The Jive Talker: Or, How to get a British Passport
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Samson Kambalu's father wore three-piece, London-made suits from the Sixties. He'd planned to be a doctor but settled for hospital administration and a peripatetic lifestyle with his ever expanding family in tow. He is 'the Jive Talker' of this extraordinary memoir - a man of thwarted ambition, boundless optimism and manic philosophising, he died of AIDS in 1995, bequeathing his son 'the Diptych' - an eclectic library of science, philosophy and English language classics a passion for words and a boundless imagination.
In this completely original, often subversive, book, Samson Kambalu writes of his childhood in Malawi, a country few are able to pinpoint on a map. As the family moves from feast to real poverty and deprivation, and back to plenty again, depending on their father's professional fortunes, we are introduced to life in a country in which no dissent is tolerated, where political opponents are 'disappeared' and a portrait of Life President Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda is always guaranteed to be watching. But this is also a country in which a little boy obsessed with books, girls, Nietzsche, fashion, football and Michael Jackson wins a free education at the Kamuzu Academy ('The Eton of Africa') and grows up to be one of England's most promising young conceptual artists. With dazzling prose, wicked humour and not a little bit of artistic licence, The Jive Talker opens the door to an Africa that is rarely written about.
was right that we understood, or some of us anyway: there I was one morning, in Thyolo District, suffering from diarrhoea and perched on the toilet, a skinny African boy, only eleven years old, and I was hooked on Nietzsche like I had been on the Bible when I was a Born Again. I now wanted to become a philosopher. I was confient that I could do it at that green age because I had read in the Bible that Jesus was already debating the scriptures with the rabbis when he was only twelve years old. My
believe my luck washing the ball clean under the tap. I would probably be the only kid in the neighbourhood with a bouncing ball. But I couldn't bring myself to play with the ball for fear of damaging it. Instead, I took it to Arthur's nuclear bunker where I found myself totally immersed in jive as soon as I had carefully lowered myself down into the dim concrete chamber. 6 God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed Him. Who will wipe this blood off us? With what water could we
body-popping were all the craze now. Never mind. Some things were timeless and Michael Jackson was still doing his thing with Bad. I thought Bad was even hotter than Thriller. You just had to watch 'The Way You Make Me Feel' and 'Smooth Criminal'. The house was jumping to Technotronic: Pump up the jam Pump it up While your feet are stompin' And the jam is pumpin' Look ahead the crowd is jumpin' Pump it up a little more Get the party going on the dance floor See cuz that's where the
his funny face peering from behind the tree beckoning me. Bobo, whom I had not seen for ages, watched the new order from a safe distance, down the dusty footpath. And that's where the national campaign against rabid dogs found him, one hot afternoon. The notorious Mr Chimpeni took him out with one shot to the head. I can still hear the massive rifle bang today. I can also see so much blood oozing from a very little hole in Bobo's head. 3 The most exciting times in Nkhamenya were when my
the systems MI STEVE PORTE Sam, Are you really a creation of the Almighty? Why treating the word of God like that? I love your creativity. You are more than a normal human being. MOSES CHA V. Sam, Thanks for this marvellous creativity. You have really shown that you are more than a human being. Such creativity is for gods. I appreciate your superhuman creativity I will live to remember such rare machangelic talent and creativity. Thanks. BENSA MAPENEKA Sam, You have the wings,