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Archive for the ‘Mozambique’ Category

Bridget Hilton-Barber Launches Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern Mozambique at Novel Books

Lesley Simpson and Bridget Hilton-Barber

The launch of The Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern Mozambique by Bridget Hilton-Barber at Novel Books was a colourful and festive event that had just the right feel for the upcoming December holidays. Ziel Bergh from Penguin Books opened the proceedings and Hilton-Barber spoke about the inspiration behind the book. Her partner, Richard Chipps, exhibited his photographs of Mozambique, some of which also appear in the book.

Bridget Hilton-BarberTravel Guide to Maputo and Southern MozambiqueIn his introduction, Ziel Bergh explained that “Bridget’s wanderlust and her travel writing and her experiences have positioned her very well to write this guide.” He continued, “I noticed in her previous book that we published, Garden of my Ancestors, there was a blurb that said it was a book about sex, drugs and gardening, and while I do notice that the word ‘sexy’ appears on this cover, this is a very well written book. It’s very entertaining, very funny and very insightful. This book has a lot of soul.”

Hilton-Barber explained why she chose to write about Maputo. She said, “After my years of wandering, gypsying and travelling, I’ve come to think of places as being like friendships or partners or lovers. Some cities you kind of warm to, some cities require courtship, some cities you’ve got to go back to, while some cities are instant, lust, love and passion, and that is exactly how I felt about Maputo. I visited this city and I was blown away. I realised I had to share this love and that was the spark behind writing this book.”

Hilton-Barber went on to describe Mozambique’s history and uniqueness as a travel destination. “Maputo is an extraordinary place. In the ‘good old days’, LM [Lourenco Marques] was a place South Africans fled to where they could see black women dancing naked and do things they could never do in Apartheid South Africa. It always had that port-city feel: slightly naughty, with salty sailors and a sense of possibility. Then it had the most devastating civil war. After the war, Maputo was the most tragic city. It barely functioned, there was litter and rubble everywhere, and the buildings were barbed-wired. It was really very sad. However, in the last 15 years Maputo has gone from being devastated to an absolute darling.”

Hilton-Barber said that every time she goes back there she is amazed by how much it has changed. She said that there is in an interesting mix of African, Portuguese, Indian and Brazilian influences in the city. What stuck her about the city was that there was a “cultural renaissance going on. The arts and culture there is magnificent. You can go out on any given night and wander from place to place and there will always be a live band playing. The art scene is fantastic. There is a lot of international collaboration with countries like Spain, Portugal and France. It is very inspiring.”

There are many other guide books about Mozambique, but Hilton-Barber says that there are none that look at Maputo so extensively. She said, “southern Mozambique is also just bliss. It moves to its own rhythm it has the most extraordinary coastline – 1500 km of the most gorgeous beaches from Ponta do Ouro in the south, all the way up to Vilanculos in the North.” She continued, “It is the ideal holiday destination and I just wanted to do something for that country.”

She pointed out a statue by Gonzalo Mabunda brought to the launch by Phil Baker, with whom she first visited Maputo. It was a statue built out of old rusted weapons, and for Hilton-Barber it symbolises the peaceful, non-violent nature of Mozambique and Maputo. She spoke of how after the civil war an organisation under the auspices of the UN went in and collected the weapons and donated them to local artists. Hilton-Barber said that all over Maputo you will see such works of art and it is a phenomenal statement. She added that Maputo is a wonderful city for a ‘girls weekend away’, as it is a very safe city for women and they can move around without fear of rape of harassment. She told a story of how she once left her blackberry in a taxi after a night out and the taxi driver actually returned it to the hotel!

In the concluding Q&A session, Hilton-Barber suggested that one should travel around Maputo by taxi, as police seem to view a vehicle with a South African number plate as “somewhat of an ATM.”

After inspiring the audience to head off to this remarkable city, country guests were invited to view and purchase the stunning photographic prints of Mozambique by Richard Chipps and Hilton-Barber.

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Launch of Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern Mozambique by Bridget Hilton-Barber

Launch invite - Travel Guide to Maputo & Southern Mozambique

Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern MozambiquePenguin Books and Novel Books take pleasure in inviting you to the launch of Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern Mozambique by Bridget Hilton-Barber. The launch will take place on Thursday, 1 December at 6 for 6:30 PM.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 01 December 2011
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Novel Books,
    Shop F8a,
    Hobart Grove Shopping Centre,
    Cnr Grosvenor and Hobart roads,
    Bryanston | Map
  • RSVP:, 011 463 9320

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Book Excerpt: Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern Mozambique by Bridget Hilton-Barber

Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern MozambiqueRead an extract from Bridget Hilton-Barber’s Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern Mozambique, an incredibly insightful and handy guide to travelling the southern coastline of Mozambique:

Less than two decades ago, this city was war-torn and struggling to survive. Today Maputo is southern Africa’s hippest city. There’s a skip in the step of Maputo, a smile on its face, a frivolous wave in its palm trees. In the past ten years the city’s growth has been remarkable. A great deal of international money is being spent on development and infrastructure; business is brisk; tourism is at its highest level yet.

