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Robin Renwick’s account of decline in political leadership in SA explores the influence of the Guptas, the ensuing scandals, and the change our country can expect

How to Steal a Country describes the vertiginous decline in political leadership in South Africa from Mandela to Zuma and its terrible consequences.

Robin Renwick’s account reads in parts like a novel – a crime novel – for Sherlock Holmes’s old adversary, Professor Moriarty, the erstwhile Napoleon of Crime, would have been impressed by the ingenuity, audacity and sheer scale of the looting of the public purse, let alone the impunity with which it has been accomplished.

Based on Renwick’s personal experiences of the main protagonists, it describes the extraordinary influence achieved by the Gupta family for those seeking to do business with state-owned enterprises in South Africa, and the massive amounts earned by Gupta related companies from their associations with them.

The ensuing scandals have engulfed Bell Pottinger, KPMG, McKinsey and other multinationals. The primary responsibility for this looting of the state, however, rests squarely with President Zuma and key members of his government. But South Africa has succeeded in establishing a genuinely non-racial society full of determined and enterprising people, offering genuine hope for the future.

These include independent journalists, black and white, who refuse to be silenced, and the judges, who have acted with courage and independence. The book concludes that change will come, either by the ruling party reverting to the values of Mandela and Archbishop Tutu, or by the reckoning it otherwise will face one day.

Robin Renwick, Baron Renwick of Clifton, is a crossbench peer in the House of Lords. He was ambassador to South Africa during the period leading to the release of Nelson Mandela. He subsequently served as ambassador to the United States.

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And our sunshine noir author for March is … C.M. Elliott!

A new month calls for a new sunshine noir author sending shivers down the spines of local thriller fans…

This month, the co-author of the popular Detective Kubu series, Michael Sears, had the opportunity to interview C.M. Elliott for The Big Thrill – the magazine for international thriller writers.

Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

C.M. Elliott, author of the popular Sibanda-series.

 

Here’s what the two thriller aficionados chatted about:

C. M. Elliott (everyone calls her Scotty, but she says the reason why makes too long of a story) writes a series of mystery/thrillers set in Zimbabwe near the Hwange National Park. She certainly has the perfect background for it, having spent 40 years in Zimbabwe with her game-ranger husband pioneering a tourism business based in and around the national park. She says she lived in the park continuously for 20 years “in an assortment of tents, tree-houses and bush dwellings, dodging a hodgepodge of charging elephants, rhino, buffalo and a rather angry spitting cobra” before moving to Bulawayo. Along the way, she has won literary prizes and awards, and the books have just been optioned for a TV series.

The first novel, Sibanda and the Rainbird, featuring the redoubtable Detective Inspector Jabulani Sibanda, was published in 2013 to an enthusiastic reception. It was followed two years later by Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth, and last year Sibanda and the Black Sparrowhawk was released. The books have a wonderful sense of place as a backdrop for the gritty crimes and action.

It’s clear from your writing that you have a deep knowledge of, and affection for, the people of Matabeleland in Zimbabwe. How did you come to know the area and the people there so well?

I’ve lived in Matabeleland for 40 years and most of that time has been in rural locations. I’m fascinated by people and culture and the Ndebele are a particularly warm and welcoming nation, always smiling despite recent adversities. It’s hard not to admire and store away instances of such stoicism, good humor, ingenuity, and tradition.

What motivated you to write a series of detective novels set in Gubu, a fictitious small town close to the national park?

When I started this creative journey, I hadn’t a clue what to write about, but I knew the setting was going to be the African bush. It’s no secret that Gubu is the nom de plume for Dete, a village near the park that I know really well.

Sitting in front of a blank computer screen, I set myself the exercise of writing short stories in as many different genres as I could think of. My first attempt was crime, a serendipitous pick. I never progressed to sci fi, romance, or historical et al, because I became completely engaged by my characters. They wouldn’t let go and led me on a merry dance through an entire novel!

