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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Deadline for the Gerald Kraak Award and Anthology extended to 31 August

Via PEN SA

The deadline for the Gerald Kraak Award and Anthology – an award and anthology on the topics of gender, human rights and sexuality, for writers and photographers across Africa – has been extended.

Rather than general discussions of these subjects, the judging panel will select pieces which engage with gender and sexuality in ways that promote new insights into human rights matters on our continent. Only the very best work submitted will be shortlisted and published in an anthology, with the winners to be announced at a 2019 award ceremony, hosted by The Other Foundation and attended by the authors of the top three submissions. The overall winner will receive a cash prize of R25 000.

Both published and unpublished work are eligible.

Full information and submissions details may be found on Jacana Media’s website.


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Launch: When Morning Comes by Arushi Raina (31 July)

It’s 1976 in South Africa.

Written from the points of view of four young people living in Johannesburg and its black township, Soweto – Zanele, a black female student organiser, Mina, of South Asian background working at her father’s shop, Jack, an Oxford-bound white student, and Thabo, a tsotsi – this book explores the roots of the Soweto Uprising and the edifice of apartheid in a South Africa about to explode.

In the black township of Soweto, Zanele, who also works as a nightclub singer, is plotting against the apartheid government. The police can’t know. Her mother and sister can’t know. No one can know.

On the affluent white side of town, Jack Craven plans to spend the last days of his break before university burning miles on his beat-up Mustang, and crashing other people’s parties.

Their chance meeting changes everything.

Already a chain of events are in motion: a failed plot, a murdered teacher, a powerful police agent with a vendetta, and a secret network of students across the township. The students will rise. And there will be violence when morning comes.

Introducing readers to a remarkable young literary talent, When Morning Comes offers an impeccably researched and vivid snapshot of South African society on the eve of the uprising that changed it forever.

Arushi Raina grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. So far, she has also lived in Egypt, Nigeria, India, the US, UK and, most recently, Canada. She likes intricate plots, flawed characters, chases, escapes, and sentences that just make you stop and wonder. Besides writing, Arushi enjoys travelling, arguments and long car rides. As a day job, Arushi works as a consultant. One day she’ll explain what that means.

Event Details


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“Other than my mom, I wasn’t scared of hurting anyone.” Christy Chilimigras on Things Even González Can’t Fix

By Mila de Villiers

The Instagram-era author and her bestselling-bambino.

 
With her dark tresses partly obscured by a pashmina, sipping on a Caste Lite, a lit Camel in hand, the 24-year-old Christy Chilimigras could easily be mistaken for yet another millennial patron at Melville’s #hip Hell’s Kitchen.

But there’s more to this South African Greek gal than meets the eye.

Despite not having reached a quarter of a century yet, Christy recently wrote her memoir (yes, you read that correctly) in five and a half months (yes, you read that correctly as well.)

Published by MF Books Joburg, author and journalist Melinda Ferguson’s publishing house, Things Even González Can’t Fix is an affecting, funny and searingly honest account of Christy and her older sister’s turbulent lives as the children of drug addicts – crack, in her dad’s case; marijuana, her mother’s.

Sisonke Msimang, who’s memoir Always Another Country was recently published, encourages her pupils to “Write from your scars, not from your wounds”. I ask Msimang’s fellow memoirist whether she relates to this…

“I love that so much, I’ve never heard that before,” Christy answers in her animated, unmistakably Joburg-bred voice.

“I mean I guess, sure, to a certain extent that was the case. Like when I had the [memoir] writing course with Mel [Ferguson], she came to me on the first day and she was, like, I was the only person in this room of, like, 14 people who hadn’t cried throughout. And she was like ‘This is how I know you really need to write this book’. It’s almost like I was at a point where I could … write about everything without fucking destroying myself all over again,” she responds contemplatively.

“So, sure. I guess maybe that was it. I’ve been writing about it and been thinking about it and talking about everything for so long at that point, that then you can kinda write about it more calmly, and more objectively, I think. So, sure. I think there’s a beautiful truth in that.”

Christy was concerned that she and Melinda, a recovered heroin addict who’s own memoir, Smacked, chronicles her years of substance abuse, would bash heads over her depiction of addicts.

