Ke Ma Bare-Bare

My reading activities have always been egalitarian. I could immerse myself with anything, from newspapers to thrillers and vary the text a bit with some comics and children’s books.

It’s the curse of solitary men anywhere in the world to harness time reading a book or get beered-up in a local pub. For those who don’t understand the spiritual meaning of it all, let me explain. When you reach a certain level of ‘fuck it’ you really no longer give a fuck. You just live without any important plot point. Many a fine evening is spent ruminating over nothing but restoring balance to the universe. I seem to recall that it is J.R.R Tolkien who said: “if more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world…” I don’t know about you but I think there is a point to this assertion.

But of late, I have dipped periodically into books ever since they stopped being my ‘knowledge and culture’ friends. Many were bought aspirationally, on a whim, others for gender dust-up – to understand what feminism is supposed to be about, since it’s hard to understand what it is. I wake up every day prepping myself for another go at a relationship without the fucking dramas – without consuming many resources trying to enforce love and peace. As some men know, it is the risk of mortality to be in love in femalennial times.

I know I’m digressing. Maybe I should get to the point. And so the book about Ace Magashule (Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture, Pieter-Louis Myburgh) drops in my Whatsapp account the other day. Fixed me some coffee, filled that pipe and leaned on that groaning mattress and sank to oblivion – all the ritual clichés of a writer. What a fucking day it was – violent wind, wet and cold weather.

Normal people were in bed driving through the tunnel, spreading millennial seeds, a new generation not attracted by beauty and wealth (read corruption).

Here I was, lonely in my barn, staring at a phone screen, reading allegations until my allegations threshold burst at the seams.

We are talking detailed allegations upon allegations against a man who is allegedly a gangster in a gangster state.

Where I come from, allegations are the niche for newspaper articles. They are open sewers of spectacle, sensation, and pleasure – anything to seduce the reader.

When allegations fail, they are purified with ‘matter-of-fact’ apologies. The offending journo gets away with a few scratches on his gilded ego and lives to write another set of allegations. It’s the nature of the newspaper business. The excuse is that we are pressed for time – let the ‘exclusive’ live, we will cauterize the wound afterward. We just call the company lawyers to check the legal loopholes and boom… we publish. At least, this is the culture that was branded in my soul at the time I lived on the byline and paltry per diems.

But this is a book for fuck sakes. The luxury of time cannot be overemphasized. Why the hell is Magashule a gangster? Where is the evidence? Even the so-called ‘Igo Files’ are mired in suppositions. There is no proof beyond the guessing. The writer uses Magashule’s diary to tie with the activities of the murdered businessman Igo Mpambani. We read that Magashule was home in Bloemfontein when Mpambani made withdrawals at an ATM next to Magashule’s house. That is the thread running in this book.

The closest the writer got to the truth or when he nearly proved his allegations are in the emails where Magashule requested a bursary for students and the trip that he and his Free State commies took to Cuba. That is the first time his name was mentioned. I don’t know if this is a crime. But it sounds like Magashule must have been a robin hood of some sort all along. In my book, he should be valorized for cutting the bureaucratic red tape of government and reach out to the needy.

As if the allegations were not enough – with meek and helpless variations, the writer tries to besmirch Magashule’s struggle credentials. At one point Magashule was not part of UDF. At some point, he was a part of UDF but not such an important actor in the activities of the movement. There is the insistence that authentic struggle credentials are located in a few men who have had a few rough situations in their outdoors life. This assertion is marginally older in the timeline. It does not make sense. Some fought by equipping themselves with education and others were foot soldiers. I don’t understand the fuss and outrage of the writer about this nor do I understand the fuss about the embittered Philistines who trashed a book store and tore a few copies.

What is this book about? Is it about Magashule’s questionable struggle credentials or corruption? So far there is no proof of corruption. Can the writer expect Magashule’s recollection of the past to be impeccable? I don’t know if this is possible when your life was turned upside down, inside out in apartheid time. I expect stories told by any so-called struggle hero to have some modicum of unintended fiction. In oral testimonies, some things are highlighted and others are not.

How do I feel? The book is a shameless rip-off, the full product of budget and hype.

You see, I’m a boot, bullets, and bandages kinda man. I want my literature wearing enough pieces of flair and facts – a sincere commitment to the truth. I want it stripped off its ‘best-selling author’ guideline. If possible I want a book blank without the salacious blurbs. I avoid ‘best-selling author’ books for a reason. They are shitty misconceived failures. You will be hard-pressed to find anything tangible.

*This article was originally published on Walozi