There is a fascinating concept at work in Like Water Is For Fish, a non-fiction book detailing the effectiveness of storytelling in communicating important messages and doing so in a mixture of memoir-style flashbacks and combinations of the perspectives of other individuals author Garth Japhet has met along the way. If it sounds like a hodge-podge, it doesn’t read like one, rather coming across as an influential set of viewpoints – Japhet is the founder of the Soul City multimedia project and the Heartlines NGO – layered with compassion, insight, an awareness of personal frailty and a willingness to make and learn from mistakes.
Japhet has shown an inclination, over many years, to tackle issues that should ideally be the remit of a strong national government, but which so often remain under the radar, such as the education of sectors of society who may not have access to the education and other resources taken for granted by those elsewhere. Though it is never his intent to underline the importance of his particular role in these initiatives – the tone and focus of his writing confirms his discomfort with that outcome – this book confirms how important a visionary Japhet has been in terms of addressing the needs of huge swathes of South African society, particularly in the areas of health and social cohesion.
And the personal nature of his collected reflections confirms that normal people – Japhet has suffered from severe depression and notes his many shortfalls without shame – can, provided they are willing to commit themselves to a cause, make a notable difference, which is as important an inspiration now as it’s ever been. His story will help readers understand the importance of their stories.
– Bruce Dennill. Writer, editor & broadcaster. www.brucedennill.co.za