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RIP Margaret Roberts (1937 - 2017)


Herb and plant specialist Margaret Roberts passed away on Monday the fourth of March.

Margaret was synonymous with herbs, plant, organic gardening, natural health, remedies, and well-being. She authored numerous publications on plants and gardening; her passion and knowledge of all things natural reflected in each.

Margaret will be remembered for the rich and valuable contribution she made to South Africa’s book industry and readers who shared her love of natural products.

100 New Herbs

Book details

Jacket Notes: Christa Kuljian talks about her latest book Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins

Published in the Sunday Times

Darwin's Hunch•Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race, and the Search for Human Origins
Christa Kuljian (Jacana)

When I studied the history of science at university in the ’80s, I learned that science is often shaped by the context of the time. So when I began research for Darwin’s Hunch, I was curious to find out how the changing times had shaped the search for human origins. For over a century, scientists rejected Darwin’s theory that humans evolved in Africa, but today it is widely accepted.

One of the fascinating things I found was that anthropologist Raymond Dart has a lot in his papers that he did not share with the world. Many of his scientific practices were shaped by colonial thinking. Dart collected human skeletons in an effort to understand what he called “race typology”, which he believed held clues to evolution.

Paging through his documents, I learned the disturbing story of how one of those skeletons came into his collection, a story that remained hidden in the archives for 75 years, and which showed how scientific methods at the time treated human beings as specimens.

Phillip Tobias was Dart’s successor as the head of the department of anatomy at Wits Medical School so it was interesting to learn more about his relationship with Dart. I delved into some of Tobias’s papers as well, and it was surprising to see how his thinking on race and human evolution shifted from his youth in the 1940s through to his death in 2012. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, it was one of Tobias’s colleagues, Hertha de Villiers, who helped to shift scientific thinking away from Dart’s race typology. It was fascinating to learn about this accomplished scientist and her work.

Another of Dart’s theories was that humans are naturally violent. He based this idea on the fact that ancient human ancestors were carnivores and he believed that they used certain bones as weapons to kill their prey. This idea was so popular in the 1960s that it spread to millions of people via Robert Ardrey’s book African Genesis and the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Dart’s research inspired another young scientist, Bob Brain, based at the Transvaal Museum. Brain concluded that human ancestors did not choose certain bones as weapons, but that those bones remained in the fossil record because they could not be easily chewed.

By the late ’80s and ’90s, genetics had begun to play a big role in understanding human origins. Research with mitochondrial DNA led to the finding that all living humans had shared a common ancestor in Africa as recently as 200,000 years ago. While the changing science is engrossing, it is often the scientists themselves, and the times in which they live, that are most revealing.

Book details

Join Christa Kuljian and Ciraj Rassool at the launch of Darwin's Hunch at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins

 
Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human OriginsJacana Media and The Book Lounge invite you to the launch of Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins by Christa Kuljian.

Ian Tattersall, Curator emeritus, American Museum of Natural History, said of the book: “With its unsparing wealth of personal and historical detail, there’s nothing else like Darwin’s Hunch available.”

Kuljian will be in conversation with professor, historian and author Ciraj Rassool.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 29 November 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Discussant: Ciraj Rassool
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge, booklounge@gmail.com, 021 462 2425

Book Details

Join Quivertree Publications at a pop-up market in Cape Town - with discounted books

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Braai: Reuben on FireThe Low Carb Solution For DiabeticsThe Great South African CookbookReal Food - Healthy, Happy ChildrenEat Ting
Indigenous Plant PalettesCook BetterStar FishTartsThe Real Meal RevolutionA Life Digested

 
Quivertree Publications will be hosting a pop-up market from 2-3 December 2016 at 147 Main Road, Rondebosch.

There will be a Quivertree Book Shop selling your favourite Quivertree titles at a discount – come and stock up on your Christmas gifts here!

Reuben Riffel, Pete Goffe-Wood and Obie Oberholzer will be around from 3 PM on the Friday afternoon to sign books.

On 3 December, there’s a fun food workshop for children (ages two to six), hosted by experienced clinical dietician Kath Megaw’s Nutripaeds team in the photographic studio. Designed to expose children to sensory experiences, teach them about healthy ingredients, and help them develop fine motor skills, this event costs R120 per child, and prior booking is essential. (Please email thembela@quivertree.co.za or call 021 686 6849.)

But that’s not all, below is a list of stallholders that you can expect to see at the market:

Peta Becker, crochet art
Jackie Knutsen, sojo children’s wear
Dan Wickham, Garagista artisan beer
Janine Davidson, Scarab jewellery
Pete Goffe-Wood, steak rolls
Karen Canning, lis-spa, beauty products and treatment vouchers
Ilse Menck clothing
Nondumiso wine
Ceramics by Louise Gelderblom & Karen Henstra
Skinny laMinx
Amanda and Kathleen from Nutripaeds will host a Clever Cooks children’s food workshop in the photographic studio
Verushka Louw – cakes, biscuits and pastries

Event Details

  • Date: Friday, 2 and Saturday, 3 December 2016
  • Time: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Quivertree Publications
    147 Main Road
    Rondebosch
    Cape Town | Map
  • Facebook event: Click here for more

Book Details

'We are all Africans' - Christa Kuljian launches Darwin's Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins

Ben Williams and Christa Kuljian

 

Darwin's HunchWits researcher Christa Kuljian was at the Sandton Library recently to launch her new book: Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins.

