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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Join Melinda Ferguson and Patricia Taylor for High Tea and a Discussion of Oscar in Durban

Afternoon Haute Tea with Melinda Ferguson and Patricia Taylor

Oscar: An Accident Waiting to HappenJacana and The Sugar Club would like to invite you to join Melinda Ferguson and Patricia Taylor for afternoon tea.

Ferguson and Taylor will be discussing their book Oscar: An Accident Waiting to Happen and Oscar Pistorius’ tumultuous relationship with Taylor’s daughter, Samantha.

The event will be at The Sugar Club at Beverly Hills on Saturday, 15 November at 2:30 to 4:30 PM.

Please note that booking is essential.

Event Details

  • Date: Saturday, 15 November 2014
  • Time: 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM
  • Venue: The Sugar Club
    Beverly Hills Hotel
    Lighthouse Road
    | Map
  • Refreshments: High tea
  • Cover charge: R295
  • RSVP: Chrizanne,, 031 561 2211

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Be Enticed by the Trailer for Cayleigh Bright’s Debut Novel, Close to Home

Close to HomeCayleigh Bright’s riveting debut novel chronicles the lives of a group of very rich UCT students. Their cushy life is threatened when one of their classmates is found dead, leaving the group divided when debate arises around the cause of death.

Bright herself was a student at this institution. At the Cape Town launch she said: “There’s so much energy, enthusiasm and fun that happened while I was at UCT, but there is something that creeps up on you. Not while everybody is energised and inspired, but in those hours between class and whatever happens at night. There is a lapse, not disillusionment, but yes … ennui.” This largely inspired her book.

Watch the Close to Home trailer:

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Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Awards 2014 Winners Announced at the Goethe Institute

Winner of Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Awards 2014: Thabo Jijana


Thabo Jijana was named the winner of the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award 2014 during a celebration ceremony at the Goethe Institute on Tuesday, 4 November 2014.

Rochelle Jacobs came in second place and third place went to Jim Pascual Agustin. Head of the European Union delegation to South Africa, Ambassador Roeland van de Geer, made the announcements and congratulated the winners. Margaret Fish covered the event for Books LIVE:

Nobody’s BusinessThe rain finally having abated in Joburg, guests enjoyed a lovely warm evening mingling under the trees in the courtyard of the Goethe Institute before being ushered to their seats for the eagerly awaited announcement of the winner of the 2014 award.

Ester Levinrad from Jacana Media told the audience that 2014 is the fourth year of the competition, held in honour of Sol Plaatje, thinker, artist and activist, who died in 1932. There were 303 entries this year from 121 people and included poems in five of South Africa’s official languages, demonstrating a rich South African vernacular. The anthology contains a selection of 82 poems.

Van de Geer outlined the EU’s support for the award, saying multiculturalism is an important issue shared by South Africa and the EU and praised Jacana for leading this initiative. The EU support to other cultural initiatives in South Africa includes the Tri Continental Film Festival, the Oral History Conference and the Rise and Fall of Apartheid photographic exhibition currently on at Museum Africa in Newtown.

He emphasised that multilingualism is very much part of the EU experience, which includes 24 languages. The poetry award and anthology has been an EU-Jacana flagship project for the past four years. The poems in the anthology describe South Africa and how its people capture the world they live in today, a complex country that can be difficult to understand.

The audience was then treated to a poetic interlude, where the three finalists read their poems. First up was Agustin, a prolific poet who grew up in the Philippines and now lives in Cape Town. His poem was entitled “Illegal, Undocumented” and deals with the experience of mining underground. Next was Jacobs, a final year Stellenbosch student who started an awareness campaign with some friends about rape, the subject of her moving poem “Something Other”.

Jijana read his poem, “Children Watching Old People”. He is a journalist and lives in Port Elizabeth. Apart from writing poetry, he has just published his first book about the Eastern Cape taxi industry, Nobody’s Business.

The jury for this year’s competition were three South African poets: Ingrid de Kok (English), Johann de Lange (Afrikaans) and Goodenough Mashego (African languages). They send their shortlist to Dr Mongane Wally Serote, who selected the winner.

