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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

The Road to Soweto – commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising

The Road to SowetoNew from Jacana Media – The Road to Soweto: Resistance and the Uprising of 16 June 1976 by Julian Brown:

The struggle of a student generation continues.

2016, a year of recollection and remembrance – it is 40 years after the Soweto Uprisings, a date that marks a significant shift in the struggle against apartheid, but it is the year where a generation of so-called “born frees” are again fighting for access to education.

In the four decades since the Soweto Uprising, a consensus account of the politics of the mid-1970s, and the role of Soweto in them, has emerged. In this account, the Uprising arises out of a period of political quiescence. It is the moment of the emergence of a new generation of activists – mostly under the age of twenty years – who would go on to drive politics in the future. And it was the product of local resistance to national state policies and practices, shaped by the experiences of students in Soweto, of youth gangs in the neighbourhood and their contingent encounters with the police, and taken up nationally. This consensus story sees the Soweto Uprising as a solitary moment of transition, from apartheid hegemony to popular resistance.

The Road to Soweto begins by giving an account of the decade that preceded the Soweto Uprising of June 1976 that not only transforms our understanding of this crucial flashpoint of South Africa’s history, but also creates a longer, more evolutionary, historical narrative for the overthrow of apartheid. It argues that the suppression of opposition movements after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 did not lead to a period of “quiescence”, as many writers maintain, in which activists retreated into private acts of dissent and the opposition went underground, followed, a decade later, by a sudden eruption of the townships, first in Soweto, and then across the country. Rather, these years were marked by experiments in resistance and attempts to develop new forms of politics which prepared the ground for the uprising in Soweto, introducing new modes of organisation, new models of protest, and new ideas of resistance, identity, and political ideology to a generation of activists. The explosion of protest in Soweto was a catalyst for the reshaping of South Africa’s politics and began the processes that led to the end of the apartheid order and the creation of the new post-apartheid state, but it did not do so in isolation.

About the author

Julian Brown is a senior lecturer in the Department of Political Studies at Wits University. He is the author of South Africa’s Insurgent Citizens: On Dissent and the Possibility of Politics in South Africa (Jacana, 2015), as well as of a number of scholarly articles on South African politics, history and sociolegal studies. He completed a DPhil in Modern History at the University of Oxford in 2009.

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Don’t miss the launch of the new Bitterkomix with Anton Kannemeyer and Conrad Botes at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Bitter Komix no. 17


Pappa in DoubtThe new edition of Bitterkomix will be launched at The Book Lounge on Thursday.

Bitterkomix creators Anton Kannemeyer and Conrad Botes will be in conversation with Ashraf Jamal.

Don’t miss it!
Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 26 May 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Discussant: Ashraf Jamal
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP:, 021 462 2425

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Local children’s publisher Bumble Books wins prestigious award at Bologna Children’s Book Fair

Local children's publisher Bumble Books wins prestigious award at Bologna Children's Book Fair
I am AlexThe PossibilitreeThe Rainbow's HeartAnnie Learns to Swim

Mu's Wolf ProblemOom Kallas and the TortoisesTable Mountain's HolidayVumile and the Dragon


There’s a certain magic about a beautifully illustrated children’s book, something that can set your child’s imagination soaring and set up a life of reading.

Excitement ran high at the official Bologna Children’s Book Fair awards in Italy earlier this month, when Bumble Books, a small South African independent publisher, won Best Children’s Book Publisher Africa.

This was the second year that Bumble Books, the children’s imprint of Publishing Print Matters, had been nominated.

Winning the award is a huge accolade, and recognises the years of creative vision that Bumble Books owner Robin Stuart-Clark, who hails from Noordhoek in Cape Town, has put into the imprint.

Stuart-Clark’s goal is to publish books that can become a legacy. Bumble Books provides a platform for new South African illustrators and authors to showcase their work internationally, with an emphasis on fun and entertainment. The range offers exquisitely illustrated stories that leap off the page, capturing the imagination of both children and adults.

“This international award not only recognises Bumble Books but more importantly also acknowledges the depth of both the Illustrative and literary talent we have in South Africa,” Stuart-Clark says. “We are world class and we need to think beyond our borders. Our stories can travel, but we’re not using this talent.”

