The Ndundulu Invasion – Chapter 4 – Tea For Two And Two For Tea

mantzariscoverBongi walked through the dusty road leading to the community hall. Some children around five to six years of age were playing hide and seek making a lot of noise. Some others were practicing soccer in the make shift ground, taking passing more seriously than dribbling, something that could have made Gapon accuse them prematurely of been following the dictates of the Eurocentric pattern of the game. For Gapon’s understanding of soccer dynamics, Lionel Messi was more African than Didier Drogba because he could dribble better. Possibly one of his ancestors was African.

These deep thoughts were interrupted when he reached his destination.

He stepped into the shop casually. It was empty. He felt like whistling, but he abstained because he was never sure how the owner would react. The Chinese are the product of a great intellectual inheritance, he could be offended. This was the last thing Bongi wished. He walked towards the cage protecting the cashier-owner in the small opening where the customer could bargain, or pay. The owner looked at Bongi without any interest, his eyes glued behind Bongi’s head, towards the abyss.

“Good morning, Sir, can I ask why the protection?”
“I do not understand, Sir.”
“Why are you in a cage, sir?”
“This is not a cage, Sir, it is a VIP.”
“Very Important Protection, Sir.
“Sounds interesting, so how will you call a toilet?”
“NES, Sir.”
“Non Existing Service, Sir.” “Very interesting, but there are toilets in Ndundulu, I have one.”
“Let us be specific, Sir. There are toilets in Ndundulu, but there is not one in the shop. Secondly, there are toilets in Ndundulu, but there are no real toilets, like you find in Melmoth. This means that there are toilets but fall under the NES. Now, how can I help you?”
“Yes, I’m looking for some toys.”
“There are no toys Sir. People are too poor here, they cannot afford toys.”
“But I see a lot of vuvuzelas here.”
“Vuvu is a necessity, Sir.”
“I beg your pardon?”
Vuvu is a necessity, Sir.”
“How come?”
“Two reasons Sir. In four weeks time, the MISS NDUNDULU COMPETITION ,at the  NDUNDULU CIVIC CENTER, ENTRANCE FEE R4 , ALL WELCOME. Sunday Chiefs versus Pirates, Sir, LADUMA TV1, Free of Charge, vuvu is a necessity, Sir.”
“You have a point there. I’ll get one.”
“Black or yellow, Sir?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Chiefs, yellow, Pirates, black, Sir.”
“Right, give me a black one.”
“OK, a black one for Pirates.”
“Right. Ah, I see you stock Chinese tea here.”
“Yes, sir, R7.50.”
“Why so cheap?”
“People are poor here, Sir, we need to be competitive.”
“But there is no competition here.”
“There is competition in Melmoth, Sir, and in Empangeni.”
“I’ll have two.”

He paid and greeted the owner.
“Thank you, Sir.”
“I thank you, Sir. Go well.”
“Thank you.”
“And good luck for Sunday, Sir.”
“Thank you.”

As he walked out of the shop, he stopped and turned back.
“May I ask you something?”
“Yes Sir.”
“There is no expiry date on the Chinese tea box.”
“There is no expiry date to eternity, Sir.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“There is no expiry date to eternity, Sir.”, the Chinese said softly.
“I never thought it this way, Sir.”, Bongi murmured.

He walked out, his eyes glued on the high steel fence surrounding the small yard, and the huge padlock hanging on the massive gate.
‘I never thought that there will be a gated community in Ndundulu’, he whispered to himself before he took his note book out.
It was time. The game was on. He felt like a spy, not a fictional character, a real one, for the first time in his life.

Next chapter: Chapter 5

©  Evan Mantzaris – The Ndundulu Invasion – Rozenberg Quarterly 2013 – ISBN 978 90 361 0201 8

The Ndundulu Invasion – Chapter 5 – Memories

mantzariscoverHe awoke up as the thunder assaulted the mountains around Ndundulu and its surrounding areas and the wind was trying to uncover the mysteries of the jacarandas that whispered prayers to the Lord begging for some sunbeams.
He did not even have a shower. He jumped into the car as the first glimpses of the morning light escaped the prison of the clouds.
He drove around endlessly, measuring distances, stopping here and there to take notes. He wrote down how many communal water taps were on the way, how many were vandalised. He greeted children walking bare feet to school and spoke to them. Lay people call this scoping the environment, others call it reconnaissance. He called it the first step. He passed Sexiwa and Qubuka, stopped in Bhonkolo for a HEINEKEN but ended with a CASTLE LIGHT and chatted with the school principal in Nomane. It was an easy game to con people. He was an mfundisi after all. Rural people love talking to people with a big title before their names.

Then he moved in the opposite direction from Memezi to Manawe and from Mabungu to Nogwaja, exotic names tarnished with poverty and deprivation, children built into the mountains, God having stolen the sea from them amongst other things.
Subconsciously he thought of the first time his father took him to the Durban beachfront when he was four. He was in awe when he saw   the sea for the first time .He felt like an angel, he almost felt the scent of Lord Jesus resurrection. Then he saw two White little boys swimming. He cried, to himself “this is the light, not the abyss”, this blue massive liquid looks like the abyss, it’s so distant, but it is the light, not the abyss.

But this light was too distant for him on January 1958, too distant.
He drove back to Ma Dlamini’s Bed and Breakfast and passed out.
There was no time for emotions. Time was of the essence. A job had to be done.

His dreamless sleep was uninterrupted from painful memories.

Next chapter: Chapter 6

©  Evan Mantzaris – The Ndundulu Invasion – Rozenberg Quarterly 2013 – ISBN 978 90 361 0201 8

The Ndundulu Invasion – Chapter 6 – Goldfinger

mantzariscoverThis time the meeting place was a three star Bed and Breakfast place in Empangeni.
As Bongi walked through the entrance encircled interestingly with two bull horns, the tall blonde 50-something White woman who introduced herself as Dolores welcomed him cordially, but without a smile , more or less formally. He introduced himself and she asked him for his particulars, with emphasis on formal identification. She in fact insisted on identification, possibly it was his Afro and his genuine POLO t-shirt that made him a suspect in her deep blue eyes. In fact he noticed that her eyes inquisitively searched the POLO pony emblem in his red shirt before they moved from its top to the bottom. She seemed to be an expert on t-shirt authenticity, as it was obvious that she was aware that those POLOS  imported from China became rough in the edges after a couple of washing exercises.