While I was reading the book, President Mugabe was deposed after 37 years ruling Zimbabwe. Where do you think the country is going in the future under the new president?

Onwards and upwards. Anyone who watched the peaceful transition in Zimbabwe, where up to a million people took to the streets with no incidence of looting or violence and no arrests, could not fail to be moved by the determination and unfettered joy of the people. With a ground swell like that behind him our new president must succeed.

Continue reading their conversation here.
 

Sibanda and the Rainbird

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Sibanda and the Death’s Head Moth

 
 
 

Sibanda and the Black Sparrow Hawk

Jacana Media awarded Bologna Book Fair’s ‘Children’s Publisher of the Year’

Jacana Media is proud to announce that they have been awarded the Bologna Book Fair’s ‘Children’s Publisher of the Year’ prize in the African category.

The prize is for “publishers who have most distinguished themselves for their creative and publishing excellence over the year, showing originality as well as professional and intellectual skills” and Jacana Media congratulates the other shortlisted publishers Boustany’s Publishing House, Sub-Saharian Publishers, Protea Boekhuis and Ruisseaux d’Afrique.

The prize is run by the fair in association with the Italian Publishers’ Association and rewards the best children’s publishers in six areas of the world: Africa, Central and South America, North America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

“We are honoured to be recognised with this award,” says Carol Broomhall, publisher at Jacana Media. “We work hard to bring our books to a primarily South African audience and it is heartening when the quality of our publications is recognised internationally and we are thrilled to be so acknowledged.”

The winners in the other regions are:

OneTree House – New Zealand (Oceania)
Éditions D’eux – Canada (North America)
Ediciones Tecolote – Mexico (Central and South America)
Wydawnictwo Dwie Siostry Publishers – Poland (Europe)
Fukuinkan Shoten Publishers – Japan (Asia)

Do you want to write your memoir? Melinda Ferguson shares the know-how with Sara-Jayne King…

Melinda Ferguson, the author of memoirs Smacked, Hooked, and Crashed, is launching an online memoir writing course, ‘The Magic of Making a Start’.

Ferguson, an acclaimed publisher to boot, has been hosting writing workshops in both Cape Town and Joburg for the past 18 months.

She recently was a guest on fellow memoirist (Killing Karoline) and radio host Sara-Jayne King’s Cape Talk programme, during which the two discussed her digital debut.

Give it a listen!

Smacked

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Hooked
 

 
Crashed

 
 
 

Killing Karoline

David Bristow received 174 rejection slips before Jacana published Running Wild. The Daily Maverick asked why he persevered…

Running WildFollowing in the footsteps of Jock of the Bushveld, Running Wild is an African story for all ages. It is a tale of resilience, of courage and endurance, a book that will uplift, enrich and warm every lover of the African bush.

The story of Zulu is based on the life of a real stallion that lived on the Mashatu Game Reserve. The versions of the story of Zulu are about as numerous as the people who recount them. The horse and the myth were at times indistinguishable. This account of his life has been stitched together from all those stories.

In February 2000, tropical Cyclone Leon-Eline resulted in a storm so severe that the horses of Mashatu broke out of their enclosure and roamed wild and free for days before returning. Zulu was the only one that did not return. He was thought to be lost to the scourges of the Bushveld.

Years pass before Zulu is discovered to be not only alive and well, but running as the lead stallion of a herd of wild zebras. He is recaptured and returned to the safari stables as a much bolder and wiser stallion – knowledge he passes on to the other horses as well as the humans of Limpopo Valley.

David Bristow has a degree in journalism. He is one of South Africa’s first full-time travel photojournalists and was the editor of Getaway magazine. David has written more than 20 books about Africa, taking a three-year sabbatical mid-career to earn a master’s degree in environmental sciences.

