Wednesday, April 1, 2015


African Renaissance Anti-Clockwise (Book)

Written by Pule Lebuso

(First published February 2001)

Review by Ishmael Mzwandile Soqaga

I’ve been reading Pule Lebuso's book, African Renaissance Anti- Clockwise and I dramatically find it fascinating and interesting to read.  Significantly I can add that the book is one of the fine books to be written by an African writer.  The author’s belief is very imperative as it cerebrally challenges the reader and essentially provides transcendent debate about African Renaissance.  In my opinion I could recommend that the book needs to be read with a glaring consciousness rather with a myopic apprehension that will cause defectiveness into realising the actual belief of the writer.  Of course the book is non-fiction, however it comprises serious quiz about African values and culture.

Honestly, as an African I am very enthusiastic to see the book being a success in this wise, because it is not easy to find books like this being accepted by the powers-that-be in particular in Africa where leaders are not phlegmatic.  As far as I know and I think is ubiquitous in Africa to see leaders shrug off the idea of being excoriated and commonly believe that whatever ideas they come with must be unanimously congenial to all.  In fact some leaders of Africa invariably hold their own beliefs as absolute and they do not expect to be critiqued.   For certain times we see the very same independent African states being intolerant to criticism.  Sporadically, writers will be incarcerated without trial just because they write something which the state doesn’t want.   Sublime writers like Wole Soyinka, Jack Mapanje, Ngungi etc all experienced the same persecution and unscrupulous treatment from their governments.

Fortunately there is a need to applaud with great felicity to see the book African
Renaissance Anti-Clockwise survived such treacherous treatment.  The book is phenomenal for Africa and its inhabitants.  The manner, in which the author elucidates his belief, verily evinces explicitly his proficiency that he is a veritable writer.   Unlike writers who will only anticipate and appreciate what the authority is saying and write without quizzical or analyzing the concept comprehensive.  Overall, the book by Lebuso gives courage and motivation that writers should not only think about writing to be loved and seek favour from the men who are in power.  Writers by obligation are assigned to ventilate their opinion freely and produce genuine literature that is fair and arresting. 

the late Mr Lebuso as an ardent African who was passionately fond about Africa and its culture never allows being allured by the concept of African Renaissance while African values are in limbo and malpractice.   He strongly questions democracy which according to him affects African values and culture.  Primarily, he based his argument on the decline of family values of Africa and the lack of discipline among the Africans.  Although he is not antagonistic towards democracy but albeit, he is strongly discontented with its insipid and sub-standard practice.   Mainly, he emphasised that democracy advocates certain rights of other people like women and children and neglects men’s rights.  To reiterate; the book is not a fiction but its main point is based on democratic South Africa which is the strong proponent of 'African Renaissance'. 

Specifically, Lebuso apparently believes that men (as opposed to women) have no place in a democratic society as his rights are wholly suppressed and not recognized.  This is what he narrates in the “General Introduction” of his book.  “I am getting worried when I see so many children living in such terrible conditions especially nowadays for they are being abandoned mostly by Fathers because of an obvious reason:  Men being denied their rights of parenthood.”  Lebuso make us to look on these things very seriously and apparently what is saying is what is happening.  Did democracy bring a change that is satisfactory among the people of Africa or it is another force that intends to eliminate Africa?  However, what is extraordinary about the author is his brilliant savvy which he displays with great prowess, to include other people's views over the issue of African Renaissance in his book.

Moreover, in the book we read how the author conducted his interviews to find more from the people regarding the idea of African Renaissance.  In fact the interviews are necessarily exquisite as we see how people express their opinion unequivocally.  This range of interviews took place from different places, public place, shebeen, with men, women, young and old furnishing superlative answers about African Renaissance.  All responded with gusto to questions Mr Lebuso so eager to hear.

(A few excerpts)

Preliminary Conversation

Q    Mr Mbena, could you please explain what you understand by African culture?

 A    By African culture I understand a culture of discipline when a child was a child and a woman a woman, when a man was a man not a ‘child’ like today.

African Renaissance Conversation

LEBUSO (sitting beside two rather young ladies – greetings)

My sisters, can you believe I’m going around asking for people’s views on ‘African Renaissance’ what do you feel?

First Lady:  (pausing) African Renaissance.  That thing of our president?  I’m not sure I have thought seriously about it; life is about struggle.

Second Lady:  Come on!  Surely you must have an opinion.  I mean.  To me the aspect is all about the best features of original African culture.  Maybe you might call it ubuntu.  Like in the old days, our people hardly indulged in crimes.  Human life was sacred.  Strangers were welcomed into every house – there was fun.  Now, we are all scared of strangers.  It’s tougher for we women, as we might be molested or abused.  If we can go back to the past there will be human dignity.  At least much better than nowadays.

Final Conversation

LEBUSO:  Negritude?

BOLAJI:  Yes, quite a number of decades ago beloved, in Francophone countries here in Africa there was thing intriguing movement called negritude.  Pride in our past, our heritage, culture, that sort of thing.  Great writers like the late Leopold Senghor, Camara Laye, etc. contributed greatly to this movement.  Pan African movements meeting were organized. 

African Renaissance Anti-Clockwise has something important and stupendous to offer.  To divulge further; it is a book that adapts with times.  The book is logical and outstanding.  The book is the profound example of how writers should be and think.  Although colonialism had done great damage to Africa it does not mean that facts must be ignored about our own African leaders who are corrupt and uncaring about Africa.

It is important to apprehend that independence of African continent need not to be view as an Alpha and Omega or some sort of Manna from Heaven.  It should be known that writing in Africa never began with the advent of colonialism and it never ultimately ends with the eventual dismantling of colonialism.  Therefore writers through their hard work should not expect things will always be as good as anticipated, but they should be consciously ready for any circumstances, whether good or bad, even to face prison if it is possible - just for the love of words.

Africa, I believe,  must be gladly delightful at what many pundits will consider to be a magnum opus book - i.e African Renaissance Anti-Clockwise by Pule Lebuso. 

No comments: