Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi is at once a portrait of a family and an exploration of the importance of where we come from and our obligations to one another. In a sweeping narrative that takes us from West Africa to New England to London, Ghana Must Go teaches us that the stories we share with one another can build a new future.
Selasi joined Mariella Frostrup in the BBC4 studios to discuss her novel and writing in general. Mentored by Toni Morrison, she wrote a book about her own complicated family life, shooing Morrison’s advice that she should expand on the short story that lanced her career, “The Sex Lives of African Girls”. She told Frostrup about the spark for Ghana Must Go – which appeared to her in a shower at a yoga retreat – and how she “shamelessly” stole details of her family members’ lives to write the story.
“On the face of things, they look like my family. But even my family members, who have read the book, can attest that they are not,” Selasi says. She approached the novel in sections, writing the way the story came to her – like a symphony. She notes however that her characters reflect reality as best she could. “My task as a novelist is to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth as beautifully as I can,” the author says.
Selasi has termed herself an Afropolitan – “a roaming, highly educated, culturally literate, diaspora whose parents may have been doctors and lawyers who produced children with the capacity to rule the world”. During the interview she expands on the idea of Afropolitanism and explains how her novel relates to this, and how she views the elusive American dream.
The conversation starts at 11:17. Listen to the podcast:
Image courtesy of Claude Petitjean
Die 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day-veldtog het vanjaar gepoog om die grootste kombers ter wêreld te skep.
Die inisiatief het in 2013 ontstaan toe Zelda la Grange, Mandela se voormalige persoonlike assistent en skrywer van Goeiemore, Mnr. Mandela, die bekende weldoener Carolyn Steyn uitgedaag het om 67 komberse vir Madiba te brei.
Maroela Media het vanaf die Uniegebou in Pretoria verslag gelewer waar vrywilligers verlede week hard aan die werk was. Steyn het gesê: “Die wêreldrekord is maar net een stap in ons poging om stekie-vir-stekie Suid-Afrikaners warmer te hou tydens die winter.”
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Die Uniegebou was ŉ reënboog van kleur Dinsdagoggend nadat meer as 21 000 handgemaakte komberse op die trappe van die landmerk in Pretoria uitgestal is. Die komberse het een reusagtige kombers gevorm in ŉ geslaagde poging om ŉ nuwe wêreldrekord vir die grootste kombers op te stel.
“Dit reën komberse en ons is oorval met die mooiste handgemaakte komberse van regoor die land wat sedert Maandag hier afgelewer is. Die wêreldrekord is maar net een stap in ons poging om stekie-vir-stekie Suid-Afrikaners warmer te hou tydens die winter,” het Carolyn Steyn, die stigter van die 67 Komberse vir Mandela-dag inisiatief, gesê.
Seugnet van Zyl het berig dat die 3 133 m² kombers, wat Steyn as ‘n “Tsoenami van komberse” beskryf het, drie keer groter is as die vorige rekord.
Steyn het gesê: “Suid-Afrika het nou goeie nuus nodig. Iets wat warm maak en hoe so iets Suid-Afrikaners met helder gare aan mekaar verbind.”
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Steyn het gesê breiers van die VSA, Engeland, België, Indië, Nederland en Saoedi-Arabië het seker gemaak hul handewerk word ook saam met die ander plaaslike breiers se komberse uitgestal.
Hulle het eindelik 3 133 m² bymekaargekry, wat die grootste enkele kombers in die geskiedenis is.
“Dit is drie keer groter as die vorige rekord (1 020 m²).”
Volgens Steyn het beoordelaars van Guinness World Records daarop aangedring dat elke kombers met die hand aanmekaar gewerk moes word om een groot kombers te vorm en nie net met plastiekkabels vasgemaak mag word nie.
Netwerk24 se Nico Gouws het by die Uniegebou gekuier om meer uit te vind oor dié groot kombers. Steyn het die dag afgeskop deur die eerste kombers by die voete van Mandela se standbeeld neer te lê.
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Foto met dank aan Maroela Media
Penguin Random House South Africa has shared an excerpt from Hunger Eats a Man, the debut novel by Nkosinathi Sithole.
The story takes place in the village of Ndlalidlindoda – “Hunder-Eats-a-Man” – where, as Father Gumede believes, “it has been winter for many years”.
In the excerpt, Gumede’s son Sandile comes to ask for R15 for school, prompting his father to visit the principal, “not as a priest but as a dissatisfied citizen”.
