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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

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

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Two books to remember Ahmed Kathrada by

Ahmed Kathrada, former political prisoner and anti-apartheid activist, sadly passed away this week on Tuesday 28 March after a brief illness. Kathrada dedicated himself to the struggle and remained politically active until his death. The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which he founded, continues to work towards promoting ‘the values, rights and principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa’. He will be greatly missed.

Here are two books to remember him by:

A Free MindA Free Mind: Ahmed Kathrada’s Notebook from Robben Island

During his 26 years in jail, Ahmed Kathrada refused to allow the apartheid regime to confine his mind. Despite draconian prison censorship practices and heavily restricted access to the written word, Kathrada discovered a wealth of inspiring writings. A Free Mind presents extracts from poetry, novels, songs, sayings and letters that Kathrada transcribed and treasured as he served his life sentence in South Africa’s notorious Robben Island Maximum Security Prison. It includes quotes from Bertold Brecht, Mahatma Gandhi, Emily Brontë, Karl Marx, Olive Schreiner, Shabbir Banoobhai, Voltaire and many others.

Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn
Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn: The letters of Zuleikha Mayat and Ahhmed Kathrada 1979–1989

Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn is the compilation of the beautiful letters sent between Rivonia trialist and political prisoner Ahmed Kathrada and Zuleikha Mayat, a self-described housewife, during apartheid’s last decade. These letters tell the story – all the more powerful for its ephemeral character – of a developing epistolary friendship between two people to whom history has brought different gains and losses. The collection is rich, not merely in historical content and stylistic interest, but in the experience it offers to the reader of an unfolding conversation, reflecting both the immediate worlds of its authors and a tumultuous period of South African history.

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Amabookabooka chat to Sam Cowen about her memoir From Whiskey to Water

Amabookabooka, the quirky podcast devoted to interviewing local authors about their work, made its Daily Maverick debut recently.

In this episode, producers Jonathan Ancer and Dan Dewes chat to Sam Cowen, author of From Whiskey to Water.

Cowen’s 2016 memoir recounts her experiences of alcoholism – some funny, some terrifying – and how she overcame her dependency by replacing whiskey and wine with the source of life: water.

From the powerful effect that braving the icy Atlantic Ocean had on her to the process of writing about her past – Cowen, Ancer and Dewes cover it all.

You can listen to the full podcast here.

From Whiskey to Water

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A lifelong love affair with the natural world: The Big Cat Man: An Autobiography by Jonathan Scott

Jonathan Scott understands the animals he photographs so well – it is as though he can see the world as they do.

- David Attenborough

The Big Cat ManIn The Big Cat Man: An Autobiography, BBC’s Big Cat Diary presenter Jonathan Scott reveals the fascinating – sometimes painful – story of his journey of becoming one of the world’s most respected wildlife presenters, writers and photographers:

He published the book concurrently with Sacred Nature.

From a childhood spent on the family farm in Berkshire to travelling 6 000 miles overland in Africa and starting a career as a wildlife artist and safari guide, Jonathan’s tale is that of a lifelong love affair with the natural world. And a fervent desire to see it nurtured and preserved.

Beautifully illustrated with drawings and photographs by Jonathan and his wife Angie – herself an acclaimed wildlife photographer – this new autobiography is not only a gripping read but a thought-provoking one. It raises uncomfortable questions about the future of wildlife on a continent where the needs of the people sometimes can seem overwhelming. It will bring hope to those who have struggled with their own demons. But most of all, it is an inspiration to those determined to follow their dream, whatever it may be.

You can’t make, buy or fake passion. And when it comes to big cats, Africa and wildlife, Jonathan has passion in buckets. Along with knowledge and a great love.

- Chris Packham

A cracking tale – and crackingly well told, with deftness, compassion and humour. From the man whose name is synonymous with big cats, this is the brutally honest and insightful story of a life lived to the full.

