mzwandile Stick to the Springbok team represents an opportunity to align rugby with contemporary SA. Let’s not blow it.

Both bring considerable social and political capital. Each has proved himself to be a game-changer. At Western Province, Coetzee showed that you could field a team with eight or nine players of colour and still be the best in the country. In his eight years at the helm, he led the Stormers to the top of the South African conference three times, and won the Currie Cup twice.

Almost half the players in Stick’s Under-19 team, which went on to win the Under-19 Currie Cup, were black, most of them from the Eastern Cape.

Neither came from a culture that privileged whiteness, and they gave the lie to the prevailing wisdom in parts of South African rugby: that black players weaken a team and are the tax you pay to appease the politicians.

Stick grew up in a Port Elizabeth township with a mother who frequently struggled to put food on the table. He attended the local township school, and yet still managed to make it to the top, captaining the Sevens team that won the World Series title in 2008-09.

Coetzee grew up in Grahamstown. He has a vivid memory of watching white boys at nearby Kingswood College play rugby with the best equipment, while he had to walk to the much poorer coloured school down the road. His father died while he was very young and his mother struggled to provide for him and his three siblings.



ALTHOUGH a talented and ambitious scrumhalf, his race precluded him from playing for SA.

Stick and Coetzee reflect the tough life experiences common to the majority of South Africans, and their elevation to the upper echelons of the game must make it seem much more accessible than it has in the past.

Neither has a chip on the shoulder, or sees himself as a victim. Their victory against the odds they were born into shows character and emotional resilience.

These qualities came in handy when dealing with their respective managements.

Stick answered to the deeply dysfunctional Eastern Province Rugby Union, and Coetzee endured eight years of frequently erratic and interfering management under the Western Province Rugby Union.

But the pressures on the Springbok coach, in particular, are way more intense and, without proper support, Coetzee will struggle.

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) has done well to appoint Coetzee and Stick. But it now needs to prove that this is not window-dressing. It needs to give their new Bok coach all the resources he needs to succeed. Otherwise, his appointment will be seen to be a cynical one, setting him up to fail.

Similar privileges to those accorded to Heyneke Meyer would be a good start.

Saru forked out substantial sums at the start of Meyer’s tenure to enable him to bring his own management team from the Bulls. He was then allowed to add more coaches, such as breakdown specialist, Richie Gray.

As yet, Coetzee does not appear to be similarly indulged. There is no evidence that he has picked any members of the team announced on Tuesday.

Given that he has already been disadvantaged by being appointed three-and-a-half months late, Saru needs to do all it can to help him, otherwise it risks being accused of not giving the same opportunities to a black coach as it gave to a white, Afrikaans one.

The corporate world should come to the party: any new sponsorship deals should be predicated on better governance, which would include equal opportunity for all employees, regardless of colour.

There has been talk of the Super Rugby coaches forming a Bok “selection committee”. This must be rapidly scotched. Meyer fought for — and won — the right to have ultimate say over selection. Rightly, he argued that if he were to be held responsible for winning every game, he needed to be able to pick his team.

The Super Rugby franchises need to play their part and put petty provincial rivalry aside.

The initiative introduced in Meyer’s term of systematically resting key Springbok players during Super Rugby must be continued.

Super Rugby coaches should also give more players of colour some proper game time to increase the pool available to Coetzee.

Fans need to give the new coaching team the benefit of the doubt. A bit of generosity of spirit would go a long way. Fans, particularly those who flock to Ellis Park for the iconic All Black derbies, should learn the first verses of the national anthem so that we are no longer subjected to the dramatic amplification of sound when English and Afrikaans verses are sung. It’s not that difficult. Make an effort.



DESPITE the autumn chill in the air, there is a sense of spring-time, of new beginnings, about rugby. Unlike Meyer, who looked to seasoned troops right from the start of his campaign, Coetzee will have to start afresh. Most of last year’s team have either retired, are approaching retirement, or are playing abroad.

This should not be a problem for Coetzee, who has proved that he is happy to trust youngsters.

Stick is something of a specialist in turning rookies into stars, given his track record with the Eastern Province Under-19s.

