Awesome South Africa

| October 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

Author: Derryn Campbell
Publisher: Awesome SA Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-620-46527-4
Reviewed by: Fiona de Villiers

If you’re wondering how best to celebrate Heritage Day on 24 September at your school, you may just have time to express-order this extraordinary book.

Author Derryn Campbell is so passionate about South Africa that she put together – with a little help from some friends – a collection of anecdotes, facts and figures about our country. The result is a resource that’s been shortlisted for the coveted Nielsen Booksellers Choice Award 2010/2011, alongside such luminaries as fellow finalists cartoonist Zapiro and personality Evita Bezuidenhout.

Sheer optimism and passion Awesome South Africa – self-published and largely self-promoted – grew out of talks delivered by Campbell on, well, the awesomeness of South Africa. Both projects have given rise to a non-profit organisation of the same name and a website, which may not be the only online zone dedicated to positive news about the country, but which cannot be beat for sheer optimism and passion. Says Campbell, “Awesome SA was formed to encourage South Africans to positively motivate the future – to actively get involved in driving change in our country.”

It’s very difficult to do this book justice in terms of description. Among other things, it pays tribute to the words of famous South Africans, sporting trivia, statistics, myths and legends, words about wine and blarney about beer and braais, deadly animals, sporting records, amazing social science information, proverbs, recipes, inventions, flags, festivals and different cultural practices.

Outstanding design

Nothing that hasn’t been attempted before by other enthusiastic authors, I hear you say. But this book will outdo all others I’ve seen in terms of scope. And Awesome SA offers outstanding design into the bargain. At the risk of gushing, I will say that each page is pure visual extravagance, a reflection of the breathtaking diversity that defines this nation. Those running bed and breakfasts or hotels would do well to have this book in every room to educate tourists. And I guarantee that teachers searching for that perfect Heritage Day assembly will be hard-pressed to choose a focus.

God lives in Africa

My own patriotism stirred when I came across actor Will Smith’s quote, uttered apparently upon his first visit here: “It feels like God visits everywhere else, but lives in Africa.” And one of our own legends, surfer Shaun Thomson (yes, there’s a section on surfing) offers the following rules to live by (metaphorically speaking):

  • I will never turn my back on the ocean
  • I will paddle around the impact zone
  • I will take the drop with commitment
  • I will never fight a rip tide

Awesome, dude!

Category: Book Reviews, Spring 2011

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