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Stories and smiles aplenty at Nal'ibali's book handover to the Thuma Mina Hillbrow Book Club

By Mila de Villiers

Bliss is perusing a bookshelf… (Shot for the shot, Daniel Born!)

 
The Thuma Mina Hillbrow Book Club, an exceptional book club created for orphanages in and around Johannesburg, was recently gifted books in English, Zulu and Sesotho by the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, Nal’ibali.

The handover of the donations was celebrated at Killarney Mall’s Exclusive Books on a sunny Saturday morning with Thuma Mina Book Club organisers, Nal’ibali team members, media and the buoyant bookworms in attendance.

The group of animated bibliophiles were also offered the luxury of selecting any two books to add to their growing libraries, thanks to a fundraiser organised by the Thuma Mina Book Club.

(Colouring-in books seemed to be a hit and Nomalizo Xabana, marketing manager for the book club, had to encourage more than one youngster to please “pick another storybook”…)

Nal’ibali’s Bongile Mtolo (and storyteller par excellence) treated the riveted audience to a reading of two stories from Nal’ibali’s story collection: Sisande’s Gift tells the tale of Sisande, an orphaned giraffe who’s gifted a book after the passing of her mother and The Rainbird – a fairy tale about hope, magic, courage and a fantastical avian.

Bongile Mtolo working his magic. Pic by Daniel Born.

 
Bongile interacted with the crowd during the reading of both stories, asking questions such as which gifts they’d like to receive for Christmas (a confident “iPhone 8!” was met with mirth from the group), and what they would name a giraffe if they were to own one (“Owen” was quite a surprising answer…)

Youngsters do tend to get a bit kriewelrig after having to sit for a prolonged period of time but Bongile kept the vibe alive by leading two lively renditions of the Nal’ibali hand-clap – because no, one doesn’t clap “like you’re in church” after being read to, he quipped.

All together now: “One, two, three!” [clap, clap, clap] / “One, two, three!” [clap, clap clap] aaand [Ululate!]

To paraphrase the Von Trapp siblings, the time to say so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen and goodbye is inevitable and the merriment concluded with a donation from The Sowetan of R80 000 to Nal’ibali, presented to the organisation by Sowetan editor, S’thembiso Msomi.

Now that’s what one calls a contribution to a nation’s literary future.

A beaming Bongile Mtolo, Thuma Mina members and S’thembiso Msomi, as snapped by Daniel Born.

Hierdie skrywers het die US Woordfees Kortverhaalbundel 2019 gehaal

Via die US Woordfees

Die skrywers van die verhale wat in die US Woordfeesbundel vir 2019 opgeneem gaan word, is tydens die fees se programbekendstelling op Vrydagaand 16 November bekend gemaak.

Vyf-en-twintig verhale is uit 323 inskrywings gekies. Dit sal gepubliseer word in ’n bundel getiteld Jonk, wat by die US Woordfees van 1-10 Maart 2019 te koop sal wees. Die kortverhaalbundel se titel is dieselfde as die feestema.

Suzette Kotzé-Myburgh, die sameroeper van die beoordelaarspaneel, sê die groei van hierdie projek is rede tot vreugde:

“Sedert die eerste Woordfeesbundel in 2016 gepubliseer is, gaan hierdie projek van krag tot krag!

“Die aantal inskrywings het gegroei van die oorspronklike 99 tot ’n verstommende 323 vanjaar. Hierdie belangstelling is deels te danke aan die gulhartige borgskap van Du Toitskloof Wyne, wat prysgeld van R5 000 aan elke skrywer besorg. Daarbenewens sal die algehele wenner, wat in Maart 2019 aangekondig word, ’n volle R30 000 ontvang.

“’n Verdere prys word geborg deur kykNET, wat een van die verhale in ’n kortfilm sal omskep wat in Augustus 2019 by die Silwerskermfees te sien sal wees.