In his address, Serote talked about how each of the three finalists’ poems had touched him. They provide a very broad tapestry of life in South Africa. He felt that the anthology as a whole contains “the writing on the wall about this country”. “Art interweaves with our consciousness and I hope it can touch the human note in us to enable us to confront our challenges,” he said. He raised the question of why this book and the other three in the collection are not prescribed works in schools and universities. It is vitally important that South African literature is part of the school and tertiary curricula.

Van de Geer then made the long-awaited announcement. After the certificates were handed out, there was more interaction over drinks and snacks in the courtyard.

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Join Gia Nicolaides and Pippa Hudson for a Live Studio Discussion of Reporting from the Frontline

Launch: Reporting from the Frontline

Reporting from the Frontline: Untold Stories from MarikanaJacana Media and Cape Talk 567 invite you to be part of the live studio audience for an interview with Gia Nicolaides about her latest book, Reporting from the Frontline: Untold Stories from Marikana.

The Eyewitness News senior reporter will speak to Cape Talk 567 presenter Pippa Hudson about her book on Monday, 17 November, at the CapeTalk Studios in Greenpoint. The event will start at 1:30 for 2 PM and RSVP is essential.

Don’t miss it!

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Vernon RL Head’s The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World Launched with Hamilton Wende in Joburg

Book Launch: Search for the Rarest Bird in the World

Book Launch: The Search for the Rarest Bird in the WorldThe Search for the Rarest Bird in the WorldFour years ago the chairperson of BirdLife South Africa, Vernon RL Head, embarked on a search for the rarest bird in the world and on Wednesday, 5 November 2014, he launched his epic tale of discovery and adventure at Love Books in Johannesburg. Head was in conversation with journalist and author of Arabella, the Moon and the Magic Mongongo Nut, Hamilton Wende. Wende said The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World reminds him of the best nature writing: “The prose is so evocative.”

“This wonderful adventure made me want to share this story. Putting it on paper made me think about why I watch birds – it structures my whole life,” Head said. This book is meant for people who don’t watch birds, people “on the edge of watching birds”. Head hopes his story will open up a wonderful world of inquiry for people who want to watch birds, but do not know why or where to begin.

The rarest bird ever first appeared in ornithological literature 20 odd years ago when an unknown wing was found squashed into the mud. It became the first bird to be named without ever having been seen. The place where the wing was found became a map for Head, an “X marks the spot”. “Maps take you on wonderful journeys to places physically and in the mind. Maps also get you lost.”

Head explained the importance of seeing and naming elements of nature: “Knowing the names of things unlocks their stories. That’s what bird watching is about for me.” Conservation is close to his heart and the act of giving something in nature a name allows people to identify and communicate what is it and why it is important to save it. “Part of bird watching is collecting names and having a list of what you’ve seen, how many birds you’ve seen and what your friends have seen.”

Our world is becoming smaller and smaller. When we watch birds we are reminded of the wilderness, Head said. Rare birds are relics from a pristine world, ambassadors of an unspoiled past. “We need these places to feel human.” Head referred to island eco-systems as “mini reflections of our world” that tell the “story of our world in miniature”. He said that the alarming number of bird species that become extinct every day reminds us that “time is running out, we need to walk gently and look”.

Wende described nature’s allure as being one part dangerous, one part exciting, with reference to Into the Wild by John Krakauer. Head said there have always been communities living on the edge of wilderness who serve as a buffer between cities and the pristine. “Taking from nature is not the answer. Learning from nature is the answer.”

“What is it to watch, to really see?” Head described himself as a visual person and explained what exactly happens when you watch birds. First you just look at birds, then you see what they do and eventually all the other things will start to unravel – weather patterns, frogs, and much more. One thing is clear to the author – “connecting with nature enriches your life”.

During the question and answer session the audience was very interested in Head’s journey. Like an Indiana Jones of bird watching Head battled the elements to reach his goal – from conflict over grazing lands to fluctuating water levels, more often than not he relied on his instincts or “winged it”. He could not have done it alone, he said. The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World is also a tale about friendship, an integral part of bird watching. One audience member asked whether Head had encountered a local memory of this bird. “We often ask the locals,” he said. “There was no local understanding of this bird.” So did they find the rarest bird in the world? Well… read the book and find out.

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Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:


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Dominique Luck oor Surviving Flight 295: “My wêreld het om my ma gedraai” (Uittreksel)

Surviving Flight 295Surviving Flight 295: Life After the Helderberg – the Memoir of Dominique Luck is Dominique Luck se persoonlike verhaal van die 1987 Helderberg-vliegramp, geskryf deur Joanne Lillie en Dominique Luck.

