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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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Novel could have done with help of a good editor

By unknown | May 24, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ACCORDING to the foreword this is a rejected film script that's been converted into a book.

I only mention this because it does not work as a book either. It fails for the same reasons it failed as a script. There is simply not a strong enough plot to keep the narrative moving forward.

The author offers big ideas without a consistent storyline to explore those ideas.

The story takes place in a fictional African country plagued by the stereotypical African social problems of poverty, unemployment and political intolerance.

The root cause of all these ills, we are told, is rampant tribalism, a cancer eating at the very core of the republic. Though a democracy, the country is really ruled by the Hosana, a tribe with enormous political influence with its members occupying the most powerful positions in government, including the position of president held by President Makhanda.

It is in this country that we meet Albert Mashapa, a university lecturer from the Shonephi tribe - a position greatly opposed by those in power.

An attempt on his life at the beginning of the book prompts him, with the help of two journalists, Govindsamy and Abrahams, to expose and fight against tribalism. He plans to confront President Makhanda at an imbizo he has organised to hear the concerns of citizens.

It is in his efforts to get the attention of the presidency that we are introduced to a colourful cast of characters who embody all that is supposedly wrong with the country.

There is, for instance, Jeffrey Sonkemba, chairman in President Makhanda's cabinet, a self-serving racist bureaucrat, and Mrs Tembe, an influential Hosana woman who is minister of labour and practises blatant nepotism.

Though sometimes entertaining the interaction between Mashapa and the characters he encounters lack depth and credibility.

There is a lot of repetitive dialogue covering topics ranging from race to colonialism. Unfortunately they are all dealt with in a very general way. No solutions are offered for any of the problems highlighted.

It's also never explained what motivates any of the characters' actions; we are asked to accept them as they are.

I believe the book is self-published, but the author could have done, with the help of an experienced editor.


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