Mr Bullard, I presume?

So Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya, is eventually feeling the pull of the puppet strings is he? I wondered how long this would take, and to be honest, I am quite surprised it has taken this long, what with the current ownership of the paper and the political climate in this country.

David Bullard, whose brand of satire is clearly wasted here, has been fired for writing a racist article in last weeks edition of the Sunday Times. I find this whole sordid episode, and the public outcry that it invoked, very strange indeed. How can the editor of the country’s leading Sunday newspaper, fire a columnist for writing a column, that he the editor, has approved for publication?

Just imagine for a minute the scenes before and after publication.


Come in David, have a seat.

Thanks Mondli, how can I help you?

Ahh, David, it’s about your column.”

What about it?

Don’t you think it’s just a little bit over the top?

Whatever gave you that idea?

Well David, it’s clearly racist.

Is it? Do you actually understand the point I am driving at?

Well err, not exactly. Just explain the Chinese part to me.

Mondli, with respect, if you don’t even understand the f*cking story, how can you bee (sic) critical of it?

David, calm down. Don’t you possibly have another article we can run this week, just so that I can get my head around this one before I commit to it?

No I don’t, do you have a light?

David please don’t smoke that cigar in my office, you know my secretary hates the smell.

Will that be all Mondli?

No it certainly won’t be all. What are we going to do about your column? We’ve got deadlines.

Yes Mondli, and I have a dinner appointment, I’ll see you on Monday… maybe.

David, come back here at once…David, oh shit !!


Morning (sic) Mondli, you were looking for me?

Yes David, come in and sit down.

You look flustered Mondli, bad weekend?

David you’re fired.

Mondli, Mondli, why on earth would you say that?

It’s about the article.

YOU published it.

They did?

No Mondli, I’ll say this slowly, not YOU magazine, I meant YOU, as in the editor.

Yes, but you wrote it, so I have to let you go.

Fine. I’ll go, but what about your circulation figures?

What about our circulation figures?

Well that fancy graph on your wall will turn downwards won’t it?”

Just hold on, I’ve got a call coming in. Who? The FBJ, oh shit.

Who is it?

David, just please leave, I have to take this call.

Well so long Mondi.

Yes, yes, goodbye and thanks for all the columns (except the last one)

Just in case they pull the offending column, I’ve cut and pasted it below (sorry David)

“Imagine for a moment what life would be like in South Africa if the evil white man hadn’t come to disturb the rustic idyll of the early black settlers.

Ignored by the Portuguese and Dutch, except as a convenient resting point en route to India. Shunned by the British, who had decided that their empire was already large enough and didn’t need to include bits of Africa.

The vast mineral wealth lying undisturbed below the Highveld soil as simple tribesmen graze their cattle blissfully unaware that beneath them lies one of the richest gold seams in the world. But what would they want with gold?

There are no roads because no roads are needed because there are no cars. It’s 2008 and no one has taken the slightest interest in South Africa, apart from a handful of botanists and zoologists who reckon that the country’s flora and fauna rank as one of the largest unspoilt areas in a polluted world.

Because they have never been exposed to the sinful ways of the West, the various tribes of South Africa live healthy and peaceful lives, only occasionally indulging in a bit of ethnic cleansing.

Their children don’t watch television because there is no television to watch. Instead they listen to their grandparents telling stories around a fire. They live in single-storey huts arranged to catch most of the day’s sunshine and their animals are kept nearby.

Nobody has any more animals than his family needs and nobody grows more crops than he requires to feed his family and swap for other crops. Ostentation is unknown because what is the point of trying to impress your fellow citizens when they are not impressible?

The dreaded Internet doesn’t exist in South Africa and cellphone companies have laughed off any hope of interesting the inhabitants in talking expensively into a piece of black plastic. There are no unsightly shopping malls selling expensive goods made by Asian slave workers and consequently there are no newspapers or magazines carrying articles comparing the relative merits of ladies’ handbags.

Whisky, the curse of the white man, isn’t known in this undeveloped land and neither are cigars. The locals brew a sort of beer out of vegetables and drink it out of shallow wooden bowls. Five-litre paint cans have yet to arrive in South Africa.

Every so often a child goes missing from the village, eaten either by a hungry lion or a crocodile. The family mourn for a week or so and then have another child. Life is, on the whole, pretty good but there is something vital missing. Being unaware of the temptations of the outside world, nobody knows what it is. Fire has been discovered and the development of the wheel is coming on nicely but the tribal elders are still aware of some essential happiness ingredient they still need to discover. Praying to the ancestors is no help because they are just as clueless.

Then something happens that will change this undisturbed South Africa forever. Huge metal ships land on the coast and big metal flying birds are sent to explore the sparsely populated hinterland. They are full of men from a place called China and they are looking for coal, metal, oil, platinum, farmland, fresh water and cheap labour and lots of it. Suddenly the indigenous population realise what they have been missing all along: someone to blame. At last their prayers have been answered.”


7 thoughts on “Mr Bullard, I presume?”

  1. Oh dear…I can just imagine the office meeting…well done David, thanks for many years of good laughs and head scratching…enjoyed each and every column inch you wrote, both in ‘Out To Lunch’ and your motoring column. Alles van die beste old chap!

  2. This column is hardly racist.
    It pretty much paraphrases what is in the book “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond. Simply put the column points out that South Africa was going to be colonized no matter what. The Bantu were conquered by Europeans who had guns and steel. A stronger civilization will displace a weaker one. The fact is that the Bantu (blacks) had just conquered/displaced the Koi-San. The Koi-San were still hunter gatherers and the Bantu had agriculture.

    That’s not racist. The Bantu civilization was never going to survive contact with a more advanced civilization.
    If the Bantu were left alone, which was never going to happen – South Africa under Bantu civilization represents a power vacuum that has to be filled, then without doubt they would be conquered sooner or later.
    How they would do/have done/responded if another civilization did the conquering is pure speculation. Like novels in which Germany wins WWII.
    You cannot fire people for pointing out the obvious.

  3. My Sundays are never going to be the same without David’s humour. Where can I find him now that he’s Out to Dinner?

  4. I always read your colomn, if it is the only reason for buying the times. Bullard you are a realist who strikes the point where the truth hurts most! Unfortunatly you will never satisfy those with hang-ups and chips on their shoulders.

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