Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to BooksLIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Books LIVE

Penguin SA

@ Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

The Formative Years of a Trusted Politician: An Excerpt from Insurgent Diplomat by Aziz Pahad

Insurgent DiplomatInsurgent Diplomat: Civil Talks or Civil War? is Aziz Pahad’s memoir, in which he tells the story of his childhood in South Africa, his exile in London, and his role in the secret ANC discussions that preceded official negotiations.

In the excerpt shared below, Pahad speaks about his family history and how his parents political beliefs informed his understanding of the world around him. Politics and the will to change things became entrenched in his identity.

Read the excerpt:

* * * * * * * *


The early years

The first wave of Indians came to South Africa in 1860 as indentured labourers and settled in what was then the Crown Colony of Natal. They were predominantly from the south of India. Indentured labourers were followed six years later, in 1867, by ‘Passenger Indians’ or ‘Passage Arrivals’ who came to South Africa to seek greener pastures. They were mostly Hindus and Muslims – like my grandparents, who came from the state of Gujarat in North India – and were, in the main, traders or those who came to work in Indian shops. Most settled in Natal, but soon moved to other regions in order to set up businesses, thus becoming the main competitors of white traders. Fearing competition, the government of General Jan Smuts intensified anti-Indian legislation that, among other prohibitions, prevented Indians from trading in certain areas or attempted to curtail their movements from one area to another. Despite these restrictions, many among their number went on to become independent traders and joined professions within the bounds of those occupations they were allowed to enter.

I was born on Christmas day 1940, the third of five sons. My brothers were Ismail, Essop, Nassim and Juned, and our early years were spent in the small town of Schweizer-Reneke, in what was then the Western Transvaal and is now part of the North West Province. My father first worked in the family business, but later opened his own small general dealership. In 1945 my family decided, for economic and political reasons, to move to Johannesburg. We moved to a two-bedroom flat in No. 11 Orient House, Becker Street, in Ferreirastown. One bedroom was used by my parents, while Essop, Nassim, Juned and I shared the other. There was a dining room and a living room, which at night doubled as a bedroom for my eldest brother, Ismail. Friends would often stay over and somehow we ingeniously managed to create more sleeping space.

The move to Becker Street was fortuitous but fateful, since it had a profound impact on my political development; Ferreirastown turned out to be a hive of political activity. Rather importantly in this regard, Orient House was flanked by the offices of the ANC and the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC). The Tambo-Mandela law offices were in Chancellor House, on the corner of Becker and Fox streets, and thus close to where we lived. Then there was Kosi Café, which was directly below the Tambo-Mandela offices in Chancellor House. In the absence of any public recreational facilities, Kosi Café became our regular gathering space. We also took advantage of the billiard room across the way from the café where many of the top gangsters of the area used to hang out. I knew those gangsters well and under their protection’ felt safe and secure from other competing gangs in the area. These connections led me to join the ‘Becker Street Gang’ and we earned a healthy respect from the community.

Another interesting feature of our neighbourhood was the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, which was also in Becker Street. Not only was this court the scene of many of the political trials, but in the absence of sporting facilities we used to play football on the lawns of the courthouse where we were constantly harassed by the police and, if caught, even beaten up. Given the strategic location of our flat, it became a hub of political and social gatherings. Senior ANC leaders, as well as those from the Indian Congress, the Congress of Democrats and the Coloured People’s Congress (CPC), all of which became stalwarts of the liberation struggle, frequently visited for lunch, supper or meetings. They included Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Robert Resha, Duma Nokwe, JB Marks, Moses Kotane, Alfred Nzo, Thomas Nkobi, Mendi Msimang, Yusuf Dadoo, the brothers Molvi and Yusuf Cachalia, Zainab Asvat, Ama and her husband TN Naidoo, Jasmat Nanabhai and others.

My mother, Amina, was born in July 1918 in Klerksdorp in the then Transvaal. She spoke very little English, while we only had a nodding acquaintance of Gujarati and Hindi. Yet she was able to communicate with us and the many visitors to our flat. Her lack of knowledge of the English language was no obstacle to her being what Ahmed Kathrada describes in his memoirs as a ‘humanist who displayed immense strength and courage in the face of adversity … to all her strengths were her kindness, her generosity of spirit, her selflessness and her commitment to community’.

My mother was extremely kind and caring, not only to her family but to everyone she encountered – even to the Special Branch who frequently raided our flat in the early hours of the morning. We were often rudely awakened as Special Branch police searched the flat and interrogated our parents. Even though we objected, my mother ignored us and insisted on offering them refreshments. As a measure of her magnanimous spirit, she always told us that we must share what we had, even if it meant depriving ourselves. She saw no contradiction between her commitment to family and community, and her commitment to fighting oppression and discrimination.

