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Archive for July, 2017

Chwayita Ngamlana on her debut novel, abusive relationships and gender-based violence

What is Sex? Sex is a humid climate. What is Desire? Desire is snow. What is Loneliness? Loneliness is a badger trying to figure out why it looks different to an otter. What is Obsession?Obsession is trying to fix a broken chair without realising that the chair is just bent at the knees and that’s how it was born. What is a Dyke? A dyke is an intricate, indecipherable encryption.

Chwayita Ngamlana, in her electric debut book, explores the above questions through her characters as they struggle through the volatility of love, the danger of not knowing themselves and
discovering their voice in the world.

The story follows the characters, Shay and Sip, who are very different in class, style, character and education. Shay is a journalism student working part time as an intern on a site that has no clear sense of direction. Sip is an unemployed varsity drop out and ex-gang member.

Their vastly different lives make it challenging for them to be the kind of couple they so desperately want to be. Unable to get themselves untangled from the web they’ve created, Shay and Sip use money, other people and sex to fix things, but is this enough?

Ngamlama has created a world that is somewhere between the present day and a sub-world of delusion. The reader will want to watch both story and characters unravel. This book will touch anyone who has lost themselves or their loved ones to unhealthy, destructive relationships.

Chwayita Ngamlana was born and raised in Grahamstown. She is an only child who found comfort and companionship in reading and writing from the age of 10. She has a degree in music and has her master’s in Creative Writing. This is her debut novel – and it won’t be the last.

Here Chwayita discusses her book, abusive relationships, and contemporary issues in South Africa, including corrective rape, on SABC:

If I Stay Right Here

Book details


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Miss Behave a manifesto for South African black women, writes Nkateko Mabasa

Miss BehaveUpon encountering historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s quote, ‘well-behaved women seldom make history’, Malebo Sephodi knew that she was tired of everyone else having a say on who and what she should be.

Appropriating this quote, Malebo boldly renounces societal expectations placed on her as a black woman and shares her journey towards misbehaviour.

According to Malebo, it is the norm for a black woman to live in a society that prescribes what it means to be a well-behaved woman. Acting like this prescribed woman equals good behaviour.

But what happens when a black woman decides to live her own life and becomes her own form of who she wants to be? She is often seen as misbehaving.

Miss Behave challenges society’s deep-seated beliefs about what it means to be an obedient woman. In this book, Malebo tracks her journey on a path towards achieving total autonomy and self-determinism.
 
 
Miss Behave will challenge, rattle and occasionally cause you to scream ‘yassss, yassss, yassss’ at various intervals.

Nkateko Mabasa recently reviewed Miss-Behave for The Huffington Post, describing Malebo’s memoir as “a manifesto for South African black women”:

In the coming revolution, it seems to me, that it will be women who shall lead us. Or rather it shall be a black radical feminist. For it is them, who not only have a true sense of reality but honestly seek to fight oppressions of all kind, having been subjected to it all.

And it is in the work of debut writer Malebo Sephodi that one has a glimpse of what that liberated future might look like. In her insightful and deeply personal book “Miss Bahave”, Malebo presents a world of the black woman in South Africa.

A world of hidden anxiety, maltreatment and nervousness, not to mention the inner turmoil of being silenced. Bearing society’s burden on a body that does not belong to itself. It is the world hidden from view but existing nonetheless. And as a society, we refuse to see this body, let alone hear it. It’s absence and silence confirms to us our sense of normal; it hides our moral depravity. But then appears in this deep and lonesome night, a bright light.

Sephodi, much like a skilful director of a play, breaks the fourth wall. The audience is shocked, realising it is actually participants in this play called life. Shocked not out of horror but out of the responsibility they must accept. One is moved from passive observer, to face up to one’s role in the continued subjugation of black women.

Though Sephodi seeks to write about how ‘to navigate life as a woman’, she does more. Miss behave is about women refusing to ‘know their place and stay there’, refusing to behave, to be docile and submissive.

Society is put on trial and has been found wanting. But all hope is not lost.

To enjoy the democracy and freedom of our ideas, black women cannot be ignored any longer. Here is a brave voice to speak on the issues that matter.

