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Launch of It’s Me, Marah even livelier than expected!

Relatives, close friends and staunch admirers of iconic South African musician and actress, Marah Louw, recently congregated at Soweto’s Vilakazi Restaurant for the launch of Louw’s autobiography It’s Me, Marah.

Menus which read ‘Welcome to Mara’s Book Launch’ were positioned on exquisitely set tables. (In no way did the typo distract from the delicious authentic African dishes the attendees were treated to.)

The MC opened his introduction of Marah by stating that “today we celebrate a woman we haven’t had the opportunity to celebrate.”

And believe you me, celebrate we did…

Before the starter arrived, guests were treated to a live performance of a capella group The Harmony Singers; “they’re all my husbands,” Louw quipped during her surprise performance with the group at the end of the evening. (Eager to see the queen in action? Click here!)

The performance was followed by a poignant and meaningful speech by Thabiso Mahlaphe, founder of BlackBird Books, the publishers of It’s Me, Marah.

Two statements which stood out during Mahlape’s speech included her mentioning that she has heard many stories during her career as publisher, “yet Marah’s story will always stay with me. The reason I’m so fat is because so many stories stay with me,” she laughed.

Mahlape earnestly added that “I stand here with mixed emotions. As a young black woman I shouldn’t have waited this long for Marah to approach me; I should have approached her.”

The golden couple of South Africa’s musical theatre scene and age-old friends of Marah Louw, Des and Dawn Lindberg, were among the event-goers. The Lindbergs have known, travelled, and performed with Louw since the 1980s. Des entertained his fellow table members with stories of Dawn and Marah dancing with Mandela and De Klerk during the Newsmaker of the Year ceremony, and how Marah lost an entire suitcase during a cruise tour and had to dress in Dawn’s clothes for the remainder of their travels.

Guest speaker Elinor Sisulu initiated her discussion with Louw by asking her about the parts of her autobiography dedicated to her youth.

Louw candidly spoke about falling pregnant at 18, emphasising the significant role her high school principle played in supporting and urging her parents to allow her to continue her schooling..

Marah added that a lack of sexual education contributed to her unplanned pregnancy.

Whilst on the topic of education, Sisulu stated that “this book is about education. Our musicians are educators; it should be in every school in the country.”

Marah’s daughter Moratuwa spoke honestly about her mother’s past, asserting that “I’ve witnessed her abuse … She’s been through a lot. I watched her go on; she has no time for pity parties.”

Moratuwa also recalled her mother’s writing process, mentioning how Marah went through “many breakdowns, yet writing this book was a process of healing.

“I don’t think there’s a better shrink than what you did with this book,” Moratuwa concluded.

Nee, kyk. Judging by Louw’s fabulous attire, delightful demeanour and powerful mini-performance, this is one queen whose reign is far from over…

It's Me, Marah

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Two books to remember Ahmed Kathrada by

Ahmed Kathrada, former political prisoner and anti-apartheid activist, sadly passed away this week on Tuesday 28 March after a brief illness. Kathrada dedicated himself to the struggle and remained politically active until his death. The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which he founded, continues to work towards promoting ‘the values, rights and principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa’. He will be greatly missed.

Here are two books to remember him by:

A Free MindA Free Mind: Ahmed Kathrada’s Notebook from Robben Island

During his 26 years in jail, Ahmed Kathrada refused to allow the apartheid regime to confine his mind. Despite draconian prison censorship practices and heavily restricted access to the written word, Kathrada discovered a wealth of inspiring writings. A Free Mind presents extracts from poetry, novels, songs, sayings and letters that Kathrada transcribed and treasured as he served his life sentence in South Africa’s notorious Robben Island Maximum Security Prison. It includes quotes from Bertold Brecht, Mahatma Gandhi, Emily Brontë, Karl Marx, Olive Schreiner, Shabbir Banoobhai, Voltaire and many others.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn
Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn: The letters of Zuleikha Mayat and Ahhmed Kathrada 1979–1989

Dear Ahmedbhai, Dear Zuleikhabehn is the compilation of the beautiful letters sent between Rivonia trialist and political prisoner Ahmed Kathrada and Zuleikha Mayat, a self-described housewife, during apartheid’s last decade. These letters tell the story – all the more powerful for its ephemeral character – of a developing epistolary friendship between two people to whom history has brought different gains and losses. The collection is rich, not merely in historical content and stylistic interest, but in the experience it offers to the reader of an unfolding conversation, reflecting both the immediate worlds of its authors and a tumultuous period of South African history.
 
