When We Dance is a fascinating account of the life of a woman who played a major role in South Africa’s journey from apartheid to democracy, went on to become South African ambassador to Ireland and head of UNICEF Ireland, and was the partner of the late RTÉ presenter Gerry Ryan. The book takes the reader on a remarkable journey through Melanie’s life, from her upbringing in South Africa’s Afrikaner heartland, to her involvement with the ANC (of which she was one of the few white members), her election as an MP, her friendships with Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, and her work in Ireland as South African ambassador and executive director of UNICEF Ireland. She also writes candidly – and movingly – about her relationship with Gerry Ryan.
Melanie’s book is an honest, heartfelt and sometimes humorous memoir that sheds new light on public figures in Ireland and South Africa. It is a powerful and uplifting story of one woman’s determination and bravery in the face of great political and personal upheaval.
Publisher Seán O’Keeffe says: ‘We are delighted to be publishing this wonderful memoir. It is a beautifully written and incredibly moving book. We hope it will reach as wide a readership as possible, both here in Ireland and internationally.’
Melanie Verwoerd says: 'From a young age, the importance of having a voice - and using it - has been the cornerstone of my life. Two men in particular have urged me to do so: Mandela before I entered South African politics, and Gerry Ryan who made me promise to write my story. When We Dance honours these promises, and I hope those that entrusted me to do so.'
The book was acquired from Paul Feldstein of The Feldstein Agency. It will be distributed in Ireland by Gill & Macmillan Distribution and by Turnaround Publisher Services in the UK.
About the Author: Melanie Verwoerd was uniquely placed to witness the progress of South Africa as it moved to the post apartheid ‘rainbow nation’. Having married into the family of the late South African prime minister (1958-66) Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd, the “architect of apartheid”, she experienced huge opposition from her husband’s family and her peers when she became an ANC activist and then a MP in the new parliament. Post-Mandela’s election she worked on many aspects of the new government including the writing of the country’s constitution, before becoming South Africa’s ambassador to Ireland. Following her term as ambassador she became the Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland, a position she held until July 2011. In Ireland, she has written for amongst others the Evening Herald and the Irish Daily Mail.