Who could resist that winning smile? Well… 28+ years in prison proves there’s no accounting for taste.
What a beautiful man.
He may have been a bit of a rubbish MK leader of the armed struggle, but Rolihlahla the troublemaker went on to be the world’s most effective ambassador for peace and reconciliation in prison and afterwards. (Though here’s a less rosy view of Mandela’s legacy.) He changed tack on HIV/Aids too. If only more of us were able accept enlightenment.
I was fascinated with South Africa when I was young – one of the causes. So in 1984, when “Mary Manning of Kilmainham, a 21-year-old cashier” (as the song goes) and IDATU member was suspended for refusing to sell South African (apartheid) produce in Dunnes Stores on Henry Street in Dublin, Irish Anti Apartheid Movement members like myself got up to mischief at other Dunnes branches in support.
The strike never really grabbed the popular imagination in Ireland, but it also led to a law change on the import of apartheid produce to the country, and the strikers eventually had a street named after them in post-apartheid Johannesburg. Back then the strike made me proud to be Irish. (Here’s the song – I can’t find the Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger version.)
Nelson Mandela mural, Falls Road, Belfast 1988
Nelson Mandela has long been (appropriated as) an icon in some parts of Belfast. However, to be fair to the appropriators, the same man seemed pleased and sympathetic.
I guess it was at least partly because of Madiba that I travelled to work and wander in South Africa. Lots of good times.
Among the highlights – taking a street paper seller to Cape Point (he was the only black visitor), operating an informal taxi service for the day round Khayelitsha Continue reading →
I never daydream. I don’t have time. Maybe sad. But true.
But since you* asked, I had a go today. A driving daydream that transformed my twisting route through the dark wet leaf-strewn lanes of England into a roar across the big bright dry spaces between Bethlehem** and the Free State border. The soft relentless rhythm of Vuli Ndlela by Brenda Fassie (right) helped transport me. My smile grew to fill the imagined landscape.
The issue of Fynnjan’s unusual name has been raised – or more specifically, its spelling. It’s unique (I think) and distinctive – which is great. It means the best url was available. But people tend to spell Fynnjan incorrectly when searching for him online – finjan, finyan, finnian, etc – which means they don’t find him.
It’s time for three complex conundrums and three handy solutions.
Question One: You’re playing in the golf club championship tournament finals and the match is even at the end of 17 holes. You tee off first and hit your ball a modest 250 yards to the middle of the fairway, leaving a simple six iron to the pin.
Your opponent then hits his ball, lofting it deep into the woods to the right of the fairway. Being the golfing lady or gentleman that you are, you help your opponent look for his ball. Just before the permitted five minute search period ends, your opponent says, “Go ahead and hit your second shot and if I don’t find it in time, I’ll concede the match.”
You hit your ball, landing it on the green, stopping about ten feet from the pin. About the time your ball comes to rest, you hear your opponent exclaim from deep in the woods: “I found it!”
The second sound you hear is the sound of a club striking a ball. The ball comes sailing out of the woods and lands on the green, stopping no more than six inches from the hole.
You put your hand in your pocket, where you have your opponent’s ball. Now what?
Question Two: Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them? (Doesn’t apply in European petrol stations which are always pristine. Aren’t they?)
Deep inside the perfect secondhand bookshop, the sign above an enticing locked door says Mysteries. Above that again are crime novels and a Thompson sub machine gun. You cant beat Westsider Books on Manhattans Upper West Side for atmosphere.
I shouldn’t really be telling you this, because I’m about to flit the country again and I’m unprepared. But SamHenry from On My Watch insisted. So here goes.
The other night I sat down with three award-winning or nominated crime writers who opened up (in a non-machine gun way) about their trade. Among the secrets they laid bare were:
1. What’s the point of crime writing? 2. The difference between crime writing and literary fiction? 3. Crime writing v. noir? 4. Does crime writing change anything? 5. Does it work in colonial or post-colonial societies? 6. Can you have a whodunnit in a developing economy? 7. Should put your friends and neighbours into the story? 8. Is there too much graphic violence against women? 9. Is Nordic Noir for wimps? 10. And – What they think you should read next (apart from themselves)?
The era of the heavy schoolbag is almost at an end. That’s according to one of my neighbourhood primary schools. In a letter home to parents, the headteacher noted that more and more pupils were bringing kindles and other electronic readers into class. Continue reading →
Well, they probably laughed at the Wright Brothers when they first started too.
Ever wanted to build your own plane? If you’re sick of Ryanair, Easyjet and all those budget airlines, it may be time to consider a more do-it-yourself approach. And anyone travelling to South Africa for this summer’s World Cup Finals should check out this unique, home-made multi-purpose South African aircraft from Independent Airways.
Blackwatertown - the blog & the book - are by Paul Waters. (So is The Obituarist.) I present a podcast & radio show called We'd Like A Word with Stevyn Colgan. It's about books, authors, publishers, readers, editors, agents, illustrators, poets, script writers & lyricists. The podcast is at https://anchor.fm/wed-like-a-word or wherever you get your podcasts. And the website is www.wedlikeaword.com or on social media @wedlikeaword
I also make other radio, TV & podcasts. Leave a comment or email me at paulwaters99 at hotmail.com Thanks for reading. Paul