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South Africans of all races remember the moment when Neil Tovey raised the Africa Cup of Nations trophy in 1996, with Nelson Mandela at his side wearing his number 9 jersey. It still represents South Africa’s greatest success in international football.
In his long-awaited autobiography, Tovey tells his fascinating life story, describing his modest upbringing in Durban, his entry into a mainly black sport in a deeply segregated 1980s South Africa, and his time as captain of Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana. He recalls his introduction to ‘muti’ rituals by team members and his growing popularity among Chiefs supporters, who nicknamed him Mokoko (boss chicken). Tovey also writes about his experiences as a coach and as technical director of the South African Football Association (SAFA), and shares his insights about the state of the sport today. He talks frankly about his family life and about surviving two heart attacks, and gives insights into leadership and success.
This book will appeal to all football fans, but it is also a fascinating story of a man who has lived a truly South African life.
South African born-and-raised Hollywood screenwriter Helena Kriel is researching the ancient text of the Kama Sutra for a movie she’s writing. At the same time, she is travelling to India to meet with sages and find answers to the universal challenges of sex and love. While searching for love in her doomed relationships, little does she know she will find her answers in caring for her dying brother, Evan, in South Africa.
Set in the mid-1990s, South Africa is just emerging from the darkness of apartheid and bursting with vibrant chaos. The story zooms in on an intense year in the narrator’s life. It centres around the lively and eccentric South African Kriel family: Maya, the combative but inspired mother; Lexi, the sister recently returned from living in a temple in India; Ross, the younger brother diving with sharks; and Helena, the narrator, herself on a journey to understand love and death. At the heart of the story is Evan, her terminally ill 30-year-old gay brother, who has been keeping his illness a shameful secret. Conscious, sensitive, terrified and trying to hang onto sanity as his world changes, Evan becomes paralysed then finally goes blind as death draws ever closer. But it is Evan who leads the family through the fire.
In living through her brother’s fight to stay alive, the narrator finds herself at the heart of a savage story, one she would not have chosen. How could she know when she set out to India to find ancient solutions to the modern problems of our age that her brother’s approaching death would be her greatest teacher? How could she imagine that dying brings everything to life?
The Year Of Facing Fire is an astoundingly written memoir by one of South Africa’s finest writers. It traverses universal themes including love, death and sex, and finds value in the ordinary and great beauty in the uncertain.
The intimate and personal story behind the man who tried to kill Verwoerd but didn’t succeed.
“The raucous wail of sirens pierced the quiet Saturday afternoon, making me drop my book and rush outside to see what drama was taking place. A fleet of cars, their sirens screaming, roared along Oxford Road two hundred yards from our house. I stood on the lawn wondering what on earth it was because sirens were rarely heard near our home. I went back inside; the commotion was over. But within half an hour our telephone started ringing non-stop . . .”
9 April 1960 was the day that changed Susie Cazenove’s life – the day her father, David Pratt, shot the Prime Minister of South Africa, Dr Hendrik Verwoerd. Verwoerd, commonly known as the architect of apartheid, didn’t die, but Pratt’s family lived with the legacy of his action.
A chance encounter with the late David Rattray of Fugitive’s Drift led Cazenove to revisit the memories of that terrible day. With Rattray’s encouragement she put pen to paper to describe the extraordinary events of that day and its consequences. Part family memoir, part ode to the settlement of Johannesburg, Cazenove skilfully weaves her family history and the mood in South Africa in the 1950s and 60s as a background to what may have led her father, a farmer and gentle man, to commit a treasonous act.
Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw exposes the darkest secret at the heart of Jacob Zuma’s compromised government: a cancerous cabal that eliminates the president’s enemies and purges the law-enforcement agencies of good men and women.
As Zuma fights for his political life following the 2017 Gupta emails leak, this cabal – the president’s keepers – ensures that after years of ruinous rule, he remains in power and out of prison. But is Zuma the puppet master, or their puppet? Journey with Pauw as he explores the shadow mafia state. From KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape to the corridors of power in Pretoria and Johannesburg – and even to clandestine meetings in Russia. It’s a trail of lies and spies, cronies, cash and kingmakers as Pauw prises open the web of deceit that surrounds the fourth president of the democratic era.
‘An amazing piece of work, stuffed with anecdote and evidence. It will light fires all through the state and the ANC.’ - Peter Bruce
‘This is dynamite. Dynamite that will shake the foundations of the halls of power.’ - Max du Preez
Lenerd Louw shares his journey of learning and awakening.
