Friday, 31 March 2017

What is Zuma doing?


Jacob Zuma, by replacing Pravin Gordhan, the Finance Minister who rescued the South African economy from Zuma’s last attempt to capture control of the Treasury, and so open its doors to him and his co-conspirators, with Milusi Gigaba who has proven his loyalty to Zuma and his incompetence in almost every other field, has gained his dream team, at a cost to the South African people that will certainly be calculated at least in the billions. By this move, Zuma has proven conclusively to the world that he has only his own interests at heart.

The question that must be asked is why any elected President of a modern state, even if it has been brought down to a parlous level, would take this risk, or, better said, enter this new certainty. The answers should be clear to anyone who has even scanned the headlines over the time that Zuma has held the top job.

The first and most obvious reason is that Zuma’s term of office as President is limited to two terms. That means that, in terms of the Constitution, Zuma will be compelled to leave office by about the middle of 2019, when the next national elections are due.

Zuma faces numerous personal problems at present. The Court has ordered that the National Prosecuting Authority reinstate the 783 criminal charges against that were withdrawn by his friends in that Authority in order to enable Zuma to take the office of President. Zuma managed to delay the investigation of the process by means of which the charges were withdrawn by failing to order the NPA to hand over the tapes of the conversations leading to the decision to withdraw the charges. That failure could, in the hands of an honest government, be construed as a criminal act. When the criminal charges are brought, there is a very high probability that Zuma will face very lengthy jail terms for corruption, fraud and racketeering, and he will be in need of a friendly face as President, either to stop the charges, to grant early parole (as he did for the only man tried and convicted on those charges – his opposite number in the offences) or to grant him or to arrange that he has immunity from prosecution. That will not happen if the national election results bear any resemblance to the local government result, with the election of an honest government. Even if the ANC were to pull off a major miracle and gain a winning vote, Zuma’s replacement as President, it is likely that the new leader of the ANC, and so the State President, would want to be tainted with the reputation that Jacob Zuma has, and that will almost certainly imply that the new President will want to distance himself from Zuma as much as possible.

In addition to the outstanding criminal charges, Zuma will, in the coming years, face further charges, such as the criminal act of breaching both the Constitution and his Oath of Office in the Nkandla affair – his ‘apology for the confusion suffered by the public as a result of his willingness to repay the money’ certainly does not meet the requirements of the Constitutional Court or exculpate him from the consequences of that act, the Public Prosecutor Finding that a judicial enquiry be held into the involvement of Zuma and others near to him, itself a damning requirement, showing clearly the distrust of the upright and brave Public Protector in the honesty or integrity of the President. Any such Enquiry, if conducted by an honest Judge, unlike the recent enquiry into the Arms Deal, which carefully ignored container loads of documentary evidence to come to a conclusion that whitewashed the ANC cadres, must come to a recommendation to Parliament that the involved parties be sent to the big house.

There are numerous other criminal acts, even ignoring the economic sabotage that Zuma and his ANC have wreaked on the country. In any civilized society, Zuma would have been thrown out of office years ago, but in the South Africa that exists today, the Constitution and the bodies established in terms of it is no more than a worthless piece of paper, one that slows the actions needed to be taken to rape the country of the last amount of funds.

The conclusion is inescapable: Zuma, in his mind, has to stay in power, now and for the rest of his life. The actions Zuma has taken, not only recently, point to his determination to maintain his grip on power.

Jacob Zuma has a personal security force of 7 000, reporting solely to him. Where else in the world, apart from such idyllic places like Zimbabwe, Cuba, Russia and Venezuela, is a State President in need of such an army. Why in South Africa? He reinforces that army with a stranglehold over the Police (the previous Minister of Police admitted that in the Constitutional Court that he lied to Parliament to protect Zuma, and he has been replaced now with another worthless person, previously the Minister of Sport and Recreation, who has shown clearly his racial prejudices, probably in order to prevent the previous Minister from the consequences of appointing a judicially-declared liar and untrustworthy person as the Head of the Directorate of Priority Investigations), and over the Defence Force (don’t forget that he illegally activated over 400 soldiers to protect him, and to make a show of force, at his latest State of the Nation Address to Parliament), over the Hawks, the National Prosecuting authority. His control of virtually any State entity that manages large funds is clearly founded on the desire to avail himself of a significant portion of those funds, leaving only a 10% commission or finder’s fee to the ANC, while applying the levers of power over those bodies to ensure that his friends and associates gain the lion’s share of the pickings to be made from the contracts issued by those bodies. The fact that the Eskom customers are overpaying for their electricity by at least 30% does not seem to come to his attention, nor that a billion Rand tender has been handed to the step-daughter of the present General Manager, who claims that he did not know of it, although they live in the same house, that the passenger trains do not run because his cohorts have stolen between R14 billion and R23 billion from PRASA, that the poor suffer concern whether they will be paid their social grants because his favored Minister Dlamini insists, against a ruling by the Constitutional Court, on retaining the services of Cash Paymaster Services, a company in which a shareholding of 12,5% (a significant profit generator, in light of the R4 billion p.a. fee charged) remains unexplained, that the General Manager of the Petroleum Fund sold some R23 billion worth of strategic oil reserves at a price significantly lower than the lowest market value in the past 30 years, leaving the country without any fuel reserves, that education in the country ranks in the five lowest in the world, despite costing a greater part of the GDP than any other country, leaving nearly a million schoolchildren each year with a standard of education that is substantially lower than the minimum required in a world where technology is increasingly replacing manual labour.

