Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Truth about the Iraq Invasion

Clarke told General Colin Powell: “Having been attacked by al Qaeda, for us now to go bombing Iraq in response would be like our invading Mexico after the Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor.”

Richard Clarke, quoted in the Pennsylvania Gazette

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Congress of The People - COPE Official Website

For those wanting to contact COPE, find contacts for local reps, or donate to the cause, I believe that this is the official website:


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stop being so Presidential!

THE ANC has allegedly ordered the SABC to reduce its coverage of President Kgalema Motlanthe and to stop projecting him as being so presidential, to the disadvantage of the party’s president, Jacob Zuma.

City Press.

Meanwhile the ANC continues its ongoing revolutionary struggle to ensure democracy and justice for all South Africans. By bussing its supporters to COPE meetings so that they can throw chairs at them.

Everything the ANC DOES lately, rather than says, suggests one thing: the rule of the mob. It’s the Malema vision: Onwards to the Zimbabwefaction of our beloved South Africa. Viva, Comrade Malema, Viva.

It’s time to vote them out of power

And we can.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Vladimir Putin and Mr Saakashvili's Balls

Nicolas Sarkozy saved the President of Georgia from being hanged “by the balls” — a threat made last summer by Vladimir Putin, according to an account that emerged yesterday from the Élysée Palace. . . .

The Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr Putin declared.

Mr Sarkozy thought he had misheard. “Hang him?” — he asked.

“Why not?” Mr Putin replied. “The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”

Mr Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?”

Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah -- you have scored a point there.”

The Times Online

Moral: even the Bush presidency has had positive outcomes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Palin, Pigs and Paglia

Here are two views on Sarah Palin. One, from George Saunders writing in the New Yorker, is laugh out loud funny.

The other, from Camille Paglia writing at Salon.com, is measured, mature, educated and on Palin’s side. What a great writer Ms Paglia is.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yes We Can

We can have a country where all citizens ARE equal before the law.

We can have a country that respects its constitution.

We can obey the law and charge and try those who don’t.

We can have a country which says no to a fascism which threatens to kill those that disagree with it, wants to send youth to re-education camps and boasts that it will rule till Jesus returns.

We can pump money and work and care into infrastructure and education instead of arms deals.

We can create jobs, and citizens educated and equipped and keen to do them.

We can have direct representation so that if something goes wrong in your area you can go to YOUR member of parliament to sort it out.

We can vote the ANC out of power and The Congress of the People in.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What Mr Lekota is Saying.

All citizens must be equal before the law. Including Jacob Zuma.

The courts must be independent of political influence.

Beware those who sing songs of death or threaten to kill people who disagree with them. They are the real enemies of South Africa.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Lekota for President

“The demand for equality before the law is enshrined both in the Freedom Charter and the constitution of the republic. But recently, our leadership has been calling for a political solution to the charges against the president of the ANC. This suggests that there is law for some and not for all South Africans — a departure from one of the vital principles of our constitution,” Lekota said.

The Times.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mosiuoa Lekota for President

"We have put in place institutions of government … now there is a tirade of attacks on the courts and the judges. And there is even the demand that we must defend verdicts which suit certain individuals. If the judges are described as counter-revolutionaries … where is the comfort for the citizens of this country?"

"Now we are saying, no, in a particular case - of the state vs the president of the ANC - there must be a political solution. What has happened to the clause in the freedom charter: All shall be equal before the law. “Who is deviating from the Freedom Charter? Why did we spend years and years of suffering in exile and in jail for this clause?"

"Let the people of South Africa decide whether they want the Malema’s of this world or whether they want sober leadership. “In the coming weeks we will consult … to call a national convention to determine how to proceed, to defend democracy in this country. “We paid the price for these principles. We paid the price for these principles. It would be a betrayal on our part not to rise to defend the legacy."


Full story: The Times

Friday, August 22, 2008

I Protest!!!!

COSAS “asked our teachers and organised a train for us to come here. But we were not well informed about the reason why we are protesting,"

Nomsa Mabona, pro-Zuma “protester” to a Times Reporter.

This is yet another example of the fall of standards in the Rainbow Nation. In the old days, people were always told simply and clearly what they were protesting about. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that they often knew what they were protesting about even without being told. In some cases, the need for protest was so clear that people just got up and protested straight off without being told anything.

I think we should go back to that old system. I think that if someone experiences something terrible, like apartheid or Thabo Mbeki, they should just protest all by themselves without COSAS being involved at all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tobias Wolff - A Damn Fine Writer

A fellow writer in the BookShed, William Spencer, made the following comment the other day:

“Never have I encountered so much good writing in the service of an absence of dramatic tension. I’m fed up. I want a main character who is in crisis, who cares so damn deeply that he/she can’t see straight.”

