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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

Book launch – Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson by Jonathan Ancer

Join author Jonathan Ancer in conversation with author, journalist and tweet writer, Gus Silber discussing Craig Williamson, the apartheid ‘super-spy’ turned killer.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 26 April 2017
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Love Books, The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre, 53 Rustenburg Road, Melville, Johannesburg. | Map
  • RSVP: Savannah Lucas, Jacana Media,, 011 628 3200

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Win a copy of Lindiwe Hani’s Being Chris Hani’s Daughter

Twenty-four years have passed since the assassination of the leader of the South African Communist Party, Chris Hani.

In honour of his memory, we’re giving away three copies of Lindiwe Hani’s Being Chris Hani’s Daughter, co-written by Melinda Ferguson.

When Chris Hani, leader of the South African Communist Party and heir apparent to Nelson Mandela, was brutally slain in his driveway in April 1993, he left a shocked and grieving South Africa on the precipice of civil war.

But to 12-year-old Lindiwe, it was the love of her life, her daddy, who had been shockingly ripped from her life.

In this intimate and brutally honest memoir, 36-year-old Lindiwe remembers the years she shared with her loving father, and the toll that his untimely death took on the Hani family.
She lays family skeletons bare and brings to the fore her own downward spiral into cocaine and alcohol addiction, a desperate attempt to avoid the pain of his brutal parting.

While the nation continued to revere and honour her father’s legacy, for Lindiwe, being Chris Hani’s daughter became an increasingly heavy burden to bear.

“For as long as I can remember, I’d grown up feeling that I was the daughter of Chris Hani and that I was useless. My father was such a huge figure, such an icon to so many people, it felt like I could never be anything close to what he achieved – so why even try? Of course my addiction to booze and cocaine just made me feel my worthlessness even more.”

In a stunning turnaround, she faces her demons, not just those that haunted her through her addiction, but, with the courage that comes with sobriety, she comes face to face with
her father’s two killers – Janus Walus, still incarcerated, and Clive Derby Lewis, released in 2015 on medical parole. In a breathtaking twist of humanity, while searching for the truth behind her father’s assassination, Lindiwe Hani ultimately makes peace with herself and honours her father’s gigantic spirit.

Enter on our Facebook page by telling us – in no more more than two sentences – why you should receive a copy of this singular memoir. Entries close Monday 17 April.

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Listen to Lindiwe Hani discuss her father and the aftermath of his death at the launch of Being Chris Hani’s Daughter

This was a different launch. It was live on air – on Kaya FM. John Perlman interviewed Lindiwe Hani at the launch of her book Being Chris Hani’s Daughter, written with Melinda Ferguson. The crowd came to hear her talk about her life – dealing with the loss of her father, bearing the burden of his legacy, her addiction to cocaine and alcohol, and eventually coming face to face with the two men that murdered her father – Janusz Waluś and Clive Derby-Lewis.

Listen to the podcast:

Being Chris Hani's Daughter Book details













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Book launch and exhibition: Traces and Tracks: A Thirty-Year Journey with the San by Paul Weinberg

Jacana Media and Origins Centre invite you to the launch and exhibition of Traces and Tracks – A Thirty-Year Journey with the San.

Event Details

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Book launch: Being Chris Hani’s Daughter

MFBooks Joburg and The Mall of Rosebank in partnership with Zebra Square invite you to the launch of Being Chris Hani’s Daughter, by Lindiwe Hani and Melinda Ferguson.

In this intimate and searingly honest memoir, Lindiwe Hani recalls the 12 years she shared with her father, Chris, her hero, and the toll that his untimely death took on the Hani family. When she comes face-to-face with her father’s killers, she is finally able to confront her demons.

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Hazel Crampton’s Dagga: A Short History cited in recent judgement on dagga use

‘In a world stalked by biltong, Hazel Crampton’s latest literary cultivation is an enthralling and educative reminder of another enduring South African staple. Her pioneering short exploration of dagga displays a fine eye for telling detail, covers a lot of ground at an enjoyably brisk pace, and satisfies the reader’s inquisitiveness in all kinds of knowledgeable as well as unexpected ways. This gem of a book is enough to make you flap your wings.’
– Professor Bill Nasson, Department of History, Stellenbosch University.