The can be no doubt that Zuma is working to a game plan that will see him remain at the head of the country when the time comes for him to step down. He does not wish to view the world through steel bars. What will happen to prevent that?

The likeliest scenario sees Zuma precipitating a social crisis, and then using his military muscle to step in and declare a State of Emergency, discontinuing the power of Parliament and the Courts to allow him to manage the situation effectively. He has a good example of this in Robert Mugabe, who has ruled as dictator since he acceded to the Presidency. The timing of the Cabinet reshuffle, the night before Parliament goes into the Easter recess, speaks strongly to that move being made within the next weeks. Zuma cannot run the risk of his manouevres being foiled by Parliament, by attempts to bring a Motion of No Confidence in him, by Constitutional Court actions to force Parliament to impeach him or by moves by the strongly-disgruntled ANC National Executive Committee to ‘recall’ him as President.

When that happens, South Africa will enter a steep spiral of decline in every field, not least the economic. The Rand reacted quickly, dropping 5% in less than an hour.

The only way this disaster for South Africa, Africa and the world can be avoided is for all persons of goodwill to take strong and urgent steps to make their disquiet known to the ANC and to Jacob Zuma in unmistakable terms.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Islands of the Gulf Volume 2


Book Title:  Islands of the Gulf Vol. 2

ISBN  978-0-9866369-2-9

Part of Series:  The Herbert West Trilogy

Author:  AudreyDriscoll

Available at:  Smashwords

Price:  $2.99

Number of words (approximately):  123316

Star Rating (of five):  5

Summary:  The Herbert West / Francis Dexter Trilogy continues.  This book covers principally the years at Bellefleur Island, as Francis discovers himself.

Extract: 

- “I didn’t decide,” she said. “I was picked. There were lots of medicine folks in my family, so I wasn’t surprised. When I was the same age as Mary Henry, I started having dreams. I told my uncle about them, and he started to teach me. When he thought I was ready, he took me away to a secret place. Then he made me like to die, and when I came back I knew about the other world. After that I could see the dead people sometimes, and I could talk to the spirits. And fly, sometimes.”

“He made you die?” I asked.

“He gave me medicine made from plants. Secret plants that we use only for magic. It made me dizzy and sick. I fell asleep and went away from my body. Uncle said I was like dead for three days.”

“So he made you into a medicine woman. He decided.” Her account had been so matter-of-fact, but the things she had said had shocked me.

“Nobody decided,” she said. “I was given those first dreams. Then I knew, and so did my Uncle. We just did what we were supposed to do.” She gave me a long look. “I figured you’d know about that.”

“Why?”

“Because it was the same for you, wasn’t it?”

“Not exactly,” I said. “I became a doctor because I wanted to know more about how people’s bodies work. What makes them live and what makes them die.”

“And what makes them happy too, you said. So did you find out?”

“I thought I did, once. But… something happened to me, nearly ten years ago. I… died too. And a friend brought me back to life, like your uncle did you. After that I found out that I don’t know as much as I thought I did. I had to run away from the place I lived before and ended up here. As a doctor, I use what I know to help people, but sometimes… sometimes they get well without my doing anything, and other times they die no matter what I do.

“And now, there’s someone I want to help. But it’s not like Mary Henry. I was able to clean out the sickness in her leg and she’s going to be all right. But I don’t know what to do when the sickness is inside someone’s mind.”

The fire had burned low. I could see only the outline of her face in the dim glow, and the gleam of her eyes.

“Sometimes you don’t know,” she said. “Sometimes you have to ask for help.”

“But I don’t know whom to ask. Not in Victoria, and maybe nowhere.” A thought struck me. “You mean I should pray, I suppose. But I’m not a Christian, Mrs. Peter. I don’t pray.”

“Sometimes,” Dorothy Peter said, “you can be a prayer. That’s what I learned. The medicine person can make himself or herself into an animal, or part of the air. You have to let go of yourself and go outside. Then the big spirits use you to make their medicine.”

“I am sorry, Mrs. Peter. I don’t know how to do that.”

“Maybe not. But if that’s what you’re supposed to do, you will do it. Can’t be any other way. I’m going to make some tea now, and then we’ll go to sleep. Maybe we’ll dream together.”

“Dream together?”

