PRESS RELEASE: Marikana special edition book released by an independent publisher

Marikana. A Moment in Time, Raphael d’Abdon (ed.) , Geko, Johannesburg, 2013.

JOHANNESBURG – Marikana. A Moment in Time (Geko, 2013) is a collection of essays, articles, poems and photos by South African and international writers, activists and artists. The book is edited by Dr Raphael d’Abdon (Postdoctoral Fellow at UNISA) and published by the young and independent publisher Geko Publishing. All the proceeds from this book will be donated to the school of Marikana.

“We want to help the community of Marikana” says Phehello Mofokeng, Chief Bookworm at Geko Publishing. “For us the point is not to make empty noise and promises to that community, it’s all hands on deck for us. What we do best is books and we can only add our contribution this way” Mofokeng continues. The book premiere / launch comes hot in the heels of Pitika Ntuli’s sculptural exhibition at Constitution Hill called Marikana Hill to Constitution Hill.

The volume includes a foreword by Makhosazana Xaba and the writings of Prof Njabulo N Ndebele, Simphiwe Dana,  Ari Sitas, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, Napo Masheane, Pitika Ntuli, Prof Pietro Basso, Philo Ikonya, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Afurakan, Lance Henson and Abdul Milazi, to name a few. It captures the mood, the opinions, the commentaries of renowned South African and international scholars, activists and artists in essays, articles, poems and images. Some photos were taken by Mandy de Waal and her son Kyle, while others came from Yazeed Kamaldien. September National Imbizo (SNI) also contributed an opinion piece. Philo Ikonya is a Kenyan poet who now lives in exile in Norway. Ikonya was in South Africa in 2012 during Poetry Africa, and she contributed with a poem titled “Evening Falls”.

In her Foreword, Makhosana Xaba says that this book is a blessing and a “dressing on the wound of South Africa”. She reminds us that “the brutal rule of power remains with us. And it kills”, and that “in the name of human dignity, the struggle must continue”. Indeed, she adds, this book “is an offering of solidarity”.

The collection is endorsed by some of the most respected scholars in South Africa, such as Prof Njabulo S Ndebele, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, Ari Sitas and Pitika Ntuli. Ndebele says that he supports this project for its noble intentions of assisting the Marikana community.

The events of August 14, 2012 at Marikana have reverberated throughout the world – with intense anger, disappointment and disbelief. The shooting and killing of miners on that day indicated how our society still places profit before its people.

Marikana. A Moment in Time (Geko, 2013) will be launched at Constitution Hill, on the 4th April 2013, at 18h00 for 18h30.


  • Lance Henson
  • Napo Masheane
  • Ari Sitas
  • Dr Barbara Boswell
  • Pina Piccolo
  • Allan Kolski Horwitz
  • Tinyiko Sam Maluleke
  • Abdul Milazi
  • Lorenzo Mari
  • Simphiwe Dana
  • Jeannie McKeown
  • Gillian Schutte
  • Mapule Maema
  • Suzanne Leighton
  • Philo Ikonya
  • SNI (September National Imbizo)
  • Sarah Godsell
  • David wa Maahlamela
  • Mandy de Waal
  • Prof Njabulo Ndebele
  • Afurakan T Mohare
  • Dr Raphael d’Abdon
  • Prof Pietro Basso
  • Dr Andrea Piccinelli
  • Heidi Henning
  • Phillippa Yaa de Villiers
  • Prof Pitika Ntuli
  • Moemise Motsepe


So you are a writer? How to get published …

by  Phehello J Mofokeng, Bookworm in Chief

I do not know who said this, but the saying goes “everyone has a story to tell”. I really do not care who said this because all that matters is that – it is true. We all have a story and the question of importance to me is – how do I get the story out of people?

I am a publisher. This means that I am very interested in stories – people’s stories. I am fascinated by the storytelling journey (process) and its fine intricacies that lead us to a book (product). Kendrick Lamar says that if he is going to tell a story, he must start by giving his name. Names of people – just like their stories – are important. And stories do matter. We are nothing without our stories – and that is why whole nations have been lost to history and time. Simply because their stories are not told.

As a publisher, I meet people who want to publish their stories. Often, they write about themselves in biographical form and these can be boring. They follow such a typical route and mostly they start with: “I was born …”. While your story is important, how you write it can be boring and no publisher will pick it up.

I do not want to sound pessimistic, but the world is against the independent publisher and the little-known author. I am going to touch a bit on this matter – without any delusion of trying to give immediate answers to it – but to highlight it to anyone who thinks they are a writer. We need to remove all illusions of grandeur about the writing profession – more so if you are writing for an independent publisher and you are an unknown author. Many authors come to me with lofty ideas of how great they think their stories are and the sales or even the Facebook Likes do not correspond. Many writers give up at this point – the very point when they should be pressing on.

