Book Title: #ZuptasMustFall and other rants

Publisher: Penguin Books

Author: Fred Khumalo

Year: 2016

In #ZuptasMustFall and other rants, Fred Khumalo morphs into the foremost social commentator of the post-apartheid South Africa. He no longer only speaks truth to power with his trademark blend of humour but calls out the obnoxious leaders who make our nascent democracy susceptible to the kleptocratic disease. He confronts the bare and brutal facts of our recent history, and mediates on our country’s future.

In the title essay #ZuptasMustFall, Khumalo does away with politically correct language. The gloves are off! He calls the whole Guptas’ affair a form of halitosis. Khumalo’s parting shot in this essay is telling. He writes, ‘In sitting down to tell this story, I was startled by how close those in power came to offering my country to the Guptas on a platter.’

Khumalo’s latest offering is an ensemble of shrewd political analysis; a take on everyday life including music, soccer, Zimbabwe, xenophobia, and yes, other rants. What makes this collection a must read is the novel manner in which ordinary Facebookers feature, holding their own as commentators. Khumalo decided to include his Facebook posts in the collection alongside comments as a tribute to the extraordinary power of social media and, of course, to please the legions of his online fans.

In this collection, there’s an exuberance previously unseen in Khumalo’s writing. It seems the freedom of being unemployed in the traditional sense of the word has achieved a metamorphosis that was not possible in the confines of a newsroom environment. This new collection, encompassing unpublished material, columns published in various newspapers, and Facebook posts completes Khumalo’s illustrious career as a writer, novelist, social commentator and keen observer of the post-apartheid South Africa (teetering on collapse if the rating agencies are to be believed).

In a nutshell, the book’s about the idiosyncrasies of a nation – he warns us about unchecked xenophobia which may lead to ethnic cleansing, the life and shoes of Grace Mugabe, and the shenanigans of President Zuma’s nephew – the larger than life Khulubuse. He takes us on a tour to America in a piece titled, On a bus in America. However, it is his opening gambit simply titled #TrevorNoahAllTheWay that truly brings home the effects of colonialism and white privilege. In this piece, Khumalo chastises American comedians, in particular, Richard of the House of Pryor who apparently came to Africa and stole ‘our jokes’. This, of course, is a riposte to the American media who accused the host of the popular Daily Show of having stolen some of their jokes. Apparently, according to Khumalo, you can’t steal a joke. This collection would have been incomplete without the legendary story of Christmas with the Khumalos.

The collection is devastatingly honest in its analysis and commentary. It’s jam-packed. It’s scary. It’s funny. It’s serious. At once, it’s poetic. At times, it’s hilarious but, always, it’s superbly written. One misplaced word could have ruined it. This collection is truly a masterpiece. Khumalo has administered a coup de grâce with the written word on South Africa’s miscreants. There is nowhere to hide, Mr. Khumalo is WATCHING YOU.

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