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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Book Excerpt: Birth by Peter Harris

BirthAlan Paton Award-winning author Peter Harris’ new book, Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ‘94 Election is a gripping account of South Africa’s vulnerabilities, going into its democratic election. Inkatha wanted secession for KwaZulu, the right wing wanted a Volkstaat, a hacker broke into the election counting system, and more.

Now Umuzi brings you an excerpt from this must-read account of the New SA’s formative moments. Read the first chapter:

Birth by Peter Harris (Book Preview: 1st Chapter)

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The Troyeville Hotel’s Hosts “Dinner-book-and-booze” for Peter Harris’ Birth

Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the '94 ElectionDemocracy comes to the Troyeville Hotel!

Peter Harris, activist-lawyer-turned-management-consultant-turned-award-winning-author, will be talking about his new book, Birth: The conspiracy to stop the ’94 election, at the Troyeville Hotel’s next dinner, book and booze evening.

Peter was the head of the monitoring division of the Independent Electoral Commission in 1994, and Birth is his insider’s account of how close we all came to shit creek and how precarious was our grip on the paddle. It’s an exhilarating book about an exhilarating time, that was also vrot with more danger than most of us knew.

Jayendra Naidoo, who ran the National Peace Accord, will ask the initial questions, after which we’ll serve a fabulous meal while everyone reminisces about the good old days.

Peter and Jay will do their thing on 2 December at 19:00 for 19:30 at the Troyeville Hotel. We’re going to be strict about time, because it’s a school night, but it’s also December, so not that strict…

Dinner will set you back R150 pp, excluding drinks, and bookings are essential.

Love Books will be selling Peter’s books while we try unsuccessfully to get you to buy better wine.

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Podcast: Peter Harris in Conversation with Sunday Times Editor Ray Hartley

Hartley speaks to Harris about the rightwing threat to the 1994 election and the infamous hacking into the IEC systems that almost brought the 1994 election to its knees, as laid out in Harris’ new book, Birth.

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V&A Waterfront Launch for Peter Harris’ Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ’94 Election

Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the '94 ElectionUmuzi and Exclusive Books invite you to a launch to kick off the Cape Town leg of Peter Harris’ book tour for Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ’94 Election, at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

Don’t miss Harris’ other Cape Town events, on Wednesday at Cafe Nood and the city’s Central Library.

We look forward to seeing you at the Waterfront:

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Sunday Times Editor Ray Hartley Interviews Peter Harris on Writing and Birth

Peter Harris

BirthThe Alan Paton Award-winner’s writing processes uncovered, in a fascinating Q&A with Ray Hartley:

RH: How do you go about writing? Do you work from memory or do you keep meticulous notes?

PH: Both. Memory is obviously critical because I have photographs in my mind of particular situations, meetings with particular people. When you meet someone like Nelson Mandela, you never forget it. Meeting people in particularly traumatic situations stays with you. And then there are notes and official documents of record, and then research.

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Peter Harris’ Birth Comes to Cape Town (Events at Cafe Nood and Central Library)

Peter Harris' Birth - Cape Town Launch Invite
Mervyn SlomanPeter Harris signs the Book Lounge BagAndrew and Patti Brown

Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the '94 ElectionUmuzi is delighted to invite you to two special events for Peter Harris’ Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ’94 Election in Cape Town on Wednesday 17 November.

First, enjoy breakfast at Cafe Nood in Claremont, where Harris will be in conversation with The Book Lounge‘s Mervyn Sloman. Then, that evening, catch Harris in conversation with fellow Sunday Times Literary Award-winning author Andrew Brown at the city’s Central Library.

Booking/RSVP is essential for both events – we’ll see you there!

Event Details – Morning

  • Date: Wednesday, 17 November 2010
  • Time: 7:00 AM for 7:30 AM
  • Venue: Cafe Nood
    The Quadrant Square
    Wilderness Road, Claremont
    Cape Town | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Mervyn Sloman
  • Cost: R50 (R10 will be donated to the Equal Education Campaign)
  • To Book:, 021 671 4475 (Credit Card details and 48 hours cancellation are required)

Event Details – Evening

  • Date: Wednesday, 17 November 2010
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Central Library, Drill Hall
    Darling Street
    Cape Town | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Andrew Brown
  • RSVP:, 011 484 3538

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Durban Launch for Peter Harris’ Birth

Birth - Durban Launch Invite

Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the '94 ElectionJoin Peter Harris and Exclusive Books Westville in Durban for the launch of Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ’94 Election – a book that Cyril Ramaphosa calls “Every bit as inspiring as his first book, but with a nation’s survival at stake. Glorious.”

