Even the Cows Were Amazed: Shipwreck Survivors in South-East Africa, 1552-1782 by Gillian Vernon

Between the 16th and 18th centuries a number of European ships involved in trade with the East came to grief on the south-east African coast, the most famous being the Grosvenor (1782). In almost all cases there were survivors, both passengers and crew, whose stories were later recounted and written down. And what stories these are!


Many parties undertook epic journeys on foot from the wreck site to reach places where they might be rescued. The survivors of Portuguese vessels headed north towards present-day Mozambique, where it was known that Portuguese trading vessels occasionally made anchor. The Dutch and the British, on the other hand, headed west towards the Cape. These hazardous journeys involved great feats of endurance for the survivors, who tramped by foot for hundreds of kilometres through unknown territory and met (and bartered with) local people along the way whom common stereotypes of the time demonised as hostile savages.

Even more remarkably, a few parties of survivors constructed their own small ships from the wreckage and sailed off to seek rescue.

About the author

Gillian Vernon, who was formerly director of the East London Museum, has studied and researched the narratives of the survivors and she has travelled along the routes that some of the overland parties followed and visited Mozambique in order to determine exactly where they went. In this book, which is based on her recent PhD dissertation, she retells the story of the survivors’ experiences and examines why some parties managed to survive much better than others – usually, because of good leadership and respectful dealings with the local people. She also describes how, instead of seeking rescue, many slaves who survived from the wrecks, and some Europeans too, decided to settle in Africa, where they managed to integrate well in local society, so much so that when rescue parties later came across them, they refused to leave and return to Europe.

Published by Jacana Media

ISBN: 9781431408009

Mail & Guardian Literary Festival 2013


The Mail & Guardian in association with The Market Theatre and SAFM presents…

Nadine Gordimer, Adam Habib, NoViolet Bulawayo, Ronnie Kasrils, Isabel Hofmeyr, Shaun de Waal, Craig MacKenzie, Imraan Coovadia and Niq Mhlongo are among the writers, thinkers, academics and activists who will be taking part in the fourth Mail & Guardian Literary Festival at The Market Theatre in Johannesburg from August 30 to September 1.

The festival will pay tribute to and draw inspiration from the late Chinua Achebe, adopting as its theme and sub-title Achebe’s children: Africa’s suspended revolutions. In the keynote address on Friday 30 August, Adam Habib, the new vice-chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, will talk about South Africa’s suspended revolution.


The festival’s theme chimes also with Habib’s forthcoming book, South Africa’s Suspended Revolution: Hopes and Prospects, which will be published by Wits University Press and Ohio University Press in August. The book is billed as shedding “light on how individuals and institutions can, with imagination, act against the grain of a given historical moment and transform the options available to society”.

A wide range of South African publishers and university presses are the festival’s partners. They are: Jacana, Jonathan Ball, Kwela, Modjadji Books, NB Publishers and its imprint Zebra Press, Pan Macmillan and its imprint Picador Africa, Random House Struik and its imprint Umuzi, UKZN Press and Wits University Press.

Click HERE for bookings and additional information.

The Long View by JP Landman

Now is the time for reflection; the time for the tough questions. Is South Africa going to make it? Are we going to become a shining example of a modern society, a proud member of the world’s leading countries? Are we going to be okay?

…or are we becoming a failed state?


Despite forming the foundation of our worst fears as a country, these are the very same questions that South Africans everywhere ask themselves. Through his book, The Long View, JP Landman provides simple but compelling answers. By questioning and challenging the pre-conceived ideas and the media-portrayed examples of what members of the public might deem a ‘modern and developed’ society, JP Landman goes beyond the here and now to give readers a solid, long-term, and informed view; or what he calls The Long View.

As an economist, Landman deals neither in optimism nor pessimism, only realism. His vision of South Africa’s future transcends the daily drama of the snap shots seen on TV and in the media, providing a proper understanding and view of the realities of this country. The answer to your questions is not a knee-jerk or a thumb-suck. Let the truth speak; this is information you can hold on to.

Know the facts. Know your country.

About the Author


JP Landman is an analyst, renowned for his talks on South Africa. He has studied economics at Harvard and has an MPhil in future studies from Stellenbosch. He is the Visiting Professor at Free State University. In 2013, he was selected as a Public Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington DC.