Jump is a book about Lenerd Louw's experiences including his playboy lifestyle in Cape Town, the difficulty and confusion when a massive internal shift occurred in him, the decision to walk away from it all, starting the outer journey all around the world whilst doing the tough deep inner journey at the same time. It includes his two-year period of celibacy at the start of his travels, his travels to fascinating places and his learnings at each place. It’s a story of personal expansion and awakening, of surrender, of trust and of transformation.
He sees the same shift now happening to many people around him, be it ex colleagues, friends or new people he has met. He feels a calling to share his journey. The book is one way of doing that!
When working on the UNESCO Slave Route project in the early 2000s, Botlhale Tema discovered the extraordinary fact that her highly educated family from the farm Welgeval in the Pilanesberg had originated with two young men who had been child slaves in the midnineteenth century. She pieced together the fragments of information from relatives and members of the community, and scoured the archives to produce this book.
Land Of My Ancestors, previously published as The People Of Welgeval, tells the story of the two young men and their descendants, as they build a life for themselves on Welgeval. As they raise their families and take in people who have been dispossessed, we follow the births, deaths, adventures and joys of the farm’s inhabitants in their struggle to build a new community.
Set against the backdrop of slavery, colonialism, the Anglo-Boer War and the rise of apartheid, this is a fascinating and insightful retelling of history. It is an inspiring story about friendship and family, landownership and learning, and about how people transform themselves from victims to victors.
A new prologue and epilogue give more historical context to the narrative and tell the story of the land claim involving the farm, which happened after the book’s original publication.
On bended knee, he leaned over the stricken boxer and counted him out. When he waved the fight over, there was exactly one second to go in the dramatic and brutal world championship bout and Víctor Galíndez had retained his title. But the referee, his shirt stained with the champion’s blood, had cemented his reputation as a cool professional, one destined to become an esteemed figure in world boxing.
South Africa’s own Stanley Christodoulou has officiated an unprecedented 242 world title fights over five decades, some of them among the most iconic in boxing history, and became his nation’s very first inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He rose from humble beginnings, learning his trade in the South African townships of the 1960s, and went on to lead his national boxing board as it sought to shed the racial restrictions of the apartheid era. It was a contribution to his country’s sporting landscape that saw him recognised by the president of the ‘new’ South Africa, Nelson Mandela.
The Life and Times of Stanley Christodoulou is Stanley’s memoir in boxing. It takes the reader to a privileged position, inside the ropes with champions and into the company of boxing legends.
Once the owner of a diamond mine, a wine farm and the most expensive house in Cape Town.
Former chairman of South Africa’s largest retailer, director of the Reserve Bank and the richest man in the country. As a young man, Christo Wiese cut his teeth at Pep Stores. Over the years he built a mighty business empire, which included Shoprite and a number of other enterprises. His recipe for success: an endless love for cutting deals, a fearless appetite for risk and a keen eye for a bargain. This man of great charm has never been afraid of sailing close to the wind. Over the course of 50 years these calculated risks paid off, making him one of the most successful businessmen of his generation – until he encountered the furniture group Steinhoff, and things went awry. Business journalist and writer TJ Strydom tells the story of one of South Africa’s best-known business giants in a fresh, engaging way.
‘A fabulous, sweeping adventure read – almost a thriller – that chronicles the rags to riches rise of yet another giant of Afrikaner capitalism.’ – Peter Bruce
A quest is never what you expect it to be.
Elizabeth Madeline Martin spends her days in a retirement home in Cape Town, watching the pigeons and squirrels on the branch of a tree outside her window. Bedridden, her memory fading, she can recall her early childhood spent in a small wood-and-iron house in Blackridge on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg. Though she remembers the place in detail – dogs, a mango tree, a stream – she has no idea of where exactly it is. ‘My memory is full of blotches,’ she tells her daughter Julia, ‘like ink left about and knocked over.’
Julia resolves to find the Blackridge house: with her mother lonely and confused, would this, perhaps, bring some measure of closure? A journey begins that traverses family history, forgotten documents, old photographs, and the maps that stake out a country’s troubled past – maps whose boundaries nature remains determined to resist. Kind strangers, willing to assist in the search, lead to unexpected discoveries of ancestors and wars and lullabies. Folded into this quest are the tender conversations between a daughter and a mother who does not have long to live.
Taken as one, The Blackridge House is a meditation on belonging, of the stories we tell of home and family, of the precarious footprint of life.
