SA takes top position by accident

Finally, some good news at last! For the second year running, we have been named the most dangerous country to drive in. Competition for the title is fierce and I have never been more proud to be South African.

Congratulations, then, to all our motorists who went out of their way to help us clinch pole position once again. By went out of their way, I mean veered across three lanes, spun out of control, rolled twice and ended up facing oncoming traffic without dropping their phone or spilling a drop of beer.

Handing out the top honour was an international company called Zutobi. Sounds a bit like that stupid 2010 Soccer World Cup mascot of ours who brought us nothing but bad luck.

Zutobi, in fact, is an online driver’s education resource offering courses tailored for several countries, none of which are ours. Basically, it’s a mine of useful information on things like dealing with cyclists, how to use your indicators and which drugs you should take to stay awake behind the wheel.

This year, Zutobi awarded us an impressively pathetic 3.41 points out of 10 for our sheer exuberance in driving drunk, disobeying the rules of the road and generally behaving like attention-deficit children once we’re in the driver’s seat.

Zutobi says only 31% of front-seat passengers in SA wear a seat belt. If you are one of the 69% letting the side down, please make more of an effort next year. Let’s go for the triple. Seat belts are a ploy by white monopoly capital to keep us in our place. Don’t be sheeple. Do your own research.

The world’s second most dangerous country to drive in is Thailand. There appears to be some skulduggery afoot here. Did Fikile Mbalula bribe Zutobi to give us the number one spot? I’ve driven in Bangkok and let me tell you, the mayhem there is on another level altogether. It’s quite spectacular. We’re rank amateurs compared to the Thais and they must feel horribly cheated right now.

Apparently, 29% of road traffic deaths in SA are attributed to alcohol. Doesn’t sound like much when you consider that 95 out of 100 people drink and drive every weekend. The other five have had their cars stolen.

Accidents are caused by drivers who can’t handle their liquor. Nine doubles and they’re all over the place. Bloody amateurs. Yes, certain types of alcohol are not as good for driving as others. The more tequila you drink, for instance, the sharper your reflexes and the more you enjoy accelerating around corners and freewheeling down mountain passes.

Norway, according to Zutobi, is the safest country to drive in, followed by Iceland. Of course their roads are going to be safe. They drive on ice and snow and their tyres are covered in chains. People regularly get overtaken by polar bears. Also, you need to be a millionaire to be able to afford a decent bottle of spirits. The common folk drink heavily distilled filth so strong that they pass out before even getting into first gear. And beer was banned in Iceland until 1989. They barely know what it is or even how to use it to improve your driving skills.

Last year, a group of anti-crash spoilsports called the Road Safety Partnership seemed to think it was a bad thing for South Africa to have the reputation of being the most dangerous country in which to drive and that we should work to change this. On the list of things we are not very good at, “work” and “change” are right up there. Along with driving, obviously.

I don’t think Zutobi’s courses would help us much. A lot of the content deals with abstract things like road signs, roundabouts and speed limits. Life’s too short to bother with theories. It’s the practical side of things that’s important.

What we need to do is scrap the learner’s licence requirement. Youngsters can no longer afford the bribes. Besides, learning isn’t a South African thing. We’re proud to be a nation that refuses to learn from anything, least of all our mistakes. The only rule novice drivers need to know is, don’t admit to anything. It’s also the first rule of politics.

And there should be only one driving test. No more fannying about with girly stuff like parallel parking and handbrake starts. On the last Friday of every month, applicants will race on the N2 between Kokstad and East London. Those who make it in under three hours will be given a licence. Contestants will be permitted to hit a maximum of two cows or one adult person, preferably male.

Anyway. Europe might have the safest roads, but on ours, you at least know there’s little chance of getting taken out by a stray Iskander ballistic missile.

Back in the belly of the beast

You’ll no doubt be pleased to hear that I am back from my so-called vacation and will no longer be subjecting you to stories of howler monkeys, unrequited priapisms and near death experiences.

A combination of dwindling funds and incipient alcoholic rot forced me home. Costa Rica is expensive and the rand doesn’t go as far as it used to. There was a time it travelled fairly well, but now it’s all palsied and in a wheelchair and needs help getting to the airport on time.

The flights were appalling, as flights generally are. Unless, of course, you fly First or Business Class, in which case the only time the word appalling might be deployed is if the second round of champagne warmed slightly while the cabin crew violently subdued a passenger trying to light a joint in the economy class toilet.

Costa Rica to Panama City to Istanbul to Cape Town, with brutally long layovers in airports the size of small cities filled with hideously garish shops catering for multi-millionaires rather than inappropriately dressed South Africans making offensive remarks about the price and quality of the local beer.

Turkish Airlines brought us dinner at 3am. Local time. Breakfast was served at lunch time. I felt like I was losing my mind. It didn’t help that I was jammed against a window and had to eat like a T-Rex with an amputated arm because I was hemmed in by a Turkish lout the size of Mount Ararat.

