In times of great misfortune and uncertainty it is an African tradition to consult your ancestors and ask them to show you the way forward.
In the time of Zuma we have had misfortune in spades. These are also times of great uncertainty. This is a good thing. If you’re complacent in your job or comfortable in your marriage, you need to upset that applecart and get with the times. Forget certainty. It will stab you in the back as soon as sleep with you.
Change is in the air. Climate change. Regime change. Don’t be left behind. It’s a new year. Shed your old life and start anew. Sure, it might end in a homeless shelter. But it might not. Come on. Come and gamble with me. The odds are better than anything you’ll find in the Goodwood Casino.
First, though, I need to find my ancestors and shake their bones. I don’t even know if this works for whiteys. I assume it works for darkies. Last week Squirrel Ramaphosa, South Africa’s black Jesus, said the ruling party had been down and out, riddled with foreign tendencies and required ancestral intervention. Something or someone must have intervened because he was elected party president a couple of weeks ago. I’m virtually down and out and riddled with all sorts of things, so it’s definitely worth giving the ancestors a shot.
Thing is, Ramaphosa wasn’t consulting his own personal ancestors. He was reportedly shaking John Dube’s bones. And Walter Rubusana’s bones. Them be the bones of former ANC leaders. So the question I’m asking myself now, apart from why the waiter is ignoring me, is can one go about rattling bones willy-nilly when they aren’t in fact direct kin of the shaker and still expect sensible answers? Maybe it only works for people like Ramaphosa. After all, ANCestors, rights?
Can I go to the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris and shake Jim Morrison’s bones? Of course not. If I could afford to go to Paris why would I be sitting in this filthy bar writing rubbish for a pittance? Not to mention that the Lizard King would give me the most appalling advice in the unlikely event that we made a connection.
“Don’t take heroin. Don’t take a bath after taking heroin. Don’t date women called Pamela.” If he had told me this a few years ago, I would’ve listened to him on at least one of those counts. Too late. The damage is done.
It might make more sense to visit Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, California, and rattle Steve Jobs’s bones. There are a couple of things that need clearing up. Like why do his laptop charger cables have the lifespan of a one-legged chicken in KwaMashu. Steve doesn’t care about me. He doesn’t care about any of us. He was meant to be immortal. He was meant to update his operating system, for heaven’s sake, not die.
A lot of other bones worth shaking can’t be shook because they got cremated. I don’t know what the ancestor worshipping business says about people who get burned instead of buried. Does shaking the urn have the same effect? Is it the same as praying with your eyes open or shut? Or, for that matter, not praying at all? Can I make a martini and shake it instead of the bones and expect the same result? Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.
So the challenge for me, apart from catching the waiter’s eye, is to find my ancestors. Maybe define them first. I think it excludes parents. You can’t go from mother to ancestor in the blink of an eye. Even grandparents might be pushing it a bit. If you’ve met them they aren’t proper ancestors. From where I’m sitting, and I use the word sitting loosely, ancestors are people who died before you could get the chance to thank them for their contribution towards making you the genetic miracle you are today. By thank I obviously mean strangle.
I’ve always been a bit subnormal when it comes to grasping family relationships. Anything beyond uncle and my eyes glaze over, my mouth falls open and my heart rate plummets. If someone tries to explain how my aunt’s brother’s cousin is related to me, I am clinically dead before they can finish.
When I think of my ancestors, I think Cro-Magnon. Not so much upper class as lower Paleolithic. I imagine them in skins but only because I can’t bear to imagine them naked. Perhaps I’m going too far back.
As a white South African I have no traditions other than those involving the denigration and exploitation of black people. Sadly, those days are over and now there are no traditions I can call my own. Braaing, perhaps. Even then, there are darkies who will claim they were cooking meat over open fires long before white people were invented. It’s outrageous.
Look. I’m quite happy to rattle the bones and communicate with my ancestors if it means getting an indication of what I should do with what little remains of my so-called life. Communicating with the living doesn’t seem to help much at all. Might as well try the dead.
The problem is, I can’t afford to get to the graves of my ancestors. It would mean going to Italy, England, Australia and the Netherlands for a start. Those are just the ones I know about. Europeans spread their seed like wildfire in the early days. I’m surprised I didn’t turn out Catholic.
I’m a bit ashamed to say that I just googled Where Do White People Come From. What a mistake. I was dragged from Genesis to revolutions, from Australoids to Caucasoids, from the Semites to the Hamites, from the Third Reich to the Fourth Extinction. I could go on but it’s too depressing. It turns out that white people are little more than a concept.
Anyway. That’s enough about white people. In a few hundred years everyone will be brown. Or dead. I can’t do a global tour of my ancestors’s graves but I do need some direction so I’m going down to the bottom of my garden. There are bones there. Chicken and mutton, mainly. They must know a thing or two with the benefit of hindsight. Watch your back. Don’t trust humans. Have an exit strategy. That sort of thing.
