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Victor Dlamini

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Podcast with an Adventurous Writer, Mario d’Offizi

Bless Me FatherMario D'Offizi Every now and again a book comes along in which a small part – a chapter or less – seems to overshadow the whole, until it becomes almost impossible to remember that the work is about much more than the passage that receives most of the attention.

Mario d’Offizi’s memoir, Bless Me Father (Ge’ko Publishing) is one such book. The chapter in which he describes his abuse at the hands of Father Reginald Orsmond whilst at Boys’ Town in the Magaliesberg has come to stand for the entire text. (See, for instance, coverage of the book in The Times.) But reading Bless Me Father yields a clearer view: it is, in fact, mostly about Mario’s unexpected trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with a veteran journalist – and that’s certainly where the majority of its rewards lie.

Mario D'Offizi Join me on the Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to this fascinating man who has done it all, writing, travel, even owning and running a restaurant. His adventurous trip to the DRC turned out to be a catalyst for introspection and led to the writing of the book. As a memoir Bless Me Father is clearly unconventional: it begins and ends with the same place, the DRC, a place that threw Mario into the deep end, testing him every possible way.

These experiences reminded him of many images and memories that lay buried in his psyche. It was as he watched preachers in Zambia and in the DRC that Mario came face to face with experiences from his childhood, including those of the sexual abuse he had suffered.

Mario D'Offizi Mario has been writing and publishing poetry from a very young age, and had two poems broadcast at age 16 by the SABC (on the old Kalander literary programme), whilst still at Boys’ Town. He has read poetry at many Cape Town haunts, like the old Space theatre and on campus at UCT. He has had poems published New Coin, the Cape Argus and the Cape Times, among other places.

Mario was born in Bloemfontein to an Italian father and Irish mother. He spent all his schooling years in institutions, namely Nazareth House, Kimberly, and, of course, Boys’ Town in the Magaliesberg. As a professional, Mario spent 26 years in the advertising industry, mainly as a senior copywriter and creative director. He lives in Cape Town with his wife Carla and daughter Mirella. Do tune into this engaging chat:

  • Play now: use the widget links below, or click the link under Latest episodes in the sidebar on the right.
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