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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Watch: Hagen Engler visits Bridge Books to chat about his new book, In the Maid’s Room

In the Maid's RoomHagen Engler recently visited Bridge Books, a new independent bookstore in Johannesburg, to chat about his new novel, In the Maid’s Room.

Engler starts with a spoken word poem called “When talking, voting, swallowing your pride and patient hoping fails”:

The Last Poets, of Chuck D or not, were not right in this case. A revolution had been televised, since first the flu of freedom flew, as such things do tend to do, through our fragile neighbourhood.

Even we, freed before though we might have been, are not immune. Are those complaints, those demands of our North African semi-brethren, any different to ours? Do our youth have prospects any better than the million men in Tahrir square? Are their certificates any less useless? Less meaningless? Has economics failed them any less than it has us?

Are we not smoking cigarettes of silly, privileged apathy in flammable frustrated nations suffused with fumes of anger, crushed hopes, deferred dreams and any-minute-now igniting points?

In the Maid’s Room is set in Port Elizabeth, and tells the story of Disco, a South African hipster who’s battling to make the rent. He moves into the maid’s room on his property and rents out the main house to Sizwe.

Sizwe starts dating Disco’s ex-girlfriend, and get the media job Disco had his eye on.

“Disco’s this guy who feels like everything he’s entitled to is being taken from him, and he’s trying to deal with it,” Engler says. “Which is probably a quest that a lot of people are on.”

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Hamba Sugar Daddy, the new novel from by Nape ‘a Motana

Young girls warned to stay away from sugar daddies …

- Karabo Ngoepe, The Sowetan

Hamba Sugar DaddyJacana Media is proud to present Hamba Sugar Daddy, the new novel by Nape ‘a Motana, author of the bestselling Fanie Fourie’s Lobola:

They have lost their youth, but gained enough wealth to buy the company of many young “cherries”: that is the story behind the life of a sugar daddy.

Meet Rolivhowa Ramabulana, a grade 12 pupil whose financial difficulties are exploited and influenced by Kedibone Mahlope and her group of chomies into being a sugar baby. Rolivhowa’s whole lifestyle changes after meeting Bigvy Masemola, the sugar daddy; she no longer eats the same food as she had like other financially challenged students and is now able to afford expensive clothing and carry the latest costly phone. Bigvy has introduced her to a new lifestyle but at what cost?

While sugar daddies are not a new phenomenon, their latest incarnation could be described as a symptom of the “new” post-1994 South Africa with its rampant consumerism and glittering shopping malls, prevalent enough in South Africa for it to have created an acceptable subculture. The unstoppable rise of social media and easier internet access has led to the creation of websites that offer a “hook up” and the engagement in transactional sex. Young women can now meet and hook up with various sugar daddies who will provide the lifestyle they desire at the click of a button.

There is more temptation for those looking for financial and material support in a climate of growing poverty.

Back in the family home, parents who struggle to put one meal a day on the table for their family don’t ask questions about where the money comes from. Rolivhowa’s mother accepts the relationship since Bigvy supports them financially.

Rejecting to heed the warnings of Khomisa Maluleka, a fellow student and born-again Christian, about her “sinful ways”, she continues her relationship with Bigvy. Only later does she begin to feel the bitter aftertaste of a sweet life and in her devastation of discovering her HIV status, Khomisa becomes a pillar of support.

About the author

Nape ‘a Motana is a novelist and playwright who has worked as a copywriter, social worker and journalist. He’s authored Fanie Fourie’s Lobola and a prize-winning play titled The Honeymoon. He lives with his wife and four children in Pretoria.

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The shameful legacy of gold mining: Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki’s Broke and Broken launched at Constitution Hill

Broke and BrokenVeteran journalist Lucas Ledwaba and photojournalist Leon Sadiki were at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg recently to launch their new book, Broke and Broken: The Shameful Legacy of Gold Mining in South Africa.

Broke and Broken, a BlackBird Books publication, looks at the history and present lives of miners incapacitated by years of hard labour, dangerous conditions and silica dust-induced illnesses. The book also focuses on the families of the miners who have passed on.




Ledwaba said the book was important in a country whose economy is built on the back of mining.

Founded in 1886, and in the country’s richest province, Johannesburg owes its existence both to the men who discovered gold and those employed to dig for it. Broke and Broken tells the story of the unknown, the uncelebrated and the unglorified miners from recent history.

“We wanted to put faces to the voices,” Sadiki said.

