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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Jub Jub, Oscar Pistorius – that could have been me: Read an excerpt from Kabelo Mabalane’s book I Ran For My Life

I Ran For My LifePan Macmillan has shared an excerpt from I Ran For My Life: My Story by Kabelo Mabalane.

In I Ran For My Life, Mabalane shares his extraordinary life journey, from being a multi-platinum-selling musician with TKZee, through the highs and lows of drug addiction, to finding hope again through running – eight Comrades Marathons and counting.

In this excerpt, Mabalane reflects on how he close he became to becoming just like Jub Jub, or even Oscar Pistorius. He also describes his experience of rehab, where he was no longer surrounded by “yes people”, but by people who would not tolerate his arrogance.
Read the excerpt:

I am the Monster

Maybe I am contributing to that myth of famous people who always get away with crap. When the Jub Jub thing came out I was very slow to point fingers, because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that it could have been me. Even Oscar Pistorius – every time I watched that case, my heart broke. That could also have been me, on so many levels. My temper, mixed with the drugs I was taking. Uncalculating, but angry. I hit a woman once. It was when I was stone-cold sober, had been off drugs for a couple of months. It was the most frustrated I had ever been. I don’t know if, even now, I am ready to talk about this. These men we see as monsters, it’s also something that can be closer than you know. You can be the monster. You just got lucky that you didn’t get caught.

The first step of the Twelve-step programme is to admit that you are powerless over your addiction, and that your life has become unmanageable. Before then, my life was unmanageable. I could not manage my life. If I could, I wouldn’t have been there, in that place. And it was flipping hard work. It hurt. It required real bravery to go through that process. I actually understand why a lot of people stay the way they are.

I went into rehab, as planned, on 1 November, and I came out on 13 December. Two days after that I had a gig – it was something that had been planned a lot earlier, before I even went into rehab. I remember getting on stage and the crowd going berserk. I was really appreciative of getting a second chance. I felt like I had got my selfrespect back. That people would start respecting me for being honest about what I was going through. I had been like this villain, and all of a sudden I was made to feel like I was a hero.

But there were people who weren’t happy with my sobriety. It said more about where they were at. I was accused of doing it as a publicity stunt, of being a media whore. Often by people who were in active addiction. For the first second, when you find out, it hurts deeply. But I had to rise above it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I can’t force someone to think about me in a certain way. If an orange tree says it’s an orange tree, then you’ve got to give it time to bear some oranges. If harvest time comes and it bears apples, you will know who the imposter is. You will know me by my fruit.

My mother came to visit me at the rehab centre every weekend. She was always there for me. She didn’t have to say anything; she was known by her actions. The addict goes in, but, parallel to that, the family goes through their own counselling. When I saw my mom give herself over to that, try to understand me, I knew that she was really there for me.

One of the things you have to do as part of a Twelve-step programme is write your own life story. See what kind of a prick you actually were. You have to travel down that road, start writing down all this stuff. For me, that is part of what spurs an addict on to sobriety: jeez, I did that? I didn’t sign up to be this person. Then, of course, after a few weeks you have to read your story out loud, to your group. When you learn about other people’s crap, you hear their stories week after week, it slowly becomes a safe environment for you to share yours. When you see someone else become transparent, it encourages you to become transparent.

When I finally read out my story, there were proud moments – because of the good stuff I had achieved – but also embarrassing moments, humbling moments. If anything, rehab humbled me. It made me realise that the sun didn’t shine out of my bum, and that when I drive around at night the moon is not following me. So there was pride, and there was regret. Regret because … if I had paid more attention and not missed so many things, I would be much further in life. As much as you pat yourself on the back after rehab, because you came out clean, you did it, part of that process is also realising how many opportunities you missed because of your addiction.