Got me thinking.

Recently, for the first time in a year or so, I read a book that kept me up at night instead of putting me to sleep. And the next morning I finished it when I was meant to be typing for money. I’m still thinking about it. Why?

It was Tobias Wolff’s Old School. The hero is a schoolboy in a private school who wants to win a literary prize. The prize is half an hour in a garden with Hemingway. The hero finds himself unable to write and steals an old story from a student at the girl’s school next door. He steals it because it is more true to his life than anything he has ever been able to write himself. His time at school has been spent in trying to create the impression that he comes from the same background as his peers. He is, in fact, a scholarship student with troubled and relatively poor parents. He is a liar who wants be a writer. He is starting to realize that to achieve this end, he will have to be truthful. Stealing the story is the most honest thing he’s ever done.

Why is it a page turner? The hero is trying to find something nebulous. Himself. Mysteries, granted, are set up. Why did the Dean, reported to know Hemingway personally, resign on the day of the hero’s expulsion? Will the hero ever manage to live in the world as himself?

The mysteries are unravelled. (Spoilers ahead) The Dean didn’t know Hemingway. He just allowed the boys to perpetrate the impression that he did. This grew. In the end he couldn’t live with the lie he had allowed. (A subplot that thematically mirrors the main plot) And the hero? Well, he wrote the book. A fiction. Which fills in the gaps between two pieces of great non-fiction: This Boy’s Life and In Pharaoh’s army. Taken together, they are an extraordinary portrait of a man called Tobias Wolff. They make the point that life is richer and more complicated than the average well constructed best seller would have us believe. Old School, by the fact that it was written, demonstrates that the hero of Old School now lives at ease with his roots. Its existence is the answer to its own dramatic question.

I suppose my position is this. As a television hack, I buy everything Bill says. As a reader, I’m not so sure. Because often that moment where someone thought: I have to up the jeopardy, make the worst thing happen, is also the moment I go: I don’t believe you.

On the other hand, the stakes in Old School are high. Tobias Wolff could have become a conman like his father. What’s at stake in Old School is the quality of a man’s life.

But why is it a great book?


My mother would have said: “Because he writes so well.”

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nervous in Mozambique

Mozambique. It has a ring to it, that name. You enter from Mpumalanga, the Eastern Transvaal. Which is game farms and sugar cane and orchards, rich country, with touristy roadside stalls and game lodges, nestling between the escarpment and the Lebombo Mountains.

At the border a man introduced himself. He looked at the third party insurance document as my wife was filling out forms.
“Allied Insurance,” he said. “My company.”
He appointed himself to see us through border formalities. He instructed us and said he would meet us on the other side.
“My name is Nervous,” he said.

We handed in our passports and were waved through. My wife disappeared into Mozambican bureaucracy. I pondered names. Nervous. A reassuring moniker. More so than Grifter, say. Or Con Man. A man from a rival insurance company warned us that the fee for the vehicle was ten rand only.

My wife reappeared, Nervous in tow. Nervous said we owed him a hundred rand. For the vehicle. We’d already paid for the vehicle, but we gave him twenty for effort. The Mozambicans waved us through. We entered a flat desolate plain. Thorn scrub and dust. Occasional piles of firewood on the side of the road signalled human industry. We paid our toll fees in Meticals. A reed hovel clung to the dust.

Then we were in Maputo. For a long time. Mini bus taxis, markets, VodaCom TuboBom, Señor Jesús Cristo. More markets. Goats. Stalls, shops and sand encroaching on the road. We turned north onto the Xai Xai road. We travelled through many villages. Some buildings were still derelict from the war. We bought Cashew nuts on the side of the road. VodaCom TuboBom. Flat hills, tropical. Many trees. Trucks barrelled through, straddling the middle line. We got the fuck out of the way by the grace of Señor Jesús Cristo.

We crossed the great, grey, greasy Limpopo on an old steel bridge in the late afternoon. We’d been travelling for eleven hours. Mist clung to wide, still waters. Palm trees rose spookily from the banks. Apocalypse Now. Señor Jesús Cristo. VodaCom, TuboBom.

Xai Xai is big. We dawdled through the throng. A man smacked another man across the face. Friday evening. Payday. VodaCom, TuboBom. Señor Jesús Cristo. We stopped at the last garage and let the tire pressure right down for the sand.