“I was so worried she would hate me and I was fine with that, but I mean – growing up the way I did – I really can’t stand addicts and it just triggers me immediately.

“She would – I imagine, as a recovered addict – she would hope for kindness and understanding and I’m not there yet,” she continues, lighting another cigarette.

“But she was amazing and I think she was quite refreshed by it, in a sense, because I think she’s so used to addicts gravitating towards her to speak about their stories and I was coming from the other side of it. So I think I was looking at her to understand my parents more, and she was looking at me to understand her children more.

“So it was kind of serendipitous and lovely in that way and there were no hard feelings – from either of us.”

Christy’s admiration and respect for Melinda is near-tangible, supported by Christy’s powerful statement that “if anything, she’s challenged my ideas regarding addiction.”

After a brief pause and another sip of her suip, Christy continues.

“As much as she’s written about her experiences … it’s not like a chip on her shoulder, you know? I had an addict father who, like, feels like the world owes him something because he’s been through what he’s been through and he’s ‘clean’ now,” she says, air quoting ‘clean’.

“I say ‘clean’ because I don’t know. But ja, man. She challenged me. Which was cool.”

An impassioned “I don’t know how people write books otherwise! I swear to God!” serves as definite affirmation when I ask whether Melinda’s advice to write as if the people you’re writing about are dead is in any way sound.

“It was so fucking freeing because … I mean, my mom is my biggest fan and she’s always been the most supportive person. But she’s a fragile person, too.

“And that’s one of the things I love most about her. So that was really terrifying. And just hearing that … When I finished the course I didn’t think Mel would approach me about publishing my book. I didn’t think there was a book coming from it. I didn’t event want to write memoir.

“I was like, ‘I’m going to come in, learn as much as I can, and apply to fiction’. Fuck memoir. Memoir is the worst. How self-indulgent,” she exclaims, complemented with an eye-roll to end all eye-rolls.

“It’s sad that I needed that validation and that permission from someone to say ‘just write your truth’, but I think a lot of writers need that.”

Although Christy has been writing her whole life and writing about her family her whole life, she never thought that a book would materialise. It was a “sickening compulsion that drove me insane” which drove her to pen the past to paper.

Having always considered fiction writing as a possibility, she describes it as “bizarre” that she eventually wrote an autobiographical piece, without ever having considered writing a fictionalised account of her life.

“I never thought ‘let me dissect these characters, these real-life characters in my life, and turn them into fiction’,” she furthers. “It just happened and it happened really quickly – in five and a half months! – and I just ran with it.”

As our French friends across the pond can attest to, ‘mémoire’ literally translates to ‘memory’ and while Christy might only be 24 years old, there’s a heck of a lot to remember. How, tho?

“It’s odd,” she responds after a while.

“I mean, my sister and I – we were inseparable growing up and she was my rock in a lot of ways – and us speaking in our adulthoods now, it’s quite wild in that I’ll remember two specific years with such clarity and she’s completely blanked those out.

“It’s the same with me. So in those scenarios I didn’t write about anything that I didn’t remember. When I was younger I interviewed my aunt and my mom. And my mom’s a hard nut to crack, she didn’t want to tell me a lot of things. Um…”

She ashes her cigarette before continuing.

“I just have a really fabulous memory in regards to retaining these things – and also it’s tricky to forget. There’s things that are traumatic and that you block out. And all of those I was fine to not write about. I wasn’t about to” – her eyes drift towards the somber winter sky as she considers her words – “I wasn’t about to attack my sanity to try recover things but the things that were obvious, that were just sitting there neatly and that I knew to be true, I went with those. But ja, I’m sure there’s lots else I didn’t dive into.”

If the things Christy *did* dive into could be compared to oceanic depths, the Mariana Trench would be a suitable personification thereof. She unflinchingly writes about her parents’ drug use, her own alcohol abuse, her mother’s failed relationships and her own failed relationships with not a single doekie left omgedraai.

“Other than my mom, I wasn’t scared of hurting anyone. And I know that’s a selfish thing and I am fine with that,” she honestly states.

“I’ve been screamed at by many a person who loves me, who used to love me. I’ve been told by an ex that this was a betrayal of intimacy. But I said to him you’re totally right, it is a betrayal of intimacy. I fucking get that.”

