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A quest is never what you expect it to be.
Elizabeth Madeline Martin spends her days in a retirement home in Cape Town, watching the pigeons and squirrels on the branch of a tree outside her window. Bedridden, her memory fading, she can recall her early childhood spent in a small wood-and-iron house in Blackridge on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg. Though she remembers the place in detail – dogs, a mango tree, a stream – she has no idea of where exactly it is. ‘My memory is full of blotches,’ she tells her daughter Julia, ‘like ink left about and knocked over.’
Julia resolves to find the Blackridge house: with her mother lonely and confused, would this, perhaps, bring some measure of closure? A journey begins that traverses family history, forgotten documents, old photographs, and the maps that stake out a country’s troubled past – maps whose boundaries nature remains determined to resist. Kind strangers, willing to assist in the search, lead to unexpected discoveries of ancestors and wars and lullabies. Folded into this quest are the tender conversations between a daughter and a mother who does not have long to live.
Taken as one, The Blackridge House is a meditation on belonging, of the stories we tell of home and family, of the precarious footprint of life.
Die oorlewingstog van 'n dapper vrou.
“ ŉ Kale vlakte waar my regterbors eens was. Ek maak my oë toe en laat my brein toe om te proe aan hierdie monumentale ding. Kanker schmanker, besluit ek. Ek is nog net soveel vrou soos voor die operasie. My vroulikheid het toe al die tyd nie in my bors gesit nie. Dit sit in my kop, in my hart, in daardie onmeetbare, onaantasbare iets wat die gees genoem word.”
In hierdie aangrypende boek deel die bekende spanningsverhaalskrywer Madelein Rust die intiemste besonderhede van haar reis met borskanker. Dit is ŉ brutaal eerlike vertelling wat haar belewenis van die siekte met patos en humor uitbeeld. Lesers verkry ŉ eiesoortige blik op die fisieke ervarings van borskankerstryders sowel as die ewig veranderende binnewêreld van dié wat teen die siekte veg.
Kanker schmanker! rus borskankerstryders toe met inligting wat nie altyd geredelik beskikbaar is nie en help hul geliefdes om die reis met kanker beter te verstaan. Dit is ŉ boek van hoop en triomf wat die leser hardop laat huil en laat lag. Dis 'n verhaal vir elkeen van ons wat ŉ stryd van enige aard stry.
When working on the UNESCO Slave Route project in the early 2000s, Botlhale Tema discovered the extraordinary fact that her highly educated family from the farm Welgeval in the Pilanesberg had originated with two young men who had been child slaves in the midnineteenth century. She pieced together the fragments of information from relatives and members of the community, and scoured the archives to produce this book.
Land Of My Ancestors, previously published as The People Of Welgeval, tells the story of the two young men and their descendants, as they build a life for themselves on Welgeval. As they raise their families and take in people who have been dispossessed, we follow the births, deaths, adventures and joys of the farm’s inhabitants in their struggle to build a new community.
Set against the backdrop of slavery, colonialism, the Anglo-Boer War and the rise of apartheid, this is a fascinating and insightful retelling of history. It is an inspiring story about friendship and family, landownership and learning, and about how people transform themselves from victims to victors.
A new prologue and epilogue give more historical context to the narrative and tell the story of the land claim involving the farm, which happened after the book’s original publication.
This extraordinary account of imprisonment shows with exacting clarity the awful injustices of the system. Sylvia Neame, activist against apartheid and racism and by profession a historian (see the three-volume, The Congress Movement, HSRC Press, 2015), has not written a classical historical memoir. Rather, this book is a highly personal account, written in an original style. At the same time, it casts a particularly sharp light on the unfolding of a policedominated apartheid system in the 1960s.
The author incorporates some of her experiences in prisons and police stations around the country, including the fabricated trial she faced while imprisoned in Port Elizabeth, one of the many such trials which took place in the Eastern Cape. But her focus is on Barberton Prison. Here she was imprisoned together with a small number of other white women political prisoners, most of whom had stood trial and been sentenced in Johannesburg in 1964–5 for membership to an illegal organisation, the Communist Party. It is a little known story. Not even the progressive party MP Helen Suzman found her way here.
