'Patriotic little paperback' cheer

[caption id="attachment_34573" align="alignright" width="200"] IRREPRESSIBLE OPTIMISM: Alan Knott-Craig jnr[/caption]


Reviewed by Gillian McAinsh

REMEMBER that viral e-mail from Alan Knott-Craig jnr a few years ago, which whizzed round the cybersphere, cheering up people and leading to a patriotic little paperback called Don't Panic!

That 2008 collection of positive thoughts sold 25000 copies, which in South African terms is a bestseller, and now Knott-Craig is ready for the next instalment, written in large, friendly letters by more optimistic citizens of the land.

Not to be confused with his father – formerly of Vodacom, Knott-Craig snr is now head honcho at Cell-C – Knott-Craig jnr is an accountant turned techpreneur, buying Mxit two years ago.

He will be in Port Elizabeth next week to launch Really, Don't Panic! at the opening of the equally patriotic musical I am an African (audiences at the Diaz Primary School production – at the Athenaeum in Central – will receive 10% discount on the book).

Knott-Craig is also CEO of Project Isizwe, which is trying to bring free Wi-Fi networks to South Africa and, if you buy the book, royalties will go towards this cause.

As a newspaper person, I disagree with his premise that people are depressed because they read newspapers. "Whenever you open the papers they tell you about the goriest hijacking and the most corrupt politicians" he wrote in the original 2008 e-mail, re-printed in Really, Don't Panic! That will never change – it is the nature of news – but print media also let you know about wonderful little books like Really, Don't Panic! and the wider perspective Knott-Craig encourages us all to find.

For the 2014 edition, he has asked for contributions from the likes of Max du Preez, Brand Pretorius, Achmat Dangor, Arthur Goldstuck, Jane Raphaely, Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu and John Robbie. These are all bright sparks, plus they share a heck of a lot of love and hope for this country.

There is even a contributor closer to home in the form of NMMU computing sciences lecturer Jean Greyling, and this is partly why Knott-Craig will be here. Greyling has been one of the driving forces behind presenting I am an African to a wider audience than parents and teachers at Diaz Primary School.

"The book is a compilation of essays from South Africans who are positive about the country, and we are combining this with the show because they have complementary themes," Greyling said.

  • Really, Don't Panic  will be on sale at Fogarty's. Further information on I am an African from Louise Greyling on (041)452-1211 or e-mail