Memoirs of a much-loved teacher and legendary headmaster of Pretoria Boys High.
Bill Schroder is the stuff teaching legends are made of. He was strict, yet kind; firm and consistent, yet creative and playful when needed. He knew the magical mix of discipline and care needed to ensure the loyalty of his students. In this warm-hearted, inspiring and often funny memoir, Schroder looks back on four decades as an English and Latin teacher and, later, headmaster, including 19 years at Pretoria Boys High.
His holistic approach to teaching earned him the respect of both teachers and students. Teaching is not only about conveying knowledge, he believed, but also about looking after the emotional needs of students. For Schroder, the institution was never more important than the individual – he always put his students first. As a headmaster he became known for doing things his own way. He gave students a voice where others wanted to silence them, he found creative ways to turn problem schools around and never allowed departmental admin to get in the way of teaching. In the early 1990s when schools were opened to all races, Pretoria Boys High under him played a leading role in transforming their school. In his retirement he also served as a consultant and a mentor to a school in a Pretoria township.
Here is a teacher who left an indelible mark on thousands of pupils from Cape Town to Pretoria.
Chris Barnard needed the help of exceptional men and women to stay ahead of the fast-developing science of transplantation. One of these exceptional men were Winston Wicomb, the darker brother of the famous Randall.
He had to be hidden as a child to prevent the Apartheid inspectors from discovering his family’s racial identity. He had to endure the rampant racism that existed in South Africa at school and in the army… Winston, who had to fix cars in the backyard to make ends meet, had a curious encounter with Chris Barnard and got appointed in his research laboratory. Winston had to develop an apparatus with which hearts could be kept alive to enable transport.
This is the story of an unlikely hero; a man who changed transplantation forever, and a South African citizen who never got the recognition he deserved.
It’s a story of perseverance. And hope. Even... love.
Samantha is stamped with a 'bipolar' label that becomes the trajectory for her tortured existence. For the next three decades she will wind through a maze of anguished suffering, accompanied by memory-effacing medical interventions in the form of electroconvulsive therapies, heaps of pills and repellent hallucinations. As her helpless family and loved ones watch, often in terror, Samantha yo-yos between acceptance and denial of her diagnosis. Time and again believing she is well, she plummets into the devastating chasm of her illness.
Life Interrupted is a deeply compelling memoir that brilliantly humanises the sufferer beyond the label. It is groundbreaking in the way the author shares the horrors of psychosis and unbounded mania, the fears of depression and the emergence of recovery.
This book will not only appeal to the over four million people diagnosed with bipolar in South Africa, but to the millions of people who are affected by loved ones with bipolar, as well as to everyone who reads it.
This extraordinary account of imprisonment shows with exacting clarity the awful injustices of the system. Sylvia Neame, activist against apartheid and racism and by profession a historian (see the three-volume, The Congress Movement, HSRC Press, 2015), has not written a classical historical memoir. Rather, this book is a highly personal account, written in an original style. At the same time, it casts a particularly sharp light on the unfolding of a policedominated apartheid system in the 1960s.
The author incorporates some of her experiences in prisons and police stations around the country, including the fabricated trial she faced while imprisoned in Port Elizabeth, one of the many such trials which took place in the Eastern Cape. But her focus is on Barberton Prison. Here she was imprisoned together with a small number of other white women political prisoners, most of whom had stood trial and been sentenced in Johannesburg in 1964–5 for membership to an illegal organisation, the Communist Party. It is a little known story. Not even the progressive party MP Helen Suzman found her way here.
Barberton Prison, a maximum security prison, part of a farm jail complex in the eastern part of what was then known as the Transvaal province, was far from any urban centre. The women were kept in a small space at one end of the prison in extreme isolation under a regime of what can only be called psychological warfare, carried out on the instructions of the ever more powerful (and corrupt) security apparatus. A key concern for the author was the mental and psychological symptoms which emerged in herself and her fellow prisoners and the steps they took to maintain their sanity. It is a narrative partly based on diary entries, written in a minute hand on tissue paper, which escaped the eye of the authorities. Moreover, following her release in April 1967 – she had been altogether incarcerated for some three years – she produced a full script in the space of two or three months. The result is immediacy, spontaneity, authenticity; a story full of searing detail. It is also full of a fighting spirit, pervaded by a sharp intellect, a capacity for fine observation and a sense of humour typical of the women political prisoners at Barberton.
