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SA illustrator wins international literary award

Via Golden Baobab: Accra, Ghana (9 May 2018)

Toby Newsome, a renowned Cape Town based artist has won the internationally coveted Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA) for his illustrations in the children’s book, Grandma’s List. The book was written by Ghanaian author, Portia Dery, who who jointly won the CABA with Toby Newsome.

Toby Newsome, the acclaimed illustrator of Grandma’s List.

The Children’s Africana Book Award is an annual prize presented to authors and illustrators of the best children’s and young adult books on Africa published or republished in the U.S.A. The awards were created by Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association (ASA) and its sponsors includes the African Studies departments of universities Harvard, Howard and Yale among others. Past winning illustrators of CABA include South Africa’s Niki Daly.

One of Newsome’s stunning illustrations.

Grandma’s List is a brilliant and colorful story about an 8-year old girl, Fatima, who wants to save the day by helping her grandmother complete her list of errands. The problem is, Fatima loses the list and she has to recall from memory what was written on it. The rest of story then takes the reader on a funny and heartwarming adventure with Fatima and her family.

Grandma’s List, published by African Bureau Stories, won the 2018 CABA Young Children’s category along with two other books from international publishers, Candlewick Press and Farrar, Straus and Giroux. This is the second international children’s book award that Grandma’s List has won. It previously won the prestigious Golden Baobab Prize for The Best Picture Book manuscript in Africa in 2014.

The new children’s publishing house, African Bureau Stories, has made an impressive move in publishing a truly Pan-African book like Grandma’s List, which is a powerful literary partnership between Ghana and South Africa. The publishing house’s aim is to produce world class and contemporary African stories for children. In addition to Grandma’s List, African Bureau Stories has produced three other children’s books which according to the publisher, Deborah Ahenkorah, are “super cool books that will delight children all over the world.”

Anastasia Shown, a CABA Reviewer from the University of Pennsylvania says:

Grandma’s List is an excellent read aloud book for school or storytime. The illustrations show a neighborhood in Ghana that is very typical of many African towns with shops, gardens, small livestock, and many people outside working and playing…One of the best features of the book is the characters of many ages. There are kids playing, vendors selling, teens on their phones, grownups working, and elders relaxing. They wear African prints and western styled clothes…The book can generate lots of great open ended questions.”


With illustrations like these it’s no wonder Newsome was the recipient of this coveted award!

Book details

Q&A with the South African school representatives for the Global Kids’ Literature Quiz

Nal’ibali Column 12, Term 2: Published in the Sunday World, Daily Dispatch, Herald

By Carla Lever

From left to right – Jaskaran Rajaruthnam, Sam Walker, Jemma Kasavan, and Michaela Crankshaw.

Michaela Crankshaw, Jemma Kasavan, Jaskaran Rajaruthnam and Sam Walker are all grade seven students at Manor Gardens Primary – a small public in Durban. In July, they will represent South Africa in the World Finals of the Kids Literature Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. We interview them and their inspirational teacher, Isobel Sobey.

Congratulations to all of you on making the world finals of the Kids’ Lit Quiz – this must be hugely exciting! How stiff was the competition in the South African national finals?

Team: We were up against the best teams in the country, so it was difficult. It’s always stressful because we never know what to expect in terms of questions.

How long have you been practicing literature quizzes with Mrs Sobey?

Team: We have weekly morning book club before school and we sometimes do quizzes after to discuss our books. It’s mostly just about reading a lot of books and remembering what you read, who wrote it and when it was written – the quizmaster can ask absolutely anything!

Your school has an incredible track record when it comes to making the national and international finals of this competition. It seems that Mrs Sobey is your secret weapon! What’s your winning approach, Isobel?

Isobel: We are lucky to be in a school where reading is a priority from Grade 1 and students have been exposed to as many as 400 books in their first year of school. I’m just lucky to work with them once the Foundation Phase teachers have worked their magic. I guess I am saying that I’m not the magic; it’s Manor Gardens Primary School that is a magical place!

