Published by Jacana Media in 2013, The Kelly Khumalo Story by Melinda Ferguson with Sarah Setlaelo should rightly have been The Melinda Ferguson and Sarah Setlaelo Stories Paraded As A Biography Of Kelly Khumalo. Ferguson and Setlaelo are telling their own stories at Khumalo’s expense. This is the only book perhaps, unless Jub Jub pens his prison memoirs, where we should have been taken behind the bedroom door for a tete-a-tete between Mama Jackie and Kelly over the scourge of drugs and how they scar lives.
Malla Nunn’s Silent Valley (published in 2014 by Macmillan) is a book about the murder of a beautiful nubile young thing called Amahle, the daughter of a local chief. She was about to be married off when she was found killed and her father grieves, not so much for the dead girl but the loss of the herd of cattle she was going to fetch in dowry. Amahle’s death means the chief can no longer take another wife, his sixth.
The second murder adds to the suspense and helps the plot. The twist and turns that lead to the identity of the killer – and the reasons for the dastardly act – compensate for the barrenness of Nunn’s research.
The Violent Gestures of Life is a story exploring the dynamics of the relationship between boys from across the tracks and their parents in particular and society in general. It is a story with the proverbial happy ending. This book is another voice added to the chorus that you do not stay down when you fall. The author, Mukwevho, finds a way to make this voice heard above the din of those that came before him. The Violent Gestures of Life was published in 2014 by UKZN Press.
This is a work of fiction, the last volume of a trilogy that began with Links and Knots. If it is foretold that all good things come to an end, here’s proof.
But from the pen of Nuruddin Farah, a Somali national, who is now resident in Cape Town, it reads like a true life account of the scourge of piracy that currently plagues the coastline of his motherland. It would be difficult to convince those who watch it – should a movie about this book be made – that the reel version is not a documentary.
As a biographer, Colin Bundy had a long [and fruitful?] relationship with the late Govan Mbeki, a political leader who was one of the leading lights of South Africa’s African National Congress and a father to the country’s ex-President Thabo Mbeki . Correspondence between them stretched back to the days when it was still unfashionable to write letters to the ‘terrorists’ incarcerated on Robben Island.
Africa’s unending wars are notoriously harsh on her kids; the boys get forcibly conscripted as child soldiers while the girls are forced to grow up quickly to serve the sexual urges of the beasts that fight these senseless wars. In a normal world, Risto Mahuno could have been just a boy playing in the sand and Nene – his childhood love interest, just another village girl.
Over the years, the position of the white South African inside the country could either be labelled a curse or a blessing. Unlike their black fellow countrymen who were tied down by ancestry, when trouble came knocking, whites could always haul out the passports and ‘pack for Perth’. In Ways of Staying (published in 2010 by Portobello Books), South African journalist Kevin Bloom ponders ways of staying even when circumstances motivate for the chicken run.
A senior lecturer in sociology at Wits University, the author Sarah Mosoetsa works from the premise that the family is the microcosm of society. In her book (published in 2011 by Witwatersrand University Press), Mosoetsa looks at African households in the KwaZulu/Natal townships of Mpumalanga [Hammersdale] and Enhlalakahle [Greytown]. What she finds is shockingly representative of the entire country – indeed the whole continent and the Third World.
On September 20, 2008, South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, took the unprecedented step of dismissing Thabo Mbeki, the country’s then president from his position as party chairman. The move, which effectively ended Mbeki’s term presidency, marked the climax of a bitter internal struggle within the party. In Eight Days in September (published in 2012 by Picador), author Frank Chikane describes the circumstances that led to this historical event.
Published in 2006 by University of Kwazulu-Natal Press, Pamphilia Hlapa’s A Daughter’s Legacy is a tearjerker that brings to life the ugly scourge of child sexual abuse that virtually continued unabated in the village of the author’s upbringing where silence was golden and speaking out against such was taboo.