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“I Count at Least Five Characters in Him” – Robin Brown Discusses Cecil John Rhodes and The Secret Society

The Secret SocietyRobin Brown, author of the newly published The Secret Society: Cecil John Rhodes’s Plan for a New World Order, was recently interviewed by Shaun de Waal for the Mail & Guardian.

In the interview, Brown shares some of the fascinating details he learned about Rhodes researching for this book. He focuses specifically on Rhodes’ “oddly muted” time at Oxford.

Brown postulates that Rhodes used his seemingly idle time at university to work on the “formation of his secret society”. This society, which took later root in Kimberley, is an important element of Rhodes’ legacy.

Read the interview:

“I count at least five characters in him,” says Robin Brown, author of the new book The Secret Society: Cecil John Rhodes’s Plan for a New World Order (Penguin). Acknowledging that, for at least the first half of the 20th century, most books about Rhodes treated him heroically, before the tide turned and the anti-colonial view condemned him as a ruthless robber baron, Brown says: “We need an honest account of Rhodes.”

In The Secret Society, Brown explores the enigma of Rhodes, delving into his homosexuality more deeply than any work on him so far and showing how Rhodes’s dreams of an expanded British empire were codified early in his career and were then played out, through the efforts of members of his inner circle, at least until the end of World War II, when Britain began to let go of its imperial possessions.

Related stories

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Lees ’n uittreksel uit Parool/Parole deur Breyten Breytenbach: “Enkele stellings rondom Afrikaans”

Breyten Breytenbach

Parool/ParoleIn die lig van die vurige debat rondom die stand van Afrikaans aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch het PEN Afrikaans ‘n gepaste uittreksel uit Parool/Parole deur Breyten Breytenbach geplaas.

In die skrywe – getiteld “Enkele Stellings rondom Afrikaans” en geskryf in 2006 – verduidelik Breytenbach waarom hy glo “geen taal is van aard rassisties nie”. Hy besin oor die identiteit van taal en Afrikaans in besonder en lewer kommentaar op die taaldebat wat toé reeds aan die brand was. Breytenbach maak ‘n onheilspellende, korrekte voorspelling dat die gesprek rondom die plek van Afrikaans op Stellenbosch weer sal “opvlam” en hou vol:

“Viva Stellenbosch, viva!”

Lees die uittreksel:

Enkele stellings rondom Afrikaans

Die Burger, 18 Maart 2006

My opmerkings is subjektief en nie bedoel om akademies gefundeer in navorsing te wees nie. Alhoewel ek probeer om die algemene gebruik in openbare diskoerse in Suid-Afrika te vermy – naamlik “om die man te speel en nie die bal nie” – en deeglik bewus is van hoe enige opposisionele redevoering verdag gemaak word en dat dit dalk belangrik mag wees om nie ook so te werk te gaan nie, gaan ek nie agteroor leun om respek te betoon aan mense van wie ek verskil nie: daar is hier, soos altyd, te veel vals “ordentlikheid” in die teenoor mekaar stel van idees, behalwe op webwerwe waar die opgekropte hangkasrotte na hartelus kan mors omdat hulle dit anoniem doen. Ek veralgemeen en vergrof dus.

Geen taal is van aard rassisties nie. Alle tale ter wêreld weerspieël rassistiese houdings en uitdrukkings, en meer so in sekere tydsgewrigte dan ander omdat taal in haar maatskaplike funksies die uiting is van ʼn gemeenskap se geskiedenis en vooroordele. In Suid-Afrika – en tot ʼn mate ook internasionaal – is dit gemaklik en opsetlik om Afrikaans uit te sonder en beswadder met die kwas van rassisme. Dit voel so lekker, miskien nie op dieselfde manier vir wit en swart nie, en dis so heerlik polities korrek. Veral wanneer dit deur Afrikaanstaliges gedoen word. Dit is ook stompsinnig.

Lees ook:



Watch Science Superstar Elon Musk Make a Cameo Appearance on The Big Bang Theory

Elon MuskElon Musk recently made a special appearance on the Thanksgiving episode of The Big Bang Theory, an American sitcom about a group of geeky scientists who learn to navigate the real world with the help of Penny, a waitress and aspiring actress.