Isobel, you’ve said that children at Manor Gardens working toward getting a place on the team as early as grade one. How have you managed to develop such an incredibly powerful culture of reading at your school?

Isobel: Reading forms the basis of much of our teaching, is brought into lessons all the time and we give children and teachers half an hour a day to read solo for fun. With all that reading going on, most children make an effort to find books they enjoy.

It sounds like it’s a big deal to get on the Book Quiz team! What do the rest of the school think about the quiz and how do they support you?

Team: They are very proud and extremely supportive of our fundraising initiatives. They’re behind us all the way!

The international quizmaster says he can draw on any book published – two thousand years’ worth of literature is a lot to cover! How do you prepare?

Team: Read, read, read … we’re lucky that we don’t all like the same types of books, so we can divide what we need to cover. We’re allowed to read anything we want but Mrs Sobey looks for new books that might be part of the quiz.

What kinds of added benefits do you find reading gives you all?

Team: We can actually go to different exotic places in books themselves! We also learn a lot of general knowledge and vocabulary and it’s a relaxing way to escape the world.

Only four students get to take part in the competition, but how do you keep encouraging everybody in the school to get excited about reading?

Isobel: I do lots of book talks, I introduce new books, we watch movies based on children’s books. We have our own school inter-house Children’s Book Quiz – this way more children have a chance to answer questions about books and we all get to watch the quiz.

Who do you think your biggest competition is this year?

Team: New Zealand and the UK.
Isobel: I say Singapore.

I know you mentioned some programmes that Manor Gardens is running to partner with other schools to spread the reading bug. Can you tell us a little about that?

Isobel: The Phendulani Quiz was started by Marj Brown, the National co-ordinator of Kids’ Lit Quiz in South Africa. Schools sponsor other under-resourced schools who receive a set of books which they have a set amount of time to read before we all get together to hold our own quiz. Every year the Phendulani Quiz grows a little bit and a few more children get to enjoy bonding over shared books.

Not everybody gets the chance to fly to New Zealand, but why is it important that every child in South Africa has the opportunity to read books in their language?

Team: Reading develops your mind and your world. We wish everyone could find a lifetime friendship with books, like we have!

From Sunday April 15, Nal’ibali will be publishing its supplements in two new languages. An English-Setswana edition will be published in the Sunday World in the North West, and an English-Xitsonga edition will be donated to reading clubs in Limpopo. Clubs in both provinces will collect their copies from select post offices. The post offices (10 in each province) will also have 50 additional editions each to give away to member of the public.

Herdenk Adam Small met hierdie uitgawe van Kitaar my kruis

Adam Small is een van enkele bruin Afrikaanse skrywers wat in die kanon van die Afrikaanse letterkunde opgeneem is.

Hy was, met die gebruik van Kaaps, ’n voorloper van ’n hele generasie bruin Afrikaanse digters, wat ’n opbloei in protespoësie in die jare tagtig teweeggebring het.

In 2012 het die raad van die Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns die Hertzogprys aan Small toegeken vir sy drama-oeuvre, met spesifieke verwysing na Kanna hy kô hystoe wat as ’n hoogtepunt in die Afrikaanse dramatiese kuns beskou word.

In 2009 is hy ook met die SA Akademie se Eeufeesmedalje bekroon vir sy hele oeuvre.

Kitaar my kruis is vir die eerste keer in 1962 deur H.A.U.M. gepubliseer, en die tweede uitgawe het sewe herdrukke beleef.

In sy huldeblyk getiteld “Die Groot Small”, gelewer te Stellenbosch op 7 Maart 2006 (op LitNet beskikbaar), maak Steward van Wyk die volgende opmerkings oor Small se werk:

“’n Deurlopende tema in Small se werk is die uitbeelding van die wel en wee van die onderdruktes en die werkersklasgemeenskap onder die beleid van apartheid. In die digbundels Kitaar my kruis en Sê Sjibbolet loods hy ’n fel aanval op kwessies soos gedwonge verskuiwing, rasseklassifikasie en -diskriminasie en aparte geriewe. Hy maak veral gebruik van satire om die onhoudbaarheid van die stelsel en die valse waardes van gesagsfigure uit te wys.”

