Story-making for South America

Photo by ruurmo, flickr

When a review of news articles spanning a 16-year period finds that terms like “Venezuelan people” and “civil society” refer exclusively to groups either in alignment with or actually funded by the US government, we should be wary of what we read about the South American country. Continue reading

What does Tim Noakes think cows eat?

South African nutrition cult leader Tim Noakes says that panda bears have a weight problem. He was also recently quoted as saying that eating meat could save the planet (save it from what, I don’t know – all forms of life?)

I just had to write a reply in HuffPost. So in response….



Photo courtesy Heydere (Flickr)

Anarchy vs Chaos

Anarchism gets a bad rap and maybe it’s a matter of marketing – ‘anarchy’ is confused with ‘chaos’. Perhaps Libertarian Socialism is a better descriptor of this coherent political philosophy. But having paddled a little in the deep pool of anarchist thought, I’ve realised what a rich, courageous history it has (and if we’re to survive as a species, it needs a bright future.) With that in mind, I was moved to write a small defence of the name.



An Eternal Treblinka

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog – well, it’s been a while since I’ve published anything, I guess! I’ve been working away at re-editing my novel, collecting rejection letters for the aforementioned novel, and writing a few short stories. But i did manage to turn out a couple of Thought Leader pieces. This one was a response to an indignant article on the comparison of pig farming and the Holocaust.


The Roots of Boeremusiek

I’m so glad n+1page17-1052-full, one of my favourite publications, ran my piece documenting the mixed-race origins of this fascinating Afrikaner folk music form: The Sound of Musiek

Tate-Coetzee in the New York Times

My short piece on the subject of the 1979 heavyweight fight between Big John Tate and Gerrie ‘The Bionic Hand’ Coetzee ran in the NY Times in 2012. Take a gander here: A Hollow Sporting Footnote in Apartheid-Era South Africa


Sports Illustrated: The Fight the World Forgot

My article on the John Tate-Gerrie Coetzee heavyweight title fight of 1979 ran in the November edition of Sports Illustrated South Africa. So did pages and pages of swimsuit models, so probably no-one read it. I attach it here, in case you’d like to read it without distraction: The Fight the World Forgot

SI Nov 2012

SI Nov 2012

Skiing in Africa – some travel writing

Not only did I get to have a first-time skiing experience on Lesotho’s Afriski slopes, I got to fall on my bum, drink Woolly Mammoths and write all about it in the August 2012 issue of Go! Magazine. Read the piece here.

Maluti Muti

Hastings Kamuzu Banda, Impostor!

My good friend, Mr Bright, told me a story about how the late dictator and father of the nation of Malawi was not Malawian at all.

He was, said Mr Bright, an American impostor. I did a little investigating and when a new Banda took office in Malawi I decided it was time to write about it. The Argus published it – see below for the story. (By the way, that’s not Mr Bright waterskiing in the picture. Nor is it Hastings Banda or Richard Armstrong – it’s a waiter at a resort at Lake Malawi in about 1980. He came out every day at 5pm, for show, and they sold these postcards at reception. Cringingly colonial, wouldn’t you say, old sport?)

The Fight the World Forgot

While I was doing a little research for my novel I came across an event from my childhood I’d completely forgotten about. I remember it fascinating me, my best friend and all the adults in my far northern Transvaal town back in 1979. It was the heavyweight title fight between Gerrie Coetzee, a white South African, and John Tate, an African American.

My family weren’t boxing fans, not even sports fans, really. But this fight was huge because we were so cut off from the world at the time. The more I researched, the more I was sucked into the story: it was black vs white at the height of apartheid; the fight took place in the middle of a worldwide sports boycott; the money involved was huge; the crowd was the biggest for a boxing event worldwide in 50 years; it happened in Loftus Versfeld, the crucible of rugby in SA; Tate’s life and death is so tragic it’s a fascinating story on its own; and to top it all off there was a massive, shocking sex scandal!

But people don’t remember the fight, or confuse it with another. So I decided to write about it. Ideally, I’d like to turn it into a documentary one day, but right now it’s an 8000-word article.

I’ve sent it to a few magazine editors… I’ll let you know what their feedback is.

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