Category Archives: Uncategorized

One WORLD of BOOKs DAY – in Jozi

Booking in the streets of Jo-burg on the Bard’s Birthday


In a small, dog-eared shop in Commissioner St, books are stacked precariously wall to wall, floor to ceiling. Impressed by the volume of volumes, I ask the tall imposing man emerging from the leaning towers, eating from a polystyrene takeaway, if I may take a pic. His clipped monosyllabic  response is the same that he gives the chic young woman who asks if he has a Siswati title she’s looking for. We both back out onto the street, unlikely to revisit.

A block or two down the street, and up the stairs at Bridge Books, neighbouring an art studio and a gentleman’s barber, the welcome is warmer. ‘Coffee?’ Barista, collector, enthusiast and owner Griffin Shea smiles his offer.

Here books, new, used, cherished, curated and chosen with love are displayed, some even discounted, individually, with reverence.

Griffin’s book journey began with a hunt for Jozi’s lost books – in dark tunnels, below the streets.  Above ground he bridges a gap between the  underground and pristine precinct booksellers.  And offers an embracing space.

Taking up his spatial offer, once a month multiskilled Baeletsi Tsatsi bares the storytelling side of her soul at Bridge’s Maboneng branch. Evoking ancient fireside spirits with  21st century wit and words, sass and a wide smile.

Over Nelson Mandela Bridge and on into de Korte St, the retro-afro, light, bright African Flavour bookshop gleams like a well lit, well stocked Pan African library.

Wooden spoons label shelves on politics, poetry, language. Giant sofas invite a foot weary shopper to sit and read a while.

Fortiscue Helepi beams his passion – for his shop, his books – and his wife and literature-lover partner Nokuthula.


His dream is to have a branch of African Flavour in every dorp and village across the country.

Journey’s end at OR Tambo – airport oasis Exclusive Books is neatly stacked and packed with hot-off-the-press bestsellers. They don’t have Helen Moffett’s new 101 Water Wise guide that I’m looking for on the way back to the dessicated Mother City – but the synopsis on the back of a new Ethiopian novel is seductive.  After all, what is a flight without a book.

Respect to Jozi’s noble bookies for spreading the words.




The book launch at Babylonstoren in Klapmuts, Simondium was much to do with the food that comes from the garden…..

But first, there came the tour….

….with head gardener Liesl van der Walt….looking every blade the part…and a tiled shallow water feature, dry as the Cape right now…..

We followed her through secret spots amongst nests….

….past fullsome climbing and creeping vegetables….

….others hanging out and cherished…..

….into special places for chooks and ducks…..

…..and pretty places to sit….

….at ground level there were carob pods and chamomile….in whatever language…

….and at eye level, swellings of all sorts….

…..the occasional unexpected: hungry tortoise and insect hotel….

…..prickles and in-house messages…..

….there was the legendary Ernst van Jaarsveld and his sunny succulent house….


And miraculously there was water, precious and preserved….

….less surprisingly there was an abundance of fresh food hand picked from the garden….


And finally there were speeches by author Franchesca Watson (left) and photographer Heidi Bertish…..and thank yous. But the thanks was all ours – what a  treat, what a garden, what a book! The Garden of Babylonstoren is published by Struik Lifestyle. 

SOIL – Tilling, Telling and the Media


Beating our way through the thick green foliage, despite the drought,                                we arrive at SOIL FOR LIFE ready for some serious Media Training…..


The outdoor classroom is ready…..


….and the delegates gather – Trainers and Assistant Trainers of the Home Food Gardening programme….

We’re well hydrated…and the vocal rooster keeps us awake….

Martin talks us through the preparation…..copious notes are taken and discussed…..

There’s deep concentration…..

…focused and thoughtful breakaway groups….

…a photo op with Livingstone…..and a bit of youthful spirit……till finally….

….the work is done. Time for the team – Vusi, Zeblon, Nomonde, Natasha, Joy, Livingstone, Simon, Hazel, Bulelwa and Fran – to rest. With love from Martin and Nancy….


….and time for us all to hang up our boots. Thank you Soil for Life and                                co-ordinator Fran Fredericks for a fun and fertile morning! Stay tuned!

