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A new book on Winnie Mandela is the subject of a “sneaky marketting effort” by publishers Tafelberg. Image from Majic945.

South Africa-based publisher Tafelberg has apologized for using unauthorized quotes by Sisonke Msimang, Palesa Morudu, and Redi Tlhabi on a new book on Winnie Mandela—Truth, Lies and Alibis: A Winnie Mandela Story, by journalist Fred Bridgland. The apology came days after Msimang and Morudu called out the move to use their words on the jacket of a book they had not endorsed without obtaining their permission, with Msimang describing Bridgland as an “Apartheid apologist.”

READ: The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela: Sisonke Msimang’s Second Book Is Out in October

Bridgland’s book is said to make “a strong case around the crimes that Madikizela-Mandela and her Mandela United Football Club are alleged to have committed and presents a mostly negative view of the freedom fighter.” The book, says Tlhabi, “lacks nuance, empathy, complexity and a sense of history,” and is “the antithesis of what I believe and the complexity that I embrace when analysing historical figures.” Here are the quotations by Msimang, Morudu, Tlhabi, and Aubrey Matshiqi as reported by The Independent:

‘Winnie was a woman of her times, there was a war and she too was a soldier.’

– Redi Tlhabi, Sunday Times.

 

‘Hers is a life worth examining for its courage, achievement and complexity.’

– Sisonke Msimang, Mail & Guardian.

 

‘We do history a disservice if we omit the truth about the characters and events that shaped democratic SA. So, we must accept that Winnie Mandela was both a heroine and a villain.’

– Palesa Morudu, Business Day.

 

‘… the story of Madikizela-Mandela is a story of many stories …’

– Aubrey Matshiqi, Business Day.

Here are Msimang and Morudu’s tweets.

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Redi Tlhabi followed with a justifiably furious letter.

“I AM APPALLED! HOW DARE YOU! HOW DARE YOU TAFELBERG!!!” she wrote, as reported by The Reading List. “You have been conniving and dishonest in appropriating a sentence from an entire article and placing it as a shout out for a book that YOU MUST HAVE KNOWN, was the antithesis of what I believe and the complexity that I embrace when analysing historical figures.”

She continues:

In Fred Bridgland’s book on Winnie Madikizela Mandela, you take a sentence in an article I wrote, and place it prominently at the back of the book knowing that readers will assume it would be interpreted as a ‘blurb’ or a ‘shout out.’ Even the most average reader would interpret a shout out as a statement of endorsement. People hardly write unkind shout-outs. It is not customary to spend time reading and writing shout- outs for writers who are not worthy of our time. A willingness to write a foreword or shout-out is an indirect endorsement and YOU KNOW THIS. So HOW DARE YOU!

Following the outpour of criticism, Talberg put a comment on a post about the development on The Reading List‘s Facebook page:

“We are in the process of making amends and are contacting the affected journalists,” they said. “We are removing the quotations from the cover for a new jacket for the book, and will replace it on the shelves with the rejacketed books wherever possible. The quotations will also be removed from online descriptions of the book.” They also sent tweets:

The book, Tafelberg states, will now be withdrawn from bookstores and a new cover issued.

Meanwhile, back in July, we reported the coming of a different book on Winnie Mandela, one we strongly recommend: Sisonke Msimang’s own The Resurrection of Winnie MandelaFollowing her death on April 2 of this year, Winnie Mandela’s legacy became the subject of a tussle between those who cast her as the tainted one in the shadow of her husband, Nelson Mandela, and those who have been fighting to reclaim her as the exceptional symbol of freedom and activism that she is. Msimang’s The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela aims to re-present Winnie Mandela in light of efforts to reduce her significance. The book, published on 24 October by Jonathan Ball Publishers, has been described by The Reading List as “a primer for young feminists, popular culture enthusiasts and those interested in the politics of memory, reconciliation and justice.”

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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