Making amends with Herman Charles Bosman

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I have a rather embarrassing confession to make.

I have not read a single book by a South African author in all of my 48 years. Surprisingly, I was not asked to in school either, although one set-work was African, but not South African. And so, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe has been the only book from this continent that I have read.

I have given some of the greatest authors ever, the skip, for all these years. Alan Paton, Nadine Gordimer, Nelson Mandela, Andre Brink, J.M Coetzee, Antjie Krog, Breyten Breytenbach, Wally Seroto, Olive Schreiner, and even J.R.R. Tolkien who was South African born, all passed me by.

At this point, I need to make another confession. What I stated in the paragraph prior to the one above, is not entirely true. I did read Slave Species of God by Michael Tellinger out of curiosity, but I consider that a non-book. It is the biggest load of pseudo-scientific rubbish you will read. And so it does not count.

However, all that has changed and I’m now making amends for the many years of scorning South African authors. About two weeks ago, I was loaned an old copy of Herman Charles Bosman’s Bosman At His Best. It’s a compilation of some of his best short stories, and what an awesome story-teller he is. And that’s not all. This guy is damned funny. Get a load of this from In the Withaak’s Shade:

I remember the occasion that I came across a leopard unexpectedly, and to this day I couldn’t tell you how many spots he had, even though I had all the time I needed for studying him. It happened about mid-day, when I was out on the far end of my farm, behind a koppie, looking for some strayed cattle. I thought the cattle might be there because it is shady under those withaak trees, and there is soft grass that is very pleasant to sit on. After I had looked for the cattle for about an hour in this manner, sitting up against a tree trunk, it occurred to me that I could look for them just as well, or perhaps even better, if I lay down flat. For even a child knows that cattle aren’t so small that you have got to get on to stilts and things to see them properly.

And…

What was more, I could go on lying there under the withaak and looking for the cattle like that all day, if necessary. As you know, I am not the sort of farmer to loaf about the house when there is a man’s work to be done.

Not surprisingly, I’ve dropped everything else I’m reading until after I’ve devoured these brilliant stories from one of South Africa’s most famous authors.

Incidentally, there’s a full reading of this hilarious short story available here on YouTube.

Apartheid Resurrected

Apartheid is dead! Long live apartheid!

 

 

Sounds corny, right? But if you’re living in South Africa in these turbulent times, that

Protection of Information Bill

prospect is very real, very terrifying. Who could have imagined apartheid being resurrected by the very people who took it down less than twenty years ago.

It took less than two decades for the liberators to figure out that apartheid was perhaps not so bad after all. It could in fact be quite useful if:

  1. Almost every member of your political organization has his or her hands in the nation’s cooky jar and you needed to make sure when caught, that they’re free from prosecution
  2. Those same members have a pathological tendency to be arrogant, and habitually, if hysterically, shoot themselves in the foot when caught out
  3. You need to silence the press who have this rather annoying habit of exposing the rampant corruption, laziness, incompetence, arrogance, nepotism, and sheer stupidity of the members of your political organization on a daily, even hourly basis
  4. You need to satiate your unbelievable greed and love of bling, by either raiding the treasury or setting up elaborate kick-back schemes that are designed to enrich friends, family, sycophants and possible back-stabbers
  5. You have a repressed hatred of White people who you still blame for the original apartheid
  6. You want to rule until Jesus returns

That’s half a dozen reasons I can think of, off the top of my head.

But here’s the events that are unfolding right now in South Africa which lends credence to the need to revive apartheid:

  1. The Protection of Information Bill [POIB] introduced by this organization is to be put to the vote before Parliament tomorrow, 21 November. Its passing in the National Assembly is assured because this organization makes up the majority in government. This Bill seeks to muzzle the press and the citizens of this country by ensuring that government’s sordid activities can be blanketed in a shroud of secrecy. This Bill seeks to kill free speech.
  2. The Presidential spokesperson has just laid criminal charges against a major newspaper and two of its reporters for having the temerity to expose some of his dodgy dealings in the arms scandal that occurred some years ago. If anything raises alarm bells about POIB, this one act will make your ears ring.
  3. The so-called youth wing [ANCYL] of this organization, a morose bunch of unemployable, arrogant, disrespectful misfits, seem hell-bent on turning the country into an economic dung-heap by demanding that businesses that keep the economy going, be nationalised and handed over to them to be sucked dry and land be expropriated Zimbabwe style to realise the revolutionary’s dream of being a landowner. These same morons idolize the fallen dictator Gaddafi, very publicly.
  4. Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer, a stalwart of the anti-apartheid movement speaks out strongly against the direction being adopted by this organization: “The corrupt practices and nepotism that they [politicians] allow themselves is exposed if we have freedom of expression. When we all voted together, which was a great moment in my life, [we thought] everything would be alright. That was a childish idea.”
  5. Meanwhile, the President of this organization and the country, has very little to say about these matters, but seems to be pre-occupied building an extravagant Hitler-style bunker on his estate.

Yes folks, apartheid is once again all the rage in South Africa.