 

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Reading and discussion of Nwelezelanga: The Star Child by Unathi Magubeni

Unathi Magubeni will be reading from his book, Nwelezelanga, The Star Child, and facilitating a discussion around the story.

Event Details

Nwelezelanga

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Submissions for Dinaane Debut Fiction Award open

Jacana Media recently announced that submissions for the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award will open on the first of April.

Celebrating thirteen years of producing unparalleled South African literary talent, the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award is the perfect opportunity for any aspiring fiction writer to contribute to South African conversations.

Previous Dinaane winners include Andrew Miller (Dub Steps), Penny Busetto (The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself), Ashraf Kagee (Khalil’s Journey), James Clelland (Deeper Than Colour), Zinaid Meeran (Saracen at the Gates), Megan Voysey-Braig (Till We Can Keep an Animal), Kopano Matlwa (Coconut), Fred Khumalo (Bitches’ Brew), Gerald Kraak (Ice in the Lungs), and Ishtiyaq Shukri (The Silent Minaret). Tammy Baikie was the recipient of the award in 2016 for her novel, Selling LipService. The book will be published in May 2017.

Coverage aside, the overall winner will be awarded R35 000, be published by Jacana Media and join Exclusive Books’ Homebru campaign.

Submissions will be open from 1 April 2017 to 31 May 2017. Enquiries can be directed to awards@jacana.co.za.

Visit Jacana’s website for more information on the award.

Dub Steps

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The Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself

 
 

Khalil's Journey

 
 

Deeper Than Colour

 
 

Saracen at the Gates

 
 
 

Till We Can Keep An Animal

 
 

Coconut

 
 

Bitches' Brew

 
 

Ice in the Lungs

 
 
 

The Silent Minaret

#JacanaChallenge: how many African authors have you read?

“Anything and everything” by literary wunderkind Kopano Matlwa, NoViolet Bulawayo’s award-winning We Need New Names, and prolific Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o's first novel Weep Not, Child.

These are but three authors local bibliophiles recommend you read for this week’s #JacanaChallenge.

The challenge? Simply tweet any African author you think those participating in the challenge MUST read.

Get in on the fun! Join the challenge here.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Spilt Milk

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We Need New Names

 
 
 

Weep Not, Child

Want to learn how to write non-fiction? Join the Writing Masterclass with Christa Kuljian at Bridge Books

 

Join us for Jacana Media’s new series of Masterclasses for aspiring writers.

Christa Kuljian, author of Darwin’s Hunch and Sanctuary, will present the Masterclass at Bridge Books and share her insights on writing, non-fiction writing in particular.

Contact Bridge Books or visit bridgebooks.co.za for details.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 30 March 2017
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Bridge Books, 85 Commissioner Street, Johannesburg
  • Guest Speaker: Christa Kuljian
  • Cover charge: R150
  • (includes a copy of her book)

  • RSVP: info@bridgebooks.co.za, 079 708 4461,
    https://bridgebooks.co.za/

 
 
 

  • Darwin's HunchBook details
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  • Sanctuary
  • Amabookabooka chat to Sam Cowen about her memoir From Whiskey to Water

    Amabookabooka, the quirky podcast devoted to interviewing local authors about their work, made its Daily Maverick debut recently.

    In this episode, producers Jonathan Ancer and Dan Dewes chat to Sam Cowen, author of From Whiskey to Water.

    Cowen’s 2016 memoir recounts her experiences of alcoholism – some funny, some terrifying – and how she overcame her dependency by replacing whiskey and wine with the source of life: water.

    From the powerful effect that braving the icy Atlantic Ocean had on her to the process of writing about her past – Cowen, Ancer and Dewes cover it all.

    You can listen to the full podcast here.

    From Whiskey to Water

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    Zapiro launches his new book Dead President Walking at The Market Theatre

    Dead President Walking

     
    Jonathan Shapiro, the cartoonist popularly known as Zapiro, launched his new book, Dead President Walking, at the John Kani Theatre at the Market Theatre in Newtown, Johannesburg recently.

     

    The book could have been titled “Buy the Beloved Country” in reference to Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country and the alleged Gupta influence on national issues, Shapiro said.

