Posted on April 14, 2008

Sunday Times Fires David Bullard

Louise Marsland, (Cape Town), April 11, 2008

Controversial columnist David Bullard has been fired by the Sunday Times. The axe finally fell on the ‘Out to Lunch’ column after his latest offering published this past Sunday, 6 April 2008, was criticised for being racist.

While the Sunday Times editor is denying any ‘other’ hand in the dismissal of Bullard, speculation doing the rounds at two key industry events last night where leaders in the media, marketing and advertising industry were assembled—the annual Apex Awards and John Farquhar’s 80th birthday party celebration—was that political pressure has been brought to bear on the Sunday Times with Government threats to pull advertising. This is being denied by the Sunday Times editor, Mondli Makhanya, today.

Many in the industry felt that this was an opportunity for the Sunday Times to “get rid of Bullard” as he became more and more vocal in his criticism of the Government and the ruling party, the ANC.

Makhanya reportedly said it was about “values” and that Bullard’s column no longer fitted in with the values of the Sunday Times.

According to a senior writer who was with Bullard at an event he was MC-ing last night, Makhanya fired him over the phone due to his “racist column”. Says the journalist, “Surely the buck stops with the editor? If he or she thinks any copy is unsuitable or racist or whatever, he or she should pull it, not fire the journalist!k .&bnsp. .. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought that columnists were entitled to express their opinions?”

Others have countered that Bullard’s column was indeed offensive and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he was finally fired.

Bullard has worked on a freelance contract basis for the Sunday Times for 14 years. He hit the headlines last year when he was shot and severely wounded in a robbery at his home.

Imagine for a moment what life would be like in South Africa if the evil white man hadn’t come to disturb the rustic idyll of the early black settlers.

Ignored by the Portuguese and Dutch, except as a convenient resting point en route to India. Shunned by the British, who had decided that their empire was already large enough and didn’t need to include bits of Africa.

The vast mineral wealth lying undisturbed below the Highveld soil as simple tribesmen graze their cattle blissfully unaware that beneath them lies one of the richest gold seams in the world. But what would they want with gold?

There are no roads because no roads are needed because there are no cars. It’s 2008 and no one has taken the slightest interest in South Africa, apart from a handful of botanists and zoologists who reckon that the country’s flora and fauna rank as one of the largest unspoilt areas in a polluted world.

Because they have never been exposed to the sinful ways of the West, the various tribes of South Africa live healthy and peaceful lives, only occasionally indulging in a bit of ethnic cleansing.

Their children don’t watch television because there is no television to watch. Instead they listen to their grandparents telling stories around a fire. They live in single-storey huts arranged to catch most of the day’s sunshine and their animals are kept nearby.

Nobody has any more animals than his family needs and nobody grows more crops than he requires to feed his family and swap for other crops. Ostentation is unknown because what is the point of trying to impress your fellow citizens when they are not impressible?

The dreaded Internet doesn’t exist in South Africa and cellphone companies have laughed off any hope of interesting the inhabitants in talking expensively into a piece of black plastic. There are no unsightly shopping malls selling expensive goods made by Asian slave workers and consequently there are no newspapers or magazines carrying articles comparing the relative merits of ladies’ handbags.

Whisky, the curse of the white man, isn’t known in this undeveloped land and neither are cigars. The locals brew a sort of beer out of vegetables and drink it out of shallow wooden bowls. Five-litre paint cans have yet to arrive in South Africa.

Every so often a child goes missing from the village, eaten either by a hungry lion or a crocodile. The family mourn for a week or so and then have another child. Life is, on the whole, pretty good but there is something vital missing. Being unaware of the temptations of the outside world, nobody knows what it is. Fire has been discovered and the development of the wheel is coming on nicely but the tribal elders are still aware of some essential happiness ingredient they still need to discover. Praying to the ancestors is no help because they are just as clueless.

Then something happens that will change this undisturbed South Africa forever. Huge metal ships land on the coast and big metal flying birds are sent to explore the sparsely populated hinterland. They are full of men from a place called China and they are looking for coal, metal, oil, platinum, farmland, fresh water and cheap labour and lots of it. Suddenly the indigenous population realise what they have been missing all along: someone to blame. At last their prayers have been answered.