The first day I arrived at Houghton House, I was shown around, told where to go, and then thrown straight into ‘group’. There were plastic chairs placed in a circle. I sat down with this kind of ‘Do you know who I am?’ attitude. I folded my arms – I was completely arrogant, even though by that time I was already clean; or maybe it was because of that – and I just sat and looked at these people, pretended to listen to them. Maybe I was hearing what they said, but I wasn’t really listening. This one girl was sharing her story with the group. Like I said, you share where you have been so that people can identify with you and find strength in where you have been. It’s kind of a sacred space. It requires a huge amount of trust.

So, she was sharing her stuff. And I decided to just chip in. I gave her advice: I think you should do this, and you should do that. This is so embarrassing when I think of it now – not just me thinking that I obviously knew better than everyone else, but just the complete disrespect, like I was stomping all over the stuff she was sharing. I think everyone in the group was completely horrified at my behaviour. Worse, still, I carried on acting like that for another week or so. That story about me made the rounds. And my mistake ultimately wound up being the beginning of my healing process, and me understanding what I was there to do.

A week later, when the group met and got to confront each other, or confront another addict for their conduct, or applaud someone – it didn’t have to be negative – I remember basically the whole room just gunning for me. ‘We don’t know who you think you are. This is not the music industry. You are so arrogant …’ They really let me have it.

I had always had ‘yes people’ surrounding me – there were very few people who challenged who I was, or what I did. For the first time in my life that I could remember, there were all these people in this room, and they were all telling me where to get off. It was the first time that the penny dropped: that I had come there to change.

They didn’t just tell me what they thought about my behaviour. People told me how I made them feel. Nobody with a conscience would want to give off what I was giving off. And that’s when I started putting in the work. At the end of five weeks, the reports about me had changed. People thanked me for taking to heart what they had said about me. But it wasn’t just what they’d said about me that caused that change. My headspace started to shift when I started hearing their stories, really hearing them. When you hear someone else’s life story, it gives you the ability to put everything in a different context. You start to understand people more, you’re able to empathise with them. The fact that some people made my mountains look like molehills … it made me want to understand people more.

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Hot off the press: A new edition of Khaya Dlanga’s To Quote Myself, with a reader-designed cover


If, like me, you are curious to read beyond the self-conscious title, you’ll find that Khaya Dlanga can actually swing, sell and sing a pretty good tale. Throw in the mix some raw, pull-ya-self by the village’s inspirational lessons, and you’ve got a heart-tugging performance of storytelling. Stop bickering and read this kid!

- Bongani Madondo, author of I’m Not Your Weekend Special: Portraits On The Life, Style & Politics Of Brenda Fassie

To Quote MyselfPan Macmillan is proud to present a new edition of Khaya Dlanga’s To Quote Myself, with a new, reader-designed cover and an endnote on the publishing process:

Dlanga has established himself as one of the most influential individuals in South African media, particularly social media, a platform he uses to promote discussion on topics that range from the frivolous to the profound.

In To Quote Myself, Khaya recounts entertaining and moving stories about his roots and upbringing in rural Transkei, how he made his mark at school as well as his time spent studying advertising and as a stand-up comedian.

He also shares his political views, how he overcame homelessness to become one of the most influential marketers in South Africa and he gives the reader a dose of the truly weird and wonderful that is routinely a part of his life.

It is in Khaya’s nature to be a storyteller; To Quote Myself shows just how much he has nurtured his craft over the years. This book is like my favourite thing: crisp white linen. Yes, the bed is freshly made but the fun is getting into in and finding your own space. I found my space so many times in this book. It’s a must read!

- Anele Mdoda

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‘Tears and celebrations’ – Alex Eliseev on the guilty verdict for Betty Ketani’s murderers

nullThree men were today convicted of killing Thandiwe Betty Ketani‚ a chef at a popular Johannesburg restaurant‚ nearly 17 years after she disappeared.

Alex Eliseev, whose book on the case, Cold Case Confession, is expected out from Pan Macmillan in May, tweeted live from the Johannesburg High Court:

Carrington Laughton was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Ketani‚ while brothers and former policemen David and Carel Ranger were found guilty of culpable homicide and kidnapping.

