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Jonathan Ball

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“South Africa’s VhaVenda people have a role for a female leader – the Makhadzi … Madonsela has chosen this earthly role model” – read an excerpt from No Longer Whispering to Power

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has achieved in seven years what few accomplish in a lifetime. She has been praised and vilified in equal measures during her time in office, often putting her at centre stage.

Speaking in Cape Town last year, Madonsela said that her role as Public Protector is akin to that of the Venda traditional spiritual female leader, the Makhadzi, who whispers truth to the king or the ruler. A ruler ignores the Makhadzi at his peril. During the speech, Madonsela joked that when the sounds of exchanges between the ruler and the Makhadzi grow loud, that is when the whispering has failed.

No Longer Whispering to Power is about Madonsela’s tenure as Public Protector, during which the whisper grew into a cry. It is the story of South Africa’s people’s attempt to hold power to account through the Office of the Public Protector.

Read an excerpt from this important book which stands as a record of the crucial work Madonsela has done, always acting without fear or favour, here:

Chapter 6, ‘Black Athena, Makhandzi, or enemy of the state?’

In the shadows of all human souls lurk symbols, images and imprints. Archetypes: dreamlike but real, they breathe life and meaning through the ages, and demand to become manifest. Without them, human beings feel lost and struggle to create meaning.

When psychologist Carl Jung developed the concept of the collective unconscious, the realm of the archetype, he courted controversy. Critics said his ideas were fatalistic and unscientific. But his idea is useful for our purposes, for understanding the interaction between Madonsela as Public Protector and the people of South Africa’s yearning for freedom.

Jung argued that the collective unconscious had a profound influence on the lives of individuals, who lived out its symbols and clothed them in meaning through their experiences. Any examination of the role of Thuli Madonsela in South African society must wrestle with archetypes.

We must ask whether a nation challenged with establishing a new system of justice, after so much injustice, created for itself an ideal and imposed that ideal’s associated expectations on Madonsela and her office. We must contemplate whether, through the echoes of time, we drew from our collective unconscious a projection of what a just leader in our society must be.

One needs to listen hard and carefully, and see with the mind’s eye that which is not obvious. As Madonsela says, ‘I need to listen well so that I hear what is not said.’

At a time when she was under huge strain from death threats and harassment, Madonsela delivered the keynote address at the launch of the Civics Academy at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, Johannesburg, on 10 May 2016.

Addressing the gathering of young poets and activists, she told the story of how she had been on a bush retreat in a beautiful part of KwaZulu-Natal province with a group of people.

On a game drive one night, the skies were particularly generous, the Southern Cross glittering. The game ranger asked them to identify the most important group of stars for people of the south. The ranger explained to Madonsela and her group that, for centuries, the Southern Cross had helped southern Africans to find their way home.

Madonsela confessed that she could make neither head nor tail of north and south using the constellation. The guide showed her how. She was amazed and filled with joy.

The South African Constitution is to the people of South Africa what the Southern Cross has been to our forebears. ‘It is a way to guide society on its way to social justice and human development,’ she said.

Archetypes condense complex meanings into images and symbols. They help us to access, through the language of metaphor, the recesses of our collective history and heritage. We can see, then, that archetypes are hidden forms, transformed once they enter consciousness and given particular expression by individuals and their cultures. They are common to all humanity. Madonsela has said that our most precious collective heritage as South Africans is our Constitution.

We project our archetypal understandings onto other people, too. Arguably, the meaning and expectations thrust onto the figure of Thuli Madonsela are our soul longings for an Athena.

Protector of the city-state of Athens, Athena is one of the finest gods of Mount Olympus, and Zeus’s most favoured child. It is to Athena that Zeus gave the Aegis, the shield of the nation. In modern usage, doing something under someone or something’s aegis continues to mean doing things under the protection of a significant, powerful force for good; Madonsela came to be seen as doing her job under the aegis of the South African Constitution, which is perceived to have the wisdom of how to protect our democracy from internal and external challenges vested in it.