She examined his passport as thoroughly as the New York CIA operatives examine the bearded tourists before they take their photographs and search the 60 million names in their suspected terrorist data base engines.
She inquired whether he was a South African and why he had not acquired a green identification card denoting his South Africanness. He explained that he was a South African and an African and he did not need a green I.D. to confirm his history and identity. She seemed taken aback by his vocabulary, which she had possibly mistaken for arrogance, but her attitude did not bother him. He was here to do a job and he was determined to complete it, despite the mental hurdles presented to him from people with a false sense of superiority, or stupidity for that matter.

After a tiring process filling of forms and other B and B formalities, she announced the prices for a single and double room and queried the purpose of his visit. He told her that he had arrived to pay ilobolo (dowry price) for His Majesty King Zwelithini’s 24 year old daughter and was expecting his best man to discuss the details of the delivery of the 120 cows.

He felt she was taken aback by the casual announcement and sensed a glimpse of admiration in her eyes, but possibly he was mistaken. He also informed her that the best man would be paying the bill as he was the go between in arranging the marriage because of his closeness to the royal family.

Finally before he took his room key, the manageress officially announced that because of the strong Christian principles of the establishment only married couples were allowed to cohabit in the rooms. This meant no lovers, engaged couples, homosexuals, bisexuals, lesbians, transvestites or prostitutes were allowed to be together in the room. He inquired whether best men where allowed with the future groom, and she replied in the affirmative, unless they were homosexuals. This was not permitted.

Bongi entered the room with trepidation, but was pleasantly surprised by the surroundings. Spotlessly clean, a triple bed, with a Bible located in between the pink huge pillows. This was the first time he saw the Holy Book positioned so prominently, the establishment was very Christian and it showed conclusively.

He was extremely surprised Gapon did not carry a Green Label with him. He was seriously officious, almost a different species.
Mfundisi, I don’t have much time. Let’s go down to serious business.”
“I’m ready.”
“No, you’re not; you will be after we complete the session.”
“You’re the boss.”
“Now this is the first device.”
“What device.”
“Don’t be impatient.”

He opened the leather bag and took out a tiny, almost microscopic steel object. That looked like a tiny ant.
“Look carefully at this device, Mfundisi, what is its colour?”
“Off white.”
“Correct, now see it again.”
He threw the object on the red carpet. It turned red, becoming indistinguishable from the carpet.
“Try to touch it, Mfundisi.
Bongi went on his knees and tried to find the object. Nothing.
His eyes turned to Gapon, full of questions.
“Miracle, right?”
“What happened?”
“It became a part of the carpet, it cannot be detected. It was absorbed by the carpet, so to say.”
“What is it?”
“It’s a pick up device.”
“A bugging device.”
“A pickup device, it picks up sound images and coverts them into electrical impulses. It uses a memory that stores information digitally. It has an amplifier that filters out background noise.”
“Who’s the manufacturer?”
“Lin Piao Enterprises, a private-public partnership in Shangai.”
“Who else?”
“Carry on, I’m listening.”
“Here it comes.”

Gapon picked up two completely similar pieces and put them on top of each other. He held them in his hands, with respect, almost affection, possibly with the same affection he held Thokozani, his first born.
He put them in a tiny white plastic bag.
“You only take them out to out to place them on the appropriate location.”
“Don’t rush.”

He pulled out a small device, very similar to the mini radios they used to listen to in Umlazi thirty years ago, the time of the Buccaneers glory days. He put it next to Bongi’s plastic bag.
“This is the listening post absorbing the transmission link, the electrical impulses created by the pickup device. It’s done through a radio frequency transmission. The signals are monitored, recorded, or retransmitted to another area for processing. Voice-activated equipment is available to record only when activity is present. A recorder can record up to 12 hours of conversation between tape changes. Don’t forget that. Use only when necessary. An hour of speech can be stored on a single chip. This is a passive system that records information but emits signals only when interrogated. This makes detection very difficult, if not impossible.”
“Chief.  I need some clarification here.”
“What clarification?”
“You’re asking me to bug this man. Can I see the RICA clearance for this?”
“RICA, what is this, Bongi? What are you talking about?”
“RICA, my chief, the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act, that regulates the legal interception of private communication. I want to see the judge’s decision, you have one, and I take.”
“Chief, now what you’re saying into my face is that I do not follow the law and that I’m asking, no, instructing you, that’s the correct word, to do something illegal. You forget my bru that in fact I am a legal custodian assigned with the safety and security of the state and all its citizens.”
“Gapon, I’m asking you a legal question of substance, I want to see that you, the boss, and me, the employee do not beak the laws. It’s as simple as that.”
“Now tell me, my chief, while you keep on moralising, what is more important, some legalistic details or the safety of a nation in the making?”
Bru, I’m asking because I want to protect you.”
“I can protect myself, bru, now you want to become a bourgeois philosopher like Socrates who preferred to drink the poisons instead of betraying the laws of his country, no bru, this is idealistic hogwash. The paramount benchmark of a person like me is the guaranteeing of the safety and security of our people and our nation. This is the revolutionary duty bestowed upon us by our ancestors and our leaders.”
“Gapon, I want confirmation on your part that Section 16 of RICA is followed. I want you to confirm with documents that there is a legal warrant to bug this guy, simple. Otherwise….Otherwise I won’t be involved.”
“Bongi, listens to me carefully, now I know you have a Ph.D. and all that, but what irritates me is your legalistic view of processes. What you’re telling me and asking me is whether I have acted within the legal and regulatory framework governing the activities of the intelligence services, am I correct?”
“OK, this is what you want to see, right?”
“I want to see a judge’s legal warrant for bugging the man in the name of service of national security, like in the Ngcuka/Lenard Macarthy case.”
“OK, here it is.”