Laughton was also convicted of the attempted kidnapping of another woman who worked with Ketani‚ Ruth Mncube.

Ketani worked as a chef at Rosebank Thai restaurant Cranks when she disappeared in May 1999. There was no trace of the Queenstown-born woman’s whereabouts until 13 years later‚ when a letter penned by Laughton and confessing to Ketani’s murder was discovered hidden in a Johannesburg house.

A few small bones were discovered in the garden of the house and these were later identified as Ketani’s. Her body lay buried in the garden under flower beds for five years before it was dug up and thrown in a river.

The motive for her murder may have been trouble with her employers at the restaurant.

Three other men had earlier pleaded guilty to being involved in her death and testified in exchange for lighter sentences. Laughton and the Ranger brothers had pleaded not guilty.

TMG Digital/TMG Courts and Law

For more on Cold Case Confession by Alex Eliseev, see:

The local non-fiction to look forward to in 2016 (Jan – June)

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Why is the discovery of gravitational waves a big deal? Sarah Wild explains

InnovationInnovasieLast week, as South Africans were following the 2016 State of the Nation and related drama, a significant scientific announcement was made: Scientists had detected gravitational waves.

If you have no idea what this means, don’t worry – we didn’t either. Multi-award-winning science journalist Sarah Wild, author of Innovation: Shaping South Africa through Science, has written an article in which she breaks down what this discovery means and why it is such a big deal.

Read the article:

This was perhaps the worst-kept secret in all of science: the detection of gravitational waves.

It has been seeping out of sources like leaky taps. But on 11 February, it was finally announced that scientists had detected gravitational waves.

Gravitational waves are distortions in space and time that – rather than the force of “gravity” – explain the dances of planets, stars and galaxies.

In 1916, in his theory of General Relativity Albert Einstein predicted the existence of these gravitational waves, linking space and time. Now, a century later, scientists from the California Institute of Technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the LIGO scientific collaboration called the media together to tell them what they have been anticipating for weeks.

If you still don’t understand, watch this short film featuring the scientists involved explaining how this project worked to discover gravitational waves:

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Getting to grips with why race is still a divisive issue in South Africa

Lyn Snodgrass, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?

The title of South African newspaper editor Ferial Haffajee’s book, What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?, is provocative on many levels. The title alone is likely to evoke an emotional and visceral reaction from people across the colour divide.

Responses could range from: “good, that will solve all our problems”, to: “yes, then we will see how things deteriorate”.

The timing of the book, and the topic, speak to deepening, divisive race consciousness in South Africa, 21 years after the dismantling of apartheid.

The author describes 2015 as a tumultuous year in the country’s history, punctuated by protests and racist incidents and attacks.

In grappling with controversial sociopolitical issues around antagonistic race relations in South Africa the author draws from her personal, sometimes intense experiences and insights.

She shares her story as a black women, and successful journalist, forging a space in an emerging democracy. For Haffajee, the political is intensely personal. It is the weaving together of these two strands that gives the author’s perspectives and insights great impact.

White privilege holds centre stage

The central thrust of the book is compelling. It argues that black South Africans, especially the new generation of young, black “born frees”, are obsessed with whiteness and white privilege.

What emerges from the author’s reflections, discussions and research, is that angry – often polarising debates – about the ideology of whiteness now dominate national conversations and social media platforms. They also featured prominently in the enraged voices of the recent wave of student protests.

The author taps into the psyche of the new generation of influencers through roundtable discussions and conversations with key young thinkers, pacesetters and elites.

Debunking the myths

The #Rhodes Must Fall and #Fees Must Fall student movements started out as causes relating to specific student issues. But they have escalated into a multiplicity of concerns.

The narratives that dominate the public space have morphed into intractable deeper questions about social justice and inequality. These are underpinned by the grand narrative of entrenched white supremacy in South Africa.