Thirty K’s on we spotted the sign for Zona Braza and turned right onto a track. It wound through dense bush. The sun was a red ball on the horizon. Big cows, long horned, stared at us out of the gloom. There were forks in the road. I chose randomly, not wanting to stop and get bogged. But the tracks always joined up again. They’re part of the design. It’s how you allow other vehicles to pass. We wound down to a lake, then up steep dunes, relying on momentum and soft tires. A sign said: Casas - Reception. We piled out and lost each other in the dark. We found the bar. We drank Laurentina beer and ate Barracuda. It was good. We left early because the barman still had to walk home. Ten K’s to the tar road. He was scared of snakes. He wanted to work in South Africa and earn money for a bicycle.

The Casa perched in the dune forest at the top of a dune. It was thatch roofed, and mosquito nets hung exotically over the beds. It looked east along the beach. Monkeys came to visit. Whales cavorted off the reef. We slept in cool breezes and the sound of the sea. My dreams were vivid and lingered long after I opened my eyes.

We walked and slept and read. In the evening we lit a fire and grilled our supper on red coals. Five days. No TV, no papers. Just the beach and us. I asked the children if they wanted to come back. They said yes. I asked if we should invite anyone. They said, no. Just us. They said Zona Braza was the best place we’d been in Mozambique.

The drive back only took eleven hours. VodaCom. TuboBom. We travelled safely beneath the gaze of Señor Jesús Cristo. There was no sign of Nervous.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

DeLois signs Two Book Deal with Berkley.

Patricia J DeLois, reclusive author of BUFFLEHEAD SISTERS, and founder member of The BookShed, has just signed a two-book deal with Berkley Books, a Penguin imprint.

DeLois will be working with editor, Jackie Cantor, whose list includes New York Times bestsellers Diana Gabaldon, John Lescroart, Eloisa James, and Hope Edelman, and Helen Fremont, author of the acclaimed memoir AFTER LONG SILENCE. Recent acquisitions include THE ROAD FROM CHAPEL HILL by Joanna Catherine Scott, author of the Booksense Top Ten THE LUCKY GOURD SHOP; PRACTICALLY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY by Jennifer Niesslein; and WHAT FRENCH WOMEN KNOW ABOUT LOVE AND SEX by journalist Debra Ollivier.

So if anyone is wondering which peer review and networking site for writers is home to the talent…

It’s the BookShed.

Note - This post should in no way be interpreted as a disparagement of Litopia. Litopia is also an excellent peer review and networking site for writers.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Who Wrote Shakspere's Plays

There is much interesting discussion on William Shakespeare in The Red Room

In answer to Thomas Huynh's post, the REAL Shakespeare:

Well, Thomas, what is a genius? I think the man was a working writer. Very good one. But like his friend Ben Johnson, who loved him, "this side of idolatory," I think he gains from editing. "Would he had crossed out a thousand." Lines, Ben meant.

I think Titus Andronicus is the work of a man whose friend at the studio says, "It's Vin Deisel, Willie. They want gratuitous violence. They want blood." They play is abysmal, and I'm glad I didn't write it. I think Merchant of Venice is the work of a man whose co-producers asked for an anti-semitic play. So he whacked a Jewish character into one of his silly romance plots. But, being the writer he is, he got under Shylock's skin (I mean, what a name?) and made him human, and ended up with a great tragedy stuck in a romantic adventure.

I think Will could have got the Venice stuff from talking to one person who'd been to Venice. There were quite a few around. Always a cosmopolitan town, London.

The other thing is, I don't think Will thought his texts were that important. Point was to get the thing into production, and rake in the ticket sales. He was a mainstream populist. If he lived now, he'd be writing television. So the texts do have bits written by other people. It was theatre. People collaborated.

The best book I've read about Will is A LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE, by Hesketh Pearson. Perhaps the best argument for Shakespeare as author is to read the plays and intuit the nature of the man behind them.

On the other hand, we know he was in an acting troupe. We know he had shares in a theatre. We know he went to the city and made money. If it wasn't from theatre, what was it from? We know he was successful enough as a playwright for at least one other writer to accuse him of upstart pretensions.

And Ben Johnson, a friend, and playwright, worshiped him this side of idolatry.

As a writer.

Let's apply Occam's Razor here, chaps.

Friday, June 20, 2008

John McCain Called his Wife a What?

This seems to be attested.

And some folks are having fun with it.

Here in South Africa, we have a politician who suggested that if the leader of the ruling party was tried for corruption (his partner in this corruption is already in jail by the way, which seems to suggest that said leader might just be guilty) people should kill to defend him.