A crucial theme in Sylvia Neame’s account is the question of whether something positive emerged out of her experience and, if so, what exactly it was.
When, in the 1990s, Wilhelm Verwoerd openly spoke out against his grandfather's racist policies and joined the ANC, he was ejected from the family. Working in Northern Ireland, making peace between former enemies, he feels the urge to return to his homeland, to make peace with his own family.
Between listening to searing stories of friends and neigbours’ suffering under apartheid, he reads Betsie Verwoerd’s intimate private diaries. This moving memoir examines the complexities of having Verwoerd blood in your veins in the full knowledge that Verwoerd has blood on his hands.
A nuanced and intimate look at family loyalty, betrayal, and the demands of restitution in South Africa.
The Love Song Of Andre P. Brink is the first biography of this major South African novelist who, during his lifetime, was published in over 30 languages and ranked with the likes of Gabriel García Márquez, Peter Carey and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
Leon de Kock’s eagerly awaited account of Brink’s life is richly informed by a previously unavailable literary treasure: the dissident Afrikaner’s hoard of journal-writing, a veritable chronicle that was 54 years in the making. In this massive new biographical source – running to a million words – Brink does not spare himself, or anyone else for that matter, as he narrates the ups and downs of his five marriages and his compulsive affairs with a great number of women. These are precisely the topics that the rebel in both politics and sex skated over in his memoir, A Fork in the Road.
De Kock’s biographical study of the author who came close to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature not only synthesises the journals but also subjects them to searching critical analysis. In addition, the biographer measures the journals against additional sources, both scholarly and otherwise, among them the testimony of Brink’s friends, family, wives and lovers.
The Love Song Of Andre P. Brink subjects Brink’s literary legacy to a bracing scholarly re-evaluation, making this major new biography a crucial addition to scholarship on Brink
Global business icon Richard Branson has written many books, but none have been more popular than his first memoir, 1998’s Losing My Virginity. Now he’s finally publishing his second volume of memoirs, covering all of his fascinating ups and downs of the past two decades.
In the two decades since Richard Branson wrote Losing My Virginity, his life and company have changed significantly. Now he brings his life story up to date, including all the successes and failures. He also shares his personal, intimate thoughts on five decades as the world’s ultimate entrepreneur, and his shift to focusing more and more on public service. See how Branson created hundreds of different companies, going from a houseboat to his own private island. Join him as he juggles working life with raising his children, sustaining his marriage, and creating a unique company culture. Discover how he created a new life on Necker Island, while continuing to grow the Virgin brand into all corners of the world. Get the real story behind his encounters with everyone from Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch to Nelson Mandela and Beyoncé.
Go behind the scenes as Sir Richard Branson creates the world’s first commercial spaceline, Virgin Galactic, and handles the biggest crisis he has ever faced. Get under the skin of world record attempts on land, sea and air, and see how the original business hippy adapted to becoming a doting ‘grand-dude’ to his three grandchildren, Eva-Deia, Etta and Artie. This is the true account of how the Virgin Founder reinvented himself and his brand for the 21st C entury, while continuing to push boundaries, break rules and reach for the stars in more ways than one. This is the story of the man behind the beard, the business, the bravado and the brand. Find out how the ultimate entrepreneur did it for the first time - all over again.
Jonathan Kaplan, celebrated international rugby referee and former world record-holder for most Test caps, had his fair share of challenging moments on the field. He was known for his commitment to fair play, ability to defuse tense situations, and courage in making difficult, and sometimes controversial, decisions. All this would stand JK in good stead and come back into play when, at the age of 47, he made two life-changing decisions. The first was to blow his whistle for the last time and end his career as a professional rugby ref. The second was to become a parent – and a solo parent at that.
This is the story of JK’s decision to have a baby by surrogate, the two-year fertility process that followed, and the subsequent birth of his son Kaleb. Winging It draws on the insights of key role-players in JK’s journey, including the extraordinary experience of the surrogate mother herself.
Exchanging rucks for reflux, mauls for milk bottles, scrums for storks (and other stories about Kaleb’s conception), this account of how JK navigates the choppy waters of parenthood is disarmingly frank and scrupulously honest. At times poignant and tender, and at others downright funny, this is a thoroughly contemporary take on what constitutes a family and how we dare to build one.
When opportunity strikes, television producer Deon Maas joins the boatloads of migrants heading for Germany. Faced with the choice of taking all his possessions along or selling everything, he opts for the latter. With a duffel bag and his four dogs, he departs for the First World.
