I must admit that I have been humbled by the comments posted by different respondents on the Review published on 22 March 2007 which was a mock obituary of YMagazine. I am impressed by the level of articulation and comprehension of the issue displayed by most of the respondents. It shows South Afrika is growing as a country. I was just dissapointed that some of them mistakened the attack on the editorship to be a personal onslaught on Comrade Kabomo.
I felt for the sake of a healthy progress I should put this matter in perspective bearing in mind what one of the few intelligent people who ever lived once said that 'I might not like what you say, but I will give my life to defend your right to say it'. First; when a famous patient dies at Helen Joseph Hospital due to cardiac failure following a routine surgery, it doesn't matter what the autopsy report says but the qualifications and competence of the doctor who was in charge are brought to the fore. Whether he has performed such an operation before, how successful was it and how far apart before operating on the famous patient will be brought into question. The sentence about "I'm thinking geniuses in the calibre of Itumeleng, The General and Siphiwe, when miracle of miracles it's Kabomo Vilakazi. Don't get it twisted, I've got nothing against the brother apart from not having seen him in the trenches and having had to find out about his existense under the shadow of a celebrated poet" was meant to emphasize exactly that point. To which Thamie commented, "Another point is that no one knows who Kabomo is, I have an old copy of Y magazine in my house. I am not sure if it was Oct/Nov 2005, he was a contributor and he wrote a piece on the last dead poets. What does his ex girlfriend have to do with his job, are we then judging him by the fact he dated a well known personality...". I think Thamie raised a very important point but he should understand that's how people in Jozi described the Kabomo everytime someone tried to get a description of him. Actually before he was even an editor. And I come from Mpumalanga and know little about Jo'burg arts politics and if that's how a brother is introduced, that's how I'll remember him and that's the truth I'll write about how I found out about him.
"Come on! Let's think before we offend other people.", Thamie continues. And once again I repeat, as I have done on the article, there was no malice in the piece and if anyone felt hard done, then they should blame their allergy to truth.
However I should emphasize it is comments like these that I welcome wholeheartedly because they help craft me into the kind of writer I'll like to be. But once again, that was just a fucking review.
Second; If a cruise liner sinks, the captain, or the person in charge of it at the time of the sinking takes the rap and is expected to be the last one to abandon ship. Whether the liner has been serviced or not in the last five years will be unearthed during the 'post-mortem', but while it is being pounded by waves it is the captain who takes the blame. I wonder why it had to be different with Ymag. Why did Kasiekulture had to do a post-mortem before the patient had died? We tried, "Then for a reason known to some manager at Yired, Paul's co-presenter on his radio show Lee Kasumba was given the editorship", we wrote. But we refused to shy away from the fact that the current captain deserved a tongue-lashing, in his capacity as a captain and not a writer and poet (two trades inwhich he is good - no bullshit). "I do agree that the quality of the magazine has dropped over the years and believe it is due to those who control the purse strings and decide on what it must be like.", someone raised it.
We were confronted with all sorts of election type politics like the revelations that, "6. Rudeboy was not the real editor of Ymag, he was more of a background figure.7. Lee did quite well until she ran into the usual politics of publishing. She then decided it was enough and left of her own accord." These came from Anonymous and we figured in these days of Witness Protection Programmes it is understood some folks would like to remain hooded. What I liked about Anonymous' comments was that they were insightful, informed and sounded like they came from an insider. "3. Under Itumeleng's editorship Ymag never even approached 5000 sales copies.4. Ymag started selling over 15 000 copies in June 2000, under Tshepang Gule (RIP), Thami Masemola and Bulelwa Mtsali over 7 months after the departure of Itumeleng.5. My former colleague Thami Masemola was in fact, the last editor of Tribute before it closed. In its month of closure Tribute made profit for the first time in its 17 year history." Anonymous reported.
I must admit I never went out to verify some of these allegations because like I told you, I published a Review, not opened a Chat Room where we were going to trade info left and right. But I was humbled by the honesty and engagement I received from folks who felt Kasiekulture has overstepped the mark. I've never seen such a mark but I had a feeling some folks were really offended. "I don't think you appreciate the immense pressures some of these people you mention have to work under, with mostly clueless publishers and extremely tight budgets"
Then I received an insightful comment from Bra Kojo which I would encourage you to read for yourself in the comment box. It is souls like him we need. To his comment I had to add a few lines on the article which read, "Let's remember that the first thing Paul Wolfowitz did when he got to the World Bank was to transfer his girlfriend to the State Department, to put to rest any suspisions of nepotism in the future. Maybe our editor friends should do the same to protect the reputations of his writer friends". I also posted a comment on his beautiful blog which I'm not going to share with you unless you go there and find it yourself. I will tell you what yodemo said, "Kabomo, I feel yo hip hop, but stay off the Mag. Let someone the blame for the fall of the mighty and dreadful"
All in all my point behind this little piece is to give back sleep to the folks who thought Kasiekulture waged a campaign to bring down Comrade Kabomo. There are very few black writers, let alone editors in South Afrika and there's no way we should be scared to let each other fly. And in letting each other fly we shouldn't think that we are going to be above criticism. If I was to ask, 'who is Graca Machel?', the most likely answer I am going to get is, 'she is the widow of Samora Machel and the wife of Nelson Mandela'. That however does not take anything away from her as an achiever in her own right. And with every intelligent person it shouldn't offend because it means s/he keeps good company. That's why I wondered why some folks got offended when I mentioned Lebogang Mashile. But I said in the article, "I once again should emphasize that this is not an attack on any person but a tongue in cheek eulogy of YMag. I'm indeed saddened by its impending demise and before anyone accuses me of aspiring to open my own mag, please a blog is doing it for now because it never gets stuck on the shelves.". And I will walk out the same way I came in, " One luv comrades. Let's grow together"