Issue 37 ~ October 11, 2020


  • Reader Newsletter
  • Richmond Filums
  • BookBedonnerd Programme
  • Short Story Ian Sutherland
  • Madibaland Programme

Dear BoekBedonnerd XIII Speakers and Guests

Things are moving a pace in this wonderful country of ours…baddies are being picked up and put in jail. People are openly confronting corruption and inept government …COSATU and other trade unions are once again endeavouring to stop our economy notwithstanding the fact that it is already just about completely stopped, if not in reverse. What we need is a country wide attitude that we will all work twice as hard, twice as honestly, and twice as efficiently to get the SA Inc. train moving again. If this could be happening while at the same time the tens of thousands of corrupt and criminal individuals who have ruined our country, are put on fast trial in perhaps new streamed line courts handling just corruption, we might just see ourselves clawing our way back onto the high road. We need a massive re-regulation of just about everything we do, IPPS need to be unshackled (imagine having to go through the hoops to be able to put power onto the grid, a lack of electricity being one of the major ball and chains slowing down growth).  These would certainly make serious inroads into our unemployment as well as fixing our rapidly failing infrastructure. These seemingly simple antidotes however are just a bridge too far for our present government, which is only bent on political survival as more and more politicians are being implicated in the web of corruption and malfeasance. .

Because some folks have asked …. “when are you actually holding BookBedonnerd XIII??”,  I attach following for your rabid (sic) attention:

Don’t Frack with Our Karoo™


Booktown Richmond’s 14th Anniversary


BookBedonnerd XIII  
October 29-31, 2020

A Richmond Community Development Foundation Project


We have an early draft of the programme which as you have all grown accustomed, will in all likelihood evolve as it is a work in progress.

We shall also be hosting a book binding course in the Japanese style to be held at MAP from 09:00am on Friday. Renowned bookbinder, George Wentzel,  from the National Library will be conducting the course. See here

For more information please contact George 084 588 9778.

Richmond Filums present:

  • How to Steal a Country
  • The King’s Speech
  • Dominee Tienie

Our wine Sponsors are:

  • Hawksmoor
  • Strandveld
  • Springfield

George Orwell
(A snippet from Baker, P. (2020). On the Road to Lake Turkana. Richmond: Richmond Press)

Chapter 19

The Omo River

The road westwards from Turmi was good, well graded gravel, little traffic, and the few potholes, made us all agree that thus far the roads in Ethiopia were really far better than we had anticipated for one of the poorest countries in the world and certainly one of the poorest on the African Continent. We retraced our path; made a note of the co-ordinates of the junction of the road we had missed so that when and if we do the north-south venture we’ll make no mistake. We encountered no traffic but all the same kept to the right. The 75 or so km to Omorate was a very pleasant drive although very hot, but no one said a word.

The road into the village of Omorate takes a long sweeping bend to the left and passes several graveyards of small caterpillars and bulldozers on the right; all picked bare of parts and anything else which could be scavenged. Further along there were more similar graveyards with more farm and drainage machinery, relics of some misbegotten North Korean agricultural project. A few pedestrians and military personnel did not take much notice of us so we cruised into the incredibly bleak and dusty back water of Omorate; the humid, stifling heat (“isn’t that breeze coming off the river refreshing?”) was oppressive in a cloying way. There were a few grubby hotels on the right entering the town, after which to the right there is the dirt road leading to the bank of the Omo River. Straight ahead was the Ethiopia Police Station which compound we entered to do the regular “registration” with the powers that be. Big Mistake! Immediately we were set upon by several chancers who were “Government Certified and Authorized Tour Agents” whose services we were told we were compelled to utilize. We were informed that the officer in charge was away on lunch but that we MUST stay in order to meet with him. When I said that we would go and look around we were told that in no uncertain terms that we must not move without an “agent”. After we had been pestered by these “agents” for about 15 minutes, GE in his own inimitable fashion, said something along the lines, “how in the name of hell do you think that we managed to get here from far away SA without the services of an “agent” ”? We locked the trucks and set off on foot down the red dusty road to the Omo River. It was so hot and muggy that had I been wearing a shirt it would have been soaked through with sweat. The river was much narrower than we had imagined, maybe only 75 meters wide, having seen the enormous, albeit seasonal, flood plains and delta. It was flowing very hard, was chocolate brown and was spotted with huge numbers of Nile Perch floating belly up. Some were three to four feet long. Of course we were the centre of attraction in Omorate so we had half the town as “agents”. There is no bridge, but you can get across in dugout canoes if you felt the overwhelming urge to see what the other side of the river had to offer. Some maps indicate a town, Kelem, on the west side of the river, but Kelem is apparently another name for Omorate which is most definitely on the east side of the river. Some maps indicate a road running up the west side of the Omo River which leads into the Omo National Park. If you were to explore this region I believe that you would have to enter Ethiopia on the west side of Lake Turkana and proceed northwards. This would be an adventure trip of note for you would be traveling right on the border with the Sudan. The region we travelled in the LORV was as wild as you can get so I reckon that the west side of the Omo might even be more untamed. (post script : there is now a bridge across the Omo River at Omorate)

We asked about the cause for the death of the fish and were told that it was the fault of farming in the north and the chemicals which were being used. This sounded reasonable but later when we saw some of the farming areas in the headwaters of the Omo River it seemed to be somewhat implausible, as the state of development of agriculture was only a few years post-invention of the wheel, and certainly not into the age of intensive commercial agriculture. Perhaps the fish were dying from anoxia as the water was really very muddy and the mud might well have clogged their gills.

