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Extraordinary Ordinary Eastern Cape: Penny Hogge

Author and traveller Penny Hogge has lived for the past three decades or so in King William’s Town. Her writing is witty and astute, detailed yet light enough to fly through. She’s been a friend of the Mclean family for absolute ages, is a guest blogger here on Thank You Sorry Please, and is adored by all.

She recently penned A Pebble in my Palm, a book based on notes she took while walking part of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago. It’s a goodie; a delightful mix of laugh-out-loud moments and poignant observations. Details on her website and how to get your hands on a copy at the end.

What is your preferred name and surname?

Penny Hogge.

Where do you live in the Eastern Cape? I live in King William’s Town.

What is your greatest achievement, and how did you get to that point? I don’t think of myself as an achiever: If I live each day with sensitivity and kindness, that’s an achievement.

A light-bulb-moment was listening to the words of Tony de Mello, a Jesuit priest, on his book “Awareness” published sometime in the 1980’s. What led me there was trying to make Spike our dog go east when he wanted to go west. My back got caught in the middle and I was incapacitated and sent to bed for a week. I couldn’t even read and a friend, Jacques Pienaar, lent me the tape-cassettes (that word might need a Google dictionary for some readers) of the book.

How would you describe your part of the Eastern Cape to someone who had never visited? I have lived in or near King William’s Town for the past 31 years. It is a town that has been at the forefront of change since the frontier clashes between British and amaXhosa in the nineteenth century.

In the three decades I have lived here, there has been much change as well. King William’s Town has witnessed the Bhisho Massacre, the transformation of ex-model C schools into fully integrated non-racial institutions, the establishment of the Steve Biko Centre, a graveyard to honour those that died in the National Suicide of the amaXhosa.

It is a centre rich in cultural history, most of which can be viewed in the displays of the Amathole Museum.

We have met and made many good friends here. Unfortunately, most of them have left. What saddens me is the poverty and the filth that seem to have become a part of our environment. However, I still love it here and believe that it is filled with people with good hearts.

Tell me about your book, A Pebble in my Palm?

The book came as a result of notes that I kept in my journal while walking from Porto in Portugal to Santiago in Spain (a portion of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago). Last Christmas I spent an hour a day putting the notes onto my computer. I didn’t know how to end it all so I left it for a few months. Then I printed them and gave them to an insomniac friend to read. She enjoyed them. Then Quentin, my husband (who has published three personal anthologies and collaborated a book on Lower Albany short stories) read it and approved and said I should publish. So I did.

Penny has recently gone online with her website: It showcases her writing, and gives further detail on how to lay your hands on her book, A Pebble in my Palm. You can visit her personal Facebook page or contact her on 081 5607581. The book will also soon be available in ebook format.

This series seeks to tell the stories of the people making this province the Extraordinary Ordinary Eastern Cape. To take part, like the Thank You Sorry Facebook page here and let me know. Thank you, Taralyn

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