In the ninth episode of the ninth season, entitled “The Platonic Permutation”, four of the characters – Howard, Bernadette, Raj and Emily – spend their Thanksgiving working at a soup kitchen.

Howard is busy in the kitchen when Musk walks in with a pile of dishes and a jovial “Here you go” to which Howard gapes, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Musk awkwardly tries explains his presence: “I was on the turkey line but I was demoted for being too generous with the gravy.”

Howard proceeds to ramble off his long list of accomplishments, to which Musk responds, “And I thought I ladled the gravy out thick.”

“I’m sorry … it’s just, you’re you, and I really want you to adopt me,” Howard stammers, and Musk placates the situation by offering to share some half-eaten pumpkin pie.

Watch the scene between Howard and Musk:

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Musk is also the subject of Ashlee Vance’s biography, Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of Spacex and Tesla is Shaping Our Future, which was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Awards and longlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award this year.

Read the following stories for more on the tech genius that is taking the world by storm:


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The Political Impact of Cecil John Rhodes’ Homosexuality: Read an Excerpt from Robin Brown’s The Secret Society

The Secret SocietyCity Press has shared an excerpt from Robin Brown’s latest book, The Secret Society: Cecil John Rhodes’s Plan for a New World Order, which unpacks the largely unknown history of Cecil John Rhodes.

In the book, Brown explores Rhodes’ great ambitions and lifelong obsession with a society disciplined on Jesuit-style rules, which played a key role in the governance of Britain during the Great War.

Brown brings to life the world of Rhodes and his contemporaries through diaries and letters, also shedding light on Rhodes’ homosexuality.

Read the excerpt:

To establish the extent to which Rhodes’s homosexuality influenced the decisions he took and the manner in which he took them, it is necessary to investigate some of his other relationships. Foremost among these is his friendship with a young clerk he met in Kimberley during that important year of 1881. Neville Pickering was his name and, three years later, Rhodes rewrote his will, leaving his entire fortune – which by then had grown considerably – to Pickering, who was also tasked with responsibility for the Secret Society. This could only be an act of madness – or love.

Rhodes’s more adoring biographers generally seem embarrassed by this second will, explaining it as a ‘noble gesture’ and suggesting it demonstrates how little Rhodes really cared for money. Yet this explanation ignores the covering note that accompanied this will: ‘My dear Pickering. Open the enclosed after my death. There is an old will of mine with Graham, whose conditions are very curious, and can only be carried out by a trustworthy person, and I consider you one.’ A postscript follows: ‘You fully understand you are to use the interest of the money as you like during your lifetime.’

Pickering had come to Rhodes’s assistance when he was in urgent need of a secretary. Rhodes had just set up the De Beers Mining Company, and Pickering, born in Port Elizabeth, was working as a clerk for the firm of Dunell Ebden, which had sold the farm Vooruitzicht, where the Kimberley and De Beers diamonds were first discovered in 1871. When De Beers was registered as a joint-stock company in 1881, Rhodes resigned as company secretary and Pickering took over later that year.

Also read:

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Show Your Support for Sorbet Man’s Balls 4 Brovember Initiative at the Discovery Soccer Park in Joburg

Invitation to Sorbet Man's Balls for Brovember

Get That Feeling: The Story of a Serial EntrepreneurYou and seven of your toughest friends are invited to participate in this year’s Sorbet Man Balls 4 Brovember initiative.

The event will kick off on at 8 PM on Saturday, 28 November, at the Discovery Soccer Park.

Tickets are available from Quicket and cost R1 600 per team (each team has eight players). All proceeds will go to the More Balls Than Most Foundation to help in the fight against prostate and testicular cancer.

Visit Sorbet Man on Facebook and Twitter for more information. Entries close on Tuesday, 24 November.

For more about the businessman behind the Sorbet franchise, read Get That Feeling: The Story of a Serial Entrepreneur by Ian Fuhr.