Anyway, the immigration official at Cape Town International made it all worthwhile with her cheery cry of “Welcome home!” Kidding. I got the standard sigh, cursory glance and ill-tempered stamp. I’ve had worse.

During the endless flying, waiting, not shopping, drinking, passing out, drinking some more, flying again ordeal, I was surprised to see more than a few people walking around without masks on. A year ago I almost got shot by two German polizei for not wearing my mask inside Frankfurt airport.

There were people on all three of my flights who took their masks off and nobody seemed to care. I cautiously removed mine, feeling as if I was exposing parts that shouldn’t be seen by people with whom I had no intention of being intimate. No raised eyebrows, no shaking of heads. The sense of freedom was almost unbearable. I hailed a passing stewardess and asked that I be given rum and taken to the cockpit for a chat with the pilot.

When the Uber driver dropped me off at the bottle store, I discovered that I no longer even had my mask. I told the girl behind the till that I’d hold my breath and headed for the fridge. When I staggered out with an armload of medication to treat the jet-lag, hypoxia had begun setting in and I was turning blue. She said I needn’t worry.

“Nobody wears masks around here any more. Maybe in Constantia,” she snorted, “but not here.” Not in the Deep South, where nobody really cares if they live or die. She said she’d already had Covid and had no plans to get vaccinated. “Not until, like, they test it on pregnant women, coz, like, you never know what it will do to the baby.” I eyed her stomach. Possibly pregnant, possibly just eats too much. Couldn’t risk it. I paid and left quickly.

Later, I tried catching up on what’s been happening in SA, something that’s generally best done while indulging in low-level substance abuse. It’s becoming increasingly important to dull one’s senses before attempting to follow the news. The lethiferous leviathan that the ANC has become is not to be confronted while one is of sound mind and body. It will crush you.

So our vaccine stash is in danger of expiring and there’s talk of having to destroy millions of doses. Don’t do that. Just leave them on the pavement. No true South African will turn down a free thing. They’ll be gone by morning. Unsold copies of my latest book, Durban Poison, were recently destroyed like a bunch of rabid dogs. The publisher should have put them on the street. At best, the homeless could have used them to roll joints or make fires.

I was planning to go to Durban to visit the old curmudgeon, but the council says it will take six months to fix the very basic concrete bridge over the Tongaat River. That’s my access point to the fleshpots of Ballito. Now I’d have to go all the way through the sugar cane fields up to the N2 and get trapped in savage bottlenecks. After five months on the beaches and backroads of Central America, I can’t do traffic. Someone will die.

Last year, a Chinese developer built a 10-storey building in 28 hours and 45 minutes. In 2015, a Chinese construction company put up a 57-storey skyscraper in 19 days. It’s obvious what has to happen. We need to start breeding with Chinese people in the hope that the work ethic comes through in our children, one of whom will eventually fix the Tongaat bridge in his lunch hour.

Too late for me, obviously, but it’s the next generation we need to start thinking about.

Falling away at midnight

When I heard President Ramaphosa had declared South Africa was no longer in a State of Disaster, I felt a roiling sense of unease. For 750 days we knew where we stood – mostly outside locked bottle stores. Now we have been thrust back into an era in which we were never altogether comfortable in the first place.

You can’t just go on telly and say that “disaster regulations will fall away at midnight”. That’s too sudden. Many of us have developed Stockholm Syndrome. We need to be prepared. We need the right drugs. There should have been a referendum asking if we, the people, do in fact want to exit the State of Disaster. In any true democracy, the plebeians are consulted. Yes, their wishes are ultimately ignored, but still. At least have the decency to go through the motions.

We weren’t consulted when our liberties were removed two years ago and we weren’t consulted when they were returned two days ago. I have grown accustomed to not having liberties. Life is simpler without them.

In the days when we were treated like farmyard animals, I didn’t have to choose between going for a run or a surf or a roast chicken or a pair of open-toed shoes because a poorly trained homicidal policeman would have shot me in the face. To be honest, I have never gone for a run. I use the example purely for illustrative purposes.

Now the government has seen fit to return us to a time that no longer exists. Things have moved on. The world has changed. We have changed. We don’t want to go back to the way things were. We don’t want to sink to our knees weeping in aisle six because we can’t decide between 38 kinds of cereal. We preferred it when the shops were shut. We relished not being allowed to go to the gym or visit unpleasant family in other provinces. We want fewer choices, not more.

The reason communism was so successful in the Soviet Union was that people were given the option of a red car or a blue car, strawberry jam or no jam, freedom of speech or ten years in a gulag. Life was uncomplicated and the people were happy. Those who weren’t happy were given the choice of being shot or killing themselves. Good times.

I no longer enjoy being in confined spaces with strange people, and I don’t even care if they aren’t wearing clothes. Now the government is forcing me to once again fraternise with my species. I grew to love the curfew because it meant I had an excuse to leave a bar or a party before someone called the paramedics. Now it’s open season all over again and I am 750 days older, filled with anger and resentment at having people I never voted for toying with what little remains of my life.

