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Passing of Mark Behr (1963-2015) PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 30 November 2015 14:00

We were saddened this weekend to hear of the passing of Mark Behr. He was the author of three novels: The Smell of Apples, Embrace, Kings of Water. At the time of his passing he was 52 years old and was Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Rhodes College, Memphis, Tenneseee.  Read more about this remarkable novelist in his author profile.

Michael Cardo PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 November 2015 15:07

Michael Cardo (1977 - ) is a Durban-born writer and politician. He grew up in Botha’s Hill, and matriculated from Kearsney College in 1994. Cardo holds a BA (Summa Cum Laude) in English, French and History from the University of Natal, as well as an MPhil and PhD in History from the University of Cambridge, where he attended Trinity College on a Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarship. His PhD thesis, awarded in 2003, explores the relationship between white “South Africanism” and liberalism in the first half of the twentieth century.

Cardo has been involved in politics since 2003, when he joined the political staff of the DA and served as a director of research for Tony Leon. He continued serving as the party’s national Director of Research between 2004 and 2006. He also worked as Helen Zille’s speechwriter on the 2009 election campaign. Between 2011 and 2014, Cardo worked in the Policy and Strategy Unit at the Department of Premier in the Western Cape Government, specialising in social policy and serving as the Director of Policy Research and Analysis.

In 2006, he was awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship at the Helen Suzman Foundation. It was during this time that he began writing a biography of the former SA Liberal Party leader, Peter Brown. The biography, Opening Men’s Eyes: Peter Brown and the Liberal Struggle for South Africa, was an attempt by Cardo to memorialize the activist and expose people to the important role he played in South African history.

Opening Men’s Eyes has received a positive reception with particular praise directed at the effort Cardo has made to capture his subject matter accurately. J.E. Spence described it as a “well written and closely argued biography” which provides “a splendid version of Brown’s life” (2010:76). On Cardo’s coverage of the friendship shared between Alan Paton and Brown, Spence lauded the "intelligently and sensitively” done account of their relationship (77). Steve Hayes awarded Opening Men’s Eyes four out of five stars with the assessment that “the character of Peter Brown that Michael Cardo captures is indeed the Peter Brown that I knew” (2011). Colin Gardner also appreciated the authenticity of Brown’s characterisation and lauded the “vivid and gripping detail” and rigorous research that went into the making of the biography (2011:121-122).

Cardo remains active in politics. He was elected to Parliament in 2014 and is the Shadow Minister of Economic Development. He is also the DA’s Constituency Head of the Overstrand Municipality, centred on Hermanus. In terms of his literary endeavors, Cardo would like to tackle the biographies of Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert and Helen Zille in future.


Neelan Govender PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 November 2015 19:51

Neelan Govender (1929 - ) is a former high school teacher and currently works as a medical doctor in Merebank, south of Durban. He is one of the founding members of the South African Medical Association (SAMA) and was its President from 2002 - 2003. He was also an off-road race car driver who competed in the Roof of Africa races.

An avid reader, Govender is the author of numerous poems and short stories. He has penned Girrmit Tales - a collection of short stories about the Indian indenture experience in South Africa. The critical nature of this collection has received attention by academia. Betty Govinden and Lindy Stiebel have each examined Girrmit Tales in research papers that delve into South African Indian writing and the Indian indenture experience (1)(2).

Govender has also co-authored Legends of the Tide - a coffee-table book about the Seine-netters and the roots of the Durban fishing industry and “Beyond the Stethoscope - Casebook of a Township Doctor” - a collection of short stories about his 50 years as a township doctor. His next book  will launch in mid-December.

Legends of the Tide has received a positive reception. Rasvanth Chunylall described the book as a “beautifully illustrated guide” and applauded the efforts of the writers in “documenting [a] vibrant yet sadly forgotten community who deserve to be celebrated for their contributions to our province (Kwazulu-Natal)”. A review on the “Look Local” website described it as a “great read” and urged members of the community to get a copy. Siphiliselwe Makhanya, writing for the Sunday Times, commended the authors for “successfully [wrestling] the tales of Durban's first seine-netters into a book at last”.

Besides his work in literature, Govender is celebrated for his role as a pillar of his community He has pioneered many community initiatives and is the visionary force behind iconic projects such as Chatsworth Centre, one of the busiest malls in South Africa and Chatsmed Hospital, the successful private hospital in Chatsworth. His current community initiative is to build a community hospital in the Durban South Basin.



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