We ambled back to the cop shop to be told that the officer was not coming back but that we MUST go to see the head honcho in the military barracks. We had several agents who informed us that they HAD to accompany us as it was the law. I asked what part of “bugger off” they did not understand and we headed in convoy further into town and off to the military hangers, built no doubt by some demented brigade of Stalinist North Korean military advisors. When the correct hanger (there were several; all mind numbingly oppressive grey, filthy and probably built to last a millennium) was pointed out GE and I went in with our documentation at the ready. The “office” was at the far end of the darkened, stinking hot and dank hanger. We took the long walk to the very end of the dark hanger where a few men were seated around a table. We passed a secretary typing with one finger on a deep freeze sized typewriter. I fully expected to see Josef Stalin there to greet us. Only one air vent was to be found in the end wall but it was non-functional. There were a few sky lights but they were papered over, probably to prevent enemy night bombers from seeing their high value targets. The paranoia instilled in these poor people by their former political masters was oppressive and somewhat depressing. This was truly the arse hole of the universe.

The men looked up as we approached and offered very tepid, bras cassé hand shakes. I introduced myself, the mission we were on and proffered the documents for his perusal. There was much discussion and banter amongst the officials and of course we did not understand a single word, but I did not detect a chigger yellem. The head honcho, in a drab and sweaty olive green military fatigue, had incredibly brown teeth and an ill trimmed moustache. He did not seem to comprehend the significance of the mission the South Africans were undertaking in their country (!), as he said with a dismissal: “Yes you may leave”. “Thank you very much”, I said and bowed slightly as it seemed to be a more appropriate gesture than another limp handshake. I had intended to ask some route instructions for the remainder of our journey up the Omo but decided that that would open the door for more questions and probably complications we did not need.

The others, waiting in the full sun, my thermometer in the Land Rover registered 50˚C but as I climbed back aboard I sweated in silence. GE and my grins indicated that all had gone well. Beer was vitally important at this juncture so we headed off to the hotel in town to see what was on offer. There were a couple of hotels in town, the best of the sad bunch being the green and blue number right opposite the police station. I would not recommend an overnight in Omorate unless you are really desperate. It would be far better to back track out of town and bush camp anywhere away from the village in the open bush land. There was a good crowd of patrons and what looked to be the local hooker’s sorority, not that I inquired about prices of the rooms or the flesh on offer, just an observation. We took up some seats in the shade and ordered a selection of beer all of which were chilled and very tasty brews. Lots of hops and fairly malty in flavour. Fortunately one of the brands came in large dumpy type bottles and not the 300ml. We struck up conversation with some of the local lads about the road which led from the main Turmi road northwards to Murelle, sometimes spelled Murle. Most people, including the so called agents had not heard of Murelle (pron: Mur ‘eli) which was somewhat mysterious to us.  As it turned out Murelle is not a village name or place name other than for a lodge situated some 50 to 60 km north of Omorate. We located a young chap who was certain that he knew the road we were looking for, so we finished our beers and packed ourselves into the trucks but not before one last attempt by an agent to extract money (only $100) for his services. I repeated the same “What part of f*** off don’t you understand?” I was a little curt with him but he was getting up our goat by this time.

As good as it gets in Omorate.

We set off very slowly down the dusty road hoping that we would get to Murelle that night but not having a clue about the condition of the road. GE with the guide in tow sped off into the horizon to find the turn off we would certainly have missed. (The GPS co-ords are 04 46 41S and 36 09 102E in case you are in the area and do not wish to get lost). Graham returned his guide to Omorate and we set out on the winding rough track towards Murelle. The terrain was very flat and grass land but with many areas of scrub bush. The odd buck was seen and some bird life but not a human being. There were a few side roads which led to villages on the river and some of which we explored in the name of seeing the sights and people. The first was the remote village of Kolcho, perched high on a cliff overlooking the Omo River as it arced around a bend. I was the lead vehicle and as I entered the village I was mobbed by men, women and throngs of kids all grabbing at what ever appeared to be loose. Many of the men had their trusty AK’s so I was reluctant to be too vociferous in telling them all to bugger off. Perhaps this was the Ethiopia which we had heard about but had not as yet seen. We formed a laager and stood on the cliff overlooking the river over 100 meters below, the flat bush unfurling off into eternity. These people most certainly had not seen many faranjis, but boy were they hip to the jive of pissing them off to a point of near insanity. The cacophony of the “you you you you’s” and “Mister Mister Mister’s” was antagonizing in the extreme. It seemed as though the entire population was in a delirious hysteria which looked to be so orchestrated as to have been drug induced! The village did not have any permanent structures other than the typically very disorganized, shambolic, doomed thatch huts. We passed out handfuls of candies and could have gone though a dumpster full there were so many outstretched hands. We should have stayed to enjoy the view for an hour but the people, grabbing and literally pulling at anything on the vehicles which looked like it could be ripped off, forced us into retreat. As we drove back to the main road with dozens of kids in hot pursuit, many with babies around their necks, some attacked Barry’s Land Rover and tried to scale the canvas cover on his rear door mounted kitchen. The screaming kids now all shouting “carmella carmella carmella” like their very lives depended upon yet another candy in their already stuffed mouths. The experience was out of some sort of horror show but we wouldn’t have missed it for anything. This was the Ethiopia we had heard so much about.