Our president said in his Return to the Past speech that we should be grateful for the State of Disaster because it allowed poor people to receive R350 a month. Poor people, meanwhile, continue praying for a nuclear holocaust on the assumption that this would be worth at least R650.

Essentially telling us that we now have more chance of being killed by a falling coconut than by Covid, our fearless leader said “the pandemic will be managed in terms of the National Health Act”.

I thought I’d fortify myself with a stiff drink before googling the relevant legislation, but inadvertently over-medicated and ended up watching porn instead. It was more depressing than the National Health Act.

Ramaphosa assured us that “the draft Health Regulations have been published for public comment… and once the comments have been considered…” Rum spurted from my nose. Are there still people who fall for this ruse? Worse than the Tinder Swindler, this fella.

Apparently we will still need to wear masks in indoor public spaces for the next 30 days. That’s ridiculous. I have spent years swapping spit – 90% women, 10% dogs – and there is nothing wrong with me. Obviously I can’t speak for them. The dogs, I mean. I dare not speak for the women.

“A mask is not required when outdoors.” Not everyone will get this message. There are still Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima who don’t know the war has ended. We need to help people understand the new mandate. If you pass someone in the street wearing a mask, reach over and remove it. He may try to fight you as a drowning person does, in which case you are legally entitled to headbutt him or knee him in the groin. Tell him you work for the government and that it’s for his own good.

I am pleased that restrictions on gatherings will continue. There is no need for more than two people in a room, three if you include the barman.

More worrying is that there are no more Alert Levels. How are we going to know how to behave? It’s like learning to walk again. Perhaps it’s best that we do whatever we want and see if anyone tells us to stop. Remember, you don’t have to listen if they don’t have a gun.

The one thing that remains with us is the elegantly named Covid-19 Vaccine Injury No-Fault Compensation Scheme. If you don’t understand what this means, claim anyway. Odds are you that will either get money or be prosecuted. Worth a shot.

Happier than a condemned kangaroo

I watched a video on Twitter from someone called Oleksandra Matviichuk. He was sitting behind the wheel of a van and looked like a rally driver – peak cap, teardrop sunglasses, overalls. Turning to the camera, he says: “Eight kangaroos were evacuated from the Feldman eco-park in Kharkiv region.” He jerks his thumb towards the back of the van. The camera pans to reveal eight kangaroos with WTF expressions on their pointy little faces.

Well done, mate. But whatever you do, don’t send them back to Australia. They’re bound to end up among the two million or so that get legally shot and killed every year. And be careful where you send them in Europe. Belgium alone imported over 700 tons of kangaroo meat in 2019. Also, the US trade in kangaroo products (springs, pouches, backscratchers) is worth $80-million a year. Truth is, they’d probably be safer in Ukraine.

You know where these ‘roos should go? Finland. Research by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which is almost certainly staffed by hippies who microdose on magic mushrooms throughout the day, found that Finland is the happiest nation in the world for the fifth year running.

Imagine living in a country where everyone is happy, year after year. It would be too terrible for words. I’ve been to Finland. If by happy they mean falling down drunk in the gutter, then yes, I can see how this might happen. Then again, that was thirty years ago, a time when Finland was headed for a crushing recession. Unemployment soared to 20%. We could be so lucky.

Finland shares a 1,340km border with Russia. They might not be all that ecstatic for very much longer. But the fact that they’re still so happy does seem to suggest that they have maintained their healthy drinking habits. One figure I saw said that Finns consumed 9.3 litres of pure alcohol per person. I don’t know if this is daily or weekly. Either way, it’s impressive. So it’s pretty much a case of happy, happy, happy, dead. Not a bad life.

Those free-spirited bohemians over at the UN surveyed 146 countries for their index. This year we staggered in at 91, looking as if we’d just been punched in the face but whistling through our broken teeth nevertheless. Could be worse, we said, giving the side-eye to Zimbabwe (144).

And it has been worse. In 2016, when the ANC gave Jacob Zuma a stern warning that he only had another two years left to loot and pillage, we placed 116th. It was our lowest ranking ever. I don’t remember if I was particularly happy in 2016. Come to think of it, I don’t remember 2016 at all.

The Ramaphosa years have seen us hover between 103 and 109. It’s almost as if the president’s inability to decide who he is or what he should be doing rubbed off on us. We didn’t quite know if we were happy, sad, angry or just plain confused. Like the weather in Cape Town, the South African sense of wellbeing is subject to change at a moment’s notice. We can go from laughing in the morning to weeping at lunch to murdering at night. Seamlessly. It’s what makes us great as a nation.