In Surviving Flight 295 vertel Luck die storie van haar ma en babasuster wat in die ramp gesterf het. In hierdie uittreksel is Luck ’n agtjarige dogtertjie wat ongewonde wag op haar ma se tuiskoms. Luck vertel die storie van daardie eerste telefoonoproep en hoe haar lewe daarna verander het.

Lees die uittreksel:

Die SAUK het deur die dag TV1-uitsendings onderbreek met amptelike vars nuus, wat vaag en ongereeld was. Daar was ook instruksies vir familie en vriende wat wou bevestig of hul naasbestaandes op die passasierslys was. Hoop het vervaag met elke uur wat sonder nuus verbygegaan het.

Terwyl die inligting begin insink het, het ek gedink: ‘Wat as ek met hom bly sit?’ Nie omdat ek nie vir my pa lief was nie, maar ek was agt jaar oud en my wêreld het om my ma gedraai. Sy het my lewe georganiseer en was verantwoordelik dat my skedule seepglad verloop. Sy was die een wat seker gemaak het ek eet ontbyt, dat my hare skoon en vasgemaak is, dat ek sonskerm aan het en dat ek die regte skoolboeke vir die dag het, dat ek my tuiswerk gedoen het, my balletsak gepak is, dat ek skoene het wat pas en kouse sonder gate.


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Patricia Taylor Explains Why She Wrote Oscar: An Accident Waiting to Happen (Excerpt)

Oscar: An Accident Waiting to HappenRead Patricia Taylor’s Introduction to Oscar: An Accident Waiting to Happen, which she co-wrote with Melinda Ferguson.

Taylor’s daughter Samantha was Oscar Pistorius’ girlfriend before Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he shot and killed on Valentine’s Day, 2013.

In the extract, Taylor explains why she felt she needed to write the book, saying Oscar Pistorius “almost destroyed my daughter Sam and negatively affected our entire family”.

Read her thoughts:


I know for sure that our lives will never be the same as they were before OP. It’s so odd because from the first night I lay in bed with a knot in my stomach from worry and concern about his disabilities, his fame and how it would impact our daughter Sammy, and our lives – the knot still remains. I think about Oscar and what he put my precious child and family through. How his life went so haywire that he went as far as shooting and killing someone. And how he hurt my precious daughter and broke her trust in so many ways …
– Trish Taylor, journal entry, September 2013

Why on earth would I want to write this book? This is the question that will probably be asked a lot once it is published. Is it for money? Publicity? Fame? The truth is I am absolutely terrified to tell my story, but I am more terrified not to. As hard as it is to get it all out, to sit day in and day out, spending months and months with Melinda Ferguson, my writer, and going over all the pain and turmoil and chaos – especially now, in light of what has happened to Reeva and what transpired in the court case – I feel I must tell our story. Already four months before Oscar shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp, as he ricocheted out of our lives, I was struck by a deep need to tell the story of how Oscar had come into our world and, how, over a period of 18 months, he almost destroyed my daughter Sam and negatively affected our entire family.

During the Olympics of 2012 and after Oscar returned to South Africa, I feared that something terrible was going to happen. I believed strongly that Oscar was in dire need of help; that he was on the brink of suicide, or that something was about to happen – with disastrous consequences. After things went sour between Oscar and Sammy towards the end of 2012, Oscar fabricated so many stories about Sammy, that hurt both her and her reputation, to justify his actions and hurtful behaviour. When one of Oscar’s friends phoned to threaten Sam and our family, to “watch our backs if we ever go back to Joburg”, I was forced to consult a psychologist and an attorney. I was extremely stressed. Both professionals advising me were as worried about Sammy and our family as I was.

Up until then, to protect the privacy and safety of my loved ones, I had kept quiet. They advised that it was possibly the right time to speak out. But at that stage, just after the glory of the “Oscar Olympics” of the summer of 2012, who would have believed me? Oscar Pistorius was the world’s darling. Why would anyone listen to me, his ex-girlfriend’s mother? Why would anyone heed my warnings? I feared they would turn on me – and I would end up scorned as the crazy, embittered mother. Sammy would be even more tarnished and threatened. Although I had first-hand information of Oscar that was extremely disturbing, that showed a side of him that was deeply unstable, and as much as I knew that people had to be warned, my larger sense was that no one would listen.

