I do like talking to readers. Those who take the time to write a short note to say thank you are always appreciated by me. They come up with interesting ideas and often ask questions I would gladly answer if possible. This past week I had an interesting note. The reader flatly stated that the GMJ Series is restoring the pride the Afrikaner once had before his leaders turned out to be wankers of note.
I read the note twice because this was news to me and you will not find racism in my books as many believe, wrongly, that every Afrikaner is a racist. What you will find is action, adventure, covert operations based on actual events and a desire to ask if it is fiction or not and no one reads a GMJ without learning history. This makes the books entire great reads for that kind of reader, the ones who loved Tom Clancy and John le Carre novels except these ones are not US or UK orientated, they are South African orientated. Their outlook is completely Afrikaner and hence they don’t like the Pommies, they hate the Leeches in Buckingham Palace whom they blame for the war crimes in 1901 where one third of all Afrikaner women and children died in concentration camps and they will never not say that the British Army caused it. And so one Winston Churchill is exposed as not nearly as brilliant as the world believe he is. Such statements, even if true, are bound to rile a few people but not the Afrikaner who will applaud. And then the characters fancy themselves with a long history of counter insurgency and counter terrorism second to none and better than anything anywhere in military history. I suppose it is such themes and outlooks which caused the comment which took me by surprise.
When I was young I stopped reading Afrikaans or anything to do with Afrikaner simply because I found the books terrible. You always had the old sob story written, my word, please feel sorry for me. A farmer, drought, a child outside wedlock, a lost young man in the evil city and so it went on until I wanted to shout, this is NOT the Afrikaner! What utter crap and what a strange desire to do what? I don’t know actually; I just knew this is wrong! This is not the view I had of my people. I saw the Afrikaner as proud, scientifically advanced people, not backward farmers unable to read or write and lived to hate black people. This is pointed out in the GMJ books, the many fronts where the Afrikaner led the world and is still leading in military hardware. What was achieved in 1974 took the Americans only 30 years to catch up (MRAP), the Kukri-helmet aiming system, 1980s already and so I go on and on and I am sure, surprised the hell out of many. And yes, they, the characters are ex-South African Special Forces and I mention the statistics in every book, 482 men qualified over forty years, 100 000 tried and in Africa, you get no better. And believe you me, I can back up whatever I write with historical facts. I know what I am talking about when it comes to this subject.
Perhaps I did inject some pride as the reader suggested. After all, I am one myself and able to speak better Afrikaans than English and I wanted the world to understand what is happening here politically. How far I succeeded is impossible to judge, the books are only now hitting more and more readers but I can tell you this, they are loyal readers. If they read one GMJ, they want the others too and although the books can be read separately, they are deliberately written like that, they do have constant themes. The characters are Christian orientated and fiercely so, they don’t hold any other faith in much regard and they will kill whoever insults them. The Afrikaner is not, traditionally, a fellow who turns the cheek as happened in the last twenty years, he strikes first or strike back and he wins. The South African Army last lost a battel at Tobruk in 1942 and since then chased everyone away (it is in the books). Another theme, the characters are led by a girl, a woman in her forties and she is something else. A farm girl turned spy turned covert operator able to do whatever the lads can do, twice as good and she is not afraid of kicking shins to get attention, shooting whoever needs shooting, blowing up things and punching Pommies when needed. And she wins, she always wins and the lads, tough men all them, listen closely when she commands and she does this without losing any of her charms as a woman. So I was not surprised when some said I wrote “chick” books. That may well be true but they are real, they are based on actual operations and they read like an autobiography mixed with history and historical facts.
So did they restore the Afrikaner’s pride? Ask me again in twenty years. The story is long not over. I like such comments, keep it coming.