Reflecting on my mother, Nelson Mandela writes in his autobiography, ‘I often visited the home of Amina Pahad for lunch, and then suddenly this charming woman put down her apron and went to jail for her beliefs. If I had once questioned the willingness of the Indian community to protest against oppression, I no longer could.’

In their biography, Albertina and Walter Sisulu write that Goolam and Amina Pahad at Orient House provided ‘a home away from home in the city centre’. Sisulu noted that he initially believed that Indian women were ‘conservative and unwilling to involve themselves in public life’. But that opinion had changed after he met my mother and other women involved in the Passive Resistance Campaign. My mother was a woman with a vision. She never sought publicity or accolades for her participation in the struggle, and she maintained a strong belief in creating a non-racial, democratic South Africa. Her commitment did not derive from book knowledge but from her own life experiences and her constant contact with activists and leaders of the Congress Movement.

My father, Goolam, was born on 21 September 1912 in Kholvad, Gujarat. He came to South Africa in 1919, but then returned to India in 1922 to further his education, which is when he met Dr Yusuf Dadoo and developed a lifelong friendship. After my grandfather’s death in 1926, my father returned to South Africa. He was a stoic character of great fortitude and self-control. He was also active in the Indian Congress, which strove for independence in India, and he continued his political activism when he came to South Africa. He later rose to become an executive member of both the Transvaal and the South African Indian Congress (SAIC). When a state of emergency was declared in the wake of the Sharpeville massacre in March 1960, my father was detained and imprisoned for five months. As a result, his business collapsed, leading to financial ruin. On his release, he made the difficult decision to leave South Africa for the UK.

It was rather ironic that the luxurious headquarters of all the major institutions representing white capital and finance were also located in our neighbourhood. Even today the massive Anglo American corporate buildings continue to dominate the landscape. I recall vividly how many of our leaders pointed to these buildings to explain the inequality of the apartheid system and the extent to which big capital complied with it, offering early exposure to the complex tensions between exploitative capitalism and the promise of socialism. This area also housed one of the main ‘pass office’ buildings in Market Street. The ‘pass’ was emblematic of the dehumanisation of African men and women, and I grew up witnessing daily the humiliation and ill treatment of hundreds of Africans as they queued for hours outside the pass office. The Marshall Square Police Station was another landmark where many political detainees were imprisoned. In later years the notorious John Vorster Square Police Station was built on Goch Street, two blocks away from Becker Street. We had many fights with young white policemen, especially on Friday nights, when they returned to Vorster Square after drinking sprees in town. If the fights were serious, we had to stay off the streets because they were sure to return with reinforcements. Fortunately, they were often too drunk to identify anyone.

Ferreirastown, its spatial environment and the various landmarks were, therefore, not only an important part of my growing up, but also formative in my socialisation and my growing awareness of political life. Indeed, the cumulative experiences of Ferreirastown provided the driving impulse that made politics part of my DNA. This environment, and particularly my early encounters with so many Congress leaders, shaped my understanding of the world in which I grew up. This was a world animated by important events, key figures, daily activities and a particular understanding of history that became deeply woven into the rhythm of my life.

Book details

» read article

Don’t Miss the Launch of Cake Decorating with Grace Stevens in Cape Town

Cake Decorating with Grace Stevens Launch

Cake Decorating with Grace StevensPenguin and Julie’s Cake Studio would like to invite you to the launch of Cake Decorating with Grace Stevens by Grace Stevens.

The launch will be at Julie’s Cake Studio in Newlands on Thursday, 13 November, at 6 for 6:30 PM.

Drinks and light snacks will be served.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

Book Details

» read article

Career Opportunity: Typesetter at Penguin Non-Fiction in Cape Town

Position: Typesetter (Cape Town)
Reporting to: Managing Editor
Department: Penguin Non-Fiction
Purpose of the job: Typesetting

Main responsibility / outcomes

  • Typesetting black-and-white titles
  • Preparing PDFs and instructions for reproduction
  • Checking printers’ proofs and F&Gs
  • Preparing marketing and sales material
  • Archiving material

Person specification

  • a minimum of one year’s experience as a typesetter, preferably in books
  • the ability to interpret briefs and design concepts
  • the ability to work on a number of projects simultaneously
  • accuracy and an excellent eye for detail
  • the ability to work both independently and within a team structure
  • the ability to work well under pressure, quickly and to deadline
  • enthusiasm, motivated and proactive
  • good organisational skills

Knowledge & Skills

  • Full computer literacy in InDesign on Apple Mac
  • Illustrator and Photoshop would be an advantage
  • Some design experience would be an advantage
  • Knowledge of print production processes
  • Proficiency in PowerPoint, Word, Excel and Outlook
  • Reasonable proficiency in English and Afrikaans

Application Details

Applications and CVs should be addressed to Wendy Smith at

Closing date: Monday, 17 November 2014

NB: Only short-listed candidates will be interviewed.