Small se identifikasie met sy karakters vind neerslag in sy gebruik van Kaaps – volgens hom ’n volwaardige taal waarin mense hul eerste skreeu en hul laaste doodsroggel gee. Wat in heelparty gedigte opval, is die gebruik van refreine en herhaling, wat as ’t ware die gemeenskap se vrese waarskuwings en aanklagte van die tyd eggo (Van Wyk, 2006). Verder is daar ’n sterk Ou Testamentiese inslag, maar ook talle verwysings na die geboorte en wederkoms van Christus. Volgens Van Wyk word dié gegewe op die lotgevalle van onderdruktes van toepassing gemaak, o.a. die geskiedenis van Moses en die Israelitiese volk onder Egiptiese slawerny: Soos Moses met sy staf, moet die digter met sy kitaar sy mense lei, maar omdat die taak so moeilik is, word die kitaar ironies ook sy kruis. Só lui die openingsgedig byvoorbeeld:


lat ons die Bybel oepeslaan
en lat ons daaryt lies –
o Allahoegste Gies
lat hierie woorde na onse harte gaan! –
yt die twiere boek van Mosas
yt die Exoras
yt die viere hoefstuk die ee’ste en die twiere verse –
o God
maak vi’ ons lig moet hierie woorde soes moet kerse! –

toe antwoord Mosas en hy sê: ma’ wat
as hulle my nie glo, nie aan my woorde vat
as hulle sê die Here het nie ga-appear aan my?

ma’ die Here sê vi’ hom: djy sal djou mense lei
wat’s in djou hand?
en Mosas sê: ’n staf

nou vrinne
dit was al wat hy gahad het
hierie man van God
’n staf
’n dooie stok
en boenop het hy nog gahakkel ok

ma’ die Here het toe lank moet hom gapraat
oor hoe hy moet daai kierie doodgaslaat
het die Egiptanaar
en Mosas het sy groote kop lat hang
en toe
toe skielak was daai selfde kierie in sy hand ’n slang!

nou vrinne
die Here het gabring
aan my sy wonnerwerke oek so
hy het gavra wat’s in my hand
en vrinne
in my hand was my kitaar

kô, lat ons sing


Erich Rautenbach passes away in Canada

Erich Rautenbach pictured in Cape Town. Image: Erich Rautenbach CTHS Scholarship.

Erich Rautenbach, author of the South African memoir The Unexploded Boer, died in Vancouver, Canada on April 18th due to an aggressive relapse of leukemia. He was 63 years old.

Erich was born June 16, 1954 in Swakopmund, Namibia and grew up in Cape Town, leaving South Africa as a fugitive at the age of 21 after escaping from police custody. After some months in Europe and the Middle East as an undocumented refugee, he arrived in Canada where he eventually settled, raising four sons with his wife Mary Ann McKenzie, and returning to South Africa and Namibia as much as possible. He was planning a permanent move back to his home country when his cancer returned.

The Unexploded Boer, described as “a wild story of rebellion and retribution”, was published in 2011 by Zebra Press/Random House. It vividly recreated the hippy/glam subculture of 1970s Cape Town and followed Erich as he tried anything to avoid conscription into the South Africa army, leading to incarceration in infamous prisons including John Voster Square and The Fort. It received strong critical acclaim.

