Femicide - A family relives its Pain

Author: Angie Makwetla
Publisher: Sifiso Publishing
Price: R270

Angie Makwelta is one of South Africa's Human Rights Commissioners. This book is an account of two femicide tragedies in her family that occurred a few years apart (2001 and 2004). In the book she tells a heart breaking story about the death of her younger sister and her niece at the hands of their husbands. The story is told through the eyes of various family members including the children of the deceased women who to this day are still traumatised by the violent loss of their mothers.

With March being Human Rights month in South Africa, this book is a befitting reminder on the plight of violence against women and children. The foreword by Dr Judy Dlamini, shares alarming statistics on Gender Based Violence (GBV) in South Africa and globally. For example did you know that South Africa's rate of GBV is almost 5 times higher than the global average and according to the April 2019 report by the World Bank, GBV is a global pandemic that affect 1 in 3 women in their lifetime.

This book shows how GBV robs families, communities and nations. Angie and her family members' give personal accounts of the loss of their loved ones and the damage it has left behind, years after it has occurred. As a country we need to tell more stories like this to shine the light on this dark part of our communities.

Red Apple Dreams and Other Stories

Author: Siphiwo Mahala
Publisher: Iconic Productions
Price: R200

Siphiwo Mahala is a South African writer in English and isiXhosa. Red Apple Dreams and Other Stories is his second short story collection published in October 2019. His first short story collection was African Delights published in 2011. Red Apple Dreams and Other Stories is a compilation of new and classic stories from some of South Africa's renowned authors. One of those stories is "The Suit Continued" which is a continuation of a famous story, "The Suit" also featured in the book, written by Can Themba in 1963. In the book, stories like "The Lost Suit" and "The Park Revisited", Mahala uses the literary concept of intertextuality to bring old stories to life. He also includes stories from other South African authors like "The Dress that fed the suit" by Zukiswa Wanner and "The Test" by Njabulo S Ndebele. Mahala borrows from history to beautifully highlight subjects currently impacting black lives in current South Africa. He highlights the subject of land expropriation in the last story, "No Man's Land" which was inspired by his quest to find his mother's grave. Red Apple Dreams and Other Stories will leave you well fed but still wanting more. As much as you will be entertained, you will also be provoked to think about some of the tough issues life throws our way like grief.

The Longest March

Author: Fred Khumalo
Publisher: Penguin Publishing
Price: R260

The Longest March in the 4th novel by Fred Khumalo, an acclaimed South African writer. It is based on a real historical event that happened 120 years ago when 7000 Zulu mineworkers walked from the gold miners in Johannesburg to Natal, covering the distance of 500 kilometres over 10 days.

The book gives an insightful look into historical events affecting South Africans in 1899, where men and women were moving to thriving cities like Johannesburg in droves in search for a better life. The story is told through the eyes of the main characters, Nduku, Phillippa and Xhawulengweni as they travel on foot to Natal as part of the longest march to leave the city before the war between the Boers and the British in October 1899. Nduku and Phillippa are a mixed race couple that challenge each other but remain committed to their union regardless of the obstacles they face as a black man and a white woman in love in apartheid South Africa. Xhawulengweni is a scary and complicated character who is very strong on the outside but proves to be very sensitive emotionally as they journey towards Natal.

The Longest March tells a beautiful story of courage in the face of adversity. It's filled with a lot of history, drama and action. Plus in true Fred Khumalo style, you will stumble upon a bit of humour to ease the weight of the serious issues addressed in the story. A great addition to South African literature.

Uncovered

Author: Tshepiso Dumasi
Publisher: Tshepiso Dumasi Foundation
Price: R180

Tshepiso Dumasi is a Leadership Coach, Founder and Director of Tshepiso Dumasi Foundation. Through his book Uncovered, he dissects the topic of leadership from a biblical perspective. He shares deeply personal stories about his tough upbringing which among others; led him to discover his leadership abilities and purpose. He provides an accommodating viewpoint on leadership anchored on the fact that everyone is born a leader. In the 10 chapter book, he provides simple, practical and relatable points on how one can unearth their leadership abilities. Each chapter ends with a reflection page with questions for readers to answer and reflect upon as they hone in their leadership skills. In the book he touches on topics like vision, integrity, potential, breaking cultural and societal norms, adapting to change and so much more.