Decadent Berlin blows his mind but also leaves him at a loss for words. As he criss-crosses the city, scratching at its pulsating underbelly, he marvels at German idiosyncrasies, and is roped into this new world by an array of vegan anarchists, eclectic musicians, football hooligans and graffiti artists.
As he tries to settle in, he has to deal with everything from obnoxious bureaucrats to nosy neighbours. In the process, Maas debunks a few myths about the First World: it’s not a perfect place where everything works, and German efficiency is definitely overrated.
By confronting the loss of his support network and adapting to a different political and social context, he learns exactly how deep his African roots go and what it takes to find your place in Europe as a white African.
How does a middle-class Afrikaans boytjie from Springs, a rebellious product of Christelik-nasionale Opvoeding, end up in the grubby world of protest punk, slap-bang in the middle of the anti-apartheid struggle?
The '80s in South Africa were a mess, a schmangled clusterf*ck of a decade. For some, it was braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet. For others, it was a one-eyed bumbling about in a world without signage, desperately looking for the emergency exit. While the black population was becoming increasingly agitated and militant, the white dorps, towns and leafy suburbs of South Africa’s cities were mostly ignorant in their privileged bliss. Whiteys were like the frog in the cooker, not realising that the temperature was on the rise. Soon they would slowly, to their terminal surprise, turn white belly-up amid the froth of bubbles boiling from below. Soon it would be too late to get the hell out.
But in tiny pockets of white rebellion, the country was beginning to hum with resistant energy in Joburg, Cape Town and Durban. The '80s counter-culture and the music it produced was anti-establishment, anti-government, anti-apartheid, but not self-consciously so. While the state saw this strange white subculture as a hive of hedonists and drugged-up nihilists, this anarchic clutter of guitar-wielding, pill-munching, dope-smoking musicians and their followers were in fact a second front in the struggle against apartheid.
In brilliantly tragic and hilarious detail, Between Rock & A Hard Place is the epic memoir of Carsten Rasch’s role in the South African counter-culture Punk and New Wave scene in the late '70s and early '80s. Through his eyes as a musician, promoter and enthusiastic participant, it tells the story of those tumultuous and giddy times with heartfelt irreverence. Veering between lucid moments of desperate innovation and psychotic adventures on the rim of sanity, all the time riding roughshod at delirious speed over the potholes of “culture”, the reader is introduced to half-forgotten heroes, now fast disappearing into the fog of time, and the band of misfits who attempted to disrupt “the system”.
Vusi Mavimbela is one of South Africa's foremost political adventurers and wanderers. A writer of singular verve, humour and descriptive power, his memoir provides penetrating pen portraits of many well-known South African and African political actors, including martyred uMkhonto weSizwe guerilla Solomon Mahlangu, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, Robert Mugabe and a galaxy of senior ANC exiles such as Joe Slovo, Chris Hani, Josiah Jele, Joel Netshitenzhe and Mac Maharaj.
He touches on and illuminates the personalities of many influential men and women in South Africa's early democratic governments. But the heart of Mavimbela's narrative lies in his unique experience of working as a top administrator and counsellor in the offices of Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In the most intimate detail, he describes the emergence and escalation of the conflict between those two flawed principals. He captures the drama of their struggle and its destructive fallout for the new South African state.
Mavimbela offers a potent warning: loyalty and long service to a political party is no guarantee of wise and effective leadership.
The self-righteous, headstrong lawyering mother has a new and greater challenge. No longer seeking the approval of her successful mother, one of South Africa’s first women judges, Niki is out to find that elusive concept of the ‘work/life’ balance and some real, sustainable solutions.
Her journey takes her deep into feminist philosophies as she struggles to understand the unfolding media-driven drama of the Oscar Pistorius trial while researching issues of ethics in the legal profession. But in between life and children, Niki is also determined to navigate her own way around the new world of print and publishing and connect with her own identity as a writer. How is she going to survive all this?
Something In Between is a light-hearted non-fiction narrative about real issues in a changing world: issues of parenting and the legal profession, tertiary institutions and marriage institutions; issues about the old feminist debate and why it’s still unresolved and some lessons learnt about the world of books and book publishing. A memoir of her last three years and all of it absolutely true.
Die oorlewingstog van 'n dapper vrou.
