The Ides of a South African March

Categories Social Action

Okay, here’s my end of March rant because I’ve had enough of South Africa’s chaos, and of standing aside by not speaking out about it. And for this, I’ll need to channel my favourite angry white man in this message.

First, there’s a pervading myth about SA and books, in that South Africans don’t have a book-reading culture. BULLSHIT. WRONG. FAKE NEWS.

SA has a good book-reading culture. What it doesn’t have is a book-buying culture. How can it when the average cost of a new book is R200-R300, and the average South African at best earns a minimum wage of R3500?

What the hell would you choose? Your children starving to death because exponentially increasing food and fuel prices, or Harry Potter? (I love Harry Potter BTW)

And just how are we supposed to deal with you, Land Reform? The average citizen does not even have the skills needed to turn our land into use. And those same people are not crying out for Land Reform! They’re begging and screaming for three very basic things that can be given without inciting genocide in our country: JOBS, QUALITY HEALTHCARE, AND GOOD (FREE) EDUCATION.

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So Mr. Government, here’s a small and very accomplishable way of dealing with two of those things for you to win back your citizens’ favour, and possibly correcting my country’s course FOREVER.

And believe me, Mr. Government, the way you’re going, you’ll be having the mother of all shitstorms come this year’s conference, and more ominously, 2019.

Ensure that the basic books of South Africa are made freely available to every South African citizen and household.

You want to win back SA’s citizens? Inspire them instead of terrifying them. Make sure they are reading and writing their OWN stories. Here’s a famous quote by a certain revolutionary that has come full circle on my beloved country:

‘A country that does not know how to read and write is easy to deceive.’ – Ernesto Che Guevara.

Rigorous basic education, widespread Adult Basic Education and training (ABET), and subsidising the production of books are fundamental to South Africa’s survival!

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Here’s what you do, Mr. Government:

Entrust the major and the independent publishing houses with one specific and highly-monitored task: getting a collection of set books to every South African home, irrespective of the status of the household. And just to throw out the months and millions of Rand you’ll be blowing on consultants to tell what books to put in every house, I’m going to give you a fantastic list of books that will MAKE SOUTH AFRICA GREAT AGAIN at NO charge from me.

But don’t just throw money at them. Ensure that enough money is made available to make the cost of publishing said booklist and every school textbook redundant to the publishers. And do so while forcing every publishing house to have an in-house and dedicated BLACK team to do all the work, led by an experienced editor to run the publishing team. It will also be the publishing house’s responsibility to ensure that every member of the team is given credible and meaningful continuous professional training and development equivalent to that of any European publishing house. Only then do you throw money at the publishing house through the form of easily accessible but tightly monitored grants and subsidies. And if a publishing house at any point fails this task, take away the funding. It must be the goal of all participants to develop HUGE teams of black professionals so that meaningful JOBS are made available to the many black graduates who have no JOBS.

This will support every publishing house in SA by giving them the basic staple income to survive. That way, they can start publishing books that they like with true freedom! They will even be able to make books in general cheaper with the now greatly reduced overheads, which will benefit every person in the country! Trust me, Mr. Government. It’s going to be HUGE, and it’s going to be BEAUTIFUL.

Now textbooks.

First of all, let’s overhaul how we teach basic education entirely. It’s broken. It currently has FORTY students to ONE teacher. It severely handicaps a teacher’s ability to teach with a BULLSHIT monthly pay. And it simply does not address the inherently MASSIVE gap between our inferior Secondary and our world-class Tertiary education.

I have an idea that will borrow the best of what the Nordic countries are doing, what the universities are doing, and what we should be doing to address the ridiculous learner-teacher ratio. It will be based off the idea of vocational training in lieu of generic subject training. It will tap into the MILLIONS of educators and educational resources that are FREELY available across the INTERNET. It will FREE up the teacher’s time in administration so that they can save our kids’ minds! It will even change the very nature of communities and how THEY, not just the State, will educate their own children and their adults.

All you have to do is provide the internet and technological infrastructure. And believe me, there are small private groups run by ordinary citizens, who are already actively working to get the technology needed to the poorest communities of SA. Helping them and formalising our education to an innovative education system will provide a massive buffer for our struggling teachers, giving them a network of support that is GLOBAL and comparatively FREELY available!

Let’s join India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka and of course, USA and IK, in having a strong and competitive education system that adequately prepares South African for the rigours of higher education, and the many vocations needed to save the South African citizens in highly competitive global economy.

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And do so while mass producing those textbooks so that they have no resale value (i.e. WORTHLESS to criminals!) Make sure every South African household has a set of the whole schooling system’s textbooks (including reading material) so that the books are not tied to the schools, but to the homes themselves.

And please, South Africa. Let’s fix our Adult Basic Education problem. Let’s get every parent educated to a level that they can supplement the teaching at home of their children with these books! And make sure every house has all the years’ worth of textbooks in one shot! Can you imagine the amount of self-learning and relationship building this could bring into the South African home? Imagine how South African homes and communities could just build and rebuild themselves without the need of State bail-out. Imagine our people were informed and educated, so that the young construction worker can one day go and become the CEO of Discovery if she put her mind to it?

Don’t worry about the cost. It will be minimal compared to the wastage we are now inflicting upon ourselves. Invest in your people, Mr. Government. JOBS, EDUCATION AND HEALTHCARE. MAKE SA GREAT AGAIN!

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You will be saving the lives of everyone in this country, and you will be producing future great leaders that will ensure that the legacy of Thambo, Hani, Slovo, Asmal, Kathrada and Mandela are realised FOREVER. You will even make ANC great again with all the literate and strong of mind people that will percolate from this truly rich society!

Only after this can you have land reform. That way those receiving the land will have the basic tools needed to make the land useful.

And here are the books that will MAKE SA GREAT AGAIN! It’s a beautiful list and it’s going to be HUGE with South African and African authors, so that the future generations can learn everything they will need to decolonise themselves (you need the basics of critical thinking first to revolutionise the mind – it’s not a bigly idea, nor is decolonisation FAKE NEWS, but it can only be achieved when everyone has the basic tools needed to properly evaluate colonialism).

First up:

A full set of school books and all associated reading material.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

All of Steve Biko’s books

Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country

ALL of Athol Fugard

ALL of Nadine Gordimer

J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace and Michael K (😒)

ALL of Chinua Achebe

ALL of Chimamanda Adichie

ALL of Bessie Head

ALL of South African indigenous folklore and short tales (make it happen, SA)

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And believe me, Mr Government; this is a propaganda list so strong that it will do much to fix South African shame, sharpen perspectives on racial identity, and embolden the future generations to achieve much on their own!

Just do it. MAKE SA GREAT. It’s going to be fantastic with your help. Support South African and African Arts in ways that can benefit the economy and the mental and the emotional health of our people.

Our arts and culture is what makes us unique. And no more so than with our books.

Let’s do it before it’s too late.

‘A country that does not know how to read and write is easy to deceive.’ – Ernesto Che Guevara.

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