The gods of Mount Olympus often have Egyptian equivalents. Athena’s is Ma’at, the goddess of justice, truth, law, morality and balance, among other things. Ma’at wears an ostrich feather that represents truth. On the road to the afterlife, souls would come before her throne to be weighed against her feather. If a soul was found to be unburdened by evil and greed, it passed the test of justice and could proceed.

Madonsela herself responded to society’s expectations that she be a figure like Caesar’s wife, beyond reproach and above suspicion, by accepting an ascetic life solely focused on the task of helping the powerless in society to achieve just outcomes. In doing so, she sought to define her role in South African society by using Venda mythology and jurisprudence.

South Africa’s VhaVenda people have a role for a female leader – the Makhadzi, the just one, the conscience of the nation. Madonsela has chosen this earthly role model. Explaining her choice, she says.

The Makhadzi, an aunt, is a non-political figure who serves as a buffer between the ruler and the people. [… The Makhadzi] enhances the voice of the people while serving as the king’s eyes, ears and conscience. [He ignores her] at his own peril.

In Madonsela’s speech to the 11th Biennial Convocation of Advocates Africa, held in Cape Town in August 2015, she said that the Makhadzi ‘whispers truth to the king’, or to those in power, ‘in much the same way as her office speaks truth to leaders in government’; her audience broke into laughter when she said that, when altercations between the Public Protector and government reach the public sphere, the whispering has not been successful.

So, Madonsela – who once said that she would have loved to have become an archaeologist had she not become a lawyer – has excavated the institution of the Makhadzi from ruin and given it mainstream appeal. In doing so, she has built a bridge between the present and the past.

Madonsela puts it this way: ‘In my office, we try to incorporate the Makhadzi way. We seek to reconcile the state through righting administrative wrongs of the state, exacting accountability and entrenching sustainable good governance.’

No Longer Whispering to Power

Book details

Drie Afrikaanse boeke om in Mei te geniet

Jonathan Ball het vandeesmaand drie opwindende titels in Afrikaans waarby beide oud en jonk sal aanklank vind. Lekker lees!

Wintersrust
Joycè Kotze

Een familie, deels van Britse en deels van Boere-afkoms, ontdek dat hul lewens onlosmaaklik verstrengel raak deur die onverbiddelike gang van die geskiedenis. Die Transvaalse politiek en die Britte se arrogante imperialisme sleur hulle mee in die Anglo-Boereoorlog van 1899-1902.

Liefdes- en vriendskapsbande wat in die Transvaalse bosveld en die sitkamers van Victoriaanse Engeland gesmee is, word op die slagvelde van Suid-Afrika getoets. Wanneer die formele fase van die oorlog oorgaan in die gruwelike beleid van die verskroeide aarde en ’n guerrillastryd, moet die familielede gewaagde keuses maak.

Wintersrust is ’n bruisende verhaal vol hartstog en avontuur oor die individu se worsteling met magte buite sy beheer. Sommige, wat deur wanhoop oorweldig word, oorleef nie. Ander moet ten slotte by ’n plek van vrede en vergifnis uitkom.

Oor Berge en Dale
Jackie Grobler

Daar is nie ’n grondpad te rof, plaasdraad te hoog of aanwysings te gebrekkig om Jackie Grobler te keer nie. As hy eers ’n monument in sy visier het, sal hy dit vind. In hierdie boek reis hy oor berge en dale van Lichtenburg in Noordwes tot die heuwels van Tabankulu in die Oos-Kaap.

Grobler reis onder meer op die spoor van Voortrekker Carel Trichardt deur Mpumalanga en in KwaZulu-Natal gaan hy na die slagvelde van die Anglo-Zoeloeoorlog.

In Gauteng vind hy monumente ter ere van twee van Suid-Afrika se grootste leiers: Nelson Mandela en Jan Smuts. In die Vrystaat soek hy na oorblyfsels van twee konsentrasiekampe en in Limpopo kom hy af op monumente van ’n Anglo-Boereoorlogkanon (die Long Tom). Sy reise na die Oos-Kaap neem hom na gedenkplekke vir Steve Biko en in die Wes-Kaap gaan hy op die spoor van die Portugese ontdekkingsreisigers. Elke provinsie sal ’n kaart hê wat die monumente aandui.