He pulled his notebook out of the bag, took out his Monief Joseph pen and moved towards the bare table next to the lamp He started writing something. After five minutes he handed it to Bongi, almost triumphantly.
Bongi pulled his glasses deeper and whispered.


“ I , GAPON NKOSINATHI KHUMALO , Director in the SANIA , KwaZulu Natal Region , PERSAL NO 2113452GAP, state under oath that every step undertaken in relation to OPERATION : CODE NAME NDUNDULU INVASION has been within the legal and regulatory framework as prescribed by Section 16 of the Regulation of Interception of Communication Act .
I, as a senior employee of SANIA, am responsible for any legal repercussions and sanctions associate with the planning, designing, implementing, assessing and monitoring the operation.

DATE        TIME


Bongi looked at Gapon’s face. Gapon’s triumphant smirk indicated his feeling of an imaginary triumph over a man who though he was too clever to patronise him. Bongi realised that there was no chance to change his employer’s mindset.
He felt he had to relent and carry on with his life, he was thirsty.
“Have you finished with the devises, Gapon?”
“Don’t be impatient.”
“I’m thirsty.”
“Have water, it’s in the fridge.”
“I’d like a PERONI.”
“Not now, afterwards. When we are complete.”

Gapon pulled out a small device, like a miniature transistor.
“What is this Gapon?”
“A bicycle tracking device system .The transmitter is a powerful One Watt, magnetically-mounted device with internal batteries. It is very compact and can be positioned in seconds on any target bicycle. The tracking receiver fits comfortably and discreetly on any part of the bicycle. It can record and transmit the movement of the targeted bicycle. The tracking receiver fits comfortably and discreetly on any part of the bicycle. Bearing is shown on an 81-LED polar display panel with an accuracy of 6 degrees.
Distance between the target and the receiver is indicated by a 10-LED signal strength meter. The synthesised receiver circuitry uses surface mount micro-miniature components. Display brightness is controllable -essential for discreet night tracking. A flashing light on the circular display of LEDs indicates the course of the target bicycle and a linear display shows its approximate distance. The system has been engineered to accurately track the bearing by determining the direction of the target and indicating the level of confidence. Connected to the receiver is the antenna-switching unit. To this are connected the antennae of the system.”
“Have you finished?”
“No, here is the manual.”
“What are all these things, Gapon?”
“The tools of the trade we call them Goldfingers.”
“Whose trade?”
“My trade is cultural anthropology.”
“That was your trade then. Now your trade is OPERATION: THE NDUNDULU INVASION.”
“What must I do with these things?  I mean do you expect me to plant them at the man’s places and bicycle?”
“Think about it, why the hell am I giving you these babies? To place them in your B and B and tape yourself?
“I can’t think, I need a PERONI.”
“Have a PERONI, I’ll have a double blonde.”
“Where is she?”
“In my bag.”

He re-opened the bag and pulled out a Green Label. He poured a triple into the tall glass. He had a giant sip. He turned his eyes to Bongi.
“Ask now.”
“What must I do with these things?”
“Apply them.”
“Hu’s home floor, or toilet, depending on the convenience and his bicycle.”
“You’re mad, Gapon.”
“Possibly, I’m mad to pay you 20 grand a month to do landscaping. I could take a laitie from Umlazi and pay him one clip (one hundred rans) a day to do land-scaping. This is not the way things are done in this job, Bongi, this is not a cultural research project, you take two students, pay them slave wages and they surf the Internet. This is called in our language, and your language, I’m sure, land-scaping. This is what it is; you landscape the object of investigation. Now in our case these babies prove beyond reasonable doubt that the man under suspicion can be caught and charged for espionage. Or, alternatively the Coordinating Committee makes a plan of how to politically utilise the hard facts, provided as evidence by the devices and their accuracy. These are the instruments of the trade , my bru, now until the job is finished you sleep , dream , eat and think Mr. Hu , or whatever his name is , and for once my bru , see my eyes deep inside , I’m telling you straight . I know the twenty grand is handy, but above all think about the service to the Motherland, my bru, a service provider for the Motherland. Think about it as a vocation, too, now you are not a teacher of Radcliff Brown’s theories, you are a well skilled, articulate and well equipped intelligence operator. Now think about it the other way , if I didn’t care about you, if I didn’t feel strongly that you could do the job , would had I approach you? Go deeper, Bongi, if I didn’t trust you as a man of honour, intelligence and patriotism, would have I trust you with the Goldfingers? No, now the onus is up to you, my bru, not just to justify the twenty grand, but to show that you are the best, that’s the bottom line.”
“I’m not doing it, Gapon.”
“Yes you will, don’t forget, there is an extra 50 grands when you complete, right?”
“Now let me tell you, Gapon, I don’t need this shit to do the job. I can do it my own way.”
“If I wait for your own way then I’ll wait until Amazulu becomes the PSL champions. Bru, the Chief is becoming impatient. He takes his anger on me. Let’s be sharp, just do it, check the manuals, operate the devices, klaar the graaf (finish the job), get paid, get drunk, get laid, not necessarily in that order. This meeting is finished. Now before I go, here is the packet with a few other devices you need to use to unlock all doors, whatever and de-sensitivise all electronic systems. Doors, metal, wooden. These are simple and 150% guaranteed products with their instruction manuals, a piece of cake for a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.”

Gapon did not wait for an answer. He gulped the last bit, packed up, and tried a high five unsuccessfully. As he moved towards the door he turned around.
“Now is the time to give the concept of Native Intelligence a new spin, my man, he said triumphantly .By the way you can finish the PERONI’s in the mini fridge. The Agency does not let those who work tirelessly for the safety and security of the country thirsty. Asta lavista (bye bye) baby.”
He tried to open the door, forgetting it was double locked from the inside. He turned to Bongi.
“Throw the key, bru.”
“Before I do that, let me tell you one thing, Gapon. You can take these things and stick them in your arse.”
“My arse is allergic to Chinese made devices, bru. I buy Proudly South African products.”

