Rod MacKenzie

Gardening, religion and the magic of sex

I shove my filthy hands into the soil and claw out roots and weeds, savouring the mess. A waft of mulch, half-dead weeds, decomposed worms and God knows what sweetens the air. Soon this muddle will be in order: scooped out flowerbeds surrounded by clipped squares of lawn which I will lay down on this…

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You say I’m not African – but that’s where I’m from?

… And my parents were also born and raised in South Africa? Those were the questions running through my mind during an encounter with a senior member of the English Department, Julia*, at a university here in Auckland where I was studying in 2014. We were pleasantly discussing possible PhD courses I could look at…

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South Africa and other orphaning nations (Jani Allan Part II)

Even now, a quarter of a century later, here in Auckland, New Zealand, I have mentioned to other South Africans Jani Allan’s newly released memoir Jani Confidential and they respond, “so what was she doing with that idiot ET (Eugene Terre’Blanche)?” “For God’s sake,” I reply, “give the woman a break”. As Jani Allan says…

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Jani Allan: Abuse and disgrace (Part I)

“My mother instilled in me from an early age that sex was the inevitable result of a man getting the better of you.” This is one of the many chuckle-worthy lines in “has been” famous South African columnist Jani Allan’s memoir, Jani Confidential. The book has glittering heaps of these verbal gems, which alone make…

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Fifa, Blatter and SA crookery: No surprises

So Sepp Blatter gets the Fifa presidency again at the tender age of 79. He has been president since 1998, far too long to be in power over one of the most powerful, economy-boosting juggernauts the world has ever known. If a country gets the green light to host the World Cup, the payoffs for…

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‘Get the f**k over here!’ Baltimore mom teaches respect

My ‘instinctive’ response Whammo! I loved it as this Baltimore mother gave her delinquent son a few snotklaps to teach him respect. Basic manners. Ja, bliksem him, the little bugger. He and his homies were stomping on and trashing them cars a few minutes ago, I betcha. I chortled as her tall, skinny son in…

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If Rhodes goes, Jesus Christ must go

Here’s an inconsequential bit of South African literary history. The late poet Professor Stephen Watson used to have me over to his little house on Rouwkoop Road in Rondebosch just across the road from the railway line. This was in the mid-Eighties. With the occasional roar of a passing train in the background we often…

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Heroes all: EFF and the honourable Julius Malema

This is how social media images of a country inform one’s perceptions, and then stick like glue in this instant-info “Gutenberg Galaxy” of ours. You scroll through Google News, Facebook and Twitter, and powerful impressions of countries impinge on your subconscious without you being able to question them. Then you “form” an unmediated and indelible…

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‘The Life of I': Narcissism and (of course) you

“Paranoia is the self-cure for insignificance … the paranoiac is at the centre of a world which has no centre … to be hated makes him feel real: he has made his presence felt. To be unforgiveable is to be unforgettable.” (Emphases mine.) Australian social philosopher Anne Manne shrewdly begins The Life of I: the…

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My father told me…

  My father came and told me of a place he went to as a child. It was a tunnel sweet with weeds and a rushing, voiceless wind. He said he wished he could take me there, sometime.   My father came and told me of places he went to as a youth. They were…

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