Barberton Prison, a maximum security prison, part of a farm jail complex in the eastern part of what was then known as the Transvaal province, was far from any urban centre. The women were kept in a small space at one end of the prison in extreme isolation under a regime of what can only be called psychological warfare, carried out on the instructions of the ever more powerful (and corrupt) security apparatus. A key concern for the author was the mental and psychological symptoms which emerged in herself and her fellow prisoners and the steps they took to maintain their sanity. It is a narrative partly based on diary entries, written in a minute hand on tissue paper, which escaped the eye of the authorities. Moreover, following her release in April 1967 – she had been altogether incarcerated for some three years – she produced a full script in the space of two or three months. The result is immediacy, spontaneity, authenticity; a story full of searing detail. It is also full of a fighting spirit, pervaded by a sharp intellect, a capacity for fine observation and a sense of humour typical of the women political prisoners at Barberton.
A crucial theme in Sylvia Neame’s account is the question of whether something positive emerged out of her experience and, if so, what exactly it was.
The self-righteous, headstrong lawyering mother has a new and greater challenge. No longer seeking the approval of her successful mother, one of South Africa’s first women judges, Niki is out to find that elusive concept of the ‘work/life’ balance and some real, sustainable solutions.
Her journey takes her deep into feminist philosophies as she struggles to understand the unfolding media-driven drama of the Oscar Pistorius trial while researching issues of ethics in the legal profession. But in between life and children, Niki is also determined to navigate her own way around the new world of print and publishing and connect with her own identity as a writer. How is she going to survive all this?
Something In Between is a light-hearted non-fiction narrative about real issues in a changing world: issues of parenting and the legal profession, tertiary institutions and marriage institutions; issues about the old feminist debate and why it’s still unresolved and some lessons learnt about the world of books and book publishing. A memoir of her last three years and all of it absolutely true.
Charles Abrahams is a world-class lawyer who sued multinationals for colluding with the apartheid government, but at twelve he was determined to become a world-famous heartsurgeon. Then a school inspector shattered his dream: coloured children from the Cape Flats 'should not aim too high'. Class Action is the story of how Charles aimed high anyway, despite a childhood that included forced removal, dire poverty and the deep sense of shame of being neither white nor a 'white coloured'. As one of eleven children in a poor family, he experienced constant hardship and family strife.
Violence was ubiquitous: his street was notorious for its gang fights, his father abused his mother at home, and schoolteachers beat darker-skinned children like him. Charles wanted a larger life, and he found it through student politics, anti-apartheid activism and reading. He studied relentlessly, finding not only formidable political weapons, but a means to delve into the damage apartheid had done to his personal identity, selfesteem, sexuality and morality. He went on to qualify as a lawyer and, after defending local gangsters, he sought to do good through human-rights and class-action law. He has since spearheaded some of South Africa’s most historic, groundbreaking lawsuits, pursuing justice for ordinary citizens whose lives were ruined by powers too profit-driven to ever think about them.
Class Action depicts a remarkable journey of resistance and healing in reaction to institutionalised greed and racism and the harm it has done to our identities, our relationships and the people of our country.
Vusi Mavimbela is one of South Africa's foremost political adventurers and wanderers. A writer of singular verve, humour and descriptive power, his memoir provides penetrating pen portraits of many well-known South African and African political actors, including martyred uMkhonto weSizwe guerilla Solomon Mahlangu, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, Robert Mugabe and a galaxy of senior ANC exiles such as Joe Slovo, Chris Hani, Josiah Jele, Joel Netshitenzhe and Mac Maharaj.
