The root of writing / The eating of roots

an abstract painting: a rolls royce stalls on the side of the road, the specter of a policeman with a beret and large rifle floats from the car's hood. a young kid with her hair done up in puffs sits watching the car. Two swirl faced people walk away from the scene, holding cups of coffee in their hands.
painting by Yemisi Aribisala

Today: Yemisi Aribisala, writer, editor, essayist, painter, and author of Longthroat Memoirs; and Hamilton Nolan, author of the newsletter How Things Work, and the book The Hammer: Power, Inequality, and the Struggle for the Soul of Labor.


Issue No. 27

Naked Policeman and Other Stories
Yemisi Aribisala

The Word that Shall be Named
Hamilton Nolan


by Yemisi Aribisala

Once upon a time I visited a shop belonging to this couple in Somerset West, Western Cape. They were interesting from the get-go because they coordinated their outfits, without fail; the two men would wear, for example, matching candyfloss pink shirts. This was July 2017, winter in the Western Cape, with snow on Helderberg mountains. I was standing in the soothing warmth of the shop, amid antique rugs, pre-loved copper jam pots, and Royal Albert teacups and saucers in mix-and-match patterns. Some story started to brew around where I was standing, you know. I could smell it wafting in my direction. There is this thing about me and a juicy story and how I am always just standing somewhere, minding my business. I assure you, minding my business… and the story comes out of nowhere and collides with me.

There was another Afrikaner man in this shop, and they were all talking about a Rhodesian lottery. For those who are wondering what Rhodesia is, it was a country, a part of South Africa named after the British empire builder, Cecil Rhodes. Present-day Rhodesia is roughly equivalent to a country now called Zimbabwe. The lottery win was a Rolls Royce car. And this farmer had won it. Okay, so let me backtrack slightly and tell you what the men in the shop had been joking about. One of them had made a comment on how "expensive he was to maintain" so one of the others tossed in the story of this Rolls Royce, and how some farmer had won the incredibly luxurious car.

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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