Books · South Africa

War is fun, izzit?

Several years ago, something that seemed like it came from the pages of a novel (Frederick Forsyth’s Dogs of War comes to mind) actually happened in real life as South African mercenary Nick du Toit and over 60 accomplices were arrested for allegedly planning a coup against Equatorial Guinea, an oil-rich dictatorship in West Africa. Journalist James Brabazon knew du Toit and in fact, almost went along on the ill-fated mission until he pulled out at the “last minute.” He’s written a book about one of the mercenaries who was his personal bodyguard when he reported on the Liberian civil war in rebel territory. He has some really interesting, even provocative perspectives on covering wars as a reporter, even going so far as to say “The horrific, unspeakable truth of war is that it’s fun.” One is surely tempted to think this obviously is a journalist speaking. Me personally, I’d think it more convincing if it came from an actual combatant. He also talks about seeing a prisoner shot right in front of him and on another occasion, almost giving an overdose of morphine to a child who was in huge pain after having been shot in the head. Du Toit was released late last year.