From Durban to Dubai (allAfrica.com)

In the last four weeks or so, I have been travelling quite a bit. A working leave took me to Nairobi Kenya and Durban South Africa. A short vacation then took me to Dubai. It has been a wonderful tour of East Africa, South Africa and the Middle East, all of them different in their cultural milieu. I have feasted on Ughali in Nairobi and visited a West African restaurant where the food is served under the moonlight and an open air charcoal heater is placed by your feet to warm your palms. I have encountered phenomenal taxi-drivers in Durban, warm, pleasant affable but who are in denial about the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. I have gone sand bashing in Dubai in a desert safari and had dinner in a floating restaurant, water all around and magic on the boat. It has been as exciting as it has been magical but as always, my best moments have been spent in bookshops. My spouse, with whom I made this journey, had to prise me out of airport bookshops.

I have brought back with me genus books so exiting I pinch myself in sheer joy. Really? Did I really find this? I visited the Exclusive Bookshop in Durban and in Dubai, Kinokuniya Bookshop.

And if you are unable to go to these places, send friends, order books on-line. Here is my collection to share with you today, from Durban to Dubai. Enjoy.

1. I have read many Mandela books and in doing so have collected a healthy dose of all things Mandela. But I have only two books on Winnie on my shelf.

As soon as I laid eyes on this book, I had to have it. “The cry of Winnie Mandela” by Njabulo S. Ndebele.

In reviewing this novel anchored on the lives of four South African women who have spent time waiting for their men to return. Fictionalising their stories using their real lives and private stories based on the more powerful public stories of Penelope of ancient Greek mythology who waited nineteen years while her husband Odysseus was away makes the book intellectually trenchant.

Winnie waited for Mandela for 27 years.

Described by Chris Dutton of the Mail and Guardian as a book that “transgresses the borders between fact and fiction, forming aspects of the novel, biography and Essay. It is a beautiful book… “

2. Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 Men On The Words That Made Them Cry, Edited by Anthony and Ben Holden. Force commissioner of police (Media) CP Ojukwu was taken aback when he saw the title of this book that makes every man wonder why Eugenia is reading this book. This is because men are not supposed to cry. Society bestows on them this stiff-upper-lip, be-a-man nonsense. This book, very much after my heart, tells the story of what actually happens to men when they are emotional. It also says it does not make you any less a man if something profound drives you to tears from time to time. In this case Poetry. In this phenomenal book, from Salman Rushdie to Ian McEwan, from Seasmus Heaney to Christopher Hitchins, 100 men confess to being moved to tears by poems that haunt them.

This has to be my favourite book of the year, combining essays from these great writers to words from poems that inspire, that teach, that caress, that in most cases move you to tears.

3) We Need to Talk: How to Successfully Navigate Conflict by Dr. Linda Mintle, the self-titled relationship Doctor, deals majorly with the positives of conflict. This book helps you understand your personal approach to conflict, how it developed and what you can do to effectively engage with others. It also encourages you to negotiate differences, do more problem solving and forgive so you can move on. A really good book considering that conflict is a normal part of our lives and relationships. “It will give you hope, skills, insight wisdom and biblical truth.” -John Trent

4) Sous Chef 24-hours in the Kitchen by Michael Gibney has to be one of the definitive books on cooking this season. I had picked it up, dropped it weighed my finances for airport shopping, which was running on empty and gave up another of my favourite things, an exotic Arabian perfume for this book. When you eat in a restaurant, you take it for granted that some persons in the kitchen just cobbled up something for you to eat. No, that’s not what happens, there are kitchen rules and regulations, there are strictly-adhered to hierarchies, there is a community of dedicated professionals working ceaselessly to make your tasty food. This book gives you an insight into international standards in running a kitchen for world class restaurants. The Author who began working in restaurants at the age of 16 assumed his first sous Chef position at the age of 22. As Executive Sous Chef, he has worked in top range restaurants all over the world but wait for it… he also holds a BFA in painting and an MFA in non-fiction writing fiction from Columbia University. A total artiste. The book is described by Chef Anthony Bourdain, a leading light in cookery books, as “A terrific nuts and bolts account of the real business of cooking as told from the trenches. No nonsense. Time magazine places this book among its 15 best books of 2014 and comments on the author; “he puts across both the intense stress and the intense joy of cooking in a professional Kitchen.” This is a must read, especially for those of us who like to cook and others who need to know what it takes. Awesome!

5) Tales of the old East Coast from Zululand to the Cape by Ran Lock. This is a book about the old East Coast of South Africa, Zulu land to be precise. It is the intriguing stories encompassing shipwrecks, survivors, soldiers and sorcerers. It also tells of worship, Kings and Cannibals, missionaries, maidens, courage and humour. But let me put a warning tag. It’s told from a white South African point of view. It’s unlikely that the voice of these oppressed, deprived and discriminated against will be heard in this book. Often, books written by the oppressor never gives voice to the oppressed. Certain areas were self-serving as is to be expected. But I am a student of history, a curious adventurer so I bought this book because in it, you can always find truths, coloured truths, gaps, history intriguing stories. This is why our leaders must write books, our mentors should write books. In the event of two opposing positions, let us be the judge.

BONUS BOOKS

1. Heaven Changes Everything: the Rest of Our Story by the New York Times bestselling Authors Todd and Sonya Purpo. When money was scarce and times were tough for the Purpos, their almost four year old son made an unforgettable trip to heaven and their lives changed. For faith bearers, this book will interest you. It’s a follow up to the book they wrote at the time “Heaven is for Real”, which I have not read, but Heaven Changes Everything has material that was not included in the first book. It’s a heart-warming book for Christians and non-Christians alike.

2. Numerous magazines on cooking, fashion and Entrepreneurship.