Maybe John McCain should join the ANCYL. Right age, right temperament...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The ANC Self Discreditization League.

"We have noticed a distortion, misinterpretation, vulgar insults and defamatory comments which have been hurled against ANC Youth League".

Malema said it was all part of a political agenda to discredit the Youth League. - The Times.

This seems unnecessary, and I would urge all those involved to stop. Mr. Malema is quite capable of doing the work by himself.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Julius Malema - Enemy of the Revolution

“The SA Human Rights Commission has given ANC Youth League president Julius Malema 14 days to retract his controversial "kill for Zuma" remark.” - The Times.

This is a good thing. Mr. Malema’s remarks reminded me very much of Nat politicians in the old days. Then it was communists and terrorists. Now it’s “enemies of the revolution”. When questioned on ETV, Mr Malema said these enemies of the revolution cropped up all over the place. I know exactly what he means. He means enemies of his own agenda, which is to empower himself. That’s why he’s so confident of his ability to identify these enemies.

In so far as such as thing as any enemy of the revolution can be said to exist, Mr Malema himself is a prime example. He is clearly a big enemy of democracy. Like Robert Mugabe, who cannot understand why a ballot should be more powerful than a bullet, Mr Malema is one who aims to rule by fear and murder.

We have to watch out for people like this. People like Mao Zedong. They invent new sins and then attach the death penalty to them. They are enemies of humanity.

Two Clams in the Soup

Two Beavers on the Left Bank,

One Dick in the Red Room, and...

A Couple of Ellipses in Paris.

Something is happening here, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Or them.

It's a Moveable Feast.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Two Ellipses In Paris

Here's a link to a little discussion on censorship in the Red Room. It arose when an earlier Red Room post of mine was tweaked.

Red Room is an EXCELLENT SITE, and this post in no way denotes criticism thereof. I think South African authors interested in broadening their market should join Red Room with all haste.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

BookShed - Peer Review and Networking Site For Writers

Have you got a book at that stage where first or second draft is down, but you can’t see the wood for the trees? You need an outside eye? An unbiased, educated response from someone who is not emotionally involved with you and the work?

The BookShed awaits.

The BookShed is a peer review and networking site for writers of fiction or narrative non-fiction. It welcomes genuine talent at whatever stage of development. Most members are aspirant, but some have recently signed with agents, and two are in the process of signing deals with major publishers.

If the BookShed doesn’t work for you there are other excellent sites, like Litopia and YouWriteOn.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Troops 'must back Mugabe or quit'

Zimbabwe's army chief has told soldiers they must leave the military if they do not vote for incumbent President Robert Mugabe in next month's run-off poll. - BBC News

So much for democrasy.

I think we must just pray for Zimbabwe.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Illegal Immigrants

The meaning of words is important.What does the word “illegal” mean? My thesaurus offers: unlawful, dishonest, criminal. So if an immigrant is illegal, the state has an obligation to repatriate them, or to declare them refugees and process them in some other legal fashion. They cannot simply be dumped into already suffering communities.

Burning people to death, whatever their origin, is also illegal. And the state has an obligation to charge, prosecute and punish.

This government has some work to do.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

March to Protect Immigrants.

Given that immigrants are people, and that xenophobia is another word for savage racism, I think that this information, received by SMS from the painter, Herman Niebuhr, should be publicized as much as possible:

March to defend immigrants.

Joburg, Saturday May 24.

Gather at 9am,
Marks Park, Empire Rd, near Hillbrow.

Bring placards, banners, friends

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Zimbabwe Does it like Rwanda

The snippet below is from Breaking News at the times. Interesting, because this is how the trouble in Rwanda started, with people on the radio saying, kill the cockroaches.

"The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ) said that over the weekend, Spot FM aired a number of "political songs" ahead of the country's coming Independence Day celebrations. One of them, "Mr Government" by Man Soul Jah, celebrated the government's land seizures and called for the decimation of perceived political sellouts.

The song said: "We are living like squatters in the land of our heritage... give me my spear so that I can kill the many sellouts in my forefathers' country."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Boycott Amazon

Here's the location on the brand new Boycott Amazon group on FaceBook.

You can find pointers on other ways to take action at The BookShed.

Keep Politics Out of Sport

Interesting to hear people who are complaining about the anti-China Olympic protesters use the above phrase. Last time I heard it was when white South Africans were complaining about the sports boycotts in the 1980s. After making a political decision that only white people could play sports, they said, “keep politics out of sport.” The phrase is as absurd now as it was then.

