Friday, August 15, 2008

Amandla! Uber Alles!

I livedin South Africa from 1986-1987 during the height of the State of Emergency following the Biggest of the Soweto uprisings. Being a naive and green 17 year old from wisconsin, i had bought a pile of recently published books on the political situation in South Africa. Among these was a wonderful book by Exiled South African poet Breyten Breytenbach called The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist. I also had writings by Mandela, Biko, and others.
Upon arriving in Johannesberg, I discovered these were all BANNED books.
All my luggage was searched for hours and hours, and I was questioned. They ended up confiscating all my books, journals, and even a vomit-bag which i had been scribbling notes on the flight over.

They gave me a receipt and laughed when i asked if there would be any chance i could get these back a year from them, when my stay was over.

The year passed and it was the most exciting and transforming year of my life.

From The bibliophile listserve:
Subject: [b] South African bookdealers face legal dilemma

A new law that has been extended recently to include used bookdealers
is forcing them to list every book and the price they paid for
it. They have to list every purchase and the price paid for it,
whether bought in bulk or individually. Moreover, when it sells they
have to indicate the price at which it sold. On existing stock, they
have three months to get these books listed. Because of the expense
and time involved, it could drive the bookdealers out of business.

This was reported in the Sheppard's Newsletter #69. The law has not
yet passed but has passed its first reading. However, bookdealers are
indicating that police are behaving as if the law has already passed
and is in force.

ps...if the US passed an insane law like this, i would be dead from dread in 23 minutes.


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