Bongi knew he had lost the plot. He threw the keys and watched as his childhood friend and present employer walked out the door whistling Codry Ziqubu’s SKOROKORO. Some things change all the time to remain the same.

Bongi looked at the devices and then packed them up nicely on his laptop case, carried the remaining Peronis under his armpit, put them in his boot and drove to his temporary home safely.
He opened a beer and picked up Ronald Suresh Robert’s masterpiece on Thabo Mbeki’s fitness to rule. He searched frantically for a couple for minutes for the word that escaped him for the entire night.
A sign of relief as he underlined it with his red pen with the picture of Buti Manamela on it, “soul-gazing”. “What a word” he thought, “it says it all and nothing”.
He was aware, he had a lot of soul gazing to do for the next couple of hours.

For a change Gapon was correct. He gave the concept of “Native Intelligence” a new spin, no, a completely new meaning, or this is the way it should be.
He did not go to sleep until four after midnight.

Next chapter: Chapter 7

©  Evan Mantzaris – The Ndundulu Invasion – Rozenberg Quarterly 2013 – ISBN 978 90 361 0201 8

The Ndundulu Invasion – Chapter 7 – Fong Kong (Counterfit Goods)

mantzariscoverAs he walked lazily towards his destination Bongi was trying to figure our whether the decision to accept Hu’s invitation for supper last Saturday night was a wise one.
His eternal philosophical conversations with the wise Mkhulu and his supporters in the tavern, while tasting the well done cheap meat in the outside cheesa nyama (meat place) were at a full force when Hu entered the place. He greeted everyone by bowing down and muttering some pleasantries in deep rural isiZulu .It was obvious to Bongi that the whole atmosphere following his entrance was that of a deep respect shared amongst those present.

MaKhumalo carried a green tea pot for Hu, a movement that did not raise an eyebrow, a sign that the patrons were used to such a treatment.
While the discussion carried on, Hu kept silent, sipping his tea with an aura of dignity. He was perhaps bored, or a man with mixed feelings about the environment.

After he finished the last drop from the pot, he stood up bowed his head at everyone’s direction and turned to Bongi.
“Sir, we have only met once, but it will be a great pleasure for me and my lovely wife if you could do us the honour to be our guest for supper next week. I leave the choice of the day to you if agree.”
Bongi was drunk at the time, he could not even think.
“The honour will be all mine, Sir, Tuesday will be fine with me.”
“Thank you, Sir; I’m looking forward to meeting you again.”
“Me too, Sir, see you on Tuesday.”

After Hu left, the conversation continued as usual, until Mr.Dlamini raised the issue of Bongi’s invitation stating that he was a lucky man because Hu’s young wife was the best cook around. The agreement of those present made Bongi realise that he was not the first to be invited to Hu’s house for supper. This made him feel better as he approached the modest three bedroom traditional house.

He knocked on the door holding tight on the plastic bag with the six PERONIS and the Johnny Walker Green Label whisky. A young, beautiful African woman in her early twenties opened the door, holding a new born baby on her arms. She held her eyes nailed to the shining floor and bowed her head and knees. Her knees almost touched the ground.
“Good evening Mfundisi“, she muttered. “It is a great honour to have you in our humble home. Welcome. My name is Sbongile, and my daughter is Bhuhle, Bhuhle Hu,” she added with pride.
“My name is Bongi and the honour is mine, Mrs. Hu.”
He witnessed the pride in her eyes when she was addressed in her married name.
She led him to the small tidy living room. Mr Hu was standing, waiting.

“Good evening, Prof”, he said as he bowed, his eyes nailed to the floor. “My name is Hu Fong, but people call me Hu. Welcome to our humble home”.
“Good evening Mr. Hu, my name is Bongisizwe Khumalo, but people call me Bongi. Thank you for inviting me to your home and the honour is all mines”.
“Take a seat, Prof, and I thank you very much for your kindness for bringing us this very expensive bottle of alcohol. We really appreciate your kind gesture. I shall tell the lovely mother of my daughter to keep your beers in the refrigerator.”
“Thank you Mr. Hu.”
“So how is your research going, Prof, anything interesting?”
“Very interesting Mr. Hu, but the most interesting thing is nature and the people. I love being here Mr. Hu. This place has changed my outlook to life completely. It’s so tranquil and peaceful, so much so that if I had money I would buy a piece of land to build here. Your home is lovely. Did you build it from scratch?”
“Not really. We extended it with the help of the community. It is a very good community here, Prof. Some children are a little bit naughty, but really the community has plumbers, builders, electricians .They is skilful people and ready to help.”
“I’ve realised that, but I find them very demanding sometimes.”
“Free people ought to be demanding, Prof, don’t you think?”
“You are right, to an extent, Mr. Hu. You must demand water and electricity from the government, but to demand from the tavern owner to give you free JUBAs for the whole night is an abuse of freedom.”
“What you’re saying is that your freedom ends where the other person’s freedom starts, Prof?”
“Marx put it like that didn’t he?”
“He did.”
“I think he was right.”
“You cannot turn four centuries of colonialism into freedom, from demand and want in ten or twenty years, Prof.”
“Mr. Hu, I am very aware of that, but my interest tonight lies in another topic. How is it possible for China to become so tigerish in the last few decades? You are a learned man, for me, it is incomprehensible.”
“Prof, the key issue here is that massive manufacturing has switched from the West to the East in all these past decades. China took advantage of it. Like in the 1970s, there was a shift from developed countries to oil producing countries, caused by an increase in oil prices, now it’s the switch to manufacturing that gives birth to economic and political dislocation .This is where the problem lies for the West. But then, here is always the problem of over-production, due to greed.”
“Why so?”
“Because China’s manufacturing rise reflects radical productive innovations, mostly new technologies that replaced old ones, a “creative destruction”. This is what happened after the collapse of the information technology revolution of the 1980s and 1990s. IT ran its course, investment overshoots, profits, production and demand decreased, hence the dominance of manufacturing. It produces commodities, it creates jobs, it is tangible. This is why Bill Gates has turned into a philanthropist like Bono and Jimmy Carter. On the other hand, besides manufacturing, the turn of the post Mao regime into the post capitalist gold stocking, entering financial markets and ignoring the demands of the country side has led to massive waves of unemployment. The regime knows it, hence the political oppression that goes along with the complete capitulation to naked capitalism.”
“It makes sense but why the collapse of the West?”
“Because the world deficit is funded by savings from China and other Asian economies. However this creative destruction does not end here. China has an export-oriented economy, but the crisis of over-production has led to problems too. China is in a position of real dependency; China has a huge currency reserve, highly advanced technology and a very cheap labour force. The big problem is that China depends on the willingness and ability of other countries to import its goods. Any disruption of this flow has a direct effect on the Chinese economy. This is what’s happening now. China becomes a prisoner of its customers, of whom hundreds of millions have economic problems, they cannot buy things. China has problems because this manufacturing explosion does not really touch its interior, it concentrates on the coast, and this leads to ruptures, dangerous ones. The regime knows that, that’s why they re-skill the police and the army, the repressive-military apparatus of the state. They think like Milton Freedman in economics and like Chairman Mao in politico-military terms .These acts lead to instability. Chairman Mao was correct when he said that imperialism is a paper tiger. He will be turning in his grave, if he’s still there, that his successors are turning China into a paper tiger too.”
“You’re trying to tell me there is no hope for humanity, then.”
“No there is a lot of hope for humanity, Prof, I say there is no hope for capitalism and from the moment Teng Hsiao Ping took over, the writing was on the wall. China has become another country where Kentucky Fried Chicken became a sign of progress and prosperity never mind the bottom line of uneven and combined development. This is a historical farce, nothing more.
“Mr. Hu, would you mind if I have another PERONI?”
“No, go ahead, sir. Would you mind if I pour myself another green tea?”
They laughed heartily.