There’s also been a cultural renaissance of delicious proportions. Modern Maputo is a heady mix of African and Portuguese, along with French, Arab and Oriental influences. Some call it the new Afro Cape Town, others have dubbed it Little Havana because of its retro charm and tropical attitude. The streets are still named after revolutionaries; the city’s many art deco and Marxist buildings are faded but glorious, and there has been an explosion of galleries, bars, bistros, restaurants, clubs, coffee shops and street culture.

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Interview with Bridget Hilton Barber, Author of Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern Mozambique

Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern MozambiquePenguin Books brings you an interview with Bridget Hilton Barber, author of Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern Mozambique, in which Hilton Barber reveals her favourite authors and her guilty pleasures:

At the moment I am reading…

Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje and The Gardener’s and Poultry Keeper’s Guide by William Cooper (first published in 1914)

Which writers do you admire, and why?

Isabel Allende for her sense of her own country (Chile) and its imagery and people; Margaret Attwood for the unusual subjects she chooses for her books (especially Oryx and Crake) and her powers of insight and description

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Introducing Bridget Hilton-Barber’s Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern Mozambique

Travel Guide to Maputo and Southern MozambiqueNEED A HOLIDAY? Penguin Books suggest Mozambique, and we have the perfect guide to help you make the most of your trip.

Travel Guide to Maputo & Southern Mozambique is a funky and insightful visitor’s guide to Mozambique’s capital city and the delights of the country’s southern coastline, beaches, lakes and lagoons.

This guide covers fabulous holiday locations such as Ponta d’Ouro, Bilene, Xai Xai and the lagoon coast, Inhambane, Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Archipelago. It offers you everything that you would ever need to know, from the best beach bars to the most soulful spots to stay.

This guide also features a section on the increasingly popular Bush to Beach Route, which goes through the Kruger National Park and into Mozambique’s Parc Nacional do Limpopo — together they make up the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

Funny, useful, witty, the Travel Guide to Maputo & Southern Mozambique promises to be your most insightful and handy Mozambican travel guide yet.

About the author

Bridget Hilton-Barber is one of the country’s most interesting travel writers. She has worked as editor of South African Airways’ in-flight magazine Sawubona, deputy editor of Lowveld Living, travel correspondent for Radio 702, and travel editor of Fairlady magazine. She is also the author of seven books.

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Four New Titles for the Penguin African Writers Series

Penguin Books SA is proud to announce the addition of four wonderful new novels to the Penguin African Writers series: A Shattering of Silence by Farida Karodia, The Street by Biyi Bandele, The Blind Fisherman by Mia Couto and The Dark Child by Camara Laye.

Penguin is committed to ensuring that the voices of the African continent can by heard by a wider global audience.

A Shattering of SilenceFarida Karodia’s book A Shattering of Silence follows the character of Faith as her childhood is shattered when she witnesses a massacre in her rural Mozambique. She escapes, but loses everything – her parents, her home, her identity and her voice. A Shattering of Silence charts Faith’s quest to find a place for herself in war-torn Mozambique, where she is caught between the white colonials and the local resistance. Karodia’s fast-moving novel undermines traditional views of the role of women and the nature of resistance. It is a spirited response to the brutalising effects of war.
About the Author

Farida Karodia – novelist, short story writer, playwright and film-maker – was born and raised in a small town in South Africa. In 1968 – after stints teaching in South Africa and Zambia – the South Africa government withdrew her passport and she left the country of her birth for Canada, where she produced her first, acclaimed novel, Daughters of the Twilight. Two collections of short stories, Coming Home and Other Stories and Against an African Sky, and three novels – A Shattering of Silence, Other Secrets and Boundaries – followed. Returning to South Africa in 1994, Farida now divides her time between Johannesburg and Vancouver.

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The StreetThe Independent calls Biyi Bandele’s The Street, “Full of colour and charm . . . brimming with wit and optimism . . . wonderfully perceptive.” In this mesmerising novel Biyi Bandele recreates the unique atmosphere of a multiracial community in contemporary Britain. The Street is populated with a series of amazing characters – Midé the bookseller, who moonlights as a stand-up comedian; the Heckler, who, outside the tube station, wittily taunts public preachers; his cousin, Dada, who writes for a magazine for ‘kooks, nuts, schizoids and Meshuggenahs’; and Haifa Kampana, who stalks women he loves. Using these characters, Bandele creates the backdrop against which he positions the painter, Nehushta, and explores her restored relationship with her father, Ossie Jones, who has awakened from a fifteen-year coma. Bandele’s blend of humour, sentimentality and the fantastic is an invigorating literary exploration of diasporic reality in contemporary Britain.

