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Archive for the ‘Mozambique’ Category

Read an Excerpt from Jamala Safari’s Novel, Based on Real Experiences During the Congolese War

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsThe Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods by Jamala Safari is a novel about a boy whose life and family is ripped apart by the Congolese war. The story of Risto Mahuno, the 15-year-old protagonist, run’s parallel to the author’s own experience.

In an excerpt shared by Namibiana Buchdepot, Risto is finding healing after severe trauma. When he recalls the afternoon he lost his parents and his sister, the teenager “wished not to walk, not to touch”. But he recovers his “need to live again” when he plays soccer with his friends.

Read the excerpt:

Sometimes Risto’s father would say that man is the forger of his own history. In his hands lies the power to challenge and to change, in his feet, the conquering force, and in his mind, the driving compass. Therein is the essence of miracle and mystery. Good or bad, it will be the legacy left behind when he no longer has a voice to speak or strength to stand.

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Excerpts from Umuzi’s Three SALA Award-winning Books, by Claire Robertson, Jamala Safari and Sihle Khumalo

Three Umuzi authors were rewarded for their literary work at the 2014 South African Literary Awards (SALAs) in November:

Find more information on each of these books as well as excerpts below:

The Spiral House The Spiral House is a grand tale of love, wig-making and the Enlightenment set in the Cape Colony.

Telling two stories, this debut novel exposes what binds us and sets us free. In his review Jonathan Amid describes it as follows: “a dense, demanding novel that requires from its reader an emotional investment and a willingness to listen. The voices that ultimately emerge are haunting, and sublime.”

Read an excerpt from Robertson’s first novel:

As you know, a head is a deal heavier than it looks. That is one reason you do not want to drop it anywhere near your feet. Another is that it takes a long age to push it back into shape if it should fall on its sides or on the back. The face matters less but the sides and the back take an age to put right and he almost always could tell if you had gone and dropped it while he was out.

He was out when they came so sudden to the door and I stumbled and let the thing fall but held on at the last and spared it and my toes and set it on the sill of the street side window, where there was light to see by. At their end of the shop the man blocked light from the door and the woman who walked before him moved under a dull cloud. She stopped three steps in and spoke to her man without a look at him or me, or anywhere but at her hands in finger gloves held at her stomach, pressing the dark stuff against her. She said:

‘Melt. Ask after the master.’


* * * * * * * *

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsThe Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods was shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize and has been described as “a crucial addition to the body of literature documenting the scars of war on children”.

Safari, who himself is a refugee, wrote this gripping narrative by recalling his own experiences. It tells the deeply affecting story of Risto Mahuno’s agony as he flees unthinkable circumstances in the DRC, travelling more than 2 000 km to a refugee camp in Mozambique.

In this excerpt Risto is interviewed by the management of the refugee camp, an event which causes him to recall the ghosts of his past:

The interviewers started with their soft smiles, with easy questions, the
news of the camp, and so on. Then they went on to ask about name, family, town and country of origin.
‘The whole camp is talking about your last harvest of tomatoes,’ said Mr Thomaso Dwanga, the only Mozambican at the interview table; he spoke a nice Swahili.
‘You know this camp talks about anything, even a rain that the heavens have not yet thought about.’
The two refugees present, Mr Rashid and Mama Lemwalu, who represented the board on camp management, were astounded by the wisdom of the young boy; they had heard about it, but now they saw it for themselves.
‘You know this is your second and last interview,’ Mr Thomaso reminded Risto.
‘Yes, Sir.’
‘I believe you are ready to talk today,’ added Mr Thomaso.
‘Let me remind you, any lies will lead to rejection of your application for refugee status, and then deportation. We are here to help you formulate a good report for the United Nations. Ask questions when
you don’t understand well.’ These were the wise words of Mama Lemwalu.


* * * * * * * *

Almost Sleeping My Way to TimbuktuAlmost Sleeping My Way to Timbuktu is Khumalo’s account of travelling to West Africa by public transport.

Armed with his infamous sense of humour, an unexpected sensi­tivity towards his host countries and irrepressible optimism Khumalo journeyed through Francophone Africa without speaking the lingua franca.

In her review of this award-winning book, Margaret Whitaker writes: “By the end, it’s Sihle Khumalo (1), West Africa (0). You’ll be cheering our man all the way to the end.”

Read about Khumalo’s time in Sénégal:

My thoughts as the plane was about to touch down just after 16:00 were interrupted by the sight of a massive bronze statue on the left-hand side of the aircraft. I had, as part of my research for the trip, read about this statue. I had seen the pictures and knew it was huge. Still, the sheer size of the family emerging from a hilltop – a woman, a man with his right arm around her waist, and a child sitting on his left shoulder pointing towards the open sea with her small left hand – took me by such surprise that my jaw dropped.

South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki, an African Renaissance man, and former Sénégalese President Abdoulaye Wade must be beaming with African pride whenever they fly past the monument, I thought. Both gentlemen were part of the Africa-can-and-mustsolve-her-own-problems-the-African-way philosophy. What a pity that neither men lasted very long as head of state. Mbeki couldn’t even attend the grand opening of this monument as president of South Africa, because by April 2010, which was also the 50th anniversary of Sénégal’s independence from France, he had long been succeeded by a sexy singing-anddancing man from Nkandla.

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Jamala Safari Discusses How He Presents the DRC in The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsWith The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods Jamala Safari wants to show what is happening in the DRC in a way that is different to the view offered to readers by newspapers and the internet. “Everyone sees it just as a country full of trouble, but if you’re looking only at the facts, you don’t see the people.”

