Book Reviews: Bad Seeds With Chris Hani, Or Roughing It In Selfies

September 24, 2019

[vc_row][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]BY ROB HOFMEYR, DRIES BRUNT & KATE DENNILL

 

Roughing It by Ralph Goldswain

Being Chris Hani’s Daughter by Lindiwe Hani

Bad Seeds by Jassy Mackenzie

Selfies, Sexts And Smartphones by Emma Sadlier and Lizzie Harrison

 

Roughing It is a book about the 1820 Settlers, with extensive use of their own diaries, journals, memoirs and letters. It is a book that chronicles their own lives and their own experiences. These are folk who emigrated from Britain with high hopes and expectations, often totally misled by those authorised to gather parties of prospective colonists, and often handing over funds raised with great difficulty. The sea voyages were hard and exacted a great toll: malnutrition, deaths and loss of precious possessions. Some on board ships travelled in relative comfort, but most in appalling conditions. Nevertheless, there were courtships, celebrations and sharing. Human beings surviving together. There is great credit given to the British Army for their role in arranging for disembarkation and initial settling of the bewildered and often disillusioned folk. Captain Moresby was the officer in charge and did all he could to help. There are those who emerge as leaders, movers and shakers: Thomas Pringle is one who created in that unlikely terrain a belief in and commitment to the freedom of press and of speech. The young Methodist minister William Shaw had been an effective pastor to his people on board ship; he was a powerful influence among the settlers in their new sphere. There were also those who distinguished themselves by their obnoxious behaviour. There is a sad but well-told account of a certain Wait, who pretended to be a landed gentleman, at enormous cost to those of his party. And of course there were artists as well as diarists. The book has a number of drawings. The British government had bungled so much and in addition, there were huge problems of drought, floods and crop diseases. The fact that they survived, though many left their land allotments, is a tribute to their sturdy natures. They also enormously enhanced the Colony with their skills as carpenters, builders, masons and blacksmiths. What the book does not address, and intentionally so, is their impact on the indigenous people. This is a story about English people in a foreign and demanding environment. – RH

 

Being Chris Hani’s Daughter takes one back to an horrendous episode in the long road to freedom. It took a long time before Lindiwe Hani regained self-realisation following the murder of her father. So much was destroyed in a young girl’s life; so much derailment up till recent times. There was addiction, unwanted pregnancy, abortion and haphazard living until she met her friend Melinda Ferguson, who helped her to write this book, get closure and start life afresh. Meeting the killers was a dramatic encounter and a courageous decision that probably helped Hani to end a destructive chapter in her life. Read this book and learn from it – how a national loss became a personal one and how it took personal courage to regain self-respect. – DB

 

Bad Seeds is a thriller set on the Witwatersrand, with plenty of local colour and a cast of interesting characters, and featuring Jade de Jong, a private investigator well known to Jassy Mackenzie fans. De Jong is hired by a personable senior manager in the security division at Inkomfe Nuclear Research Centre, a fictional stand-in for the real Pelindaba. She finds herself caught up in a desperate flight, along with the man she is sent to investigate. She also has to deal with relationships from the past. Warrant Officer Mweli of the South African Police Services is confronted by mysterious deaths in a sleazy motel in Randburg. She is a dogged, highly able and dedicated officer, and we follow not only her professional quests, but a web of emotional entanglements, which wind and unwind. The story reaches a climax in the nuclear facility. Jade discovers the truth of identities, the huge threat to security and the intrigues and passions that have driven criminal activities. We are taken from the cliff face to a quiet denouement, where Jade must again make decisions about her own life. Undoubtedly, there is a new book in genesis. – RH

 

Overtly pitched for a teenage audience as an “Online Survival Guide”, Selfies, Sexts And Smartphones also provides a valuable read for parents. It is hardly worth restating that there is in this day and age an unprecedented exposure to, and pressure from, social media – on all age groups. The writers make an excellent point that teens are not always role models in terms of disciplined and well considered decision-making, so the next best options definitely fall in the “forewarned is forearmed” and “knowledge is power” camps. The writing style is friendly and encouraging, with a decent effort made to relate to the adolescent soul. Rather than eschewing all screen time, the reader is guided through the maze (and the monsters) of most of the possible legal and social consequences of even the smallest online decisions. The pace is well calculated and the layout designed to capture even the shortest attention spans. This one earns its keep and will have some new nuggets of information even for the well informed. – KD[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”default_sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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