The answer to why Africa is poor is simply that its leaders have made this choice, argues Greg Mills in Why Africa is Poor: And What Africans Can Do About It (published in 2011 by Penguin). The Big Man mentality that is ubiquitous all over the continent has done Africa’s development a lot of harm. Aid, on the other hand, has proven to have the opposite of its desired effect in the continent – it has helped us move backwards rather than catapult us forward into the league of other nations of the world.
While on assignment in Athens, Louise Cantor, a woman archeologist, phones her son Henrik in Stockholm to say she’ll drop in on him as she’s headed for a conference in Sweden in a few days’ time. Louise does not get to through to her son, and later when she gets to Stockholm, she finds him in bed in his flat after the conference, neatly tucked in and unusually in his pyjamas – dead.
And so begins her whirlwind ride in search of the truth regarding the death of her son. She’s convinced it is not a suicide. But
Like a seamstress, Heidi Holland knits together the 100 years of South Africa’s African National Congress, using Mandela as a thread linking all the patches. In her latest book, Holland ponders the question whether or not the ANC, built through so many years of hard struggle, is able to provide its own raison d’etre – a better life for all.
This is a simple story of two worlds; one, the underbelly of urban Dar-es-Salaam where Moses the child vagrant stakes his claim to eke out a living and the other, the wilderness of Tanzania where man remains an unwelcome intruder. The author, Mark Thornton, is an internationally respected wilderness safari guide and conservationist.
This is the story of Alice Wolfe – a woman whose whole body is covered in more scars than the number of bones in the human body – the legacy of growing up accident-prone. Everything Alice ever played with as a child, from her bicycle to whatever other childish pursuit, injured her. Washing dishes in later life would not just be another chore but a sure way of drawing blood. She was called Patch at school.
Alma Nel, is Afrikaner and those with a passing knowledge of the volk will know that they, at least most, speak atrocious English. Through De Nooy’s pen, Alma’ s proficiency, or lack of it, is comical. Her gay son Staal, whose body she’s in Amsterdam to haul back home to rural South Africa after a drowning, was guilty of the same grammatical violation of the Queen’s language.
In a Cape Town suburb, five women gather every Friday night to discuss their writing. Each of the women – Isabel, Carmen, Beauty, Jazz and Amina are given a ‘hearing’ to contribute to this gathering of like minds. The common denominator among the women in this cleverly written book is that each has a horrendous story of sexual abuse to tell. This thread that binds them together brings out the character trait of each of the women to good effect.
Published in 2011 by Penguin, Zakes Mda’s Black Diamond is a contemporary South African novel that brings into sharp focus the stereotypes surrounding middle class black South Africans, popularly referred to as black diamonds, and many of whom, are beneficiaries of the government-sponsored black economic empowerment program. The story revolves around an Afrikaans magistrate Kristin Uys who commits the ultimate occupational blunder – she sentences the Visagie brothers to jail for running a brothel.
Published in 2011 by Serpent’s Tail, Dust Devils, written by Roger Smith, is a novel full of pace. At the center of the plot, is Inja Moses Mazibuko, a hired gun who does the dirty work of his political principal without asking questions. He’s trigger-happy and dispenses of bodies with the same ease and regularity the normal world does with unfinished food. We’re introduced to him while he’s on assignment in Cape Town to eliminate yet another statistic – Ben Baker, who knows too much about Mazibuko’s boss, the Chief. To make a clean sweep, he must also finish off Baker’s mistress, Rosie Dell.
This is the fascinating story of Jewish-South African author and journalist, Bertha Goudvis. Those who know her say she was “an intrepid woman in the mould of Olive Schreiner”. Regrettably, she wasn’t written about as widely. Her novel Little Eden, sold well in 1949 and shortly after it came out. And she had short stories published throughout her writing career.