“Yes. Happens sometimes.” She laughed and poked the fire into a blaze.

 I do not know what Mrs. Peter dreamed that night. But I dreamed this: I was outside the house at the river’s mouth. The moon was very bright, and it seemed to me that the figures carved on the door-posts and standing poles were nearly sentient, their eyes alive and watching me. Almost I could hear them whispering, telling each other things in some unknown language. To get away from them, and also because I felt that I had to look for something, I followed a faint path that led upriver, behind the house. It was darker among the trees, but soon I came to a place white with discarded shells of oysters and clams – a shell midden. Dorothy Peter was standing there, and beside her grew a thicket of Hilaria plants. Not the dried specimens I knew so well, but fully alive. They were nearly three feet tall, the leaves glossy and pointed, the flowers a glowing blue in the cold light. I began to pick them, saying, “Mrs. Peter, this is what I wanted. Thank you for showing me where to find them.” The sharp scent of the plant rose around me, stronger than I had ever known it, like incense. But she put her hand on my arm and spoke, her voice urgent.

“No, Doctor. Not those. Don’t pick those. They aren’t medicine.”

I straightened up and looked at her. Her face, which I had come to think of as a laughing one, was serious and full of pain. She gestured around the place where we stood. “This is a place of dead people,” she said. “This is where they buried the dead slaves. These plants grow from dead people. You never find them any other place. They’re no good. They look pretty, smell good, but they have death inside.”

“But what else can I do?” I asked. “I don’t know any other way.”

“There are many ways,” she said. Suddenly, we weren’t by the midden any more, but in sunshine outside a cave. A cave on the eastern shore of Bellefleur Island, that I had not known was there. A thin stream of water dripped down from above, glittering in the sunlight. Mrs. Peter laid her hands on my head, on my shoulders, touched my hands, placed her palms over my heart, my stomach, my groin. “Everything. There is power in everything, more than you know. Not just here.” She touched my head again. “Not only what you know,” she said. That was all. -


Reviewer’s Comments:

Structure:  Very good, complying with the standards for easy eBook reading.

Content:  In this book, Francis Dexter relives his childhood and his years on Bellefleur Island.  Margaret Bellgarde returns to relate the conclusion.

Reviewer’s Comments:  This book is written in a beautiful style, as all of Audrey Driscoll’s books.  It is a gem.  The story progresses through the book, with explanations to satisfy many of the unanswered questions from the previous books in the series, and raising other questions to be answered in the final book of the series, Hunting the Phoenix.  We’re looking forward to reading that book.  This book is strongly recommended for any one who reads for the pleasure that fine writing can bring.

 

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Justis by Nicole Stuart


Book Title:  Justis by Nicole Stuart

ISBN  978-1-920659-11-0

Part of Series:  No

Author:  Nicole Stuart 
Available at:  Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, Diesel, Baker-Taylor, Sony  Amazon US Amazon UK

Price:  $4.99

Number of words (approximately):  54 114

Star Rating (of five):  4

Summary:  A businessman is ripped off, first by a customer and then by the Court.  He concludes that the justice system is designed to be abused by lawyers and wealthy litigants, and sets about creating his own system of dispensing the sort of justice that people really need. 

Extract: 

- Jeff arrived in Miami on Friday night and booked into an hotel near the jogging route that the target used.  He was up early the next morning, dressed in his jogging outfit, with a small backpack containing a couple of energy bars and a bottle containing a few drops of the chemical that Swanson had given him yesterday.  There was also an absorbent cloth for wiping up the residue of the chemical, backed by a plastic coating and moistened with a liquid that would neutralize the chemical on contact.  He jogged along the route until he found a convenient bench, where he sat down to wait.  The target arrived a few minutes later, jogging along with no real sincerity, watching the pretty girls on the beach.  Jeff stood and then started jogging in the same direction, more slowly, so that the man came up behind him and then moved out to pass near to him before he’d run a couple of hundred yards.  As he did so, Jeff held the plastic bottle over his shoulder and squeezed.  A nearly invisible spray came from the bottle.

The result was dramatic.  The man ran on a couple of paces, then crashed to the ground, a look of agony on his face.  Jeff stopped running and turned around at the sound of the man falling.  He stepped quickly to the man’s side and knelt down.  He saw that the man was sweating heavily.  He quickly opened his backpack, put the squeeze bottle into it and withdrew the special cloth.  He used it to wipe the man’s face and neck.

As he watched, the man stopped breathing.  Jeff turned to one of the people standing irresolutely nearby.

“I think he’s had a heart attack!  Quick!  Call 911.”  He bent over and listened to the man’s heart.  There was no sound.  Jeff quickly wiped the man’s face and exposed skin again, then bent over to listen to his heart again.  There was no change.  He stood up, holding the cloth in one hand and his backpack in the other, and looked around.  He saw no-one with a cellphone, so he looked inside his backpack and pulled out the cellphone he had bought on the street yesterday.  He moved away from the group a little and made to dial 911, then put the phone to his ear and, after waiting a few seconds, spoke.