Safari, who grew up in the DRC, talked to Thomas Okes about the mix of fiction, history and personal narrative in The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods and the themes of happiness, trauma, guilt and the importance of hope – even for people or countries that seem to be beyond it. “But if we don’t believe in his ability to change, he won’t change. And the world won’t change.”

Q: This book is a fascinating mix of fiction, history and personal narrative. Was the style of the novel important to the story you were trying to tell?

Fiction has a way of making a stranger’s story very intimate, and I had to try to show the reader a different way of life. What’s important to me is the innocence of a group of people who simply want to be happy, and how war erodes that purity. A child’s voice, like Risto’s, can bring the reader closer to these people’s pain.

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Video: Jamala Safari Shares His Advice for the Recent Matriculants

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsGareth Edwards from eNCA interviewed Jamala Safari, author of The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods, about pursuing an education in the midst of the civil war in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Safari said that he saw education as crucial to achieving a dignified way of living.

At the end of the interview, Edwards asked Safari what advice he would give to the recent matriculants. Safari said that hard work, discipline and networking were the key things that helped him get to where he is today and matriculants should focus on this:

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Jamala Safari Discusses the Supernatural in The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsJamala Safari, author of The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods talked to Linda Kaoma of The Unbranded Truth about his writing style and the authors he most admires, which include Ben Okri and Gabriel García Márquez. Like these writers, Safari mixes the natural and supernatural in his novel.

LK: For how long did you work on this book?

JS: It took me about three years. I wrote this book while resuming my education at the University of the Western Cape. So, I mostly wrote during holidays and on weekends.

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Justin Fox Recommends Mozambique for the Quintessential Summer Holiday

Under the SwayNelia Vivier from Get It chatted to three Capetonians about their dream holidays, including travel journalist and author Justin Fox.

Fox makes a case for Cape Town winters, especially for the surfing, but for a summer holiday with lazy beach days or island explorations he recommends Mozambique. His book, Under the Sway: A photographic journey through Mozambique, documents his many trips to Mozambique and will give you an idea of what to expect.

“During the year I’m quite busy as a full-time writer,” says Justin Fox, “so my days are spent in front of a computer. I’ve been working on a pirate novel for some years now, so although I am physically sitting in my apartment overlooking the lighthouse in Mouille Point, my head is in Somalia with my characters. When I go on holiday, it is normally with a notebook and camera, as my other life is as a travel writer.

“When I was six, my parents took me to Europe for a long summer holiday that ended with a month in Greece staying on Patmos and Santorini. I don’t think I’ve ever really recovered from that wonderful vacation. The travel bug bit me young and has never left, hence my career as a travel writer.

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Excerpt from Under the Sway by Justin Fox

Under the SwayNamibiana Buchdepot have shared an extract from Under the Sway: A photographic journey through Mozambique by Justin Fox.

In this extract Fox introduces the concept of the book, which was to capture a photographic travelogue of Mozambique:

Introduction: Overlanding in Mozambique, particularly in the remoter parts, offers high adventure. As recently as the 1990s; it could be life-threatening: bandits, landmines, blown bridges and destroyed roads were common obstacles. This I first discovered on a three-week journey from south to north in 1999, which spawned the travelogue With Both Hands Waving and forms the core of this pictorial journey. That trip was a nerve-jangling one, but left me with a deep affection for the country, and a determination to get back as soon as possible. Within a year I’d returned …

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Justin Fox Shares His Top Ten Things to Do in Cape Town

The Marginal SafariUnder the SwayJustin Fox, travel journalist and author of The Marginal Safari: Scouting the edge of South Africa and Under the Sway: A photographic journey through Mozambique, has shared his top ten things to do and see in Cape Town with The Daily Beast.

Starting with the iconic Table Mountain, Fox gives a rundown of some of the Mother City’s many attractions:

Table Mountain
Hiking up this mighty slab of sandstone, a symbol of Cape Town, is almost compulsory for visitors. Choose a clear, wind-free day and take the easiest route to the top along Plattekloof Gorge. Enjoy a cool drink at the cable-station restaurant and feast on the sumptuous views. To save your legs, take the cable car back down to the city.

Mount Nelson Hotel
Also known as the Pink Lady, this grand old establishment has been the favored hotel of royals, politicians, and film stars for more than a century. Set in lovely gardens, it exudes elegance and colonial charm. If the rooms are too pricey, at least try one of the famous afternoon teas.

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Jamala Safari Discusses Leaving the Congo and Coming to South Africa as a Refugee

The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the GodsBusiness Day’s Penny Haw interviewed Jamala Safari, author of The Great Agony and Pure Laughter of the Gods.

Safari spoke about leaving the Congo and his journey through Tanzania and Mozambique to South Africa. He then explained why he decided to write a fictional account of a similar journey instead of making it autobiographical:

It was only six years ago that Jamala Safari fled the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although, having survived childhood in a country whose history is characterised by violence, genocide and corruption, he was relatively accustomed to the atrocities of civil war, two particular incidents convinced the young man — then an environmental management student barely out of his teens — to flee for places unknown.

One day, while Safari was visiting his uncle, a skirmish broke out between militia and government forces, who were bunkered on either side of the house. For days, Safari and about eight members of the family were trapped between the opposing sides. They lay on the broken glass strewn across the floor of the house to avoid the bullets and grenades.

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Don’t Miss this Year’s Fabulous Umuzi Line Up at the Cape Town Book Fair

Random House-Umuzi Saturday ProgrammeRandom House-Umuzi Sunday Programme

Umuzi, the local imprint of Random House, has scheduled a fabulous line up of authors, new books, and talks for the 2008 Cape Town Book Fair. We bring you our schedule in two formats: in images (click photos above for larger views) and as a downloadable pdf (see below).

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