First, let me start off by saying that I am not an avid reader of political commentary in book form. I am not well read in this category and cannot by any measure call myself an expert on political or social aspects in this specific landscape. You’ve been warned.
That being mentioned, I am amazed by how much I enjoyed this book. It is written by Alexander Parker and the illustrations are so magnificently provided by Zapiro.
This collection of short insights on the most infamous and damaging contributors to South African history is a to-the-point commentary on the many men and women who have etched deep markings into our history. In the 200 odd pages, the gloves come off in the most astute manner, touching on Lords, Ladies and Losers alike.
Parker does an amazing job of drawing the reader into a web of misfortunes ranging from the early evils manifested in the likes of the Lords Carnarvon, Milner and Kitchener to the modern muppets of mayhem such as Julius Malema, Steve Hofmeyr and the minibus taxi driver.
What stuck with me while reading this book were the recent happenings in the social landscape of South Africa following the ongoing protests on university campuses all over the country and I couldn’t help but wonder how much longer some of these insights would’ve been if Parker had been writing them today (I am looking at you, Cecil John Rhodes on pages 130 through 135). Reading this book six years after the initial publication, I am thinking that there must be another volume due any day now (is there another one I haven’t noticed?). In 2012 Alexander Parker followed this title with 50 Flippen Brilliant South Africans, which I am still to devour, but I do hope that Parker continues in this line of assault and revelry of South African popular history.
We are currently in a very stuffy political and social climate in South Africa and I have found this book to be a breath of fresh air, blowing out some very dense clouds of nonsensical drama that hangs over us as a nation due to mistakes and horrors of our past. I am not saying that we should deny or ignore these issues of our past at all, but that we should not let these mistakes cloud our vision of our future in this country and Parker helps to clear out some of the mist that has been kicked up recently in the light of elections looming on the horizon.
All out wonderful read for those who are informed or ill-read on the history of South Africa’s motley crew of villains! Don’t wait as long as I did to finish this book, it would be a terrible shame indeed!
This book was published by Two Dogs (imprint of Burnet Media) and should be relatively easy to find at your local bookshop or at Loot.co.za (their prices are fantastically competitive on most titles)
Ps: There is a revised edition available, so keep a lookout for the latest one under this title! It’s available from Loot.co.za at this link: http://www.loot.co.za/product/alexander-parker-50-people-who-stuffed-up-south-africa/lspw-2363-g080