Transformation, which is viewed as a burden by Meyer, will come naturally to Coetzee.

At the Stormers, Coetzee displayed the ability effortlessly to forge racially and culturally diverse teams. Boys of colour were given every opportunity, but so were white players. Schalk Burger, Jean de Villiers, Eben Etzebeth flourished in his time, as did Siya Kolisi, Scarra Ntubeni, and Nizaam Carr.

There is a good chance that, with Coetzee and Stick at the helm, the sense of marginalisation that has plagued black Springboks will be a thing of the past. Under Meyer, Afrikaans was used for team talks, which was alienating for black players. The new Bok set-up hopefully will better reflect our diversity of languages.

Stick’s Under-19s also brought a vibrant culture from their Eastern Cape schools — with traditional isiXhosa war and struggle songs borrowed from their elders.

Some infusion of this into Bok culture could only enrich it.

• McGregor is author of Springbok Factory: What it Takes to be a Bok, and a visiting researcher at the Institute for the Humanities in Africa at the University of Cape Town.

*This column first appeared in Business Day


'My mother died seven times before she gave birth to me': Mohale Mashigo's debut novel The Yearning - out now

The YearningPresenting The Yearning, the debut novel from Mohale Mashigo:

Yearning (noun): A feeling of intense longing for something.

How long does it take for scars to heal? How long does it take for a scarred memory to fester and rise to the surface? For Marubini, the question is whether scars ever heal when you forget they are there to begin with.

Marubini is a young woman who has an enviable life in Cape Town, working at a wine farm and spending idyllic days with her friends … until her past starts spilling into her present.

Something dark has been lurking in the shadows of Marubini’s life from as far back as she can remember. It’s only a matter of time before it reaches out and grabs at her.

The Yearning is a memorable exploration of the ripple effects of the past, of personal strength and courage, and of the shadowy intersections of traditional and modern worlds.

A bewitching addition to the current South African literary boom. Mohale Mashigo tells her story with charming lucidity, disarming characterisation, subversive wisdom and subtle humour.

- Zakes Mda

About the author

Mohale Mashigo was born in Mapetla, Soweto, in 1983. As well as being the award-winning singer/songwriter Black Porcelain, Mashigo is a multi-disciplinary storyteller who loves exploring the unknown. Her interests span the life of legendary story women such as Brenda Fassie, and the rich worlds created by authors such as Toni Morrison. The Yearning is Mashigo’s debut novel.

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Satanism and family murder – bizarre responses to fear of change

The End of WhitenessNew from Jacana Media, The End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in South Africa by Nicky Falkof:

The End of Whiteness aims to reveal the pathological, paranoid and bizarre consequences that the looming end of apartheid had on white culture in South Africa, and overall to show that whiteness is a deeply problematic category that needs to be deconstructed and thoughtfully considered.

This book uses contemporary media material to investigate two symptoms of this late apartheid cultural hysteria that appeared throughout the contemporary media and in popular literature during the 1980s and 1990s, showing their relation to white anxieties about social change, the potential loss of privilege and the destabilisation of the country that were imagined to be an inevitable consequence of majority rule.

The “Satanic panic” revolved around the apparent threat posed by a cult of white Satanists that was never proven to exist but was nonetheless repeatedly accused of conspiracy, murder, rape, drug-dealing, cannibalism and bestiality, and blamed for the imminent destruction of white Christian civilisation in South Africa.

During the same period an unusually high number of domestic murder-suicides occurred, with parents killing themselves and their children or other family members by gunshot, fire, poison, gas, even crossbows and drownings. This so-called epidemic of family murder was treated by police, press and social scientists as a plague that specifically affected white Afrikaans families. These double monsters, both fantastic and real, helped to disembowel the clarities of whiteness even as they were born out of threats to it. Deep within its self-regarding modernity and renegotiation of identity, contemporary white South Africa still wears those scars of cultural pathology.

About the author

Nicky Falkof was born and raised in the Johannesburg suburbs during the last years of apartheid. She holds an MA in Critical Theory from the University of Sussex and a PhD from the London Consortium. She is currently Senior Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

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