Posted on | June 10, 2011 | 1 Comment
Bongi realised that now he had the time and the appetite to start and finish something, a novel, an African novel full of love, passion, tradition and soccer, not necessarily in that order.
Something that could push young people open a book, escape poverty and Playstation 2 and read. He now remembered vividly when he accompanied his 15 year old nephew to Gauteng. He bought Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and passed it to the young boy.
The boy looked at him with a giant question mark in his eyes:
“What do I suppose to do with this, malume (uncle)”?
“It’s a book, son”.
“I can see, it’s a thin book”.
“It’s a thin brilliant book, son”.
“Is it available at Kalahari.net?”
“I’m sure it is why you ask?”
“It will be cheaper there”.
“It does not matter now, I bought it”.
“Have you read it?”
“Some years ago”.
“So why did you buy it again?
“To do what with it”.
“To read it”.
“I don’t read books on holidays, uncle”.
“I do Playstation and go to the mall”:
“This is the deal. If you finish it during the holidays I’ll give you a hundred rands”.
“Before I give you the hundred I’ll ask questions”.
“About the book?”
“Yes, the story, the moral conclusion, the actors”.
They shook hands and smiled. On the way back the young boy demanded the money first before the interrogation. No deal, the questions were mostly unanswered and it was soon realised that the boy had only read twenty pages at the most. Bongi handed him the promised note after he received the undying love of his nephew who sounded lyrical about this old Latin American author who writes children’s books. The latter comment convinced Bongi that the boy had at least read the cover pages. Nevertheless it was a start.
His thoughts continued as he moved his fingers on the laptop as fast as an 18 old girl moves her thighs in JIGA MA JIGA. He printed. He buzzed Nkululeko on MIXIT.
“What’s the story dude”, she retorted electronically.
“Come inside angel, PLEASE”. He underlined the “PLEASE”
She entered the study with a revealing pink top and a Jabu Pule faced track suite pants in Orlando Pirates colours. Her father ordered it specifically for her on her 14th birthday. The Muslim tailor in Queen Street was so professional she had to visit him three times, but it was cool as she had enough time to eat Turkish delights at the Victoria Street Market from the Pakistani shop and Moroccan delicacies from Johannes, the Malawian hawker.
“Now listen to me carefully, beautiful, I finished this chapter and I want your honest opinion. I trust you”.
“What is it dad?”
“It’s a short long story”.
“Ah, one of those you never finish”.
“I’ll finish this one, I promise”.
“Before Ndundulu or after?”
“Because I need to prepare for the research project”.
“The questionnaire, the structuring, project management principles, all that and more”.
“OK, OK, can we continue, I need to catch up with my homework”.
“I am aware, now I want to read only the last part of the first chapter”.
“What did you say?”
“What does it mean? Where is the respect I taught you from scratch?”
“Carry on daddy”.
“OK, I read”. “Over Sekhukunaland a tornado of light is looming, before it explodes. Amid the heroic and tragic epics of our people, a world in itself, and above it, with wings overstretched, floats an eagle in black and white …”
“Nelson Mandela”, she enthused, “it must be him”.
“Who the hell is that Dad?”
“Don’t talk to me like this; you’re not at Durban Girls’ College Assembly, OK! Now this is my main problem with Outcomes Based Education. Our youth don’t know the history of our people, the history of our heroes, our ancestors, those who shaped the destiny of our nation”.
“Who was this Jesus guy dad? Was he an Umkonto We Sizwe commander?”
“He was a commander, yes, but the commander of the Buccaneer’s troops, a general of our midfield battalion”.
“He played for Orlando Pirates?”
“He did not play, beautiful, he was an eagle outstretching his hands, flying against these despicable so called Amakhosi (Chiefs) heart, ripping them apart”.
His eyes opened widely, his moves resembling a flying eagle, a wild fire like the one that destroyed the Midlands the other day.
“Relax, Daddy, who’s this dude, anyway? What name is this?”
“You mean a Greek guy played for Pirates? That’s weird”.
“We were always non racial, beautiful. You know History teaches us that amaZulu people and Greeks have a saying in common “Freedom or Death”, for Jesus the words were “Victory or Death”.
“Is he dead, dad? Because Pirates must have lost some games while he was there”.
“I don’t know; probably he’s in New Zealand running a café, I can only guess”.
“Can I go now dad?”
“After you tell me what you think”.
“Must I be honest, dad?”
“Isn’t this the first thing I taught you when I took you to a Church in Chicago?”
“OK, talk now”.
“It’s verbose, Dad”.
“It’s verbose, Dad”
“Where did you learn this word from?”
“Outcomes Based Education dad”.
“OK, you can go now, and I’m telling you, you are still too young to throw this sarcasm at me, OK?”
“See you at supper, Dad?”
“What’s for supper, Love?”
“Chicken and mushroom and spare ribs”.
She closed the door behind her. He looked at the copy. He moved back to the laptop. He added:
“Jesus was possessed by a demonical, yet sacred, fire, he fought in a war even during peace time”
“It’s brilliant”, he muttered, “perhaps a little bit verbose but utterly brilliant”.
He walked into the veranda.
“Jesus Karajinski”, he whispered talking to the two cigarettes he lit simultaneously, and then he walked back into the dining room. His big baby was fast asleep on the sofa. He grabbed two pieces of chicken and mushroom pizza and poured a Black and White with three ice cubes.
“Academic salaries”, he murmured, “we cannot even afford a Jameson’s”.
He switched on the TV looking for Monday’s LADUMA flickering through the channels until he got there. It was late and boring. The Orlando Pirates brand, also known as Buccaneers has lost again, deep inside the bottom of the log, exactly like Tottenham Hotspurs.
He sipped the last drop from the tall glass. He raised his clenched fist like the American sprinters in the 1968 Olympics.
“Once a Pirate always a Pirate” he shouted before he passed out.
Read Chapter Two: http://rozenbergquarterly.com/?p=482
The novel The Ndundulu Invasion written by Evan Mantzaris will be published in 2011
Evan Mantzaris – The Ndundulu Invasion
Rozenberg Publishers – ISBN 978 90 3610 201 8