“So what you are saying Mr. Hu, if I understand you correctly, is that everything that happens in China and the world is determined by globalization and geopolitics. Have I understood you correctly?”
“Absolutely, Prof, but there is one small detail that many people seem to forget, that globalization and geopolitics are not new. The international circulation and movement of capital and the merging of finance and manufacturing capital was strong even at the turn of the century, this is very clear in Hobson’s work on imperialism, it was published in 1901.”
“I see you’re afraid to mention Lenin’s work on imperialism.”
“No, not at all. This is more important than Hobson’s by miles, but there are some little things that make you wonder whether all these academics have even scratched the surface of the nature of globalization. I can tell you a very interesting story, you might find it funny. Have you heard of Harry Keeler, Prof?”
“No, how do you spell it?”
“No, what about him?”
“He was an American detective hero in the 1940’s.”
“Oh, like Mike Hammer.”
“Better than Mike Hammer.”
“Because the author used old Chinese stories to solve the problems.”
“Before 1949, when the Red People’s army grabbed state power my father whose real name was Lin Ping Yang changed his name to Hu Fong masquerading it as a revolutionary pseudonym when he joined the Red Army, realizing that the nationalist forces were on the retreat.”
“So he joined the victors, but what about globalization, what is the significance?”
“In the novel The Case of the 16 Beans, published in 1944, the equivalent of Keeler was a Chinese detective named Hu Fong who was instrumental in exposing the death of a hermit because he was the owner of a very valuable and mysterious item.”
“Has your father confessed to you about these the masquerading behind the pseudonym?”
“Never. Such things were sacred and secret under Mao’s reign. There could be no trust between father and son during the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath.”
“How did you find out about all this then, Mr. Hu?”
“Before my father died he showed me the part of the yard where he hid the imperialist propaganda, including Keeler’s books. After the liberalization, I dug the soil and I found all the books. I was young and easily impressed. I read Keeler, I knew, he named him and me after the detective in the beans case.”
“Amazing, really.”
“Well, now you know a lot about me, what about you? You studied in the USA, right?”
“Right, how do you know?”
“Oh, mkhulu Kunene told me.”
“Oh, what an mkhulu, I love him.”
“He respects you too, very much.”
“I studied Cultural Anthropology. I did a Ph.D. I taught there, then my daughter was born, she wanted to come back to her roots I suppose, I got a job at UDW.”
“You have a daughter, right. How old?”
“She’s fifteen.”
“And your wife?”
“I’m not married.”
“Sorry, I did not mean to intrude.”
“No intrusion really, she is not here really.”
“She’s not with you.”
“She’s not with us in the physical sense.”
“I’m sorry about that.”
“Me too.”

He cracked another Peroni.
“And you, what did you study Mr. Hu? Because I must say that your eloquence and knowledge has impressed me deeply, I must be honest.”
“Oh, not much, I did a basic degree in International Relations, majoring in History and Marxist Theory, the usual. University of Peking.”
“It sounds amazing. When was that?”
“Why are you asking, Prof?”
“Because you look so young.”
“I’m 37, Prof.”
“You look as though you are in your early twenties.”
“Thanks, Prof, if it’s a compliment from your side.”

They laughed.
“Of course it’s a compliment Mr. Hu. Look at me, look at my Afro; I look like I’m a 50 year old croc living in the Motown era.”
“Ah, the Motown era, I love this era Prof, Aretha, Stevie Wonder, the Shangrilas, what a period.”
“I love it too, but I am almost addicted to blues.”
“What type?”
“What do you mean Mr. Hu?”
“Chicago blues, Mississippi, New Orleans, British.”
“I didn’t know there was British blues.”
“Not long history, but interesting, Alexis Corner, John Mayal, Eric Clapton, Eric Burdon, the early Stones.”
“You mean the Rolling Stones?”
“Yes, they did some amazing blues versions, like Little Red Rooster, it was very good.”
“I only learn, it’s very gratifying.”
“Well music is my passion, Prof.”
“Mine too, but unfortunately sometimes I don’t have time.”
“Two things in life can’t wait, Prof, music and love, not necessarily in that order.”
They laughed. Then there was silence. Mr. Hu broke it.

