I have been trying to work out what the Democratic Alliance had in mind when they “marched” on the ANC’s headquarters in Joburg last week.
It wasn’t really a march. Not a proper one. A march for jobs should symbolise the struggle for jobs. People keep telling the unemployed not to give up. To be determined. To do whatever it takes to get the job.
The attitude of the marchers on Wednesday was the equivalent of a jobseeker securing an interview, but then giving up and going home because the elevator was taking too long to arrive.
eNCA showed the DA blueshirts arriving by the busload at the Westgate transport hub, henceforth known as the Westgate strategic withdrawal hub. There was singing and dancing and not a white face to be seen. To be fair, there was a test match being played in Centurion on the same day. Given the choice between fighting for a brighter future or watching cricket, of course they would choose cricket. Their future is as bright as it ever was.
Besides, white people don’t march. They stroll. They ramble. They hike. They don’t march. They have neither the feet nor the stomach for it. They don’t know the words to the songs and the only time they feel comfortable jumping up and down is when somebody scores a try or hits a six.
Settling in with a bowl of heavily salted popcorn and a bucket of beers, I watched the blueshirts massing. I might have even cheered once or twice.
The commentary was breathless. There are thousands gathering. Any minute now they will march to Luthuli House. Almost to Luthuli House. A ring of steel will stop them from going further than Beyers Naude Square. But they will certainly come within shouting distance of Luthuli House, which is close enough for us armchair revolutionaries.
The building, which has all the architectural charm of an East German nuclear fallout shelter, was being protected by thousands of yellowshirts. Some of them had half-bricks in their hands.
eNCA war correspondent Nickolaus Bauer told us repeatedly that they avoided his questions about what they intended doing with their half-bricks. He could have suggested that since the blueshirts had been issued with construction helmets, they might get together and build something useful. Or he might have taken one of them around the back of the outside broadcast van and knelt on his throat until he told us the truth. That’s what I would have done.
Being a lovely summer’s day, there was no rush to get started. More buses arrived. More singing. More dancing. The revolution was in danger of turning into a musical. And I was in danger of running out of beer. Then they were off.
Now and again, we’d see a shot of the yellowshirts doing a similar song-and-dance routine. Some were lining up for free T-shirts. The next time this happens, the ANC’s outfitters might want to use the popular Victoria’s Secret recipe for edible panties. That way, the poor get to show their political allegiance and still go to bed with a full tummy. I’m talking about edible T-shirts, here. Nobody in their right mind would want to eat their underwear after an afternoon fighting with the police.
I went to fetch a fresh six-pack and returned to see the blueshirts streaming back into the transport hub. They had been gone for less than five minutes. Or maybe I was gone for more than five minutes. Either way, it was the shortest march in the history of marches. Apart from maybe the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, which stretches for less than forty metres. Okay, so it’s a parade and not so much a march. But still. They have daytime drinking in common.
Nikiwe Bikitsha was as confused as the rest of us. Had they all forgotten previous appointments? Did someone see a snake?
As the crowd regrouped – perhaps to sing a number about the courage it takes to run away – Nikiwe collared DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane.
“What happened?” said Nikikwe. “What the hell are you doing back here?”
Mmusi had to catch his breath. He had clearly been running.
“Members of the ANC began throwing stones at us,” he said.
My eyes welled up with tears. “You have my vote, lad!” I shouted, chucking another beer down my throat. History is littered with such tragic tales. Who among us can forget Che Guevara returning from the first day of fighting in the battle for Santa Clara and saying to his commander, “Comrade Fidel, I give up. Batista’s men are throwing stones at us.” Fidel was sympathetic. When he was a boy, his father threw a stone at him and he had never forgotten the hurt it caused. Okay, so it was more a grenade than a stone. But Fidel forced Che to go back out there and take Santa Clara, forcing the evil Batista into exile. If Che had not been able to overcome his fear of stone-throwers, Cuba would not be the democratic and prosperous nation that it is today.
Same with Scotland. When one of King Edward’s men threw a stone at William Wallace while he was out walking his dog in Falkirk, it hurt his feelings to such an extent that he moved back in with his parents. And because of that, Scotland is still trying to get its independence.
I just want to say one last thing. This goes for the media as well as the politicians. Don’t warn us of violence, promise us blood, hint at gore and then hopelessly fail to deliver. If you set something up, see it through.
We need catharsis.
We need clearly defined heroes and villains.
We need to see acts of courage and conviction. You want my vote? Grow some balls. And for god’s sake, learn to spell.