The road down the escarpment was bad and very eroded and as there had not been rains, it was extremely dusty. Those with air-con had it on full blast in the 45˚C heat. Mine was still on the kibosh but in the intense fine powder dust I still kept all windows closed. Barry, a Bok for the elements didn’t and was covered in fine brown talcum powder. Hanna B’s hair changed colour without a trip to the hairdresser (which made BB happy as he saved money!). We lost the track in the dust much to the humour of the few herd boys tending goats in the billows of dust we raised. They tried to indicate the track we should take but as they had no comprehension that a truck could not move directly through dense bush, and could not traverse the very deep and steep ravines which the goats managed so easily, we all headed off in different directions until I happened upon the continuation of the “road” we had been on. The track skirted a deep ravine which concentrated the mind somewhat. I reckon that it was a year or more since anyone had taken this road. We pulled off some while later into a clearing well away from the road for a wee, snack and liquid refreshment. The stillness and sense of incredible remoteness was awesome and something we all in turn remarked upon; we overlooked the ambient temperature in the high 40’s.

Ant towers on the road to Murelle.

Finally we came to some signage indicating the Murelle Hunting Lodge. It appeared that they had a fairly extensive hunting concession along the eastern shore of the river. The track down to the camp was particularly steep and rough, sort of a premonition of the place were going to visit. Steep prices and pretty rough. There was a row of cottages along the river bank, some of which had great views of the Omo River flowing by. We checked in and inspected the chalets, somewhat basic and certainly not worth the exorbitant charges. The campsite ($8 pppn) was in the back away from the river in a large clearing. It was terribly dusty, without amenities, and an extremely basic set up with all we really required under the circumstances; a water point and a few shade trees. There were showers and flush toilets with cracked plastic seats, again very dangerous for any pendulous hanging tissue! There was no lighting in the ablutions other than a fluorescent tube outside behind the door which was perhaps for the better as it prevented us from seeing what we were showering in! We were shown the water filtration system which consisted of a bucket with some archaic sedimentation gizmo which was bro’ ken and did not work. Fortunately however we had plenty of good water taken from the Evangelico Campsite borehole, so we were just fine. The local tribe was the Karo, handsome and heavily bedecked in beadwork and ornamentation. Very pretty men but for the fact that they insisted upon standing exactly where we were about to set up camp. We were the circus and not to be missed for anything. They would move to one side just as one of us was about to set up a table or chair. They could not have gotten into way more if they had tried. Finally I asked the supposed head honcho to please vamoose as the women were going to take off their clothes. The retreated behind the gate to watch the strip show which never happened, so they eventually filtered off to their places in dribs and drabs.  

I took my first shower in the dim light of the early evening and recognized the water as being H20 because it was wet; it was also chocolate brown and smelled like a mud puddle. Was it worthwhile using soap I wondered? All the same it was refreshing in the lingering heat of the day and I made the most of it. I threw my dusty clothes on the floor and stomped them in order to exchange some of the dust of the trail with clean mud from the Omo River. At least I would feel that my clothes were a different colour when I got dressed the next morning. Cleanliness is a relative matter and if you don’t have any relatives (like a daughter) to do your laundry, then a rinse is not a bad option! My towel was fortunately a deep purple so it did not really show the colour of the water. I am learning to enjoy desert travel and hope one day to traverse the Sahara Desert east to west I shall have to get used to a lot more dodgy water than that of the Omo River before that trip happens.  

We had a very enjoyable evening around the fire and made a further dent in the seemingly endless supply of Graham’s red plonk which he gleefully passed around to those of us who still had enough eyesight left to see the box. I made a big pot of chili which in some small way reduced the aftertaste of the wine whose origins shall still remain unrecorded and unmentioned, fearing a libel suit perhaps. Despite the mob hysteria experienced earlier we agreed that we were so far having a thoroughly enjoyable time in Ethiopia, it was all and more of the many expectations we all had. We most definitely were looking forward to the next days’ adventure as we stretched into the more northern reaches of the Omo River.