In Erich’s honour, the family is planning to create an annual bursary to be given to a Cape Town High School student who shows promise as a writer. Funds are being raised in Canada and South Africa through a Go Fund Me campaign:

The Unexploded Boer

Book details

Book Bites: 22 April

Published in the Sunday Times

The Last RomeoThe Last Romeo
Justin Myers, Piatkus, R285

What would you get if you were to combine Adrian Mole and almost any Marian Keyes novel? Justin Myers’s brilliant debut novel and its lead, James. James is at a crossroads. He’s 34, gay, has broken up with his toxic boyfriend, and isn’t loving his job making up celebrity gossip for a hot London rag mag. He starts online dating and blogging about his encounters using the nom de plume of “Romeo”. The idea is simple; James dates and then blogs anonymously about the encounters. If a date is rude to him, it’s open season. But if he meets someone who turns out to be The One, he’ll give up the blog. James meets a series of weird/gross/hot men and the results are hilarious, sad and mostly true to life. Then he meets a closeted Olympian and his drunken blog post about the encounter sends Romeo’s social media profile through the roof, and all hell breaks loose. The Last Romeo is sharp, witty and combines a good laugh with touching sincerity. Russell Clarke @russrussy

Woman of State
Simon Berthon, HarperCollins, R295

Maire McCartney, a moderate Belfast Catholic, was persuaded by her extremist boyfriend to be part of a honey-trap, the seduction of a British policeman who would be blackmailed into betraying British operatives. Except the policeman was murdered, and Maire forced to flee, assume a new identity, and move to England where she becomes a human-rights lawyer, and eventually Minister of State for Security. What of her past though? Berthon presents an enthralling and believable tale of love, loyalty, and death. Aubrey Paton

The Boy Made Of Snow
Chloe Mayer, Orion, R295

It is 1944. Annabel is left alone to look after her son, Daniel, while her husband is away at war. The connection between the pair is fragile, due to Annabel having never fully recovered from her postpartum depression. They do, however, share a love of fairy tales. Like sweet magic, a German PoW enters their lives; yet well-read readers know that the original fairy stories are dark and harrowing. Artfully, Mayer has woven the shadows of the Snow Queen into the narrative, creating a story that will haunt long after the final pages are read. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

Book details

Struggled to keep up with the intricate web which is the (ex) president's keepers? Kyle Findlay's cheat sheet has you sorted...

Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw exposes the darkest secrets at the heart of Jacob Zuma’s compromised government: a cancerous cabal that eliminates the president’s enemies and purges the law-enforcement agencies of good men and women.

As Zuma fights for his political life following the 2017 Gupta emails leak, this cabal – the president’s keepers – ensures that after years of ruinous rule, he remains in power and out of prison. But is Zuma the puppet master, or their puppet?

Journey with Pauw as he explores the shadow mafia state. From KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape to the corridors of power in Pretoria and Johannesburg – and even to clandestine meetings in Russia. It’s a trail of lies and spies, cronies, cash and kingmakers as Pauw prises open the web of deceit that surrounds the fourth president of the democratic era.

‘An amazing piece of work, stuffed with anecdote and evidence. It will light fires all through the state and the ANC.’ Peter Bruce

‘This is dynamite. Dynamite that will shake the foundations of the halls of power.’ Max du Preez

Journalist and author Jacques Pauw was a founder member of the anti-apartheid Afrikaans newspaper Vrye Weekblad in the late 1980s, where he exposed the Vlakplaas police death squads. He worked for some of the country’s most esteemed publications before becoming a documentary filmmaker, producing documentaries on wars and conflicts in Rwanda, Burundi, Algeria, Liberia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, among other countries.

When he left journalism in 2014, he was the head of investigations at Media24 newspapers. He has won the CNN African Journalist of the Year Award twice, the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting in the US, Italy’s Ilaria Alpi and the Nat Nakasa award for bravery and integrity in journalism. He is the author of five books: four nonfiction and one fiction. They are In the Heart of the Whore, Into the Heart of Darkness, Dances with Devils, Rat Roads and Little Ice Cream Boy. Three of his books have been shortlisted for major literary awards.

If you haven’t gotten round the reading it (or sukkel’d to keep up with the intricate web that makes up the (ex) president’s keepers), take a look at this data sheet compiled by Kyle Findlay for the Daily Maverick.

Now go read the book! ;)

Book details