Continue reading Nkateko’s review here.

Book details


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Pumla Dineo Gqola’s Reflecting Rogue delivers 20 essays of deliciously incisive brain food written from anti-racist, feminist perspectives

Reflecting Rogue is the much anticipated and brilliant collection of experimental autobiographical essays on power, pleasure and South African culture by Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola.

In her most personal book to date, written from classic Gqola antiracist, feminist perspectives, Reflecting Rogue delivers 20 essays of deliciously incisive brain food, all extremely accessible to a general critical readership, without sacrificing intellectual rigour.

These include essays on ‘Disappearing Women’, where Gqola spends time exploring what it means to live in a country where women can simply disappear – from a secure Centurion estate in one case, to being a cop in another, and being taken by men who know them.

‘On the beauty of feminist rage’ magically weaves together the shift in gender discourse in South Africa’s public spheres, using examples from #RUReferenceList, #RapeAtAzania and #RememberingKhwezi.

Reflecting Rogue takes on both the difficulties and rewards of wilfully inhabiting our bodies in ‘Growing into my body’, while ‘Belonging to myself’ uncovers what it means to refuse the adversarial, self-harming lessons patriarchy teaches us about femininity.

In ‘Mothering while feminist’ Gqola explores raising boys as a feminist – a lesson in humour, humility and patience from the inside. In ‘Becoming my mother’ the themes of fear, envy, adoration and resentment are unpacked in mother-daughter relationships. While ‘I’ve got all my sisters with me’ explores the heady heights of feminist joy, ‘A meditation on feminist friendship with gratitude’ exposes a new, and more personal side to ever-incisive Gqola.

Reflecting Rogue comes to a breath-taking end in ‘A love letter to the Blackman who raised me’.

Gender activist, award-winning author and full professor of African Literature at Wits University, Pumla Dineo Gqola has written extensively for both local and international academic journals. She is the author of What is Slavery to Me? (Wits University Press), A Renegade Called Simphiwe (MFBooks Joburg) and Rape: A South African Nightmare (MFBooks Joburg).

Book details


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Decolonising South African Editing: In my own words debate

“If you don’t like my story, write your own.” Chinua Achebe’s words have been taken to heart.

It’s a wonderland of writing and book making out there. New voices, new stories, new energy, new ways of saying things. New ways of publishing, self-publishing prime among them. So, as not-so-traditional publishers who always look for new ways of doing things, we thought it was time to face up to our challenges.

On Wednesday, 2 August we hope to have a robust and thought-provoking debate and discussion that will help us find out:

• How do we reflect this new spirit from its inception?
• How do we help craft, edit, shape, or not, these new stories?
• How do we decolonise editing?

The evening will be emceed by Thabiso Mahlape, the founder of BlackBird Books. The panel, with speakers Sabata-Mpho Mokae, Dudu Busani-Dube, Helen Moffett, Rehana Rossouw and Malebo Sephodi, will be chaired by Redi Tlhabi, author of Endings & Beginnings and ex-702 Talk Radio host.

DATE
Wednesday, 2 August
TIME
18:00 for 18:30
VENUE
Wits Senate Room
2nd Floor
Senate House, East Campus
Johannesburg
RSVP
rsvp@jacana.co.za

Limited seating. RSVP to secure your place.

We will welcome voices from the audience.

PARKING:
Please use Senate House basement parking, which is accessible from 28 Jorissen Street. If it is full, please enter through the Yale Road entrance and use the public parking around the Origins Centre and the Planetarium.

ABOUT THE PANELLISTS

Thabiso Mahlape is a publisher with Jacana Media. She launched her own imprint BlackBird Books in 2015. The imprint seeks to provide a platform and a publishing home to both new voices and the existing generation of black writers and narratives.
 
 
 
 
 
Sabata-Mpho Mokae writes in English and Setswana. He is the author of a teen novella Dikeledi and a biography The Story of Sol T. Plaatje. His first novella, Ga ke Modisa [I’m Not My Brother’s Keeper] won the M-Net Literary Award for Best Novel in Setswana as well as the M-Net Film Award in 2013. The book is now prescribed at North West University as well as Central University of Technology. Mokae also won the South African Literary Award in 2011. In 2014 he was a writer-in-residence at the University of Iowa. He is a creative writing lecturer at the Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley.
 