The following morning we packed up at a gentleman’s pace and took a walk around the camp. There were a few German or Dutch visitors staying in the chalets and hanging around the open dining area. I knew they were one of the two as they wore sandals with socks. I looked into the kitchen and spoke to the chef who was preparing fish fillets for lunch. Things were very basic but the fellow, in chef’s cap and white jacket looked the part and I reckoned that he could rustle up a pretty mean meal. Pete was ever looking into the trees at the birds and recorded sightings of Silvery Cheeked Hornbills as well as some Colobus monkeys. If we had more time the potential for birding was there to make any twitcher twitch with excitement.

The track out of the camp headed northwards and was equally dusty to that of the previous day. The thermometer again rose to over 40˚ in no time. Game was almost non-existent and the only really exciting spot was some elephant spoor. GE was in the lead and called on the radio that as he came around a bend in the road he came upon a band of about 14 rag tag men all with AK 47’s who all scattered into the dense bush as he approached. They were certainly not game rangers but poachers, hence the paucity of game in the area. Sadly, we were to learn that this was the case in all of Ethiopia’s parks; poaching had decimated the game and most were bare of anything of real interest to the tourist.  We passed the villages of Kolch and Dus, impoverished to the extreme and not all that pleasant to visit. Hordes of mainly kids and youths ran after the trucks screaming at a shrill pitch the usual faranji, faranji, faranji, Mister Mister, Mister and you, you, you’s. I had taken over as lead vehicle so the vehicles in convoy behind me, alerted to the presence of the faranjis, were really inundated by crowds and in fact BB, who was taking up the rear, was stopped at a makeshift road block, of branches strewn across the road, and told that he must “give money”. He was threatened by the mob (and I use the term pointedly as it is exactly what it was) but drove right on and over the road block they had hastily erected. A little further on women with babies at the breast stood in the middle of the track to force us to stop, sort of an Ethiopian brand of chicken. We psyched them out and accelerated to show that we were bad asses and would not hesitate to run them over and their miserable scrawny children! We were not going to entertain the thought of stopping at their request. I think that if there had been a real altercation that the sheer presence of several large men looking particularly fearsome would diffuse any “situation” back into the usual hysterics and begging. Anyone taking the same track should be in a group, but if alone, be prepared for possible hassles. I do not believe for a minute that anyone would be hurt or attacked, but I do believe that you might be robbed or have possessions removed by the hundreds of hands poking in through your open windows. Window tinting is a very sound thing to have done before heading off into the wilds as it reduces the ability of these sorts of mobs of people to see what you actually have inside the vehicle.

On the road to Mago National Park

As we moved away from the river the countryside became more rolling and very beautiful. The bird life was ever present now and could have easily been watched for countless hours. We drove up a small rise and I pulled off to a vantage point overlooking a vleis with a large water filled pond, perhaps a half km in diameter. The edges were covered with blue flowered lily pads, reeds and aquatic birds. The abundance of bird life was spectacular. Dead trees were filled with pelicans and storks in their thousands. Were we not in some sort of route march to get to the Mago National Park we would certainly have opted to overnight here. We arrived at the southern access road to the park and entered a riverine forest which to my mind could have been in the Zululand north coast. After crossing a river we drove through the so called campsites to the left and right of the dusty rock filled track. We looked into the camps and they were all empty of people but full of garbage and more to the point, alive with tsetse flies. They were swarms of them so we quickly decided that we would carry on to Jinka, the only real centre in the region. Other than being located in plenty of shade, the campsites in Mago had no redeeming features, so we climbed the steep road to the park HQ which was peopled by a few men and women all huddled in the shade. Most of the men carried the ever-present AK no doubt anticipating an attack from some enemy force. It was over 40⁰ and the official reception made it even hotter. The entropy of the entire set up, from the indolent rangers (what did they range we wondered?) dressed in drab greens, to the slovenly women in dirty floral dresses was enough to drive anyone away.  Not many smiles and the body language was not good. The whole show was a depressing glimpse of backwater Ethiopia at its most bedraggled and dismal. I can usually exude some sort of optimistic thought about most miserable situations but this motley crew had never seen better days.  We were asked by one of the officers to come into the office in order to pay the transit fee of the equivalent of several hundred Rands. Very steep but what can you do? We tried to pay in local currency but were short of bills so had to pay in USD for which we were refused a receipt indicating that our payment was in Dollars; clearly the intent of the head honcho was to do his own thing and to make the profit on the exchange of the dollars into Birr. When I questioned this, insisting upon the correctly completed papers, he said that if I could not pay in Birr the option was to go back and drive around the park. Clearly not an option. Very unpleasant, and the only corrupt official we encountered during our entire stay in Ethiopia. I hope he gets the clap and breaks a leg.