“This is a medical emergency.  A man was running, and he collapsed on the street.  I think he’s had a heart attack.  I can’t pick up any heartbeat!”  He gave the address, moving away from the crowd a little, supposedly to read the street names.  When he closed off the fake call, he looked around, saw no-one was looking at him.  He mopped his forehead with a fresh handkerchief from his backpack, and moved slowly away, looking anxiously down the street, as though for the ambulance.  After a few minutes, he was far enough from the crowd hovering around the body on the street to be able to walk away without anyone noticing.  He was back at his hotel after a few minutes, and he went inside to shower and change to street clothes.  He stayed in his room until ten, then checked out and went to the airport.

*~*


By Monday, Ken was able to confirm that the wife was satisfied, and would make payment as soon as the estate of her late husband had been cleared.  She expected that within three months, but the first payment would be made from the proceeds of a life insurance policy, that, she expected, would be paid out within a couple of weeks.

 

Reviewer’s Comments:

Structure:  The book complies with the formatting requirements for easy eBook reading.  The language (American English) is good and correctly structured.

Content:  This book sets out a belief that is not uncommon amongst non-legal people, many of whom do not believe that the law and the legal system complies with common sense or their concept of justice.  In this case the aggrieved businessman does something about it.

Reviewer’s Comments:  The story is credible, the underlying situation not all that uncommon, and the solution complies with what many people would like to see.  The story flows freely, taking the reader with it to the conclusion, and giving a sense of satisfaction, coupled with a niggling question:  Why not?

 

Hijack! by Nicole Stuart


Book Title:  Hijack! By Nicole Stuart

ISBN  9781465793454

Part of Series:  No


 

Available at:  Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple , Diesel , Baker-Taylor, Sony

Price:  $3.99

Number of words (approximately):  46 613

Star Rating (of five):  4

Summary:  A vacation at an idyllic beach camp turns into a nightmare when a group is drawn into the planned hijacking of a shipment by a group of ruthless criminals.  The result is a series of murders, a gunfight at night in the African bush and a boat battle at sea. 

Extract: 

- “There they are, Ben.  Dead ahead!”

Ben looked carefully, and saw the huge bow wave of the Naval vessel rushing down at them.  It was going to be a close thing!  He looked around at the pursuing vessels.  A man was standing high in the cockpit, looking over the windscreen at them, a tubular object on his shoulder, foreshortened by the perspective.

“Hold tight, Penelope!  I’m going to have to turn quickly in a second!”  He glanced at Penelope, saw that she had taken a firm grasp on the handhold ahead of her.  He was glad that she could act without a need for a detailed explanation.  Ben looked back at the boats behind them.  There was a gout of smoke from the rear of the tube on the man’s shoulder.  Ben held on a further second, then spun the wheel across to its limit.  The boat heeled sharply as the steerable motor running at full power kicked the stern sharply around, then it heeled into the turn, and Ben corrected the steering to avoid turning in a complete circle.  The roaring sound as the rocket sped past them only a short distance behind their stern was deafening, the effect of the powerful rocket engine only meters away almost overpowering, then it plunged into the sea a couple of hundred meters ahead of where they had turned.  The explosion raised a huge spout of water.  Ben turned sharply again, not as sharply as before, to bring them back to their original course, the motor still running at full power, and steered them past the disturbed water, the spray dropping over them as they passed.  Any diversion from their course would bring them closer to the two boats chasing them!  Just the quick turn to the side and then back onto their course had cost them many meters of separation from the pursuers!

“I don’t think they’ve seen the Naval vessel yet, Penelope!  I fixed their radios, so they can’t have heard the conversation, and I think that our hull has probably obstructed their view as well as of their radar!  Perhaps they’ve been so busy chasing us that they forgot to look at their radar!  If they had seen it, they would have been running away!”

As they settled back onto zero eight zero degrees, Penelope looked ahead through the windscreen cleared by the wipers.

“Look, Ben!  They’re here!”  Ben looked where she pointed, and saw the lean grey shape of the Naval Patrol vessel, almost head on.  It came up to them, their closing speed nearly seventy knots, and shot past only a few meters away from them, its bow wave hitting their boat with tons of solid water and its wake throwing them around violently, pushing them sharply aside and threatening to overturn them, before the sea-keeping qualities of the little boat asserted themselves and it came back upright in the disturbed waves, water streaming from the scuppers as the cockpit drained clear.  As the sleek Naval vessel closed the distance to the foremost of their two pursuers, there was another gout of smoke from the cockpit of the leading boat.  A trail of smoke sped across the rapidly diminishing distance between the Naval vessel and the hijacker.  Ben saw the smoke as the rocket was fired and turned sharply to the left, away from the Patrol boat, and the Naval vessel jinked sharply to the right.  The maneuver was marginally too late, and the rocket impacted its stern quarter rail of the Patrol boat.  There was a huge explosion.  As the smoke cleared, Penelope and Ben could see that the Naval vessel had suffered some damage, but its fighting capabilities were not diminished.  The hijackers saw that too, and they veered sharply away towards the north, throwing huge sheets of spray away from the turn.  It was clear that they were considerably faster than the Naval vessel!  Only an intervention by a fighter aircraft could stop them escaping!  The two boats bounced as they crossed the wave pattern, throwing sheets of spray into the quiet air.  They were jinking from side to side, making it almost impossible for the gunner on the foredeck of the Patrol boat to lay the gun on them in the motion of the boat as it crossed the wave pattern.

