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Apr 06, Kambin Pillay rated it liked it Recommends it for: those who want to get a middle class view of South Africa. Recommended to Kambin by: I read his columns in the weekly Sunday newspaper. Surfing the site I came across this book and thought I'd jot down a few words about it. The news has just broken that the corrpution charges against the ruling Afican National Congress ANC president Jacob Zuma have been dropped, thus paving the way for him to become State President when the ANC likely wins the national elections on 22nd April.
Given the relationship between Zuma and Bullard, it seemed fitting to review this book on this day. As a columnist, he tended to call it as he saw it and consequently epitomised Churchill's comment about the times one can please people.
Out to lunch … Ungagged
This is a collection of his early columns, an endeavour he repeated twice more. Those who know the history of Bullard will remember that he resigned read fired from The Sunday Times after a particular column that was branded as racist - Bullard said that if it wasn't for white colonialists, black African South African citizens would likely still be squatting in front of fires outside mud huts or words to that effect. In a society such as South Africa, where millions of people are still smarting from the injustices of Apartheid, Bullard's comments were almost coinsidered tanatmount to hate speech by some.
The editor of The Sunday Times wrote a personal apology in the following edition of the newspaper and announced that Bullard and the newspaper had decided to part ways.
However there were some interesting observations to be made regarding the parting of the ways, the most obvious of which was How did they allow Bullard to publish his column in the first place? WHat were the repercussions on them? That they seemed to be sitting on their hands later came to the fore when the newspaper formally apologised to its readership and admitted that the quality of its editing and fact checking had been allowed to slide. Of course many will remember Bullard for his relentless criticism of now ANC president Jacob Zuma, who famously stated in his rape trial he was acquitted that a woman wearing a short skirt was looking for sex and that immediately after having unprotected sex with a known HIV AIDS sufferer, he had a shower to wash away the germs.
When Bullard suggested that we could not blame Zuma for these these gaffes, as his mother was a domestic worker and Zuma himself merely had a standard 4 grade 6 education, Zuma famously sued him as well as the popular cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, whose pen name is Zapiro. I own and have read all three of Bullard's books, viz. What I find most interesting about his views is watching how he moved from being a staunch supporter of the ANC govenrment to the point where he was viewed as a stone throwing troublemaker.
An example that springs to mind is where Bullard in this first book praises the ANC for not hurtling around the highways in a convoy of black vehicles, with sirens and lights blaring as they force other motorists out their way. He likened this to banana republics and pointed out that Robert Mugabe was doing a similar thing in Zimbabwe. Cut to a mere 5 years later and this is exactly what we saw, and indeed, still see on our roads. And Bullard, remaining true to his inability to please all of the people all of the time, lambasted the politicians for this crass display of power.
Out to Lunch! Ungagged : David Bullard :
Interestingly, when Bullard himself was robbed and shot in his own home, a few months before his termination , he wrote a powerful tribute to the country and urged people not to start packing. He reinforced his belief that South Africa is a land of opportunities and that the grass is not always greener.
He confirmed his commitment to the country and reminded his readers that a few bad apples don't ruin an entire harvest. He then continued to write for the newspaper and remained in the country, whcih surprised his critics, many of whom wexpected him to run back to the United Kingdom with his tail firmly tucked between his legs. My advice is hence to read all three of the books that are a collection of Bullards columns for the duration of his ten-odd year teure at The Sunday Times.
You will find the experiecne to be an interesting journey. You will find that the questions that Bullard asks are the ones that many ordinary middle class South Africans are thinking but are possibly nervous to ask for fear of being seen to be critical of powerful politicians or to seen as racist yes, 15 years later, we are still the masters of playing the race card. The style of writing is similar to more Jeremy Clarkson than Dave Barry.