He provides a broader definition of leadership beyond just being a boss in the work place but a leader in a family context and more importantly, self-leadership where one takes responsibility for their actions plus being intentional about self-development. Tshepiso uses touching stories about his life to encourage others to rise above challenges they encounter in life. Stories such as - his successful climb to Mount Kilimanjaro, overcoming a life of crime as a teenager, an abusive childhood at the hands of close family members and navigating his career in corporate SA before setting up his foundation.

The Eyes of the Naked

Author: The Eyes of the Naked
Publisher: Penguin Publishing
Price: R270

The Eyes of the Naked is Litha Hermanus' first novel. He holds a joint honours degree in Media Studies and English Literatures, as well as a master's degree in Creative Writing from Wits. The book is built on the life of the main character, Nakedi Solomon who is on the run from the police after being involved in a robbery in Johannesburg. He flees to his birth place of the Eastern Cape where he encounters more problems from his past and complicated family dynamics

Upon arriving in the Eastern Cape he is thrown into a search for his younger brother who has run away from home after a tragic event. Nakedi goes on a journey full of twists and turns in search for his brother while trying to stay clear of being found by the police for his crimes back in Jozi. The story is full of unexpected layers that will leave the reader shocked. Nothing is ever it ever what it seems.

Set mostly in the Eastern Cape, Litha gives a beautiful description of that part of the country, transporting the reader to places such as Ngqiqweni, Zonyele, Noqhekwana-Poenskop in Port St Johns. The book indirectly addresses the questions around manhood and what it means to be a man in the South African context. It touches on circumcision, fatherhood, homosexuality and so much more. "Lost men can only breed what they are - lost children" - is one of the powerful statements made by the author through the life of Nakedi Solomon as he relates to his family, skeletons in his past and strangers he falls for along the way.

Stand Against Bland

Author: Sylvester Chauke
Publisher: Black Bird Books
Price: R250

Stand Against Bland is a biography by Sylvester Chauke "the dancing CEO" the founder of DNA Brand Architects, a marketing and brand consultancy in Fourways Johannesburg. The book is a personal account of Sylvester's life from his upbringing in Soweto, to his young adult years at university while holding down side jobs and his illustrious careers in marketing where he was part of brands such as Nandos South Africa, MTV Networks Africa and renowned advertising agencies in the country such as FCB and Ogilvy. In the book, Sylvester takes the reader into a the struggle faced by many black professionals who are often the first in their families to graduate at tertiary institutions and the first to hold down a solid job. He shares the rewards and sometimes burdens of this journey which include taking care of parents and siblings and not being entirely "free" like their white counterparts who are usually cushioned by funding from parents or other relatives. The book takes on a mentorship role for readers, sharing practical tips on how to deal with various issues confronting most people in corporate SA like the lack of diversity, climbing up the ladder, professionalism, integrity, knowing your worth, networking and so much more. With this book, Sylvester show how it is possible for anyone to rise above their circumstance to achieve their dreams regardless of their circumstances. Sylvester generously shares personal stories to illustrate the importance of self-awareness above all else, as this will be the first step towards opening the doors either in corporate or entrepreneurship.

BECOMING MEN: Black masculinities in a South African township

Author: Malose Langa
Publisher: Wits Press
Price: R300

Malose Langa is a Senior lecturer and Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology at Wits. He is also a psychologist in private practice. Becoming Men is a story of 32 boys from Alexandra Johannesburg who were part of a study by Malose over a period of 12 years where they negotiate manhood and masculinity. He gives a graphic documentation of what it means to be a young black man in contemporary South Africa. The book offers deep insights into the boys' minds as they deal with topics such as strong bonds with their mothers, the impact of absent fathers, school violence, academic performance, gangsterism, unemployment and so much more. From 2007 to 2018, Malose conducted hundreds of individual and group interviews with the boys who are now men to understand what makes them men. He exposes a number of fears that the boys held around rejection in relationships with their fathers and girls. On the other hand he also reveals some of the biases they held when it came to issues such as homophobia and multiple sexual partners. The book challenges some of the long held societal notions that boys do not cry or men do not talk. Through his research, Malose shows that men and boys are craving spaces and platforms to express their thoughts and feelings about the issues they face in life without judgement. This is a relevant book especially now when we are faced with the scourge of Gender Based Violence, it adds to the body of work required to understanding, addressing and ultimately ending this sickness in our societies. It will leave the reader convicted and challenged to review some opinions held about boys and men. Malose ends the books with this quote - "It is my hope that through dialogue and affirming conversations and discussion, in formal and informal groupings we might better support boys in becoming good men'..