As well as travelling from Antarctica to Alaska, Hillbrow to the Himalayas, he has ridden horse safaris in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Kenya. David now lives on a lake close to the sea near Cape Town with his partner, one cat, two surfboards, three canoes and four bicycles. He has three children and a grand one.

Upon hearing that Bristow received 174 rejection slips before Jacana okay’d his manuscript, the Daily Maverick’s Tiara Walters was intrigued as to why exactly David didn’t just. give. up. Here’s why…

DM: I don’t understand. Why not just self-publish after rejection slip number 83, for argument’s sake?

DB: I really believed in the story, simple as that. I just had to convince someone else. As soon as Jacana heard the premise, they jumped at it, smart people.

With regards to self-publishing, or not in this case, it was about shelf space and numbers. If your book isn’t housewives’ porn or young adult fantasy, you don’t want to go that route unless you are serious about selling books. Making them is the easy part. This is not my first book by a long way so it was not what they call a “vanity-publishing” exercise. But it was my first paperback, so it needed to be a commercial success. I’ve thrown a lot of marketing resources at it, from serious media launches to talks at book clubs.

I think the story of Zulu has the potential of becoming a modern-day equivalent of Jock of the Bushveld. It’s the rollicking, true story of an African stallion that bolts from his stable during the cyclonic floods of 2000, joins a dazzle of zebras in Mashatu Game Reserve and, remarkably, rises to the position of lead stallion.

DM: So what was the problem, then? Were you not photogenic enough? I heard this might be a thing in the unsparing world of contemporary publishing now.

DB: Yup, ugly as original sin. My girlfriend calls me OS (although that might just be os) (os n. Afrikaans for bovine male. Sometimes used for pulling vehicles or carrying things). But also publishing is like that well-trotted-out saying about capitalism: it’s a kak system, but it’s the best we’ve got. Which I guess is my way of saying they know nothing. The accountants and marketing people make all the decisions. And they think only in boxes (very small ones usually), like, does this book fit neatly into one of our sure-selling categories?

DM: Is Zulu the only horse ever known to have “gone” zebra? Did you look for other, um, “horsebra” stories? Perhaps it’s not entirely fanciful to picture a dazzle of zebra running wild through the Namib, displaying suspiciously desert horse-like traits.

DB: In the wilds, yes, this is unique. In captivity zebras and horses, as well as zebras and donkeys, have been crossed. Crosses were common amusements in Victorian circuses, but it was always a zebra male and female horse (zorses). The other way around is not known to ever have occurred. Not even the equine scientists could tell me why.

Continue reading their conversation HERE.

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Sara-Jayne King to discuss Killing Karoline at Muizenberg Library (22 March)

Killing KarolineKilling 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.

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The rhino war in South Africa has entered its 10th year. How can we win this battle?

The rhino does not belong to us. It belongs to no one. All that we own is the responsibility of ensuring that it persists and that future books on the rhino are written about its expanded range and not its declining future. – Yolan Friedman (Endangered Wildlife Trust)

How is South Africa going to sustain the cost of securing rhino while the belief continues to persist that the enemy lies elsewhere in Southeast Asia?

The Walkers believe that the problem actually lies in South Africa’s own backyard.

This book discusses corruption and the criminal justice system, the need for more community engagement and the costs of protection. It also looks at how far have we come since the rhino wars in the 1980s and the rhino trade debate.

We have to shift from the negative to an element of the positive. People are tired of seeing dead and dying rhino. There is some optimism due to the excellent work being undertaken by the state and the private sector at many levels in security, tourism, community involvement and environmental education, as well as NGO support.

There are no easy solutions to this battle, but all is not lost.

It is the opinion of the authors that the private rhino owner, often working in cooperation with the state, will emerge as a key factor in the struggle to win the war. In order to have a victory, we need to have a battle. The time has come when one has to be ‘soft enough to wear silk and tough enough to slay the dragon’. Rhino Revolution testifies to the many people doing just that.

