Hope you can take to the Bank? - wordsetc

Can a Black man get into the White House on a ticket of Hope and Change alone? Okay, let me rephrase it; can one nigger fool more than three hundred million smart (sometimes ignorant) folks who have always voted along racial lines to sneak into the White House unnoticed by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the White Supremacists dressed in fatiques and flack vests and armed with AK47s in Texas and New Orleans and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)? Is Malcolm X smiling or frowning? How about Martin Luther King and Louis Farrakhan?

wordsetc tries to solve these riddles in its latest installment of this outstanding South African Literary Journal. Actually I’m proud it’s South Afrikan because its level of journalism is just outstanding. It pulls no punches as it cuts into the heart of Obamania in 74 pages. Barack Obama has mesmerized the whole world so much that people didn’t mind dying for him. However in the South Afrikan context someone said that no matter how many people believed in his story of Hope and Change, and no matter how many South Afrikan celebration parties were held attended by political heavyweights from both sides of the divide the truth remained that; if he tried to contest an election in South Afrika there’s no way in hell he could beat Jacob Zuma and his machine gun, even with his Hope and Change inspirational messages.

Nazi Germany’s Adolph Hitler and Joseph Goebels were such men; folks with the ability to move people to tears and anger through their oratory skills. However oratory skills don’t run countries or save economies from recessions. Oratory skills can get anyone (as proven by linguistically-challenged George Walker Bush) into the White House but they can’t keep you there beyond four years. Four years is a long time when you are planning to invade Pakistan on a deficit-ridden economy.

When asked about his expectations of Obama Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin put it mildly; to paraphrase him ‘the greatest disappointments have always come from the greatest expectations’. Wow! How cold and callous, you wonder. He’s a realist I reckon, love gets you high and full of hallucinations and incapable to litigate – love and cocaine are the same, both capable of igniting unnecessary euphoria.

wordsetc, while obviously in an ‘Obama is Hope’ mood and mesmerized by his (Black) magic decided to pitch both the optimists and the pessimists in one issue and let you, the reader be the judge.

First, this issue’s editor at large, who is also a prolific writer of books probing his country and its promise in-depth is a sure optimist. Mike Sager writes in his guest editorial about the morning of the election. The wait, anticipation, the fear, desperation, prelude to a civil orgasm, spirit, rooms built for disappointment in his family’s heart and then, “Rebekah popped the cork on some champagne. As Obama spoke, tears ran down my face”. That was Mike’s moment when he felt so supremely proud to be American, particularly a Black man in America on his way to the White House. Father of funk George Clinton must have punched the air since he proposed more than a decade ago that the White House must be painted black.

Interesting enough, while Mike compares the American euphoria that saw even Reverend Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey shedding tears to our own Mandela moment he is wise and realistic to raise critical questions, “can one man change the course of the world’s history? Can he even change the course of the nation’s?”

Then land rights activist and prolific writer-editor of Biko Lives! Andile Mngxitama tries to answer those questions for Mike. In his article Obama. Yeah, right he takes that which would have been a KKK position had he not been black with rooted struggle credentials. Rooted because he’s brave enough to call Colin Powell what he really is, ‘a butcher and war criminal’. He spares Jendai Frazer while also questioning what made Condoleeza Rice cry?

Bra Andile is brave to raise that which everybody avoids – America’s eternal god-ordained position on the Israeli-Palestinian question. But he does that by juxtaposing Obamania with Mandelamania. Fifteen years ago Nelson Mandela found himself in the same position as Obama, a Black man inheriting a white legacy and expected to make it work for darkies. It’s like Mahmoud Abbas put in charge of the Palestinian Authority with a mandate to rein-in on on Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizzbollah, Al Aqsa Martyr’s Bridgade and the armed resistance wings of his Fatah faction only to be assassinated once that has been achieved and apartheid could continue unabated and without a fear of Katyushas fired into West Bank settlements.

On Mandela’s Messiah status Andile is crudely blunt, “after twenty-seven years in prison, Mandela walked out only to legitimize the historical brutalization of Blacks; he extended a hand of friendship to those who pillaged, robbed and raped”. This is something most scholars have been afraid to say; that the biggest traitor of Black people’s aspirations to be something in South Afrika was beloved Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. The reason why so many Black people are still living in low-cost houses, unemployed, domestic servants, poor, using unroadworthy taxis, paying bribes to public servants, killing each other at such an alarming rate, dying of AIDS is because of Mandela’s obsession with being a president against all odds.