“Prof, when you seek revenge, we Chinese say, dig two graves. I start like this because every single human I have met in this part of the world asked me the same question. I know you are a researcher, but I must say that you are a very different researcher from the ones I have met. You are prepared to listen, people respect your openness, you are a gentleman and you are generous. I started the way I did to take you out of the dilemma, of how to start the question you were planning to ask me. Why Ndundulu, why a spaza shop. It’s a long story but a simple one. I left China because I was planning revenge. I had three options opened to me, fast, medium pace, slow, something like cricket bowling. I took the fourth route, procrastination through deep thinking. I have a cousin who runs a massage parlour in Emarentia, in Johannesburg. He is a reputable businessman; he has a fully fledged website www.shangai I communicated with him in anticipation, but not despair. He organized fast a six months tourist visa, which upon my arrival was turned into a permanent residence. We Chinese do not ask questions about these things, he must have had some contacts. I left China for South Africa in 2003, I worked for him for three months. He was good to me, very good. He saw that I did not like Johannesburg, it was claustrophobic, and I needed to breathe fresh air. He called his best friend in Empangeni, I arrived there in June and in August I built the shop in Ndundulu. I was boarding at MaKhumalo’s at the time. I liked the place, I learnt the local language, I got along with the people and I welcomed loneliness, at least, initially.”
“And then?”
“You cannot prevent the birds of loneliness from circling over your head, Prof, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair. I fell in love, loneliness disappeared forever.”

He uttered the words casually, with the authenticity of a poet and the simplicity of a Chinese philosopher of ancient times. The words came out of his mouth calmly, in measured tone and with accuracy reminiscent of an AK47.
“I admire you Mr. Hu. You talk about deep things like loneliness, revenge, love, as they are simple, like a flower seed.”
“There are much simpler things than a flower seed, Prof. Love, revenge and loneliness are emotions. A flower seed is a creation of nature, you can touch it, you can plant it, and if it rains it will produce a beautiful flower.”
“So will the others.”
“Not always, Prof.”
“Why not?”
“Because these emotions produce different, sometimes contradictory results and actions. They can lead to happiness, disappointment, lust, death or destruction, the flower seed will always produce a beautiful flower, if it rains, that is.”
“I never thought about it this way. But… ”

His words were distracted by the young mother carrying the first plate of delicacies. Bongi’s inquisitive eyes, the anthropological, not the other ones, almost escaped from their caves. It was not the only the skobho (sheep’s head) that smelled like heaven on earth, but the art on the plate. That was worth over two million euros.
Madoda (gentlemen), the starters are here”, she whispered, before she retreated to the kitchen as fast as the British soldiers retreated at the Battle of Isandlwana.
“Mr. Hu, with your permission, may I?”
“Of course, Prof.”

Bongi felt awkward when his eyes travelled over the tapestry on the plate. It depicted Zulu impis adorned with full regalia. The only difference was that, instead of the warriors’ headband they were wearing the Red Army’s military cap with the Red Star insignia.
“This is amazing, Mr. Hu, really amazing. What a thought, what imagination, what mixing of images, it is original, isn’t it?”
“It is original, Prof.”
“Did you paint it?”
“Who then?”
“A 17 year old boy, Bongani Gwala, he lives up the street.”
“How did it happen?”
“It’s a funny story really.”
“I’m very interested.”
“Can we start eating, at least? I’m sure you are hungry.”
“I’m starving, Mr. Hu, but I’m also flabbergasted and curious, very curious.”
“I took the liberty of begging the mother of my daughter to prepare some traditional Zulu dishes; I hope I did not flop.”
“You can never flop with skobho, Mr. Hu; this is one of my favourite dishes.”
“I hoped so. Now coming to Bongani. I was spending the afternoon with the mother of my daughter at the time when she was two or three months old pregnant when a young boy notified me that a skebengu (crook) had broken into my shop to loot. I reached for my assegai and ran to the shop. I caught the boy trying to get out of the wired fence. I opened the gate and grabbed him. He did not resist. He is a short boy, thin, almost malnutritioned; an orphan.His  gogo (grand mother) looks after him, very beautiful human being, being an old age grant pensioner. The boy was scared. I asked him what he had stolen. He showed me a half empty box of black paint that was left over from a community meeting. I knew they were living in a traditional house. It does not need paint. I asked him why he stole the paint. He told me he wants to be a painter, to paint the mzinyathis (trees) and the Imfolozi River. I shook my head; in fact this half empty paint was useless to me. I told him he could have it, on one condition. To prove to me that he’s not a skebengu he must bring some of his painting to the shop. Within three minutes he returned with about ten. When I saw them I said “this young boy is just a genius. There was no other word to describe him, no other word, Prof.”
“And then?”
“When I went to Empangeni, I went to the merchants from Shangai, I bought different paints, acrylic, fluid, all these types, brushes. It cost me a hundred rands. When I brought it to him he just looked at me and began ululating and performing a Zulu dance. When he raised his legs it felt like his toes touched the sky.”
“How did you feel?”
“I joined him, but I had to stop because all these young boys and girls playing in the area were laughing loudly at me. I am old enough to accept humiliation, but I thought it was wise to leave the Zulu dancing to the born Zulus. There are a few things that a Chinese man cannot do. I left it at that. After that the boy never looked back. He continued painting in his spare time .He is a genius.”
“What did you advise him?”
“I’m too small to advise him, Prof. He’s an artist, and a Zulu. He communicates with his ancestors. The only thing I told him is that he who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is enlightened. The young boy knows himself, he’ll go far.”
“Because of you. Because you did not scold him, you did not hit him, you did not call the police, you just treated him humanely and in many ways you led him.”
Mr. Hu shook his head.
“You stand corrected, Prof, I believe the only way to lead people is to walk behind them, I just walked alongside him, and this is the truth.”
“You are a very humble man, Mr. Hu.”
“Prof, I do not curse the darkness when there is load shedding, I just light a candle, problem solved.”

