‘It was at that moment back in 1988 that I reached a crossroad in my life. I had the choice either to accept my fate and let cancer kill me, or I had to fight back and give myself a real chance at living again. And with that realisation I made myself a pledge: I was going to beat the disease and chase my dream.’
Mark Pilgrim had wanted to ‘be on radio’ since he was thirteen years old, yet it always seemed like an unobtainable dream. It took a life-threatening illness to motivate him to pursue his passion.
At the age of eighteen his radio dream was on the back burner. Mark had just completed the first year of a B.Com degree at university and had secured a bursary to complete his studies. Things were looking good. Then the blow fell: he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After surgery and throughout months of chemotherapy his initial despair was transformed into determination. He found the inner strength to fight the illness, change his career direction, and to make his lifelong dream a reality.
Beyond the Baldness is a personal account of Mark’s journey of determination, following every opportunity to audition for radio and television. From the humble beginnings of living in a trailer park, today Mark is one of South Africa’s best-known and most recognisable personalities, having deejayed on South Africa’s biggest radio stations and hosted some of the most memorable television shows like ‘Big Brother’ and SA’s biggest ever game show ‘The Power of 10’. His voice is also used in countless radio and television commercials.
As a motivational speaker, Mark spends a lot of his time engaging with delegates at conferences, chatting about his experience with cancer as well as the sudden heart attack he had at the age of 38.
His positive approach to life is inspirational and it will encourage everyone who reads this book to chase their dreams!
“On my better days friends find me flirting with the nurses, cigarette in one hand and scotch in the other, but if I listen carefully I can hear the tribute concerts starting up. There they are, celebrating my life like never before, and here I am, knock knock knockin’ on heaven’s door. That rhymes, doesn’t it? I think I might even feel a song coming on but I’m so tired and the words are slipping away and the music is fading into a soft chant round my bed and Madala was spot on, he said when God says He want you, we can’t run away. I know Bafo, I know. I’m not running anymore.”
Skollie, saint, scholar, hippest of hippies, imperfect musician with a perfect imagination, Syd Kitchen was, like all great artists, born to enrich his art and not himself. Plagued by drugs, alcohol and depression, too much of an outlaw to be embraced by record companies, he frequently sold his furniture to cover production costs of his albums, seduced fans at concerts and music festivals worldwide with his dazzling ‘Afro-Saxon’ mix of folk, jazz, blues and rock interspersed with marvellously irreverent banter, and finally became the subject of several compelling documentaries, one of which -‘Fool in a Bubble’ - premiered in New York in 2010.
Says Donvé: “There are many creative geniuses in the world who never receive the recognition they deserve. Syd Kitchen was one of them. He was also a friend who asked me to write his biography. I was always intrigued by the complexity and duality of his personality. But these facts alone were not enough to persuade me to write this book. The primary reasons were that Syd’s story was deeply compelling and needed to be told, and there are far too few worthy literary portraits of South African musicians available.”
“He was like a little leprechaun. Everyone danced around him because he brought the magic in.” – ZETA PONTIN
“Syd was the one who said I will do it, I will make a living as an artist. He was one of those people who carried the dream.” – RICK ANDREW
Brutally dragged 780 metres beneath a taxi – a young woman’s inspiring story of survival, courage, and the will to live.
‘13 September 2011. The story would shock thousands and be remembered by many for years to come. It would be plastered all over the papers and continue to attract interest well after the shock factor of what happened had passed. Reports and articles would be written, and “facts”, as given to reporters by some of those involved and willing to be interviewed, would be recounted and repeated in all forms of public media over the months and even years that followed. And although these versions would generate widespread outrage, none was entirely accurate.The stories were about me. I was there.
I am Kim McCusker, “the girl who was dragged by a taxi”.’
The deliberate and malicious act of one man would impact and change Kim McCusker’s life forever. This single act would also impact the lives of the people who were close to her – her family and friends. It would go far beyond that too, and impact the lives of people she may never meet or know. This single act was the senseless attack on her by a man with his taxi full of passengers and one which most people wouldn’t survive.
Kim’s life may have been compromised but she is stronger and more determined than ever before. Scarred – But Not For Life is not only about what happened one day in September in 2011. That is the part of Kim that many already know. This book is about much more than that. Her story is not about being a victim or about being a consequence of another person’s choice. It is about making choices for yourself with what is available to you, taking control and surviving and thriving in life despite what comes your way.
Kim’s overarching message is: That which seems impossible, hopeless or overwhelming is never bigger than you are.
‘I am not recovering. I am recovered. You, too, can be a recovered addict.’
Imagine going from schoolboy experimentation with drugs to being so addicted that you begin planning your parents’ murder so that you can get money (for more drugs) from your inheritance! Sadly Marco’s story is not an isolated one.
Marco Broccardo was an ordinary boy from an ordinary family. He had parents who loved him and provided him with a safe and caring home. He had older sisters who doted on their little brother. He had friends and he played sport at school. When he experimented with weed and then with coke and ecstasy, he was no different from the circle he socialised with and partied with at weekends. Drugs made him feel great. What was the harm?
