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Archive for the ‘Mozambique’ Category

Read an Excerpt from Jamala Safari's Novel, Based on Real Experiences During the Congolese War

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsThe Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods by Jamala Safari is a novel about a boy whose life and family is ripped apart by the Congolese war. The story of Risto Mahuno, the 15-year-old protagonist, run’s parallel to the author’s own experience.

In an excerpt shared by Namibiana Buchdepot, Risto is finding healing after severe trauma. When he recalls the afternoon he lost his parents and his sister, the teenager “wished not to walk, not to touch”. But he recovers his “need to live again” when he plays soccer with his friends.

Read the excerpt:

Sometimes Risto’s father would say that man is the forger of his own history. In his hands lies the power to challenge and to change, in his feet, the conquering force, and in his mind, the driving compass. Therein is the essence of miracle and mystery. Good or bad, it will be the legacy left behind when he no longer has a voice to speak or strength to stand.

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Lees oor Amanda van Blerk se ervaring op die Shingwedzi eko-roete op pad na Mosambiek

Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern MozambiqueAmanda van Blerk het onlangs in ‘n konvooi van ses voertuie na die noorde van Mosambiek gereis, of altans probeer reis, om dié deel van die kontinent te verken.

In ‘n artikel vir Weg skryf sy oor die avonture en misavonture van hierdie vakansie wat onverwags deur Moedernatuur in ander rigtings gestuur is. “Soos met elke toer, neem ons nuwe vriende en hulle addresse huis toe. Die nag is lank, maar nie so lank nie, en die son breek gou weer in die ooste. Mosambiek is mooi hier. En miskien sal ons altyd wonder hoe die Shingwedzi eko-roete regtig was,” skryf Van Blerk.

Vir meer oor Mosambiek raadpleeg gerus Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern Mozambique deur Bridget Hilton-Barber, ‘n Penguin-publikasie.

Die Shingwedzi-ekoroete is al talle kere aan my beskryf as een van die lekkerste eko-roetes in Suid-Afrika. Dit begin by die piekniekplek by Pafuri in die Krugerwildtuin, en gaan verby Crook’s Corner, uit by die Pafuri-grenspos na Mosambiek. Die Koorsboomwoud en Limpopovallei, asook Mosambiek-bier by Mapai en kamp by die Mambapan, is alles op die spyskaart.

Ons wou graag die noorde van Mosambiek gaan verken en het ons plek op die roete bespreek. Maar minder as ’n week voor ons vertrek word ons ingelig dat die grenspos by Pafuri verspoel het en ons nie die oorspronklike roete sou kon ry nie.


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Excerpts from Umuzi's Three SALA Award-winning Books, by Claire Robertson, Jamala Safari and Sihle Khumalo

Three Umuzi authors were rewarded for their literary work at the 2014 South African Literary Awards (SALAs) in November:

Find more information on each of these books as well as excerpts below:

The Spiral House The Spiral House is a grand tale of love, wig-making and the Enlightenment set in the Cape Colony.

Telling two stories, this debut novel exposes what binds us and sets us free. In his review Jonathan Amid describes it as follows: “a dense, demanding novel that requires from its reader an emotional investment and a willingness to listen. The voices that ultimately emerge are haunting, and sublime.”

Read an excerpt from Robertson’s first novel:

As you know, a head is a deal heavier than it looks. That is one reason you do not want to drop it anywhere near your feet. Another is that it takes a long age to push it back into shape if it should fall on its sides or on the back. The face matters less but the sides and the back take an age to put right and he almost always could tell if you had gone and dropped it while he was out.

He was out when they came so sudden to the door and I stumbled and let the thing fall but held on at the last and spared it and my toes and set it on the sill of the street side window, where there was light to see by. At their end of the shop the man blocked light from the door and the woman who walked before him moved under a dull cloud. She stopped three steps in and spoke to her man without a look at him or me, or anywhere but at her hands in finger gloves held at her stomach, pressing the dark stuff against her. She said:

‘Melt. Ask after the master.’