He touches on and illuminates the personalities of many influential men and women in South Africa's early democratic governments. But the heart of Mavimbela's narrative lies in his unique experience of working as a top administrator and counsellor in the offices of Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In the most intimate detail, he describes the emergence and escalation of the conflict between those two flawed principals. He captures the drama of their struggle and its destructive fallout for the new South African state.
Mavimbela offers a potent warning: loyalty and long service to a political party is no guarantee of wise and effective leadership.
Die motiewe agter gesinsmoorde is dikwels vreemder as fiksie. Tergende vrae kan deur psigiaters beantwoord word ... of dalk nie. Deur na verskeie gevalle van gesinsmoord te kyk gooi hierdie boek ’n bietjie lig in 'n baie donker plek. Met onder meer die stories van die Lotters wat gebreinspoel was tot moord op hul ouers en die Van Breda bylmoorde.
Successful businessman, Mkhuseli Khusta Jack, overcame incredible odds after being evicted from his farm home at the age of 6 with his 8 siblings. Desperate for schooling, he walked for kilometres, slept in outbuildings, begged for an education and eventually enrolled at the age of 10. But the political climate was volatile and he quickly became involved in politics.
As an activist, he was arrested on several occasions, most notably during the 1980 school boycotts. He helped establish the PE Youth Congress, one of the many organisations that joined the UDF. Jack was instrumental in organising the consumer boycott campaign (EC). He was arrested, jailed and tortured for his role in the movement. Before Mandela’s release, Jack was amongst the political consultants during the democratic negotiations but decided to finally finish his studies and chose education above politics.
A story of sheer determination and triumph with commendations by Thabo Mbeki, Dali Mpofu and Kgalema Motlanthe.
When opportunity strikes, television producer Deon Maas joins the boatloads of migrants heading for Germany. Faced with the choice of taking all his possessions along or selling everything, he opts for the latter. With a duffel bag and his four dogs, he departs for the First World.
Decadent Berlin blows his mind but also leaves him at a loss for words. As he criss-crosses the city, scratching at its pulsating underbelly, he marvels at German idiosyncrasies, and is roped into this new world by an array of vegan anarchists, eclectic musicians, football hooligans and graffiti artists.
As he tries to settle in, he has to deal with everything from obnoxious bureaucrats to nosy neighbours. In the process, Maas debunks a few myths about the First World: it’s not a perfect place where everything works, and German efficiency is definitely overrated.
By confronting the loss of his support network and adapting to a different political and social context, he learns exactly how deep his African roots go and what it takes to find your place in Europe as a white African.
Locked up for poaching abalone, Shuhood Abader began writing his life story. For over fifteen years, he had been a small cog in a criminal industry stretching from the Cape underworld to China’s luxury seafood market. As abalone – perlemoen, perly – vanishes from the South African coast, Shuhood’s first-person account takes us right into the heart of the crisis.
Kimon de Greef’s postgraduate research on poaching led him into journalism, and today he is the pre-eminent local expert on the illicit abalone trade. He contextualises Abader’s raw, immediate tale by showing how the system works: from desperate fishing communities via gang strongholds on the Cape Flats, tik, guns and police complicity to the harbours of Morocco and Hong Kong.
Journey with the authors through death-defying dives, blackmail, robbery, shark encounters, near-drownings, and chases by police and rivals.
Poacher tells the story of a deadly black market; but it is also the story of one man, deeply conflicted, committed to his faith and searching for a better way.
South Africa’s pre-eminent historian explains the spectacular rise – and probable demise – of the numerical minority that dominated 20th-century South Africa.
The Afrikaners are unique in the world in that they successfully mobilised ethnic entrepreneurship without state assistance, controlled the entire country, and then yielded power without military defeat. Award-winning author Hermann Giliomee takes a hard analytical look at this group’s dramatic ascent and possible disappearance as a nation in a series of well-argued thematic chapters. Topics range from ethnic entrepreneurship, the ‘coloured vote’ and ‘Bantu’ education to Nelson Mandela’s relationship with the last Afrikaner leaders.