Dudu Busani-Dube is a successful self-published author. She chose to self-publish because she wanted to tell her stories using her own style and language. She believes that handing over her work to a traditional publisher and editor would not allow her to keep her style and for characters to use language in the way that best expressed their experiences, which is the very thing that has made her Hlomu The Wife series relatable and successful.
 
 
 
Helen Moffett is a poet, editor, academic, and feminist activist. She’s authored, co-authored or collated books ranging from university textbooks to poetry to erotica. She’s worked in publishing for 25 years, and cut her teeth as a development editor first as OUP’s academic editor and then as the editor of the academic journal Feminist Africa. Authors she’s edited include some of the country and continent’s brightest literary and academic stars. She specialises in mentoring younger editors, black women in particular, and this was a feature of the Short Story Day Africa anthology, Migrations, where she worked with the talented Bongani Kona and Efemia Chela.
 
Malebo Sephodi is an activist and writer who takes special interest in gender, development, science and economics in Africa. She is known as ‘Lioness’ and describes her life as nomadic. She is the founder of Lady Leader, a platform that allows black women to just be.
 
 
 
 
Rehana Rossouw is an award-winning author. Rehana has been a journalist for three decades and has also taught journalism and creative writing. She has a Master’s in Creative Writing from Wits University. She has judged the Sunday Times Literary Awards and believes in the power of words and not using glossaries to describe Cape Town slang.
 
 
 
 
Redi Tlhabi is a journalist, producer, author and a radio presenter. Tlhabi has an Honours degree in Political Economy and English Literature. She has been a television and radio journalist for the SABC, Primedia and eTV.


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Watch Malebo Sephodi’s TED Talk on the importance of self-care as tool of liberation

Upon encountering historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s quote, ‘well-behaved women seldom make history’, Malebo Sephodi knew that she was tired of everyone else having a say on who and what she should be.

Appropriating this quote, Malebo boldly renounces societal expectations placed on her as a black woman and shares her journey towards misbehaviour.

According to Malebo, it is the norm for a black woman to live in a society that prescribes what it means to be a well-behaved woman. Acting like this prescribed woman equals good behaviour. But what happens when a black woman decides to live her own life and becomes her own form of who she wants to be? She is often seen as misbehaving.

Miss-Behave challenges society’s deep-seated beliefs about what it means to be an obedient woman. In this book, Malebo tracks her journey on a path towards achieving total autonomy and self-determinism.

Miss-Behave will challenge, rattle and occasionally cause you to scream ‘yassss, yassss, yassss’ at various intervals.

Here, Malebo discusses the complex relationship women have with themselves, societal pressure, the marginilisation of women’s bodies, balancing your domestic life with your professional life, and the importance of self-care as tool of liberation:

Miss Behave

Book details


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Hennie van Vuuren and Michael Marchant discuss seven key concepts in Apartheid Guns and Money

Apartheid Guns and MoneyThe apartheid state was at war. For two decades before 1994, while internal resistance grew, mandatory sanctions prohibited the sale of strategic goods and arms to South Africa.

The last white regime was confronted with an existential threat.

A global covert network of nearly 50 countries was constructed to counter sanctions. In complete secrecy, allies in corporations, banks, governments and intelligence agencies helped move cash, illegally supply guns and create the apartheid arms money machine. Whistleblowers were assassinated and ordinary people suffered.

This is an exposé of that machinery created in defence of apartheid and the people who made this possible: heads of state, arms dealers, aristocrats, plutocrats, senators, bankers, spies, journalists and members of secret lobby groups.

They were all complicit in a crime against humanity. Motivated by ideology or kinship most sought to simply profit from the war.

Many have until now relied on lingering silence to erase the uncomfortable truth.
 
This meticulously researched book lifts the lid on some of the darkest secrets of apartheid’s economic crimes, weaving together material collected in over two-dozen archives in eight countries with an insight into tens of thousands of pages of newly declassified documents.