I will press space out of the page to ensure that I also address the issue of language. In a nutshell, we need all the vernacular writing that we can get – out of Africa and the Diaspora. The world is actually getting tired of English metaphors and silly books written by Africans who think they have mastered the English language. For our generations and those coming after us, we have to start preserving our languages by writing more and more in them. We do not want history to judge us painfully – as the generation that forgot its own tongues and embraced a foreign one. We are an African people and the only remaining shard of our being is in our stories and I am interested in writers who want to preserve their language in all means possible and necessary. This is a wonderful challenge because only we can make it possible – not the Caine Prize or any amount of money.

In this tutorial, I am not going to tell you how to write your story, because each of us have a different voice. I am going to show you how to write a story that I as a publisher might find interesting and I can consider it for publishing. Do note that I am referring to our independent publishing house. My ideas and guidelines will certainly not fit all publishers. I will try as best as I can to provide a guide, not to dictate terms. I will lead you, but I will not instruct. I will suggest, but I will not  argue. I will even refer you to some professional standards that we use at Geko Publishing to address the language use among other things. I will also highlight our process – from submission, proofing, editing, layout and design etc. Then I will give some tips regarding what to do to ensure that you have a script that – at first glance – is professional and meets the high standards of publishing in SA and elsewhere. This latter point is meant to show that even if your story might be weak, it still has to have a professional touch to it. I know of many stories that were published – only because they looked professional but at their core, they are just bad books. Looking professional will get your script on the door and it might just get picked up. A very good story that is not well-written will not be picked up – in fact it can end up repulsing the author. I know for a fact that I have rejected many scripts just because they did not look professional at all.

In the last part of the multi-part tutorial, I will give examples of what can be done to make a book a success. This will be my own ramblings, not so much a scientific method, but excerpts from my experience. This is important because we write stories not only to release them from our psyche (or to release our psyches from the stories), but also so that they can be read. To this effect, let me preempt my answer. The author is his/her first marketing tool. And then added layer to this is technology. African writers, authors, publishers and other literature professionals must look to technology for answers. Technology answers so many questions – especially the nagging issue of distribution.

With this foundation, I think it is fitting to go on this journey now – and see who has a story in them and how can we help the story out of you, on to the page …

“Ba re e ne re …” You respond by saying “Qoyi”!

PRESS RELEASE: the launch of local author Tuelo Gabonewe’s latest novel, “Sarcophagus”


16 September 2016

Geko Publishing announces the launch of local author Tuelo Gabonewe’s latest fiction novel, Sarcophagus

Geko Publishing announced today the publication of Sarcophagus, a passionately-written novella by Tuelo Gabonewe. The release of the book is set for September and October 2016.

Gabonewe said: “Sarcophagus is a picaresque novella that follows the trials and tribulations of a young family that finds itself boxing some distance above their weight in a world that’s nowhere near as gentle as it should be. There aren’t any clever rogues in this book, just a pack of hard-bitten battlers stumbling through an infinite gauntlet with their chins held as high as possible.”

The book will be launched first at the Sol Plaatje University (SPU) in Kimberley on September 29th while the second launch – to be held in Johannesburg – will be announced due course.

Sarcophagus is Greek for stone coffin. In the context of this novella, Sarcophagus is a metaphor for the village which is the setting for the story, but also a metaphor for the whole country, and possibly the whole world, seen through the eyes of most poor people. It is a world which eats you alive, essentially. Continue

REVIEW: Horn, Peter. Walking the Road of Death. Johannesburg: Geko, 2015. Print.

In story after story of the collection Walking the Road of Death by the South African scholar, anti-apartheid poet and author Peter Horn, the reader will find a chameleon-like first person narrator, who moves through apocalyptic and surreal atmospheres. Written and set during the nineties in South Africa, the stories underwent a long journey before they appeared in print, having been turned down by several publishers before twenty years later, in 2015, Phehello Mofokeng, the managing editor of the small publishing house Geko decided to publish this anthology of nineteen topical stories. Continue

PRESS RELEASE: “Sankomota founder’s Frank Leepa legacy is now available in black and white”


“Sankomota founder’s Frank Leepa legacy is now available in black and white”


The legacy of the founder of Sankomota – a very popular African music band – is now available as a book. Written by Frank Leepa’s sister, Mpho A Leepa, Born for Greatness: Biography of Frank Leepa is covers the important parts of Frank Leepa’s life – from the killing of his father by the a rented SADF military gunship, to his uphill battle in music and starting his band about three times to his love life and the finality of his death. This book qualifies as an almost-complete account of Frank Leepa’s short life. Continue