50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa

A collection of the 50 greatest villains of South African history, from Jan van Riebeeck to Shaka to Cecil John Rhodes to Hendrik Verwoerd to Thabo Mbeki to Julius Malema.

A collection of the 50 greatest villains of South African history, from Jan van Riebeeck to Shaka to Cecil John Rhodes to Hendrik Verwoerd to Thabo Mbeki to Julius Malema. These are men – mostly, but not exclusively – who have steered South Africa firmly in the wrong direction, affecting our history, our national psyche and our way of life, often wasting guilt-edged opportunities to do the right thing along the way. But the obvious heavy-hitters are just the half of it: there are also lesser-known but influential historical figures (Bartle Frere, Lord Milner), nameless icons of our modern social problems (The Minibus Taxi Driver, The Man I Sat Next To At The Polo), criminals (Ananias Mathe), chancers (Mark Thatcher), traitors (Kevin Pietersen) and punks (Kevin Pietersen). Part history, part social commentary, this is a fascinating read that delves into South African politics, war, sport and culture. Appropriately, Alex Parker’s irreverent but scathing writing is brought to life by Zapiro, who adds the finishing touches with his iconic caricatures.
Author:
Alexander Parker
Format:
Paperback

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A collection of the 50 greatest villains of South African history, from Jan van Riebeeck to Shaka to Cecil John Rhodes to Hendrik Verwoerd to Thabo Mbeki to Julius Malema.

A collection of the 50 greatest villains of South African history, from Jan van Riebeeck to Shaka to Cecil John Rhodes to Hendrik Verwoerd to Thabo Mbeki to Julius Malema. These are men – mostly, but not exclusively – who have steered South Africa firmly in the wrong direction, affecting our history, our national psyche and our way of life, often wasting guilt-edged opportunities to do the right thing along the way. But the obvious heavy-hitters are just the half of it: there are also lesser-known but influential historical figures (Bartle Frere, Lord Milner), nameless icons of our modern social problems (The Minibus Taxi Driver, The Man I Sat Next To At The Polo), criminals (Ananias Mathe), chancers (Mark Thatcher), traitors (Kevin Pietersen) and punks (Kevin Pietersen). Part history, part social commentary, this is a fascinating read that delves into South African politics, war, sport and culture. Appropriately, Alex Parker’s irreverent but scathing writing is brought to life by Zapiro, who adds the finishing touches with his iconic caricatures.

Product details

Author:
Alexander Parker
Publisher:
Burnet Media
Illustrator:
Zapiro
Imprint:
Two Dogs
ISBN:
9781920137335
Audience:
General
Pages:
208
Width (mm):
147
Length (mm):
208
Awards:
Shortlisted for South African Booksellers' Choice Award 2011.
Weight (g):
226

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My gat af gelag

Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” is flawed by anti-semitism but that doesn’t stop it from being great literature. “50 People” has flaws. It isn’t great literature but it’s damn good satire. Alex Parker writes fluently and well for a fast-paced read. If you buy it as a toilet book you’re going to spend a lot more time on the throne than you planned. Parker takes aim at some dangerous targets and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get death threats. Naïvete or courage? The book is flawed by some strange inclusions. Kevin Pietersen’s a twit but so what? He isn’t a lead character. He’s an extra, or is it a bye? (Perhaps Mrs. Parker remarked that KP is quite good-looking.) Sol Kerzner? Are you mad, Alex? He’s our hero! The bitter expat and the polo guy? Probably included to add a white balance to the collection. The exclusions harm the book even more. Winnie, Nkosazana Z, and Robert McBride surely deserved their chance at the limelight. Parker totally fails to mention Essop Pahad’s greatest stuff-up, namely Outcomes Based Education, creating a new Lost Generation to match and even outdo the tragedy of the Soweto rioters. I don’t mean this as criticism. I’m hoping that Alex and his editor, Tim Richman, will take my comments into account when drafting the second edition. Alex Parker did not intend the book to be taken too seriously. He happily indulges in wild exaggeration, unfounded rumour, and glib assumptions, but it’s all in a spirit of challenge. F’example in the profile of Mark Thatcher he praises the SA Police for their excellent detective work. (Completely straight-faced, too.) If you don’t agree with some, many, or any of his statements (HECK but he writes a lot of opinionated drivel), stop and think how you would go about refuting him. Not easy, is it? You just sort of generally took it for granted that everybody knows that… So you thought you knew South Africa. Huh. Buy this book.

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