The crowd of park officials and their hangers on became slightly more animated as we climbed back into the vehicles, some coming over to banter with the foreigners whom they had let slip through their midst without overnighting. They didn’t seem in the least worried that perhaps they were letting their park and country down by not doing the minimum required to make Mago conducive to spending a day or two.

Apparently the park is almost totally devoid of game, its one saving grace being the amazing bird life. This was skipped over however as even the two serious birders in the group, Beth and Pete concurred, that the place was tooooo terrible to contemplate camping out under a wonderful canopy of fig trees; but in a squalid dust bowl. Birding is one of the biggest attractions in Ethiopia, the only country having a number of species rivalling SA. Philip Briggs, the author of the highly recommended Bradt’s Guide to Ethiopia, mentions that a birder should be able to spot some 400 different species during the course of a normal holiday, presumably this is one in which you get to do something other than peer through the lenses of your Bosch & Lomb field glasses. We never really kept track of all the different avian species we saw and we certainly were not in the country only to see the birds, but even a rank amateur such as yours truly, was thrilled to have so many different and beautiful birds pointed out to me during the course of our daily travels. A very serious and knowledgeable birder such as Pete Barnes, one of those chaps who never hesitated to tell you everything about every bird spotted, was a huge bonus and greatly appreciated by all.

So without further adieu, we headed back onto the road towards Jinka. We made our way along the park roads which had been graded recently and hence were in pretty good condition. Again very dusty and stiflingly hot, needless to say. We passed the turn off to the villages of the famous Mursi tribe, known for the lip plates which the women wear in their lower lips. The signpost indicated the turn off to the left and that the village was some 50 km along an un-graded track. Tempus fugit and despite the disappointment at not having the time we decided to plod onto Jinka. As we climbed the air became cooler and less humid and we could all comment about how lovely the weather was once again. The road became steeper and steeper and in places would have been completely impassible were it to rain only a slight amount. We met a few Cruisers with what appeared to be Dutch and German tourists, fully kitted out in the mandatory baggy pants with side pockets and the mutli-pocketed photographer’s type vests. Oshkosh bandanas around the neck completed the ensemble. I knew what they were wearing as the track was so narrow that one vehicle had to pull over onto the verge or even into the ditch and come to a full stop in order to allow the hell bent for leather tour vehicle full of VIPs to pass. They were in far too much of a rush to even return our greetings.

As we came to a particularly steep and rough section of the road, and I am being polite here, my old Landy started to splutter and lose power, ominously like it had the previous year on a trip to Zambia. The once mighty roar of the diesel engine became the meow of a Singer sewing machine. Try as I did to coax some power out of it even in low ratio in first gear she barely moved. Just as I was in the throws of thinking about driving the bloody thing over the cliff, which was a long drop off to the right, a Cruiser came hurtling down at breakneck speed and just managed to stop in front of me. The driver made the mistake of honking his horn at me; I disembarked from the bloody sick Land Rover and in my best French told him where to get off. His paying customers, all Italians and dressed de rigueur, leaped out of the truck and directed the driver around my Landy and without so much as a “Howzit Bro?” they were off down the escarpment.



Booktown Richmond & BookBedonnerd
(in partnership with the University of the Western Cape)




Madibaland World Literary Festival 2020
November 20 – 30th


Part 2



On November 16, 1860, the first Indentured Indians arrived on the shores of Durban. Many perished, many were thrown overboard. For decades many were enslaved. Yet they rose like the proverbial Phoenix in SA. This year marks 160 years (if not more by some accounts) of Indian settlement in SA. And this festival will be used to commemorate the men and women who toiled so that people like myself could enjoy the sweet taste of freedom

India has always enjoyed a special place in the hearts of South Africans. Our cricketers re-entered the international stage against India. Nelson Mandela’s government had close ties with India. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi looms large in the political landscape of SA. And so, it is such a pleasure to be able to host a group of Indian writers from the motherland.

Highly respected writer SHANTANU GUHA RAY opens the innings with his magnificent biography of one of the greatest cricket captains India has ever produced – Mahindra Singh Dhoni, the much feared ‘master blaster’ of Indian cricket. Who will ever forget that brilliant knock in the World Cup Cricket Final when Dhoni rescued India from the jaws of defeat? In a cricket mad country like India, it is only fitting to give Shantanu a second session. This time to speak on match-fixing in cricket. Given South African cricket’s Hansiegate saga, this is a talk not to be missed.

What Mandela is to SA, Gandhi is to India. And therefore, it should come as no surprise that books on Gandhi will dominate the literary landscape of India. I am pleased to announce a most unique book for our festival: Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience by SUMATHI RAMASWAMY. And then we have Going Native: Gandhi’s Relationship with Western Women by Thomas Weber. To round off our offering on art, we have Masterpieces of Indian Art by ALKA PANDE.