Networks of state capture persist in our democratic political system because the past and present are interconnected. In forging its future a new generation needs to grapple with the persistent silence regarding apartheid-era economic crime and ask difficult questions of those who benefited from it.

This book provides the evidence and the motivation to do so.

Hennie van Vuuren is an activist, writer and Director of Open Secrets, focusing on accountability for economic crimes and human rights violations. He works from within civil society, challenging corruption and the abuse of power.

Here, Van Vuuren and Michael Marchant, a researcher at Open Secrets, expand on seven key concepts found in this remarkable book:

Secrecy breeds corruption

PW Botha’s apartheid government relied on legislated secrecy to shield his government’s economic crimes from scrutiny. In this context even government oversight bodies were prohibited from seeing into the arms procurement world, corruption thrived. Journalists were shut down and persecuted, and the public interest suffered. This is why current indications from the South African government of a move back toward securitization and secrecy should so concern us. It is also why South Africans must guard against the intimidation and pressure on investigative journalists who continue to tell the vital stories of state capture and corruption today.

Who funded the National Party?

Large South African corporations and their leaders went to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and argued that they had never supported apartheid and that it was ‘bad for business’. The archival records of the National Party and its leaders PW Botha and FW de Klerk tell a different story. There we found the annual cheques from business giants from all sectors, made out to the National Party, and often accompanied by fawning letters of praise to the party’s leadership. From billionaires like Christo Wiese to media giant Naspers, South African corporations were willing to grease the apartheid political machine.

Their influence was always suspected, but secrecy around the funding of political parties prevented the public from truly knowing how these relationships operated, and what they may have received in return. This problem persists today, with secrecy allowing big money to corrupt political parties and South African politics more broadly. Reform is desperately needed and must be demanded.

Kredietbank and the Arms Money Machine

While Swiss banks and their executives enjoyed cosy relationships with the apartheid state and private sector, profiting vastly off selling South African gold, it was a Belgian bank and its Luxembourg subsidiary that was at the centre of apartheid’s money laundering machine that was essential in keeping apartheid armed in times of the UN embargoes. Kredietbank Luxembourg, in exchange for vast profits, helped Armscor establish a global money laundering network of secret bank accounts and shell companies in order to bust the UN arms embargo against apartheid.

Based on the evidence we gathered Apartheid Guns & Money identified over 800 such bank accounts and over 100 secret companies between Panama and Liberia.

Continue reading here.

Book details


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Watch: late SA jazz legend Ray Phiri discusses the iconic Bassline

Last Night at the Bassline

Legendary South African jazz musician Ray Phiri recently passed away from lung cancer. Phiri was a regular performer at the iconic live-music venue, Bassline, opened in 1994 by Brad and Paige Holmes. Bassline, situated in the bohemian suburb of Melville in Johannesburg, soon became synonymous with cigarette smoke, great jazz and nights you wished would never end.

They later moved the club to Newtown where it grew in prominence as the ultimate venue for live music, hosting amazing artists like Thandiswa Mazwai, Jimmy Dludlu, Lera, The Soil and Grammy
Award-winning group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

In 2016 word spread like wildfire that everyone’s favourite club was closing its doors forever; this place that held all the promises of a new South Africa, a place where people of all races could come together, share a drink, dance and fall in love was to be no more.

But as Bassline starts its new journey with Live @ the Bassline, yet another great story begins with Last Night at the Bassline, in which Phiri features prominently.

In this book, esteemed music historian Professor David Coplan tells the story of Bassline and the Holmes’s journey in it, thus giving musicians and jazz fans something to hold on to even after its closure. This book is a tangible piece of the magic to take home and savour. And those who were never there will be given a chance to experience this dream.

With more than fifty iconic photographs from Oscar Gutierrez and other great photographers. The book is more than just a memoir. It is a gritty, smoky, passionate slice of time. Bassline will always be a reminder of what it feels like to live the impossible.

Here, Phiri discusses this iconic night club:

Book details


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Watch: Malebo Sephodi discusses her memoir Miss Behave (Yasss!)