“They’re going to get away!” -

Reviewer’s Comments:

Structure:  The book is well structured for eBook reading, with good use of language, grammar and syntax.

Content:  The book flows well, with peace changing to action smoothly and credibly.  The characters are well described, and the plot exciting and absorbing.

Reviewer’s Comments:  Nicole Stuart has an ability to make her characters the sort of people we might like to be!  They are real people, with foibles, but with a desire to make it through to the end of her exciting plots.  This book makes an absorbing and enjoyable read.

 

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Mine by Kenneth C Ryeland


Book Title:  The Mine

 
ISBN   9781476392059

Part of Series:  Sequel to ‘The Last Bature’.  Others by the same author include ‘The Up-Country Man’, ‘Tribal Gathering’ and ‘Boom Town

Author:  Kenneth Ryeland

Available at:  SmashwordsAmazon US, Amazon UK 
 
 
Price:  $3.00

Number of words (approximately):  109 334

Star Rating (of five):  4

Summary:  Nibana, a newly-independent African republic, lurches from crisis to crisis, as competing factions based on tribal lines struggle to obtain control of the wealth of the new nation.  The British Intelligence officer in-country attempts to steer the conflict to achieve a result favorable to Britain, and the few honest Police officers work to enforce the law.  This story contains the essence of the Dark Continent

Extract: 

- The East German looked at Briggs and wondered why the Nibanans had chosen such a stupid man for this important work.

“Well, Mr Briggs,” began Herr Vogel, “it is most unusual for a job of this nature to be undertaken without at least half of the cost up-front.  However, in the light of the brave struggle by the people of the Eastern Region against the capitalistic greed of the fascist military leaders of Nibana; we of the German Democratic Republic, and our Soviet allies, would be only too happy to assist the future young republic in its fight to establish a pure socialist society in West Africa. We shall waive the requirement of a deposit in return for the establishment of a true socialist presence in the form of East German military and civilian advisors, once the new republic has been established. Do not forget, the Obilanders will require all the help they can get, and recognition by a major power such as the German Democratic Republic, and possibly the Soviet Union, will enhance the country’s standing in the world. It will also ensure continued trade with the Soviet Bloc should the capitalist West refuse to trade, which they will surely do in order to show solidarity with the so-called bona-fide, fascist military government of Nibana. Furthermore, should the military government of Nibana decide to mount an attack in order to bring the region back into the corrupt and decadent federation, they would be discouraged somewhat by the presence of East German, or even Soviet, military advisors. Oh, and I almost forgot, several tankers loaded with the light, almost sulphur-free crude oil from this region would go down well with the people of East Germany, harassed and starved of some creature comforts as they are by the capitalist West generally and the United States in particular.”

Briggs had scribbled down every word in an attempt to understand what Herr Vogel had actually said and enable him to repeat it to the major verbatim. Briggs was ignorant of world politics and didn’t really grasp the meaning of many of the things that were being outlined to him.

With their business apparently completed, both men left the bar and agreed to meet again in two days to enable Briggs to provide a final reply to Vogel regarding his proposal for proceeding with the printing job.

“You agreed what?” screamed the major when Briggs read from the notes he’d made at the meeting with Herr Vogel.

“No, Major, I did not agree to anything. I simply said I would put the points to you,” said Briggs quite calmly.

“Give me those notes and wait here,” said the major testily, snatching the piece of paper from Briggs’ hand.

Colonel Ojumwu was busy adding details to the plan of secession when his ADC entered the office. He looked up and closed the file in front of him before asking wearily, “Yes, Major, what is it?”

“Sir,” began the colonel’s ADC, “I need your approval for the money printing deal. The people in Lagos refused to deal with us, sir. More evidence, I would suggest, of the derogatory stories the Yubas and Usmars are spreading about us to our neighbours. Furthermore, even if they had agreed to do the job, their prices were quite astronomical, sir. They wanted twenty US cents for every note printed, regardless of size or denomination. It is absolutely scandalous,” said the major, lying through his teeth with his customary flare and ease.