The trouble came when supply and demand were out of balance and a harmless joint and a couple of pills no longer did the trick. Marco needed cash – more and more of it. He became a runner for the dealers who operated in the clubs where Joburg teenagers went to party. He had money and he had drugs. Life seemed good. Then two things happened: he found he was consuming more of the druglords’ stock than he was selling, and he discovered crack cocaine. The moment of choice came in no more than a heartbeat. For him it was a no brainer. Marco chose rocks.
From that moment on he cast everything and everyone aside in his ruthless pursuit of his next high. He took his family to the brink of financial ruin and emotional despair; he lied his way through rehabs and halfway houses; he used every genuine offer of help as opportunities to plan his next spectacular relapse; and he dismissed several close calls with death as signs that he just needed to be more careful next time. He didn’t care. Chasing the high was his only mission in life, no matter who or what he destroyed in the process.
Until the day he made the dramatic and life-altering decision to change. How he did it and what he has done with his life since then are nothing short of miraculous.
This is Marco’s story.
Dov Fedler was a laatlammetjie, born and bred in Johannesburg in 1940 just as Hitler was getting into his stride. A third child was not on his parents’ ‘want-list’. It was hard enough supporting two much older children and a printing business struggling to exist.
When Dov was about three his mother had a ‘nervous breakdown’ which is when he remembers seeing his first pencil and knowing precisely what it was that he wanted to do with his life.
There are no coincidences in Dov’s life. He believes that a hand of destiny has steered his path. Many dramatic encounters (not with aliens or spirits, but with everyday people) have shaped him and he wouldn’t have missed any of it.
Dov’s story is intensely personal and honest, with a powerful combination of humour, emotion and community history. Out of Line attempts to do a few short things. It is an autobiography but it is also an attempt to capture a particular history of a specific generation; that of the Jewish baby boomers who descended from mainly Lithuanian stock.
Dov has been a leading South African cartoonist for more than 50 years, and his earliest dream was to work for Walt Disney. He got to visit Disney World and could not wait to leave. He has never been to Europe or Brakpan and is a pure product of Johannesburg. The last on his wish list was to become a political cartoonist. He is married to a doctor, has three daughters, a doctor, a lawyer and author and a media boff, has three grandchildren and a cat called Smudge.
‘The lion is my totem animal, and this is the story of my life in Africa, for the lion.’
My Lion’s Heart is an all-encompassing African story. From Gareth Patterson’s childhood in West and East Africa to his study of a threatened lion population in a private reserve in Botswana to his work with George Adamson, celebrated as the ‘Lion Man’ of Africa, we witness Gareth’s growing commitment to his life’s mission. This is nowhere more evident than in his account of his life as a human member of a lion pride, experiencing life and death through its eyes, as he successfully rehabilitated three famous orphaned lion cubs back into a life in the wilds.
At considerable risk to his own personal safety, he exposed the sordid canned lion ‘industry’ in South Africa, bringing this shameful practice to international attention.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the stressful nature of his work, Gareth suffered a massive physical and mental breakdown in his forties, which he discusses here for the first time with an openness that underlines his courage. Lesser men might have been broken, but his ‘lion’s heart’ fought back and he ultimately overcame his illness.
Gareth Patterson’s long-awaited autobiography is a moving account of one man’s single-minded dedication to the preservation of Africa’s wildlife.
Patterson says: “My Lion's Heart is my tenth book, and is probably the most important book I have written. It tells my life story, a story of tears and smiles, about my attempts to greater protect the iconic animal symbol of this continent, the African lion.”
‘This is the story of my world or, more accurately, the worlds in which I live.’
GG Alcock’s parents, Creina and Neil, were humanitarians who gave up comfortable lives to move to rural Zululand. In a place called Msinga, a dry rock-strewn wilderness and one of the most violent places in Africa, they lived and worked among the Mchunu and Mthembu tribes, fighting for the rights of people displaced by the apartheid government’s policy of ‘forced removals’. They also fought against the corruption of police and government officials, as well as local farmers, which did not sit well with their white fellow citizens.
When GG was fourteen his father was assassinated by rival tribesmen.
GG’s early life in rural Zululand in the 1970s and 80s can only be described as unique. He and his brother Khonya, both initially home-schooled by their mother, grew up as Zulu kids, herding goats and playing with the children of their neighbours, learning to speak fluent Zulu, learning to become Zulu men under the guidance of Zulu elders, and learning the customs and history of their adopted tribes. Armed with their father’s only legacy – the skills to survive in Africa – both young men were ultimately forced to move into the ‘white’ world which was largely unknown to them.
In many ways GG’s story mirrors that of many of his people, the journey of a tribal society learning to embrace the first world. He does not shy away from the violence and death that coloured his childhood years surrounded by savage faction fighting, nor how they affected his adult life. His story is one of heartbreak and tragedy and, paradoxically, of vibrant hope and compassion. A restless energy and sardonic humour permeate his writing, which is compelling in its honesty and spontaneity.
‘Astonishing. Alcock has written the first report from the next South Africa. You might think you know South Africa, but this book will show you otherwise.’ – RIAN MALAN, author of My Traitor’s Heart