The Bologna Best Children’s Publisher of the Year Prize acknowledges the most significant publishers in Africa, Central and South America, North America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Instituted by the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in partnership with the Italian Publishers’ Association, the prize is awarded to publishers that have most distinguished themselves for their creative and publishing excellence over the year, showing originality as well as professional and intellectual skill.

This is not the first time Bumble Books has been recognised at the awards. Table Mountain’s Holiday by Lucy Stuart-Clark was nominated for the 2013 Bologna Children’s Book Fair Illustrator’s Exhibition, and last year the press was nominated for the Best Publisher Africa – one of five publishers nominated and the only one from South Africa. In 2015, The Possibilitree by Tamlyn Young was voted one of two best books by Jay Heale of the Children’s Books Network.

“People are not reading less – ebook sales confirm this – they are just reading differently, that is, on electronic devices. Children reading for pleasure don’t want lectures, they get those at school. They want to be entertained; they have imagination,” Stuart-Clark says.

In 2014, Publishing Print Matters appointed an international rights agent to represent Bumble Books internationally. Sales of language rights to date include Chinese [Simplified Characters], Spanish and Catalan for Annie Learns to Swim by Katrin Coetzer, and Japanese for The Rainbow’s Heart by Richard Latimer. With the Bologna win, the world is most certainly Bumble Books’ oyster.

See the full list of Bumble Books distributed by Jacana Media:

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A loss of innocence – Read an excerpt from Exit! by Grizelda Grootboom

Grizelda Grootboom


Exit!Jacana Media has shared an excerpt from Exit! by Grizelda Grootboom.

Exit! is the story of how Grootboom was betrayed by a friend and sold into human trafficking in Johannesburg at 18 years old. However, her life up until that point was a cycle of abuse and neglect.

After being abandoned by her father at eight years old, Grootboom lived on the streets of Cape Town for a few months, before managing to track her mother down in Khayelitsha.

But her mother had a new family, and Grootboom spent her time cooking and cleaning, with regular beatings and no hope of going to school. But it was when she and a group of friends were raped that she decided to leave her mother’s house forever, at the age of just nine years old.

Today, Grootboom has turned her life around, and works as an advocate for Embrace Dignity, an NGO that opposes commercial and sexual exploitation, and human trafficking.

Read the excerpt:

* * * * *

By the time of my third stay in Khayelitsha, I had learnt basic isiXhosa greetings, and had slowly got used to the culture of Site C. At my mom’s house I was spending most of my time cleaning and cooking, but by now I knew the routine in the house, and I had a plan for how to deal with my mom.

When she came into the house after work, I would grab the bucket and casually walk out so I could say I was going to get water. I knew she would have seen how the long queue at the tap was when she was walking back, and I could guess how much time I had before I needed to be home with the water.

Then I would ask the people in the queue to move my bucket along the queue – that is how I made time to play. By then I had some friends there, three girls who lived around us. We girls used to play games after they came back from school and while I was fetching water for my mom, games like ‘iThoti ezintathu‘.

To play ‘iThoti ezintathu‘ you line up three cans in the middle of a circle drawn on the ground, and two teams stand on either side. One team tries to hit the cans with a ball, and then the other team catches the ball on their side. After someone hits the cans, they run into the circle to put the cans up again, and the people on the other team try to hit that person with the ball. You have to dodge the balls at the same time as lining up the cans again.

When you see that kind of game being played close to a tap, and you’re nine years old, you’re going to want to join in! My new friends and I were all between nine and twelve, and we’d play in the time I had stolen while my bucket was in the tap queue.

I loved playing this game and the girls I played with quickly became good friends. I didn’t have to worry about speaking good isiXhosa with them because they wanted to speak English, of which I knew a little.

But we weren’t the only people playing games.

Efoli‘ was a common game among tough gangster boys in the community. It means ‘get raped’.

One day it got late as we were playing near the tap. As it got darker, the streets got emptier, but it wasn’t dark yet – just dusk, when the house lights are on and the moon is just rising.