It ends with a final chapter on the most likely future for this sometimes admired, often reviled group, which undoubtedly left the largest imprint on South African history in the 20th century.
In 1980’s apartheid Cape Town, five-year-old Desiree-Anne is grappling with how she’s going to turn her tar baby doll’s skin into sweet, soft lily-white. What she has learnt is that Whites are better than "everyone else". She doesn’t know how to force her father to stop drinking or gambling or make her mother love her or get the boys and men to stop touching her in secret. She learns how to soothe the pain: through secret masturbation and lying.
As she grows up, she begins to understand the rules of living in her depressed family as well as in her fractured community.
In her teens, laden with the awkwardness of bushy, unruly hair, braces, and a body shorter and rounder than a Womble – and now firmly planted in a 'White School', Desiree-Anne is forced to confront her ‘Coloured identity crisis’. She turns to self-harm, disordered eating, the thrill of petty theft and escapism through books and acting. Although she wins a place to study drama at UCT, sensing her parents cannot afford the tuition, she opts to go to the UK where she gets lost in bars, clubs and pills. On her return to South Africa she embraces the “free love” Ecstasy trance club scene but when she meets Darren, a heroin addict, she turns to needles. Her search for love and acceptance descends into a self-destructive spiral as an intravenous smack addict.
This is a harrowing memoir on the darkness of addiction, but it is also a touching and sometimes humorous account of a little-girl-turned-woman’s deep need and reckless pursuit for love. When Desiree-Anne finally finds recovery years later, she uncovers her real voice to talk and write about things that were previously left unspoken.
In April 1981, Landa Mabenge enters this world, trapped in a girl’s body. From an early age, Landa is aware that he does not relate to his female form, despite being socialised as a girl. In this groundbreaking and brutally honest memoir, Landa Mabenge establishes himself as a resounding and inspirational voice for anyone fighting to define themselves on their own terms. In mesmerising detail, Becoming Him lays bare Landa’s tortured world, growing up trapped in the wrong body, while unflinchingly tracing his transition from female to male.
His childhood in Umtata is brutally shattered, when at age 11 an angry woman and her zombie-like husband unexpectedly arrive to force him to accompany them to Port Elizabeth. Life in PE with ‘The Parents’ soon morphs into a Dickensian nightmare. Landa is subjected to horrific physical, emotional and psychological abuse as he descends into a world of isolation and shame. He recalls his prison of powerlessness: “I count the years I will have to remain a slave. There are seven before my redemption: 7 x 365 = 2555 days. Today is nearly at an end. By the end of tomorrow there will be 2554. By the end of the week, 2548. And so I will myself on. Eventually the day will come when I will be free.”
At 18 Landa is finally able to escape PE to study at UCT, where he tries to embrace life as a butch lesbian, but he remains tortured by his female body. After a close-to-death break down, Landa finally finds strength to embark on an arduous four-year-long journey to physically and legally become “him”, relentlessly researching what it will entail to embark on gender alignment. In 2014, Landa makes history by becoming the first known transgender man in South Africa to successfully motivate a medical aid to pay for his surgeries through the Groote Schuur Transgender Clinic.
Both heartbreaking and uplifting, Becoming Him is a unique story of torture and triumph, bravely opening the lid on cultural shame and abuse against those who choose a path less travelled.
In The Eight Zulu Kings, well-respected and widely published historian John Laband examines the reigns of the eight Zulu kings from 1816 to the present.
Starting with King Shaka, the renowned founder of the Zulu kingdom, he charts the lives of the kings Dingane, Mpande, Cetshwayo, Dinuzulu, Solomon and Cyprian, to today’s King Goodwill Zwelithini whose role is little more than ceremonial.
In the course of this investigation Laband places the Zulu monarchy in the context of African kingship and tracks and analyses the trajectory of the Zulu kings from independent and powerful pre-colonial African rulers to largely powerless traditionalist figures in post-apartheid South Africa.