    But because the state capture report had been the biggest story of the year, with potential to ultimately topple Jacob Zuma, Shapiro had decided to focus on the president instead. And while the African National Congress (ANC) at times criticised itself, Shapiro said the party finds it difficult to deal with ridicule and differing opinions.

    Shapiro produced a few giggles from the audience when he presented his most provocative cartoons, which he accompanied with sometimes cutting commentary.

    Former president Thabo Mbeki was “Mr Paranoid”. His successor, Zuma, “Mr Complete Idiot”. University activist, Chumani Maxwele, “an interesting guy, but a bit psychotic”. Hlaudi Motsoeneng, now head of Corporate Affairs at the SABC “thinks he’s God”.

     

    Another public figure to have been subjected to Shapiro’s ridicule is Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. While the pair have sorted out their differences, Shapiro believes Dikgang Moseneke, the former Deputy Chief Justice, would have made a better Chief Justice.

    Asked whether he didn’t find his work hurtful to targets, invading their privacy, Shapiro said that because they are public figures, “I absolutely don’t care.”

     

    Zuma has sued Shapiro in the past, but Shapiro stands by work – no matter how offensive. He did however single out a cartoon that “brought him grief”. The cartoon depicted Shaun Abrahams as a monkey and Zuma an organ grinder.

    Black people had been offended and called him racist, he said. But people who subscribed to this view had selective memory, Shapiro insists, as his work has depicted and ridiculed those who stepped out of line regardless of race.

     

    “The real racists are out there,” he said, adding that it was unfair to be compared to Penny Sparrow, a former estate agent who came under fire for describing black people as monkeys earlier in the year.

    Themba Siwela, cartoonist with the Citizen newspaper, found nothing wrong with the cartoon. But Shapiro could have looked at the “timing” before publishing, Siwela believes.

    Shapiro said cartoonists have an important role to play in any democracy, and that South Africa is one of the countries in the world that has made an impact with its cartoons.

    “We put a lot of pressure on someone who is stepping out of line.”

     

    Elections produce rich material for cartoonists, Shapiro said: “Local government elections are hot stuff.”

    In one “hot” cartoon, Shapiro shows Motsoeneng approving good news footage and ignoring violent protests. But Shapiro condemns destructive protests, and believes it is counterproductive to burn things.

    On last year’s statue demolitions, Shapiro said the statues had no right to be in prominent sites: “Why the hell should they be in our urban spaces?”

     

    Zapiro also revealed his naughty side – a side his editors and lawyers have to put up with when dealing with him. “There’s a certain adrenaline fighting editors and lawyers,” he grinned.

    Deadlines were a pain, he said, commenting that sometimes his cartoons would be late or just in time for publication.

    Dead President Walking is Zuma’s 21st annual; “A remarkable feat for anyone to achieve,” Jacana, his publisher, said.

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    Announcing the shortlist for the 2016 Gerald Kraak Award for African writers and artists

     
    The Jacana Literary Foundation and The Other Foundation have announced the African writers and artists shortlisted for the inaugural Gerald Kraak Award.

    Drawn from a range of African countries, these written and photographic pieces on the topics of gender, human rights and sexuality on our continent represent a new wave of fresh storytelling.

    The shortlist will comprise the resultant anthology, titled Pride and Prejudice, which will be published and distributed by Jacana Media and its project partners across Africa in May 2017.

    Judges Sisonke Msimang (chair), Eusebius McKaiser and Sylvia Tamale reviewed close on 400 anonymous individual entries over the past four months in order to select the 14 pieces for the shortlist.

    Msimang says:

    In the current political environment, we are hopeful that expressions like the ones we have chosen – that do not shy away from pain but that are also deeply inventive – find their way into the public consciousness. We think Gerald Kraak would have smiled at a number of these entries, and above all, we have aimed to stay true to his love of fearless writing and support of courageous and grounded activism.

    In alphabetical order by surname, here are the shortlisted authors and entries, and short judges’ notes:

    • Poached Eggs by Farah Ahamed (Fiction, Kenya)

    A subtle, slow and careful rendering of the everyday rhythms of domestic terror that pays homage to the long history of women’s resistance; yet with wit and humour and grit, the story also sings of freedom, of resistance and the desire to be unbound.

    • A Place of Greater Safety by Beyers de Vos (Journalism, South Africa)

    Covers, with empathy and real curiosity and knowledge, underground issues that are seldom discussed in the South African LGBT+ movement – homelessness, poverty, as well as attraction and violence.