View JP’s website HERE

Published by Jacana Media

ISBN: 9781920292102

Sharp Edges by S.A Partridge


Six friends attend a music festival in the Cederberg. Only five come back. For her seventeenth birthday Demi Cowley invites her five closest friends to join her at a music festival for a party to end all parties. But what was supposed to be the night of their lives soon becomes a nightmare none of them will ever forget.

Sharp Edges is a topsy-turvy tale of love, loss and friendship that will stay with you long after the final page has been turned, and leaves you questioning what you really know about your friends.

Sharp Edges is S.A. Partridge’s fourth novel for young adults.

View the official book trailer HERE 

Published by Human & Rousseau

ISBN: 9780798163262

About the author


S.A. Partridge is a young adult novelist from Cape Town whose first novel, The Goblet Club, won the English category in the You/Huisgenoot I am a Writer competition in 2007 as well as the MER Youth Prize at the M-Net Via Afrika Awards in 2008. Her critically-acclaimed style of writing is so popular with the South African youth that it was adapted into a school play entitled Gif. Her second novel Fuse was published in 2009.

You can view S.A Partridge‘s website HERE

Follow her on Twitter HERE and like her page on Facebook HERE

Books by S.A. Partridge

Sharp Edges, Human & Rousseau (2013) 
Dark Poppy’s Demise
, Human & Rousseau (2011)
, Human & Rousseau (2009)
The Goblet Club
, Human & Rousseau (2007)


Fuse was shortlisted for the Percy Fitzpatrick Prize 
Winner of the English category in the You/Huisgenoot I am a Writer competition in 2007 – The Goblet Club
MER-prys vir jeuglektuur (2008) – The Goblet Club
was chosen as IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) South Africa’s English nomination for the IBBY International Honour Roll 2012.

2013 Open Book Festival

Open Book Festival LogoIt’s almost here!  The Open Book Festival is happening in Cape Town from Saturday the 7th of September, to Wednesday, the 11th.

And what a full, five day programme the organisers, Mervyn Sloman (owner of The Book Lounge) and Frankie Murrey, have put together.  There are over 130 events, that feature more than 120 authors (local and international) – heaven, for all book-lovers!

Click HERE to see the programme, and click HERE to view the impressive list of participating authors.


Whatever Happened to the Cowley Twins? By Gail Schimmel

The unsolved disappearance of two blonde baby girls in Johannesburg over thirty years ago is a subject regularly raised around northern suburbs dinner tables.


On 4 June 1978 32-year-old Tertia Cowley took her two-and-a-half-month old twins with her to a doctor’s appointment in Rosebank Medicentre, leaving her 5-year-old son, Tim, in the care of his grandmother.

Cowley had arranged that her husband would pick the twins up from the doctor’s rooms en route home. When the doctor called Cowley in for her appointment, her husband had not yet arrived, so she left the twins under the care of the receptionist. She explained that her husband would arrive to fetch them.

About ten minutes later, according to the receptionist, a well-dressed, middle-aged white man arrived in the reception area. He said that he was Mrs Cowley’s husband, and that he would take the twins with him. The receptionist handed the twins to him, and when Mrs Cowley emerged from the doctor’s room, she passed on the message that the twins were with their father, and that he would be taking them to visit his mother before meeting Mrs Cowley at home.

A few hours later the truth emerged: Alan Cowley arrived home from work, and apologised that he had been unable to fetch the twins. It was then that the Cowleys came to the horrible realisation: an impostor had abducted their daughters.

They immediately called the police, but it was too late.

Despite extensive investigations, no trace of the Cowley Twins has ever been found. But what happened to the blue-eyed, blonde girls, Isabella and Melissa?

About the author


Gail Schimmel has been writing stories since she could put pen to paper.

Now Gail fits her writing into any spare moment she can snatch, when she’s not busy running her own consultancy as a specialist in advertising law and raising two children.

In 2007 she published a children’s book, Claude & Millie, under her married name Gail van Onselen. Her first adult novel, Marriage Vows, was published in 2008, also by Kwela Books.