Are you up for the challenge?

Event Details

  • Date: Saturday, 28 November 2015
  • Time: 8 AM to 1 PM
  • Venue: Discovery Soccer Park
    The Wanderers Club
    21 North Street
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Cost: R1 600 for a team of eight
  • Tickets: Quicket

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“How Do You Overcome Racism?” Zelda la Grange to Address the Question at TEDxAmsterdam

Good Morning, Mr MandelaGoeiemore, Mnr. MandelaZelda la Grange, author of the internationally bestselling memoir Good Morning, Mr Mandela, has been announced as a speaker for TEDxAmsterdam 2015 on the theme “Big Questions”.

La Grange’s speech is titled “How Do You Overcome Racism?”

Good Morning, Mr Mandela, La Grange’s memoir about her time as Nelson Mandela’s personal assistant, was released in June 2014, and instantly shot to the top of bestseller lists in South Africa, where it remained for much of the year. The first print run sold out within a week. New editions were released in August this year.

La Grange was profiled for the event:

Zelda la Grange started working as a personal assistant to Nelson Mandela in 1994. It was, she says, “a fast track of the process” of freeing herself from racism. She states that everyone has their own pace for dealing with these issues. Many of her high school friends couldn’t keep up with her. “You can’t change the world overnight. I was privileged to be exposed to much wisdom at a young age. That is how I learned that my childhood assumptions were wrong: there is no superior race.”

Monique van Dusseldorp, TEDxAmsterdam programme director, says: “Big Questions is really about the big problems of this age: the big questions that we ask ourselves about our life, the biggest decisions we need to take as society, and the biggest questions asked in science. On 27 November 2015, our esteemed TEDxAmsterdam speakers will stand up onstage at the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam, to ask you questions that will make you think new thoughts and will introduce you to new ideas.”


Event Details


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Kom vier Jack Parow – Die ou met die snor by die bar met Angola Badprop in Johannesburg

Uitnodiging na die bekendstelling van Jack Parow - Die ou met die snor by die bar

Jack Parow - Die ou met die snor by die barPenguin nooi jou graag na die bekendstelling van Jack Parow – Die ou met die snor by die bar deur Theunis Engelbrecht.

Die superster-rapper sal op Woensdag, 25 November met Angola Badprop gesels oor sy lewe en al sy wilde, mal avonture. Die gesprek begin om 18:00 vir 18:30. RSVP teen Vrydag, 20 November om ‘n sitplek te verseker.

In Jack Parow – Die ou met die snor by die bar vertel Parow sappige staaltjies oor wilde partytjies, warm bokkies, dodgy plekke en hy beantwoord taai vrae oor sy pet en sy snor.

Moenie dit misloop nie!


  • Datum: Woensdag, 25 November 2015
  • Tyd: 18:00 vir 18:30
  • Plek: Love Books
    Die Bamboo-sentrum
    Rustenburgstraat 53
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Gespreksgenoot: Angola Badprop
  • RSVP:, 011 726 7408


How Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go is Changing the Literary Landscape in Ghana

Ghana Must GoDaniel Neilson recently wrote an article for Time Out Accra on how Ghanaian fiction is taking the world by storm, “carving its way out of the ‘West African literature’ hold-all category”.

In the article, Neilson pays tribute to the wave of young authors who continue to place Ghana on the world map with their fresh new voices and ideas.

One of these authors who’ve contributed to Ghana’s literary revival moment is Taiye Selasi, whose novel Ghana Must Go has been met with critical acclaim.

Read the article:

Probably last year’s most talked about novel of this realm is Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi. It leaves readers with plenty to chew on, with its unusual narrative style and complex characters. The intelligent Ms Selasi has certainly stepped into the literary world with a grand entrance (her fan base includes Toni Morrison and Salman Rushdie). The story revolves around a Boston family of six – the mother Nigerian, the father Ghanaian – whose mixed up lives repel and retract like a rubber band. Accra is referred to more as a backdrop to the storyline, however it is obvious the city and Ghana are familiar territory for Selasi with descriptions such as “lush Ghana, soft Ghana, verdant Ghana, where fragile things die” and “the smell of Ghana, a contradiction, a cracked clay pot: the smell of dryness, wetness, both, the damp of earth and dry of dust.” Selasi enjoys flitting between hot, slower paced Accra and crisp, snow covered Boston to contrast characters old and new/ past and present / child and adult.

