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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Listen: Raymond Suttner discusses Inside Apartheid’s Prison on Power FM

First published by Oceanbooks, New York and Melbourne, and University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg in 2001, Raymond Suttner’s 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. 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 Suttner’s recent conversation with Iman Rapetti for Power FM:


Inside Apartheid's Prison

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Sara-Jayne King talks about Killing Karoline on SAfm

Killing Karoline deals with important topical issues relating to adoption, identity, race, mental health and addiction.

Born Karoline King in 1980 in Johannesburg South Africa, Sara-Jayne (as she will later be called by her adoptive parents) is the result of an affair, illegal under apartheid’s Immorality Act, between a white British woman and a black South African man. Her story reveals the shocking lie created to cover up the forbidden relationship, and the hurried overseas adoption of the illegitimate baby, born during one of history’s most inhumane and destructive regimes.

Killing Karoline follows the journey of the baby girl (categorised as ‘white’ under South Africa’s race classification system) who is raised in a leafy, middle-class corner of the South of England by a white couple. It takes the reader through her formative years, a difficult adolescence and into adulthood, as Sara-Jayne (Karoline) seeks to discover who she is and where she came from.

Plagued by questions surrounding her own identity and unable to ‘fit in’ Sara-Jayne begins to turn on herself. She eventually returns to South Africa, after 26 years, to face her demons. There she is forced to face issues of identity, race, rejection and belonging beyond that which she could ever have imagined. She must also face her birth family, who in turn must confront what happens when the baby you kill off at a mere six weeks old returns from the dead.

Sara-Jayne King is a mixed-race South African/British journalist and radio presenter whose career spans over a decade and has taken her across the globe in search of remarkable stories and fascinating characters. While studying for an LLB degree in the UK, Sara-Jayne realised her passion lay elsewhere and, after graduating, she went on to complete a Master’s in Journalism in 2004. Her career began as a junior journalist in local radio in London and since then has included roles in the Middle East and Africa, most recently as a senior editor for news channel eNCA and presenter for Primedia’s talk radio station Cape Talk.

Listen to Nancy Richards’s recent interview with Sara-Jayne here:

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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

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Listen: AmaBookaBooka interview Christa Kuljian

In 1871, Darwin predicted that humans evolved in Africa. European scientists thought his claim astonishing and it took the better part of a century for Darwin to be proven correct. From Raymond Dart’s description of the Taung Child Skull in 1925 to Lee Berger’s announcement of Homo Naledi in 2015, South Africa has been the site of fossil discoveries that have led us to explore our understanding of human evolution.

Darwin’s Hunch reviews how the search for human origins has been shaped by a changing social and political context. The book engages with the concept of race, from the race typology of the 1920s and ’30s to the post-World War II concern with race, to the impact of apartheid and its demise. The book explores the scientific racism that often placed people in a hierarchy of race and treated them as objects to be measured.

In 1987, the publication of “Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution” suggested that all living humans could trace their ancestry back to an African woman 200,000 years ago. Again, many scientists and the general public in the West were slow to accept such a claim.

Listen to author Christa Kuljian discuss her Alan Paton award shortlisted book, sharing her thoughts on revisiting science, and repeating Australopithecus Africanus 10 times in this recent AmaBookaBooka interview:


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Watch: Jonathan Ancer on Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson

Jonathan Ancer recently discussed his latest book Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson on

Spy is Ancer’s account of the apartheid ‘super-spy’ Craig Williamson.

Williamson registered at Wits University and joined the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) in 1972. He was elected NUSAS’s vice president and in January 1977, when his career in student politics came to an abrupt end, he fled the country and from Europe continued his anti-apartheid ‘work’.

But Williamson was not the activist his friends and comrades thought he was. In January 1980, Captain Williamson was unmasked as a South African spy. Williamson returned to South Africa and during the turbulent 1980s worked for the foreign section of the South African Police’s notorious Security Branch and South Africa’s ‘super-spy’ transformed into a parcel-bomb assassin.

Through a series of interviews with the many people Williamson interacted with while he was undercover and after his secret identity was eventually exposed, Jonathan Ancer details Williamson’s double life, the stories of a generation of courageous activists, and the book eventually culminates with Ancer interviewing South Africa’s ‘super-spy’ face-to-face.

It deals with crucial issues of justice, reconciliation, forgiveness, betrayal and the consequences of apartheid that South Africans are still grappling with.

Watch the full interview here:



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“I Had to Learn to Close My Ears” – Melinda Ferguson Talks About Her Memoir, Crashed (Video)

CrashedJennifer Sanasie chatted to Melinda Ferguson on News24 recently about her new book, Crashed: How Trashing a Ferrari Saved My Life.

In 2013 Ferguson took a R3.2 million Ferrari California out on a test drive for the day, celebrating 14 years of sobriety. Minutes before returning it she crashed the luxury vehicle – an event that served as a catalyst for a number of life-changing events.