“However, we have found someone who can print the money we require just as well and much cheaper than the Nigerians; thieves that they are, sir. The East Germans have said they can do it, and let us face it, sir, they print their own money and it is acceptable to a sophisticated European population, so why not let them print ours? There are only two problems, they are looking to establish links with us when we finally secede and they would like us to deliver several tanker loads of oil as a gesture of goodwill before the contract starts. They have promised to recognise us the moment we declare secession and to encourage the Soviet Union to do the same, sir. You must admit that would be very useful for us, sir.”

The colonel stared at the major for several minutes before getting up from his chair and walking around his desk to stare out of the window at the beautifully tended lawns of Government House.

“Major, do we really need these East Germans here after we declare our freedom from the Nibanans? Will it not be just like it was under British rule during colonial times? Do we really want to share our oil wealth with these people? On the other hand,” continued the colonel before the major could respond to his questions, “we need recognition and we need friends and we also need someone to sell arms and ammunition to us should the Nibanans resort to violence. The British will side with the Nibanans, as will the United States and the rest of Europe. It seems, therefore, that only the Communist Bloc will deal with us. As to them wanting oil for their impoverished people in East Germany, well, that is something we have plenty of, Major. The only thing that worries me is them wanting to ‘establish links’ with us. What do you think that means, Major?” -

Reviewer’s Comments:

Structure:  The book is well structured and easy to read, with grammar and syntax satisfactory.

Content:  The story moves well, keeping interest at a good level.  It is a good companion to the author’s other Nibana and Africa books.

Reviewer’s Comments:  This book illustrates why the Dark Continent remains in poverty to a great extent.  It shows the greed, tribalism, political manipulation, both internally and from abroad, that has characterized the African scene, and continues to do so.  In many ways, the name of the country Nibana could easily be changed to Zimbabwe or South Africa!

‘The Mine’ is a book that will make the reader angry and annoyed, at the lost opportunities of the great powers in the way they managed their withdrawal from Africa, and at the unbridled greed of their political successors in African countries.   Wish that it did not so accurately reflect the truth of Africa.

Karin B

 

The Last Bature by Kenneth C Ryeland


Book Title:  The Last Bature by Kenneth Ryeland

 
ISBN  9781458093325

Part of Series: 

Author:  Kenneth Ryeland

Available at:  Smashwords, Amazon US, Amazon UK 

Price:  $2.99

Number of words (approximately):  102 755

Star Rating (of five):  4

Summary:  Nibana has gained its independence from Britain, and the tribal leaders scheme to gain or hold onto power.  The few British Policemen try to maintain order and respect for the law in the face of political intrigue, superpower scheming and tribal hatred.

Extract: 

- “Comrade Colonel, you now have a basic idea of how the deal with the North Koreans and the Nibanans will be implemented. What I want from you and your people is for Nibana to slip slowly into chaos over the next nine months or so. I want strikes, walkouts, riots, sabotage and mayhem on the streets, though nothing must interfere with the mining operations or the transportation of the material to the docks. Our own people control the ore-ships, so there will be no disruption from that quarter. Whilst the military government is trying to deal with all the chaos, the police will be at full stretch trying to keep control of the streets and we will be moving more of our advisors into prime government positions. By the time they have realised what has happened we will have full control of their country through the local Communist Party of Nibana (CPN). With our infiltration and indoctrination of the military and the civil service we shall control the country no matter what form of government they employ, military or civilian, it will make no difference. Naturally this is a long term plan, Comrade Colonel, but what I need from your agents right away is for them to start spreading rumours about the possibility of someone in the military getting their hands on a ‘secret weapon’. No specifics, just fact mixed with fantasy in the usual way. I especially want to ferment trouble between the Yubas and the Obis. They are at each other’s throats as it is, so it won’t take much to push them over the edge. Don’t forget the Usmars, though. They are still sitting in their region licking their wounds after the recent coup that ousted them. I want unrest in the north too.”

“Comrade Ambassador,” replied the colonel, “I will start my people on this project right away. You have no need to worry. We will deliver Nibana into the hands of our glorious leaders at the Kremlin. Soon the rest of Africa will follow, especially since our infiltration of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa is well ahead of schedule. We are just waiting for the day when, inevitably, the Boer government is ousted by the pressures on them from the so-called free world. Once the ANC assume power in that mineral-laden country, everything will be ours. How strange to think, Comrade Ambassador, that often it is the liberal bleeding-hearts in the West who do our work for us by insisting on the ridiculous concept of one-man one-vote, in Africa, of all places.

“You will no doubt be aware that the next great prize of Africa to turn to us will be Southern Rhodesia; (Now Zimbabwe.) we are working very hard there supporting the so-called freedom fighters with money and weapons, Comrade Ambassador. Furthermore, our operatives and fellow-travellers in the British Labour Party are fermenting trouble in the British parliament to ensure that Rhodesia is pushed into declaring unilateral independence from Britain in the not too distant future. Once the white Rhodesians do that, the freedom fighters will begin their destruction of the state and we shall have a new ‘friend’ in Africa.”

