etc, etc – a review of wordsetc

Imraan Coovadia is a South African author with a vision that defies the use of binoculars and magnifying glasses. A literary visionary with storytelling skills reminiscent of greats such as bi-lingual poet-author Breyten Breytenbach and award-winning JM Coetzee. Interesting enough, Coovadia is the primary subject of the latest installment of wordsetc, that literary journal that aspires to take over where Staffrider dropped the baton – with a touch of touché.

The latest issue of wordsetc is packed with enough information I just pity that I read it during an economic recession, which means I couldn’t afford to take leave and indulge it sipping daiquiris while lounging topless on a hammock at a Maputo beach café – or alternatively some few miles away in Bazaruto.

First; I’m inspired by the fact that advertisers are now coming aboard, which I think will at some stage mitigate the R49,95 cover price, which comes across as steep even for a niche publication targeting a higher LSM. Well, as a literary reviewer I get it for free and hope it stays that way.
While being the only (I stand to be corrected) such literary publication on South Africa’s shelves right now the publishers should understand that it is still competing with 500grams of Bokomo cornflakes, two NO NAME one-litre pints of Skim milk and a bag of oranges. Throw in tagless teabags and sweeteners and you have two weeks of organic breakfast.

It’s either or. However, bread and butter issues aside, publisher Phakama Mbonambi has managed to stick to the formula he chose many moons ago when he called me with the concept for the journal, very enthusiastic, driven like a Ferrari and not about to be told anything on the contrary. Not only that, he was also giving me space to advertise – for free nogal; I can see these days that my spot has been snapped by a wine-selling patron.

Few years later Mbonani has stuck to his guns regardless of wine sellers now pouring money into lucrative pages to entice the thirsty reader. At some stage it might start resembling heavily subsidized in-flight magazines, which will be brilliant because at the end of the day they get read. Tell me of a person who takes 16-hours of flying to Heathrow or JFK and still remains a passive soul and I’ll show you a semi-deaf traveler who spent those hours watching in-flight movies or listening to music. Maybe its future is to target SAA and get every issue in the cabin – both classes, thus selling our literature and culture to the traveler who matters – with a few wordsetc issues for us on the ground.

Okay, this issue sees notable contributions from men and women who are authority in their respective fields and who share their insides uninhibited with the rest of the world. I meant to say they stand naked infront of us to critique ‘their sizes’. And do they all impress!

Multi-talented poet and prolific writer Malika Ndlovu shares a painful story [Grief is a Teacher] of a child that never was and who has been her passive muse for the better part of recent memory – which while the reader feels that its taunts her, seems to be developing into a useful writer’s (un)block(er) as she throws statistics around like a SAPS Commissioner on ‘that’ special day. “I don’t choose to remember her that way. I am able to see her now, in my own way, everywhere and in everything. She is an inner compass for me, a reminder of what matters in everything” she writes.

Another interesting contribution, which I want to believe is the first time such a confession has graced pages has to be Zachie Achmat’s frank delivery about his relationship (though handicapped) with his conservative Muslim father [My Father’s Touch]. The narration takes the reader into the interrogation tactics of the Fascist Security Police and reminds one why every South Afrikan should stand up to nip similar tendencies (of a police state) at the bud, at the mere mentioning of revoking Sections of the Criminal Procedure Act and re-introducing military ranks to civilian institutions like the cops. COSATU’s Zwelinzima Vavi once said that ‘dictatorship does not come with drum majorettes

Zachie writes about his 1977 incarceration with the benefit of hindsight , “Not all policemen were bad, either. South Africa had invaded Angola in 1976, and many white youth did not want to fight a clandestine and dubious war against their neighbours. They could get out of compulsory military service on condition that they served their time in the police force. Many chose this option, not realizing that troops would soon be deployed in the townships to wage war against unarmed civilians”. This is crucial given that police these days are told to shoot service delivery protesters in townships and informal settlements with ‘rubber’ bullets and teargas [has anybody ever asked what goes into the making of a teargas?] and are now about to be granted a license to kill. Will those with a conscience within the SAPS ranks quit in protest?

Actually I could dissect the whole journal in this post but I will leave that to the editors, publishers and contributors to this publication to do that for you. They include journalist Kevin Bloom [The Realist], Victor Dlamini [Capturing Creative Spirits], Lindiwe Nkutha [Sheila’s Journey], Angelina Sithebe [Quest to make sense of the Present], Karina Magdalena Szczrek [Writers’ other lives], Andrew Herold [Grace notes, with a twist], Joy Watson [Her Story], Penny Urquhart [A rough landing], Alistair King [The Collector], Seni Seneviratne [Language of My Heart], M.Neelika Jayawardane [ Master of Ambiguity], Tia Marie Beautement [Alles van die beste] and Dalhma Llanos-Figueroa [Impressions of Barcelona].

In The Collector, King explores the not-so-much-a-hobby of many bookworms, which is travelling the world and collecting first issues of books. After reading that piece I rushed into my library and discovered some few real classics, some dating back to 1952 and I realised that I might be up to something big. I would have loved it if my Animal Farm and A Tale of Two Cities were first issues, huh.

Like all those that came before it, this edition of wordsetc carries probing book reviews of quite inspirational literature such as Moeletsi Mbeki’s reviewed-to-the-bone Architects of Poverty [go find out why post-colonial Afrika fails to tick], Dawn Garisch’s trespass, Aher Arop Bol’s The Lost Boy, Angela Makholwa’s The 30th Candle, Jabulile Ngwenya’s I Ain’t Yo Bitch etc. If you are not like me but are the movie buffoon type who waits for Barry Ronge to brief you about the storyline before hitting Computicket then get wordsetc to discover what is said about the aforementioned books before you go out and buy them.

However one of my friends is of the opinion that this installment of wordsetc has gone bourgeois, that it is sliding towards liberalism that might suffocate Native talent as Natives can’t be liberals since liberals wear two jackets and two caps and only one hand-glove. Well I reserved my opinion and sent the jury out to deliberate.

But what is observed is that the once small literary journal has grown, it now has a quarter inch spine and approaches 100-pages. It is well laid-out and readable without needing assistance from lenses and page-markers.

Oops, in the opening I mentioned Coovadia, yeah, there are seven pages dedicated to this talented storyteller and prolific wordsmith provided by Neelika. I ain’t touching on that inspirational profile but leaving it to you to lick for yourself and discover why I would have the backbone to compare Coovadia to Breytenbach and Coetzee – not at the expense of Zakes Mda, Siphiwo Mahala, Fred Khumalo, Zukiswa Winner, Kgebetli Moele, Niq Mhlongo and others.

Go grasp a copy before the forth Summer issue hits the shelves since wordsetc might be your muse while lounging on a hammock this December.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Dear Commentator

Kasiekulture encourages you to leave a comment and sensitize others about it. However due to spammers filling this box with useless rhetoric that has nothing to do with our posts we have now decided that to comment you have to go to our Facebook Page titled THE Kasiekulture BLOG. We will not authorise any comments. Apologies for the inconvenience.