Book Review

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The Art of Stealing by Set Amathila
ISBN: 1-934360-39-2
Raider Publishing International

By Peter Mietzner

THE following is the blurb on the back cover of the book and I publish it verbatim – with all the idiosyncracies of grammar as perpetrated by the author and his publisher:

“(sic) Neo the overly precocity boy starts to pilfer at the age of three. He left school to set up his car wash business before he learned how to write. Neo used his own sh*t to get N$50,000 (about US$7,100) from a businessman.

He then sells ordinary stones as diamonds to the King at N$75,000 (US$10,000). In Windhoek, Neo convinced the Bank manager that money can be multiplied with certain chemicals. When it boomerangs, the bank manager kills his whole family and himself. In South Africa, Neo buys cars and trucks on credit and sells them in Angola for cash. He also learns how to be a poor man today and become a millionaire the next day.

In Angola, Neo set up a company to buy and sell diamonds. He buys them from the Liberian Government and sells them to Israel. None of them knew that he was working bipartitely. In the USA, Neo sells America made weapons to the Taliban. (sic)”

Let me start by saying that, looking at this book with utterly European eyes, the author is not doing Africans in general and Namibians in particular any favours.

The “hero” of the book, Neo Shaanika, and all his friends are “crooks”, thieves, embezzlers, con artists, drug dealers, etc. – I think you get the idea.
While chronicling the story of Neo from the moment of his mother’s seduction by the father to the “King” of Brunei being deprived of US$20 billion, the 149 pages of the book haphazardly go from one crooked scheme to another, taking various literary (I used that word advisedly) liberties along the way.

Just by the way, Brunei is a sultanate and is ruled by a “Sultan” and not a king!
While, in general, Set knows his Namibian orthography, it also seems that he may not have been in his homeland for some time and has adopted a distinctly Anglo-Saxon vocabulary, which, at times, interrupts the smooth flow of his narrative.

Still don’t know of any Namibian that calls his or her mother “Momsy” That is too English for my taste. And these typically English words (such as “fatuous” or “raconteur”) pop up every now and then; mostly out of context. The author uses the words correctly and knows what they mean, but is like finding a SA rand coin (or, in this case, a British pound coin) among many Namibian Dollar coins.

While, of course, I cannot be sure, I would hazard a guess that the author has been living in the UK for quite some time.
The action, such as there is blithely skips from one scheme to another, often not making much sense.

While I do not know the (wholesale) price of a bag of dagga, I think that a value of N$30??????’??

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