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I recently read the most depressing article entitled, Why writing books, is not really a good idea*, by author, Ellie Griffin. Had I read this article when Down at Jika Jika Tavern was a mere mote of dust, wafting on the eddies of my mind, I likely would have abandoned the project. Griffin reveals that during 2020, just over 2.6 million books sold online. But only 268 of these books sold more than 100 000 copies! That’s right, 2.6 million titles only sold...

When people ask me what I do for a living, I often feel quite panicked. Do I focus on my non-profit work, my writing, or painting? If I mention them all, I might come off sounding a bit unfocused, or indeed, flighty, but each area of work is equally important to me. It was great to share my work with Bronwyn Forbes-Hardinge from Get It Magazine, and discuss how each interest can be used as a driver for social change. For a...

The Case of Dumisani Gwala Just like the fictional town of Mevamhlope featured in Down at Jika Jika Tavern, the town of Mtubatuba is small, a little bit grubby, but overflowing with energy and life. It is the gateway to the town of St Lucia and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a world heritage site. So it is fitting that the trial of Dumisani Gwala, alleged rhino poaching kingpin of Zululand, was to take place on the doorstep of a large conservation...

Excerpt. © All rights reserved. Down at Jika Jika Tavern (Prologue) A terrible mistake 29th November 2012 The driver parked the old Nissan Sentra in an informal layby between the dirt road and the railway lines; the cut of the tracks, thin and bright, in the dark fabric of the night. A sudden gust of wind blew in through the open windows but did little to mask the varying odours of unexpressed emotion inside. For within the shoddy interior, two men, and a boy...

What makes you angry? In my first article related to my upcoming novel, Down at Jika Jika Tavern, I ended off by saying that I would share some of the research, and introduce you to people doing phenomenal work in the field of conservation (both academic and field). Today, I’d like to introduce you to Catherine Jakins, who completed her Criminology Masters at UKZN in 2019. Her research, The Modus Operandi of Rhino Poachers in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa,  explored the drivers of poaching in...

You don’t find the story; the story finds you. I can clearly remember when the story of Down at Jika Jika Tavern found me. Although I had started toying with the idea of writing a novel in 2012 (after deregistering from my PhD), I wasn’t doing it very well. I had the main character but was fumbling with the plot. I had a notebook full of possible scenes, but no storyline to convincingly pull it all together.   It was only in...

Every morning, as the rising sun burns the mist hovering over the still water of the dam, bachelor Jackie Hangman stares longingly at the object of his affection. He barely moves from his perfect vantage point, a few trees away from where she sits. He is a shy bird, failing miserably at contributing to the much-feared reputation that birds of his kind have managed to cultivate over the years. While the other shrikes invoke terror into the hearts of the small veld...

Muhle looked at himself in the still waters of the pond. A handsome face stared back at him; glossy feathers and sparkling eyes. But instead of feeling pleased with himself, he was overwhelmed by a deep sense of sadness. ​It was hard to explain to the other birds; their jealousy of his good looks and striking tail prevented him from sharing his real feelings. For in truth, his tail – that glorious accessory that rippled behind him, like a tall stalk...

Danny Naidoo was always looking for a way to make a quick buck. He was from a long line of down-and-out Naidoo men who somehow managed to evade gainful employment and yet remain marginally solvent through the hard work of a long line of Naidoo women. But even Danny knew he couldn’t rely on the females in his family for every meal, and had therefore perfected a system that ensured he was reasonably well fed without severing those already tenuous...

“Jesus was not born here but sometimes, he comes in through the little holes in the walls, and sits on that chair” Sandile Dikeni (Shack Chic) An old man sits in a shaft of light at the front of the small mud hut; his brown hands clasp the spine of his battered bible, motes of dust gently orbit his head and the butter-yellow sunlight sets his hair aflame. This one-roomed, thatched mud hut is a church located in rural Nyathi, situated roughly an hour outside...