The conversation is interrupted by a backfiring motorbike. Christy, noticing me skrik‘ing, laughs and mirthfully yells “Get down!”

Lolz aside…

There were times when Christy was convinced that she couldn’t publish her memoir for fear of it being “too much”.

“It’s going to fuck me up once this book is out and everyone knows it’s about me,” she explains.

“Because as much as I turn the lens on everyone else, I think I was quite hard on myself in how much I gave away. Especially with the ending. That fucked me up so much.

“I sat on my couch and my room mate got home and she was like, ‘What is wrong?’ I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t breathe, I was like, ‘I can’t publish this, my boyfriend doesn’t need to know this’. And I read it to her and she said ‘You cannot change it!’

“So you pretend to be brave. I didn’t feel brave writing this but I faked it and then eventually … Faking bravery, I suppose, has the same end-result as actually being brave and that’s what I found throughout all of this.”

A topic she unambiguously writes about is that of covert incest: from a young age, both she and her sister were subjected to sexualisation by their father, with whom Christy no longer has a relationship.

After having spoken about this at her launch, she woke up the next day to a message from a girl that she’s known for years, which read ‘Oh dear God, I didn’t know this was a thing; this is exactly what I went through’, Christy tells me.

“So actually hearing the term for it fucked her up in a big way, but in a good way. Which is exactly how I felt when I came across it online.

“But that … that form of abuse is so subtle and I think I wrote about subtly, as well.”

She stubs her cigarette out and proceeds to denounce the insensitive, in-your-face approach so prevalent in books about, or featuring, incest.

“It’s like everyone wants you to be as hectic as possible. And when I started writing, Mel was like ‘Ah! There’s this new book called The Incest Diary out, I really need you to read it’.

“Mila, it was the most traumatising thing I’ve ever done!” she cries. “Have you read it?”

An ashamed ‘no’ escapes my mouth…

“It’s wild! It’s literally – and I’m not here to bash anyone, the author stayed anonymous and I’m really glad that she did – but I was as … as a victim slash survivor slash whatever you want to call it, I didn’t find that story … really empowering. I’m sure some people did. I was like ‘is this porn for a paedophile?’” she questions.

“It was so graphic. It was really graphic and really triggering. And then I put that down and I was like ‘Oh my God, is this what Mel’s expecting of me?’ Cause I’m not ever going to be like that. I don’t see the point of traumatising women, or men, with this thing in an effort to tell my story. Abuse shouldn’t be salacious in my mind.”

Christy attaches immense value to consent and the necessity of teaching young children about this crucial aspect of relationships, acknowledging “how much we, as his sisters and as his mother, had messed up” upon finding out that her younger brother had never heard of the word before.

“I’d love to speak to women and have that discourse but I also think the conversation needs to happen at the roots of it. So in that way I’d love to – yassis! – just chat to young boys and young girls about what consent actually is.”

Penning her past wasn’t an enjoyable experience, citing that the only vaguely likable part of her narrative was writing about young Christy; the Christy who cherishes the memory of the years spent at her beloved Wendywood house with her mother and sister.

“I hadn’t really visited that in a long time and those few years in that house, when my friends speak about their childhood, I’m like ‘ja, that was it’.

“So that was really special. I felt like I was able to reconcile my child self with my current self, which I’ve been desperate to do for a very long time.”

As for everything else she wrote about?

“Deliciously painful” comes the assured answer.

“God … Memoir … God,” she laughs in disbelief. “It’s so severe. I don’t know how I put myself through that. I get to work and I’m, like, shaking and the world is still carrying on and everyone’s just talking to you about deadlines and you’re like ‘I’m bleeding here’.”

Writing Things Even González Can’t Fix was a fairly lonely process, especially as Christy chose not to disclose what she was putting in her book as “all my closest people in my life that I would have spoken to were featured in the book and then you don’t want to speak to them because you don’t want to give them the opportunity to sway you.

“I didn’t tell my mom about the hard things I was writing, because then she’d be like ‘Oh, don’t write about that. People shouldn’t know that’. So you’re almost just completely shut yourself off from everyone.”

Christy admits that there were a few hard weeks (which she expected) after her book had been read by her mom, sister and partner, adding that they didn’t really know “if they were allowed to be angry with me.