“ ŉ Kale vlakte waar my regterbors eens was. Ek maak my oë toe en laat my brein toe om te proe aan hierdie monumentale ding. Kanker schmanker, besluit ek. Ek is nog net soveel vrou soos voor die operasie. My vroulikheid het toe al die tyd nie in my bors gesit nie. Dit sit in my kop, in my hart, in daardie onmeetbare, onaantasbare iets wat die gees genoem word.”
In hierdie aangrypende boek deel die bekende spanningsverhaalskrywer Madelein Rust die intiemste besonderhede van haar reis met borskanker. Dit is ŉ brutaal eerlike vertelling wat haar belewenis van die siekte met patos en humor uitbeeld. Lesers verkry ŉ eiesoortige blik op die fisieke ervarings van borskankerstryders sowel as die ewig veranderende binnewêreld van dié wat teen die siekte veg.
Kanker schmanker! rus borskankerstryders toe met inligting wat nie altyd geredelik beskikbaar is nie en help hul geliefdes om die reis met kanker beter te verstaan. Dit is ŉ boek van hoop en triomf wat die leser hardop laat huil en laat lag. Dis 'n verhaal vir elkeen van ons wat ŉ stryd van enige aard stry.
South Africa’s pre-eminent historian explains the spectacular rise – and probable demise – of the numerical minority that dominated 20th-century South Africa.
The Afrikaners are unique in the world in that they successfully mobilised ethnic entrepreneurship without state assistance, controlled the entire country, and then yielded power without military defeat. Award-winning author Hermann Giliomee takes a hard analytical look at this group’s dramatic ascent and possible disappearance as a nation in a series of well-argued thematic chapters. Topics range from ethnic entrepreneurship, the ‘coloured vote’ and ‘Bantu’ education to Nelson Mandela’s relationship with the last Afrikaner leaders.
It ends with a final chapter on the most likely future for this sometimes admired, often reviled group, which undoubtedly left the largest imprint on South African history in the 20th century.
Locked up for poaching abalone, Shuhood Abader began writing his life story. For over fifteen years, he had been a small cog in a criminal industry stretching from the Cape underworld to China’s luxury seafood market. As abalone – perlemoen, perly – vanishes from the South African coast, Shuhood’s first-person account takes us right into the heart of the crisis.
Kimon de Greef’s postgraduate research on poaching led him into journalism, and today he is the pre-eminent local expert on the illicit abalone trade. He contextualises Abader’s raw, immediate tale by showing how the system works: from desperate fishing communities via gang strongholds on the Cape Flats, tik, guns and police complicity to the harbours of Morocco and Hong Kong.
Journey with the authors through death-defying dives, blackmail, robbery, shark encounters, near-drownings, and chases by police and rivals.
Poacher tells the story of a deadly black market; but it is also the story of one man, deeply conflicted, committed to his faith and searching for a better way.
In April 1981, Landa Mabenge enters this world, trapped in a girl’s body. From an early age, Landa is aware that he does not relate to his female form, despite being socialised as a girl. In this groundbreaking and brutally honest memoir, Landa Mabenge establishes himself as a resounding and inspirational voice for anyone fighting to define themselves on their own terms. In mesmerising detail, Becoming Him lays bare Landa’s tortured world, growing up trapped in the wrong body, while unflinchingly tracing his transition from female to male.
His childhood in Umtata is brutally shattered, when at age 11 an angry woman and her zombie-like husband unexpectedly arrive to force him to accompany them to Port Elizabeth. Life in PE with ‘The Parents’ soon morphs into a Dickensian nightmare. Landa is subjected to horrific physical, emotional and psychological abuse as he descends into a world of isolation and shame. He recalls his prison of powerlessness: “I count the years I will have to remain a slave. There are seven before my redemption: 7 x 365 = 2555 days. Today is nearly at an end. By the end of tomorrow there will be 2554. By the end of the week, 2548. And so I will myself on. Eventually the day will come when I will be free.”
At 18 Landa is finally able to escape PE to study at UCT, where he tries to embrace life as a butch lesbian, but he remains tortured by his female body. After a close-to-death break down, Landa finally finds strength to embark on an arduous four-year-long journey to physically and legally become “him”, relentlessly researching what it will entail to embark on gender alignment. In 2014, Landa makes history by becoming the first known transgender man in South Africa to successfully motivate a medical aid to pay for his surgeries through the Groote Schuur Transgender Clinic.
Both heartbreaking and uplifting, Becoming Him is a unique story of torture and triumph, bravely opening the lid on cultural shame and abuse against those who choose a path less travelled.
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