Soos die vorige jare bied 2018 se inskrywings ’n mengsel van gevestigde en nuwe skrywers, hoewel die reeds gepubliseerde skrywers vanjaar as wenners oorheers. Die verhale dek ’n wye verskeidenheid temas, met die grondkwessie wat uitstaan as onderwerp.”

Saartjie Botha, US Woordfeesdirekteur, sê:

“Dit is fantasties om te sien hoeveel onbekende én gevestigde skrywers deur hierdie projek aangemoedig word om nuwe werk te skep.”

Ed Beukes, woordvoerder van Du Toitskloof Wyne, is opgewonde oor dié betekenisvolle projek en die groeiende storievuur:

“Die jaarlikse groei van inskrywings wys ons het elkeen ’n storie om te vertel. Die Woordfeesbundel is soos ’n groot kampvuur wat elke jaar die platform skep vir nog ’n paar skrywers om uit die donker uit hul eie waardevolle stukkie hout op die vuur te kom gooi en dit maak nie saak wie jy is nie – jou storie tel.”

Die lys van skrywers wat in die 2019 Woordfees Kortverhaalbundel opgeneem word, in alfabetiese volgorde, is:

1. Anne Ahllers
2. Emma Bekker
3. François Bloemhof
4. Anri Botha
5. Magda Brink
6. MS Burger
7. Wilken Calitz
8. Juliana Coetzer
9. Frans Fourie
10. Merle Grace
11. Enrique Grobbelaar
12. Hendie Grobbelaar
13. Kobus Grobler
14. Stefanie Hefer
15. Marlize Hobbs
16. Nico Nel
17. Clari Niemand
18. Nadine Petrick
19. Jan Schaafsma
20. Deborah Steinmair
21. Gerda Taljaard
22. Derick van der Walt
23. Marinda van Zyl
24. Madeleen Welman
25. Jelleke Wierenga

Book Bites: 18 November

Published in the Sunday Times

The Break LineThe Break Line ***
James Brabazon, Penguin Books, R229

“Legally sane psychopath” Max McLean is suave and armed. He is such an asset to the espionage ecosystem that he’s a member of the elite intelligence operation referred to as The Unknown. But to err is human and when McLean cocks up an assassination assignment, he’s given one last task to prove himself. [Insert docket with TOP SECRET printed in big, fat, red letters here.] The gist of the mission is to travel to Sierra Leone to finish an operation which a former colleague of his – “the bravest man I know” – was unable to complete; so traumatised by what he witnessed that he’s been institutionalised. It’s a thrilling read and Brabazon revels in his depictions of the atrocities McLean happens upon (spoiler: it’s pretty sif), but the military references and lingo went straight over this peacenik’s head. Mila de Villiers @mila_se_kind

The Baghdad ClockThe Baghdad Clock ****
Shahad Al Rawi, translated by Luke Leafgren, One World, R285

Imagine living under constant threat of disappearing. Set against a backdrop of war and despair, the story starts in 1991 when two girls form a lasting friendship in a bomb shelter in Baghdad. As they grow up through two wars and unrelenting sanctions, we see the disintegration of their neighbourhood through their eyes and in their dreams. Nadia and the unnamed narrator try their best to go to school, apply for university, write scented love letters and live their lives, but it’s not easy when your foundation is crumbling away. Shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, The Baghdad Clock is a deeply personal story that aims to capture and preserve the history of a neighbourhood. Anna Stroud @Annawriter_

Book details

13-year-old Praises Banda has been announced as the winner of Nal'ibali's 2018 Story Bosso contest!

Via Nal’ibali

Praises Banda, a 13-year-old Grade 7 pupil from Leboho Primary School in Limpopo, has been announced as 2018′s Story Bosso winner!

 
Story Bosso is a multilingual storytelling contest designed to provide aspiring storytellers with an opportunity to showcase their talent and to promote storytelling in all official South African languages. It’s an initiative of South Africa’s national-reading-for-enjoyment campaign, Nal’ibali.