She goes on to say that this grand narrative, shared intergenerationally across race groups and manipulated for political expediency, is gaining traction.

Haffajee argues that this angry fixation on whiteness is limiting, backward looking, constrains agency, and is disempowering on many levels.

She debunks the many myths and distorted perceptions in the public domain concerning white dominance and power. The main storyline of this “false consciousness” is that whites and blacks perceive their numbers as roughly equal. Therefore, transferring the power of whiteness to black people would provide the panacea for the country’s woes.

These distorted narratives belie the statistical evidence that whites are a declining small minority, down from 10.95% of the population in 1996 to 8.4% in 2014.

And there would be little impact on distribution if the wealth of white people was nationalised and their resources distributed to black South Africans.

What still needs to be done

Haffajee recognises that South Africa is not truly transformed. She emphasises that white privilege and arrogance, informed by apartheid, colonialism and patriarchy, are still deeply entrenched, sharing her personal encounters with these.

She asserts that acknowledgement by whites of their privilege and an apology for the past is both necessary and desired by black South Africans.


What she cannot understand is how “freedom’s children” – the new generation of bright, articulate, motivated and educated young black people – define themselves. They see themselves as a disempowered minority seemingly confronted with the distorted perception of an overwhelming and oppressive white majority.

She argues that this means they have lost sight of the many gains that have been made since the advent of democracy; the rapid mobility of a growing black middle class, a substantial welfare net and a better life for many.

The disempowering narrative is played out against what the author describes as a powerful “black political kingdom” where the governing ANC controls extensive swathes of the economy and polity. It rules with a massive support, has huge financial muscle with spending capacity of R500 billion a year.

The author harbours deep conflict about the self-limiting discourse. The white dominance narrative is clearly at odds with her hard-won, middle-class freedoms and the black world that she perceives she inhabits. But she resists becoming part of the “self-satisfied elite” and finds comfort in the angst that prompts her to question her thinking.

She provides perspectives on possible causes of the whiteness obsession, observing that it is much easier to slip into victimhood – the default language of powerlessness – than claim the space, use the influence and authority to shape society.

The author quotes from the writer and scholar, RW (Bill) Johnson, who charges that the massive failures of governance in South Africa are a humiliating blow to black self-esteem. The worse this sense of failure:

… the more passionately the “liberated” ego needs to vent itself.

Desperately threatened egos can result in anti-white racism, anti-Semitism, a hatred of “outgroups” and increasing discrimination.

Haffajee vacillates between optimism. Among promising factors are the positive outcomes of the student protests. And pessimism – the rampant corruption, mismanagement and abuses by the government.

It is this tension and self-doubt that permeate the book. The worthy, noble struggle for deep social justice by millenials in South Africa is juxtaposed against the disempowering narrative of “whiteness”, presented by the next generation as responsible for the burden they face.

These competing narratives make the book a challenging read. The reader is left feeling deeply ambivalent, still seeking answers to the provocative question posed by the title.

This is perhaps the purpose of the book. It provokes the hard, uncomfortable conversations about the “unfinished business of colonialism and apartheid” that South Africans must have if they are to move forward together as a nation.

What If There Were No Whites In South Africa? is published by Pan Macmillan.

The Conversation

Lyn Snodgrass, Associate Professor and Head of Department of Political and Conflict Studies, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

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

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Ferial Haffajee has done the maths: ‘No whites in South Africa’ is not the answer

Ferial Haffajee

What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?Why this obsession with whiteness, and white supremacy? Where will it lead? Is the idea of a non-racial rainbow nation outdated?

These are some of Ferial Haffajee’s key questions in her controversially titled new book, What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?

Haffajee joined Rapport editor Waldimar Pelser on his current affairs programme Insig to discuss some of these points. The conversation starts with her explaining the title:

“For years I felt like this was what I was hearing, that this was what people were saying. That if there were no whites, if we had all the things that white people have, then our country would be fine. So I did some sums and found out that that is in fact not the case at all. Our developmental challenges are so very steep, that even if you redistribute every single resource of white South Africans, it’s not even going to touch the sides of where we need to go as a country.”