You’d think that with so much cheap alcohol, easy women and a dysfunctional police force, we would be the happiest people in Africa, but you’d be mistaken. That honour goes to Mauritius, nearly 40 places higher than us. Coming in at 52 seems to confirm what I have always suspected – Mauritius is not really part of Africa. It’s clean, peaceful and well-run. The government isn’t even corrupt. How is that Africa? Also, it’s not attached to the continent. It’s in the middle of the ocean. That should disqualify it immediately. The only connection with Africa is all the South African estate agents trying to flog beachfront properties to crooked lawyers and bent accountants.

Do you know who else beat us? Libya (86) and Ivory Coast (88). Short of Afghanistan, it’s hard to imagine more of a hot mess of a country than Libya. The US State Department has issued a Level 4 advisory. Like cancer, there is no Level 5. “Do not travel to Libya due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict…” And yet the people there are happier than we are. Perhaps its because the Americans stopped visiting.

The bottom ten on the list of 146 countries are, with the exception of Afghanistan, all in Africa. Four of them are our immediate neighbours, including Malawi, which produces some of the best weed in the world, which immediately casts doubt on all the findings.

The Nordic countries once again sweep the top ten. It makes no sense. How is it remotely possible to be happy in any country where a beer costs R150, 5°C is considered beach weather and the sun sets at 3pm and rises four months later?

Right now, it’s 10pm on Monday night and I’m sitting shirtless beneath a palm tree on the Guanacaste coast of Costa Rica with a chilled Flor de Caña rum in hand. A few locals have made a fire on the beach. They are playing music, drinking beer and laughing. A couple of girls are dancing. There are good reasons this tiny Central American country is ranked 23 and we’re not.

Under the volcano

Travel as much as you can, my mother said. It broadens the mind, she said. Thanks, mom. My mind is now so broad that important stuff has begun falling into the yawning crevasse between my cerebral hemispheres.

Right now, a cold Toña is at my elbow. This is Nicaragua’s finest beer. It might be its only beer. In front of me is a volcano. Not off in the distance, where volcanoes belong. This one is a few hundred metres away. I have an active volcano threatening to ruin my sundowner. Concepción last erupted in 2010. As if that’s not enough, there’s a second volcano on the same island. This one’s dormant, though, like my sex life.

It wasn’t easy getting here. It’s not like going to Mozambique, Zimbabwe or Namibia, where you just step over a sagging fence or swim across a river. These Centroamericanos are serious about their borders.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’d know that I hopped into Panama from Costa Rica the other day. It was a breeze. Doing the same into Nicaragua, not so much. Conquered and pillaged by the Spanish, colonised by the English and sodomised by America, Nicaragua is wary of foreigners. Maybe I’m being unfair. The woman at immigration at the Peñas Blancas border post was wary of foreigners. Okay, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. She was wary of me.

Let me briefly back-pedal. Nicaragua demands a PCR test for Covid, regardless of your vaccination status. It’s inexplicable. Even barbaric countries like Lebanon and Denmark no longer require you to be tested if the Pfizer filth is in your body.

So once again I had to suffer the indignity of a stranger rooting around in my prefrontal cortex, unnecessarily exciting my pituitary gland which caused my beer boobs to start leaking milk. Better than an unexpected growth spurt, I suppose. Nobody looks kindly on seven-foot men unless they play for the NBA and are multi-millionaires.

The invasive atrocity was perpetrated in a tent in the parking lot of an airport called Liberia. Yes, I know worse atrocities have been perpetrated in Liberia, but not to me. This Liberia is a town near Costa Rica’s Guanacaste coast. It’s dry and hot and full of gringos with annoying accents and thousand-yard stares.

Once the obsidian-eyed woman in a hazmat suit was done ravaging my sinuses and throat – the third swab activated my gag reflex, an unpleasant sight for the nurse, and yet, on the other hand, there’s a good chance she took a fair amount of perverse pleasure in seeing a man … never mind. Can I wait here? No, you can’t. The results will be ready sometime in the next 24 hours.

Whenever I am trapped in circumstances beyond my control, I head for the coast. I feel safer with my back to a large body of water. It’s an escape route and a source of infinite pleasure. Nothing can go wrong if you’re at the beach. There’s drowning, I suppose. And sting rays. And Congolese men selling wire tortoises. But apart from that.

My navigator, a woman with the directional skills of Christopher Columbus had he been born blind and deaf, took me to the wrong beach. We ended up in the wrong bar where I asked the local drug dealer what he was selling, which also turned out to be wrong.

Anyway, our negative Covid results came through and we made it to the border by 11am the next day. And that’s where I came up against the poison dwarf. Channelling the spirit of the dictator, Somoza, she spent two hours looking for reasons not to let me in. She asked what I did for a living. I have several fake occupations I use when crossing borders, but before I could say, “chicken sexer”, she said, “Escritor, no?” I took a step back. Was it the holes in my shirt? The look of abject despair in my bloodshot eyes? She wanted to know what kind of writer I was. Oh cariño, you don’t want to know. Travel, I said. For who, she said. I quickly googled the word for freelance and said “lanza libre”. She picked up my paperwork and left the booth. Much later, I reverse translated and found it also meant “mercenary”.