The rhino war in South Africa has entered its 10th year, and last year saw 662 rhino killed in Kruger alone – and over 1000 in total for South Africa. Clive and Anton Walker, authors of the bestselling Rhino Keepers (2012), have once again come up with a fresh, new look at the ongoing rhino crisis. With magnificent photographs and afterwords by John Hanks and Yolan Friedman.

Clive Walker entered the battle for the rhino with the founding of the Endangered Wildlife Trust in 1973. He co-founded the Rhino and Elephant Foundation and the African Rhino Owners Association, and served on the IUCN African Rhino Specialist Group for close on 14 years. He served as a member of the South African Parks Board from 2000 to 2006.

Anton Walker, Clive’s son, grew up largely at Lapalala Wilderness, the reserve that was to become an important rhino sanctuary and a world-class environmental school in the bush. Anton joined the permanent staff of the reserve in 1996 and was the general manager of the 45 000-hectare sanctuary until October 2017. He has since taken up the position of director and curator of the Waterberg Living Museum in the Waterberg of Limpopo. His knowledge of both species of rhino is extensive in all areas of management, capture, monitoring, field operations and aerial surveys. His special interest lies in the fossil record of the rhino.

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Indentured is Rajesh Sundaram’s gripping account of his time at channel ANN7 under the power-grabbing and money-hungry Guptas

“Why Zuma?” asked Atul Gupta. “We have close relations with everyone in the ANC. If Zuma is ever ousted, I can tell you for sure that the next one in line from the ANC would be close to us as well. We are ‘Banias’, and we know how to keep our business interests protected,” Gupta added.

A senior broadcast journalist from India is headhunted to lead the team that’s been tasked to launch the latest privately owned 24-hour television news channel in South Africa. He is lured with promises of a unique professional challenge where he will have the chance to empower young black reporters to tell the stories of ordinary South Africans; train technicians in using the world’s best news gathering technology and state-of-the-art broadcast systems; and create a world-class product across the African continent.

But soon he will learn how the influential family who had hired him and the highest office in the country are inextricably linked in a bid to create a propaganda tool that will not only advance a clear political agenda, but also position itself to loot state coffers of millions of rand. This and the flagrant disregard for the law by flouting work visa regulations and exploiting young black South Africans and migrant Indian workers are but a few of the issues that made him realise that he was caught in a web of lies, deceit and political thuggery.

Indentured: Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV is Rajesh Sundaram’s story of how he led a small team of Indian broadcast professionals and South African interns to launch the television news channel ANN7 under extremely tight deadlines and the power-grabbing and money-hungry mogul Atul Gupta and his cronies breathing down their necks. All this results in Sundaram quitting his job in a public spat, while his life is threatened, his health deteriorates and his continued loyalty to the vulnerable at ANN7 is tested.

GuptaLeaks gave South Africans the facts and Indentured will give the reader the understanding and depth of the true nature of the Zuma-Gupta cabal.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A journalist for the past 23 years, Rajesh Sundaram holds a degree in Journalism from the University of Delhi, and has worked for top Indian and international media houses, including India Today Group, NDTV and Al Jazeera. He is well known for his expertise in launching television news stations, with seven successful launches worldwide under his belt. Sundaram currently lives in Chennai, India with his journalist wife Rashmi Sanyal and daughters, Ananya and Ahana.

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Launch: Brutal Legacy by Tracy Going (28 February)

When South Africa’s golden girl of broadcasting, Tracy Going’s battered face was splashed across the media back in the late 1990s, the nation was shocked.

South Africans had become accustomed to seeing Going, glamorous and groomed on television or hearing her resonant voice on Radio Metro and Kaya FM. Sensational headlines of a whirlwind love relationship turned horrendously violent threw the “perfect” life of the household star into disarray. What had started off as a fairy-tale romance with a man who appeared to be everything that Going was looking for – charming, handsome and successful – had quickly descended into a violent, abusive relationship.

