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Jonny Steinberg to Join WiSER at Wits Under the Distinguished Professorships Programme PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 10:57

KZN Literary Tourism featured writer, Jonny Steinberg, has as a new professor at the Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research (WiSER). Steinberg's appointment forms part of Vice Chancellor Adam Habib’s Distinguished Professorships programme and he is set to join the WiSER staff in 2015.

In 2003, Midlands received South Africa's most prestigious literary prize, the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction. Two years later Steinberg repeated this feat when his second book, The Number, a social history of crime and punishment in Cape Town written in the form of a biography of a prison gangster, received the same award. Midlands also received the National Booksellers' Choice award in 2003. Both books are published by Jonathan Ball Publishers.

Steinberg published three books in 2008. The first was titled Sizwe’s Test and was published in the US by Simon and Schuster.  The second, titled Three-Letter Plague was published in South Africa by Jonathan Ball Publishers, and explores the ways in which the arrival of antiretroviral drugs in an Eastern Cape village infiltrates the life of a successful young shopkeeper. The book was published in the UK and in Italy in 2009. The third book published in 2008 is called Thin Blue, also published by Jonathon Ball Publishers, and it is about police on the streets of Johannesburg.

Sarah Nuttall, director of WiSER, says: “Steinberg is a public intellectual of note, a multitalented writer whose insightful and engaging work covers a remarkably wide range of topics related to some of the fundamental questions facing South Africa and the African continent today.

“Steinberg’s body of work is an outstanding fit with WiSER’s focus on social, economic and cultural research in an interdisciplinary vein, reaching across many and varied publics.


“Jonny’s dedication to teaching and his contribution to the re-invigoration of the public and civic realms will enormously benefit WiSER, Wits University and the South African academy at large.”

Find out more about Jonny Steinberg's appointment at WiSER over on the BOOKSLIVE website.

South Africa Mourns the Loss of Poet and Editor, Mafika Pascal Gwala PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 13:05

It is with sadness that we have learned about the passing of Mafika Gwala on 8 September.  Gwala was born and grew up in Verulam and spent most of his adult life in the semi-rural township of Mpumalange KwaZulu-Natal. His working life there, and in Johannesburg, included stints as secondary school teacher, legal clerk, factory worker, and industrial relations officer.  He wrote his MPhil on Politics in 3rd World Developing Countries at the University of Natal.

Read Minister of Arts and Culture, Nath Mthethwa's, statement on Gwala's passing.

In remembrance, here is an extract from one of his best-known poems and a link to Lesego Rampoleng in Conversation with Mafika Gwala at the Chimurenga Chronic.


Extract from “Getting off the Ride”


My boots jar me

as I take the corner off Grey Street

Into Victoria’s busy, buzzy Victoria

Beesy Victoria’s market area.

Some black mamas kneeling

their hands on the sidewalk

their second-hand clothes before them,

They kneel as if in prayer.

A white hippie bums towards them

with what shapes into a pair of

fawn corduroy jeans:

‘They are fishbottomed’, the aunt tilts

the deal. The seller hooks a feigned smile

with his cagey chin,

Looks like they both have no choice

So the limp deal is sealed.

With unease the hippie moves off

You’d swear he’s left a bomb to detonate;

I radar his moves

whilst yarning my eyes onto the mama,

the mama still on that solemn kneel

that’s accompanied by somber looks

from close range.

Where’s that hippish fixer?

Into the market lanes for a blow-up;

And the black mama to scrounge a sale

after a wash of these sweaty pants

that can only be bought by some black brother

whose boss won’t give him enough to afford

a pair of decent trousers.

And again I know I’m being taken for a ride.

Launch of Shafinaaz Hassim's Soul Seeds for Shade and Solitude PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 September 2014 09:38

Johannesburg-based author and sociologist, Shafinaaz Hassim, will launch her much-awaited poetry collection. Soul Seeds for Shade & Solitude will be launched tonight (09 September) at Nino’s, Moses Mabhida Stadium at 19:00. Hassim says her latest work gave her an opportunity to reflect on what she’s learnt from both the writing process and interacting with readers. Each word in the title of this poetry collection represents a theme covered in the work.

Hassim's previous books are Daughters are Diamonds: honour, shame and Seclusion (2007), Memoirs for Kimya (2009), Belly of Fire (2011) and SoPhia her 2012 influential novel on domestic violence. A play based on SoPhia featured at the State Theatre August 2014. She has been listed as one of the top 39 authors under the age of 40 at the London Book Fair 2014. Her story will be published by Bloomsbury in the UK, in the Africa39 anthology.


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