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Book ReviewAuthor: Francis WheenPublisher: Atlantic BooksReviewed by: Yingwani Mashaba

Das Kapital is Karl Marx' 20-year epic quest to produce a piece of literature to help working people of the world rid themselves of capitalism which lives only by sucking workers' blood.

This 'masterpiece' as Marx called it, is not the kind of book to be read in passing but to be read and studied. It is a book penned as a constitution to govern and provide guidance for a worker's self-emancipation.

Francis Wheen plucked up the courage to break this complex body of work into simpler language and came up with a new abridged version which is more understandable to a layman.

This is a collection of the most important chapters of the original volume: on land and property, political economy, on wage labour, on the state, international trade, world market, working conditions, on long working hours and child labour.

Unlike the first volume by the master himself – which I struggled with for a long time to understand in my first encounter with Marx' work 16 years ago – I devoured Wheen's version in one sitting.

It gave me a better understanding of what Das Kapital is all about.How dearly Marx loved the working people of the world that he chose to live a life of extreme poverty to see us working people free.

Had he been selfish, Karl could have lived a lavish life as a lawyer, but instead selflessly fought to the end.

His wife, Jenny wrote: "If the workers had an inkling of the sacrifices that were necessary for this work, which was written only for them and for their sakes, to be completed, they would have to show more interest!"It was thanks to his life-long friend Friedrich Engels that he was financially supported.

As the son of a German cotton manufacturer, Engels also used his position to furnish Marx with confidential information about the cotton trade and expert observations on the state of international markets. Engels' kind deed was to see his "brilliant and impecunious friend" complete his work for public consumption.

Meticulous as Marx was, the more he researched and wrote, the bigger Das Kapital grew until Engels pleaded with him to unveil the first volume to the public.

At first Das Kapital was not well received, more especially amongst the middle class. But later it was to have a profound impact and influence on scores of revolutionary movements in countries like Russia, China and later spread to nearly the whole world.

Death denied us workers the second volume from the doyen himself since Marx died while the manuscript was still in its draft form.

But Engels assembled and compiled it into a second volume fulfilling the lonely and enduring wish of his buddy.

A must read titanic book amongst wage-earners. As Marx wrote in the concluding sentence of the famous Communist Manifesto: "Let the ruling class tremble at a communist revolution… Working men of all countries, unite!"


From the city of Port Elizabeth where Zim Ngqawana, Feya Faku and other great jazz artists hail from, comes another young voice of soul touching sounds Bongani Tulwana.

Bongani, a member of MO-Jazz group that is popular in the Eastern Cape, has come up with his solo jazz album ‘the other side’, released in 2008. The multi-instrumentalist Bongani who holds a music degree from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University has produced many albums for local artists in Port Elizabeth from hip-hop to gospel.

The 10-track album is produced by Tulwana, recorded at ‘out of the shack, ekoneni’. He is accompanied by members from MO-Jazz. On keyboards is Khaya Somthunzi and Mzoxolo Bebula, drums – Siyabonga Mjijwa, bass – Khayalethu Nazo, overdubs – Yanga Ndzamela, Khaya Matomela and on saxophone – Bongani.

These young cats that play the music of old-timers know what they are doing.The self-produced and arranged album gives you the taste of a young jazzologist who is growing with the art.

Track three Like Home find its place as my favourite, and four Ekherubi with its church rhythm will transport you into holiness. Nabubomi Bam, track eight, takes the mind to places you have never been to. It runs with your mind and you get stuck in it.

The bonus track 7 O’clock with amazing melodies doesn’t fail to attract your feet to dance. The black and white CD cover with a picture of Bongani carrying a saxophone draws your attention.

The popularity of this album depends on word of mouth and on hand distribution since it is self distributed. The artist is always carrying the CDs in his bag, selling them at gigs, taverns, streets and homes in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage.

Such a smooth, soul-jazz offering is humbly made for you and your generation that appreciates good deeds and sacrifices. (If you want to get a copy of Tulwana's CD phone him on 0724606699 or e-mail or write to 570 Ferguson Road,New Brighton,Port Elizabeth,6200). The CD costs R100 with the one song DVD and the CD with no DVD costs R80.

Numsa News has two CDs to give away courtesy of Tulwana. If you would like a copy, write to Numsa News, PO Box 260483, Excom 2023. Closing date for entries – 20 April).


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