Shopping in Joburg’s inner city

“What’s your top seller?” I ask Fatima Nanabhay of the African Music Store near Diagonal Street in Joburg’s city centre. “The goat bells,” she says. At R14 a piece they fly out the shop. Cow bells are also a big hit, she tells me. As I ask the question the only thing flying past us is the traffic along the city street and the guy wheeling a trolley with blankets piled high past the doorway. For the record there’s not a goat to be seen.

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Zimbabwean writing

#110. Go to a book reading and be enchanted by a Zimbabwean writer who has everybody talking. Her name is Petina Gappah and her book is “An Elegy for Easterly”, a collection of short stories that has garnered gushing reviews comparing her to writers as diverse as  Anton Chekhov and Chinua Achebe. Continue reading

Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe stars in The Wizard of Oz

#40. Wonder about the future of South Africa’s neighbour, Zimbabwe. Yesterday a historic power-sharing agreement was signed in Harare between Zanu PF’s Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change and of Zimbabwe (only if one takes votes into account, which Bob clearly does not).  Not to be stopped by the “details” of an election, Robert Mugabe said some very strange things including  –  in reference to SA President Thabo Mbeki’s mediator role – “I wish I was young again and proposing to girls. I would say give me some tips”.

Robert Mugabe speaks at the signing of the historic power sharing agreement in Harare, Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

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Beijing Olympics has a silver lining

#21. Celebrate that no desperate measures need to be taken to secure an Olympic medal. Thank you Khotso Mokoena for taking that long jump for 8.24 metres. Kaya FM DJs were discussing plans this morning for how SA could get medals without having to rely on our Olympic Team.  One suggestion was to ensure Zimbabwean swimmer Kirsty Coventry flies home via Oliver Tambo International and receives a rousing South African welcome from the Airports Company Continue reading

Writers in trouble, or just living in troubled times

#14: Attend the Sunday Times Literary Awards dinner. The Sunday Times book awards were held at Summer Place on Saturday night. I used to be an organiser and now have joined the ranks of the guests — which I have to say  is infinitely more pleasant as I didn’t have to sweat any of the detail. The theme of the night was “Writers in Troubled Times” and it left me wondering why South Africa’s writers seem so dislocated from the place, mostly unable or unwilling to engage with this country or to attempt to define some part of it. Continue reading