My Ballerina Droom
Michaela DePrince

Michaela DePrince was ’n driejarige oorlogwesie in Sierra Leone toe sy op ’n dag ’n windverwaaide tydskrif optel met die foto van ’n glimlaggende ballerina op die voorblad. Daardie dag het haar obsessie met ballet begin. Sy het haarself daar en dan voorgeneem sy sou eendag ook so gelukkig soos die vrou op die foto wees.

Sy is kort daarna deur ’n Amerikaanse gesin aangeneem. Sy het egter nooit die foto van die ballerina vergeet nie. Toe haar nuwe ma bewus word van haar belangstelling in ballet het sy begin klasse neem. Sedertdien het sy nog nooit ophou dans nie en vandag is sy ’n hoogs suksesvolle ballerina. ’n Storie wat enige jong meisie (of seun) sal inspireer om groot te droom.

Die boek is die geïllustreerde kinderboekuitgawe van DePrince se roerende memoir, Hope In A Ballet Shoe. Die kleurvolle illustrasies is deur Ella Okstad.
 

Boekbesonderhede

 

 

The adventures of Isabel Dalhousie continue…

A Distant View of EverythingIsabel Dalhousie now has a second child – another boy, Magnus.

She discovers that Charlie is far from thrilled and he sees no need for a new baby. In Cat’s delicatessen, Isabel meets a woman with whom she had been at school. This woman, Bea Shand, is known as an enthusiastic match-maker.

She is very worried, though, as she has introduced a woman she knows to a plastic surgeon that is now described by another friend as a gold-digger. This other friend reveals that the surgeon has a bad track record: he has been involved with a series of well-off women and has succeeded in separating a number of them from their money.

Bea asks Isabel to investigate; she herself tried to warn her friend of the danger she was in but was rebuked badly. Not only is the surgeon innocent, but he himself is the one in danger!

Book details

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Dear Ijeawele is the feminist manifesto every mother should gift her daughter

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist.

Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions – compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive – for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman.

From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century.
 

Book details

Launch: No Longer Whispering to Power at David Krut, Cape Town

No Longer Whispering to Power: The Story of Thuli MadonselaDavid Krut Projects and Jonathan Ball Publishers are pleased to invite you to the book launch of No Longer Whispering to Power – The Story of Thuli Madonsela.

No Longer Whispering to Power is about Thuli Madonsela’s tenure as Public Protector, during which the whisper turned into a cry. It is the story of the South African people’s attempt to hold power to account through the Office of the Public Protector. More significantly, this important book stands as a record of the crucial work Madonsela has done, always acting without fear or favour.

Author Thandeka Gqubele has practised as a journalist and worked in the media for nearly three decades. She has followed the story of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela with great dedication and passion.

Event Details

Six eBooks to read this month

Almost Human, Lee Berger

Almost Human is the personal story of a charismatic and visionary palaeontologist, a rich and readable narrative about science, exploration, and what it means to be human.

In 2013, Lee Berger caught wind of a cache of bones in a hard-to-reach underground cave near Johannesburg. He put out a call around the world for collaborators – men and women small and adventurous enough to be able to squeeze through 8-inch tunnels to reach a sunless cave 40 feet underground.

With this team of ‘underground astronauts’, Berger made the discovery of a lifetime: hundreds of prehistoric bones, including entire skeletons of at least 15 individuals, all perhaps two million years old. Their features combined those of known pre-hominids with those more human than anything ever before seen in prehistoric remains.

Berger’s team had discovered an all new species: Homo naledi.

The cave proved to be the richest pre-hominid site ever discovered, full of implications that challenge how we define ourselves as human. Did these ancestors of ours bury their dead? If so, they must have had an awareness of death, a level of self-knowledge: the very characteristic we used to define ourselves as human.

Did an equally advanced species inhabit earth with us, or before us? Addressing these questions, Berger counters the arguments of those colleagues who have questioned his controversial interpretations and astounding finds.