Haffajee also addresses the fact that, despite this, white South Africans are in most cases significantly wealthier than black South Africans and that critics of her book are constantly pointing that out.

Pelser asks some pointed questions, leading to a revealing conversation about this important book.

Watch the fascinating interview (the short introduction is in Afrikaans but the conversation is English):

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French stamp of approval for Imperfect Solo by Steven Boykey Sidley

Ben Williams & Steven Boykey Sidley

Imperfect SoloThe French edition of Imperfect Solo by Steven Boykey Sidley has been receiving some excellent media coverage in that country, with the author being compared to heavy hitters such as Joseph Heller, Philip Roth and Richard Ford.

Published locally by Pan Macmillan in 2014, this dark comedy follows the flailing and hapless Meyer who is seeking hope and redemption as his world unravels around him. His random misfortune begs the question: Will Meyer find his grace? Can he, or we, ever?

Imperfect Solo is Sidley’s third novel and was longlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize.

The French translation is titled Meyer et la catastrophe and published by Belfond. We love the cover, a completely different design to the local one:


Even if you don’t understand French, have a look a the incredible number of positive reviews in the French press:

French Reviews of Imperfect Solo

About the book

Meyer is filled with dread. His fading musical aspirations, his tyrannical CEO, his ex-wives, his exiting girlfriend, his ageing father, his beloved and troublesome children and his confused and bewildered life all bear witness to the sky that he is convinced will soon fall on his head.

And then it does.

This is the story of a man adrift in anxiety, ill-fortune and comic mishap, buffeted by the existential and prosaic concerns that modern life in Los Angeles inflicts. Forty years old, caught in the netherworld between the reckless optimism of youth and the resignation of age, Meyer tries to find handrails and ballast. Funny, intellectually probing and poignant, the story follows the flailing and hapless Meyer seeking hope and redemption as his world unravels around him. Surrounded by the absurdity of an ageing America, the affection of flawed but well-meaning friends and family and the randomness of everyday life, Meyer tries gamely to stay afloat.

He must navigate love lost and found and lost, the indignities of ageing, the courage to stand up to assholes and the search for the perfect sax solo. Will Meyer find his grace? Can he, or we, ever?

About the author

Steven Boykey Sidley has divided his adult life between the USA and South Africa. He has meandered through careers as an animator, chief technology officer for a Fortune 500 company, jazz musician, software developer, video game designer, private equity investor and high technology entrepreneur. He currently lives in Johannesburg with his wife and two children. Sidley’s novel Entanglement is the winner of the 2013 University of Johannesburg Prize (Debut) and was shortlisted that same year for The Sunday Times Fiction Prize and The MNet Literary Award. In 2014, Sidley’s second novel Stepping Out was shortlisted for the UJ Main Prize.

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Pan Macmillan South Africa acquires first book by Trevor Noah


Pan Macmillan South Africa is thrilled to announce that it will publish Trevor Noah’s forthcoming book in November 2016.

Pan Macmillan South Africa has acquired southern African rights to comedian Trevor Noah’s first book, a collection of personal stories about growing up in South Africa during the last gasps of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that came with its demise.

Already known for his incisive social and political commentary, here Noah turns his focus inward, giving readers an intimate look at the world that shaped him. These are true stories, told in the tradition of David Sedaris – sometimes dark, occasionally bizarre, frequently tender, and always hilarious. Whether subsisting on caterpillars during months of extreme poverty or making comically hapless attempts at teenage romance, from the time he was thrown in jail to the time he was thrown from a speeding car driven by murderous gangsters, the experiences covered in this book will shock and amaze, even as they leave you rolling on the floor with laughter.