Fight the Amazon Monopoly

YouWriteOn.com is taking on Amazon over its controversial decision that all Print-On-Demand (POD) books will now have to be printed through Amazon's printing company BookSurge, and Amazon’s attempts to stifle competitive book prices.

You can find the full story, and learn out how to put pressure on Amazon to change their policy, at The BookShed.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Warning! Racist Joke!

This could be construed as anti-Inuit, but...

An Eskimo takes his car to the garage. The mechanic says 'Have you blown a seal?' and the eskimo replies 'No, that's frost on my moustache.'

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Want 950 000... Pounds?

The "National Lottery Committee, P O Box 1010, L70 1NL UNITED KINGDOM" want to give me 950 000.

They don’t say what.

Whatever they are, I don’t want them, but if you do, please contact Zonal Coordinator, Mr.Micheal Adamz, on his e-mail address: (mic_healadamz@yahoo.fr). Or try Mrs.Rose Mosa, the national co-ordinator.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hitting the Big Time. With Style.

Writing a book, finding an agent, going into negotiations on a deal with a big publisher. What an adventure!

If you want to live it vicariously, to see someone do it with style, with what Hemingway called "grace under pressure", look no further than Patricia J DeLois' blog, Pencils and Whatnot.

The good folk at Litopia should really take note of how this is done.

Harry Kalmer Goes Big

My good friend, author and playwright, Harry Kalmer, has got a new high profile blog, My Liewe Land, on the Rapport site. And I know for a fact that if Harry wrote it, it's going to be a great read.

My Rosebank

I've been thinking for some time that it would be great to have some kind of community blog for the suburb. And it seems some great minds have got there before me.

As they did me the honour of inviting me, I joined the community with alacrity.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cox Slams AAA

Literary agent, and creator of Litopia, Peter Cox has accused the Association of Authors Agents (AAA), of being 'unprofessional and complacent'.

You can read the full story at The BookShed.

Where else?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Channelling Sophie - Patricia J DeLois.

When it comes to photographs Patricia J DeLois, author of Bufflehead Sisters, is as elusive as a Salinger. When I suggested that an image, even of someone else, might be useful for marketing purposes. DeLois, if only briefly, considered her friend Joan.

"At one time there was talk of Joan posing as me. I first typed Buffleheads on a Mac Classic that I bought from Joan. She pointed out that the software was still licensed to her, so if any issues of authorship arose, she could claim to have written it. Should any appearances on Oprah be called for, I'm sending Joan. I've sent you the book cover."

You can find out how DeLois discovered Sophie, or vice versa, at IdentityTheory.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Renowned Author and Publisher, Lynn Price, responds...

"I find this post neither "friendly" nor amusing because it smacks of a personal vendetta you continue to have with me even though you're no long a member of Litopia. I have no idea why you've chosen to single me out and take personal affront at anything I've ever written on Litopia, but it's rather unprofessional.

As editorial director for our publishing company, I critique writers - it's a fact of life and it most certainly isn't personal on my part. The same goes when I critique on Litopia - it isn't personal - yet you've chosen to interpret it as so. This says far more about you and your inability to accept critique than it does me, as an editor.Would you post untruths about Kirkus or Publisher's Weekly if they gave you or one of your friends a less than stellar review? All this does is reveal how little you understand the industry and about maintaining a professional demeanor.

I'd also be interested to know what makes you believe only my fingerprints were on your friend's initial rejection. Litopia works by getting a quorum of input - not just one opinion. Your belief in my influence and blind rancor is quite misplaced."

Lynn Price - www.behlerpublications.com

Gosh, Lynne. You didn't make the judgement call by yourself? There were others involved?

The author who caused all the trouble: Patrica DeLois. Her book: Bufflehead Sisters.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

More on that Word

Andisiwe Makinana also picked up on the Biko extract in an interesting article in the Daily News.

"Like Binhoudt, Khoza was in a position of authority and was not to be questioned. He used the word in the same way Binhoudt used it on Biko. In saying, "Stop thinking like a kaffir", couldn't he be suggesting that there are people who can legitimately be referred to as kaffirs? "

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Demythologizing the K-word.

I note that my recreation of the death of Steve Biko, who calls his torturers “kaffirs”, has got some interesting responses here. I continue to believe that we would do better to unpack words than ban them. If a word becomes too powerful, it is a sign that there is trouble in society, not in the word.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

And the winner is...

Two BookShed writers are celebrating wins in the prestigious Arts Council England 'Book of the Year' competition.

Patricia J DeLois celebrates a second victory in the adult category for 'Penguins in Amsterdam, and Dave Wardale is one of the winners in the Children's category for 'Get Santa'.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"Stop thinking like a kaffir."