On 2 February 1959, a musical about the life and times of heavyweight boxing star Ezekiel Dhlamini (known as 'King Kong') opened in Johannesburg to a packed audience that included Nelson Mandela. King Kong was not just South Africa's first ever musical, but one that grew out of a collaboration between black people and white, and showcased an all-black cast.
It was an instant hit, bursting through the barriers of apartheid and eventually playing to 200,000 South Africans of every colour before transferring to London's West End. Pat Williams, the show's lyricist, was at the time an apolitical young woman trying to free herself from the controls and prejudices of the genteel white society in which she lived. Here she recounts her experience of growing up in a divided South Africa, her involvement in the musical, and its lasting impact both on herself and on the show's cast, many of whom went on to find international fame, like South African jazz legends Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. Her memoir takes the story up to the present day.
It is both a vivid evocation of a troubled time and place as well as a celebration of a joyous production, in which a group of young people came together in South Africa's dark times - to create a show which still lives on today.
Duduza. Bopha. Imbiza. Phapha. Asixoliseni. Amapopeye . . . What is the power of a single word?
Six days a week, advertising creative Melusi Tshabalala posts a Zulu word on his Everyday Zulu Facebook page and tells a story about it. His off-beat sense of humour, razor-sharp social observations and frank political commentary not only teaches his followers isiZulu but also offer insight into the world Melusi inhabits as a 21st century Zulu man.
Over the past few months he has built up a big and a loyal following that include radio host Jenny Crwys-Williams and Afrikaans author Marita van der Vyfer. He pokes fun at our differences and makes us laugh at ourselves and each other.
Melusi asks critical questions of everyone, from Aunty Helen, Dudu-Zille to Silili (Cyril Ramaphosa) and even Woolworths (why are their aircons always set on ‘jou moer’?). His fans love him for his honesty and commitment to pointing out subtle and overt forms of prejudice and racism.
Melusi’s Everyday Zulu holds up a mirror that shows South African society in all its flaws and its sheer humanity. Most importantly, he shows the power of words and that there’s umzulu in all of us!
'I was made in Coffee Bay. Right there on the beach, in the sand.'
From the opening lines, we are drawn in and engrossed by this startling memoir of a singular childhood. Suzan is adopted as a newborn in the late 1960s into a seemingly loving and welcoming family living in Pietermaritzburg. But Suzan is set on a collision course with, most particularly, her adoptive mother, and society, from her very beginning. Suzan's relationship with her mother is fraught with drama, which veers over into a level of emotional abuse and needless cruelty that is shocking.
At the age of thirteen, Suzan is sent to a place of safety as a ward of the state, effectively 'orphaning' her. From there, she spirals out of control – fighting to survive in a world of other neglected, abandoned and abused children. She becomes a 'runner', escaping at every opportunity from her various places of confinement, grabbing her schooling in snatches, living on the edges of a drug and prostitution underworld, finding love wherever she can.
Suzan’s young life was the stuff of movies, but it is her writing, in a voice that is unforgettable and true, that transforms her memories into something magical rarely matched in South African literature. A new classic.
The Love Diary of a Zulu Boy is a fable of lust, love, sex, obsession, loss, friendship, betrayal and fantasy. By turns erotic, romantic, tragic and comic, it is inspired by the real-life drama of a romantic relationship between a Zulu boy and an Englishwoman.
A series of diary entries takes us on a whirlwind tour of a relationship that has not only survived, but thrived for 17 years. As the author reflects on love across the colour line, it triggers memories of failed affairs and bizarre experiences: love spells, wet dreams, infidelity, sexually transmitted diseases, a phantom pregnancy, sexless relationships, threesomes and prostitution.
A unique book for the South African market, The Love Diary of a Zulu Boy is written with an honesty rarely encountered in autobiographical writing.
Breaking a Rainbow, Building a Nation covers the university protests that took place in 2015–2016, better known as the #FeesMustFall protests. Rekgotsofetse (Kgotsi) gives us his first-hand account of what happened prior to the protests and what led to the events of October 2015 at the various university campuses and nationally.