So I listened to fear, and silenced myself. Then on 14 February 2013 the world woke up to the news of Reeva’s brutal killing. Suddenly, my need to tell our family’s story became overwhelming. I am not a writer, but I knew I had something important to tell and I knew I needed an author I could trust, and who would understand the importance of the story I had to tell. From the minute Melinda Ferguson and I met in May 2013, we connected. The truth is, I was on a mission to find her. Long before we ever met, I had read her first book, Smacked, while travelling on a train in Scotland; her story about her journey into drug addiction, and her subsequent healing, blew me away.

Mel understood what I wanted to say from day one. We have worked together, mostly in secret – meeting in hotel lobbies, in boardrooms, and in hidden back-room spaces. Mel has enabled me to tell my story, and I will be eternally grateful for that. While this book was being written, we had no idea whether Oscar was going to be found guilty and sit in jail for a long time or be found innocent and live as a free man. In fact, we went to print before the outcome of the trial was announced. So in many ways it feels like we wrote the end of the book in the dark. But we both didn’t feel the outcome of the trial would change anything in the story. If he walks free it will be even more important that people read this book. He is a man that needs help. Oscar himself admitted this to me on numerous occasions. If his family and friends were honest with themselves, they would admit this as well, and find him the assistance he so desperately needs. The world should know the many layers that make up Oscar Pistorius. He was a world icon, a respected hero, yet he had many other sides to him. In the aftermath of the killing, people are still trying to make sense of what happened. I hope in some way this book will offer some insights.

I have done my utmost not to make this solely my daughter Sammy’s story, but rather our whole family’s – describing how we all experienced Oscar and how he affected our lives, as well as the agony we lived through as my daughter fell in and out of love with Oscar. But in telling this story, I have had to bring in elements of their relationship to put the pieces of the puzzle together. This is a book about a person whose life went out of control and tragically impacted a number of others. It is a book about an accident that was always waiting to happen. I wish I had told my story earlier, when Reeva was still alive. Perhaps Oscar might have sought assistance and things may have turned out differently. It might even have saved a life.

Soon after Reeva died, I spoke to a well-known forensic scientist about my fear of telling this story. He advised me that if I wanted to protect my family from the threats of violence and keep the family safe, we needed to tell our truth. He told me: “It is safer to go into the light than it is to stay in the dark.” It is those words that have given me the strength and inspiration to write this. – Patricia Taylor, March 2014

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Join Melinda Ferguson and Patricia Taylor for a Book Signing of Oscar: An Accident Waiting to Happen

Oscar: An Accident Waiting to HappenJacana Media invites you to a book signing of Oscar: An Accident Waiting to Happen by Melinda Ferguson and Patricia Taylor.

The book signing will take place on Saturday, 15 November, at Bargain Books in Durban from 11 to 12 AM.

Don’t miss it!
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The Nature of Apartheid Betrayal: Jacob Dlamini Launches Askari at The Book Lounge

Jacob Dlamini

Some topics are guaranteed to draw a crowd. The desire to know the murky details of ANC history that have been conveniently swept under the rug is one of these. So it’s no surprise there was not one empty seat at the launch of Jacob Dlamini’s most recent book, Askari: A story of collaboration and betrayal in the anti-apartheid struggle.

Another reason for The Book Lounge‘s full house is Dlamini’s undeniable gift as a writer, tackling a thorny topic with skill and compassion. Mervyn Sloman introduced the successful journalist and academic, and recalled Dlamini’s controversial first book, Native Nostalgia, which has just been reprinted. He described it as part memoir, part book-length essay. Native Nostalgia met with much acclaim throughout South Africa, and deservedly so, according to Sloman, who predicted that Askari, the story of Glory Sedibe, or “Comrade September”, will be highly commended too.

Jacob Dlamini and Mervyn SlomanAskariAlthough the author’s primary focus is the life story of Sedibe, Sloman said the book was about so much more than one man’s life. “It talks about askaris in general. It talks about the nature of betrayal, about the terms of our negotiated settlement, and about how elements of our past that remain in the shadows impact our present and our future.” He said it was a “crucially important” addition to South African literature, deserving congratulations and enormous gratitude.