An interesting remark, made by Irvin Khoza, and qouted on the South African Insult. Khoza's train of thought was not dissimilar to how I imagined Steven Biko thinking as he was murdered by apartheid police in this extract from And the Dead Watch Over Us.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reporting Telkom faults on the Telkom site

Well, a week later, lo and behold, after many encouraging SMSs, someone came and fixed it. Thank you. Like I said, it wasn't fast, but I never had to hold on for an hour.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Go, Telkom!

Well, it is some days since I first logged the fault on the Telkom website, but I have just recieved this SMS to my cell:

Dear Customer, Fault ref no: xyz has been created. Telkom will endevour to resolve the problem ASAP.

It might not be quick, but at least I didn't have to hold on for three hours.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dear Telkom

In Email_id 50411 I reported a fault on my line. (011 44x-xyxy) It has no dial tone, and I cannot use it to phone out, or receive calls, although the ADSL component is working. I will be tracking your response, or nonresponse, to this complaint, in public, at http://jameswhyle.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 7, 2008


There’s a interesting piece from Ferial Haffajee here. A group of leaders from the University of KwaZulu Natal respond to an article on rape on campus by Lubna Nadvi. They accuse Nadvi of racism. They say Nadvi only cared when an American student was raped. Why has she “not been angry at the rape of African females?”


These leaders are angry about Nadvi’s “racism”, but pretty relaxed about the rape of their own students? Let’s leave the rape situation as it is, rape of African students being normal, and fight this evil racism thing!

Good thinking there from: “Professor Nceba Gqaleni, the deputy dean of students, Bheki­themba Ngcobo, and three student leaders.”

Friday, February 1, 2008

And There's More

"Shed Writers Make Book of The Year List

A number of BookShed authors feature in the Arts Council England (ACE) YouWriteOn Book of the Year long list.

From almost a hundred eligible novels, twelve adult and eight children's novels were chosen for consideration. The winning novels will be offered the option of publication as a Print on Demand (POD) book...

The long list includes Bookshed founder member Patricia J DeLois, who made the list with 'Penguins in Amsterdam' the follow-up to last year's Book of The Year, 'Bufflehead Sisters'. Other Shed members to make the final cut include Mo Fanning, Perry Illes, Nick Poole, Ben Twemlow and David Wardale..."

See... The Shed

News from The Shed

BookShed author, Patricia J Delois, shows the way, and writes for fun:

" As a writer, I've been to writer's groups and classes. I always felt like an impostor. People were taking writing so seriously. I was doing it all for fun."
Now, the attention garnered from the book has blown her cover.
"I've been 'outed. When I go home alone, people know what I'm doing."

Kennebec Journal

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Save The Scorpions

The destruction of the Scorpions is an issue which civil society, organised business and the silent majority within the ANC’s natural support base should use to put the quality of our democracy to the test.

Mondli Makhanya in The Times.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Leave the Scorpions Alone

One of the many things the ANC should be praised for, historically, is setting up the Scorpions. Let's pray that it will prove constitutionally impossible for them to undo their own good work.

“We shall never forget that the anti-Scorpions campaign was launched by people such as Brett Kebble and Schabir Shaik, both of whom actively went about buying influence in the ANC."

Bantu Homomisa as qouted by Don Makatile in The Sowetan.

I was in a meeting once, many years ago, where I heard Mr Kebble's spin doctor embark on this very campaign.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Vodacom Customer Care???

Dear Sir or Madam:

Re: Sony Ericsson W300i

This phone was handed in for repair at Rosebank Mall (shop165) on 02/01/2008. Nearly a month ago. It was returned with exactly the same fault on 16/01/2008. And sent back for repair once more.

As a professional free lance writer I rely on the phone for communication with clients. I have paid for a month of contract from which I have had no benefit whatsoever. None.

Please inform me ASAP as to the status of this phone. Or should I switch to a provider who does care?


James Whyle

Friday, January 25, 2008

Parting - Witsies Hoek, 1987

With sun and wind behind us giving lift,

We stand upon the hill and fly our kites,

Against the rising ramparts of the Berg.

Just cheap and plastic things. Mine wears an eagle

And his a sign unknown, and this I call the spirit.

They’re metaphors for the soul, I say,

Attached to the body by a shining thread.

This does not interest him. He wants to give

His kite more line. He’ll take it from my eagle

And climb to higher places in the sky.

A tricky thing to do with flying kites.

You have to hold the strings and tie the knots

Against the constant tug of void on soul.

Alright, Captain, I say. Go for it.

