Rod MacKenzie

Hallowed be Thy name (and the non-sense of property ownership)

“Hello be Thy name.” That is what I used to say as a seven year old at boarding school, in my pyjamas with knees pressed on the cold floor of the dormitory. “Oh cheeses!” I would say whenever frustrated. A fellow boarder pointed out that I was blaspheming the Lord’s name. That I was saying,…

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The state of apartness (Khaya Dlanga’s To Quote Myself, part II)

There is something about well-written childhood stories that can heal. They crackle with the marvel of being alive. Vladimir Nabokov once wrote about the magical act of writing: “The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamouring to become visible.” Children, and…

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Can a white man tell Khaya Dlanga how to write a memoir?

Writing a standard book review risks creating a vapid commercial about the new publication. This is different to the journey that serious reading is, and journaling about that reading. Reading frequently, and returning to books that move you, creates a “spiritual travelogue”, and begins to resemble a series of religious stations, reference points to look…

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White privilege: The more things change…

I gaped at the size of the property. I stood with the owner, Peter, on a side balcony of their spacious, slightly dilapidated home. Down below, the tennis courts were dwarfed by the ring of woods surrounding its fence. Some were sagging from the cascade of trees pushing through wires or pressing down the horizontal,…

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A song for the rootless

There is an urgent conversation going on among the leaves. The branches scurry, desperate to dock in bad weather. Twigs pelt about; the tall boles raise and swing their leaf-bright oars. Our garden, the veggie field and the small gorge beyond are scooped up, swirled about by the gusts and the downpour into a bag,…

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Smelling my whiteness

“O lekgoa” was thrown around whenever we smelt good, or “O nkgasekgoa” (You smell white). – Lorato Palesa Modongo Thwack … squish and I feel the mud slurp at the edge of my spade as I rip up carpets of agapanthus from my Kiwi customer’s flowerbeds. A wash of snail- and worm-slimed earth, along with…

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Facebook helps restore our humanity (at times)

I am 52 and come from a generation where one can be bewildered by, and dismissive of, the proliferation of instantly accessible information (not knowledge, there are important differences) online. This is often in my hand or in my pocket in the form of my Android. However, I use the social media to my advantage,…

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Dear Aylan and Galip, drowned Syrian children, what’s become of us?

Dear Aylan and Galip Was the world ever not a frightening place for you? Did you ever see your mom and dad smile? Or was it all just terror and hell, nothing worth living for? Here I am, past the age of 50 and I am the one with all the questions for both of…

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Liquid Viagra: Comparing descriptions of wines and rugby players

Have you noticed the rugby critics’ poetic descriptions of beefy rugby stars? Yes, those gladiators who are all about to knock the bejesus out of one other in the quest for victory in the new World Cup? Oh, those scholarly sports writers and their strained attempts to create an elegant portrait of yet another testosterone-laden…

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Ashley Madison and the culture of shame and gossip

I confess I hadn’t even heard of Ashley Madison until the other day when the hack into their data base “went viral” as the saying goes. Oooh, how the human race loves to wallow in scandal. Oh to gossip and swim about in who is having an affair, or who has been caught out for…

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