Sloman asked Dlamini about the inspiration for Askari. Dlamini mentioned the details of his mother’s death in 1987, his enrollment as a boarder at St Barnabus High a year later, and the remarkable library there. He recalls a journal, Work in Progress, as a pivotal influence. In particular he remembers reading an article by Glenn Moss about the abduction of Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, Mandla Maseko and Simon Dladla. Mention of “Mr X-1″ caught his attention. “Over the years I kept wondering who this mysterious figure was, and how it was possible that somebody so senior in the ANC could turn in so spectacular a fashion,” he said.

Dlamini described his initial approach to this narrative as “gung-ho”. He acknowledged various influences who helped him get off his high horse. “I realised this could not be a book about judgement, about exposé, about naming and shaming.” He referred to various challenges he faced while writing the book, including the concept of the “reliable narrator” when the “messy” and “non-linear” narratives of collaboration are shot through with secrets and lies.

He reflected on the two-year process he went through to secure an interview with Eugene de Kock, who wanted him to provide him with books on the American Civil War in exchange for the granting of the interview, and on meeting Sifiso Radebe, an askari, who used his payout from Vlakplaas to start a pyramid scheme. When Dlamini secured an interview with him, he had to take the prisoner biscuits and cigarettes. “He doesn’t smoke,” he said, “but uses the cigarettes to barter!”

The author spoke of the decisions he faced in writing the book: “I had to ask myself: ‘What am I doing? What’s my position in relation to this story? And how am I trying to tell it?’ It’s all so shady!”

He further examined the curious dimension of the five interviews with askaris he was able to secure, as a result of the “help” he secured Almond Nofomela, a policeman involved with Vlakplaas in early days. “I was able to get the interviews because Nofomela was with me. He is a dominant figure, an alpha male. He instructed them to speak to me. He was a bully. Did I walk away with a compromising story? It’s not easy to do this. I had to constantly ask myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ It was an exercise in thinking about the archive, and how one approaches it. It couldn’t be a gung-ho ‘name and shame’ exercise.”

A key narrative decision Dlamini took was to avoid psychologising the men. He asked them how he should refer to them. “None wanted to be referred to as an ‘askari’. Their vocabulary was the language of the struggle. They called each other ‘cadre’ and ‘comrade’. That was how they saw themselves, what they called each other,” said Dlamini. He found this illuminating, but he couldn’t be sure whether any of them ever turned completely, and came to believe in apartheid.

This multifaceted and deeply relevant discussion exposed some of the deep traumas endured by men under extreme duress. Dlamini was at pains to state that he wished to avoid judging those who were tortured into betraying their own. He said he couldn’t tell how he would have behaved had he been exposed to the trauma himself. He said he hoped he had respected the men’s dignity in his exploration of this difficult part of recent South African history.

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:


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Jane Duncan Throws a Spotlight on Murky South African Bureaucracies in The Rise of the Securocrats

The Rise of the SecurocratsNew from Jacana – The Rise of the Securocrats: The case of South Africa by Jane Duncan:

The South African government led by the ANC’s president, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, stands accused of having fallen under the sway of the securocrats. Who, or what, are they? Securocrats are officials located in the security establishment – the police, intelligence services or the military – that have the power to influence government policy in their favour.

The Rise of the Securocrats illustrates how, when securocrats dominate government decision-making, the democratic life of a country can be threatened. Annexing the power to subvert democratic processes to entrench their own power or the power of their favoured leaders, they also use the armed might of the state to suppress their political opponents. Duncan argues for the importance of keeping the security cluster under democratic, civilian control, and broadly accountable to the society they claim to serve.

This book throws a spotlight on the hidden corners, murky bureaucracies and power grab that is currently underway. It evaluates just how worried we should be about developments in the security cluster and evaluates the state of journalism on its activities. It adopts a ground-up approach, looking at the impact of the security cluster on the state of activism and protest action. It is also international in focus, looking at how ‘big brother’ practices developed during the ‘war against terror’ have been domesticated in South Africa and the uses to which they are being put.

About the author

Jane Duncan is a professor in the Department of Journalism, Film and Television, University of Johannesburg. Before that she held a chair in Media and the Information Society at Rhodes University and was executive director of the Freedom of Expression Institute. She has three postgraduate degrees , and has written widely on freedom of expression, the right to privacy, social movements and the right to protest, and media policy.

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