The PERONIS disappeared as fast as the second plate of skobho and Bongi felt obliged to ask the host permission to go outside for a smoke. It was then that the young mother entered the room with a gigantic plate of usu. Bongi’s eyes popped out; the only problem was that he was already full.
“I know if Heaven existed, it would smell like this Mrs. Hu. I’m sure you communicated with the ancestors regarding my food preferences.”
“No, Sir, it was easier to talk with mkhulu Kunene.”
They laughed loudly before the mother moved back inside. The men attacked the delicacy, like there was no tomorrow, silent for a change.

Bongi started feeling dizzy, his tummy ready to burst and the night’s conversation fresh in his mind. Above all his body needed a few more doses of the killer nicotine before his senses exploded.
“Before I go, Mr. Hu I need to ask you a very difficult question. OK two. The first one whether, the saying the palest ink is better than the best memory, is indeed Chinese?”
“Yes, Prof, Confucius.”
“I thought so. The second is I think more difficult. Was Mao Ze Dung a Marxist?”
“It is easier, Prof. No, he was essentially a Confucian and a Chinese nationalist. He disguised his Confucianism with Stalinist phraseology.”
“Thank you Mr. Hu. Now may I say good night and may I greet your lovely wife and thank her for her hospitality and her delicious food?”
“I am afraid this is not possible, Prof. She always goes to bed before midnight but tonight she made an exception, because of the honour of having you with us.”
“Is it after midnight?”
“It is 2.30 am, Prof.”
“I’m so sorry Mr. Hu, I imposed on you, but I must say this was definitely one of the most enlightening and fruitful evenings of my life, all thanks to you and your wife.”
“You are very kind and generous, Sir. Our home is always open to you, and you daughter, when around.”
“I hope tonight is the beginning of an everlasting relationship, Mr. Hu.”
“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, Mfundisi.”
“Chairman Mao.”
“No, Sir, Confucius, plagiarised by Mao.”

They laughed loudly until they heard the baby crying. Bongi stopped while Mr. Hu’s eyes turned into orbits of happiness.
My daughter, Mfundisi”, he whispered, “She cries for her mother’s milk”.

They bowed to each other. Bongi, in the yard already, grabbed two Kents from the packet in his inside coat pocket. He cursed himself; he had misplaced his lighter again.

Next chapter: Chapter 8

©  Evan Mantzaris – The Ndundulu Invasion – Rozenberg Quarterly 2013 – ISBN 978 90 361 0201 8

The Ndundulu Invasion – Chapter 8 – The King Is Gone But He’s Not Forgotten

mantzariscoverMost of the time he was so peaceful and excited in Ndundulu that he did not even feel like driving to Melmoth or Empangeni.
Sometimes, however, he felt  the need to see some different people, faces and places.
In addition there were times that MaKhumalo took advantage of his weaknesses and convinced him to drive her there for shopping. She was extremely nice to him and he felt her warmth and hospitality everyday, so in most occasions it was impossible for him to refuse a favour.
On the other hand he was able to learn a lot of things useful to his mission because MaKhumalo was the CCN of the area and her knowledge encompassed a very wide field of data gathering and dissemination.
She was such a wealth of information, based on solid fact and research and not pure rumour or gossip that sometimes Bongi felt obligated to buy her pizza, her favourite food. This was one the major achievements of marketing, he always thought, when he saw her enjoying her seafood variety chewing well the tasteless prawns.
Some times Bongi was close to telling her what a prawn was, but he abstained, because he knew that would be the last time she would set food at a pizzeria.

He left her at the cafeteria in the mall, chatting with Mrs. Dlamini, a nurse at the hospital who was married to MaKhumalo’s brother Bongani and entered the supermarket. He needed toiletries, macaroni and tinned fish. He searched carefully the shelves and he was astounded by the variety and the prices, many of them more expensive than Umhlanga Rocks. It was, however, end of the month and there were chords of people shopping, chirping and debating issues loudly. As he looked around the shop he felt this urgency to shout loudly welcoming Europe in Africa, but he was afraid people might take him for a crazy old man shouting obscenities.

He finished his shopping and moved towards the cashier pushing the trolley. He felt a Breath behind his ear. It was not fresh. He did not want to fight. He kept his appetite for fighting during the Amazulu game, at 3 p.m sharp, King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi.

He did not need to turn, the Terrible Breath moved in front of him, side-stepping him smoothly and in style, no pushing. He was holding an Axe Special, and a cheap tooth brush, R4.99.
He was tattooed. A MANCHESTER UNITED insignia on the left side of his neck, and wearing a Wayne Rooney scarf, four rings in his upper lip and a tanzanite fake on his right eyebrow. He was of pale complexion, yet a member of the only existing race, the human race.
“Daddy, can I move ahead of you”, the Bad Breath, murmured, “I have locked the poodle in the boot and I need to rush.”
“Sure son, but I thought the Sex Pistols had retired.”, he observed.
“Daddy, the King is gone but he’s not forgotten, this is the story of Johnny Rotten. In fact the Sex Pistols have never and will never retire, dad, they just took a break. They never retire for one reason only, because they love themselves.”
“What do you mean, son?”
“What I mean, dad, is that it’s good to be in love with you, because to be yourself is a full time job.”

Bongi looked into the young boy’s green eyes, a pale imitation of his green and yellow Mohawk.
“Whatever, my boy”, he whispered, “I’m Bongi.”
“I know daddy. I’ve seen you on TV, take care now, I’m Nikolas.”

The tall boy disappeared fast. Bongi could not bring himself to tell him that he was never on TV.
The young boy’s one liner felt like one hundred years of solitude mixed with one hundred vicious whipping strokes on his back.
He needed a cigarette.

Next chapter: Chapter 9

©  Evan Mantzaris – The Ndundulu Invasion – Rozenberg Quarterly 2013 – ISBN 978 90 361 0201 8

The Ndundulu Invasion – Chapter 9 – Surfing In The RSA

mantzariscoverIt was a job that ought to be done despite his deep hatred of it. His principles and beliefs were that when you violate one’s privacy, above all, you violate yourself.  Now next to his carefully installed VODAFONE Internet device, he felt violated no end. A job had to be done; the fact that he did it because of need and not want  was merely a footnote of History, if that.