About the Author

Biyi Bandele was born in 1967 in Nigeria. He left his parents’ house at age fourteen to earn his living doing odd jobs, while also going to school and writing his first novel. From 1987–90 he studied Drama at the University of Ile-Ife, where his play Rain won him a scholarship to stay in London. His first novel, The Man Who Came in from the Back of Beyond, was published in 1991. He published his second novel, The Sympathetic Undertaker and Other Dreams, the same year. His plays have been staged at the Royal Court Theatre and have been performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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The Blind FishermanThe Blind Fisherman is a compilation of Mia Couto’s early short stories – as first presented to the English-speaking world in his two collections Voices Made Night (1990) and Every Man is a Race (1994). It was in these collections that Mia Couto first announced himself as a writer of international importance, constructing stories that blended the unique history of Mozambique with a magic realism that was both inspired by and transcended the legacy of Portuguese colonialism and the subsequent civil war.
About the Author

Mia Couto was born António Emílio Leite Couto in 1955 in Mozambique. At the young age of fourteen some of his poetry was published in a local newspaper, Notícias da Beira. Considered one of Mozambique’s most important writers, he was the first African writer to win the prestigious Latin Union literary prize. His writing is influenced by magical realism, a style characteristic of Latin American literature, and he is known for creating proverbs, also known as “improverbs”. Currently, he works for the Limpopo Transfrontier Park as a biologist, while he continues to pursue his writing projects.

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The Dark ChildThe Dark Child is a distinct and graceful memoir of Camara Laye’s youth in the village of Kouroussa, French Guinea, a place steeped in mystery. Laye marvels over his mother’s supernatural powers, his father’s distinction as the village goldsmith, and his own passage into manhood, which is marked by animistic beliefs and bloody rituals of primeval origin. Eventually, he must choose between this unique place and the academic success that lures him to distant cities. More than the autobiography of one boy, this is the universal story of sacred traditions struggling against the encroachment of a modern world. A passionate and deeply affecting record, The Dark Child is a classic of African literature.

About the Author

Camara Laye was born in French Guinea in 1928. As well as being a novelsit, he was a prolific essayist. In 1953, while at college, he published his first novel L’Enfant noir, loosely based on his own childhood, followed by Le Regard du roi. These two novels stand amongst the earliest major works in African Francophone literature. Laye died in 1980 of a kidney infection in Senegal.

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Raj Patel Says Global Warming, and the Failures of the Global Economy, are to Blame for Mozambique’s Unrest

Raj Patel

The Value of NothingRaj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing, discusses the price of global warming, currently being paid by Mozambicans:

It has been a summer of record temperatures – Japan had its hottest summer on record, as did South Florida and New York. Meanwhile, Pakistan and Niger are flooded and the eastern US is mopping up after hurricane Earl. None of these individual events can definitively be attributed to global warming. But to see how climate change will play out in the 21st century, you needn’t look to the Met Office. Look, instead, to the deaths and burning tyres in Mozambique’s “food riots” to see what happens when extreme natural phenomena interact with our unjust economic systems.
The immediate causes of the protests in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, and Chimoio about 500 miles north, are a 30% price increase for bread, compounding a recent double-digit increase for water and energy. When nearly three-quarters of the household budget is spent on food, that’s a hike few Mozambicans can afford.

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SMS the Sunday Independent to Win a Set of Penguin African Writers Series Books

Black SunlightThe Hangman's GameNeighboursWeep Not, ChildAs the Crow FliesGirls at War and Other StoriesTo enter a Sunday Independent draw to win one of three complete sets of the initial Penguin African Writers Series publications, follow these instructions, published in yesterday’s paper:

To enter: SMS the letters TSI (space) followed by your name and surname to 34110. SMSes cost R2 each. General competition rules apply. The lines will be open from 6am [Sunday] until 11pm [Monday 19 Oct]. Winners will be notified telephonically.

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Call for Penguin African Writers Series Book Cover Submissions!

Black SunlightThe Hangman's GameNeighboursWeep Not, ChildAs the Crow FliesGirls at War and Other Stories

The Penguin African Writers series, launched in 2009, showcases writing from a diverse range of writers from Africa for contemporary readers in Africa and the rest of the world. The series launched with works from Chinua Achebe, Dambudzo Marechera, Véronique Tadjo, Lília Momplé, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Karen King-Aribisala.

In 2010 we will be expanding the series and this is a call for submissions for artwork to be used on the covers of these forthcoming titles. It is a wonderful opportunity for both established and new artists, with assured international exposure and the support of the Penguin Group.