Some of the boys in the community where watching us from nearby. They were about sixteen years old. One of my new girlfriends, the oldest one, who was twelve, knew one of these guys. She kept looking over at him.

‘Hey, sana‘, the guys yelled out.

Hayi, suka‘, we replied.

Would anyone watching have thought that we were trying to attract these boys with our childish game? But the four guys strolled over, and casually put a knife to the oldest girl’s side, and to us she said, ‘Masihambeni‘ (let’s go). We knew she was thinking that if we didn’t go with her they would stab her and run away.


I was the youngest. I was the last.

I was terrified and in pain.

They are on top of me.

They all came into the room at the end.

There were all these legs around me, and sperm on my face.

Then they let me go.

It was a long walk home. I was clutching my skirt between my legs and there was blood streaming down my legs.

The thing I remember is that there was a neighbour watching me as I walked all the way down the street to my mother’s house. She was also a mother, and I knew her. She had smiled at me sometimes before when she had seen me playing at the tap – when she smiled I thought that she had felt happy for me, happy to see me adapting. But that night she just stared at me. And I felt blame and judgement. Her look made me feel shameful. When you’re out at that time, it’s like you asked for it.

When I arrived home, my mother was drunk and ready with a sjambok. Hitting me, she asked me why I hadn’t brought back the water and cooked dinner. Her sons had already eaten their sheep’s head.

She beat me all over. She never asked me where I had been. I kept quiet, and when it was over I went to clean the plates. I didn’t eat supper, just licked the plates with leftover gravy still on it.

I was so angry with my mom. This was the final moment – I knew I had to leave this place. All I could think about was getting back to my dad.

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Author image: Afternoon Express

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Lost 100 kilometres out to sea, in the middle of a storm: Alone: The Search For Brett Archibald

AloneDon’t miss this new publication: Alone: The Search For Brett Archibald:

In April 2013 a global breaking-news story surfaced on social media and in the world press, and rapidly gathered momentum. A South African man had fallen overboard in the night during a storm in remote Indonesian waters, without anyone else on board realising. Eight hours later a frantic search was underway.

The incident caught the world’s attention as readers were instantly transported into the terror of the moment – imagine being left alone, 100 kilometres out to sea in the middle of a storm, watching your friends sail into the distance …

Had he been dealt a fraction more bad luck, Archibald would have died immediately. According to the experts, he should have died within 10 to 14 hours. But he chose not to die. Instead for 28-and-a-half hours Archibald endured – the ocean, the elements, the creatures of the deep, and his own inner demons.

Alone: The Search For Brett Archibald is the incredible but true story of what it takes to defy needle-in-a-haystack odds and survive what should have been certain death. Outdoor savvy, astonishing imagination, mental toughness, a refusal to give up hope and a canny rescuer with an unbelievable background ultimately saw him through. Most of all this is a story of the power of the human spirit that defies rational explanation.

I was at the Epic Kayak offices in the USA when I heard Brett had fallen overboard. I followed the story closely on Facebook but after 12 hours I turned to Greg Barton [Olympic gold medallist] and said, “There’s no way anyone can survive longer than that in the ocean – I certainly couldn’t do it.” This is an incredible, incredible story.

- Oscar Chalupsky, 12 times Molokai World Champion; multiple paddling, Iron Man & lifesaving champion; one of the world’s great watermen

About the author

Brett Archibald is an international businessman and entrepreneur, who built an impressive global career, which included directorship positions with a worldwide hospitality and travel corporation in Johannesburg, Sydney, Hong Kong and London. He now lives in Cape Town where he is the chairman and shareholder of an event and hospitality company.

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‘I have many names …’ – Read an excerpt from Nwelezelanga: The Star Child by Unathi Magubeni

Nwelezelanga: The Star Child: The debut novel from writer, sangoma and trainee herbalist Unathi Magubeni

NwelezelangaNwelezelanga: The Star Child, the debut novel by writer, sangoma and trainee herbalist Unathi Magubeni, has recently been published by Jacana Media.

