The African Scene

Dec 1, 2015 by

by Theodore Dalrymple –

I think I may safely claim to be one of the few people alive to have flown in a Malian air force DC-3 from Bamako to Timbuktu in the company of a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Nobel Laureate in question was Nadine Gordimer, the South African novelist and short-story writer. We were in Mali for a UNDP conference (I paid my own ticket) on improving the image of Africa in the world’s press, which was presumably thought to be an easier task than improving Africa itself. In any case, I thought that the latter should and could only be left to the Africans themselves.

Nadine Gordimer exactly corresponded to the characterization of her by the South African satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys, as “Comrade Madam”: the lifetime habit of command combined with a theoretical and dogmatic egalitarianism. (In another of Uys’ brilliant sketches, he depicts a rich Johannesburg housewife laboriously making herself up—preparatory to going to bed.)

Nadine Gordimer had a voice whose timbre would have penetrated the best artillery-proof armor plating. On one occasion at the conference she condescendingly addressed a Ghanaian lady as “my sister Susan.” “Actually, my name’s Gloria,” said her sister Susan, but the great writer ignored this manifestation of pedantry and continued with what she was saying.

“Islam rushes in where Marxism can no longer tread.”

 

Source: The African Scene – Taki’s Magazine

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