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Redi Tlhabi’s Latest Chapter, Endings and Beginnings, Launched in Johannesburg

Jenny Crwys-Williams and Redi Tlhabi

Jenny Crwys-Williams took newly-minted author Redi Tlhabi to a dark place at the launch of her book, Endings and Beginnings, at Primemedia’s Sandton headquarters last night.

Endings and Beginnings“What were the most difficult moments for you, writing this book?” she asked the surprisingly fragile-looking Tlhabi, who spins her living out of poise, confidence and quicksilver thinking as one of Talk Radio 702‘s top hosts.

(She’s also a columnist, activist, and soon-to-be Al Jazeera anchor, but fleshing out her impressive resume is for another time!)

Tlhabi took a deep breath, then explained the connection between the book, the notorious and violent gangster, Mabegzo, who befriended her when she was eleven, and whom her book profiles, and the murder of her father when she was nine.

There was silent sympathy from the audience as Tlhabi softly cried. Then she pulled herself together. This was, after all, a time for celebration: a large crowd had gathered to witness a woman introduce an uncommon story into our greater public narrative.

Tlhabi’s tale of a man who treated her with utmost care, but still left terrible violence in his wake, reads like a novel, but was seven years in the making because of its true-life pain. Even though she thought about the story every day, she lacked the courage to write about her time with Mabegzo.

Then, she found it – and in finding it, found the means to explore the origins of violence, and specifically sexual violence, in South Africa. If Mabegzo took some sort of salvation from caring for Tlhabi, so she has finally achieved healing in producing a portrait of him in the round. Redi, it’s abundantly clear, is OK:

The launch was punctuated by several cameos. Fellow 702 on-air personality Aki Anastasiou ribbed Redi mercilessly for not including him – or their mutual boss, station manager Pheladi Gwangwa – in her book’s acknowledgments, despite the fact that they were self-evidently her pillars of support at work. And Anastasiou introduced a figure from Tlhabi’s childhood that took the author by surprise: Mrs Hart, one of her former schoolteachers. Tlhabi implored Mrs Hart to convince the audience that she could, in fact, sing, to great hilarity.

Finally, two other figures took pride of place at this emotional, moving event: Tlhabi’s mother, Patricia Direko, who was her real pillar of strength growing up; and a young athlete who nearly made the Paralympics this year, Sisanda Msekele, who is blind – and who will benefit from the proceeds of Tlhabi’s book:

At the launch of Endings and Beginnings, Tlhabi left very few dry eyes in the house – and everyone walked out with the latest chapter in her life.

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Top tweets from the launch

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Recent comments:

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    November 15th, 2012 @10:11 #

    Must say, this looks like a fascinating read.


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