Already at a young age I read books on foreign people and faraway cultures. Later on I went to have a look in that other world, the world of Africa.  For ten years I lived and worked in different places, in different countries, in different parts of the continent. And I kept on reading.

I have moved to The Netherlands. But even then, I still made some trips to Africa. And I kept on reading.

A few years ago I noted down what I had read. In 2013 I decided to share what I had read and I am reading.

And what about the title of this weblog?  
“Africa always brings forth something new.” The title that I use for my blog has several variations: e.g. “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi.”

The Dutch humanist Erasmus wrote a book titled ‘Adagia’, it was a collection of over 4000 sayings from Latin. One of them was ‘semper Africa novi aliquid apportat’ (Africa offers always something new).

It might be that Erasmus went back to the Roman author Plinius sr. (23-79 A.D.), who wrote a 37 volume work with the title Naturalis Historia, in it he described the whole natural world. After his death this work was published. One of the many hundreds of sources he used was the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

In chapter  17 of Book 8 Plinius writes an extensive (but wrong) description of the matinghabits of the African lion. In this description he uses a famous Greek saying of his days  (“unde etian vulgare Graciae dictum semper aliquid novi Africam adferre”.) It seems that Plinius quoted an old source, i.e. Aristotle (384-322 BC) from his work Historia Animalium. Aristotle wrote that the wild animals of Asia are the wildest, those of Europe the bravest, and those of Libiya are the most varied. In connection with this variation Aristotle wrote: all the time something new comes from Libiya.  It appears that the Greek did not know the word ‘Africa’, but used ‘Libiya’ and all black people were called ‘Ethiopians’. But the Romans, and Plinius was one of them, did use ‘Africa’, meaning the northern part of the continent.

And so Africa brings forth something new, even in the field of books.

53 thoughts on “who I am

  1. Thank you for your kind comments. I would take this up with my publisher. But for now I have the eBook edition which I can send to you. Please let me know if this is okay by you. Best regards. Kola King


    1. Thank you for your reply. I prefer a hard copy. With attention to your book on my blog you will reach many potential readers in South Africa, Nigeria, Europe and North American who are very interested in African books.


  2. Came across your blog by chance. Already I’ve subscribed to it. Very impressive and informative. Well, as they say something new always comes out of Africa, and by this I would like to inform you that my debut novel titled ‘A Place in the Sun’ has been published and released in South Africa by Verity Publishers( I would be grateful if you would read it and if you like it pass this information on to readers of your blog. Best regards
    Kola King


    1. Thank you for this comment and congratulations on your book ! When you or your publisher sends me a hard copy, I will read your book and write a review on my blog. Thanks.


  3. Like you, I am fascinated with faraway cultures and have a personal “relationship” with Morocco, the country I grew up in. I can’t wait to explore your blog in more depth!


  4. Hi there! Thank you for the twitter mention and the promotion here – I really appreciate it 🙂


    1. Semper, I was wondering if you know anything about the Afrikaans author Jan Celliers? I am visiting a friend near a school (laerskool) named in his honour in Greenside, Johannesburg. I have Googled the man and he is named as “one of the three outstanding Afrikaans-language poets who wrote in the immediate wake of the Second Boer War; together with Totius and C. Louis Leipoldt” (wikipedia)
      Another source points to a book of translated poems which I would like to get my hands on. Do you have any knowledge of Afrikaans poetry or writing from this era?


      1. I know about Totius and his immense influence on the Afrikaner language due to his translation of the Bible into the Afrikaner language. Before that many Afrikaners used the old Dutch translation, the socalled ‘Statenvertaling’ dating from 1637. He also did an important job in translating the Psalms that are sung in churchservices of the Reformed Churches. I was given his collected works in eleven (!) volumes.
        Leipoldt rings a bell as well, but just a sound, no words. I have not heard of Jan Celliers. Were the poems translated from the Afrikaner language into English? I had a look at to find a translation of his poems, but I could not find any translated book. I checked a collection (by Gerrit Komrij) of over a thousand poems in the Afrikaner language, many by Celliers, but I could not find any information on translations of his work. Other names that I did find are Eugene Marais (1871 – 1936), C.J. Langenhoven (1873 – 1932), Gustave Preller (1875 – 1943) and Harm Oost (1877 – 1964), but they are not to be considered on the same level as the three writers you have mentioned. Here you will find some poems in the Afrikaner language with an English translation.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for your response. I trawled the web for information on the man and am primarily informed by what I’ve read on Wikipedia. Hence I know that Celliers was a well-travelled and respected man, who qualified in law abroad, and who held a professorship at Stellenbosch University for many years. He passed away here in Johannesburg. Quite possibly the school has some or all of his publications, probably in Afrikaans.
        So far as translations go there seems to be only one published compendium of Afrikaans poets in which he features. The book is called ‘Afrikaans Poems with English Translations’ by Grove A.P. & Harvey, C.J.D. I think it was published sometime in the late 50s or early 60s. There may be copies in overseas bookshops but nothing on the local market, at least online.
        There is a translation of two poems by Totius on his Wiki page which I think are rather good. The first translation is by CJD Harvey, aforementioned:

        “Night at Sea – Near Aden”
        Nothing but sea and darkness everywhere
        as when the earth was desolate and void
        and o’er the world-pool hung night, unalloyed

        No star and no horizon visible,
        no sight or sign the wandering eye to guide,
        I hear only the waves beating the side.

        Though she sails always on, she now sails blind,
        the prow thrusts forward, cleaving through the night.
        Only upon the compass, shafts of light.[4]


  5. What a wonderful blog / website you have created. I will follow it and mention you in my FB account. And thanks for stumbling on – and liking – my book ‘Het land van Soekmekaar’. Marnix de Bruyne


  6. Thank you for liking my post on Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter. I can’t believe I let it sit on my shelf so long!. I will be following your blog.


  7. New Orkoiyiot?? I don’t know but my literature (my blog really) have the great influence in our Community, by now. That’s why on twitter I call myself “N-Hills Best Blogger” which means Nandi Hills Best Blogger! My twitter handle is @Dismoh. My vote, my say matters!


  8. Thank you for having you on board, and for loving Africa, Africa that truly brings forth something great and new. I guess you followed my blog because its new and great too? Just kidding! Thanks and looking forward to read your blog often.


      1. New Orkoiyiot?? I don’t know but my literature (my blog really) have the great influence in our Community, by now. That’s why on twitter I call myself “N-Hills Best Blogger” which means Nandi Hills Best Blogger! My twitter handle is @Dismoh. My vote, my say matters!


      1. Strangely enough, this is how I came to be a blogger and reviewer. I get free books from Net Galley and in exchange for my reviews. I would say about 50% of what I read comes to me that way, and I read a lot. The rest are scrounged up second hand or given me as gifts…not to mention those I bought when I was working and swore I would read when I finally had time. It’s pretty sweet.

        Thanks for your comment.


  9. Thanks for following my blog . Your quote* reminded me of one of my books on SA The New Rainbow written many years back.
    This is at the back of my book
    PLINY, CAIUS P SECUNDUS (not that I understand any Latin!)

    Ex Afrika semper aliquid novi…
    There is always something new out of Africa.
    From Historia Naturalis.

    All the best with your most interesting blog


  10. Very interesting! and thank you for subscribing to my blog despatchesfromtimbuktu. I wonder if you ‘found’ me via Postcrossing?


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