Every book in the Penguin African Writers series is distinctly African and the illustrations should reflect a theme central to Africa. We are looking for creative representations of “African”, contemporary and/or traditional. The artwork’s connection to the title and content of the book does not necessarily have to be literal as the messages and themes are open to interpretation.

A detailed brief will be available from 7 September 2009. Artists who would like to submit artwork for possible inclusion in one of the upcoming Penguin African Writers books should contact Reneé Naudé at for more information.

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Penguin African Writers Series Debuts with Marechera, Aribisala, Momplé, wa Thiong’o, Tadjo and Achebe

Black SunlightThe Hangman's GameNeighboursWeep Not, ChildAs the Crow FliesGirls at War and Other Stories

Penguin Books is delighted to announce that the first six titles in the new Penguin African Writers Series are now available at bookstores across the country.

Literary titan Chinua Achebe is the Penguin AWS’s Editorial Adviser – and the great writer’s book of short stories, Girls at War and Other Stories, comprises part of the initial list.

We’re immensely proud to present six must-have African reads:

Black SunlightBlack Sunlight by Dambudzo Marechera (Zimbabwe): In an unspecified setting the narrative traces the fortunes of a group of anarchists in revolt against a military-fascist-capitalist opposition. The central character is a press photographer, Chris, whose camera lens becomes the device through which Marechera cleverly unravels the story’s incidents. Marechera said the book was influenced by the Baader-Meinhof story about German terrorists: “I really tried to put terrorism into a historical perspective, neither applauding their acts nor condemning them. The photographer does not take sides, he just takes the press photographs.”

The Hangman's GameHangman’s Game by Karen King-Aribisala (Guyana): The narrative interweaves two storylines: a bloody revolt in Demerara, Guyana, in 1823 and a military coup in Nigeria in the late 1990s. The latter focuses on the terrifying experiences of a pregnant writer, her minister husband and their housekeeper during the murderous era of a ‘military democracy’, where the tyrant is known only as “Butcher Boy”.

The second storyline is the basis of the woman’s novel, set in her native Guyana, with historical characters who mirror their counterparts in the real world. Insecurities about her marriage begin to spiral out of control and paranoia sets in as the woman is unable to distinguish between real-life threats and the constructions of her imagination. The hangman’s noose from the simple spelling guessing game and the children’s nursery rhyme Three Blind Mice pervade in this studiously plotted and subtly told story.

NeighboursNeighbours: The story of a murder by Lília Momplé (Mozambique): On the eve of the festival of Eid, Narguiss, who ‘never wanted anything to do with politics’, is more preoccupied with family problems than with the radio news of kidnappings and murders. Before dawn, however, she and other innocent people seeking to lead peaceful lives are caught up in a vicious conspiracy to infiltrate and destabilise Mozambique.

Skilfully weaving together present events and past memories, Lília Momplé gives us, in the drama of a few short hours, an insight into the consequences of Mozambique’s complex history. Beautifully written. Snapshots into different homes on the eve of a major religious festival. Contrast between the past and age-old traditions and a new way of life.

Weep Not, ChildWeep Not, Child by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya): Two boys stand on a rubbish heap and look into the future. One boy is excited, he is beginning school; the other, his brother, is an apprentice carpenter. Together they will serve their country – the teacher and the craftsman. But this is Kenya and the times are against them. In the forests, the Mau Mau are waging war against the white government, and the two brothers, Njoroge and Kamau, and the rest of their family, need to decide where their loyalties lie. For the practical man the choice is simple, but for Njoroge the scholar, the dream of progress through learning is a hard one to give up.

A powerful, moving story that details the effects of the Mau Mau war on the lives of ordinary men and women.

As the Crow FliesAs the Crow Flies by Véronique Tadjo (Ivory Coast): Véronique Tadjo weaves together a rich tapestry of voices to tell stories of parting and return, suffering, healing and desire in a lyrical and moving exploration of the human heart. Like a bird in flight, the reader travels across a borderless landscape composed of tales of everyday existence, news reports, allegories and ancestral myths, becoming aware in the course of the journey of the interconnection of individual lives.

Tadjo’s prose is so ephemeral that it’s difficult to remember that she is writing about heartache and pain. The narrative is presented as a series of chapters in varying length, with characters who are nameless and faceless, representing everyman and everywoman.

Girls at War and Other StoriesGirls at War and Other Stories by Chinua Achebe (Nigeria): A collection of 13 short stories Achebe wrote over 20 years, with the earliest dating back to his student days at Ibadan, Nigeria, and the latest to stories of the Nigerian civil war. This was the first collection of Achebe short stories to be made available to a wide public. “Girls at War”, the title story, is about the tragic effects of war on the civilian population, in particular on one girl, who starts with high ideals, which vanish as the war drags on and the need for food replaces the need for ideals.

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