US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump invented the word “unpresidented” through his sloppy hold on the English language. He gave credence to the notion of alternative facts through his sloppy hold on ethics, and our very own President Jacob Zuma took the ball and has run with it, offering some of the most splendid material that contemporary humorists can cherry pick to create some of the most biting, hilarious and hard hitting comedy you can imagine. On this wave of impossible, yet real madness, Paige Nick has written Unpresidented which tears strips off current affairs, making you laugh in spite of the ugly way in which South African has been broken by “Number One”.
She niftily yet fairly obviously skirts around facts, constructing a “Muza” and a family of corrupt “Guppies” around the tale, characters who, so replete with grotesquely juvenile behaviour and naively dangerous repartee that you almost become fond of them, stripped, as they are, to reveal their silly bravado, grotesque understanding of the truth and utter inadequacy as adults. Nick pulls no punches in crafting characters who are believable in a comic book type of scenario: the most delicious being Bonang and Refilwe, the two remaining wives of Muza, who have used his time in jail to start new businesses for themselves and commandeer the ex-President’s former office.
It’s 2020, and Muza, the now ex-President of South Africa, has had his jail sentence reduced to house arrest on the compassionate strings pulled by an ingrown toe nail. A shamed journalist guilty of alternative facts in the telling of a story about a cancer patient, has landed the job of writing Muza’s memoirs, only the fallen icon in question has this annoying tendency to lie in such a bald-faced manner that the journo, a chap flawed by his own inadequacies and an overprotective, innocently racist mom, is utterly stymied. Add to the mix a Malawian drug dealer who gets a kick out of using Jewish slang, a series of double-double-crosses involving showerheads and lots of drugs, a couch stuffed with lots of money and a Homestead which has gone to wrack and ruin and you’ve a fabulous plot that will keep you riveted.
This fantastic tale of complicit behaviour, crooks which are almost too sillily villainous to believe (until you cast your eye back at the news), fashion design and tindering wives is a quick and delightful read which will have you in stitches, and there are passages in this material that are so perfectly made, they leap from the pages. It’s the kind of easy companion on the beach or commute, and it’s a refreshing take on a sordid state of affairs.
It makes reference to many scenarios which have trotted themselves out before our very eyes in the last few months, but doesn’t offer context and assumes that the reader knows the true horror of the situation to which South Africa has been privy. For this reason, it’s imperative that you read it now, while everything’s still simmering in the pot of misinformation, alternative facts and blatant shameless hustle.