Lucas Ledwaba


The book links Johannesburg to places such as Mqanduli in the Eastern Cape, which is a South African economic hub while being located in one of its poorest provinces. A system to keep people in the Eastern Cape impoverished was the only way to maintain a steady army of miners coming to work in the mines in Johannesburg, Ledwaba said. “Successive laws were passed to take South Africans from their land to come work in the goldmines,” he added.

With profit at the top of the mining companies’ minds, miners’ basic needs were neglected. And as soon as their health deteriorated, the miners were served with “waya waya” or “hamba khaya” letters – letters which effectively terminated their services.



A bid to get compensation for the families of all miners who have worked in the mines since 1965 has pitted the lawyers of the miners and the mining companies in court cases in Johannesburg and London.

Broke and Broken is the second book by Ledwaba and Sadiki, following their collaboration on We Are Going to Kill Each Other Today: The Story of Marikana.

Lucas Ledwaba and Leon Sadiki (rear)


Lugile Sojini (@success_mail) tweeted live from the event:

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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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Familicides – how apartheid killed its own: An excerpt from The End of Whiteness by Nicky Falkof

Nicky Falkof, University of the Witwatersrand

The End of WhitenessIn this extract from her book, “The End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa”, the University of the Witwatersrand’s Nicky Falkof explores how during the height of apartheid family murders became what was termed a “bloody epidemic”.

The terms “family murder”/“gesinsmoord” only came into frequent use in South Africa in the early 1980s. Murders within families had, of course, happened before but had not been defined in this way. Those deaths were reported as individual tragic killings rather than as symptoms of a larger social problem. Family murder as a phenomenon was particular to the late apartheid era and developed when it did because it had meaning outside of itself.

By 1984, amid burgeoning cultural awareness of a national “problem” of family murder, the term was sufficiently entrenched to merit a three-page article in the popular Afrikaans magazine Huisgenoot, often a social barometer of white Afrikanerdom. This considered three recent murders, of Aurica Costin, Mirian Swanepoel and Talitha Hamman, all killed by estranged spouses who subsequently committed suicide.

These deaths, coming at the start of the panic, did not fit with ideas about family murder that became set as the decade progressed. Family murder was later characterised as something separate from domestic violence, an act that involved a family structure – always children, sometimes other relatives too – rather than just a couple, and almost always ended in the suicide of the killer.

Nonetheless at this early stage Huisgenoot referred to the Costin, Swanepoel and Hamman killings as “gesinstragedies” (“family tragedies”) and to the killers as “family murderers”. The magazine called the deaths a “bloedige epidemie” (“bloody epidemic”).

Paranoia at work

Huisgenoot’s article was part of an emergent repertoire of representation about family murder that included the exhortation for the public to watch out for the “warning signs” listed in the pages of popular publications. There was a certain paranoia at work here.

If the family murderer was always white, male and Afrikaans then it followed that each white, male and Afrikaans person could have the seeds of murder within him. The injunction to watch each other potentially accused all people who fitted into this mould. All white Afrikaans men could be marked with the possibility of this type of evil and it became everyone’s duty to observe them.

Huisgenoot also reported, “[Family murder is] a sign of a sick society, say psychologists.” Press responses to family murder turned to psychiatry and medicalisation early on. The notion of expanded blame – that society as a whole rather than just the killer was responsible for these deaths – also came to the forefront early in the coverage of these killings.

Similarly, family murder was understood as a sign of larger ills. In an article on South Africa’s “new brutality”, the right wing Aida Parker Newsletter, secretly sponsored by intelligence divisions within the South African Police, classified family murder alongside child abuse and other social ills as the consequence of a “sick society”.

That was a society newly filled with pornography, “enlightened” churches that preached politics instead of religious obedience, high divorce rates, “trendy” sex across the colour line and newly “liberal” attitudes towards abortion, homosexuality and lesbianism. All of these ills were contrary to the rights of the majority who wished to “live in an ordered, humane, civilised society”.

Death of a daughter

On November 4 1984 Gert Botha (38) shot and killed his ex-wife Maretha (35), their daughter Madaleen (15) and himself. Although there had been two similar cases the previous month, this one garnered far more press coverage, at least partly because of the idealisation of the murdered daughter.

“Madaleen, 15, was the beauty of the family. She had already won one pageant … Next year she would be a prefect. That night the family was torn apart. Mrs Botha lay dead. Madaleen was shot in the stomach and the eye when she ran into the bedroom after the first bullets were fired. Gert Botha turned the gun on himself,” reported Huisgenoot at the time.

Madaleen’s healthy normality was repeatedly emphasised in the press. Her gender and ethnicity were combined to depict her as a perfect white Afrikaans daughter. She was the model victim of a social plague. This was in contrast to parental dysfunction. Newspapers insisted that Gert and Maretha’s constant fighting should have alerted their community to the looming tragedy.