* * * * * * * *

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsThe Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods was shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize and has been described as “a crucial addition to the body of literature documenting the scars of war on children”.

Safari, who himself is a refugee, wrote this gripping narrative by recalling his own experiences. It tells the deeply affecting story of Risto Mahuno’s agony as he flees unthinkable circumstances in the DRC, travelling more than 2 000 km to a refugee camp in Mozambique.

In this excerpt Risto is interviewed by the management of the refugee camp, an event which causes him to recall the ghosts of his past:

The interviewers started with their soft smiles, with easy questions, the
news of the camp, and so on. Then they went on to ask about name, family, town and country of origin.
‘The whole camp is talking about your last harvest of tomatoes,’ said Mr Thomaso Dwanga, the only Mozambican at the interview table; he spoke a nice Swahili.
‘You know this camp talks about anything, even a rain that the heavens have not yet thought about.’
The two refugees present, Mr Rashid and Mama Lemwalu, who represented the board on camp management, were astounded by the wisdom of the young boy; they had heard about it, but now they saw it for themselves.
‘You know this is your second and last interview,’ Mr Thomaso reminded Risto.
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘I believe you are ready to talk today,’ added Mr Thomaso.
‘Let me remind you, any lies will lead to rejection of your application for refugee status, and then deportation. We are here to help you formulate a good report for the United Nations. Ask questions when
you don’t understand well.’ These were the wise words of Mama Lemwalu.


* * * * * * * *

Almost Sleeping My Way to TimbuktuAlmost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu is Khumalo’s account of travelling to West Africa by public transport.

Armed with his infamous sense of humour, an unexpected sensi­tivity towards his host countries and irrepressible optimism Khumalo journeyed through Francophone Africa without speaking the lingua franca.

In her review of this award-winning book, Margaret Whitaker writes: “By the end, it’s Sihle Khumalo (1), West Africa (0). You’ll be cheering our man all the way to the end.”

Read about Khumalo’s time in Sénégal:

My thoughts as the plane was about to touch down just after 16:00 were interrupted by the sight of a massive bronze statue on the left-hand side of the aircraft. I had, as part of my research for the trip, read about this statue. I had seen the pictures and knew it was huge. Still, the sheer size of the family emerging from a hilltop – a woman, a man with his right arm around her waist, and a child sitting on his left shoulder pointing towards the open sea with her small left hand – took me by such surprise that my jaw dropped.

South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki, an African Renaissance man, and former Sénégalese President Abdoulaye Wade must be beaming with African pride whenever they fly past the monument, I thought. Both gentlemen were part of the Africa-can-and-mustsolve-her-own-problems-the-African-way philosophy. What a pity that neither men lasted very long as head of state. Mbeki couldn’t even attend the grand opening of this monument as president of South Africa, because by April 2010, which was also the 50th anniversary of Sénégal’s independence from France, he had long been succeeded by a sexy singing-anddancing man from Nkandla.

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Jamala Safari Discusses How He Presents the DRC in The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsWith The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods Jamala Safari wants to show what is happening in the DRC in a way that is different to the view offered to readers by newspapers and the internet. “Everyone sees it just as a country full of trouble, but if you’re looking only at the facts, you don’t see the people.”

Safari, who grew up in the DRC, talked to Thomas Okes about the mix of fiction, history and personal narrative in The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods and the themes of happiness, trauma, guilt and the importance of hope – even for people or countries that seem to be beyond it. “But if we don’t believe in his ability to change, he won’t change. And the world won’t change.”

Q: This book is a fascinating mix of fiction, history and personal narrative. Was the style of the novel important to the story you were trying to tell?

Fiction has a way of making a stranger’s story very intimate, and I had to try to show the reader a different way of life. What’s important to me is the innocence of a group of people who simply want to be happy, and how war erodes that purity. A child’s voice, like Risto’s, can bring the reader closer to these people’s pain.