Preference will be given to candidates who will add to the diversity of our organisation.

» read article

Career Opportunity: Publicist for Penguin Non-Fiction in Cape Town

Position: Publicist: Penguin Non-Fiction
Reporting to: National Marketing Manager
Department: Marketing – Cape Town
Main purpose: To plan, implement and manage the marketing and publicity activities of the Penguin Non-Fiction list to meet the objectives of Penguin Random House, which is to increase market share in the South African market.

Main responsibilities

  • Set up a detailed and approved annual marketing and publicity plan, matching expenditure to turnover for key titles / categories and outlining categories of marketing and targeting media.
  • Build and maintain key relationships with the media, and keep abreast of changes within the media in order to maintain media lists.
  • Handle media queries on a daily basis and optimal allocation and distribution of review copies.
  • Write and distribute press releases.
  • Manage, build and maintain relationships with assigned authors.
  • Plan and execute author tours successfully, including identifying key role players and trade partners, conceptualising, drafting and implementing the publicity plan for their book; liaising with the author and the media in setting up interviews; liaising with the sales team and bookshops and other suppliers in setting up events; and accompanying the author to all tour events.
  • Compile and distribute analysis reports for the author and publishers.
  • Event management from conceptualisation to implementation.

Requirement for this role

  • Matric / Diploma / Degree with at least 2 years’ experience in a similar working environment.
  • Have a love for books and a strong interest in and knowledge of politics, business and sport as well as good connections in these areas.
  • Have outstanding English and Afrikaans (written and spoken) communication skills.
  • Fully computer literate and efficient in MS Office, EXCEL and PowerPoint.
  • Have a valid driver’s licence and their own car.
  • Be available to travel within South Africa with authors and be available to attend after-hour events.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and well developed communication skills are essential.
  • An energetic, outgoing and friendly person who is professional in their dealings at all levels.
  • The ability to multitask and meet deadlines.
  • A creative and innovative approach.

Application details

Applications and CVs should be addressed to Wendy Smith at

Closing date: Monday, 17 November 2014

NB: Only short-listed candidates will be interviewed.

Preference will be given to candidates who will add to the diversity of our organisation.

» read article

Koos Kombuis ken al vier-en-sestig hoofstuktitels van Confucius se i-Tjieng-teks uit sy kop

I-TjiengEmile Jean Butler het met “die guru van Afrikaans”, Koos Kombuis, gesels om meer uit te vind oor die draai wat sy lewe al gemaak het en vra hom ook oor sy voorkeur vir skryf bo musiek:

“Ek voel dat ek ‘n plafon bereik het met my musiek, en dat te veel van my lewendige vertonings ‘n herhaling is van ou liedjies wat mense tot vervelens toe wil hoor. Om nuwe stories en idee’s uit te dink in my studeerkamer is ‘n veel groter uitdaging.”

Kombuis verklap ook dat hy die vier-en-sestig hoofstuktitels van Confucius se i-Tjieng-teks uit sy kop ken – ‘n belangrike feit om in gedagte te hou wanneer jy sy Afrikaanse interpretasie van hierdie klassieke teks – I-Tjieng: ’n GPS vir verdwaalde siele – onder oë neem.

Jy’t op skool jou bynaam Koos gekry, hoe het dit gebeur?

Die bynaam het ek in standerd drie (Graad 5) gekry, toe ek die hanswors van die klas was. Op daardie stadium was “Koos van der Merwe”-grappe hoog in die mode.

Ek kry soms die gevoel Afrikaans word effe geboelie in die land. Hoe sien jy die toekoms van die taal?

Afrikaans word nie so erg geboelie soos wat baie mense hulle verbeel nie. Ek sien geen probleme vir die toekoms van die taal nie. Die enigste dialek van Afrikaans wat dalk in gevaar is, is ongelukkig standaard-Afrikaans.


» read article

Try Justin Bonello’s Recipes for Ginger Beer, Whole Baked Pumpkin and Roasted Deboned Leg of Lamb

Cooked in the KarooThe online magazine Crush has shared three recipes from Cooked in the Karoo by Justin Bonello and Helena Lombard.

Bonello’s scrumptious recipes for Ginger Beer, Whole Baked Pumpkin and Roasted Deboned Leg of Lamb are interesting and elegant yet easy to prepare.

The Ginger Beer recipe goes back to the basic of brewing – make sure you have enough bottles, make sure the bottles can be sealed well and don’t forget your sieve and funnel.