“And I was like, ‘Of course you’re allowed to be angry with me; it’s a very selfish thing I’ve done’. It’s not easy to put my sex life out there for my boyfriend, it’s not easy to put my sister’s story out because her story is my story. So it took us all a long time to compartmentalise our roles within our love. And I was, like, ‘I know you still love me even if you’re fucking furious with me right now, that’s okay’.

“So once we learned how to navigate that, they would scream at me with abandon. Never Daniel, Daniel doesn’t scream,” she quickly adds of her boyfriend of the past two years.

“But my mom! ‘Oh my God!’ And then she’d be like ‘Do you want tea? Do you want lamb? What can I make you?’ SO Greek! I swear… But amazing. My mom’s amazing.”

It wasn’t only the content of her memoir that elicited a strong response; the South African bookselling industry took issue with the original title, The tiger, the mouse and the furious masturbator.

Letting go of the title was a “really hard thing”, because it made her feel like “I’m too much,” Christy divulges.

“I really, genuinely wasn’t expecting people to be taken aback by female masturbation. And every time people would look at me and roll their eyes, I thought ‘Oh my God, what’s wrong with ME?’ Why am I so willing to have this conversation or just to exist within this fact of life, but to everyone else – even women who I know flick the bean regularly,” she pointedly adds, “they’re still so taken aback by it.

“It wasn’t losing the title that upset me,” she muses, “it was that I felt like I was doing something wrong by wanting to speak plainly…”

Christy finds it incredulous that young girls in 2018 are being told that they’re ‘filthy’ for masturbating, querying “how the fuck” one reconciles this “‘filthy’ act that is so natural when you’re actually a sexual being later in your life … So I don’t know, man.

“Like now, I’ve also realised that I’m just going to say the damn thing and continue to talk openly, and if people don’t like how comfortable I am speaking about it – this isn’t the only topic I’m comfortable about. If you’re uncomfortable about me talking about masturbation, you’ll be uncomfortable with 80% of the stuff that comes out of my mind. So we’re probably not going to be great friends any way.

“So in that way I’m like ‘Wasn’t this a quick way we can cancel each other out? We know we’re not going to bond,” she laughs. “You just go home and Netflix and I’ll just go home and masturbate.” (LOL!)

Having covered addiction, family, masturbation, sex and relationships in her debut memoir of 256 pages, one cannot help but ask: What’s Next, Ms. Chilimigras?

“According to Mel and the back of my book, I’m working on my second book,” she grins.

“I’d really, really love to try my hand at fiction. I genuinely want to. I keep waiting for that moment of waking up from a dream and having it, having this thing and that hasn’t happened yet.

“I love scrutinising romantic love, that’s something that interests me a lot. And not even sexy love, but just humans trying to fucking make shit work. So we’ll see. I’m excited.

“But, ja. Fiction. My poor family…”

There you have it!

Book details
Things Even González Can’t Fix by Christy Chilimigras
EAN: 9781928420200
Find this book with BOOK Finder!


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Pitch your book to Jacana Media – in person!

 
Jacana Media is offering aspiring writers an opportunity to pitch their manuscripts to their editors on their second annual From Pitch to Publication session on 28 August 2018. Five out of 20 pitched manuscripts last year were picked up for publication.

Like many publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts, we receive a large number of submissions every week. This means hours spent wading through many emails as we try to give every author feedback on their work.

Writers often try to arrange meetings with publishers, convinced that meeting the publisher in person will persuade them to publish the book, but with only so many hours in a day this isn’t always feasible.

We are offering you the chance to participate in a 15–20-minute session where you’ll be able to pitch your book to a panel comprising of three publishers and a high-powered bookseller. External panelists so far include Michele Magwood from the Sunday Times and Sharon Naidoo from Exclusive Books.

This is your chance to impress and persuade us in person to consider your work for publication.

Submissions are open from 1–25 July 2018.

Click here for further details.


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Launch: Born To Kwaito by Sihle Mthembu & Esinako Ndabeni (5 July)

Born To Kwaito considers the meaning of kwaito music now. ‘Now’ not only as in ‘after 1994’ or the Truth Commission but as a place in the psyche of black people in post-apartheid South Africa.