Follow Gail on Twitter HERE

Click HERE to visit Gail’s website.

Published by Kwela Books

ISBN: 9780795704901

2013 Midlands Literary Festival: KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal’s premier book festival, the 2013 Midlands Literary Festival, is just around the corner. And it promises to be a bumper weekend for Howick and the greater Midlands because over the weekend of the 23-25 August, Howick will host the literary festival at Yellowwood, the Mandela Marathon on the Sunday 25 August as well as the Highland Games on 24 August at Michaelhouse.

They have a bumper line up for book lovers, says festival organiser Darryl Earl David. Leading the charge is Ronnie Kasrils, 2011 Paton Prize Winner who will be heading to Howick to launch the 4th edition of his autobiography Armed & Dangerous.

Two times Paton Prize finalist Judge Chris Nicholson, who wowed crowds with his talk on Indian golfer Papwa last year will be speaking on his debut novel One Hand Washes the Other. Duncan Brown, a familiar name in Pietermaritzburg, is sure to enthral the crowds with his hot off the press book Are Trout South African? Grant Leversha will be there with his great golfing book that is palming international award after award, Within an African Eden.

There is also plenty of local flavour. Celebrity chef Jackie Cameron will have you salivating with her new book Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home. Paul Ross will talk on his magnificent book on the Drakensberg, with photographs by Roger de la Harpe; there will be a talk on Ardmore Ceramics biography We are because of others, retired Professor of English Elwyn Jenkins will be talking on famous artists Gerard Sekoto’s only children’s book Shorty and Billy Boy; Jane Harley will speak about the long and winding road to self-publishing; Darryl David continues his love affair with God’s architecture in his book A Platteland Pilgrimage; and a South African legend, Dr Ian Player, will talk about his just released biography Into the River of Life.

Chris Ballantine, professor of music at UKZN will talk about the triumphs of jazz during the apartheid era in his Marabi Nights; Cape Town poet Shabbir Banoobhai will show us through words why he is one of the more respected wordsmiths; Jeff Guy will talk on Theophilus Shepstone; Carol Campbell pulls at the heartstrings with her unput-downable novel My Children Have Faces; Ashwin Desai, one of the sharpest minds and most riveting speakers will speak on his new book on Gandhi (if they can get him to stick to the script; Barbara Erasmus will speak on the devastation of Alzheimers chronicled in her novel Below Luck Level and Scott Couper, biographer of Albert Luthuli, says he will be talking about the F-word (Darryl David was too afraid to ask what that may entail).

But it is the opening day, Friday 23rd that has got me all excited, gushes Darryl. That is when, in association with the Centre for African Literary Studies and the Alan Paton Centre at UKZN, Darryl will conduct a literary tour of Pietermaritzburg. The literary tour will include the following writers:

  1. Alan Paton
  2. Bessie Head
  3. Ronnie Kasrils
  4. Kobus Moolman
  5. Antjie Krog
  6. Dana Snyman
  7. Tom Sharpe

Please reserve your place on this tour by e-mailing Darryl David on davidd@ukzn.ac.za or calling 081 391 8689.

Here is the programme line-up:

9.00 – 9.30 DUNCAN BROWN - Are Trout South African
9.30 – 10.00 DARRYL DAVID - A Platteland Pilgrimage
10.00 – 10.30 JEFF GUY - Theophilus Shepstone
10.30 - 11.00 TEA
11.00 – 11.30 BARBARA ERASMUS - Below Luck Level
11.30 – 12.00 SHABBIR  BANOOBHAI
12.00 – 12.30 SCOTT COUPER - The F Word
12.30 - 2.00 LUNCH
2.00 – 2.30 RONNIE KASRILS - Armed and Dangerous
2.30 – 3.00 ASHWIN DESAI – Chatsworth
3.00 – 3.30 CAROL CAMPBELL - My Children have Faces
3.30 – 4ish JACKIE CAMERON - Cooks at home
9.00 – 9.30  JANE HARLEY – Self publishing
9.30 – 10.00  FEE HALSTEAD – Ardmore Ceramics
10.00 – 10.30 PAUL ROSS - Drakensberg
10.30 - 11.00 TEA
11.00 – 11.30 GRANT LEVERSHA – Within an African Eden
11.30 – 12.00 FAITH KA MANZI - The Faith Diaries
12.00 – 12.30 ELWYN JENKINS - Shorty and Billy Boy (Gerard Sekoto’s children’s book)
12.30 - 2.00 LUNCH
2.00 – 2.30 CHRIS BALLANTINE - Marabi Nights
2.30 – 3.00 CHRIS NICHOLSON - One Hand Washes the Other
3.00 – 3.30 IAN PLAYER - Into the River of Life