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Podcasts: Damien Brown on Working for Doctors Without Borders and Receiving Marriage Proposals

Band-Aid for a Broken LegYolanda Maartens from OFM interviewed Damien Brown, author of Band-Aid for a Broken Leg, on the show A Slice of Life.

Maartens asked Brown about his time working in Angola and Sudan for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). They discussed how disease affects people’s lives, the marriage proposals he received and what Michael Bolton has to do with it all:

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The Life of a Doctor Without Borders in Band-Aid for a Broken Leg by Damien Brown

Band-Aid for a Broken LegDamien Brown thinks he’s ready when he arrives for his first posting with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Africa. But the town he’s sent to is an isolated outpost of mud huts, surrounded by landmines; the hospital, for which he’s to be the only doctor, is filled with malnourished children and conditions he’s never seen; and the health workers – Angolan war veterans twice his age who speak no English – walk out on him following an altercation on his first shift. In the months that follow, Brown confronts these challenges all the while dealing with the social absurdities of living with only three other volunteers for company. The medical calamities pile up – leopard attacks, landmine explosions, performing surgery using tools cleaned on the fire – but as Brown’s friendships with the local people evolve, his passion for the work grows. Written with great warmth and empathy, Band-Aid for a Broken Leg is a compassionate, deeply honest and often humorous account of life on the medical frontline in Angola, Mozambique and South Sudan. It is also a moving testimony to the work done by medical humanitarian groups and the remarkable, often eccentric people who work for them.

About the author
Damien Brown is a South African-born doctor based in London. He began writing seriously after his last humanitarian posting, encouraged by readers of a blog he kept while working in Africa. When not treating patients or writing, Damien can be heard playing drums with his old university band, or toying with an overpriced piece of camera equipment.

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Join Random House Struik's Military History Mailing List and Win Books

The Terrible Ones32 BattalionBoer BoyBrothers in ArmsDingo Firestorm

If you join Random House Struik’s military history mailing list you will be the first to know about new releases, special offers, special editions, launches, author events and competitions. Plus, two lucky people who sign up will win a selection of military history books to the value of R2 500.

To join the mailing list and stand a chance to win the hamper simply fill in you details on Random House Struik’s website. The competition closes 29 March 2013. Good luck!

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Video: Jamala Safari Shares His Advice for the Recent Matriculants

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsGareth Edwards from eNCA interviewed Jamala Safari, author of The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods, about pursuing an education in the midst of the civil war in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Safari said that he saw education as crucial to achieving a dignified way of living.

At the end of the interview, Edwards asked Safari what advice he would give to the recent matriculants. Safari said that hard work, discipline and networking were the key things that helped him get to where he is today and matriculants should focus on this:

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Excerpt from Jacinto Veloso's Memories at Low Altitude

Memories at Low AltitudeNamibiana Buchdepot have shared an excerpt from Memories at Low Altitude: The autobiography of a Mozambican security chief by Jacinto Veloso.

In the following extract Veloso writes about how he left Mozambique in 1963 and the short test flight that facilitated his escape:

I left Mozambique on 12 March 1963. It was a Tuesday, and I was 25 years old. At the time, Lieutenant Colonel Miranda was in command of the Portuguese Air Force in northern Mozambique. Although I had good reasons for leaving the air force, when I departed I was well aware that I had left the commander with some immediate problems. However, I also hoped that one day I would be able to give him the explanation that he, as a friend, deserved. Fortunately, 22 years later, I had that opportunity.

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Jamala Safari Discusses the Supernatural in The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsJamala Safari, author of The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods talked to Linda Kaoma of The Unbranded Truth about his writing style and the authors he most admires, which include Ben Okri and Gabriel García Márquez. Like these writers, Safari mixes the natural and supernatural in his novel.

LK: For how long did you work on this book?

JS: It took me about three years. I wrote this book while resuming my education at the University of the Western Cape. So, I mostly wrote during holidays and on weekends.

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