To write what he does, in the way he does, Eusebius McKaiser has to be a man who understands exactly who he is and what he believes. So he writes with a refreshing frankness, putting his experiences under the microscope and finding meanings that have given him a greater understanding and appreciation of the circumstances under which he lives. As he is a South African, his insights help us all to hold the spotlight up to our attitudes and beliefs.
In A Bantu in my Bathroom, McKaiser shares with us his thoughts about many issues that concern us in South Africa today. His book is divided into three sections – Race, Sexuality and Culture, and he deals with controversial issues under each heading.
Under Race, he discusses the difference between racialism and racism, our understandings and misunderstandings of affirmative action and he takes up the assertion that blacks can’t be racist.
Under Sexuality he examines the issues of homophobia, rape and problems regarding the disclosure of one’s HIV status.
Under culture he illustrates the myth of the Rainbow Nation, examines people’s reaction to Brett Murray’s portrait, “The Spear”, and discusses what it means to be a “coconut.”
He presents all issues in terms of his personal experiences and that makes his book delightfully easy to read – despite the fact that it deals with deep philosophical issues. It is such a pleasure to find an academic who is willing to step outside of his exclusive domain to converse with us ordinary mortals in a language we can understand.
In the last chapter “The funny revolution” he presents stand-up comedians as the real revolutionaries who, in disabusing us of our illusions and delusions, will carry us forward. If we don’t take ourselves so seriously, we have a better chance of making it into the future together.
And I agree with him. A sense of humour is a sign of sharp, flexible intelligence and creativity. And why not have leaders who make us laugh and enjoy life?