“As I stood before him all I could see were the lies, the disappearing for days without warning, the screaming, the threats, the terror, the hostage-holding, the keeping me up all night, the dragging me through the house by my hair, the choking, the doors locked around me, the phones disconnected, the isolation, the fear and the uncertainty.”

The rosy love cloud burst just five months after meeting her “Prince Charming” when she staggered into the local police station, bruised and battered. A short relationship became a two-and-a-half-year legal ordeal played out in the public eye. In mesmerising detail, Going takes us through the harrowing court process – a system seeped in injustice – her decline into depression, the immediate collapse of her career due to the highly public nature of her assault and the decades-long journey to undo the psychological damages in the search for safety and the reclaiming of self.

The roots of violence form the backdrop of the book, tracing Going’s childhood on a plot in Brits, laced with the unpredictable violence of an alcoholic father who regularly terrorised the family with his fists of rage.

“I was ashamed of my father, the drunk. If he wasn’t throwing back the liquid in the lounge then he’d be finding comfort and consort in his cans at the golf club. With that came the uncertainty as I lay in my bed and waited for him to return. I would lie there holding my curtain tight in my small hand. I would pull the fabric down, almost straight, forming a strained sliver and I would peer into the blackness, unblinking. It seemed I was always watching and waiting. Sometimes I searched for satellites between the twinkles of light, but mostly the fear in my tummy distracted me.”

Brilliantly penned, this highly skilled debut memoir, is ultimately uplifting in the realisation that healing is a lengthy and often arduous process and that self-forgiveness and acceptance is essential in order to fully embrace life.

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Listen: Tracy Going discusses Brutal Legacy with Sarah-Jayne King

When South Africa’s golden girl of broadcasting, Tracy Going’s battered face was splashed across the media back in the late 1990s, the nation was shocked.

South Africans had become accustomed to seeing Going, glamorous and groomed on television or hearing her resonant voice on Radio Metro and Kaya FM. Sensational headlines of a whirlwind love relationship turned horrendously violent threw the “perfect” life of the household star into disarray. What had started off as a fairy-tale romance with a man who appeared to be everything that Going was looking for – charming, handsome and successful – had quickly descended into a violent, abusive relationship.

“As I stood before him all I could see were the lies, the disappearing for days without warning, the screaming, the threats, the terror, the hostage-holding, the keeping me up all night, the dragging me through the house by my hair, the choking, the doors locked around me, the phones disconnected, the isolation, the fear and the uncertainty.”

The rosy love cloud burst just five months after meeting her “Prince Charming” when she staggered into the local police station, bruised and battered. A short relationship became a two-and-a-half-year legal ordeal played out in the public eye. In mesmerising detail, Going takes us through the harrowing court process – a system seeped in injustice – her decline into depression, the immediate collapse of her career due to the highly public nature of her assault and the decades-long journey to undo the psychological damages in the search for safety and the reclaiming of self.

The roots of violence form the backdrop of the book, tracing Going’s childhood on a plot in Brits, laced with the unpredictable violence of an alcoholic father who regularly terrorised the family with his fists of rage.

“I was ashamed of my father, the drunk. If he wasn’t throwing back the liquid in the lounge then he’d be finding comfort and consort in his cans at the golf club. With that came the uncertainty as I lay in my bed and waited for him to return. I would lie there holding my curtain tight in my small hand. I would pull the fabric down, almost straight, forming a strained sliver and I would peer into the blackness, unblinking. It seemed I was always watching and waiting. Sometimes I searched for satellites between the twinkles of light, but mostly the fear in my tummy distracted me.”

Brilliantly penned, this highly skilled debut memoir, is ultimately uplifting in the realisation that healing is a lengthy and often arduous process and that self-forgiveness and acceptance is essential in order to fully embrace life.

Here Tracy discusses her memoir with Cape Talk host and fellow author, Sarah-Jayne King whose memoir, Killing Karoline, was published in 2017:

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