Monthly Archives: Sep 2018

Negotiating the tricky thicket of love, adoption and race

martina dahlmanns

Martina Dahlmanns on Noordhoek beach with her children, Kal, Nene and Lele.

martina dahlmanns

Review: Vivien Horler

A Person My Colour – Love, adoption and parenting while white, by Marina Dahlmanns (Modjaji Books)

What the subtitle of this absorbing book doesn’t tell you is that Marina Dahlmanns and her husband Alan’s three adopted children are black. The couple made a conscious decision to adopt the first two, a girl and a boy, and the third, half-sister to the second, more or less fell into their laps. Continue reading

BBC’s Test Match Special commentators remembered

Review: Archie Henderson

Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket, by Stephen Fay and David Kynaston (Bloomsbury)

arlott cricketThere have been several golden ages of cricket depending on your preference or prejudice. The one in which John Arlott and EW (Jim) Swanton existed – even helped create – was post World War 2 until about the ‘70s when the Australian media magnate Kerry Packer broke the mould.

Both men were dead by the time Twenty20 cricket became the rage; it probably made them turn in their graves.

Arlott was a policeman who became a poet, then a BBC producer and most famously a BBC cricket commentator. He was a middle-class boy. Swanton was born into privilege, educated at a public school and had a good war, albeit as a prisoner of the Japanese. Arlott’s voice was a West Country Hampshire burr; Swanton’s was posh. Continue reading

Sometimes spiteful, often hilarious, a new biography of Princess Margaret to savour

Review: Vivien Horler

Ma’am Darling– 99 glimpses of Princess Margaret, by Craig Brown (4th Estate)

princess margaretFrom a South African perspective, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, was something of a fringe character in the saga of the British royal family. Yet, says author Craig Brown, she pops up in every other British memoir, biography and diary written in the second half of the 20th century.

Unlike her sister Queen Elizabeth II, who has to be diplomatic and silent and wise, Margaret was able to be imperious, haughty, outspoken and often rude. Continue reading

Reliving the Zupta years, one Zapiro cartoon at a time

Review: Vivien Horler

WTF – Capturing Zuma, a cartoonist’s tale, by Zapiro with Mike Wills (Jacana)

rape lady justiceIf, for some inexplicable reason, you wanted a reminder of the Zupta years, Zapiro’s new book fits the bill. And it’ll make you smile – wryly.

WTF is not Zapiro’s usual annual. This volume spans the years from 2005 all the way through to early this year, and is accompanied by commentary on what Zapiro was thinking as he drew the cartoons. Continue reading

Self-help – one often loony step at a time

Review: Vivien Horler

Self-HelpLESS – A cynic’s search for sanity, by Rebecca Davis (Macmillan)

Help Me! by Marianne Power (Picador/Macmillan)

self-helplessRebecca Davis is a successful Cape Town essayist, columnist and commentator. She writes for the Daily Maverick, appears on panels at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, and has a regular Thursday afternoon gig with John Maytham on Cape Talk, when she talks interestingly and wittily about current events.

She’s blonde and attractive, and happily married to the journalist Haji Mohamed Dawjee.

But Davis, like all of us, has her worries in life, which prompted her to spend a year seeking personal wellness, spiritual enlightenment “and good old-fashioned happiness”. Continue reading

SARS drops legal action against author Jacques Pauw

jacques pauw

Author Jacques Pauw

Author Jacques Pauw is off the hook when it comes to SA Revenue Service’s plans to prosecute him for information disclosed in his bestseller The President’s Keepers.

Publishers Tafelberg said on Friday (September 7 2018) that SARS had dropped its litigation against the author.

In legal correspondence to Tafelberg, acting commissioner Mark Kingon said SARS “considers this litigation unfortunate. The acting commissioner is working hard to restore the public confidence in the SARS.”

Earlier this year, SARS under former commissioner Tom Moyane filed papers in the Western Cape High Court against Pauw, saying he had published confidential tax information in the book in contravention of the Tax Administration Act.

Moyane, who has since been suspended from SARS, featured prominently in The President’s Keepers, which was published in October last year.

It is one of the biggest and fastest-selling books in South African publishing history.  It disclosed, among other things, that former president Jacob Zuma “captured” the country’s law enforcement agencies to hide the fact he was not tax compliant and that he received a salary from a private company while in office.

Tafelberg was not part of Moyane’s legal action, but the publishers defended Pauw, arguing there was clear and compelling public interest in the revelations about Zuma’s tax affairs.

“We are proud to have stood by our author and the book, which brought to light important information and played a role in breaking up the Zuma cabal that has only its own interests – and not that of the country – at heart,” said NB Publishers, of which Tafelberg is an imprint. “Pauw is a respected, experienced investigative journalist, and his book was written and published with the utmost integrity.

“We are very happy that this chapter of litigation is now closed and our author is no longer under attack.”

All you need to know about SA Cricket, including the stuff that was written out of history

Review: Archie Henderson

Cricket and Conquest and Divided Country, part of a planned four-volume history on South African cricket, by Andre Odendaal, Krish Reddy, Christopher Merrett and Jonty Winch (BestRed)

cricket and conquestAustin Ngcumbe is not a name that will be familiar to many South African cricket fans, yet in his day he was as popular – and as good – as Kagiso Rabada.

Like the Proteas man, Ngcumbe was a feared fast bowler wherever cricket was played in South Africa. At that time, the 1880s, the game was played only in the Western and Eastern Cape.

Ngcumbe was among the mission-educated indigenous middle class of King William’s Town where cricket was popular among white and black players. He played for the King William’s Town Champion Cricket Club that won the first Native Inter-Town Tournament, a competition copied from the whites of the area, who were reluctant to embrace black players. It was the beginning of sporting apartheid in South Africa.

divided countryNgcumbe took 10 wickets twice in matches against Gaika CC of East London, Fear Not CC of Grahamstown and Ethiopian CC of Port Elizabeth. The tournament established cricket as a sport among black men in the Eastern Cape; it was already popular among the whites. There were matches between the race groups, and black teams often won, but the white colonial mindset would not allow this to thrive and so the myth emerged in South Africa that black people did not have a cricket culture or tradition. Continue reading

Delightful story highlights the importance of children’s books

Review: Vivien Horler

The Librarian, by Salley Vickers (Viking/ Penguin)
librarian vickersMy dad was an engineer with Shell when I was a child and we moved every two years until I was 14 years old. This meant friendships were forever being cut short, but it also helped give me a love of books.
In every town we lived there was a children’s library, except at first in Walvis Bay, where one day to my delight my mother found one of Richmal Crompton’s William books in the shelves of the adult library.
Books often stood in for friends and today remain a comfort, a joy, and sometimes a challenge.
Or as Salley Vickers says of her protagonist in The Librarian: “Books became her silent allies and sometimes her more-than-friends.” Continue reading