THE GREAT ETHIOPIAN WAIT Part 2: A Wing and a Prayer

There’ s faith in Addis Ababa  – it’s everywhere – in the structure of the buildings and the soul of the people……

There’s also history – ancient and noble…..

…..Troubled  and complicated.

There’s also the memory of Hailie Selassie – and his legacy

There’s architecture – ancient and noble….

…troubled and complicated.

There’s a zig zag track where you can run a marathon – back and forth….

There are lots of markets – where you shop, get your shoes shined, buy a goat – or just wait…


And there’s lots of food….and lots of coffee….

You can discover the root of all life in Addis……or you can  just sit…. and wait…..



THE GREAT ETHIOPIAN WAIT Part 1: Wedding and Running


‘And there are amazing cave churches, carved out of rock…..’  Judy told me this. She’d just come back from Ethiopia. A seed nestled, ‘Wow’ I thought, ‘one day I’ll go there too.’ Over twenty five years later, I made it. I didn’t get to see the rock churches, and sadly, the lovely young Judy Faber never got to see them again either, because she died in a car crash soon after.

So a quarter of a century later when Sarah said ‘Don’t you want to come and do the Great Ethiopian Run’ – my first thought was of Judy. I’ll do it for her. ‘Yup’, I said, ‘count me in!’

It nearly didn’t happen. With just a few weeks to go, a State of Emergency was declared in the country. But having waited so long, I wasn’t about to back out now. And so we ran – BBC journalist Sarah, photographer Caroline and Ethiopian chef Tutu….


And so did Tutu’s dad, Melaku. Almost immobilised by a couple of strokes, UK based Tutu decided she’d that she’d help him fulfill a dream and push him on the 10km Run – in a wheelchair.  Sarah Parfitt who through her son’s school in Cookham is fundraising for an Ethiopian rural village community called Gende Tesfa, brought over the wheelchair – as well school teddy mascot and her camera buddy Caroline to cover the event. Irresistibly this feisty trio called their joint venture ‘Tutu’s for Change’ – and dressed accordingly!


But before embarking on the Great Run – first there was the early morning-before warm up – though the traffic in Addis Ababa is quite hectic, one way or another….

We witnessed the city slowly coming to life with prayers, commerce, transport…. and waiting….

Tutu has a large and extended family at home in Addis, and many friends who she helps support – so when she comes back she celebrates with them. And very generously she invited us to join them all at a family wedding reception…what a privilege!

What started as a sedate event soon grew into a boisterous celebration – with dancing…..

And feasting….

Tutu, who owns a restaurant Tutu’s Ethiopian Table in the UK, went easy on the feast…but made sure her dad’s plate was filled – energy for the next days adventure!

Finally, the wedding party was over – and power cuts notwithstanding, a good time was truly had by all!


Next stop was the pre-race Pasta Party at the Hilton Hotel, for participating internationals….where we got to meet founder of the Great Ethiopian Run, legendary Olympic athlete himself Hailie Gebreselassie – of whom everybody wanted a piece….

At dawn next morning, us and two elite Kenyan athletes staying in the same hotel, head out for the Start of the Run in Meskel Square. The city’s streets are closed to make way for the event – but there are also State of Emergency-triggered road blocks

But we get there – and the crowds are already amped and warming up….

So are the police – so is Caroline…..

Slightly worrying is that there are 42,000 people on this Run – but only one loo….

But with a little encouragement from South African star runner Hendrik Ramaala – Team ‘Tutu’s for Change’ is ready to roll…..

And then we’re all off…..

Coupla moments along the way….

…and a couple more…..

Till finally – the Finish….

…..the selfies and the interviews with, amongst others, Kenyan athlete Jorum Lumbasi, UK running rock star and organiser Richard Nerurkar and a beaming Hailie…..

But a Run in Ethiopia is not over till the party is done….and up at Hailie’s Yaya Athletic Village in the mountains we get to eat, drink and dance some more with the man who inspires thousands to run….and have a welcome cup of coffee….

So worth the wait…..well and truly blessed!


The Great Ethiopian Wait – Part 2 to follow soon…..