This collection of essays tackles the changing meaning of the genre after its decline and its ever-contested relevance. Through rigorous historical analysis as well as threads of narrative journalism Born To Kwaito interrogates issues of artistic autonomy, the politics of language in the music, and whether the music is part of a strand within the larger feminist movement in South Africa.

Candid and insightful interviews from the genre’s foremost innovators and torchbearers, such as Mandla Spikiri, Arthur Mafokate, Robbie Malinga and Lance Stehr, provide unique historical context to kwaito music’s greatest highs, most captivating hits and most devastating lows. Born To Kwaito offers up a history of the genre from below by having conversations not only with musicians but with fans, engineers, photographers and filmmakers who bore witness to a revolution.

Living in a place between criticism and biography, Born To Kwaito merges academic theories and rigorous journalism to offer a new understanding into how the genre influenced other art forms such as fashion, TV and film. The book also reflects on how some of the music’s best hits have found new life through the mouths of local hip-hop’s current kingmakers and opened kwaito up to a new generation.

The book does not pretend to be an exhaustive history of the genre but rather a present-active analysis of that history as it settles and finds its meaning.

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Book talk: Killing Karoline by Sara-Jayne King (21 June)

Killing KarolineKilling KarolineKilling Karoline

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.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 21 June 2018
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Tokai Library, Tokai Road, (between intersections of Palm and Ebony Roads), Tokai, Cape Town
  • Book Details


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Launch: The Broken River Tent by Mphuthumi Ntabeni (20 June)

The Broken River Tent is a novel that marries imagination with history.

It is about the life and times of Maqoma, the Xhosa chief who was at the forefront of fighting British colonialism in the Eastern Cape during the nineteenth century. The story is told through the eyes of a young South African, Phila, who suffers from what he calls triple ‘N’ condition – neurasthenia, narcolepsy and cultural ne plus ultra. T

his makes him feel far removed from events happening around him but gives him access to the analeptic memory of his people. After being under immense mental pressure, he crosses the mental divide between the living and the dead and is visited by Maqoma. They engage in different conversations about cultural history, literature, religion, the past and contemporary South African life.

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Launch – This is how it is: True stories from South Africa by The Life Righting Collective (12 June)

This is How It Is is a collection of real life experiences. Most of these writers have never been published before. They wrote primarily to explore themselves, to engage with their own capacity to be creative, and to bear witness to their lives and the times in which we live. Putting traumatic experiences down on paper can help a person to put shame, guilt and fear down, and to step out of the circle of enchantment that might have kept them trapped for years.

Writing is sometimes able to turn a painful incident into something more manageable, even beautiful. This is an aspect of the power of artistic practice – that we can take the blurred feeling of what is disturbing us and give it form in the world. The stories inspired by our experiences can reveal what we didn’t know we knew, as they take shape on the page. Self-discovery is linked to self-recovery, but communication does not end there: those who are willing to share their stories can have a valuable impact on us, as readers, by revealing aspects of their humanity.

In addition, the writers may experience healing through having their experiences witnessed. Engaging with this ‘other’ by listening to what happened to them cuts across those things that separate us: sexism, racism, ageism, nationalism and gender stereotypes. Often we discover that we are more alike than we are different. Our beautiful world is in trouble, much of it because we are not paying attention to what is right in front of us. When the facts don’t stir us to reconsider, story can. This anthology is a contribution to the groundswell towards meaningful change. It invites us to become curious and reflective rather than fearful and defensive. It encourages us to climb down from the ladder of hierarchy and competition, and to join the circle of relationship and humanity, through becoming vulnerable enough to share and to listen to our own and each other’s half-hidden stories.

This anthology is the pilot year of what we hope will be an annual edition. This year’s theme, ‘This is how it is’, speaks of truth-telling and the relief of being able to communicate openly and honestly about things that are usually difficult – suicide, extra-marital affairs, mental illness, racism, untimely death.