* * * * * * * *
“The only thing that moves here in Ndlalidlindoda is time. Everything else is stagnant,” Priest says to himself as he contemplates the land that has been his home for more than twenty years. It is now winter, and Priest hates winter. Gxumani, of which Ndlalidlindoda (Hunger-Eats-a-Man) is part, is situated near the Drakensberg mountains, so it gets very cold in winter. He has heard many people say that the City of Gold is cold, but he knows that no place can be colder than Gxumani, not in winter.
Yet Priest is now inured to the discomforts of cold. His only concern regarding winter is that the land loses its beauty. To him, the only thing that thrives in winter is the wind, and the wind makes him feel uncomfortable. Everything else is ugly and hungry. He focuses his gaze far away on the land owned by Wild Life and notices that the grass is dry and reddish white. Even the grass in his homestead seems to be crying for food. This prompts a thought in him that interests him so much that he wishes to share it with his wife. He goes inside and seats himself on the sofa.
MaDuma is fixated on the beadwork she is crafting to sell to the tourists at Zenzele (Do-It-Yourself). Priest spends a full minute studying the features of his wife. She is not really beautiful, but she is also far from ugly. MaDuma has lost almost all her back teeth and her cheeks are now sunken. However, this does not interfere with the fairness of her features. Priest thinks her eye-glasses make her look more beautiful than she actually is, then decides that this is unfair. But what is fair in this world any more?
Priest clears his throat and says, “I think here in Ndlalidlindoda it has been winter for many years now.” He sounds excited by his observation.
MaDuma does not honour his introspection by raising her head as she answers, “You are hungry.”
“Exactly! We all have been hungry for many years and that is winter.”
MaDuma is greatly annoyed by her husband’s asinine talk. She removes her eye-glasses and confronts him. “Get out!” she roars. “Don’t bring your hunger to me. I’ve got my own problems!”
But later she calls him from where he is sitting outside and leavesma tray with his food on the coffee table. The food is served on a green and white plate and another identical one is used to cover it. Next to the covered plate his wife has placed a glass of water. Priest does not have to lift the covering plate to know that his food is pap and potatoes. For a long time now he has eaten pap and potatoes with his family. The taste of the food, or the absence of it, does not matter. It is better to have pap and potatoes than to have nothing.
As Priest is chewing his disagreeable food, he hears a soft voice speaking to him: “Father, the principal said we should bring R50 to school.”
The voice is Sandile’s, Priest’s son of fifteen. He is, according to his father, a cute young boy who takes after him in being smart. Priest loves his son very much. But right now, just when he is hungry but cannot eat what is supposed to be his food, just when he is depressed, this boy tells him that he should miraculously have R50 to send to school. No! This is not his son!
He glances at the boy and sees a ghost or devil who has come to tempt him. Priest is angered by this devil in front of him. But his anger is contained when he recalls a day when, as a young boy, he was crying for food and his mother asked him if he thought that by giving birth to him, she could give birth to the food as well.
“He said they need the money to pay the privately paid teachers and the security guards,” Sandile continues.
This makes Priest even angrier. The principal is now at the receiving end of his anger. The idiot! He will go to him right now! Priest looks at the ticking clock on the wall and decides that it is late, the principal will have gone home already. He seems ready to spit or swear, but then changes his mind when he sees the picture of Jesus hanging next to the clock, looking directly at him. For a moment he closes his eyes and says a short prayer. But his rage is too much for him, so he explodes, “This principal of yours is crazy! Where does he expect us to get the money from? Doesn’t he know that there is no work? Even if we did have work, does he think we could give our money away to be wasted?”
Sandile looks at his father and thanks God that he does not have his black complexion. “But, Father —”
“No, my son. They will not eat my money. Let them do that to the fools.”
As Priest finishes speaking, Sandile waits, confused. He is hoping that despite what his father has just said, he will tell him something meaningful to say to the teachers at school tomorrow.
Realising his son is not satisfied, Priest can only pledge to go himself to the school first thing in the morning. This will be a chance for him to spit out his anger. “Don’t worry, son. I will tell the truth as I know it. They have to know that we know the truth.”
Sandile becomes frightened.
“It took a brave man, son, to confront Shaka the king when he ruined his kingdom just because his mother had died. Sometimes the truth heals.”
“Yes, Father, I understand.” Sandile sounds as if he is going to cry.