Also read:


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Image courtesy of Taiye Selasi’s Twitter page

There Goes the Neighbourhood: Visit Parowdise and CY Jack Parow Likes the Clifton Lifestyle (Video)

Jack Parow - Die ou met die snor by die barHave you ever wondered what Jack Parow’s crib looks like?

Superbalist’s Dylan Muhlenberg and Nick Gordon recently visited him at his place in Clifton to see his version of the good life. Their conclusion? “Let’s just say Top Billing won’t be knocking on Parow’s door for a feature anytime soon.”

The Superbalist team created a documentary style video of their visit to Parowdise, following Parow as he takes them through the relatively empty mansion, showing them the “ultra-luxurious contemporary glass and steel masterpiece” where he has moved in “as is”. However, before the tour can start, they have to wait as Parow, who is still in his pyjamas, finishes a game on his PlayStation.

Watch the video and read the article for an intimate look at the rap superstar, including a glimpse at his preferred way of cooking – using a weber in the kitchen:

YouTube Preview Image

While studying to be a mechanic Jack Parow did things like pack fish in the Cape Town harbour and allocate graves for the City of Cape Town’s Cemetery Division in order to support his rap habit. Rapping with crews from the Cape Flats, the dangerously romantic Afrikaans rapper was relatively unknown, until he dropped his self-titled, full-length album, which struck gold in a fortnight and went platinum that year. Since then nothing was ever the same.

Today Parow is so rich that he keeps a back-up bakkie in his garage, “In case the other one is f**ked,” as he so eloquently puts it, and has all the other trappings of the newly moneyed. He recently invited us to visit him at his latest acquisition, a triple-storey Clifton mansion, perched on top of what’s widely regarded as the most expensive street in South Africa. The neighbours here include the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and blow their noses into R200 notes because they love the smell of money so much. Despite all this, we’re happy to report that Parow is as zef as ever.

If you can’t tell that the interview and house tour is staged, a parowdy if you will, maybe you should get an Afrikaans tjommie to read Parow’s memoir Jack Parow – Die ou met die snor by die bar by Theunis Engelbrecht for a peek at the real Parowdise.

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Film Version of Zakes Mda’s The Whale Caller Currently in Production

The Whale CallerThe film adaptation of The Whale Caller by Zakes Mda is currently in production, and will be shot in December in the famous whale-watching town of Hermanus in the Western Cape.

The Whale Caller, Mda’s fifth novel, is set in Hermanus, and features the Hermanus Whale Crier, in a tattered tuxedo, who spends his days blowing his kelp horn to the whales that visit the seaside town in the summer:

In particular, he blows for Sharisha, a southern right whale who always responds to his call. With each surfacing of her giant head and each thrashing of her tail, the Whale Caller’s connection to Sharisha deepens. Then Saluni enters his life. Saluni – the feisty village drunk, a passionate but self-destructive woman who frequents the taverns and consorts with passing sailors. She cannot understand nor tolerate his fixation with the whales, and as the relationship between her and the Whale Caller grows, she finds herself vying with Sharisha for his attention. The tension builds to a devastating climax that has terrible and lasting consequences.

Mda uses the novel an example of his adage “write what you don’t know”, as when he first started writing it he knew nothing about whale calling. In his Gustavus Adolphus College African Studies inaugural lecture in 2013, Mda said: “When you get the final period of the novel, that topic will have transformed into something ‘you know’.”

Netwerk24 reports on the upcoming film adaptation:

“Lights, camera, action!”

This film industry phrase may soon be heard from the Old Harbour and other locations in Hermanus.

A film, based on the novel by acclaimed South African writer, Zakes Mda, The Whale Caller, is currently in production and will be filmed on location in Hermanus in December.

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