Patently not inventors

Our government is worried that not enough people are applying for patents. In other words, South Africans are useless when it comes to coming up with stuff that nobody else has thought of.

And it’s not just democracy that has made us stupid. We were stupid long before then. Let us take a look at some of the things that South Africans have invented.

The CAT scan. Personally, I think this is a misprint. Either that, or something got lost in translation. What physicist Allan Cormack did in the 1960s was invent the cat scam. I am not going into detail because this has the potential to make buckets of money and I want it all for myself. Besides, there are only two people in this country capable of training cats to perform this scam and I am not about to give you their names.

The oil-from-coal refinery. Given the current hoo-ha about global warming, putting this on your boasting list is a bit like a German property developer from Camps Bay listing acceptance to the Hitler Youth as one of his achievements. Eventually we will all be byproducts of Sasol, anyway.

Heart transplant. Not strictly an invention, but we’ll take what we can get. Dr Chris Barnard was a philandering playboy who barely recognised his own kids. But he was good with a knife and he knew his way around the chest cavity. Just like most middle-ranking members of the 28s today.

Speed gun. Invented in 1992 by Henri Johnson, this could have been the final solution to crime. Just imagine. A gun that fired at the speed of light. A gun that shot bolts of pure white energy into the black hearts of the yellow-eyed varmints, instantly vapourising their bodies. A gun that fired by itself whenever it sensed the presence of evil. But, no. Henri’s invention measures the speed and angle of rubbish like cricket and tennis balls. You can see the results at the bottom of the screen when Morné Morkel bowls. 138km/h, says the speed gun. And nobody dies. I really can’t see the point.

Kreepy Krauly. Easily the most dangerous thing ever invented. I doubt I am the only person to have come close to cardiac arrest while running between the pump and the inlet, backwashing, circulating, pushing, shoving and shouting, “suck, motherfucker, suck!” Only someone who stumbled out of the Belgian Congo in 1951 could have come up with such a monstrosity. Colonel Kurtz was an aid worker compared to Ferdinand Chauvier.

APS therapy. The Action Potential Stimulation device was invented by Gervan Lubbe, whose name alone should have seen him incarcerated in a home for the criminally insane. At first glance the gizmo sounds like something really useful. Something that might enable women to take care of their own orgasms while giving men time to focus on their golf game, for example. But it’s not. The only thing it does is relieve arthritic pain, which counts for nothing if you don’t have arthritis. Anyway, all you have to do these days is wince in a doctor’s direction and he happily hands over a giant bag of super-addictive painkillers.

Pratley Putty. This ridiculous sounding substance held Apollo XI mission’s Eagle landing craft together, making it the first South African invention to go to the moon. Or, more likely, to a secret film studio in the Nevada desert. Hundreds of tons of the stuff are exported around the world each year. I have never used it because I have other ways of keeping my shit together.

Dolosse. Not only one of the most lyrical words in the English language, but also the best way to keep the ocean from crashing into the street and drowning you and your loved ones. Designed by Eric Merrifield, a man built like a large, oddly shaped concrete block, dolosse weigh up to 20 tons. Eric, slightly less. The Coega Project near Port Elizabeth recently made history with the casting of the biggest, ugliest dolosse the world has ever seen. Foreigners visiting PE often have trouble telling the dolosse from the locals.

Appletiser. Undrinkable when mixed with whisky, brandy, vodka or anything else. Completely pointless.

Fire. First used at Swartkrans cave 1.5 million years ago. Used mainly as a reason to file insurance claims and activate deadly carcinogens in boerewors. An increasingly viable alternative to Eskom.

Hippo drum water roller. This device makes it possible for rural girls as young as three to transport drinking water over vast distances. Many of them will go on to become world-class athletes in the hippo drum water roller event, only for their dreams to be shattered when it turns out that the water they drank as kids caused bunches of testicles to grow in their armpits.

Apartheid. A political system similar to democracy except that only white people get to vote. Many South Africans living in Perth, New Jersey, London and Wellington proudly claim apartheid as a uniquely South African invention. However, this is strongly disputed by the few remaining Australian aboriginals, North American Indians and Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party.


7 thoughts on “Patently not inventors


    Ben, you are the best! I nearly pissed in my pants!

  2. Not only satirical but funny, and witty. Look forward to another few pages of your take on SA inventions – Velcro? Q20? Telerometer (Plessy?)

    1. Yes, I missed a few. Next time.

  3. philcurtis says:

    Of course we are a nation of inventors – I can’t imagine why the government is worried!

    Naturally most of the New South Africa inventions are not patentable because it takes a considerable amount of time and money to register a patent and these inventions have to be put into the public domain the minute they are thought of.

    The inventions I refer to are, of course, the many ways that certain businessmen and politicians are dreaming up to screw the long-suffering taxpayer out of a few extra million bucks.

    They wouldn’t want to give up the surprise factor by trying to register a patent and subjecting the idea to public scrutiny before it is implemented, now would they?

    Nice article Ben – It is a sense of humour like yours that keeps some of us from dusting off the armaments and taking out a few of the culprits.


    Phil Curtis

    1. Good to know I’m helping you stay out of prison, Phil.

  4. Frank Graham says:

    Few people like you for the bon mots!

    1. Ah, yes. The old bon mot. Thanks Frank.

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