The following day Priest awaits his children’s departure for school before he prepares himself for his own errand. He looks content and pleased with himself as he puts on his priest’s garb, which colours him all in black. The journey to school is a fifteen-minute walk from Priest’s home. This is nothing to a man like Priest, who is used to walking. In no time he arrives at the school and heads for the principal’s office, which is in the middle row of the three buildings that constitute Bambanani High School.
He knocks violently at the door and makes his grand entrance after he is invited in by a voice that disapproves of the way he has knocked.
Seeing that it is Priest, the principal feels remorse for the way he has shouted at the representative of God and begins to apologise.
“I came here not as a priest but as a dissatisfied citizen. I came here as an unhappy taxpayer,” Priest says in a voice the principal does not recognise.
The principal directs a surreptitious glance at the man in front of him and sees a priest all over. He sees an embodiment of the colour black. He sees Father Gumede. But who has just spoken to him? The principal looks again and realises there is nobody else. Whoever has spoken to him has used the respectable voice of Father Gumede. He tries to figure out what the matter is, but to no avail. So he decides to start from the beginning, as he knows it. “Good morning, Father Gumede.”
“Yes, a good morning indeed, Mr Hadebe,” Priest responds in a grim tone and the principal realises that, one way or the other, he has displeased the gods. It pains the principal to consider what wrong he may have done.
The Last Road Trip by Gareth Crocker is a novel about four elderly friends who decide to make the most with the time they have left on earth and embark on an epic road trip across the country.
Crocker recently said that he found inspiration for this story when he met a “80-year-old hell cat” who went for a ride on a Harley Davidson with a stranger.
One lucky reader could stand a chance of winning a signed copy of The Last Road Trip. To enter simply visit Monique Snyman’s YouTube page, subscribe and share the number one item on your bucket list in the comment section below the video. The competition will run until mid-May 2015.
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Philip Haslam recently spoke to Chris Martenson about his book, When Money Destroys Nations, which was co-written with Russell Lamberti.
Haslam and Lamberti interviewed roughly 75 people and the book is a culmination of that documentation process that seeks to understand what happens to people on the ground as their government continues to print money.
Haslam shares personal stories of the people who were affected by the recession. “The economy descended into a bartering economy,” he says and explains that people no longer had access to water, petrol, milk, wood, grain and other necessities.
Haslam spoke to a man who was the CEO of a big company. One day his wife had to go away for a week and the man was unable to feed his children because his wife was the one plugged into the bartering network. He could no longer go to the shops to buy food and managed to source a large block of cheese which they ate for the next three days. He eventually found fuel and drove to the South African border to buy groceries.
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In their book Haslam and Lamberti use an example of a waterfall to explain how “hyperinflationary currency collapse” occurs. Read an extract from When Money Destroys Nations as shared by Peak Prosperity:
In South Africa, there’s a river called Suicide Gorge where you can jump off from the top of a series of waterfalls. You jump off each waterfall, and you can then go down to the next. But the problem is, once you jump off each waterfall, you can’t get back up again. So we used this analogy to describe the process of hyperinflation.
Typically, as a government prints money, you get levels of inflation. But that’s inflation based on historic money printing. Every year, when you get your salary increase, you base it on historic processes. You take the latest consumer price index and then build it into your wage increases. If you’re a business, you’ll build it into rent increases and price increases of your products. But it’s all based on historic inflation.
Penguin Books South Africa is proud to present Jimfish, the latest novel from acclaimed author Christopher Hope:
In the 1980s, a small man is pulled up out of the Indian Ocean in Port Pallid, SA, claiming to have been kidnapped as a baby. The Sergeant, whose job it is to sort the local people by colour, and thereby determine their fate, peers at the boy, then sticks a pencil into his hair, as one did in those days, waiting to see if it stays there, or falls out before he gives his verdict:
“He’s very odd, this Jimfish you’ve hauled in. If he’s white he is not the right sort of white. But if he’s black, who can say? We’ll wait before we classify him. I’ll give his age as 18, and call him Jimfish. Because he’s a real fish out of water, this one is.”
So begins the odyssey of Jimfish, a South African Everyman, who defies the usual classification of race that defines the rainbow nation. His journey through the last years of Apartheid will extend beyond the borders of South Africa to the wider world, where he will be an unlikely witness to the defining moments of the dying days of the twentieth century.