Eventually, through gritted teeth, she allowed me into her country where 82% of the population live on less than $1 a day. Maybe she didn’t want me spreading my dirty capitalist largesse in the local bars. Raising poor people’s expectations is a dangerous game.

Two hours later I was on an island in the middle of one of the biggest lakes in the world. There are vicious bull sharks in the water and mad people with machetes down broken dirt roads strewn with volcanic boulders. It’s like nothing I have ever seen and I doubt I will make it out alive.

Dear Barbara Creecy, Dark Lord of All Beasts, Forests and Fishes

I hear you have decreed that 10 leopards, 10 black rhino and 150 elephants shall be gunned down by trophy hunters this year. Good for you. There is no place in this country for freeloaders who contribute nothing to the national democratic revolution.

Besides, it’s not as if South Africa has a shortage of these violent brutes. Some people have reported seeing as many as two leopards in their lifetimes. That’s more than enough. It’s better for all concerned that nobody sees any leopards whatsoever. Give them half a chance and they’ll be in the suburbs. Then it’s, “Babe, there’s another mutilated impala under the bed!” As if birds and lizards aren’t enough.

As for the rhino, they’ve had this coming for a long time.

Short-sighted and cantankerous, more so even than Gwede Mantashe, they often prevent interesting species from being photographed. My view of a warthog has more than once been spoiled by a dirty great ungulate standing there like a lump of concrete. How about if we painted them? I don’t mean with targets to make it easier for the shunters, although it’s something you might want to consider, but rather use them as mobile billboards. I bet Shell would pay good money to have its logo sprayed on the side of one of these ridiculous animals. No, you’re right. They are still worth more dead than alive.

I’m surprised you chose black rhino, though. What kind of comrade are you? It’s the white rhinos lumbering about complaining of congestion at the waterhole because too many black ones have moved into the neighbourhood.

So, 150 elephants, eh? I bet the young ones are excited. What kid doesn’t enjoy time without adult supervision? And by the time they are big enough to make it onto your hit list, they will have had a fabulous few years and won’t ever have to worry about growing old. What’s more, they stand a chance of having their head mounted on a wall in some or other redneck’s ranch in Texas. Bonus!

Are you sure 150 is enough, though? Apparently elephants never forget. That could be dangerous, especially if they ever start running for public office. That would show up your colleagues in the Cabinet, most of whom who have serious memory retention issues, especially when it comes to making promises and not learning from history.

I see most of the condemned leopards are from the North West and Limpopo. If word gets out, these murderous felines are liable to sneak into Gauteng under cover of darkness and take jobs away from non-South African leopards, and then you’ll have an entirely different problem on your hands.

Also, unlike the endangered and critically endangered elephants and rhinos, leopards are only vulnerable. Cats, hey. Such drama queens. We’re all vulnerable. They need to get over it.

You’ve sentenced just one leopard from KwaZulu-Natal to death? I attended one of King Zwelithini’s topless extravaganzas showcasing the latest in a range of buxom teenage virgins and, judging by the attire of the amabutho and the royals, leopards must be in very short supply in those parts. Still, there’s always one, isn’t there. I just hope it’s not a British trophy hunter who kills him. Rorke’s Drift still rankles.

Barbs, I have to say I loved that bit where you said “income generated by trophy hunting is critical for impoverished rural communities”. I don’t know who laughed more – you when you wrote it or me when I read it. That’s the beauty of issuing statements instead of holding press conferences. You can come up with any number of easily discredited narratives without having to answer awkward questions from journalists armed with real facts.

You also said trophy hunting “provides a useful wildlife management tool … as a means to remove excess males from a population”. Yes! If there is anything this country needs, it’s the removal of excess males. I have a list of my own and I’m happy to share it with your best hunters.

You proudly announced that in 2019, “approximately R208m was derived from the trophy hunting of threatened or endangered species”. This sounds like a weird admission for someone in your position to make. Did somebody slip a little sodium thiopental into your gin and tonic? You do understand the meaning of “endangered”, right?

Ambling towards the moral high ground, you claimed that “the biodiversity sector employed more than 418,000 people in 2019, which is comparable to mining”. I don’t want to sound like a tree-hugging, lentil-eating snowflake here, but I imagine most of them weren’t involved in the business of encouraging foreigners to shoot our natural assets in the face. I expect you’d find more of that sort of thing in the mining industry itself.

Finally, you said “hunting is a part of SA heritage and culture”. You’re right there, Babsy. Many of us spend our time hunting for jobs, quick cash or the fucker who stole our car.

Down with the Big Five! Or, by the time you’ve finished, the Big Two.

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect disharmony

There was a photo in a Sunday newspaper of an enraged white man shouting at an annoyed black man outside Hoërskool Jan Viljoen, a hideous neo-Calvinistic throwback named after an education minister who served at a time when righteous laws like the Group Areas Act, the Immorality Act and everyone’s favourite, the Population Registration Act, were being passed in parliament.