Occasion: Kulture Book Fair  Venue: Kuyasa Library, Khayelitsha  Date: June 20

Congratulations on a great event…..!

004 - Copy

To visionary behind the Fair, Monde Kula of Inkululeko in Mind


And thank you to Lungelwa Ciliba, reference librarian who gave me directions on the phone!


And a warm wamkelekile from the check out team!

020 - Copy

Mama Sindiwe Magona opens the event with stories for the kids….

022 - Copy

….getting those little imaginations flying……

025 - Copy

And a good time was had by all!


Including Prof Simphiwe Sesante of Unisa who got to share a moment with Living Legend Sis Sindi.

017 - Copy

Teacher and writer Lukhanyo Mangona picks up some inspiration……


…while the impressive library itself caters for all tastes, and ages.

010 - Copy

Author of five books Nondyebo Booi has a story that grows and grows…

015 - Copy

…while actress, ‘artivist’ and soon-to-be published author Andrea Dondolo centres herself before sharing her story……

019 - Copy

….and inspirational speaker, founder of Lesdei House publishing company Tshepo Nketle reads from one his own 24 book titles…..and reveals that he is soon to be opening the very first book shop in Mandela Park, Khayelitsha!


And may there be many, many more -book shops and Book Fairs in Khayelitsha…where there are so many old, and new stories  just waiting to be told. Thank you Monde, for an inspiring experience.




International Women’s Day and Daphne and I got to spend it in the company of some fine women!
Walking for peace in the Company’s Garden with the Cape Town branch of the International Women’s Peace Group and witnessing Lucinda Evans of Lavender Hill, founder of Philisa Abafazi Bethu receive her Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur award from French Ambassador Madame Elisabeth Barbier at the Alliance Francaise. What an honour for us to be invited to both events.
Pink peace power 029 - Copy
Atlantis activist Barbara Rass
012 - Copy
Across cultures 026 - Copy
Across generations 013
Mum’s the word 028 - Copy
On the peace path 032
In the Mother City 037 - Copy

Sharing medals and champagne with the Ambassador 063 - Copy
The team behind her 042 - Copy
The man behind her, Frank Evans 044
Sharing the moment, poet Bulelwa Basse 067

What a proud day!

MAD DASH Moments

Lucky enough to have witnessed the recent BOOK DASH at the Centre for the Book in Cape Town, where in just one day, a whole bunch of ‘creatives’ wrote, illustrated, edited, designed and produced no fewer than 12 uniquely African storybooks for children – thought I’d share some of the moments…..
The Writers Circle 003 - Copy
The Overview 006 - Copy
The Old School Equipment009
The New School Equipment 038
The Brainstorm 014
The Buzz 016
The Rubbing Out 029
The Colouring In 031
The Lunch Read 033
The Chaos 036
The Order 048
The Madness 052
The Magic 056 - Copy
The Proud Parents054
Great work guys! Loved it xx
There will be more Book Dashes – elsewhere in the country, soon. But for all the info, check their site:


If ever you saw yourself as someone who supports raising the voice of women, now’s your chance to show it. Just about ready to roll is the Woman Zone book called Being a woman in Cape Town: Telling your story. And you can be in it! But you have to be quick – we’ll soon be going to press!
006 - Copy
The book tells the individual stories of 13 very different women – plus, how to tell your own. It gives details of women-focused destinations on women’s walks in the Mother City and includes extracts from the writing of some of Cape Town’s best loved women writers.
For R1000 you can be a Silver Sponsor and have your name included in the Who’s Who of Cape Town women champions – and get a copy of the book.
For R3000 you can be a Gold Sponsor, have your name and details of your business included – and get two copies of the book.
Alternatively you can simply pre-buy a copy for R250.
Here’s the link through which can sponsor or pre-buy.
If you’d like more info, let me know – or check out
The book will be launched at 6pm on August 7th 2015 at the WOMAN ZONE Women’s Library @ Artscape during their women’s arts festival. It would be great to see you there!


Infecting the City – Cape Town’s art festival has come and gone. It was truly fab…..
There was night time dance…..

There was poetry and words….
027 - Copy
….art and people…..

… and more hair…..

…..and high wire…..

Great stuff Jay Pather and teams. Look forward to next year