- Mark Carwardine

About the author

Jonathan Scott is the author of 30 books, latterly co-written with his award-winning photographer wife Angela. His early works include The Marsh Lions (co-written with Brian Jackman), The Leopard’s Tale and The Great Migration; collaborations with Angie include Antarctica: Exploring a Fragile Eden, Mara-Serengeti: A Photographer’s Paradise, Stars of Big Cat Diary and immensely popular safari guides to East Africa’s animals and birds. In addition to working on Big Cat Diary and its spin-offs for 12 years, Jonathan has presented many other wildlife programmes for British and American television. He and Angie travel widely through Africa, Asia and Antarctica, hosting safari and photographic holidays, collecting material for their own work and revelling in their shared love of wildlife and wild places.

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Ronnie Kasrils’s Alan Paton Award-winning book The Unlikely Secret Agent published in French

nullThe Unlikely Secret Agent

Jacana Media is delighted to announce that The Unlikely Secret Agent by Ronnie Kasrils, recipient of the 2011 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, has just been published in French by Mardaga Publishing.

On hearing the news of the French edition, author Ronnie Kasrils had this to say: “I am particularly delighted that this book about an unsung heroine of South Africa’s national liberation struggle is appearing as a French-language publication.

“The anti-fascist resistance in Europe during World War Two has resonances in this book about a daring young woman who was prepared to sacrifice her freedom to a just cause. I believe French-speaking people of all ages will be inspired by this Scots-born woman who grew up in South Africa and became the first female operative in the clandestine armed struggle under Nelson Mandela’s command.”

Written after the death of his wife in 2009, The Unlikely Secret Agent tells the story of Eleanor Kasrils, one of the few white South African women to engage in armed struggle against the apartheid regime. A story written with humility and a pride that the reader can only share.

Ronnie’s response to Eleanor’s sudden death last year at home in South Africa was to write this extraordinary book at breakneck speed. It is a love story, a historical document of great importance, and a terrific tale of a clandestine success.

- Journalist and writer Victoria Brittain

A poignant and beautiful book.

- James McAuley, Washington Post

This “little” book about an “ordinary” woman with the heart of a lioness confirms the truth that our freedom was not free. From its pages rings out another truth that among the outstanding heroines and heroes of the South African struggle were those who did not set out to perform heroic deeds. These are the heroic combatants for freedom like the Unlikely Secret Agent, Eleanor Kasrils, the subject of this engrossing “little book”, who did the equally “little” things without which victory over the apartheid regime would have been impossible.

- Former President of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Mbeki

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Zoleka Mandela tackles the effects of chemotherapy head-on

When Hope WhispersZoleka Mandela, who is battling a renewed cancer scare, has decided to tackle the effects of chemotherapy head-on by shaving off her hair.

Mandela’s hair has been falling out due to gruelling chemo sessions‚ but instead of feeling defeated she has opted for bravely shaving her head.

“Sunday‚ 21st August 2016 marks the day I finally shaved off the little hair my chemotherapy left on my head! The eyebrows are on their way too as you can see but it all grows back‚” she said on Instagram.

Mandela, who has been sharing her journey with her followers in an attempt to inspire other cancer sufferers, has said that she’s not concerned by the loss of her hair and feels strong. She still has to undergo eight more sessions of chemotherapy.

“I’m not bothered! I don’t mind that my chin hairs are no longer growing either‚ I was never into the Catfish look anyway!!!

“I feel completely liberated at this point and much stronger too! Time to knock the next 8 sessions out the ball park.”

Mandela was first diagnosed with breast cancer about five years ago and had been in remission until a few months ago. She wrote about her journey in a powerful book, When Hope Whispers, published by Jacana Media in 2013.



In May this year Mandela announced that her battle with cancer was not over after a cancerous lump was discovered in her breast. As a result she had to go under the knife to remove the tumour and reconstruct her breast. She started chemo a month later.

When Hope Whispers

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J’Something and Hugh Masekela join forces to create a killer track [video]

Still GrazingMicasa’s J’Something and legendary musician Hugh Masekela have collaborated on a track which pays tribute to the beauty of the South African landscape and its people‚ called “Heaven In You”.