India is undoubtedly one of the great culture capitals of the world and is also home to some of the world’s finest cuisine. As a connoisseur of curry, I should know.  To this end I can’t wait to hear the interview with SALMA HUSAIN, author of the beautiful book Mughal Feast. And who has not heard the term BOLLYWOOD? Undoubtedly one of the more popular books at the Madibaland World Literary Festival is going to be 100 Iconic Bollywood Costumes by SUJATA ASSOMULL.

Like SA, India also has a long history of inequality. Most people who know a bit about India will have heard about the caste-system. And of the term, the ‘untouchables’. It is with great pride therefore that we welcome one of the youngest authors from India, SHILPA RAJ, to the festival. Shilpa will speak on her book The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter, a memoir about her childhood growing up in a South Indian village, and the prejudice she faces as a girl child, and as a ‘Dalit’.

On the South African front, the programme is packed with Indians. Darryl Earl David, founder of the Madibaland World Literary Festival, will speak on Churches of SA. One of South Africa’s most under-rated authors, Ashwin Desai, will speak on his ground breaking book about Black Rugby in the Eastern Cape. The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, represented by Shan Balton, will speak on the life of Ahmed Kathrada and the work of the foundation in his honour. Goolam Vahed will speak about the one man Nelson Mandela would always visit in Pietermaritzburg – Chota Motala. There are so many more. Rajie Tudge; Deena Padayachee; Adiela Akoo; Betty Govinden; Shantini Naidoo, with her just released book on Women in Solitary Confinement during Apartheid; Sylvia Garib, Rajendra Chetty, Juwaireyah Khan, biographies on the most famous Indian golfer in SA history, Papwa Sewgolum.

Remind me to insert, right at the top of my glossary, the term CHAROUS for our international audiences. Because, to quote Trevor Noah out of context, we’re not Indians, we’re charous!!!!

Part 1 (extract from previous newsletter if you missed it)

I had said this would be the largest online book festival in the world. I did not know it would turn out to be the greatest book festival in the history of SA book festivals. In the last few days some big names have thrown their weight behind the festival. First up was Sophy Roberts, author of The Lost Pianos of Siberia. Below a bit of background to the book.

From acclaimed journalist Sophy Roberts, a journey through one of the harshest landscapes on earth—where music reveals the deep humanity and the rich history of Siberia

Siberia’s story is traditionally one of exiles, penal colonies and unmarked graves. Yet there is another tale to tell.

Dotted throughout this remote land are pianos—grand instruments created during the boom years of the nineteenth century, as well as humble, Soviet-made uprights that found their way into equally modest homes. They tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the westernizing influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood.

How these pianos travelled into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is testament to noble acts of fortitude by governors, adventurers and exiles. Siberian pianos have accomplished extraordinary feats, from the instrument that Maria Volkonsky, wife of an exiled Decembrist revolutionary, used to spread music east of the Urals, to those that brought reprieve to the Soviet Gulag. That these instruments might still exist in such a hostile landscape is remarkable. That they are still capable of making music in far-flung villages is nothing less than a miracle.

The Lost Pianos of Siberia is largely a story of music in this fascinating place, fol-lowing Roberts on a three-year adventure as she tracks a number of different instruments to find one whose history is definitively Siberian. Her journey reveals a desolate land inhabited by wild tigers and deeply shaped by its dark history, yet one that is also profoundly beautiful—and peppered with pianos.

Ever heard of the book SHUGGIE BAIN? This Booker Prize shortlisted novel by Douglas Stuart is undoubtedly one of the books of 2020, even though it was beaten to the line by the first Dutch novel to win the Booker Prize. It is large enough to act as a doorstop for the windiest of days in Simon’s Town, but it is a book that will blow you away. The relationship between Agnes and her son Shuggie will go down in history as one of the most heart breaking, yet unforgettable mother-son relationships in English fiction.

And then there is the award winning book by Charalamos Dousemetzis: Dimitri Tsafendas: The Man Who Killed Apartheid. This is a book that is going to turn on its head every lie we were fed about Dimitri Tsafendas, the man who stabbed Verwoerd. It is a great honour for the Madibaland World Literary Festival to have a book of this calibre on our programme.

On the local front the book – THE LIE OF 1652 by Patric Tariq Mellet sold out in shops across the country within ten days and bookshops have all been scurrying to get more orders met to meet the demands. The Exclusive Books webinar book-launch sign up exceeded 500 but within three hours the podcast had 116 000 viewings. The media attention this book received has been phenomenal. This is a book that is going to shake the foundational narratives of SA good and proper. One not to be missed.

Another author who has just joined the Madibaland World Literary Festival is Greg Arde, author of the highly praised book War Party. A brief synopsis:

Cadre deployment means that the ANC and the state are inextricably intertwined. In KwaZulu-Natal, which has long been the powder keg of South Africa, it’s a monster that means people of competing patronage networks are killing each other for a place at the trough –  for jobs and tenders –  and the taxi industry provides the hitmen, guns and the transport. Travel with journalist Greg Ardé across KwaZulu-Natal into the dark heart of South Africa and the ANC’s ‘culture of blood’.