 
Billionaire$ Under Construction, DJ Sbu

DJ Sbu is not your ordinary entrepreneur.

He was born to be great and refuses to settle for less. Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a successful entrepreneur? How they come up with their ground-breaking ideas, how they turn them into flourishing businesses, how they deal with failure, and what drives and motivates them?

Billionaire$ Under Construction answers these questions, and more, as it charts the rise and rise of Sbusiso Leope, one of South Africa’s most dynamic entrepreneurs.

From his childhood in Tembisa to the global stage as a world-class musician and DJ, from music mogul and co-owner of TS Records – the label behind some of South Africa’s brightest young stars – and, more recently, as the force behind the country’s first black-owned energy drink, Sbu’s story is one of courage, resilience, inspiration and a refusal to let failure stop him. In his own words, you just can’t stop his go.

Billionaire$ Under Construction is a blueprint of Sbu’s success; an honest and direct account of the setbacks he’s encountered, including his high profile dismissal from two of South Africa’s most prominent radio stations and his equally notorious run-in with Forbes.

Sbu’s handling of these situations shows the triumph of his entrepreneurial spirit and the tenacity of a man who does, indeed, consider himself a billionaire under construction – and won’t stop until his goal has become a reality.

More than this, it’s a handbook to show other entrepreneurs how they can do the same; a slice of motivation to show them that it can be done, and a tool-kit to show them how.
 
No Longer Whispering to Power, Thandeka Gqubule

Advocate Thuli Madonsela has achieved in her seven years as Public Protector what few accomplish in a lifetime; her legacy and contribution cannot be over-stated.

In her final days in office she compiled the explosive State Capture report and, before that, the report on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence.

Praised and vilified in equal measures, Madonsela has frequently found herself at centre stage in the increasingly fractious South African political scene.

Yet, despite the intense media scrutiny, Madonsela remains something of an enigma. Who is this soft-spoken woman who stood up to state corruption? Where did she develop her views and resolve?

This book attempts to answer these questions, and others, by exploring many aspects of Madonsela’s life: her childhood years and family, her involvement in student politics, her contribution to the constitution, her life in law.

Madonsela once described her role as Public Protector as being akin to that of the Venda traditional spiritual female leader, the Makhadzi, who whispers truth to the ruler. When the sounds of the exchanges between the ruler and the Makhadzi grow loud, Madonsela said, that is when the whispering has failed.

No Longer Whispering to Power is about Thuli Madonsela’s tenure as Public Protector, during which the whisper grew into a cry. It is the story of the South African people’s attempt to hold power to account through the Office of the Public Protector. More significantly, this important book stands as a record of the crucial work Madonsela has done, always acting without fear or favour.
 
Get South Africa Growing, Brian Kantor

South Africans have been poorly served by the economic choices their governments have made.

The consequences of these choices are everywhere to be seen but most importantly in unemployment and poverty.

In this book Brian Kantor advances spirited economic arguments for freer markets and less government intervention and regulation of the South African economy; the book will add significantly to a layman’s understanding of how our economy works.

It offers a succinct review of all the key drivers that determine a modern economy’s performance as well as the key institutions of a modern economy.

The book presents an insightful review of the challenges facing the South African economy and its policy makers.

Kantor’s sound economic insights, enriched by his familiarity with current affairs and developments in the local political milieu and financial markets, make his book a key and important contribution to the continuing debate which rages around our failing economy – indeed it presents solutions which policy makers ignore at their (and our) peril.
 
Wintersrust, Joyce Kotzè

Two sets of cousins, one Boer, one British, find their destinies inexorably intertwined by the tides of history, as politics and imperial hubris drag them into the Anglo Boer War of 1899–
1902. Bonds of love and friendship, forged in the bushveld of the Transvaal and the drawing rooms of Victorian England, are tested on the battlefields of South Africa.

As the early stages of war give way to a grim campaign of scorched earth and guerrilla warfare, the cousins must make stark choices and risk everything.

Vividly realised and pulsing with passion and adventure, Wintersrust is a towering story of the individual’s struggle against events he cannot control. Some, pushed beyond the threshold of despair, do not survive. Others must find their way back to a place of peace and forgiveness.

