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Born in a village in Limpopo, Kaizer Chiefs defender Tefu Mashamaite is a university graduate with a degree in International Relations. He is an avid reader and shares his thoughts on books with us.
From your earliest memories, when do you suppose was your first contact with books?
My earliest contact with the book started at school. There was this book called Mpudule (which means open my eyes in Sepedi) that sticks out in my memory as one of the first.
Did you grow up in a home with books?
I can't say I grew up in a family with books. Our next-door neighbour, Miss Mashao, was a teacher and she had a collection of reading material. I remember Reader's Digest caught my interest.
Is there a public library in Bochum?
There was no community library at Bochum. The only access to library was at Mammoka High School which had a wide range of Sepedi, African literature and English novels.
What was the first novel that you ever completed?
It is Paolo Coelho's The Alchemist. I was already at Wits University.
Are you reading anything at the moment?
I'm reading three books - Marcus Garvey, A Negro With A Hat; Paolo Freire, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Carter G Woodson’s The Miseducation of the Negro.
Have you read any book more than once?
I have read Eskia Mphahlele's Eskia Continued more than once - the main reason being that the essays in the book are based on African socialism and the [African] way of living. It was important that I constantly remind myself about the need to inculcate those principles and forge a way in which I could incorporate those into my day to day experiences
How big is your collection of books?
It is huge. I have more than 200 books ranging from biographies, novels, self-help and essay-based books.
In the collection, which one is your oldest book, that you’ve had the longest?
I started collecting books around 2003 when I was at Wits University and my first book was Ngila Muendane's I am an African.
Have you ever given out a book as a birthday present?
I have given a couple of books as birthday gifts and the one that comes to mind is Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama given to my former teammate at development football called Joel.
Do you have a favourite author?
My favourite author is Ben Okri. I like his allegorical style of writing. His writings are mostly about Africa and the position she has come to occupy in the world as a result of slavery, colonialism and a general ignorance of its people about their spiritual purpose and powers.
Sounds like an obvious question but does reading give you a better understanding of the ways of the world, how things function?
Reading has really opened my understanding and perception of the world in many ways. I have also learnt to differentiate between objective and propaganda writing. Reading has enabled my vision of the world in ways that other mediums could not.
What do you think of the idea of book clubs?
The idea of book clubs could be a success if there was a rooted culture of reading in our society. Some people see reading as something that should just be relegated to pure academics.
If you were asked to be an ambassador of the book, would you charge a fee?
I think reading is something valuable only if we were to realise the liberating role it can play in our society and therefore I would jump at any opportunity to become a book ambassador, without asking for a fee.
Is there one big lesson you’ve learnt from books that you will always cherish?
If there is one thing I would cherish about books it would be the liberating nature they encompass. Books can provide an escape for one to become a dreamer in the world where one is constantly facing a psychological violence.
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