But the first international author who committed to Madibaland is someone South African book lovers are going to warm to. I met John Connell, author of the international bestseller The Cow Book in Scotland’s Book Town Wigtown in 2018. And even before it gained international acclaim, I knew this man had greatness in him and invited him to SA.

This Irish memoir became a best-seller last year in its native country under the original title The Cow Book: A Story of Life on a Family Farm. In the United States, the book’s title changed to The Farmer’s Son: Calving Season on a Family Farm.  Connell didn’t intend to write a memoir about his farming, and he famously remarked to his agent: Who would be interested in a book about a beef farm in Longford?

Apparently close to 4 million readers! That is who!!! Who knows, we might yet entice the farmers in Richmond and the greater Karoo to start taking an interest in matters literary!!!

Please read below for most up-to-date list of speakers including detailed biographies:

Our line up: (click on the live profiles to find out more)

1. Shilpa Raj: The Elephant Chasers Daughter
2. John Connell: The Cow Book.
3. John Connell: The Running Book
4. Greg Marinovich: Shots from the Edge: A Photojournalist’s Encounters with Conflict and Resilience.
5. Jacob Dlamini: Askari : A Story of Collaboration and Betrayal in the Anti-apartheid Struggle.
6. Jacob Dlamini: The Terrorist Album: Apartheid’s Insurgents, Collaborators and the Security Police
7. Gabeba Baderoon: The History of Intimacy.
8. Christopher Merrill: Poetry.
9. Christopher Merrill: Walt Whitman
10. Michael Greene:  For the Sake of Silence.
11. Christopher Nicholson: Winter.
12. Christopher Nicholson: Among the Summer Snows
13. Angie Butler: Explorers of the Heroic Age
14. Emma Neale: Billy Bird
15. Emma Neale: Poetry.
16. Karen Karbo: The Stuff of Life
17. Karen Karbo: The Gospel According to Coco-Chanel.
18. Kiki Petrosino: Witch Wife
19. Kiki Petrosino: White Blood - A Lyric of Virginia.
20. Sumayya Lee: The Story of Maya
21. Chris Abani: The Secret History of Las Vegas
22. Etienne van Heerden: Die biblioteek aan die einde van die wereld (The library at the end of the world.
23. Fred Khumalo: The Longest March.
24. Hugh Bland: Trappist Mission Stations of KZN
25. Hedi Lampert: The Trouble with my Aunt
26. Ashwin Desai: Indian Indenture
27. Elana Bregin: The Antbear Cabin
28. Dominique Malherbe: Sarah Goldblatt Biography.
29. Chris Nicholson (SA judge): t.b.c
30. Erica Platter: Durban Curry.
31. Vernon Head: A Tree for the Birds
32. Athol Williams: Poetry.
33. Fikile Hlatshwayo: Blacks do Caravan.
34. Carol Campbell: The Tortoise Cried It’s Only Tear
35. Zoe Wicomb: Still Life
36. Joanne Hichens: Death And The After Parties
37. Rumena Buzarovska: My Husband.
38. Amanda Michalopoulou: God’s Wife.
39. Nikola Madzirov: Remnants of Another Age
40. Dana Snyman: On the Back Roads. / Soekmekaar
41. Antony Osler: Mzansi Zen.
42. Mike Lowry/ Steve Wimberley/ Phillip Kretzman: Inspirational Animal Stories
43. Tracy Going: Brutal Legacy
44. Vladimir Martinovski: Poetry.
45. Riana Scheepers: A Writers House t.b.c
46. Diana Ferrus: Poetry
47. Jan van Tonder: Die verevrou.
48. Ronnie Kasrils: Catching Tadpoles
49. Raashida Khan: Fragrance of Forgiveness
50. Ronnie Govender in conversation with Rajendra Chetty (t.b.c)
51. ZP Dala / Sylvia Garib: Durban in words t.b.c
52. Philippe Menache & Darryl David: Churches of South Africa – A Platteland Pilgrimage
53. Hattie Edmonds: The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick.
54. Sophy Roberts: The Lost Piano's of Siberia
55. Shanthini Naidoo: Women in Solitary t.b.c
56. Jerzy Koch: Pleks van plaas
57. Elleke Boehmer: Southern Imaginings – To the Volcano
58. Nico Moolman: Russia in the Anglo-Boer War
59. Mongane Wally Serote: Sikhahlel’ u-OR – praise poem to Oliver Tambo (t.b.c)
60. Mandla Langa: Dare not linger (t.b.c)
62. Ahmed Kathrada Foundation:
63. Paul Weinberg: A 30 Year Journey with the San
64. Lizzie Collingham: Hungry Empire : How Britain’s Quest for Food Shaped The Modern World
65. Lizzie Collingham: Curry : A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors.
66. Kirsten Miller: All that is left.
