Thursday, April 5, 2012
"After the party" by Andrew Feinstein
Nevertheless I cannot quite give up on blogging. It is not lack of ideas, it is rather just tricky to remember them and most of all sit down and do the writing.
It is already April, but neverthless a new year (at least in terms of my blogs), so here we go again.
FOr my "opening shot" - I have just finished reading "After the Party". First and foremost it confirms what I have already known (and this is not what you think!). I really do not follow things that closely. Perhaps it is remarkable that despite working for the South African government for almost a decade that I am so incredibly ignorant of its political workings! After a mere two years in Norway I feel as though I am better informed here than I was there. To be honest I cannot be sure.
Nevertheless, it was both fascinating and distressing to read more about the Arms deal. Of course all the things which I did notice now make much greater sense. It really is very disturbing and makes me quite sad. I think I am quite ambivalent whether it would have been better to have known this when making my decision to leave. On reflection I think that I am glad that I made the decision on personal grounds. The "inklings" which I had are unrelated.
I tried to read the book somewhat critically, yet I have no major criticisms against the author. I am bemused by his obvious admiration for Vlaclav Havel and Edward Said (who are both quoted on several occasions) and am tempted to read the former myself. I respect the fact that he somehow manages to not vilify anyone (which with my view and perception of whites South Africans is quite admirable) and the real bad guys are without a doubt the arms industry. This in no way causes problems with my own worldview.
I think that the one area which I found lacking was that of the role of culture. Is it coincidental that he and Gavin Woods come out as the crusaders for truth in this story. I can understand why it is not his place to go into detail as to the ultimate fate of some of the other players (like Laloo, who makes up a trio with Feinstein and Woods initially, but somehow disappears, something which I consider with some foreboding). Given the complexity of the "Rainbow nation" in terms of its multicultural population, I personally think that this is also a major factor in how things have played out. (Note, I in NO WAY consider any culture to be better than any other, quite to the contrary I think that every culture has significant strengths and weaknesses. Cultures, like most things, can also benefit from a dialectic process whereby they can build on their strengths and work on their weaknesses).
I also am amazed that the author manages to retain such idealism, though I sincerely hope that he is no longer naive (how can someone who has been through what he has remain so?). Which is why I respect his idealism and certainly see the logic of much of what he posits is required to ensure that any country avoid such a quagmire in the future as this entire saga has, is and I fear may continue to be for a while to come.
On a final note, I could not help but chuckle as the irony of Menzi Simelane's appointment to head the National Prosecuting Agency after Vusi Pikoli became apparent. In fact if it wasn't so tragic it is nothing less than quite absurd. I found myself wondering if it was not his reward for being the scapegoat, while other fish swam away unhurt.
A good read indeed. (Buy it here at Amazon)