Molotov Cocktail – a new South African magazine April 28, 2007Posted by Andreas in Magazine Reviews, Politics, Society, South Africa, Southern Africa.
Aimlessly looking over a CNA magazine rack the other day, I was quite excited to find a new South African mag called Molotov Cocktail. I’m an enthusiastic supporter of the independent media in this country and have long thought there is glaring gap in the otherwise glutted magazine market for a progressive, even radical (heaven forbid), edgy, locally-produced title.
Personally I’d be especially excited by anything along autonomous, anti-authoritarian or anarchist lines, but this looked pretty good at a first glance – the provocative title, the cover art of a hand poised to throw a lit petrol bomb and the subtitle, Dismantling the Master’s House Brick by Brick, were all very promising.
All started reasonably well. The editorial talked about “inclusion not exclusion”, celebrating SA history, not fearing it and confidence trumping despair. But then this:
Molotov Cocktail broadly backs the principles and policies of the African National Congress. We believe that discussing the ANC with insight and generosity will be more interesting and productive than condemning the party out of ignorance.
Huh…! My heart sunk. You see, last time I checked, the ANC was having nothing to do with dismantling any master’s house. Quite the contrary, they were struggling to provide decent housing for the country’s poor and had in fact moved into the master’s old servant’s quarters at the back of the garage. This did not bode well.
I’m afraid to say that my fears were well founded. Having read my way through the whole issue, I realised that I’d been had by clever marketing. I had judged this book by its cover and was suffering the consequences.
I found Molotov Cocktail surprisingly conservative, predictable and for the most part just plain boring. I had hoped for an analysis of society’s current situation and progressive suggestions for a better world, but the magazine provided non of that.
There were some reasonably interesting contributions, such an organogram of “Money and Power” in South Africa, a good excerpt from Peter Hallward’s upcoming book Damming the Flood: Haiti and the Politics of Containment, and an enlightening short history of the 1808 Slave Rebellion in the Cape by Richard Gott. On the whole, however, this was mostly quite stale stuff.
The low-lights include an interview with Eeben Barlow which astonishingly manages to make this professional soldier, 32 Battalion veteran, DCC and CCB operative and former head of mercenary outfit Executive Outcomes look like a paragon of virtue and morality, and a rather pathetic homage to a young Thabo Mbeki, who, we are told, used to be a good, democratic communist in the 60’s and 70’s.
The second issue of Molotov Cocktail is due in June. If No. 01 is anything to go by, I suggest you save the 30 bucks and have a half-hour discussion with your conservative parents or colleagues – you’ll learn more about the problems in SA society and what needs to be done about them…