67. Andrew Miller: Dub Steps.
68. Don Pinnock: The Last Elephants.
69. Patricia Schonstein: The Inn at Helsvlakte
70. Petro Hansen: Vervleg
71. Andries Bezuidenhout: Onplaats
72. Barry Cohen: Let me play: the story of the greatest Indian golfer SA has never seen
73. Marguerite Poland: Sins of Omission
74. Natalie Conyer: Sisters in Crime – Three Sydney Crime Writers
75. AM Kamaal: Nigeria/ Nome Patrick Emeka - Nigerian poets t.b.c
76. Carmen Miller: Canada's Little War: Fighting for the British Empire in the Anglo-Boer War
77. James Daschuk: Clearing the Plains
78. Pieter Louis Myburgh: Gangster State t.b.c
79. Chris Marais & Julienne du Toit: Karoo Roads
80. Bronwyn Davids: Lansdowne Dearest : My Family’s Story of Forced Removals
81. Zirk van den Bergh: Ek wens, ek wens
82. Erns Grundlingh – Sushi en Shosholoza: Rugbyreise en pelgrimstogte in Japan
83. Antjie Krog: Poetry
84. Petrovna Metelerkamp: Ingrid Jonker: A Biography.
85. Lynne Joffe: The Gospel According to Wanda B. Lazarus.
86. Mike Nicol: Espionage Fiction.
87. Obie Oberholzer: Photography
88. Christy Lefteri: The Beekeeper of Aleppo
89. Zanele Dlamini: Wounds of Ignorance
90. Landa Mabenge: Becoming Him : A Trans-Memoir.
91. Audrey Schulman: The Theory of Bastards.
92. Cherry Lewis: The Enlightened Mr Parkinson.
93. Chris Mann: Troubadour
94. Irene Fisher: I am still here
95. Clinton du Plessis: Poetry
96. Cameron McNeish: Scotland’s 100 Best Walks / There’s Always the Hills
97. John T. Edge: The Potlikka Papers : A Food History of the Modern South
98. Kobus Moolman: The Mountain Behind the House
99. Gerbrand Bakker: Boven is het stil (The Twin) & De omweg (The Detour)
100. Sjon: The Whispering Muse from Iceland. Author/ Academy Award nominated singer
101. Debbie Rodriguez: The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul.
102. Amy McDaid NZ: Fake Baby.
103. John Matisonn: Cyril’s Choices.
104. Sharon Gosling: The House of Hidden Wonders – in conversation with Hugh David
105. Chigozie Obioma: The Fishermen / An Orchestra of Minorities
106. Gaireyah Fredericks, Jadrick Pedro and Duane Miller: Kaaps oppie Richterskaal
107. Johan Jack Smith: Zola
108. Colleen Higgs: My Mother, My Madness
109. Ria Winters: Reise met Schoeman
110. Thomas Mollett: The Anni Dewani Murder
111. Christine Barkhuizen le Roux: My naam is Prins
112. Anel Heydenrych: Die Afloerder
113. Carla van der Spuy: Plaasmoorde t.b.c
114. In Memoriam: session dedicated to all writers who lay down their pen in 2020
115. Anton Harber: So, for the record
116. Andisiwe Kawa: Kwanele: Enough is Enough
117. John Costello: The Wild Coast
118. Raks Seakhoa:  Halala Madiba - Poetry
119. Daniel Hugo: Die verdriet van Belgie / Oorlog en terpentyn
120. Lize Albertyn du Toit: Die Kinders van Spookwerwe
121. Paul Weinberg: On Common Ground: An exhibition of Peter Magubane and David Goldblatt
122. Bridget Krone: Small Mercies
123. Marita van der Vyver: Borderline / Grensgeval
124. Hector Kunene: Poetry
125. Sindiswa Seakhoa: Songs for Madiba – Music
126. Irna van Zyl: Bloedsteen/Blood Stone
127. Barbara Boswell: Black South African Women's Novels as Feminism
128. Deena Padayachee: Poetry/short story
129. Rajie Tudge: Teaching the Canna Bush
130. Lebohang Masango: Mpumi's Magic Beads
131. Shantanu Guha Ray: Mahendra Singh Dhoni biography / Match fixing in cricket
132: Raphael Malangin: Pondicherry
133. Sumathi Ramaswamy: Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of DisobedienceAlka 21-23 November
134. Cosmo Brockway & Harriet Compston& Karam Puri: Glorious Hotels of India
135. Salma Husain: Mughal Feast
136. Alka Pande: Masterpieces of Indian Art
137. Thomas Weber: Going Native: Gandhi's Relationship with Western Women
138. Jackie Kalley: KwaZulu Natal. The Garden Province
139. Elana Bregin: The Audacity of Hope
140. Jackie Kalley: Mlamulankunzi: The Story of Dick King
141. Charalamos Dousemetzis: Dimitri Tsafendas: The Man Who Killed Apartheid



(still to be announced)

For further queries, please contact Darryl Earl David on or on Whatsapp 0664558822. Website

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Forever BookBedonnerd

Peter Baker & Darryl David (co-directors)
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