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Talk of the Town by award-winning writer Fred Khumalo comprises short stories he wrote over many years. In this vibrant collection Khumalo explores identity and belonging through tales about African foreign nationals in South Africa, xenophobia, South Africans abroad, exiled comrades during apartheid, and past and current township life. At times hilarious and at times gut-wrenching, this is a collection that will move you.
Paris, 1958. A skirmish in a world-famous restaurant leaves two men dead and the restaurant staff baffled. Why did the head waiter, a man who’s been living in France for many years, lunge at his patrons with a knife?
As the man awaits trial, a journalist hounds his long-time friend, hoping to expose the true story behind this unprecedented act of violence.
Gradually, the extraordinary story of Pitso Motaung, a young South African who volunteered to serve with the Allies in the First World War, emerges. Through a tragic twist of fate, Pitso found himself on board the ss Mendi, a ship that sank off the Isle of Wight in February 1917. More than six hundred of his countrymen, mostly black soldiers, lost their lives in a catastrophe that official history largely forgot. One particularly cruel moment from that day will remain etched in Pitso’s mind, resurfacing decades later to devastating effect.
Dancing The Death Drill recounts the life of Pitso Motaung. It is a personal and political tale that spans continents and generations, moving from the battlefields of the Boer War to the front lines in France and beyond. With a captivating blend of pathos and humour, Fred Khumalo brings to life a historical event, honouring both those who perished in the disaster and those who survived.
Who are these Guptas who are so powerful, they’re distributing cabinet posts like matrons handing out condoms at a brothel? Who do Americans think they are, accusing Trevor Noah of ‘stealing’ a joke from one of their comedians? Is Sizakele MaKhumalo Zuma’s spaza shop a National Key Point?
In #ZuptasMustFall, And Other Rants, Fred Khumalo runs riot, contemplating the pressing issues that continue to confound, infuriate and exasperate the nation – or to sink it into further controversy. Covering a wide range of topics, including politics, history, current events and celebrity gossip, this compilation of recent and new writings contains Khumalo’s trademark blend of humour and shrewd analysis, as well as his treatment of everyday issues from a uniquely South African perspective.
This is an entertaining collection of thoughts from one of the country’s most seasoned journalists, offering many questions, and tongue-in-cheek answers, on who we are as a nation, where we are going, and how we compare to the rest of the world.
It’s 1899 and Philippa’s fiancé Nduku has just broken off their engagement. She is heartbroken – after all, she has followed him from Kimberley, where they first met, to the goldfields of Johannesburg. In this bustling new city, tensions are mounting between the South African Republic and the gold-hungry British Empire. When war is declared, the mines are shut down and migrant workers ordered to leave town.
But how do you get home and out of harm’s way when there are no running trains and home is hundreds of kilometres away? You walk. Over perilous terrain Nduku and Philippa and seven thousand others walk to Natal. Disguised as a mineworker’s wife, for Philippa is white, she and Nduku talk about their true histories, about their fears and hopes, and with every footfall the possibility of lasting happiness seems within reach – if only they can survive, and if only they can weather the storm of an unexpected third player in their troubled romance.
Set during an incredible event in South African history, The Longest March is a tale of heady determination, and a tribute to the perseverance and courage of ordinary men and women when faced with extraordinary circumstances.
Fred Khumalo’s debut isiZulu book, uManzekhofi nezaKhe (‘Manzekhofi’s Tales’) is a collection of interconnected, irreverent, timeless and witty short stories inspired by Kunyenyeza Esikhotheni, the isiZulu translation of Geraldine Elliot’s The Long Grass Whispers.
Most of the 13 stories are centred on the trials and tribulations of the Sibiya family after moving from the township to a white suburb, as seen through the eyes of Manzekhofi and S’khalangabanye, the house cat and dog.
Other stories, meanwhile, follow the exploits of a host of memorable animal characters, from rats, and goats to the hamerkop bird, baboon, and wild-cats/servals. uManzekhofi nezaKhe, while following the growth of Manzekhofi on his journeys, is also a telling of a family’s experience of post-apartheid South Africa through a seemingly whimsical, but critical lens.
Paris, 1958. An Algerian waiter at the world famous restaurant, La Tour d'Argent, is arrested for the murder of two customers. As he awaits trial, his long-time friend, celebrated jazz musician and artist Jerry Moloto, is hounded by an opportunistic and ambitious journalist hoping to make a name for himself by being the first to reveal the real story behind the waiter's sudden extreme act of violence. Culling details from memory and from the waiter's own journals, the story emerges that he is actually Pitso Motaung, a mixed race South African who had volunteered to fight for the British army in the First World War. Through a tragic twist of fate, Pitso finds himself enlisted aboard the ill-fated SS Mendi the formidable warship sunk off the coast of the Isle of Wight, killing 646 people, including many black South African soldiers. Pitso witnesses many tragic events during the crossing and at the time of the sinking but one particularly cruel moment will stay with him for the rest of his life, resurfacing decades later to devastating effect.Commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi, Dancing the Death Drill paints a brilliant picture of a moment in history and brings to life some of the stories from the many who perished as well as of those who survived.
Bitches' brew, is a South African love story set in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. It focuses on the epic love affair between Bra Zakes, a former amateur musician, bootlegger, mercenary and killer of great repute and Lettie, a shebeen queen. Bitches' brew traces the couple's lives and loves through the interweaving of history and memory in the tradition of village storytellers. As he lies dying, and facing the prospect of his assets being confiscated by the Assets Forfeiture Unit, Bra Zakes is surrounded by his trusted luitenants who wait for their last instructions from their "mafia" boss. Also at his bedside is Lettie, whom he has not seen for twenty years, and whom he hopes to make a beneficiary of his empire.
As a teenager, Fred Khumalo greeted his friends with a handshake and the words "touch my blood". It implied friendship and trust. The saying became his name. More than that, it became the way he viewed the world. Everything touched Fred Khumalo. Twice he was bewitched. Twice his father - the "country bumpkin" - took him to inyangas to have the "demons" banished. Twice his mother - the "city girl" - took him to a doctor to have the "fevers" cured. He smoked dagga with conmen and criminals, he pickpocketed "corpses" on the Friday night trains and worked as a gardener in the larney suburbs. He studied journalism and shacked up with whiteys in a commune, for a while the only darkie in a crazy swirl of booze, drugs and sex. And then the bloody fighting that tore apart KwaZulu/Natal in the 1980s touched his life and sucked him into a place of horror and violence that threatened to destroy him. When a friend died in his arms with the worlds "They really got me, Touch my blood. They really got me", Khumalo realised that if he was to outlive the madness, he had to run. From the journalist and Sunday Times columnist comes a startlingly honest, humorous and poignant autobiography about growing up in a time of laughter and heartache.
In this title, Seven Steps To Heaven, this streetwise philosopher of the shebeens and entrepreneur par excellence takes the back seat as her son Kokoroshe, street urchin turned lawyer, takes centre stage.
This is a multilayered family saga, a riveting tale of love, betrayal, and a search for identity - sexual and otherwise.
Dark and understated, but sometimes boisterous and with the in-your-face humour that made Bitches' Brew a hit with readers and critics alike, is the engine that drives Seven Steps To Heaven to a painful yet satisfying climax.
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