He googled the name “HU FONG”, just to start, before he moved to more sophisticated improvisations. The first item “ HU FONG SHIPMENTS” . The second HU FONG Heavy Machinery PTY. Ltd, Haihu Ayuan No 285.1, Du Dong Da Dao , Shanghai , 2001 29. Interesting. He felt that space annulled his memory, his history, his past and he was afraid to look at his future. He moved the mouse. He read:
Learn more about Import Genius:

  • Identify Hu Fong U.S. customers
  • Monitor Hu Fong new shipments
  • Enforce exclusivity agreements
  • Track your competitors import activity
  • Online access to over 25 million ocean freight shipment records.
  • Search by supplier name, importer name, product description, and more

Contact Form

– And I thought I gave a new spin in Native Intelligence, he thought. These guys made it so simple for the competitors, they even avail to the enemy their suppliers name and addresses, but who could guarantee that they would provide the correct information?

He remembered when he first read the full text of Michael Porter’s “COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE” for his Marketing IA class. He smiled and moved on.

He moved to the next item
Hu Fong Chili Garlic Sauce, 8-Ounce (Pack of 7)
$21.98 $18.32
Gets it by Monday, May 11 if you order in the next 15 hours and choose one-day shipping?

Eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping.
 Show only Hu Fong items

His sorrow was annulled .His humanity was annulled together with his dignity, his knowledge, space became a gigantic “elsewhere”, a new consciousness of the mind and body , most time searching for facts and creating new ones, mostly imaginary.

He continued mechanically, switching and turning his searching techniques accordingly fitting his words with small futilities. He did not enjoy the search, full stop.

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He signed into FACEBOOK as “FRIENDS OF JACOB ZUMA FREQUENT CONTRIBUTOR”.  No problem, his entry went through. He clicked on the photographs, all 127 of them. His search subject’s photo was absent, nowhere to be found. He felt his search was like a lantern at the crossroads facing the wind, solitary and despairing in the midst of the gentle rain.

He moved onto the Peking University Website. He scanned the History Department first.

Most national and international rankings of Chinese universities place Peking University among the top universities in China

The Times Higher Education Supplement in 2006 ranked Peking University as the 14th best university in the world, taking the highest spot in Asia; the same ranking in 2007 placed the University at 36th, and in 2008, it was ranked  50th.The University consists of 30 colleges and 12 departments, with 93 specialties for undergraduates, two  specialties for the second Bachelor’s degree, 199 specialties for Master’s degree candidates and 173 specialties for Doctoral candidates. While in a leading position of basic sciences research and teaching, the University has gained itself very successful development of applied sciences.

At present, Peking University has 216 research institutions and research centres, including two national engineering research centres, 81 key national disciplines, 12 national key laboratories. With 4.5 million holdings, the university library is the largest of its kind in Asia.

In 2008, the Times Higher Education (THE) ranked the Peking University as the 23rd best university in the field of Arts and Humanities; it is also the highest ranked university from Asia in this field.  Peking University was previously ranked as the 18th (2007 rankings), 10th (2006 rankings), 6th (2005 rankings), and 7th (2004 rankings) best arts and humanities universities in the world.

He had enough of minor details before he moved into the School of International Studies (SIS), the first such school set up in Chinese Universities. In 1996. He found out that SIS is organized into three Departments and three Institutes, the Department of International Studies, the Department of Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs Management, the Department of International Political Economy, the Institute of International Relations, the Institute of Afro -Asian Studies, and the Institute of World Socialism. In addition, SIS is also the host of more than twenty research centers. On the administrative side, SIS has a general office, an office for student affairs, a center for development and exchanges, and an editorial office for the journal of International Politics Quarterly.

“Top school”, he thought, “only the best for Mr. Hu”.

He moved quickly to the sub-programme. The Department of International Political Economy was founded in 2003, and he thought it was out of the equation because Hu had graduated at that time, but the Institute of WorldSocialism was founded in 1994. It developed a Ph.D. program in Scientific Socialism and International Communist Movement together with the School of Marxism at Peking University in 1997. The Institute has five faculty members including three full professors and two Associate Professors .Main Research Interests: politics and socialism in Western Europe, politics and socialism in Russia and Eastern Europe, and politics and socialism with Chinese characteristics in China.

He tried to figure out whether this landscaping exercise   had annulled his imagination. This was  a burning question both in the essence and content , but it definitely had annulled his sorrow and created new emotions, new to him in the fifth decade of his life.

He moved to History, “Under Construction”- he cursed. How a new Department and Faculty established well after 2000 can has a full scale description and one established in the sixties is under construction? He calmed himself down, as he never trusted historians, and knew that the only genuine recorders of History were the Anthropologists. He moved into specialisations, and when the results appeared he congratulated his mastery of technology. “Zulu” appeared under “Foreign Languages and Literature”, “Zulu History” under “African History”. He was happy with himself. He had the last hit “Zulu History Graduates” and printed the page. He did the same with “Zulu Language Graduates”.

He underlined Mr. Hu’s achievements:


Understanding: 92% Distinction.
Content: 94% Distinction.
Essence: 91% Distinction
Materialist Analysis:  97% Distinction
Mfecane: 94% Distinction

Spelling: 96% Distinction
Vocabulary: 97% Distinction
Inter-Textual: 93% Distinction
Isibongi: 98% Distinction
Story-telling: 94% Distinction
Pronunciation: 98% Distinction

He switched off the VODAFONE and lit a cigarette. He really admired Mr. Hu, an eternal unit of Mankind who obviously, toiled, stayed up nights, researched, crossed many seas, carrying on his shoulders a tradition of thousands of years of academic and intellectual pursuit.

He printed the useful parts and folded the copied papers and stashed them underneath the bugging and trucking devices in the safe. He locked.
The masks were off. The face, the irrefutable face of the challenge was now bare, naked, facing a new beginning  straight into the eyes , that were distant.

Next chapter: Chapter 10

©  Evan Mantzaris – The Ndundulu Invasion – Rozenberg Quarterly 2013 – ISBN 978 90 361 0201 8