“A powerful collection of life stories written in a healing space.” – Pregs Govender

“We forget that the most daring thing we can do is to allow ourselves to be seen. To stand before the world and to say this is who I am. This is how it is.” – Bongani Kona, 2016 Caine Prize finalist and co-editor of Migrations

“The writers in this triumphant anthology are both courageous and candid, allowing the reader a glimpse into their lives. There is need for more of this writing in South African literature.” – Sara-Jayne King

“Refreshing, poignant and wide-ranging, this collection surprises with unusual perspectives and gives voice to a broad array of talents.” – Helen Moffett

ABOUT THE LIFE RIGHTING COLLECTIVE

The Life Righting Collective runs courses for anyone who wants to learn to write about their experiences. The approach promotes self-discovery, self-recovery and more effective communication. We raise funds to make courses available to those in need of sponsorship and to provide platforms for these life stories to be published. Sharing experiences with a wide readership can help reduce discrimination and promote mutual understanding. Visit the website: www.liferighting.com

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Launch – Mr Bitcoin: How I became a millionaire at 21 by Mpho Dagada (7 June)

It is 2018 and we find ourselves in a world where it is possible and seemingly not uncommon to become a self-made millionaire at a very early age.

Most of the time, the road to riches is a closely guarded secret, until now. Jacana Media presents Mpho Dagada, one such young, self-made millionaire who in his memoir, Mr Bitcoin: How I became a millionaire at 21, shares his story of triumph and failure. He tells his story from the beginning: being brought up by business-minded and accomplished grandparents who planted in him the seeds of what it means to be successful in business.

This book is both motivational and practical, examining the errors and pitfalls that Dagada had to go through in his business pursuits.

These included falling for Ponzi schemes like Kipi and losing his money on more than one occasion.

Through these many lows were lessons of great value which ultimately led to the endless possibilities that Bitcoin presents for those interested in creating wealth through trading cryptocurrencies and running a successful business.
 
Dagada is confident in the viability of Bitcoin and ascertains that ‘we will never understand the money of the future without learning how money came about in the first place. Blockchain and Bitcoin are now pioneering a new online financial world. Cryptocurrencies will replace fiat money in the end, as they are faster, better and more convenient than all the earlier forms of currency.

About the author
Mpho Dagada’s interest in Bitcoin was ignited when he was in his first year at the University of Johannesburg in 2013 after opening his own laundry and cleaning service company. He invested his profits from this company in Bitcoin. He currently owns a logistics company, a chain of fast food restaurants and is in the process of developing the first black-owned cryptocurrency exchange platform.

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Launch: I Remember Nelson Mandela by Vimla Naidoo and Sahm Venter (6 June)

The idea to gather the memories of those who served Madiba into a book came from an understanding that most people in South Africa, and those around the world, knew him as an icon; as a public figure. It was important to me that the stories of those close to him be published so that fifty years from now, even a hundred years from now, when future generations want to know who Nelson Mandela was, they would not only be told the story of the head of state, but they would be able to read the story of a human being with a caring heart and generous soul. – Mrs Graça Machel

I Remember Nelson Mandela is a collection of remembrances from those who worked with, for and beside Mandela. More than one hundred individuals, from household staff to bodyguards and presidential advisors, have offered their memories, which provide warm, poignant and often humorous insights into what it was like behind the scenes with one of the most revered and beloved political figures the world has seen.

‘Nothing is more important than to be loved by your colleagues.’ – Nelson Mandela, 5 August 2008, addressing the staff of the Nelson Mandela Foundation at a private celebration for his 90th birthday.

The collection is the dream-child of Mrs Graça Machel who, some months after Nelson Mandela’s passing on 5 December 2013, met with former members of his staff to thank them for their service. Listening to their stories inspired the creation of this, the perfect gift book, providing readers with a glimpse into the man behind the title.

Sahm Venter is the senior researcher at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg where she has worked since 2006. She previously reported on the last years of the struggle against apartheid for South African and the international media. As a correspondent for the international news agency, The Associated Press, she covered the release from prison of Nelson Mandela, his presidency, as well as various news events on the African continent. In 2013 she and Swati Dlamini-Mandela coedited Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s book 491 Days: Prisoner Number 1323/69.

Vimla Naidoo was a protocol officer in the Office of President Nelson Mandela where she helped to set up events, including receiving ceremonies for visiting heads of state and the opening of parliament. She worked with President Mandela’s Advisory Council for National Orders to design a new set of state honours. She remained in Protocol throughout President Mandela’s term of office and for the first half of President Mbeki’s term. In 2001 she moved to the Nelson Mandela Foundation as a personal assistant to Nelson Mandela and Mrs Graça Machel, to whom she provided personal support and logistics.

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