“Later I realised this crash was almost an inevitable thing, that I needed to take stock of my life and what I’d been doing and where I’d been going in my life, and so the crash, I suppose, is symbolic of just a whole lot of stuff gets crashed and then slowly gets rebuilt again,” Ferguson tells Sanasie. The aftermath was quite traumatic, with a lot of rumours and gossip about the reason for it.

“I had to learn to close my ears,” Ferguson says. “I felt very victimised, I must say, by all of the stuff and unable to engage with it.” However, owning what happened and writing about it gave her a sense of peace and closure with this chapter of her life.

Ferguson also chats about the things that were not right before the crash, how she worked through the post-traumatic stress after the accident and why she decided to write a book about the things that transpired afterwards.

Watch the video:

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I Wanted Piggy Boy’s Blues to Glorify the Eastern Cape: Nakhane Toure on 7 Years of Writing (Video)

Piggy Boy's BluesPolity’s Sane Dhlamini recently chatted to Nakhane Touré about his debut novel, Piggy Boy’s Blues.

In the interview Touré, who studied literature at Wits University, speaks about his dream of being an academic: “Initially I actually wanted to be a writer and I wanted to play music on the weekends and be one of those cool lecturers.”

A lack of funding, however, forced Touré to leave university, and this is when the music really started to happen. “I threw myself into the music because I had nothing else to lose.” That was seven years ago, during which time Touré didn’t stop working on Piggy Boy’s Blues.

“Writing literature is very slow, and very lonely,” Touré said about the process and his journey back to the Eastern Cape to finish the book. “I needed to go back to the Eastern Cape to write about it authentically and honestly,” he said. “I wanted the book to be a glorification of that space, because that space has gone through so much.”

Watch the video, in which Touré explains how and why he never stopped writing:

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Raising Superheroes verduidelik hoekom kinders vet word en hoe om dit te voorkom” – Tim Noakes

Raising SuperheroesProfessor Tim Noakes het vroeër vanjaar met Rochélle Human gesels oor sy nuwe kookboek vir kinders, Raising Superheroes.

Raising Superheroes verduidelik hoekom kinders vet word en hoe om dit te voorkom,” het Noakes gesê. “Daar is meer suiker in pureekos as ooit tevore. Verwerkte babakos was die eerste geïndustrialiseerde kos.”

Noakes het verder vertel dat Raising Superheroes nie Banting vir kinders is nie: “Solank jy jou kind nie suiker gee nie, kan hy ’n bietjie koolhidrate inneem.”

Lees die artikel:

Vroeër is babas met “werklike kos” gespeen. Daardie kinders “was gesond, sterk en nie vetsugtig nie”.

“As kinders regte kos eet, sal hulle baie sterker en gesonder – en ons hoop slimmer – grootword, met baie minder gedragsprobleme. Hulle sal nie vetsugtig wees nie en hulle sal hulle nooit oor hul gewig hoef te bekommer nie.”

Luidens uittreksels uit die boek beveel die skrywers aan dat kleuters vet in kos soos sardyne, avokado’s en neutbotter inkry en hoender met die vel en volroomsuiwel eet.

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Watch Nakhane Toure Read an Excerpt from Piggy Boy’s Blues (Plus: Read an Interview)

Piggy Boy's BluesPiggy Boy’s Blues is award-winning musician Nakhane Touré’s debut novel, and he says although he has been working on the book for about seven years the unbelievable reality of having his words in print is still sinking in.

Touré recently read a section from his book for Jameson Indie Channel, and was interviewed by video director Dylan Culhane.

In the interview, Touré speaks about the similarities and differences between writing music and writing novels, and reveals a little bit about the story in Piggy Boy’s Blues

Read the interview:

You only got your first copy of the book last night. After such a long time it must be an amazing feeling holding a tangible record of all that hard work in your hands.

It’s interesting because I’m one of those people who understands their feelings later. So when my album came out, I saw it and I thought: “This is amazing,” but it really only sunk in and I really only understood the magnitude of it like a week or so later. So I’m seeing the book now and reading it and thinking: “Oh my God these are my words, I wrote this!” and I understand it’s really really big. But there hasn’t been this shift in my psyche yet. It’ll probably happen after everything has ended and I go home and I’m all alone.

Watch the video of Touré’s reading:

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An Interview with Nakhane Toure, Musician and Novelist, About Ways and Whys of Working with Words

Piggy Boy's BluesNakhane Touré is a musician who, already having a much coveted SAMA award to his name, has now stepped into the world of literature.

Touré was recently interviewed by Glamour about his debut novel Piggy Boy’s Blues.

In the interview, Touré speaks about the differences between writing songs and writing a novel, how he deals with writer’s block and where he finds inspiration for his writing.

Read the interview:

Your song lyrics seem to be quite personal, is your novel the same?

Nakhane: The novel is different in that these are created characters, and I, like a puppeteer, have given them life, emotions, things to love, things to hate, bad and good habits, etc. But as much as that is true, I wanted the story to be quite intimate, and in that respect, one could say that it is personal.

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