The school is in a godforsaken town called Randfontein. To be fair, I don’t know the area very well. Spending time in Randfontein is something I hope to never do. No good can come of any town that ends in “fontein”. Yes, I know it means fountain and fountains are supposed to be happy, sparkly things. But in many of these places, the fountains have either dried up or been smashed by poor people who need something to throw at the police.

When I was in the army, some of us would go to a place called Fountains in Pretoria when we weren’t being murdered by PT instructors. I remember there being a lot of bush and water of some kind. I think it might have been government land set aside for psychotic troopies to blow off steam rather than their staff sergeant’s head. While running amok one Friday night, a demijohn of Paarl Perle crooked in my elbow, I bounced heavily off a length of barbed wire strung between two trees. It was probably the remnants of a fence erected by Paul Kruger, but I prefer to think it was an MK ambush. That way I can tell people I saw action on the border (of Groenkloof and Muckleneuk). Being a trained soldier, I lay there laughing and weakly crying for help.

Anyway. This isn’t about my exploits as a war hero. I was talking about the photo of the angry men shouting at each other across a yawning chasm spanning generations of ingrained prejudice. Some found the image troubling. Shouldn’t be happening 48 years into democracy, or however long it’s been, they said.

Thing is, racism will only die out once the country is inhabited entirely by people of the same colour. No white. No black. Just a soothing shade of café au lait, thereby rendering racial discrimination redundant. It’s why Verwoerd and PW Botha didn’t want whiteys getting jiggy with the Others. They knew it could only lead to the end of racial discord, and what kind of terrible world would that be?

Once we’re all the same colour, and Herman Mashaba’s great-great-grandson is president and there are no more foreigners in the world, we can be like France or England and discriminate purely on the grounds of class. Now that’s something to look forward to.

For now, though, we need to make some changes to our national symbols. Our coat of arms makes no sense at all. In my case, literally. I had to turn to Wikipedia for help. Apparently it’s “a series of elements organised in symmetric egg-like shapes placed on top of one another”. What the hell is this? The time for balancing eggs is long past. Lose the eggs and let’s have a black face and a white face, confrontational and rampant.

“The first element is the motto, in a green semicircle…” That needs to be changed to red and white. Red for the blood that must still be spilled and white for the seed that will make us one nation, indivisible by race.

“The shape of the shield makes reference to the drum, and contains two human figures from Khoisan rock art.” So is it a shield or a drum? It’s these oblique references that confuse everyone. Take a stand, for heaven’s sake. Worse than Ramaphosa. Yes, this is Africa, but do we really need to be reminded? Our liberators are carrying Louis Vuitton bags and stolen Vektor Z88 handguns, not shields. And they’re beating their wives, not drums.

We can do away with the two human Khoisan rock art figures because, quite frankly, they look as if they were drawn by Beezy Bailey on one of his off days. Replace them with two lawyer figures, one representing the elitist, intransigent right (AfriForum) and the other the hypocritical agents provocateur on the left (EFF).

The motto could still be written in the Khoisan language, but instead of a doomed message like “diverse people unite”, let it be writ as “fuck you all”. Given the way these people have been treated by every government since Jan van Riebeeck sashayed ashore with a cabin boy in one hand and a hashish pipe in the other, I have no doubt they can express the sentiment more than adequately.

Speaking of which, I understand there’s a crisis in Cape Town. For once, it doesn’t involve homelessness, gunfights on the Flats or cyclists complaining about the southeaster. With parliament a smouldering ruin, there is nowhere to put our MPs.

“We have to do legislation,” they cry, waddling about the city like giant, overfed penguins.

Let them return to the way of the Khoisan. Hold sittings around a Table Mountain pine tree. Everyone gets a chance to speak and nobody leaves until consensus is reached. While that’s happening, we’ll get on with running the country.

Lindiwe and me, sitting in a tree…

How about that Lindiwe Sisulu, eh? Phwoaar. I’d give her one. Wouldn’t you?

If our minister of tourism rocked up at your front door wearing a La Perla negligee and seductively fanning herself with a wad of tenders for the taking, would you turn her away? Liar. If it were the good old days, you’d have had your way with her and then called the cops because, as a law-abiding Christian, you would have known that darkies weren’t allowed to be in your bedroom unless they were cleaning it. But then you would have been arrested for contravening the Immorality Act. Tough call. It wasn’t easy being a whitey in those days.

Speaking of which, other delightful laws the previous mob passed in parliament included the Group Areas Act, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act and the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act. You’d think the 1950s might have been a more appropriate time to torch the building.