We Are Going to Kill Each Other Today: The Marikana Story

One year ago the news that made headlines around the world was of the massacre at Marikana.

Today, Tafelberg has released a book We Are Going to Kill Each Other Today: The Marikana Story.

We are going to kell each other today

On 16 August 2012 the most shocking carnage in South Africa’s recent history occurred in the platinum mining town of Rustenburg: the Marikana shooting that left 34 striking miners dead.

This book tells the story behind the newspaper headlines. Who was involved? Where did the miners, mostly migrant workers, come from and what were their personal circumstances? The authors explore the realities of their lives and also tells the story of “the man in the green blanket”, who became a symbol of the strike.

The broader context is investigated: what was the role of the mines – Lonmin in particular – and the competing unions, NUM and Amcu? What role did traditional beliefs play – did a witch doctor aggravate the situation? A striking photo section of mostly unpublished photos also chronicles the events from a different angle.

Through incisive investigative journalism the events and parties involved are identified and their role analysed.


We are Going to Kill Each Other Today: The Marikana Story was written by investigative journalists from City Press, namely: Thanduxolo Jika, Sebabatso Mosamo, Leon Sadiki, Athandiwe Saba, Felix Dlangamandla, and Lucas Ledwaba.

Many of them have been awarded for their work. Lucas Ledwaba won a CNN African Journalist of the Year Award in 2010 for his reporting on HIV/Aids, while Thanduxolo Jika was a winner in the features category in the Vodacom Awards in 2010, and a finalist for both the Taco Kuiper and CNN awards in the category general news.

Athandiwe Saba is an experienced investigative reporter and Loyiso Sidimba has reported widely on politics, business, music and sport. Neo Mosamo is a freelance photojournalist whose work has appeared in City Press, The Star and True Love magazine.

Photographers Felix Dlangamandla and Leon Sadiki have been awarded for their work several times, and Felix won best photograph of the year with his work Mourning which appears in the book.

  • Published by Tafelberg
  • ISBN: 9780624063469

Dealonomics – Kim Meredith

Dealonomics by Kim MeredithThe global economy is a mess. Big business, aided by bad government, has spoilt the party for everyone, yet it is individuals and small companies that are really paying the price. With the depressed state of the economy, companies are not giving much in the way of increases, and vacant positions are not being filled. Existing staff have to work harder for the same, or even less, money. How can individuals, entrepreneurs and small business owners make the best of a bad situation? There is no reason for ‘the little guys’ to roll over. Armed with the same expert level of deal making skills as the captains of industry, individuals can substantially improve their personal wealth and financial future. This is dealonomics.

Dealonomics will equip everyone with the world-class deal making expertise they need to get the income they want, from those looking for their first job to people wanting increases or promotions, and for corporations looking to improve their profits and retain their top performers. An essential read for everyone who wants to improve their income or financial position in today’s recession prone world.

Kim will be a keynote speaker for the Thinksales Conference to be held on 17 and 18 September at MonteCasino, Johannesburg. CLICK HERE for more information.

Kim Meredith

Kim Meredith is an internationally acclaimed lecturer, negotiator and dealmaker, as well as chief executive officer of The Dealmaker Company. She has held executive positions in business since the late 1980s. Her last corporate position was with a Johannesburg Stock Exchange–listed information technology group, where she was on the main board as executive director of strategy.

Kim has been nominated for and won numerous business awards. This is her fourth non-fiction book focused on her subject of passion, deal making. Kim is widely credited with having re-defined deal making in the broader business context.

You can visit Kim website at www.thedealmaker.com.

  • Published by Zebra Press (An imprint of Random House Struik)
  • ISBN: 9781770225572