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Introducing Black Jerusalem by Happy Ntshingila

Happy Ntshingila

Black JerusalemHappy Ntshingila was joined by his colleagues, family, friends and book lovers at the launch of his advertising-agency memoir, Black Jerusalem, at the Melrose Arch Exclusive books last week.

Ntshingila reminisced with the audience about the 18-year journey he and his partners embarked upon when starting a black-owned advertising agency, Herdbuoys.

Likening the experiences to a running race, he explained how the business grew from a small outfit to an industry giant. “Not so long ago I started running. When I started I finished my first 5km and it was tough. I then became better and started running 10km. It was then that other runners encouraged me to run in marathons.”

He started in small marathon and ended up running the Jackie Gibson, he said. “In this particular race I remember feeling like my feet couldn’t carry me. I thought to myself, ‘I can give up, I will run till end’ and I did it.” The Herdbuoys saga had endowed him with the mental stamina to push through!

Black Jerusalem, said Ntshilinga, is strictly no-holds-barred.

Even his wife said that he should omit some book’s more controversial aspects. “But I didn’t. This book tells the truth about an ad agency, some of the things I said were really bad, some hilarious, but ultimately I told it as it was,” said Ntshingila.

When the agency was started, he said, there were no short cuts, “We had to do twice the work than our counterparts. So one may see the book as knocking white folks, in that sense – but read on, it knocks blacks as well!”

About the book

Black Jerusalem tracks the events and people who shaped the growth of the HerdBuoys advertising agency through successful and sometimes not-so-successful new business solicitation. As the first black-owned advertising agency in South Africa, it was at the forefront of the ‘change-management’ revolution from 1991 to 2006.

With flair, humour and a sprinkling of mischief, Happy Ntshingila tells the behind-the-scene stories of advertising campaigns for clients such as SAA and Telkom – from working through the night and pretending to have an office, to dashing off to buy television sets minutes before a presentation. It is a story about big brands, creative energy and friendship in a country in transition.

It is a witty, poignant and compelling look at the energy of a man determined to succeed at what he loved most: advertising. Black Jerusalem includes a colour section of some of HerdBuoys’ advertising campaigns.

From Black Jerusalem, pages 38-39

We arrived unfashionably but astutely on time. And were ushered into a boardroom. A boardroom that quickly filled with bankers. And more bankers. And more bankers. In fact, there were eventually so many bankers in that room that Dimape and I had to perch on a sofa at the back.

So, a serious briefing, then.

And then it began.

The trading environment for banks in South Africa. The socio-economics of the country now and in the future. The target audience. The strength of the currency. The business/private sector split. The data on … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The atmosphere was suddenly atremble with a subsonic rumble emanating from my right-hand side. It was Dimape, who had slid into a slumber so deep and satisfying, his snoring had taken on the characteristics of a gigantic cat purring. Head bowed, shoulders moving gently up and down to the rhythm of his majestically indifferent repose.

I kicked him.

I whispered a panicked rebuke out of the side of my mouth. ‘Dimape! Wake up!’

‘DIMAPE! WAKE UP!’

Launch gallery

Happy Ntshingila and John Smith Barbara Millard and Peter Dillon Ben Mji and Thulani Mncube Happy Ntshingila and John Smith Happy Ntshingila John Smith Lisa Teepe, Gillian Smith and Megan Richardson Makhosini Ngwenya and David Mashabele Marryanne Hancock Mpho and Phumi Setiloane Mrs Sandra and Judge Sapire Nicky Mullinos, Cathy Langerman and Clair Peters Nozizwe Vundla, Duduzile Thabeng, Batana Vundla and Sizakele Marutlulle Vicky Ross and Vanessa Leftwich

Book details

 

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