The book pays homage to the human evolution theorist Charles Darwin and other naturalists who came after him, such as Raymond Dart, an Australian, and Philip Tobias, an acclaimed South African anthropologist. Tobias was Dart’s colleague and successor at Wits University.

“There’s a very rich history in this country,” Kuljian said.

Readers

 

Dart’s work had gone a long way in convincing the western world that humans had their origins in Africa, not Europe or Asia. But with it, incorrect assumptions travelled back to the west. The Killer Ape Theory was one such theory. This theory, now disproved, proposed aggression and anger also had a hand in moving the evolution of humans forward.

In the 1980s, the thinking favoured by white supremacists was that different racial groups had evolved “separately” and at different paces.

The work done by Tobias concluded that race was “a superficial concept”.

Said Tobias: “The term ‘race’ … is heavily charged emotionally and politically and full of unsound and even dangerous meanings. It is in the name of race that millions of people have been murdered and millions of others are being held in degradation. That is why you cannot afford to remain ignorant about race.

“We are all Africans,” he believed.

White supremacism allowed for the exploitation of vulnerable racial groups that were treated as “specimens”, not humans, Kuljian said.

Killing Bushmen merely for research purposes are some disturbing incidents Kuljian records in Darwin’s Hunch. Laws outlawing such atrocities had to be passed, Kuljian said.

The crowd

 
When asked what had been the most shocking behaviour of scientists in their quest for knowledge and their experiments, Kuljian said: “I don’t know if I can tell you that.”

The details were in the book, she said.

Darwin’s Hunch is Kuljian’s second book, her first being Sanctuary: How an Inner-city Church Spilled onto a Sidewalk, published in 2013. In writing Sanctuary, Kuljian said she had “spent a lot of time in the Joburg CBD writing about current events”, but with Darwin’s Hunch, the book took her into the archives, dealing with sometimes shocking stories of people who “weren’t alive any longer”.

At the end of the question and answer session, Jacana Media, the publishers of the book, offered a prize giveaway for a trip to Maropeng.

Christa KuljianChrista Kuljian

 

Readers

 

Lungile Sojini (@success_mail) tweeted live from the launch:

Book details

Jay McInerney: darkness falls over South Africa

For a hip New Yorker, Jay McInerney has a surprisingly red-neck view of our  beloved country.  McInerney comes to South Africa next week to promote his latest book, Bright, Precious Days, in which we get a bit part. One of its characters, Luke McGavock, acquires a wine farm and a game farm in South Africa as part of a private equity deal.   Says Luke: “I loved the idea of Africa. And I loved the reality too. Its primal, cradle-of-life, origin-of-the-species aliveness.  The smells, not just the fertile dung smell of the veldt; even the wood smoke, seared meat and raw sewage smell of the townships.”

But it soon all turns to shit.

“…late night farm invasions had become increasingly common to the north, armed gangs breaking in and murdering white families, with the tacit approval of the ANC, which advocated the redistribution of land and sent out periodic calls for ‘colonialists’ to abandon their farms. Rape, torture and mutilation were common features of these attacks, which usually began with the intruders cutting phone and power lines…”   Really?

Luke is portrayed as “a good man, a generous soul”, who builds clinics and schools in the townships. But the natives don’t deserve him.

He decides to pack it in in South Africa after being badly injured in a car accident. “I was in the car alone, coming home from Cape Town one night. I got hit by a van that crossed the line into my lane. The driver drunk, of course. He died, along with his passenger. Not my fault at all apparently….. that didn’t keep it from getting ugly. White survivor, two dead black men.” Really?

In McInerney’s version of it, South Africa has just two sides: primal idyll for jaded sophisticates or savage and lawless jungle.

His writing purports to authenticity with much real-life detail: the farm is in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Eskom is identified as being responsible for an erratic power supply.

The narrative this celebrated author conveys is influential.  It’s unfortunate that the one he presents is so ignorant.

To be fair, the South African strand is a very small part of a big and ambitious book and McInerney’s rendering of his main subject, New York’s literary and financial elite, is wonderfully subtle and acute. I’ve loved his earlier books. And Bright, Precious Days is a great read when McInerney sticks to what he knows. But brightness falls on Manhattan and South Africa remains dark.

I hope that when McInerney comes to Cape Town next week – he is speaking at the Book Lounge – he takes the time to discover that South Africa is every bit as richly complex and nuanced.

McGregor is author of Khabzela; and co-editor At Risk and Load-shedding: Writing on and over the Edge of South Africa (Jonathan Ball Publishers)