But Andile does not just relish shooting Mandela as a holy cow, or for sadistic Pan-Africanist reasons but goes deep to explain why Obama will, like another democrat Bill Clinton dismally fail in his mission to pacify the Middle East. You don’t pacify a zone by bringing a knife to a fist fight. You don’t give Israel weapons of mass destruction and Palestinians ‘hope’ of a Bantustan while what they need is self-determination, a navy to defend their territorial waters in Gaza and an airforce to do the same. He touches on the faces advising Obama on policy and central to his ‘doomed’ administration; Rahm Emanuel, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Lawrance Summer and Paul Volcker. He omits the woman who said she harboured ambitions of obliterating Iran, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now what is a nigga to do when he’s surrounded by the KKK and Freemasons?

Then wordsetc has inspirational essays from other pseudo-optimists like Jacob Dlamini who has lived in the US for donkey-years but still refuses to call it home. He explores his love-hate relationship with the Land of the Free. “I like the fact that I can do things here I would be loath to do in Johannesburg, like take long walks at night or go jogging up the local hills at dawn”. True, but they used to lynch Negros taking late night walks and jogging on hills. This is to say that Americans made an informed decision to fix their own problems and reclaim their neighbourhoods, effective non-partisan street committees for residential areas, whether projects or townships, holding police officers and teachers accountable for lack of service delivery, establishing functional municipalities which are not used to reward branch comrades as is the case here, but fail to deliver on their basic mandate, provision of water, electricity and gabbage removal services.

Actually I can dissect this whole journal in this post but that would be doing you an injustice since you still have to buy it and critically read for yourself. A couple of teasers; contributors in this stellar issue include Mike’s wife and academic-intellectual Rebekah, author Juan Williams, former NYPD sergeant Karen O’Connor, economist Dr Jullianne Malveaux, student Kingsley Kanu Jr, consultant Sharon Otoo and her son Tyrell, author Chika Unigwe, author Kathryn White, Democrat Monica Stewart, author Barbara Nussbaum, journalist Andrew P. Jones, author Sandisile Tshuma and author Judith Browne.

I can see you shaking in your boots because wordsetc starts to resemble Vanity Fair and the literature pages of New York Times whereby if you don’t have a book on the shelves your chances of publication look slimmer. Right, that’s what makes wordsetc a worthy read; you know content is generated by people who know how to do it, people who have been criticized, gold that has been put through fire, diamond that’s been through the Kimberly Process, unlike the plethora of newspapers and magazines we have in South Afrika whereby anyone with a typing certificate and is a so-called celebrity is given an opportunity to critique Trevor Manuel’s Choice Not Fate.

Daily Sun and its weekend sister wouldn’t survive in this country if all newspapers and magazines started using published authors as book reviewers, film and documentary makers as film critics and musicians who have sold more than 50 000 units per album as music reviewers. We would all be too intelligent for our own liking and vote not along tribal, loyalty and disgruntled lines but who has the capacity to fulfill their promises and what do I personally want as opposed to what the party wants for me.

Books reviewed in this edition include all Obama’s books, The Scent of Bliss by Nthikeng Mohlele, Not With Silver by Simi Bedford and a whole lot including titles from Kate Morton, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Mandla Langa, John Carlin, Sindiwe Magona,Uwen Akpan, Eliza Graham, Simon Winchester and Sean Badal.

Okay, it’s supposed to be a teaser as publisher Phakama Mbonani and the crew once again outdid themselves, by producing an issue so juicy and informative it is for keeps. I’ve already bought a frame for it and will re-read it in 2012 when we audit Obama’s performance without frills and emotion.

On such a note one is tempted to quote Bra Mike once again on his analysis of his beloved America which is still full of Jim Crow, “Racism is woven deeply into our social fabric. The fear may be irrational and ignorant, but it is present nonetheless”. And we wish Obama Good Luck! With Tzipi Livni and Benyamin Netanyahu, he’s gonna need lots of it.

wordsetc retails at R49, 95 and is available at reputable book stores. Ask for it by name.

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