The song was created in less than 48 hours as part of the Mercedes Benz #EveryTerrain challenge, for which local stars venture across South Africa and tackle every terrain.

This time Bra Hugh‚ as he is affectionately known‚ and J’Something took to the south coast of the country‚ Tsitsikamma‚ to find inspiration for their newest collaboration.

Taking to Instagram‚ J’Something shared his experience‚ saying: “I got to spend some time with the legend Hugh Masekela and this journey sparked my creativity. We came up with a song called Heaven In You which is my love letter from Bra Hugh to South Africa.”

“I really wanted to pay tribute to you [Hugh]‚” said J’Something of the song‚ to which Hugh responded‚ giving his nod of approval: “It’s brilliant.”

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Join Sam Cowen for the launch of From Whiskey to Water with Melinda Ferguson at Love Books

Invitation to the launch of From Whiskey to Water

From Whiskey to WaterJacana Media and Love Books invite you to the launch of From Whiskey to Water, the no-holds-barred memoir by beloved radio talk show host Sam Cowen.

Cowen will be in conversation with Crashed author Melinda Ferguson on Thursday, 7 July, at Love Books in Melville. The launch will start at 5:30 for 6 PM.

From Whiskey to Water tells the story of Cowen’s struggle with her addiction to whiskey, food and finally to a passion that saved her life – marathon swimming.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 7 July 2016
  • Time: 5:30 for 6 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Interviewer: Melinda Ferguson
  • RSVP: Takalani,, 011 628 3200

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Sam Cowen opens up about beating alcohol addiction in From Whiskey to Water

My name is Samantha and I’m an alcoholic.

From Whiskey to WaterFrom Whiskey to Water is the no-holds-barred memoir by beloved radio talk show host Sam Cowen:

Having kept her alcohol addiction well away from the public eye for over 14 years, in this tell-all tale Cowen finds the courage to talk about her struggle with her addiction to whiskey, food and finally to a passion that saved her life – marathon swimming. Told in her characteristically hilarious deadpan style, this is one of the bravest books you’ll read this year.

“So this is a book on how I stopped drinking? No, it’s not. It’s how I stopped drinking, started eating, became clinically severely obese, stopped eating (everything that wasn’t nailed down) and swam my way to freedom. No, it’s not. It’s actually about addiction and learning and sadness and anxiety and love and drive. It’s about channelling the unchangeable into the miraculous. It’s about dragons and learning how to put them to sleep when you can’t slay them. It’s about being my own Daenarys.”

If you’re battling with addiction or looking for inspiration on self-acceptance then this is a book you should pick up … it’s about trying to swop being perfect for being human, a daily challenge. - Woman and Home

About the author

Sam Cowen is the longest-running female morning show host in the country, having worked Joburg’s biggest breakfast show on 94.7 for over 18 years with Jeremy Mansfield and Darren Whackhead Simpson. In 2015 she replaced Jenny Crwys-Williams on the wildly popular 1 PM – 3 PM slot on 702. She currently co-hosts the Weekend Breakfast Show on 702/Cape Talk with Africa Melane. Sam is also the bestselling author of Waiting for Christopher and Good Enough Mother, two popular books on motherhood.

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Do you want to get your book published, but don’t know how?

Invitation to a publishing masterclass
Out of LineThe LegacyRainfallMy Lion's HeartThird World Child

Jacana Media is hosting a question-and-answer session covering everything you’ve ever wanted to ask about trade publishing in South Africa!

Join us in conversation at this first talk in the publishing crash-course series, hosted by Staging Post.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 30 June 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Jacana Media
    10 Orange St
    Auckland Park | Map
  • Guest Speakers: Tracey McDonald (Tracey McDonald Publishers), Bridget Impey (MD of Jacana) and Klara Skinner (Staging Post)
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • Cost: Pay with a follow! Follow Staging Post on Twitter or Facebook

Tracey McDonald Publishers Book Details

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