So, yes. I am in love with Lindiwe Sisulu. Okay, love might be too strong a word. This brave woman has spent many years suffering in a multitude of senior government positions, forced to accept a humiliatingly large salary while being muzzled from speaking out against a proto-fascist, neo-colonialist, post-imperialist document the monopoly capitalists and their running lapdogs in the judiciary call the “constitution”. This has been her personal Robben Island and if her Zumanista comrades ever RETurn to power, she should be first in line for a medal.

Cynics will say the only reason I am enamoured of the warrior princess is that, when she was the supreme overlord of housing in 2005 – doing her utmost to ensure that if every poor person couldn’t get a house, then no poor people would get a house (she is nothing if not a true egalitarian) – she mentioned my name while giving the keynote address at a graduation ceremony at the Centurion Lake Hotel. The event was for a group called Women for Housing Contractors. Presumably they’re all driving Lamborghinis today.

Yes, I know it sounds like I’ve gone mad and am making this up, but I haven’t and I’m not. Lindiwe quoted extensively from a column of mine, giving appropriate credit since this was long before she crossed over to the dark side and began dabbling in plagiarism. The column satirised a particular aspect of the relationship between men and women. Looking back, I hope it was satire. It strikes me now as having been deeply and inappropriately sexist. But whatever it was, she liked it. She ended off by saying, “My guess is that all of us here will agree with him.” The idea of a hall full of women agreeing with me on anything was simultaneously troubling and intoxicating.

As if that wasn’t wild enough, two months later, addressing the Black Management Forum at Nedbank’s head office in Sandton (before we were all brainwashed into a dot-connecting trance), she quoted extensively from a column I wrote about a Klipdrift advert featuring a black couple in a car who break down and are rescued by a white farmer. In her speech, Lindiwe referred to me as “our Ben Trovato”. She is the only person in power who has ever acknowledged that I am a national treasure. For that alone, she has my undying support. Then again, nobody from the Black Management Forum has ever called with an offer I couldn’t refuse. Is it because I’m white?

Were Lindiwe to publicly call me “our Ben Trovato” tomorrow, I would have to go into hiding. Damned with faint praise doesn’t come close. I’d be in the Scared Witless Protection Programme in no time at all. It’s blindingly obvious that lines are being drawn and positions staked – fairly informally, because there are those who prefer to watch the wind rather than start it. For now. But tornados are coming and bad moons are rising and your best bet is to batten the hatches and lie low until it all blows over. Or up. Whatever.

Application for the post of Head of Security: Parliament

Dear Sir or Madam,

I imagine you are a sir and not a madam because things would not have descended to this level if a woman were left in charge, although it must be said that the Speaker is a woman (aren’t they all?). Perhaps she doesn’t have what it takes to save this roiling beast of a country. I can assure you, sir, that I do.

A weekend newspaper interviewed someone called Molotho Mothapo. Apparently he is the spokesman for parliament. When asked how many security officers were on duty the night of the fire, he replied: “I can’t give the exact number.” Can’t or won’t? The only way to get the truth from these people is to extract it. I would use sodium pentothal and a pair of long-nosed pliers.

Asked why parliament had been without a head of security since 2015, Mothapo said: “We have not been able to find a suitable person.” Well, obviously. It’s common knowledge that South Africa has only unsuitable people left. It’s why the cabinet looks the way it does. By no stretch of the imagination could anyone in Ramaphosa’s government be called “suitable”, and yet there they are.

When asked why there have been so many security breaches, he replied: “What security breaches?” Good man, that Mothapo. He understands the art of implausible deniability. I may take him as my deputy. Talent like that shouldn’t be wasted on politics.

As parliament’s new head of security, my first act will be to secure the perimeter. With the help of indigent layabouts, of which Cape Town has an abundance, I will dig a moat around the National Assembly and fill it with crocodiles. At first I thought hippos, but there is enough grunting and yawning inside the chamber.

Another security measure parliament lacks is a minefield. I’m thinking M14 “Toe-poppers”, cute little things first deployed by the United States in 1955. I don’t know where. Probably around the black suburbs in Alabama.

I will use wineboarding on members prone to pathological lying. Wineboarding is similar to waterboarding but more humane because, unlike the Americans, we are not savages and we have a culture of drinking rather than scaring ourselves to death.

Also, it would be good exposure for the Western Cape’s wine industry. I imagine the DA would demand to be tortured with something sweet and fruity from Stellenbosch. A nice Jordan Riesling, perhaps. The EFF, on the other hand, might prefer something cheap and red. Like a Tassenberg 2022. I will have to keep an eye on Julius Malema, that he doesn’t bribe one of my men to decant Chateau Lafite into a Tassenberg bottle.

These so-called “white shirts” you were sending in to deal with unruly members will have to go. They couldn’t even take down Floyd Shivambu, and that guy is one Jack Daniels away from a heart attack. I will bring in my own team of “brown shirts”, loosely modelled on the Sturmabteilung. They will all be of Israeli extraction. These guys know how to quell dissent. Some will be assigned to sniper duty and positioned in the public gallery, which is the best place for a clear shot at any disruptive honourables.

