How does a kid go from scrapping and clawing in the slums of Soweto to interviewing President Barack Obama?

How does anyone turn lemons into lemonade?

The Daily Show host, Trevor Noah delivers his most articulate work yet in these memoirs. Born in Apartheid South Africa, to a white man and a black woman, he was evidence of a crime. He chronicles his struggle to fit in. Being part of everything yet nothing at all, at the same time.

In quintessential Trevor Noah humor, he traverses the themes of racism, color, and the intricacies of dual heritage.

It’s a moving, insightful and still hilarious encapsulation of a life still being lived well.

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Dr. Kopano Matlwa weaves a beautiful, thought-provoking tale in Period Pain.

Masechaba, the main character, struggles to find meaning and self in a life full characterized by duality and contradiction. The duality of being African and Christian. Patriot and global citizen. Scientist and card-carrying traditionalist. 

Her life takes a dramatic twist when she gets raped by her people for advocating xenophobia. 

Through her eyes, we follow the struggles of reproductive health, the plight of doctors, racism and mental health. 

Dr. Kopano Matlwa has taken on rather intricate subjects and cut them down to size with ease and expertise. 

Period Pain is a gripping, engrossing and thoroughly entertaining novel. 

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Imagine voting for the first time at 62-years old. Imagine living in a country where by law, you were considered “less than”. Imagine having to contend with squalid living conditions, ill-stocked hospitals, discriminatory policies and poor quality education. Imagine living a life where police brutality was all you knew.

For this man, Desmond Mpilo Tutu, those are not things he had to imagine. Like millions of native South Africans, that’s a reality he lived. Even with a Noble Peace Prize, apartheid laws required that he seek permission to occupy the official residence of the Archbishop. 

No Future Without Forgiveness is a personal recollection of the dark times of apartheid in South Africa. Desmond Tutu, then the Archbishop of Cape Town, played a pivotal role, in steering his country forward.  

He writes of his experience through the Sharpeville massacre and Soweto uprising. He examines in details some of the atrocities that have pockmarked South Africa’s history. 

Principally, he writes of his experience as the chairperson of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was appointed by President Mandela and charged with leading the commission that would facilitate the painful but necessary process of healing. He writes of the unenviable task of sitting through harrowing tales of horrendous atrocities committed against his people.

No Future Without Forgiveness is touching account of the tedious work of nation building. Desmond Tutu writes of his wins and losses. With the benefit of hindsight, he gifts the reader with invaluable lessons. Lessons on leadership, democracy, justice and above all, humanity. 

Desmond Tutu will go down in history was an advocate of peace, par excellence. His contribution to reconciliation shall live beyond South Africa. Indeed, he was been a mediator to many warring countries across the globe. 

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Dr. Kopano Matlwa, the youngest recipient of the European Union Literary award, tells a thrilling story in this book.

Set in South Africa, Coconut follows the lives of two principal characters. The first is Ofilwe. The last born in a middle-class, black family of four.  She grows up in relative comfort. Good school, big house and more than enough food. One time she overhears her mother complain to her grandmother about her father’s infidelity. Her grandmother’s response was curt: “John is a man and men do these things.”

The other is Fikile. A black girl, abandoned at an early age. Fikile’s aspiration in life is simple – To be white. 

She deftly tackles the thematic areas of language, religion, class struggle, racism, sexism and neo-colonialism. 

How we, Africans, have been made to believe that the languages of our oppressors are more superior to ours. How we measure our success and intelligence by our mastery of these languages. How we measure our levels of worldly exposure by how much less of our native languages we actually speak.

How we have been made to equate everything white to good and everything black to evil. 

How we have socialized our women to believe that they are less than men. That their station in life is to be subservient to men.

How we look down upon the Arts in favor of the Sciences.

Dr. Kopano sounds the subtle yet unmistaken clarion call to all Africans. Her call is simple. Love yourself! She advises, rightly so, that:

You will find, [dear African], that the people you strive so hard to be like will one day reject you because as much as you may pretend, you are not one of their own. Then you will turn back, but there too you will find no acceptance, for those who you once rejected will no longer recognize the thing you have become. So far, too far too return. So much, too much you have changed. Stuck between two worlds, shunned by both.”

Such wisdom! Such powerful words. So much more herein. 

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