This is a four-part retelling of what happened on the ground amongst the students, first at #RhodesMustFall, then moving to the university responses and management and what ultimately led to #FeesMustFall nationwide. Chikane then looks at student politics now and how they are different from 1976, specifically the fact that the protests were being led by so-called coconuts, who are part of the black elite.
The book poses the provocative question, can coconuts be trusted with the revolution?
The healing power of life writing, one shared story at a time
This Is How It Is a “refreshing, poignant and wide-ranging” (Helen Moffett) collection of real life experiences: 52 stories, prose and poetry, that tell of a man who is anxious about an HIV test; a child with an alarming nose for gossip and a girl who is saved by the enemy in a war zone. Some of the writers are grieving the loss of a child or struggling with addiction, abuse, bullying or betrayal. Most of these writers have never been published before. They wrote these stories primarily to bear witness to their lives and the troubled times in which we live. Putting traumatic experiences down on paper can help people work through shame, guilt and fear, releasing them from the traps they lay. Writing is sometimes able to turn a painful incident into something more manageable, even beautiful.
Sharing stories can also heal both the writer and the reader. When we first meet a stranger, we make assumptions about them. When we hear of their life in their own words, we find that many of our negative assumptions are wrong. Often we discover that we are more alike than we are different. Our magnificent world is in trouble, much of it because we are not paying attention to what is right in front of us. When the facts don’t stir us to reconsider, story can. This anthology invites us to become curious and reflective rather than fearful and defensive. It encourages us to climb down from the ladder of hierarchy and competition and to join the circle of relationship and humanity by becoming vulnerable enough to share and listen to our own and each other’s half-hidden stories.
But equally importantly, Bongani Kona, 2016 Caine Prize finalist, reminds us: “We forget that the most daring thing we can do is to allow ourselves to be seen. To stand before the world and to say this is who I am. This is how it is.”
About THE LIFE RIGHTING COLLECTIVE: The Life Righting Collective (LRC) runs courses for anyone who wants to learn to write about their experiences. The approach promotes self-discovery, self-recovery and more effective communication. It raises funds to make courses available to those in need of sponsorship and to provide platforms for these life stories to be published. Sharing experiences with a wide readership can help reduce discrimination and promote mutual understanding. Visit the website: www.liferighting.com
65 Years Of Friendship tells the heartrending story of a remarkable friendship between two remarkable men: world-renowned human-rights lawyer George Bizos, and Nelson Mandela.
George and Madiba met as students at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1948. They would later become legal colleagues, and Mandela would become George Bizos’ most famous client soon after, for it was Bizos who formed part of his legal defence during the famous Treason Trial, and again during the Rivonia Trial, when Mandela and others faced the death penalty for plotting to overthrow the state. After seeing his friend sentenced to life imprisonment instead, Bizos became Mandela’s lifeline, navigating the complicated network of the Struggle.
Working tirelessly, be it by secretly meeting Oliver Tambo in exile or arguing for the abolishment of the death penalty in the Constitutional Court years later, Bizos offered his unwavering support to Mandela on his long walk towards a democratic South Africa. In this touching homage to their friendship, George Bizos tells a fascinating tale of two men whose work affected the lives of all South Africans.
Kan dwelms, jaloesie en geld ’n normale 20-jarige daartoe dryf om byna sy hele gesin met ’n byl uit te wis?
Die Van Breda’s van Stellenbosch was skynbaar die perfekte gesin. Skatryk, suksesvol en gewild. In die luukse De Zalze-landgoed het hulle ’n droomlewe gelei.
En toe verander alles in ’n oogwink. Die land is tot stilstand geruk deur die nuus van Martin en sy vrou, Teresa, en hul 22-jarige seun Rudi se grumoorde. Die blondekop tiener, Marli, het net-net oorleef, maar kan weens ’n breinbesering niks van dié noodlottige nag onthou nie.