Terry Morris, MD of Pan Macmillan South Africa, says: “Trevor Noah captured the hearts of South Africans long before he took up the helm at The Daily Show.

“His incisive, intelligent brand of humour became the perfect antidote to the stresses of life in South Africa. His international success has become our collective success and we so look forward to working with Trevor to bring his unique voice to print.”

Trevor Noah said: “I couldn’t find a good book about myself so I decided to write one. And just like me this book doesn’t have an appendix.”

Rights were acquired from Abner Stein on behalf of Peter McGuigan of Foundry Media, Inc. The book, as yet untitled, will be published in print and electronic form in southern Africa in November 2016.

For all press enquiries please contact Laura Hammond at Pan Macmillan

For all translation rights enquiries please contact Kirsten Neuhaus at Foundry Literary + Media in New York

Image: Supplied

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On this day: The Battle of Isandlwana, in which Zulu troops inflicted a serious defeat on the British

Zulu RisingToday, 22 January, is the anniversary of the Battle of Isandlwana, the first major encounter in the Anglo-Zulu War between the British and the Zulu Kingdom, and the most serious defeat inflicted on the British Army during the Victorian era.

Ian Knight, author of Zulu Rising: The Epic Story of iSandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, is a leading authority on the Anglo-Zulu War.

Knight has written extensively about the battle on his blog, and has also shared some videos explaining the details of the conflict, which took place in 1879.

“Of the 1700 men in the camp at the start of the battle over 1300 were killed,” Knight writes. Only about 100 white men survived, but it was a costly victory for the Zulus too – at least a thousand were killed, and “as many again mortally wounded”.

Read the piece:

The Battle of iSandlwana 22 January 1879

On January 11 1879 – the day the British ultimatum to the Zulu king, Cetshwayo, expired – Lt. Gen. Lord Chelmsford crossed into Zululand at Rorke’s Drift at the head of his Centre Column of nearly 5000 British troops and African auxiliaries. On the Zulu bank, immediately ahead of him, lay the territory of the amaQungebeni chieftain, Sihayo kaXongo. The amaQungebeni had been appointed guardians of the border by the Zulu kings, Sihayo himself was a royal favourite, and his son Mehlokazulu had been named in the British ultimatum, so on all counts Chelmsford felt compelled to make a demonstration against them. On the 12th he marched out at dawn, attacked and dispersed the men Sihayo had left to guard amaQungebeni homes and crops, and destroyed Sihayo’s homestead; an insignificant skirmish in itself, Chelmsford noted that the Zulu had put up stiff resistance – but had nonetheless been no match for his own troops.

Watch the videos:

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“It is very dangerous to have an uneducated president” – Prince Mashele on President Jacob Zuma

The Fall of the ANCPrince Mashele, executive director of the Centre for Politics and Research and co-author of The Fall of the ANC: What Next?, shared his views with John Robbie on Talk Radio 702 about the challenges facing the ANC in 2016.

Mashele says the weakness of the Tripartite Alliance and ructions within ANC leadership and the ANC Youth League mean 2016 could be a watershed year in politics.

“We are going to see very likely the ANC losing one or two big metros,” Mashele says. “Nelson Mandela Bay, I think the ANC might not get it. Tshwane, they might not get it, and Johannesburg. The party is very vulnerable.”

Robbie asks Mashele about President Jacob Zuma’s recent statements regarding the economy, to which Mashele replies:

“I’ve always said this and people thought I was mad, or maybe on drugs, but it is very dangerous to have an uneducated president. And if there are still people who think I am mad for saying that, I think they themselves are mad. Jacob Zuma has demonstrated it, we don’t need any more evidence of the dangers of an uneducated president.

“I mean, this is a man who is essentially illiterate when it comes to economics, when it comes to numbers. He can’t read numbers. So a guy like that to lead a sophisticated economic power that is in dire straits, you must know you are going nowhere.

“And this is not only dangerous to the country but to his own party.”

Listen to the podcast:


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