The story begins with Nokwakha giving birth at her village home, and when it is discovered that the child is an albino the midwife convinces her that it is a curse and she should snuff the life out of it before it takes another breath. The dreadful deed is done by the river, but the “all-knowing one” has other plans …

The novel has earned high praise from Thando Mgqolozana, author of A Man Who is Not a Man, Unimportance and Hear Me Alone:

Magubeni handles the sacred subject in a way that neither slants nor meddles. For this reason, when African traditionalists learn of Magubeni’s book they will be nervously curious but will discover that they needn’t have been. It will be a rare gift for the scholars, and we ordinary readers will not remember our lives before Magubeni happened.

Read an excerpt from the book:

I have many names; my mother calls me “Nwelezelanga” because of my golden hair. Some call me “Mhlophe” because of my fair, almost-ginger skin. One wise old woman of the tribe calls me “Mehlomadala” because of my big, round eyes that reflect oceans of untold stories, and the village girls who like to taunt me just calls me “That Albino Girl”.

I’m thirteen years old; however that’s a distortion on its own. I’m young yet old; I’ve experienced the cycle of birth and death many times than I care to count. I’ve donned and shredded many skin colours in my lifetime.

I’ve lived the lives of many; the lives of the poor and the healers of aBantu and served the divine purpose in countless ways. I have also visited this world before as a baobab tree and stood tall for over hundred years exuding all the wisdom in the known world. I’ve made short visits, sometimes as a carefree butterfly, showing off the innocence from beyond. One of my favourite incarnations is when I was a bird and would cross the oceans with my own kid reflecting the endurance of the immortals. On occasions, I have visited this world in less glamorous roles in the form of a worker bee and worked all my waking life giving the world the sweet honey of our hard labour.

I spend most of my time suspended in the hills of my humble village. I watch the clouds all day looking for messages from beyond. I watch them form into morphing countless symbols speaking the language of the Gods. I struggle to decode some of the messages at times. I have to be patient; there are hidden secretes in the knot of existence. Many think I’m crazy and find my favourite pastime as an excuse for being lazy.

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Don’t miss the launches of sangoma Unathi Magubeni’s debut novel Nwelezelanga: The Star Child

Invitation to the launch of Nwelezelanga: The Star Child
Invitation to the launch of Nwelezelanga: The Star Child

Nwelezelanga: The Star ChildJacana Media and BlackBird Books invite you to two launches of Unathi Magubeni’s debut novel, Nwelezelanga: The Star Child.

Magubeni is a writer, sangoma and trainee herbalist. He left the corporate world in December 2009 after successfully starting a company in telecommunication with two friends. He currently lives in the Eastern Cape. His first book, Food For Thought, a collection of poetry, was published in 2003.

The launches will take place in Tlokwe and Johannesburg.

See you there!


Events Details: Tlokwe

Events Details: Johannesburg

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Sarah Nuttall reviews The Shouting in the Dark: Elleke Boehmer’s most exciting bio-fictional work since her debut

The Shouting in the DarkBy Sarah Nuttall

This book is for me Elleke Boehmer’s most exciting bio-fictional work since her debut novel Screens Against the Sky (1990). If that first book drew its energy from the depiction of an obsessional mother-daughter relationship, this one burns with an intense and destructive father-daughter relationship. Ben Okri calls it “a secret duel to the death between a father and daughter” and it plays out in a vividly historical sense. Boehmer’s narrator, who the reader has much difficulty not thinking of as herself (much like the narrator John in JM Coetzee’s Boyhood) becomes undone by her – in many ways – terrible father. What drives this story is Ella’s hatred of him, her desire to kill him, her wish for his death, her longing to be an orphan altogether.

Boehmer writes her way into the eruptions and emissions of intense emotion in this book, set in Durban in the 1970s, in ways she hasn’t before. That is, she inhabits her character’s affective life to a degree unreached in previous writing. Ella’s disgust at her father, and her derision for what she sees, as a girl, as her mother’s weakness, animates the prose. Her father spews and spills, every night on the verandah, his vitriol, his right wing politics, the pain of his shattering wartime experiences in the Dutch navy during World War II, his grief for the woman he in fact loved, her mother’s dead sister. Boehmer needed to find a prose form that could enter a highly charged and unrestrained emotional space, and she has done it brilliantly, in a highly crafted way.