Part fable, part fierce commentary on the politics of power, this work is the culmination of a lifetime’s writing and thinking, on both the Apartheid regime and the history of the twentieth century, by a writer of enormous originality and range.
About the author
Christopher Hope was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1944 and moved to London in 1975. He is the author of 12 novels including Kruger’s Alp, winner of the Whitbread Novel Award, and the Booker short-listed Serenity House. Hope’s non-fiction includes a highly praised volume of autobiography, White Boy Running (1988) and a travel book, Moscow! Moscow! (1990), which won a PEN Award.
Author photo: Victor Dlamini
Emma Sadleir, co-author of Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex: and Other Legal Advice For the Age of Social Media, was recently interviewed by DJ Fresh on his 5FM show.
In the interview, Sadleir speaks about the laws that will apply for a 17-year-old girl who was arrested for pouring battery acid on her ex-boyfriend’s privates. The girl acted in revenge after her boyfriend allowed a video of them having sex to be posted online.
Sadleir speaks about the various laws and precedents that apply to the case and says it does not look good for either party.
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Tendai Kwari recently wrote an article for Bulawayo24, in which he looks closely at Africa’s Third Liberation: The New Search for Prosperity and Jobs by Greg Mills and Jeffrey Herbst and tries to make sense of the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa.
In the article, Kwari outlines the facts about Southern African countries presented in Africa’s Third Liberation, and draws the links between this information and the current situation.
Kweri suggests that shrinking formal sector employment, mass youth unemployment and poor education have contributed to the problem.
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In fact, the whole of the Southern African region has been a time bomb waiting to explode. Many of us can still recall the chilling cry of “kill the white farmer” in neighbouring Zimbabwe. Today, Zimbabwe has exported approximately 3 million job seeking migrants to South Africa.
Let’s take a moment to credit and look at facts as presented by Greg Mills and Jeffrey Herbst in Africa’s Third Liberation (2012).
For all its progress, sub-Sahara Africa still faces extraordinary challenges, of which jobs for young people is perhaps the most important. If the SADC countries cannot leverage their economies to provide jobs (and therefore income) to young people, the countries could face powerful poverty-fuelled unrest of the kind seen in the Arab Spring.
Chad le Clos chatted to CNN as part of its Human to Hero series recently.
In the interview, which includes a photo gallery and video, Le Clos chats about his love for soccer, his family, and his rivalry with Michael Phelps.
“My dream was always to swim like Michael Phelps so when I raced against him in the final it was actually a crazy feeling,” he says.
Le Clos beat the odds and edged Phelps in the 200 metre butterfly final at the 2012 London Olympics. The American legend announced his retirement after that event, but made a shock return to the pool last year, although he is currently serving a six-month ban for drink-driving.
Phelps may yet return for his fifth Olympics in 2016, and Le Clos says another showdown may set him up for legend status.
If he can, then le Clos will have taken a giant step towards his ultimate aim of swimming and sporting immortality.
“I want to cement myself in the sport as one of the greats. In swimming terms, I want people to remember Chad le Clos — the guy that not only beat Michael Phelps, but who is the best fast swimmer of all time,” he says.
“In South Africa we have a rich history of great champions — rugby players, cricket players, a lot of great golfers — so I’m among really tough competition, but I believe that after 2016 and 2020 I can hopefully be the greatest.”
Gareth Crocker’s epic new superhero TV show is set in Johannesburg and tells the story of a young man who acquires supernatural abilities when he finds a special crystal in the Cradle of Humankind. The author of The Last Road Trip recently shared some insight into the makings of Jongo.
“Right from the start we decided that we wanted to do something quite different,” Crocker says. “We wanted to produce something authentic, we wanted to create something people could connect to.”
The author explains that they were looking for a superhero that the continent could look up to. When he met hip-hop dancer Pacou Mutombo, he knew he’d found his man. Crocker says he was immediately inspired by Pacou’s presence and the way he moves his body: “This is the Eli King we’ve been looking for.”
Pacou grew up reading Marvel and DC comics and says: “I always wanted to do what they would do.” In the video the artist shows some of his moves and talks about his love of dancing and sharing his passion: “In my dancing I like to engage youngsters and make them think positively.”
Bartho van Tonder, who plays the villain Benjamin Abaddon, says about his character: “I’m a really bad guy, in a really good way.”
Watch the video for awesome special effects and behind the scenes footage: