Saturday, September 19, 2020

From refugee, to diplomat to author…A Dream Fulfilled is launched

As she innocently frisked her dolly alongside her childhood friends in Transkei, there is no way Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe would have foreseen how eventful her life would be, said Hloni Matsela, the Group Managing Director of Kgalagadi Breweries.
Kgalagadi Breweries had sponsored Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe’s book launch, at the South African High Commission station in Gaborone where she served tenure as High Commissioner between 1999 and 2002. Her book, titled A Dream Fulfilled, chronicles her memoirs from her roots in the Eastern Cape, to her experiences as a diplomat in African states and Norway. So titled after her outliving 33 years of liberation struggle to work as a diplomat in the new South Africa.

Her publisher, Mothobi Moutloatsi of Mutloatsi Arts Heritage Trust based in South Africa, said that it is high time Africans write the stories about Africa. He commended Botswana’s former president Ketumile Masire’s contribution to such literature and challenged the former minister of education, Ms Gaositwe Chiepe, to write a memoir of her own experiences.

On her part, Chiepe, who had already read the book, described it as a self-portrait of Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe. She commended Lujabe for being concise and to the point, writing and also commenting on having read two other books from the same period, the stories of which are concurrent and confirm each other. “I had initially believed that I had read enough to know about the South African liberation but am learning more of the horrors experienced by refugees.”

The book delves into how a young Lujabe choose nursing above studies at the esteemed University of Fort Hare, simply because she was impressed by the way uniformed nurses carried themselves and rushed up to the ambulances. A series of events would see Lujabe join the African National Congress and learn about combat as a means for self protection. She eventually was exiled, where she says she slept with a gun under her pillow and also losing her son who was deprived of necessary treatment during their stay in Nigeria in the 70s, details of which she gets into in her book.

The author told the audience that consisted of Members of Parliament and Diplomatic corps that though she was deported from Botswana during the her days as a refugee, her return as ambassador was a mixture of joy of returning to see old friends she had left behind and a revisit of the horrors that she witnessed in Botswana like the bombings on June 14, 1985 by the South African military police. She informed the public that it was the most dangerous station to be based at.

Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe’s book, A Dream Fulfilled, was available at the launch via personal sale it is currently stocked in South Africa’s branches of Exclusive Books.

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