Try the recipe for Roasted Deboned Leg of Lamb:

Book details

» read article

Come and Celebrate the Launch of Weeping Waters with Karin Brynard at The Book Lounge

Weeping WatersPenguin Books would like to invite you to the launch of Weeping Waters by Karin Brynard.

The novel first appeared in Afrikaans as Plaasmoord and was translated into English by Maya Fowler and Isobel Dixon.

The launch will take place at The Book Lounge on Monday, 10 November, at 5:30 for 6 PM. RSVP by Friday, 7 November, to avoid disappointment.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Monday, 10 November 2014
  • Time: 5:30 for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland Street
    Corner of Buitekant and Roeland Street
    Cape Town | Map
  • RSVP:, 021 462 2425

Book Details

» read article

“Sameness is a Disease – Don’t Copy”: Ian Fuhr Lists Five Reasons Why Most Start-ups Fail

Get That FeelingIan Fuhr has identified five common reasons start-up businesses fail, offering them as advice in an article by Edward West for Fin24.

“Even if you are in an industry that has many similar businesses, you should do whatever you can to set yourself apart from the crowd,” Fuhr says to explain the first reason, which he sums up as: “Sameness is a disease – don’t copy”.

The story of Fuhr’s own personal start-up success is shared in Get That Feeling: The Story of a Serial Entrepreneur. He is the man behind the Sorbet franchise.

Read West’s article for the other four reasons:

Cash is king — budget properly

Fuhr said most new businesses fail because they were under-capitalised.

Owners invariably underestimate the funds required to see them through the first year or two.

“It takes time to establish a business model and to build a brand.”

Book details

» read article

Olympic Gold Medalist Chad le Clos Launches Clothing Range: The C Le C Collection

Unbelievable!South African swimmer Chad le Clos, Olympic gold medalist and the author of autobiography Unbelievable!, has launched a clothing range.

Since his big win in 2012, Le Clos has been collecting medals all over the world. He recently took part in the Fina Swimming World Cup series, and was the overall winner of the Singapore event.

Le Clos won three gold medals, but he says he wants to continue to improve this year.

Read the article:

Le Clos won gold in the 100m butterfly on the final day to add to his two gold medals in the 50m and 200m butterfly events on Saturday.

In celebration of Le Clos’s passion for water sports and his achievements in swimming, he and Arena developed a line of surfing clothes called C le C, which includes surfer essentials: a hoodie, a rashvest, a low waist short, a midjammer surf belt and a pair of long Bermuda shorts.

Read the article:

Olympic Gold medallist, Commonwealth champion and Arena Elite athlete, Chad Le Clos grew up in Durban, South Africa where he not only started competing in swimming competitions at age 7 but where he also discovered his ‘other’ passion: surfing. Durban is home to a thriving surfer community thanks to its consistent waves, regular swells and favourable wind conditions not to mention warm water temperatures year round. With this in mind it is no surprise that Le Clos, with his keen water instinct, was also drawn to the waves and is a good amateur surfer.

Book details

» read article

Acclaimed Journalist and Author John Carlin Tells Oscar Pistorius’s Tragic Story in Chase Your Shadow

Chase Your ShadowNew from Penguin, Chase Your Shadow: The Trials of Oscar Pistorius by John Carlin:

In Chase Your Shadow, acclaimed journalist and author John Carlin tells the gripping story of Oscar Pistorius’s tragic journey from sporting icon to accused murderer.

Before Valentine’s Day of 2013, Pistorius was best known as an extraordinary athlete, the ‘Blade Runner’ who became the first amputee in history to compete in the Olympics. Everything changed after he shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp dead in the early hours of 14 February. Overnight, the Olympian’s status as a role model was replaced by tales of erratic behaviour and a violent dark side.

His seven-month trial was broadcast live around the globe, its twists and turns captivating millions. Carlin, who followed the drama inside the courtroom, provides a vivid first-hand account of Pistorius’s wrenching emotional breakdowns, the merciless interrogation to which he was submitted by the prosecutor, and the highly controversial judgment.

With unique access to Pistorius, his family and friends in the aftermath of the tragedy, Carlin paints a portrait of a complex personality, a man whose life story reveals extremes of courage and insecurity, ambition and vulnerability, generosity and dangerous hot-headedness.

Not since the OJ Simpson case has the world been more riveted by a champion’s heroic rise and calamitous fall.

About the author

John Carlin grew up in Argentina and in the UK and spent 1989-95 in South Africa as the Independent‘s correspondent there. He has also lived in Spain, Nicaragua, Mexico and Washington, writing for The Times, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the New York Times, among other papers, and working for the BBC. His previous books include, Playing the Enemy (2008), the basis of the film Invictus, directed by Clint Eastwood, which earned Oscar nominations for both Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman, and Knowing Mandela (2013).

Book details

» read article