Upon encountering historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s quote, ‘well-behaved women seldom make history’, Malebo Sephodi knew that she was tired of everyone else having a say on who and what she should be.

Appropriating this quote, Malebo boldly renounces societal expectations placed on her as a black woman and shares her journey towards misbehaviour.

According to Malebo, it is the norm for a black woman to live in a society that prescribes what it means to be a well-behaved woman. Acting like this prescribed woman equals good behaviour.
But what happens when a black woman decides to live her own life and becomes her own form of who she wants to be? She is often seen as misbehaving.

Miss Behave challenges society’s deep-seated beliefs about what it means to be an obedient woman. In this book, Malebo tracks her journey on a path towards achieving total autonomy and self-determinism.

Miss Behave will challenge, rattle and occasionally cause you to scream ‘yassss, yassss, yassss’ at various intervals.


 
Miss Behave

Book details


» read article

Listen: Vanessa Levenstein reviews Raymond Suttner’s Inside Apartheid’s Prison for FMR

Inside Apartheid's PrisonFirst published by Oceanbooks, New York and Melbourne, and University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg, in 2001, Inside Apartheid’s Prison was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Alan Paton award in 2002.

In the public imagination the struggle that saw the end of apartheid and inauguration of a democratic South Africa is seen as one waged by black people who were often imprisoned or killed for their efforts. Raymond Suttner, an academic, is one of a small group of white South Africans who was imprisoned for his efforts to overthrow the apartheid regime.

He was first arrested in 1975 and tortured with electric shocks because he refused to supply information to the police. He then served eight years for underground activities for the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP).

After his release in 1983, he returned to the struggle and was forced to go underground to evade arrest, but was re-detained in 1986 for 27 months; 18 of these being spent in solitary confinement.

In the last months of this detention Suttner was allowed to have a pet lovebird, which he tamed and used to keep inside his tracksuit. When he was eventually released from detention in September 1988 the bird was on his shoulder.

Suttner was held under stringent house arrest conditions, imposed to impede further political activities. He however defied his house arrest restrictions and attended an Organisation for African Unity meeting in Harare, where he remained for five months. Shortly after his return to SA, when he anticipated being re-arrested, the state of emergency was lifted and the ANC and other banned organisations were unbanned.

The book describes Suttner’s experience of prison in a low-key, unromantic voice, providing the texture of prison life. This ‘struggle memoir’ is also intensely personal, as Suttner is not averse to admitting his fears and anxieties.

The new edition contains an afterword where Suttner describes his break with the ANC and SACP. But he argues that the reasons for his rupturing this connection that had been so important to his life were the same ethical reasons that had led him to join in the first place. He remains convinced that what he did was right and continues to act in accordance with those convictions.

Listen to Levenstein’s review here:


 

Book details


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Book launch: If I Stay Right Here by Chwayita Ngamlana

What is Sex? Sex is a humid climate. What is Desire? Desire is snow. What is Loneliness? Loneliness is a badger trying to figure out why it looks different to an otter. What is Obsession?Obsession is trying to fix a broken chair without realising that the chair is just bent at the knees and that’s how it was born. What is a Dyke? A dyke is an intricate, indecipherable encryption.

Chwayita Ngamlana, in her electric debut book, explores the above questions through her characters as they struggle through the volatility of love, the danger of not knowing themselves and
discovering their voice in the world.

The story follows the characters, Shay and Sip, who are very different in class, style, character and education. Shay is a journalism student working part time as an intern on a site that has no clear sense of direction. Sip is an unemployed varsity drop out and ex-gang member.

Their vastly different lives make it challenging for them to be the kind of couple they so desperately want to be. Unable to get themselves untangled from the web they’ve created, Shay and Sip use money, other people and sex to fix things, but is this enough?

Ngamlama has created a world that is somewhere between the present day and a sub-world of delusion. The reader will want to watch both story and characters unravel. This book will touch anyone who has lost themselves or their loved ones to unhealthy, destructive relationships.

Chwayita Ngamlana was born and raised in Grahamstown. She is an only child who found comfort and companionship in reading and writing from the age of 10. She has a degree in music and has her master’s in Creative Writing. This is her debut novel – and it won’t be the last.
 

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