The theme for this year’s talent search was ‘South African Heroes’. By remembering and telling the stories of our heroes, the campaign aimed to inspire greatness in all South African children.

Says Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali Managing Director:

“Heroes guide us about how to live our lives; they give us hope and motivate us to overcome challenges. We were blown away by young Praises Banda from Ga-Kibi, Dankie Village, in Limpopo, as her story, skillfully told in her home language Sepedi, did exactly that.”

Told with both sadness and passion, Banda’s story is about her personal hero, Kholofelo Sasebola, who put an end to the bullying she endured at school.

“The sadness in Praises’ voice is palpable. You can tell the bullying was traumatic, but, at the same time, you can hear her passion for celebrating the deed of her hero. Her command of Sepedi is commendable. Though the story is told in simple sentences, Praises uses the language playfully, and the story is easy to understand,” comments Lorato Trok, Story Bosso judge and children’s story development expert.

Storytelling is an important part of South African heritage and plays a key role in children’s literacy development by encouraging the use of imagination, curiosity, and empathy.

More than 50 special storytelling events were held across the country throughout September to allow members of the public to practice and build their storytelling skills before entering the contest.

Banda’s story was selected from over two thousand entries and, as this year’s Story Bosso, she will be receiving R5 000, a book hamper, and R500 worth of airtime.

A further five prizes will be awarded to provincial winners. Thabiso Khoeli from the Free State; Sibongile Mofokeng from Gauteng; Afika Cwecwe from the Eastern Cape; Mandisa Madlala from KwaZulu-Natal and Mbalentle Mangete from the Western Cape will each receive R1 000, a book hamper as well as R250 of airtime.

“Stories need to be valued for the critical contribution they play in the development of young minds. They help build neural circuits in our brains, particularly in young brains, that ultimately enable sophisticated thinking and reasoning,” says Jacobsohn.

“We know that well told stories – where a word may be a snarl, a shout, a whisper, or a cry – can be a colourful trail of chocolate Smarties that lead children to books! Those bonding moments of sharing stories with children help to root the seeds of a culture of reading into South African homes. We are proud of all of our winners this year for showing us what good storytelling can be,” concludes Jacobsohn.

To listen to the winning stories, or to find out more about Story Bosso and the Nal’ibali campaign, visit the Nal’ibali website on www.nalibali.org.

Rob Rose's Steinheist exposes the greed, plunder and betrayal behind the Steinhoff crash

The Steinhoff crash wiped more than R200bn off the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, erased more than half the wealth of tycoon Christo Wiese and knocked the pension funds of millions of ordinary South Africans.

When this investors’ darling was exposed as a house of cards, tales of fraudulent accounting, a lavish lifestyle involving multimillion-rand racehorses and ructions in the ‘Stellenbosch mafia’ made headlines around the world.

As regulators tally up the cost, Financial Mail editor Rob Rose reveals the real inside story behind Steinhoff. Based on dozens of interviews with key players in South Africa, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands – and documents not yet public – Steinheist reveals:

• How Bruno Steinhoff formed the company by doing business in the Communist bloc and apartheid South Africa;
• How the ‘Markus myth’ started in the dusty streets of Ga-Rankuwa and grew thanks to a ‘bit of luck’ in a 1998 takeover;
• How Jooste insiders shifted nasty liabilities off Steinhoff’s balance sheet to secretive companies overseas in order to present a false picture of the profits;
• How Wiese was lucky to lose only R59bn and how Shoprite narrowly escaped getting caught in Steinhoff’s web; and
• What happened behind closed boardroom doors in the frantic week before Jooste resigned.