Dagga: A Short History is a conversation piece, a witty and thought-provoking overview of dagga in South Africa, its origins, background as a legal drug, and later criminalisation. An entertaining and informative take on the law and the current medical debate, it is an essential contribution to emerging issues such as licensing, legalisation and taxation.

Read the judgement here.

Hazel Crampton is the author of the bestselling The Sunburnt Queen (Jacana, 2004), The Side of the Sun at Noon (Jacana, 2014), and co-editor of Into the Hitherto Unknown: Ensign Beutler’s Expedition to the Eastern Cape, 1752 (Cape Town: Van Riebeeck Society, 2013). Dagga: A Short History (then, now and just now) is her fourth book. Hazel is an artist and lives in Grahamstown.

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Launch of It’s Me, Marah even livelier than expected!

Relatives, close friends and staunch admirers of iconic South African musician and actress, Marah Louw, recently congregated at Soweto’s Vilakazi Restaurant for the launch of Louw’s autobiography It’s Me, Marah.

Menus which read ‘Welcome to Mara’s Book Launch’ were positioned on exquisitely set tables. (In no way did the typo distract from the delicious authentic African dishes the attendees were treated to.)

The MC opened his introduction of Marah by stating that “today we celebrate a woman we haven’t had the opportunity to celebrate.”

And believe you me, celebrate we did…

Before the starter arrived, guests were treated to a live performance of a capella group The Harmony Singers; “they’re all my husbands,” Louw quipped during her surprise performance with the group at the end of the evening. (Eager to see the queen in action? Click here!)

The performance was followed by a poignant and meaningful speech by Thabiso Mahlaphe, founder of BlackBird Books, the publishers of It’s Me, Marah.

Two statements which stood out during Mahlape’s speech included her mentioning that she has heard many stories during her career as publisher, “yet Marah’s story will always stay with me. The reason I’m so fat is because so many stories stay with me,” she laughed.

Mahlape earnestly added that “I stand here with mixed emotions. As a young black woman I shouldn’t have waited this long for Marah to approach me; I should have approached her.”

The golden couple of South Africa’s musical theatre scene and age-old friends of Marah Louw, Des and Dawn Lindberg, were among the event-goers. The Lindbergs have known, travelled, and performed with Louw since the 1980s. Des entertained his fellow table members with stories of Dawn and Marah dancing with Mandela and De Klerk during the Newsmaker of the Year ceremony, and how Marah lost an entire suitcase during a cruise tour and had to dress in Dawn’s clothes for the remainder of their travels.

Guest speaker Elinor Sisulu initiated her discussion with Louw by asking her about the parts of her autobiography dedicated to her youth.

Louw candidly spoke about falling pregnant at 18, emphasising the significant role her high school principle played in supporting and urging her parents to allow her to continue her schooling..

Marah added that a lack of sexual education contributed to her unplanned pregnancy.

Whilst on the topic of education, Sisulu stated that “this book is about education. Our musicians are educators; it should be in every school in the country.”

Marah’s daughter Moratuwa spoke honestly about her mother’s past, asserting that “I’ve witnessed her abuse … She’s been through a lot. I watched her go on; she has no time for pity parties.”

Moratuwa also recalled her mother’s writing process, mentioning how Marah went through “many breakdowns, yet writing this book was a process of healing.

“I don’t think there’s a better shrink than what you did with this book,” Moratuwa concluded.

Nee, kyk. Judging by Louw’s fabulous attire, delightful demeanour and powerful mini-performance, this is one queen whose reign is far from over…

It's Me, Marah

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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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Want to learn how to write non-fiction? Join the Writing Masterclass with Christa Kuljian at Bridge Books


Join us for Jacana Media’s new series of Masterclasses for aspiring writers.

Christa Kuljian, author of Darwin’s Hunch and Sanctuary, will present the Masterclass at Bridge Books and share her insights on writing, non-fiction writing in particular.

Contact Bridge Books or visit for details.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 30 March 2017
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Bridge Books, 85 Commissioner Street, Johannesburg
  • Guest Speaker: Christa Kuljian
  • Cover charge: R150
  • (includes a copy of her book)

  • RSVP:, 079 708 4461,


  • Darwin's HunchBook details

  • Sanctuary

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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

    Book details

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