    • Midnight in Lusikisiki or The Ruin of the Gentlewomen by Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese (Poetry, South Africa)

    This poem hums with sadness and sings with anger. It is full of the sort of melancholy that marks the passing of something very important. It provides an opportunity to connect the themes of gender this collection takes so seriously, with issues of poverty and political corruption.

    • Two Weddings for Amoit by Dilman Dila (Fiction, Uganda)

    A fresh piece of sci-fi, written in a clear and bright way, that surprisingly draws on covert and subversive love.

    • Albus by Justin Dingwall (Photography, South Africa)

    The choice of exquisitely beautiful high-fashion models to represent people with albinism – who are so often depicted as unattractive, as others – is just breath-taking. It makes its point and leaves you wanting more.

    • For Men Who Care by Amatesiro Dore (Fiction, Nigeria)

    A complex and thoughtful insight into a part of elite Nigerian life, as well as the ways in which buying into certain brands of patriarchy can be so deeply damaging – and have direct and unavoidable consequences.

    • Resurrection by Tania Haberland (Poetry, Mauritius)

    An erotic poem that is powerful in its simple celebration of the clit.

    • Intertwined Odyssey by Julia Hango (Photography, South Africa)

    A solid and thought-provoking collection. The range of poses force questions about power. The photos make the lovers (or are they fighters?) equal in their nakedness and in their embodiment of discomfort.

    • Dean’s Bed by Dean Hutton (Photography, South Africa)

    An important contribution to conversations about bisexuality, attraction, age and race.

    • On Coming Out by Lee Mokobe (Poetry, South Africa)

    Literal and lyrical, this powerful poem draws one in through its style and accessibility.

    • You Sing of a Longing by Otosirieze Obi-Young (Fiction, Nigeria)

    A thoroughly modern epic but with bones as old as time. This is a story of love and betrayal and madness and music that is all the more beautiful for its plainspoken poignancy. Yet there is prose in here that steals your breath away.

    • The Conversation by Olakunle Ologunro (Fiction, Nigeria)

    Provides valuable insight into issues of intimate partner violence, family acceptance and the complexity of gender roles in many modern African contexts.

    • One More Nation Bound in Freedom by Ayodele Sogunro (Academic, Nigeria)

    An informative piece that gives a crisp and “objective” voice to the many themes that cut across this anthology.

    • Stranger in a Familiar Land by Sarah Waiswa (Photography, Kenya)

    This collection of photos showcases the best of African storytelling. The images take risks, and speak to danger and subversion. At the same time they are deeply rooted in places that are familiar to urban Africans. The woman in this collection is a stand-in for all of us.

    The winner, who receives a cash prize, will be announced at an award ceremony in May 2017, hosted by The Other Foundation and attended by the authors of the top three submissions as well as the judging panel and project partners.

    For more information visit www.jacana.co.za or email awards@jacana.co.za.

    This project is made possible in partnership with The Other Foundation: www.theotherfoundation.org.

     

    Related news:

    Why we are losing the battle for our food system, why it matters, and how we can win it back: An Empty Plate by Tracy Ledger

    An Empty PlateJacana Media is proud to present An Empty Plate: Why we are losing the battle for our food system, why it matters, and how we can win it back by Tracy Ledger:

    Why is it that food prices are so high that millions of South African families go hungry, while the prices paid to farmers for that same food are so low that many cannot stay in business? Why are the people that produce our food – farmworkers – among the most insecure of all? Why do high levels of rural poverty persist while corporate profits in the food sector keep rising? How did a country with a constitutional right to food become a place where one in four children is so malnourished that they are classified as stunted?

    An Empty Plate analyses the state of the South African agri-food system. Ledger demonstrates how this system is perpetuating poverty, threatening land reform; entrenching inequality and tearing apart our social fabric. The book asks two crucial questions: how did we get to this point and how might we go about solving the problem.

    This is a story of money, of power, of unanticipated consequences, and of personal and social tragedy. But it is also a story of what is possible if we reimagine our society and build a new system on the foundation of solidarity and ethical food citizenship.

    About the author

    Tracy Ledger is a researcher in the field of economic development, with 25 years of research experience. She holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of the Witwatersrand and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Stellenbosch University. She is an agri-food activist, believing that a more equitable agri-food system is fundamental to building a more equitable society.

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