Saving families

Ideas about warning signs were part of the medicalisation of the family murder, the belief that there was a set of symptoms that could be spotted and avoided. This social-psychiatric narrative also implied that the unwary were to blame for disaster.

The Sunday Tribune, an English-language weekly newspaper published in what was then Natal province, went as far as to use the standfirst, “Family ignored danger signs – and paid with their loved ones’ lives”. Complacency and lack of communal care were blamed for the destruction of white South African youth. Society was failing to protect the young from dangers that could have been anticipated.

An editorial in the Afrikaans daily Beeld, titled “Kommerwekkend” (“Worrisome”), speculated that deaths like the Bothas’ were part of a national crime problem, the result of a society that was too violent, with firearms too easily available.

The Weekend Argus in Cape Town called the deaths part of a “frightening chronicle” of killings and printed a list of possible causes agreed upon by several unnamed psychologists: “unemployment, stress, sex, the availability of firearms, misplaced religious beliefs, immaturity, alcohol, fears about the future and ‘hot weather’”.

This list avoided the most influential, volatile and unsettling factor that affected South African society. Save from fear of the future, apartheid was given no place in a consideration of why family murders happened, although notions of Afrikanerness and gendered cultural identity crept in in the form of religion, immaturity and sexual issues.

Later in the period other experts suggested a different causal model for family murder that implicated the violence of apartheid as a primary factor. The family murder panic was thus part of a cultural shift. It helped to inaugurate a public discussion of the fact that apartheid could be dangerously brutalising for white people, allowing them to be critical of the system without having to acknowledge the far more damaging consequences it had had for black South Africans.

The Conversation

Nicky Falkof, Senior Lecturer in Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Don’t miss Die Laughing – the new Short Sharp Stories Awards anthology

I am thrilled with the intriguing interpretations of this year’s theme. The inventiveness, the mix of raw and honed talent, and the dark humour make for a rewarding read. – Karina Szczurek

Die LaughingTattoo Press and Jacana Media are proud to bring you Die Laughing, an anthology of stories of wit, satire and humour:

Die Laughing is the fourth of the Short Sharp Stories Awards annual anthologies, following Bloody Satisfied (2013), Adults Only (2014) and Incredible Journey (2015).

In this anthology, writers have poked a little fun at our crazy country, at our politics, our idiosyncrasies, and our down-right ridiculous habits. A number of stories, all with a strong sense of the South African setting, look on the lighter, brighter side of life, and, of course, dark humour is included too – irony, satire and tragi-comedy.

With a foreword by Evita Bezuidenhout, introduction by Darrel Bristow-Bovey, and stories by new voices as well as prize-winning authors, including Greg Lazarus, Gail Schimmel, Fred Khumalo, Stephen Symons, Kobus Moolman, Ofentse Ribane, Barbara Erasmus and Diane Awerbuck, Die Laughing promises to be another stand-out anthology.

The judging panel of the competition was made up of Ken Barris, Karabo Kgoleng and Karina Szczurek.

Adults Only won the coveted 2016 NIHSS Award (National Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences) for Best Edited Collection, and two stories from Incredible Journey were nominated for the 2016 Caine Prize, with Lidudumalingani announced as the winner.

Die Laughing was published in July 2016 by Tattoo Press and is available in all good bookstores. Jacana Media are the distributors.

Adults OnlyIncredible JourneyBloody Satisfied

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2016 Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award and Anthology – entries open



Entries for the sixth annual Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award and Anthology are now open! The project is made possible thanks to the ongoing support of the European Union. The Jacana Literary Foundation is also thrilled to welcome on board the Mail & Guardian this year, who will join in on the sixth Award, as we celebrate the anniversary of Sol Plaatje’s 140th birthday.

Up to three poems in any of South Africa’s official languages can be submitted via the online entry form. Entrants are encouraged to submit poems written in their mother tongue. Entries will close at 8 AM on Friday, 29 July.

The work submitted is judged blind, by a panel of four esteemed poets. As in previous years, a longlist of the best entries received will be published in Volume 6 of the anthology. A shortlist of three poets is selected from the longlist, and those finalists will be invited to attend an event at the seventh annual Mail & Guardian Literary Festival in early October, where the winner will be announced and cash prizes awarded.

Named after Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (1876-1932), the Award recognises the life and vision of this highly respected political and social activist. We always hope that it reveals the political and social attitudes of our time, and reflects the complex, nuanced and uncomfortable truths of life in South Africa, and thus poems which reflect our current realities are warmly welcomed.