We steal the Eagle’s extra line and tie

Her handle on again. He adds the line

To his. There’s one knot left to tie when he lets

Slip. So much for Captain, he says.

We watch the kite soar up towards the cliffs.

It looks as if it wants to clear the Berg

And find its freedom in a higher land

Than ours, where kites are pulled at last to earth,

And travel back to Joburg in the boot.

Perhaps, like some of those detained, it feels

That death is to imprisonment preferred,

Or exile in a country far from home.

But in my hand the eagle tugs and calls,

And then we’re jumping down the grassy slope,

My focus split between two leaping feet,

And the tension in the line. The kite will fall

In any gap in my, or wind’s, attention.

What if the steep hill hides a mortal cliff?

But we both know what it is we want,

And so we’re moving fast and in control,

Down to the left where spirit’s tail

Points possible location of its thread.

We ease on down until the angle’s good,

And then turn right and up the valley, hunting.

Now line is firm and steady in my hand,

A steady pull from bird that sees its prey,

And leads me up the hillside to its fall.

Because then I see the eagle swoop and hang,

Lifeless, in a bright and cloudy sky.

I’m raving, winding, shouting up the hill,

It’s hooked, I shout, and wind the precious thread.

I pull them in. But then the eagle falls.

It lies, just plastic litter in the veld.

So I deduce from that that I’m a fool,

Imagining I flew and caught a soul.

The thread is slack and flaccid in my hand,

And tangled in the grasses of the hill.

I must untie the knots, and trudge back up.

Between us there’ll be only one to fly.

So, shrugging, turn to shout that I have failed.

And there it is. A vision, curving down

From edge of cloud it shines against blue sky.

It curves down, shining, till it meets the grass.

I shout. It’s moving past him as the kite gains height.

I shout. It’s there. The thread. It shines. It shines.

He does not understand. He cannot see.

It’s moving past behind him up the hill.

A change of light, and then it’s gone.

And faith with it. A beam. And there it is.

I shout. Behind you. It shines. It shines.

And then he sees, and runs to catch the thread.

I reeled my kite in from the earth, and he

I don’t know what from miles up in the sky.

It’s five and twenty years since it was done

And between us, only one to fly.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Steven Friedman for President

"Before 1994, much effort was devoted to tackling bigotry — all manner of programmes were devised to help white people confront their prejudices and recognise that talent and ability have nothing to do with race. But, because many of these efforts were meant to prepare whites for political change, they ended in the 1990s because it was assumed that the task was completed.

We now know that it wasn’t. The need to confront and combat prejudice is as great now as it was when we became a democracy. And so we must revive — and improve — the programmes aimed at challenging deeply ingrained racism. We must again place the fight against attitudes of racial superiority at the centre of our society’s agenda. The task is neither easier nor less urgent than it was when apartheid ruled."

Steven Friedman on Thought Leader

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thabo Mbeki, Mark Gevisser and the Cattle Killings

I’m nearly at the end of Mark Gevisser’s biography of Thabo Mbeki, A Dream Deferred, and ready to make a reassessment. It is a great book, and should be read by all South Africans. And anyone in the world who sincerely wants to understand South Africa.

The section on the build up to the negotiations, all through to the elections in 94, is as gripping as a great political thriller.

Gevisser argues convincingly that it was Mr Mbeki more than anyone else, even Nelson Mandela, or Cyril Ramaphosa, who brought disparate South Africans together at the negotiating table. He might have sometimes dangled carrots that were later removed uneaten, but he did the work. He saved our bacon, and he deserved to be the New South Africa’s second president.

But then there is his response to Aids. One has to come to the conclusion that, on his issue, Mr Mbeki has tragically internalized his oppression. Unable to follow the scientific facts: HIV causes Aids; Aids is becoming a big problem in the African heterosexual community; therefore we, as South Africans owe it to ourselves to examine and change our sexual behaviour, he chose to believe that the thing was a racist, capitalist plot. People were dying not of Aids, but of the secondary diseases. Either because they were poor, or because they had become too rich too quickly and were undone by a decadence which injured their immunity. When he said that he knew no one who had died of aids, he wasn’t lying. He really believed, and still does, that his friends had been killed by ARVs.

The sad truth is that Mr Mbeki is a great man with a tragic flaw. And that tragic flaw has been not dissimilar in it’s effects to the prophecies which led to great cattle killing. Mr Mbeki, if he had not been stopped by his party, would have had us believing in the Dreams of Nongqawuse all over again.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Muse and The Bitch

I’ve done a bit of reading over the holidays.