Birth is a nail-biting insider’s account of what happened behind the scenes in the April 1994 election when there was a concerted effort from the right wing to not only violently wreck the election but also to steal it through a conspiracy.

See you in Durban!

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The Bloody Beginnings of Democracy: Peter Harris’ Birth Launches in Joburg

Peter Harris

BirthWithout doubt one of the most highly-anticipated books of the year, Peter Harris’ second, Birth, drew a massive crowd to Exclusive Books Hyde Park this week. The crowd reflected the contents of the book, comprising numerous prominent personalities in politics and law, who gathered to remember the ’94 elections and the moment when our democracy began: a time that seems so far now from post-FIFA 2010 South Africa.

“We hear talk of this miracle, this Rainbow Nation,” said Harris. “But we must not forget that the birth of this country was bloody and difficult… A number of people – you may have forgotten this – both black and white, stocked up on food. Foreign governments got ready to extract their citizens if things got messy.”

Harris was introduced by Charles Newton, who gave tribute to Harris’ role in the election itself. “His job [head of the monitoring committee of the Independent Electoral Commission] called for him to stand back from the election, to monitor and evaluate it,” he explained. “But when the crises came he rolled up his sleeves and entered the fray.” The crises Newton refers to encompass everything from actual plots to destabilise the elections to the immense logistical nightmare of organising a national poll in just a few months – with no voter’s roll.

“[Harris brings us back to] a time when there are forces bent on destroying the election,” Newton continued, “and a nation’s destiny hangs in the balance. And then there is the contestation for political advantage. And the no-go areas. And the politicians fretting and complaining. All, I might add, overshadowed by the towering presence of Nelson Mandela.”

Harris augmented Newton’s picture with some further details about the intricacies of that period in history, and how close it all came to going horribly wrong.

Video clip of Harris’ speech coming soon

In his closing, Harris spoke of the importance of remembering how hard people had to fight for that moment in history to happen, and what that means to us in 2010. “Those who now seek to tamper with the product of that difficult birth must be opposed,” he said. “Our democracy, now a somewhat recalcitrant teenager, must be protected and guided by all of us so that we can ensure that it reaches an adulthood that embodies the values and ideals of all those who strived to make it happen.

“Those who seek to tempt this teenager with cynical corruption steal from the people of this country, and they must know that they will be held accountable. Those who seek to interfere in independent institutions must know they will be opposed.”

Although it has just been launched, Birth has already sold out and the second printing has been ordered. Not bad for a writer who claims to “write as a hobby, in my spare time” – !

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Peter Harris and Ray Hartley in Conversation at Il Giardino, 44 Stanley

Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the '94 ElectionThe good folks at GoodTimes invite you to…

…join Sunday Times Editor Ray Hartley in discussion with 2009 Alan Paton Award winner Peter Harris on Thursday, November 11 at Il Giardino in Milpark as they explore the untold story of the rocky road to the 1994 elections described by Harris in his new book Birth.

Birth is the nail-biting insider’s account of what happened behind the scenes in 1994 when there was a concerted effort from the right wing not only to violently wreck the election – but also to steal it.

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Peter Harris and Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ’94 Election at Jenny & Co.

Peter Harris at Jenny & Co

Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the '94 ElectionJenny Crwys-Williams and Co will host acclaimed writer Peter Harris at Randlords on 10 November. Jenny and Peter will be in discussion on the latter’s highly-anticipated new book, Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ’94 Election.

The country was ablaze. There were bomb blasts, massacres, assassinations. The right wing wanted a Volkstaat; Inkatha wanted secession for KwaZulu and was prepared to fight for it. It was a time fraught with danger. It was a time loaded with possibility. Peter Harris saw it all from the inside. In January 1994 he was seconded to the newly formed Independent Electoral Commission with South Africa’s first democratic election only three months away. A dedicated group of people tasked with the impossible. This story – enthralling, moving, thrilling – reveals the forces at work behind the scenes: those intent on destruction, those committed to delivering an election against the odds, and a conspiracy to strike at the heart of the election. Birth is about a vulnerable moment. It is about a nation staring into the abyss as it steps out to determine its future.

On the 22nd floor overlooking Joburg’s glimmering skyline, Randlords is one of Joburg’s most sought after venues and the perfect setting for the launch of this gripping book.

Be sure not to miss out on this spectacular event and join Jenny & Co on the 10th of this month!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 10 November 2010
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Randlords
    South Point Building
    41 De Korte Street
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Cost: VIP Members- R300/person, Members-R325/person (including parking fee)
  • To book:, 011 477 4404, 011 242 8637, 076 393 8083

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