If Coetzee’s Boyhood is, as with his other fictional and biofictional works, written with deep, if very restrained, emotion, brilliant verbal economies and narrative taughtness, Boehmer’s The Shouting in the Dark taps into a more expressive turn, which mirrors and mines the affective charge of a South African cultural and public life now avowedly post-TRC and shaped by new orders of private and public feeling, force and anger.

These are extracts from a longer piece that Sarah Nuttall is writing about Boehmers The Shouting in the Dark.

Related stories:

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Nwelezelanga: The Star Child – The debut novel from poet and sangoma Unathi Magubeni

Nwelezelanga: The Star Child: The debut novel from writer, sangoma and trainee herbalist Unathi Magubeni

NwelezelangaJacana Media is proud to present Nwelezelanga: The Star Child, the debut novel from Unathi Magubeni, writer, sangoma and trainee herbalist:

With a rich vocabulary that is poetic and uncluttered, this debut novel is nothing short of a masterpiece. It is both a well-written and philosophical book. The story begins with Nokwakha giving birth at her village home, and when it is discovered that the child is an albino the midwife convinces her that it is a curse and she should snuff the life out of it before it takes another breath. The dreadful deed is done by the river, but the “all-knowing one” has other plans …

With an assured voice and eloquent prose, Magubeni invites us into the life of this extraordinary being, Nwelezelanga, the child who should not have been, contrasting the themes of darkness and light, embracing the unknown and unseen in a way no one else has – or can.

Magubeni handles the sacred subject in a way that neither slants nor meddles. For this reason, when African traditionalists learn of Magubeni’s book they will be nervously curious but will discover that they needn’t have been. It will be a rare gift for the scholars, and we ordinary readers will not remember our lives before Magubeni happened.

- Thando Mgqolozana, author of A Man Who is Not a Man, Unimportance and Hear Me Alone

About the author

Unathi Magubeni, 35, is a writer, a sangoma and a trainee herbalist. He left the corporate world in December 2009 after successfully starting a company in telecommunication with two friends. He currently lives in the Eastern Cape. His first book, Food For Thought, a collection of poetry, was published in 2003.

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The recovery of Africa’s philosopher-king – A Jacana Pocket Biography: Thabo Mbeki by Adekeye Adebajo

A Jacana Pocket Biography: Thabo MbekiNew from Jacana Media, A Jacana Pocket Biography: Thabo Mbeki by Adekeye Adebajo:

Mbeki was a complex figure, full of contradictions and paradoxes: a rural child who became an urban sophisticate; a prophet of Africa’s Renaissance who was also an anglophile; a committed young Marxist who, while in power, embraced conservative economic policies and protected white corporate interests; a rational and dispassionate thinker who was particularly sensitive to criticism and dissent; a champion of African self-reliance who relied excessively on foreign capital and promoted a continental economic plan – Nepad – that was disproportionately dependent on foreign aid; and a thoughtful intellectual who supported policies on HIV/Aids that withheld antiretroviral drugs from infected people, resulting in hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths.

Mbeki is the most important African political figure of his generation and a dominant figure in South African politics for 14 years. A pan-African philosopher-king who spent two decades in exile, as president of Africa’s most industrialised state, he set out a sweeping vision of an African Renaissance.

As a key liberation leader in exile, Mbeki was instrumental in his party’s anti-apartheid struggle. During the South African transition, he helped build one of the world’s most respected constitutional democracies. As president, despite some successes, he was unable to overcome South Africa’s inherited socioeconomic challenges, and his disastrous Aids policies will remain a major blotch in his legacy. He will, however, be remembered more as a foreign policy president for his peace-making efforts in Africa and in the building of continental institutions such as the African Union and Nepad.

This book seeks to rescue Mbeki from South African parochialism and to restore him to a pan-African pantheon.

About the author

Adekeye Adebajo is Executive Director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution in Cape Town, and Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg. A former Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, he is the author of The Curse of Berlin: Africa after the Cold War and editor of Africa’s Peacemakers: Nobel Peace Laureates of African Descent. He is a columnist for Business Day (South Africa) and the Guardian (Nigeria).

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