Bring on the superheroes

With a general election only months away, the African National Congress is once again beginning the astonishing process of metamorphosing from a slumber party into a superparty.

Sound the trumpets for the heroes of the downtrodden! Defenders of the poor! Guardians of the revolution! Watch a miracle unfold as ministers go from consorting with kings to mixing with mortals in just a few short weeks!

But how can you have a superparty if your leader isn’t a superhero with superpowers? Hold on. What’s that in the sky? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s Superzoooma!

Man of Steal.

Born on the planet Inkandla, he was rocketed into power moments before Inkandla was plunged into poverty. He was discovered by a family of businessmen who raised him as one of their own. After disabling Superzoooma’s moral compass, the Shaiks sent him off to Pretoria to make his fortune. And theirs.

His superpowers are legendary. With X-ray vision, Superzoooma can see right through the most Machiavellian of schemes to unseat him. And, thanks to his super-hearing, he can listen in on private telephone conversations and use that information to save himself from the most precarious of situations.

Also, he can fly. Whenever and wherever he wants. This superpower kicks in when he utters the magic words, “Take me to Waterkloof.”

And he can move at super-speed, although, to conserve energy, he reserves this superpower for when he has to call his lawyer.

Superzoooma’s archenemy is the ambitious Godzille, a medium-sized dancing lizard who will stop at nothing to steal his superpowers, even if it means visiting townships and speaking in tongues other than her own. These lifelong foes are masters of deception.

Vulnerable to subpoenas, Superzoooma has the ability to fly below the radar at the speed of sound. Prolonged exposure to media fall-out from planet Nkandla and the arms deal has the capacity to severely limit his powers. The only thing on Earth that can protect him is the NPA, a shadowy entity that only wakes up when it has to defend itself in court.

Superzoooma’s faithful factotum is Spider-Mac. Capable of spinning a web of lies in the twitch of an eyelid, Spider-Mac lives only to ensure his master’s enemies never get the upper hand. Truth being the upper hand. A superhero in his own right, Spider-Mac was bitten by a radioactive spider when he was young. That’s what he says, anyway.

His superpowers include perfect balance, enabling him to walk a fine line between fact and fiction. He also has an uncanny ability to cling to his story, even when artificial edifices are crumbling around him. Spider-Mac’s enemies are independent journalists. And he fears, more than anything, the sound of his phone ringing.

Kgalema Motlanthe is Wonder Man. His ability to do nothing and say nothing has the nation wondering what he does all day. His superpower is inscrutability. And while we wonder where he is and what he is thinking, he makes his move. But nobody ever knows what it is. Not even him. Devilishly cunning.

Bratman is the secret identity of a misunderstood man-child called Julius Malema. Unlike most superheroes, he does not have any superpowers. Together with his sidekick, Robbin’ the Poor, Bratman’s fight against injustice often means he has to break the law himself.

The guiding principle in his fight against corruption is, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

Bratman drove the Bratmobile before it was repossessed. He lives in a secret location after the Taxman attached the Bratcave and put it on public auction. The Taxman is Bratman’s nemesis. A terrifying creature, he has the power the make money disappear from personal bank accounts and reappear in state coffers to be misspent or stolen.

Dressing as a bat in Polokwane, or eGothami City, as he calls it, Bratman knows he runs the risk of being hunted down and burnt to death by superstitious locals. Word on the street is that he is creating a new costume. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either a suit made from old dishcloths or a lion with the legs of a rhino, the face of an elephant and the wings of a buffalo.

When Bratman’s presence is required in court, the police activate a searchlight with a brat-shaped insignia over the lens which shines into the night sky … no, wait, that’s not right. The Prosecutor, a superhero who frequently lets his adversaries off the hook through sheer incompetence, sends him a subpoena. To the wrong address, probably.

Bratman has denied rumours that he is gay. “Robbin’ the Poor is nothing more than a good comrade,” he said. “Vote for me.”




Winter Of My Disco Tent

Only a lunatic would leave Durban to go to Cape Town on holiday at this time of year. In my defence, two hadedas have taken to roosting outside my bedroom window. I have tried to scare them off by throwing plastic patio furniture into the trees. They are still there. And I can no longer sit on the verandah. They are the antichrist of the avian world and nothing short of napalm will dislodge them. If I wanted to be woken at the crack of dawn by the sound of screaming, I would move to Joburg.

It was 26 degrees when I left Durban. I was wearing a T-shirt, boardshorts and slops. Given a choice, I would fly naked. Economy class is constrictive enough without adding to it by wearing clothes. Even shoes give my toes claustrophobia. Long pants cause me to readjust my tentacles more frequently than Jacob Zuma readjusts his cabinet. If it weren’t for the praying and the fasting and the random hostility from jingoistic infidels from the hinterland, I would convert to Islam just to be able to wear the robes.

I was given the choice of an aisle seat in the front of the plane or a middle seat at the emergency exit. Tough call. I have the legs of a giraffe, the body of a manatee and the central nervous system of a howler monkey. When it comes to flying, though, it’s really just the legs that dictate my decisions.

For me, the emergency exit is the Holy Grail of airline seats. Not only am I first out when the plane crashes, as they all do eventually, but I can sit without having my knees double as ear muffs. However – and it’s a big however – the prospect of being hemmed in by complete strangers comes perilously close to rendering the leg benefits null and void.

There should be special flights for misanthropists. I would quite enjoy flying if it were just me, the pilot and an air hostess. What I really should do, though, is learn to fly and pour my own drinks. How hard can it be? I’m already halfway there.

There should also be special flights for fat people. If Kulula can punish me with a R350 surcharge for having the audacity to arrive with two suitcases, the least they can do is make sure I don’t spend the entire flight with my arms in the T-Rex position.

And if I don’t get the lardaceous blimp, I get the baby. It’s even starting to look like the same baby. I’m beginning to think my name is on some kind of list. The instant I book a ticket, an alarm is triggered and word goes out. “He’s in 20A. Put the baby in 20B. No, wait! Put it in 19A so it can kick his seat and vomit on his head.”

Everyone around me ordered tea or coffee or a softdrink. What happened to the good old days when entire families would order a brace of miniatures and drink heavily from take-off to landing? Try that now and people look at you as if you’re a sales rep for al-Qaeda.

In their avaricious attempt to fit even more people onto their aircraft, they have reduced their toilets to the size of a bar fridge. To have something no more complicated than a wee, I had to arch my back and shuffle up to the bog like a goddamn limbo dancer.

Two minutes after walking out of Cape Town International Airport, three of my toes turned black and dropped off. A man dressed like a polar bear offered me something. It could have been a taxi, it could have been heroin. Whatever it was, I should have taken it.