Both men smiled again and the ambassador walked over to his drinks cabinet and poured two vodka shots. The sound of the bottle and the glasses clinking together nearly deafened the agent on the other end of the very sensitive microphone link.

* * *

Now, almost twelve months on, Nibana’s infrastructure had deteriorated and the Obi-dominated military government’s relations with the civilian population had worsened considerably. Inter-tribal affairs were strained to the limit, strikes and walkouts were commonplace and civil unrest in all the major towns was widespread. Though they

had tied very hard to be the instigators of these difficulties, the Soviets were not the people responsible. The problems were the natural consequences of a corrupt and venal civilian government and an even worse military regime, therefore the backlash from the people was quite normal for Nibana in its post-colonial era. The raids on the national treasury by both the civilian and military governments had left the country bankrupt. Only the oil revenues helped to keep Nibana from collapsing altogether. Furthermore, the Soviets had forgotten, or had never learnt, that every Nibanan, from the head of state to the night soil men – they who collected the buckets of faeces and urine from the township houses every day, for there were no water closets or septic tanks except at the houses of Europeans and rich Nibanans – was a capitalist at heart. Each one dreamt only of personal fortune. Collective activity to ensure the benefit of the village, town or indeed the state was alien and unnatural to them. Every Nibanan, from a very early age, learnt that he must obey his village chief and render to him whatever the chief required, be it food, money or wives. Even to the extent that obeying the chief meant he prospered whilst the village people starved. Slavery, which was rife in Nibana before the British colonised the area and declared it illegal, depended entirely on the greed of the local chiefs and the compliance of the villagers. Without their connivance, the trade could not have flourished as it did. It follows, therefore, that almost every individual Nibanan’s ambition was to live like a chief and to hell with helping anyone else, let alone the country as a whole.

As for the Russians at the Embassy, they suffered several very serious setbacks. In outlining his plans regarding the uranium mine and the destabilisation of Nibana to the military attach√© in his office all those months ago, the Soviet ambassador had unwittingly told the British too. Three months before the Soviets moved into the building that was to be their Embassy, the British high commissioner had arranged for it to be bugged. Several Nibanan operatives working for the British secret service had posed as workmen and planted very sophisticated listening devices all over the building. The British even managed to compromise the so-called secure room. Armed with the details of the Soviet plan, the West African bureau of the British secret service had enacted countermeasures and largely negated the Soviet’s efforts to destabilise the capitalist system in favour of a communist-style government. The British, quite naturally, had to co-operate closely with the Nibanan military in order to thwart the Soviet plan. However, notwithstanding this close co-operation, they did not tell the Nibanans everything of course, especially information relating to the mine and the nuclear device. Nonetheless they were able to persuade the military government to expel most of the spies at the Soviet Embassy and the Russian ‘advisors’ in the various government departments, proscribe the Communist Party of Nibana, imprison its members and generally flush out the ‘lefties’ at the universities and schools. Thus, the secret Soviet plan failed and the British gained immense favour with the Obi-dominated military government, who, in a weak moment of emotion, almost forgave the British for placing the country in the hands of an Usmar civilian government at the time of independence.

The information regarding the uranium mine in the Omdu Hills, however, remained with the British secret service. They were not prepared to say or do anything about it for the moment. The information was to be the ace up their sleeve. Amazingly, the true product of the mine had remained a closely guarded secret thus far, simply because the Eastern Region military governor had decided to pay nominal ‘gold revenues’ to the federal treasury. With money rolling in regularly from the region, the military in Laguna paid little attention to the details of the project. They believed what the regional governor had told them: the mine was simply a marginally profitable gold producer. The revenue smokescreen had worked well and had not cost very much since the ‘gold revenues’ were in fact a minute proportion of the special ‘invisible’ oil revenues that the regional governor had negotiated with the oil companies. The money he received from the North Koreans for the uranium payload shipments paid all the mining expenses and so the whole operation was pretty-well budget neutral.

However, the regional military governor now had a prize that, in his opinion, was more valuable and more significant than all the oil and mineral revenues of Nibana put together. He had a highly portable and powerful nuclear device with which to threaten his brother. -

Reviewer’s Comments:

Structure:  The book is correctly structured and reads easily.

Content:  In this story of the dissolution of an African country, assisted by the separate interests of Britain, France, Russia, North Korea, the United States and South Africa, and driven by the greed and corruption of the local politicians, one of the last British Policemen works to find a nuclear bomb that is to be used in a coup attempt.

Reviewer’s Comments:  The tone of the book is set in the dedication:  ‘For the many subjugated people of Africa. In the hope that one day, they may be blessed with honest leaders.’  The author has a good understanding of the simplistic thinking used by many African politicians to gain control of the wealth of their nations.  His descriptions explain why so much that happened in Africa when the colonial powers handed control of the fledgling countries to men whose only aim was to benefit themselves.  If you wish to understand the mess that Africa became in the 1960s, you need to read this book.

