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Boeke | Books > Resensies | Reviews > English

Belly of the Beast: The Year in Quotes 2010

Jonathan Amid - 2011-06-01

Untitled Document

Title: The Year in Quotes 2010
Author: Andrew Donaldson, Mandy Rossouw
Publisher: Kwela Books
ISBN: 9780795703041
Price: R137.50

Click here to buy a copy from Kalahari.net.

When writing about the year gone by, it must always be the temptation for writers, analysts and journalists to find the comical, the over-the-top, fantastical or the plain unbelievable, because, after all, this is South Africa. Home of the vuvuzela, Julius Malema and the ANC, three catchphrases that were all the rage in 2010, and often for the wrong reasons. Written and compiled by journalists Andrew Donaldson and Mandy Rossouw, The Year in Quotes 2010 published by Kwela Books offers readers a 157-page roller coaster of home-grown heavy-hitters, a smorgasbord of the sensational, sublime and ridiculous straight from the horse’s mouth.

The body of The Year in Quotes 2010 is astutely organised into nine chapters, preceded by an all too insightful Introduction, “The Year in a Nutshell”. In ten pages, Donaldson and Rossouw’s Introduction presents the overarching trajectory of the year 2010, its zenith for the man on the street undoubtedly the Soccer World Cup. While the authors frame the issues around the nation-building event succinctly and quite smartly, it is their exposure of the ANC’s unmatched influence on the state of the nation in 2010 – and their brief but searching overview of the incredible impact of President Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema – that sets the tone for this entertaining and thought-provoking compilation.

“2010 and All That: The World Cup” is the first of the chapters proper and presents views of the spectacle ranging from the overwhelmingly euphoric to the downright sceptical, with the contrast between “insider” and “outsider”, local and foreign perspectives effectively rendered through choice of quotes. For the next highly amusing 21 pages the second chapter, “The Famous and the Infamous”, alternately delivers laugh-a-minute mense en hul dinge sound bytes and stinging commentary on those such as King Goodwill Zwelithini to Eugène Terre’Blanche and Lolly Jackson.

Chapters three to six are entirely devoted to matters directly related to the state of the nation, spanning issues from corruption, crime and punishment to the “lonely” world of President Zuma and “The Boys in the Bubble” – Julius Malema, Floyd Sivembu, Jackson Mthembu. It is here that Donaldson and Rossouw cast a jaundiced eye on the crisis of legitimacy faced by the current ANC government, its twin mission to keep opposition parties at bay, and its “struggle” against a rampant media that refuses to be gagged. The journalistic background of both authors comes to the fore most critically here as the pair provide ample evidence of the undemocratic, ill-tempered and unwaveringly aggressive character of the 2010 model of the ANC, and the deeply troubling discontent and disorder that seethes beneath a society well on its way to becoming a “banana republic”. This is if we are to believe Avusa Media newspapers’ editor-in-chief, Mondli Makhanya, an influential member of the media who is repeatedly cited in this compilation.

On the collection’s final page we find an illuminating quote from author and academic Kole Omatoso, commenting in September 2010 in the Mail and Guardian on the debate on the Protection of Information Bill and the planned media tribunal: “Why [do] we expect our revolutionaries not to betray the revolution? It is in the nature of the revolutionary to betray the revolution.”

It would be amiss to say that Donaldson and Rossouw are offering a thinly veiled attack on the ruling party and its plans to limit media freedom palimpsestically enclosed by weird, wacky or wonderful words on a variety of topics. Rather, when we read The Year in Quotes 2010 from a position that vaguely resembles objectivity, it becomes clear that the authors of this often caustic, always intriguing collection offer an admirable and ultimately invaluable cultural artefact, one that encapsulates our need to make sense of our world and our social reality through words. It is this implicit recognition of the importance of words, and indeed that dialogue simply must be safeguarded, something this collection does its best to achieve.