‘An astonishing piece of investigative journalism, exposing greed, plunder and betrayal on a grand scale.’ Jacques Pauw

‘The driving narrative is vintage Rose. That’s because he knows what he’s talking about. Markus Jooste will absolutely hate this book.’ Peter Bruce

‘Reads like a fast-paced manuscript to the movie which must be made.’ Bruce Whitfield

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning journalist Rob Rose is editor of the Financial Mail. He has worked for Business Day and at the Sunday Times as an investigative journalist and as Business Times editor. His first book was The Grand Scam: How Barry Tannenbaum Conned South Africa’s Business Elite.

Book details

"Poetry has a unique way of humanising the players in a political story" - a Q&A with slam poet and performer Siphokazi Jonas

Nal’ibali Column 29: Term 4, 2018

Sunday World 4 November 2018, Daily Dispatch 5 November 2018, Herald 8 November 2018

By Carla Lever

Slam poet par excellence, Siphokazi Jonas

 
Your poetry engages very deliberately with political and personal questions of identity. What kinds of ideas are you most passionate about spreading through it?

It’s all about the importance of autonomy in telling your story. I’m really interested in writing about and staging narratives which are not seen regularly, particularly about the lives of black women.

Do you think that there’s a space for poetry to reach people politically where newspaper reports or debate can’t? How can we all use or be open to that space?

Absolutely – poetry has a unique way of humanising the players in a political story. There is room for publishing poetry in newspapers and other media which could widen the scope of who has access to our work.

We come from a long history of protest poetry – literature, storytelling, theatre and so on. But now, it feels like there is a generational shift: a group of passionate young people who are ready to make their own political points outside of the traditionally political works of the past. Does this feel to you like a good time to be a young poet?

This is a fantastic time to be a poet! The shifts happen as politics and concerns change. Poetry gives us a platform not only to wrestle with past and present but also to engage with an imagined future.

Sometimes, no matter how familiar we are with a work, we can still read something and have a strong emotional reaction to it. Can you give us a couple of lines of your own poetry that still hit home for you?

Sure. Here’s an extract from my poem Making Bread:
Every December, in exchange for Tupperware full of roosterkoek
Tried over coals, I present uMama with English poems
To match the decadence of the season.
(English, with its heavy hand of sugar, corrodes my vernacular,
English poems do not let me forget that the bowl I work in is borrowed)
.

It’s always a challenge to get work out into the public, particularly as a poet. In 2016 you released some of your poetry in a very unusual format: a DVD. Can you tell us a little about why you did that and how it’s been received?

The DVD was to capture the verve and fire of spoken word which often disappears once you leave the stage. Although the work was received well, we didn’t quite account for the move away from physical DVDs and CDs – the best platforms for distribution are now online.

You’ve had some great successes in big slam poetry competitions. What has been the most exciting experience for you?

Slam is quiet a competitive format of performance and poses a challenge to the poet because of all the rules and time constraints placed on a performance. My favourite thing is how the slams tend to feel like collaborations instead of competitions.

I first encountered your work when you performed with the ‘Rioters in Session’ poetry collective. Can you tell us a little about them?

I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a number of their performances, though I’m not officially part of their collective. In their own words, Rioters in Session was “organized [as] an intuitive community for POC poetry womxn to share their work in a soft and safe space with a gentle audience”.

Why is it important for poets, storytellers, performers to have spaces to share their work and for people to be able to share and discuss it together? What does sharing stories do for communities of people?

We have an incredible history of storytelling and poetry in this country which has been integral as a way of archiving history, holding communities together, holding leaders accountable, protesting injustice, etc. I believe that we are seeing the same in the contemporary moment.

How can we encourage young people to get involved with poetry and storytelling? Are there resources or organisations you could direct them to?

The best way is to read poetry and also watch material online, follow poetry houses on social media such as Hear My Voice, Word and Sound, Poetry Africa, Poet in a Suit, Inzync Poetry, Grounding Sessions, Current State of Poetry, Words in My Mouth Poetry Slam. If there are no existing book clubs or poetry groups, start them right where you are!

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit: www.nalibali.org.