Revealing revelation and family histories
There is a trend in the western world whereby after national service, the service provider gives an account of his or her service, passes judgment on her performance and closes that chapter of her life. Or there was a trend. It takes one person to break a trend for it to not exist anymore. Suddenly, what seemed rock-solid tradition becomes another milestone in the match of history.
Two books remind one of these traditions. Both books are about President Donald Trump. One is called THE ROOM IN WHICH IT HAPPENED by John Bolton, one-time security adviser to the president. At 588 pages, the book is a veritable door stopper. The publishers paid John Bolton two million US dollars as advance to write the book. The second book is still vague, about whether the book will be written, what the title of the book will be. All that is known is that Miss Mary Trump has threatened to write the book.
President Trump has threatened to stop the publication. President Trump failed to stop John Bolton from publishing his book. What can stop Mary Trump from publishing her own book? The working title of the book is TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH: HOW MY FAMILY CREATED THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS MAN by Mary L. Trump, PhD. The publishers of John Bolton are the publishers of Miss Trump. It is not known how much Mary Trump will receive. All that is known is that a judge has suspended the publication, a judgment that is to be appealed against. The judgment violates the First Amendment.
During the impeachment hearing, John Bolton was invited to come and testify against the president, he refused. He then turned round to accuse the Democrats of restricting the accusation to only Ukraine-like ones when they could have extended the accusation all over the place where there was a dictator insight.
In allowing John Bolton to go ahead with his book, the Judge told John Bolton that he might still lose money if it is proved later that he used classified material in the book. Immediately, President Trump claimed he had won his case against John Bolton.
Mary Trump’s book is advertised as an unflattering tell-all book written by President Trump’s niece that Simon & Schuster is set to publish in July. The publishers describe the book as “revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him.” Further, the publishers say that the book will shine “a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security and social fabric.”
In our neck of the woods, publishing was never really about clarifying issues in our history. Rather, it is either to make money or to get fame or both. In over 50 years of publishing and writing reviews, I do not remember any member of one family writing against another the way one Trump is writing against another. The nearest to such a story would have been the Onibon-Oje Brothers. The eldest brother began the publishing firm. Then he came to Ibadan University to read English. Later he sponsored the younger brothers to Ibadan University, the middle brother read English while the youngest read Botany.
The publishing was flourishing. I became the editor of the literature series. We publish poetry, drama and novels and short stories. Around this time book fairs became the in-thing. There was the Ife International Book Fair. Then followed the Harare Book Fair. The money for book fairs ran out in Harare. Then there was the JUST BEFORE DAWN story and I left the country.
The last time I saw the middle brother was on Ring Road in Ibadan. We stopped to exchange greetings and talked for some time. It seemed that the youngest started all the story. He was not satisfied with what he was getting and so he broke away to set up his own publishing. Then they went to court and that was it.
Perhaps I should stop over one day and seeing the middle brother I should ask for the rest of the story from whoever could remember what.
It was also the time of magazines – NEWSWATCH, SUNDAY CONCORD, AFRISCOPE, for which I edited the literary pages. SUNDAY TIMES carried short stories on its center pages. There were women’s magazines.
IT is impossible to speak of these publishing matters without speaking of Hans Zell. He was a great organizer, like the great watches of Switzerland. Everything must work like clockwork. He worked best alone producing his journals from one-pagers to volumes. We had a big fight once. It was before I went to South Africa. Nothing was written and published in South Africa was any use for me. Hans insisted I must appreciate the work, never mind the prejudice that produced it. He it was who got the Japanese to sponsor a literary prize in Africa. Since those days of Japanese prize for African literature, no single prize has covered all Africa. That publishing does not function in Nigeria is not the fault of Mr. Zell. It must be the fault of Nigerians.
This story began with Donald J. Trump and to him, it must return. The narrative goes thus that his mother looked at him lovingly and sighed. “He might be stupid but he is my son. As long as he does not go into politics, he will be fine. If he goes into politics, everything will crash over his head.”
Less than five months to go to the elections, nobody knows which side the election in the United States of America will swing. For those who shout white power, it would seem that President Trump should be voted President for Life. He once joked that there were far too many elections in America. If he could eliminate some elections he would save the country some money. He was either sharing a joke with either Xi Jinping or Vladimir Putin. Either way, both have sorted themselves out and will be ruling until 2036 or beyond!