They won’t be on shoot-to-kill orders. I’m not a murderer. Yet. The Speaker will give a member three chances to take his or her seat. We have seen in the past that some representatives simply refuse to listen. A minor flesh wound inflicted by a 7.62mm round fired from an IWI Dan will encourage them to comply with the rules and regulations of the House.

Those members who consistently exceed their alloted time with repetitive, whining speeches will be darted with tranquilliser guns. Nothing too heavy. They’ll be back on their feet in an hour or so. My men will have specific instructions to keep a close eye on John Steenhuisen.

My master plan, and I would urge you to keep this to yourself for now, is to seal off the building once all 400 members are in the chamber. I know this is a rare occurrence, but when it does happen, we need to be ready. The drawbridge will be raised and the mines activated. Metal shutters will drop down from the windows and the hounds will be unleashed. Nobody will be permitted to leave until the executive is properly held to account. And I do mean properly. There can be no more fannying about. South Africa is out of time.

I will only be able to assume the position once parliament has been rebuilt after that poor homeless lunatic accidentally set the place light while trying to cook his pigeon dinner. I’d sugget you use sturdier material this time. Asbestos works well. Ask Ace Magashule.





Scorpions, locusts and a plague on both houses (of parliament)

On one of several undignified visits to the bathroom early on New Year’s Day, I saw what looked like a wrapping from a chocolate bar lying on the floor. Because none of my resolutions for 2022 involve trying to be less of a filthy animal, I went to kick it under the bed. The wrapping reared up and lunged for my foot, which was not altogether unexpected given the events of the previous evening. But this was no low-grade hallucination. It turned out to be a deadly Central American scorpion. Incensed at being disturbed, he went on a single-minded mission to hunt me down and murder me with his sharp end.

Being South African, I shouted and swore at him repeatedly. Being only familiar with threats issued in Spanish, he continued trying to stab me. The commotion woke my daughter and her husband who were asleep two floors down in their villa bought with what I suspect is drug money. My son-in-law not only has no fear of things that creepeth and crawleth, but he actively goes in search of the little savages so that he may photograph them, macro-like. He puts his lens right up against their evil snouts and takes their picture. For some reason, they are almost always accommodating. Were I to attempt it, they would undoubtedly try to kill me.

Yes, I know South Africa is presently afflicted with locust plagues, unidentified arsonists and the Zuma crime cartel, but scorpions are infinitely worse. The son-in-law rushed upstairs and screamed as he walked into my room. I had clearly underestimated the severity of the situation and joined in the screaming. It turned out that he was reacting to the sight of the unclothed me. Apparently this was not something he had ever expected to see in his lifetime. He said he’d sooner deal with a thousand predatory arachnids than go through that again. This makes no sense when you consider that my willy played a starring role in the making of his wife. That sounds wrong on so many levels and I shan’t mention it again.

Speaking of which, I find the razing of parliament quite exciting. Admittedly, there are many terrible things that capture one’s fascination when viewed from 12 000km away. I would be considerably less excited if, say, I lived near a national key point knowing that intellectually challenged agents provocateur like Duduvanka, untouchable in every sense, were out there exhorting dad’s ragtag rebel army to destroy the little that still works.

Patricia de Lille was first out of the gates to congratulate the firefighters. “I cannot thank their hard work enough! Thank you to these brave individuals ,” she gushed in broken English, as the blaze inexplicably went from under control to out of control in the space of a few hours.

Look, we all love a man in uniform. But these aren’t accountants who were suddenly called away from their families to help out. The clue is in the name of their occupation. They literally have one job. It’s kind of expected. On a slow day, they don’t fight anything at all. You really don’t need to fawn. Unless, of course, we have grown so accustomed to civil servants not doing their jobs properly that when it does happen, it’s a cause for minor celebration.

“More than 80 of them!” she shrieked. Where did they all come from, these men and women who fight fires? Are they on the payroll? What do you mean we forgot to feed and water them? Can we keep that out of the media?

Patty, who is the minister of public works, which is a silly title because most of the public doesn’t work, was at the side of our gelded mule of a president when he visited the bonfire of the vanities and said Cape Town and the Western Cape were at least one city and province in the country that worked. So many poorly drafted pieces of legislation languishing in limbo went up in smoke that comrade president must have been a bit high. How else could you explain such wanton praise for the opposition? Is he a plant? If so, what kind? My money is on a cactus. Both of them focus more on surviving than on rapid growth.

I’m not a massive fan of old buildings and I don’t really understand history, which is why I am doomed to repeat it, just like I repeated Grade 9 after failing history. But it would be nice to find out who is behind the many acts of sabotage and subversion committed after Don Jacob and his capos and consigliere were booted from office.

Anyway. I’m in a rustic beach bar on the sultry, palm-fringed edge of the Pacific Ocean and the doe-eyed waitress has just brought me another cold Imperial. I’m trying to care about things. I really am. But it’s not easy.