Through anger and injustice, the family discovers that there is a force stronger than war.
 
My Ballerina Droom, Michaela DePrince en Elaine DePrince

Michaela DePrince was ’n driejarige oorlogwesie in Sierra Leone toe sy op ’n dag ’n windverwaaide tydskrif optel met die foto van ’n glimlaggende ballerina op die voorblad.

Daardie dag het haar obsessie met ballet begin. Sy het haarself daar en dan voorgeneem sy sou eendag ook so gelukkig soos die vrou op die foto wees.

Sy is kort daarna deur ’n Amerikaanse gesin aangeneem. Sy het egter nooit die foto van die ballerina vergeet nie. Toe haar nuwe ma bewus word van haar belangstelling in ballet het sy begin klasse neem. Sedertdien het sy nog nooit ophou dans nie en vandag is sy ’n hoogs suksesvolle ballerina.

’n Storie wat enige jong meisie (of seun) sal inspireer om groot te droom.

Deon Meyer’s Fever an epic, searing story of humanity and a quest for survival

This is the story of my life.

And the story of your life and your world too, as you will see.

Nico Storm and his father drive across a desolate South Africa, constantly alert for feral dogs, motorcycle gangs, and nuclear contamination. They are among the few survivors of a virus that has killed most of the world’s population.

Young as he is, Nico realises that his superb marksmanship and cool head mean he is destined to be his father’s protector.

But Willem Storm, though not a fighter, is a man with a vision. He is searching for a place that can become a refuge, a beacon of light and hope in a dark and hopeless world, a community that survivors will rebuild from the ruins.

And so Amanzi is born.

Fever is the epic, searing story of a group of people determined to carve a city out of chaos.
 
 
 
Book details

“Exhilarating follow-up” to Philippe Sands’ East West Street to be published soon

The “exhilarating follow-up” to Philippe Sands’ East West Street will be published by Jonathan Ball in hardbook and e-book in 2019 or 2020, The Bookseller recently announced.

Named Non-fiction: Narrative Book of the Year at the British Book Awards, A Death in the Vatican is a historical detective story that sets out to uncover the truth behind what happened to Nazi politician and SS-member, Otto von Wächter, indicted in 1946 for “mass murder”.

A Death in the Vatican is based on research that began in 2010 and continued through the making of the acclaimed BBC Storyville documentary “My Nazi Legacy”. It is also the subject matter of a BBC Radio 4 series and podcast that will be broadcast in early 2018.

SS Brigadesführer Otto Freiherr von Wächter was a minor character in East West Street who presided over an authority on which ground hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles were killed. Von Wächter was indicted for murder by the end of the war and went on the run. Hunted by the Soviets, the Americans and the British, as well as both Poles and Jews, he spent three years hiding in the Austrian Alps before making his way to Rome and being taken in by the Vatican where he remained for three months. While preparing to travel to Argentina on the “ratline” he died unexpectedly, in July 1949, a few days after having lunch with an “old comrade” whom he suspected of having been recruited by the Americans.

By seeking answers to the questions of Wächter’s youngest child, in A Death in the Vatican Sands will offer an account of the daily life of a Nazi fugitive, the love between Wächter and his wife Charlotte, who continued to write regularly to each other while he was on the run, and insight into life in the Vatican and among American and Soviet spies active in Rome at the start of the Cold War.

Jenny Lord, publishing director for Weidenfeld & Nicolson Non-fiction, of which Jonathan Ball is a local distribute, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Georgia Garrett at Rogers, Coleridge & White. Vicky Wilson at Knopf acquired US and Canadian rights from Melanie Jackson.

Lord said: “We are thrilled that Philippe has chosen A Death in the Vatican as his next book project. With his rare ability to map intimate human stories onto a dramatic political landscape, his curiosity and wisdom, we feel certain this book will be an exhilarating follow up to East West Street.”

Lord said: “We are thrilled that Philippe has chosen A Death in the Vatican as his next book project. With his rare ability to map intimate human stories onto a dramatic political landscape, his curiosity and wisdom, we feel certain this book will be an exhilarating follow up to East West Street.”

