Celebrity

Fred Khumalo calls Bonang’s book,”An appalling pile of trash.”

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Well-renowned columnist and author Fred Khumalo, formerly editor of the Sunday Times Review and writer of The Lighter Side of Robben IslandBitches Brew and Seven Steps To Heaven, among other books has shared his opinion around Bonang Matheba’s book with The Sowetan

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The idea behind Bonang Matheba writing a book, or having a book written on her behalf, was a most welcome one. After all she is a lovable celebrity whose work ethic inspires many.

It was about time an influential and financially successful media icon showed youngsters, and their parents, that one could make a solid and successful career outside areas which are traditionally accepted in the black community as “real jobs” – law, medicine, teaching, in that descending order.

The best way to communicate this would be a book outlining her journey. The how-I-got-where-I-am kinda narrative.

Of course, being a celebrity, that journey would also be drizzled with titbits of gossip and scandal – the backstabbing, substance abuse and physical abuse that come with the terrain.

The hype that preceded the release of the book had the punters salivating.

Inevitably, when the book finally hit the shelves, it became a bestseller and a talking point.

However, while spicy allegations about previous boyfriends and erstwhile colleagues were there in abundance, the tongue wagging revolved around the cringeworthy errors in the book.

Those who had the misfortune of reading the book and felt short-changed took to cyberspace where they publicised these errors.

Here’s one of the oft-quoted mistakes, culled from a page that has at least 10 mistakes: “Somizi didn’t even realise why I had stopped friends with him. He thought it was because of something he think I think he did but it was none of that.”

It boggles the mind how such c*** could have escaped those charged with the responsibility of editing and proofreading.

Let me presume the authority to give you the rough lowdown of how a book of this nature gets made.

Although the book is in the voice of Matheba, it was written by Gugu Mhlungu. In the industry, Mhlungu would be called the ghost-writer.

The ghost-writer normally gets appointed and gets paid by the subject of the book, in this case Matheba.

The ghost-writer would have interviewed Matheba, then taken time to transform the interviews into a story.

Once happy with what she’d written, she would submit it to the publishers – in this case Blackbird Publishers.

The publishers would then assign an editor to check the narrative flow and, of course, factual accuracy and language use. By the way, even the best writers in the world do get edited.

Once the editor is happy, she would then send copies to the ghost-writer, and a proof-reader. The two would read again, sometimes spot mistakes, which they would highlight, then revert to the editor.

Having fixed the mistakes, the editor would then send new clean proofs to the ghost-writer and proof-reader. The two would read again. If happy, they would sign off.

The subject of the book, Matheba, would also sign off. The manuscript would then be sent to the printers. Voila, we have a book.

Clearly these steps were not followed in the making of Matheba’s magnum opus. The end result? An appalling pile of trash. Sadly, it’s Matheba’s name on the cover. It’s her brand that suffers.

In the wake of the brouhaha, Exclusive Books this week issued a statement in which it asked people who’d bought the book to return their copies, and they would be refunded.

Matheba’s book is the Ford Kuga of the literary world. Kuga had to be recalled after it transpired it had a bizarre factory fault. It has the tendency of exploding into flames for no reason at all.

If there is a lesson from this book debacle, it is this: shortcuts and haste are dangerous.

On the positive side the fiasco shows us consumers that we have the power to demand quality.

Originally published in The Sowetan.

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