For more information, contact the Jacana Literary Foundation on

The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology 2011The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIIThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IVThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology


  • A shortlist of three poets will be selected by the judging panel. They will be invited to attend an awards ceremony and book launch at the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival on 9 October, 2016 in Johannesburg.
  • Prizes are awarded to the shortlist:

    1st place: R6,000
    2nd place: R4,000
    3rd place: R2,000

  • A longlist of the best poems entered will be selected by the judging panel, and published in Volume 6 of the anthology, which will be launched at the Mail & Guardian Literary Festival.


  • Entries open at 5 PM on Friday, 15 July and close at 8 AM on Friday, 29 July.
  • Poems in the 11 official languages of South Africa are accepted.
  • Poets may enter in more than one language.
  • Entrants must be South African citizens residing in South Africa.
  • Poems submitted may not have appeared in any publication, online (including blogs and social media) or in print. Only unpublished poetry is accepted.
  • Intertextuality and references must be appropriately attributed.
  • A maximum of three poems may be entered, although one or two poems per author is also acceptable.
  • If you are entering more than one poem, please ensure that they are each saved and uploaded as separate Word documents.
  • Poems must not exceed 100 lines.
  • Poems must be submitted as a Word document – doc or docx files. No other file formats are accepted.
  • Please ensure that the poet’s name does not appear on the Word document. It should only include the title and poem.
  • The file name should be the title of the poem.
  • Ariel size 11 or Times New Roman size 12 fonts are preferred. No “fancy” fonts, borders or images should be included on the Word document.
  • Handwritten entries are not eligible.

Declaration and permissions:

By entering, the poet declares that the entry is their original work and neither whole nor part of their poem has been published previously. They give permission for the publication of their poem in the anthology, without payment, if longlisted. Poets agree to have their work translated into English for adjudication and publication purposes.

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Panashe Chigumadzi to present the next Jacana Media Masterclass for aspiring writers

Panashe Chigumadzi presents the next Jacana Media Masterclass for aspiring writers


Sweet MedicineJacana Media is running a series of Masterclasses for aspiring writers in 2016 – the next one will be hosted by Panashe Chigumadzi.

All Masterclasses will be held on a Thursday at the Jacana offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. The cost of the class includes a copy of the author’s latest book.

Chigumadzi is the author of Sweet Medicine.

This is not to be missed!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 28 July 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Jacana Media
    10 Orange Street
    Auckland Park
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest: Panashe Chigumadzi
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • Cover charge: R60 for students, R100 for everyone else (each delegate will receive a copy of Sweet Medicine)
  • RSVP: Takalani Lubengo, Jacana Media,, 011 628 3200

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Announcing the 2016 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award shortlist

The Jacana Literary Foundation is delighted to announce the highly commended and shortlisted finalists for the 2015/16 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award.

Entries were judged blind by a panel comprising Pamela Nichols (chair), Fred Khumalo and Maureen Isaacson.

In alphabetical order, the following manuscripts have been shortlisted:

  • No word like home by Saul Musker
  • Selling LipService by Tammy Baikie
  • The Last Stop by Thabiso Mofokeng


The overall winner will be announced at an award ceremony later this year, at which their book will be revealed in print and the prize of R35 000 will be awarded.

The following manuscripts were highly commended:

  • Braids and Migraines by Andile Cele
  • Settlement by Phillip Doran
  • The Binding Hut by Mathabo Masilela
  • The Unfamous Five by Nedine Moonsamy

In a “first of its kind” the JLF will also present the inaugural Kraak Writing Award, with the winning writer selected from the 2014-2016 runners-up. The grant is valued at R25,000 and dedicated to the memory of Gerald Kraak, and it will offer the recipient mentoring and intensive coaching from an editor/publishing expert enabling the author to refine and develop their work still further.

Pamela Nichols, chair of the judging panel, says: “One of the best features of this award is the complete anonymity of the authors. This means that we frequently get surprised at the end of the process. And our judgement doesn’t get complicated by friendship or reputation because we have no idea of who wrote what. This is important in a literary culture which is frequently closed and inward looking.

“So the Dinaane Literary Debut Award is important because it has encouraged a complete cross section of entries. And the winning authors are able to get new fiction into an extended public repertoire of southern African literature. The 2015 winner [Andrew Miller] said that he had never made any shortlist or got anywhere with a publisher before. We hope that he and the 2016 winner are at the beginning of their contribution to extending our literary horizons.”

Dub StepsThe Story of Anna P, as Told by HerselfKhalil's JourneyDeeper Than ColourSaracen at the Gates
Till We Can Keep An AnimalCoconutBitches' BrewIce in the LungsThe Silent Minaret


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