I read most of Hotel Hawaii, by Paul Theroux, and a wonderful Elmore Leonard. Elmore Leonard rules. Both books were fiction, and both, I’m happy to say, contained colons. There are colons in fiction, period.

I read a book on Gauguin and van Gogh in the yellow house. They believed that painting could make the word a better place, and maybe theirs did in a small way. It made me look a little more at the colours of False Bay and the mountains. Every evening there were ten minutes at sunset when the sky was a canvas and God did some brisk experimentation with hue.

I read a biography of Mao which reminded me to beware the middle class intellectual who is hungry for power. Some time in the eighties I gained some impression of Mao and heroism on the Long March. Well, the man only got included in the Long March by lying and cheating. He would send twenty thousand men to their deaths on a strategic whim whose aim was to get him onto the right committee. He hated the poor and used them as counters to buy the bomb from Stalin. He was a warlord when it suited him, and if you voted against him he accused you of “ultra-democracy” and had you purged. Communism was an excuse to appropriate the goods of those more well off. To push home your moral superiority you had them humiliated and tortured and killed. He was, to use his own kind of terminology, an I’ll-kill-you-because-I-can-ist. One grows up thinking Hitler was the greatest evil. Then you read about Stalin. Mao was worse, if only because he had more lives at his disposal than his competitors.

I got for Xmas, Mark Gevisser’s biography of Thabo Mbeki. Who is revealed to be… a middle class intellectual which grave reservations about the poor. A Leninist who advances his cause by strategically getting his people onto the right committees. A skill recently learnt by his enemies in the Jacob Zuma camp. God have mercy on South Africa. At the moment the best lack all conviction, and the worst…

There are some nice details in the book about the genuine warmth and kindness of Soviet Russia. I learnt that Mbeki was a fan of Brecht’s line about the ever present danger of fascism, “the bitch is in heat again.” The book is, sentence by sentence, well written. I’m not finished yet, but I suspect that Gevisser has been led astray. His publishers wanted a big book, and his “muse demanded it,” but his subject gave him only a six hour interview. His subject is, like a good revolutionary, secretive. So the book is unbalanced. For every plum of insightful fact about Mbeki (his family was part of the Mfengu who collaborated with the British and became middle class by incorporating European culture while the rest of the AmaXhosa were still at war for their land or engaged in a millennial national suicide) …for every little plum of fact there is a pound of icing by way of the author’s theorizing. One needs more cake, but the cake has been locked away in the offices of the secretariat.

Then I got the first of the books I ordered from Amazon (no sign of the Bufflehead Sisters yet), The Spooky Art, Thoughts on Writing by Norman Mailer. And it’s full of gems:

“I learnt to write by writing… the ability to put words on a page comes through years of experience and… bears resemblance to the sophisticated instinct of fingers that have been playing scales for a decade…”

“Writing a best-seller with conscious intent to do it is, after all, a state of mind that is not without comparison to the act of marrying for money only to discover that the absence of love is more onerous than anticipated.”

“The ideal, and as you get older you do try to get closer to the ideal, is to write only what interests you… If you try to steer your way into success, you shouldn’t be a serous writer. Rather, you will do well to study the tricks of consistent best seller authors while being certain to stay away from anything that’s well written. Reading good books could poison your satisfaction at having pulled off a best-seller. I don’t think Jackie Susann went to bed with Rainer Maria Rilke on her night table.”

“It’s counter productive to think, I’m going to put this in because it will sell copies. Usually that doesn’t work. There is an integrity to best-sellerdom – it is the best book that the author is capable of writing at that time. He or she believes in the book. …Stephen King was a desperately clumsy and repetitive writer when he started, but best-seller book readers responded to his sincerity. That was present on every badly written page. The popularity of bad writing is analogous to the enjoyment of fast food…”

(Paul Theroux, incidentally was also a little sour about Mr King’s success. Mailer does go on to say that King’s style has improved.)

“If I were in the Tarot deck, I’d be the Fool. I used to try to keep a stern separation between the public legend and myself, but you know, you get older, and after a while, you can feel at times like an old gink in Miami with slits in his sneakers. At that juncture, it’s pointless to fight the legend. The legend had become a lotion for your toes.”

Gevisser says that his muse demanded a big book. Mailer has, not a muse, but “the bitch goddess”. “Only poets and writers of short stories have a muse.” And just as the specifics of sex reveal character, so…

“A man lays his character on the line when he writes a novel. Anything in him which is lazy, or meretricious, or unthought-out, complacent, fearful, overambitious, or terrified by the ultimate logic of his exploration will be revealed in his book.”