Sands will in conversation with Judge Dennis Davis and author Deborah Lipstadt at the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

The Story of Thuli Madonsela is now available

Advocate Thuli Madonsela has achieved in her seven years as Public Protector what few accomplish in a lifetime; her legacy and contribution cannot be over-stated.

In her final days in office she compiled the explosive State Capture report and, before that, the report on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence.

Praised and vilified in equal measures, Madonsela has frequently found herself at centre stage in the increasingly fractious South African political scene.

Yet, despite the intense media scrutiny, Madonsela remains something of an enigma. Who is this soft-spoken woman who stood up to state corruption? Where did she develop her views and resolve?

This book attempts to answer these questions, and others, by exploring many aspects of Madonsela’s life: her childhood years and family, her involvement in student politics, her contribution to the constitution, her life in law.
 
 

Madonsela once described her role as Public Protector as being akin to that of the Venda traditional spiritual female leader, the Makhadzi, who whispers truth to the ruler. When the sounds of the exchanges between the ruler and the Makhadzi grow loud, Madonsela said, that is when the whispering has failed.

No Longer Whispering to Power is about Thuli Madonsela’s tenure as Public Protector, during which the whisper grew into a cry. It is the story of the South African people’s attempt to hold power to account through the Office of the Public Protector.

More significantly, this important book stands as a record of the crucial work Madonsela has done, always acting without fear or favour.

Book details

“If I wanted to truly take care of my and André’s stories, I had to find a home for them elsewhere” – Karina Szczurek on writing The Fifth Mrs Brink

Karina M. Szczurek’s soul-baring memoirs of her life before, with and after her marriage to André P. Brink details a year of widowhood and a love to last a lifetime.

This is the book which shows decisively that Karina is a writer in her own right, still coming in to her full creative powers, and simultaneously silences any gossips who might still have disbelieved Karina and André Brink’s love for one another.

A homage to a marriage cut tragically short by Brink’s death, in 2015 at 79 years old, and a diary of creative dissolution and knitting back together, The Fifth Mrs Brink combines enough literary skinner, salacious detail and moving romantic description of dealing with the death of a loved one to satisfy fans of her and her husband, both old and new.

Read an extract from Karina’s poignant blog entry about her process of writing and publishing The Fifth Mrs Brink:

I finished the first draft of The Fifth Mrs Brink in July. In September, I asked for the rights to my book back. I had to leave; I had no way of staying. If I wanted to truly take care of my and André’s stories, I had to find a home for them elsewhere. I submitted my memoir to another publishing house. They made me an offer. My new publisher gave me a book she thought might interest me: Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich, an account of how people survive, and make sense of, tyranny and massacres – by weaving tapestries of stories to keep us safe at night.

The words of Second-Hand Time live in my bones.

In the evening of the 1st of November, someone asked me online which great writer I would like to have tea with. There is only one: The One. He liked his tea white with two sugars. And when he wanted to spoil me, he baked scones for us for breakfast.

I don’t know what I dreamt in the night of the 1st of November, but I know I slept through it. That in itself is a gift, a good omen. Uninterrupted sleep had become rare in the past few months, although I am mastering it again. In the morning of the 2nd, I had a scone at my favourite coffee shop. I drove to Woodstock in the little car that a friend lent me after my accident. I parked underneath the big red building, found my way upstairs to the 4th floor where kind people were waiting.

It is perhaps fitting that the publication of The Fifth Mrs Brink will be delayed by a few months next year to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first time I became a refugee when my family escaped the tyranny of Communist Poland and sought asylum in Austria.

Arriving on the doorstep of Jonathan Ball Publishers, I felt like a refugee who had sailed through treacherous waters in a derelict dinghy and found her way to the shores of a safe haven. With only my ancient fountain pen in the bag I carried, I was seeking asylum again.

Massacres and tyranny can be intimate, private, go nearly unnoticed.

I am not the only one who survives by telling stories.

My stories are safe now.

The Fifth Mrs Brink will be released on July 17 and is available for pre-order.