ELMARIE KRUGER: For nearly 20 years, Zelda La Grange dedicated her life to former president Nelson Mandela as his personal assistant. In her personal memoir Good Morning, Mr Mandela, La Grange recounts both her life before working for Mandela as well as the years she spent by his side. The book is well-organised in a chronological sense, beginning with La Grange’s childhood.
In the first section of the book La Grange speaks of her formative years, which were spent in a conservative Afrikaans household in the midst of the apartheid regime. Here she admits that at the tender age of 13 she had already been conditioned to think like a racist without ever questioning the reason for the apartheid government’s existence or its actions.
ELMARIE KRUGER: It is a well-known fact that the number of people who still take the time to sit down and read a book is, sadly, on the decline. Fortunately, there are several readers who regularly bury their noses in books and keep literature alive. And as many of these devoted bookworms know, there are many books which do not receive as much attention as they deserve, and yet have the potential to be enjoyed by many. Some of these underrated books include:
LISA KAHIMBAARA: John Green was already established in the world of young adult literature before his latest offering A Fault in Our Stars blasted onto the scene. Looking for Alaska was Green’s first foray into the world of teenage fiction and a triumph over a clichéd genre.
As a result of the overwhelming success of A Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska has been reprinted and redistributed throughout the country. The book tells the story of Miles “Pudge” Halter, a 16-year-old boy from Florida who moves to Culver Creek Preparatory High School in Alabama. Pudge attempts to run away from his predictable and uninspired life. Throughout the novel, Pudge goes in search of a “Great Perhaps” – the last words of French Renaissance writer François Rabelais. The quote permeates throughout the book and is Pudge’s reasoning behind moving to a boarding school in junior year.
At Culver Creek Preparatory School, Pudge is launched into the rebellious world of boarding school where he befriends his roommate Chip “Colonel” Martin, who introduces him to the charming, enigmatic, unpredictable and reckless Alaska Young. The story centres on Pudge’s affection towards Alaska and their growing relationship.
NOLUVUYO MJOLI: Two years ago, as a Structural Adjustment Programme for all those from impoverished schools was developed, I was put through a programme meant to boost 'struggling' students to a course called DOH1004F: Languages in Humanities. That's how I met Sonwabiso Ngcowa. He was my desk-mate, my partner in crime. We stuck together and eventually became good friends. Looking at his successes today, it’s hard to believe this is the same guy who got 57% in our first year.
His recently launched book, In Search of Happiness, is attracting media attention here in Cape Town and around the country. It has also been published and translated into German. The book explores the life of Nanase (Nana), a teenage girl who moves to the big city of Cape Town from the village of Mpozisa. Arriving in the Motherland, ekapa lodumo, Nana realises that life is really raw outside, that the city is not at all like the television depicts it.
The Paperight Team: Thank you very much for profiling the #textbookrevolution campaign in an opinion piece on the 3rd of April 2014. We’d like to take this opportunity to correct some inaccuracies in the piece.
Paperight is a small, Shuttleworth funded publishing startup with the ambitious goal of putting books within walking distance of every home – starting with educational material. Turning copyshops into print on demand bookshops allows customers to buy books quickly, cheaply and legally. This method of distribution cuts the costs of textbooks by up to 40%. And the business model works with publishers to broaden their reach while still ensuring they make the same profit margins, so everyone wins.
Jena Ascough: Fairy-tale and nursery rhymes are notoriously morbid, filled with abusive mothers (and stepmothers), cannibal witches who live in candy cottages, grandmother-eating wolves and, my personal nightmare, a creep named Wee Willy Winky who runs around knocking on children’s bedroom windows in the dead of night to tell them to go to sleep.
YANGA TYIKWE: A highly insightful and emotional biography, this book allows the reader into the life and past of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who captured the world’s heart in 2012 and has held it since.
The reader learns about Yousufzai’s upbringing, and about her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, a poet, education activist and owner of a chain of public schools offering education for both girls and boys. It was at her father’s school that Malala learnt to read and write, as well as other skills which her illiterate mother had no access to while growing up.
Claudia Harrison: You may have seen the advertisements on VULA (complete with a mainstream Ché Guevara image) about the “Textbook Revolution” but what is it really about and how can it help you?
Any UCT student will be able to tell you where second-hand textbooks are available from. Why don’t they just buy from the UCT store? Buying brand new textbooks is very expensive. This is even truer now that Protea Bookshop is managing the store and consequently increased all the prices.
Aisha Abdool Karim: Attention all Potterheads! Dust of your robes and grab your wands because it’s time to go back to Hogwarts. That’s right witches, wizards, muggles and everything in between. After 2 years with no new developments in the wizarding world, J.K. Rowling has announced a new film series inspired by Harry Potter.
Appalled and mystified in equal degrees at the valid line of enquiry, I asked him what he meant by the “great South African novel”? He fired off a series of answers whose sum total escapes the memory of a mind that was blind with excitement at the prospect of three days immersed in South Africa’s finest literary offerings.
The great novel, as Dickens, or perhaps Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, was to the British? There was sense of this in my acquaintance’s response. Nigerian-born literary scholar, Aghogho Akpome, in a panel discussion chaired by South African Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer about Chinua Achebe’s Man of the People, made a remark along these lines.