Magumba! Magumba!

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AT the time the Soviet Union was interfering in South Africa’s domestic affairs a joke poked fun at politicians’ buck-wagon expressions.

Speaking in tedious political cliché a visiting Communist constantly heard the mob crying, ‘magumba, magumba!’ He presumed it to be an expression of approval.

Later when strolling he was confronted by an oxen’s calling card in the middle of the trail. ‘Don’t step in the magumba,’ advised his companion.

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One wonders when Europeans too will grow weary of politicians’ false promises, their hypocrisies and deceits. They talk the good fight.

They have broken their covenant to serve the people and now, exposed as cheats and charlatans, they buy time with sanctimonious appeals.

I imagine there to be a list of false platitudes from which politicians pick the one they feel most appropriate for the occasion. Much the same can be said of the Armed Forces response when, with depressing regularity, a young British serviceman is shredded by an Afghan landmine or felled by a tribesman’s bullet.


‘Which banality can we use this week, Sergeant Kipling? Shall it be number eleven; he died serving the people of Afghanistan?’ ‘No sir, that one was used for Infantryman Smith a few days ago.

May I suggest you use Cliché 17: he died serving his country or No. 19 is rather splendid: he died happily doing what he always wanted to do? We haven’t used that one for awhile.’

I was reminded of this when I read a EWN correspondent’s remark on the ‘we’re all in this together’ inanity. He pointed out how many cabinet members; 23 of 29 was it; are millionaires.


The crumb of renewed glory was thrown to the mob last week. Britain will have a new aircraft carrier for, wait for it, 2030. Yes, you will indeed wait for it; 19 to 29 years if it is remembered that pie in the sky is invariably late like the trains and economic recovery.

Politicians never fail to disappoint.

Long before computers and other shipbuilding aids were to hand; when most transport was carried by Shire horses, Britain’s most illustrious warship, HMS Ark Royal, lost in November 14, 1941, was built in five years.

Now they call 19 to 29 years years in building an aircraft carrier progress. Forgive me if I put my head in my hands and weep. Platitudes do not have a shelf life; if I hear the term Dunkirk Spirit one more time I swear I will scream.

It is called spin and has much in common with ‘come into my parlour said the spider to the fly.’ This is why platitudes are called spin; they inveigle, they deceive, they buy time for inept politicians, their rat-like eyes squinting from their bunkers.

Searching for a suitable quotation to underpin my point I had so many to choose from Socrates to the present.

George Orwell, prophetic journalist spoke for us all: ‘Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable; and to give solidity to pure wind.’ It is what the Africans call ‘magumba.’

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