 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Adventures of Caitlin Haq


Book Title:  The Adventures of Caitlin Haq

 
ISBN  9781780690643

Part of Series:  No

Author:  Stuart Williams

Available at:  Smashwords 
 

Price:  $4.99

Number of words (approximately):  33 340

Star Rating (of five):  4

Summary:  Caitlin is not an ordinary girl.  Her mum is not an ordinary mum.  Cailtin and her back cat go on exciting adventures, frightening robbers and punishing bullies, helping her friends and having great fun.

Extract: 

- It was the kind of night that wasn’t really black. It was the kind of night when the sky was very blue and all of the stars had come out and the moon was a sort of bright white. The kind of night when you could see all of the shapes of all of the houses and the big hill on the edge of the town looked like a big dark lump when you looked out of Caiti Haq’s sitting room window. There were so many stars in the sky, Caiti wondered how they could all fit and thought that, if she had a pen that could write in the sky, it would take forever to join them up.

You see, standing in her sitting room window to look at the stars was easy because mummy still hadn’t put any curtains up. Mummy had said that she couldn’t put any curtains up because they would fall down as there was no pole to hang them on, and that wasn’t mummy’s fault because her friend, who had said he would put it up, kept forgetting to whenever he came round to do it. But looking at the stars was better now than before because mummy had had the new carpet put down so her feet didn’t get cold, like they did when it was only the old brown tiles on the floor. Caiti loved looking at the stars and the moon because she really wanted to fly there one day, and she knew that, if she worked very, very hard, she might when she was older. A lot older, that is, because children didn’t go into space, you had to be very old, perhaps twenty or even twenty-five to do that.

“Come on you, up those stairs, young lady, school in the morning, and clean your teeth tonight!” Mummy shouted from the kitchen. Caiti gave the moon a little wave and skipped into the hall. This was easy because, when mummy had the new carpet put down, the door had gone from the sitting room and was now up the garden, leaning against the garage. Caiti had wondered why, because, when her friends had new carpets fitted, none of their doors had gone missing. But then, even though she was only ten years old, Caiti knew that her mummy was a bit stranger than other mummies and was always doing funny things. Most of the time this was alright because it made her laugh but there were times when she was really embarrassing.

Caiti thought, “You see what I mean,” as, when she was half way up the stairs going to the bathroom, mummy ran up behind her, grabbed her round the middle and shouted, “I’m gonna-eat-ya, I’m gonna-eat-ya,” and carried her into her bedroom, even though she’d just told her to clean her teeth and she needed to be in the bathroom for that.

Caiti was lying on her high-up bed, with Slim asleep across her feet, snoring peacefully, his tail shooting up in the air to point at the ceiling every time he breathed out, when, suddenly, in the way that animals do, he suddenly woke, his senses aware of something, he didn’t know what but there was something there. Turning slowly, he arched his back and pointed his body at the window, his nose wrinkling and his green eyes narrowing to little slits. Caiti sat upright, her heart pounding. Hardly daring to breath, she gulped with fright as a shape appeared outside her window, hovering. The silhouette wobbled as a thin, spooky arm reached out and tapped gently on the glass.

Slim hissed and his claws flicked from his tiny paws. Caiti dived for the cover of the sheets as the thing spoke in a squeaky little voice. “Slim, you stupid feline, let me in before I turn you into a toad. It’s Witch Wobblytum. I need your help.” Slim jumped from the bed and excitedly opened the window. Wobblytum sat astride the shaft of her broomstick, bobbing in the night air. “Oh curse the broomstick,” she spat as she wobbled nervously, “it keeps going down instead of up.” As the stick flicked backwards and forwards, her crash helmet bounced on her head and her oversized football shirt flapped like a bird with one wing.

Caiti climbed down the ladder from her bed, held her hand out to Wobblytum, and spoke in a way so calm you would think that she often met witches on wobbly broomsticks outside her bedroom window, “Good evening.”

Wobblytum spoke first to Caiti and then at the unstable stick. “Good evening. Oooh, arrrr, stand still you stupid thing.”

“This is my old witch,” said Slim, introducing Caiti, “that’s why I’m blacker than any cat you’ve ever seen, because I was a witch’s cat once.”

“Yes he was and a very good one too. Ooooh,” added Wobblytum, finishing with a scream as the stick made a dive for the lawn, her white Nike trainers kicking on the end of her thin, multi-coloured legs. -

Reviewer’s Comments:

Structure:  The book is well structured.  It is written in children’s English, with use of words appropriate to the context.

Content:  The book is written for fun-loving young readers, in a series of short stories, with a flow-through of one adventure to another.

Reviewer’s Comments:  This is a fun book!  It is easy to read, entertaining, even for adults, while being understandable down to a young age, and it has good moral values and lessons in a non-didactic way.  It is well-suited as a gift for any child who can read, up to mid-teens.

Karin B