Mettertyd word die ander seun, Henri, wat ongeskonde is en weet wat werklik gebeur het, aangekla van die driedubbele moord.
Dan begin familie en vriende een-vir-een praat. Hulle skets ’n prentjie van ouers wat raadop was met hul moeilike “eenkantkind”. Henri se dwelmverslawing het blykbaar tot “groot onmin” in die huis gelei en hy was glo “die moer in” vir sy ouers omdat sy broer, Rudi, voorgetrek is.
Kan dit wees dat die Van Breda’s se eie kind die byl gelig het?
200 women from a variety of backgrounds are asked the same five questions. Their answers are inspiring human stories of success and courage, love and pain, redemption and generosity. From well-known activists, artists, and innovators to everyday women whose lives are no less exceptional for that, each woman shares her unique replies to questions like “What really matters to you?” and “What would you change in the world if you could?” Interviewees include US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actor and human rights activist Alfre Woodard, and Nobel laureate Jodi Williams, along with those who are making a difference behind the scenes around the world, such as Marion Wright Edelman, head of the Children’s Defense Fund.
Each interview is accompanied by a photographic portrait, resulting in a volume that is compelling in word and image — and global in its scope and resonance. This landmark book is published to coincide with an immersive travelling exhibition and an interactive website, building on this remarkable, ever-evolving project. With responses ranging from uplifting to heartbreaking, these women offer gifts of empowerment and strength inviting us to bring positive change at a time when so many are fighting for basic freedom and equality.
Local interviewees include Graça Machel, Caster Semenya, Zelda la Grange, Mpho Tutu van Furth, Hlubi Mboya, Sahm Venter, Joanne Fedler, Ingrid le Roux, Gillian Slovo and Zoleka Mandela, among others.
A minimum of 10% of the project’s revenue will be distributed to organisations devoted to protecting and advancing the rights of women. Each interviewee can nominate an organisation (or themselves if they are in financial need) to receive their portion of the charitable pool or they can select the principal charitable partner, the Graça Machel Trust.
At the height of her journalism career, more than one million households across the country knew her name and her face. Her reportage on human suffering and triumph captivated viewers, and with it Vanessa Govender shot to fame as one of the first female Indian television news reporters in South Africa. Always chasing the human angle of any news story, Govender made a name for herself by highlighting stories that included the grief of a mother clutching a packet filled with the fragments of the broken bones of her children after they’d been hacked to death by their own father, and another story where she celebrated the feisty spirit of a little girl who was dying of old age, while holding onto dreams that would never be realised. Yet Govender, a champion for society’s downtrodden, was hiding a shocking story of her own. In Beaten But Not Broken, she finally opens up about her deepest secret – one that so nearly ended her career in broadcast journalism before it had barely kicked off.
She was a rookie reporter at the SABC in 1999. He was a popular radio disc jockey, the darling of the SABC’s Lotus FM, a radio station catering to nearly half a million Indian people across South Africa. They were the perfect pair, or so it seemed. And if anyone suspected the nature of the abusive relationship, Govender says, she doesn’t believe they knew the full extent of the horror that the popular DJ was inflicting on this intrepid journalist. The bruising punches, the cracking slaps, and the relentless episodes filled with beatings, kicking and strangling were as ferocious as the emotional and verbal abuse he hurled at her. No one would know the brutal and graphic details of Govender’s story … until now.
In Beaten But Not Broken, this Indian woman does the unthinkable, maybe even the unforgiveable, in breaking the ranks of a close-knit conservative community to speak out about her five-year-long hell in this abusive relationship. Her story also lays bare her heart-breaking experiences as a victim of childhood bullying and being ostracised by some in her community for being a dark-skinned Indian girl. Govender tells a graphic story of extreme abuse, living with the pain, and ultimately of how she was saved by her own relentless fighting spirit to find purpose and love. This is a story of possibilities and hope; it is a story of a true survivor.
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