Dear Comrade Jacob Zuma, Prince of Patronage, Fighter of Crime Fighters, King of the Courts, Defender of Lawsuits, Ambassador of Appeals, Bête Noire of the Bench.
I get the feeling you might not be around for too much longer and wanted to thank you for everything you haven’t done this year. You haven’t, for instance, declared war on any of our neighbours. Nor have you managed to turn South Africa into a united economically strong well-run country. The last thing the world needs is another Australia. You also haven’t succeeded in butchering the economy beyond the point of no return. Never mind. You still have time.
Speaking of dejection and despair, condolences are in order. I was watching the heavyweight fight in the North Gauteng High Court this week and was disappointed when your opponent Judge President Dunstan Mlambo won on points after going the full distance. I suppose some of his points were valid. “We are of the view that the president was ill-advised and reckless in launching a challenge against the remedial action of the Public Protector.” Who the hell is advising you? Steinhoff’s people? Lawyers on weekend pass from Weskoppies?
Other points weren’t at all valid. “His conduct falls far short of the expectation on him as the head of state to support institutions of democracy.” I don’t agree. When it comes to you, we the people have no expectations whatsoever. We don’t even expect you to support your family, let alone run a government. That’s what the Guptas are for.
To make you pay for the fight out of your own pocket seems damnably unfair. It’s not like you started it. Well, I suppose you did. But still. If you’re short of cash, my advice is that you put the wives in a cheap hotel and stick Nkandla on Airbnb. You could also borrow from your boy Duduzane. He’s like human bitcoin. Get in now before he moves to the emirates. Or Pollsmoor.
Quite frankly I don’t know why you appointed Mlambo as a judge in the first place. Were you not aware that he comes from the same stable as legendary southpaw Dikgang Moseneke and slugger Mogoeng Mogoeng? These guys are old school. They still believe in frumpy concepts like truth and justice and will never throw a fight no matter how much you threaten or pay them.
Didn’t you lose another fight against Mlambo just the other day? Yes, you did. He ordered your pet bipedal ruminant Shaun Abrahams to be put out to pasture and a proper chief prosecutor to be appointed by deputy president Squirrel Ramaphosa. True to form you have now demanded a rematch. Please stop doing that. Your Stalingrad defence has collapsed like a two-legged dog with a middle ear infection and you’re going to reach a point where all this appealing starts to look like begging. It’s unseemly. And if you get slapped with another bunch of legal bills you’re going to have to borrow from your ex-wife. There’s nothing worse than that.
Unless you appeal the latest judgement – it’s becoming hard to keep track – you have 30 days to appoint a commission of inquiry into state capture. Thanks to Mlambo’s inexplicable attachment to ethics and the law, the judge presiding over the probe will be appointed not by you but by the indecently honest Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Imagine if he appoints Mlambo? You might as well cancel everything and report directly to Zonderwater Prison. And if Shaun the Even-Toed Ungulate is ousted and replaced by, say, Thuli Madonsela, you’ll soon enough have those 783 annoying counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering to deal with.
Anyway, you might be bruised and battered, but as long as you remain president of the country there is still a chance of escape. By now I expect you’re no longer capo dei capi of the ANC. This must be quite a relief. The party is suddenly awash in rats scrambling for the moral low ground. It’s unlikely they will ever make it to the high ground, but you’ve probably noticed that a lot of colleagues have already started avoiding your calls. You might have to do the same to Atul and the lads at some point. I can’t see the bromance continuing for much longer. For a start there’s hardly anything left that’s worth stealing. I suppose they could still dismantle Table Mountain and move it to Dubai. I’d rather you gave them Limpopo.
If your ex-wife becomes president, you’re going to have to get her to abandon this Roman Dutch law business that’s causing you so much trouble. It’s a ridiculous concept. Have you been to Rome? They toss Christians to the lions, for heaven’s sake. That’s incredibly cruel. Lions belong in the bush, not the Colosseum. As for the Dutch, they smoke so much weed it’s surprising that they can come up with anything more complex than a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich.
Big weekend for you, this is. Massive. Big weekend for all of us, I guess. The only difference is that our personal freedom and finances aren’t dependent on the outcome. Not to the extent that yours are, anyway. If Nkosazana wins, investors will abandon South Africa but the stock market will go up as the rand weakens and all the rand hedge stocks gain value. I don’t know what this means, either. I read it somewhere. I don’t suppose you get much time to read anything apart from legal documents, although even then it’s more likely you have them read to you. By one of our grade four pupils, it would seem.
It’d be a shame if Squirrel had to win. And not just because you’d probably have to go to jail or into exile. All those ANC cadres who have worked so hard for so long to find ways to screw the system will be out of work. There’s a lot of competition in the private sector and professionals like the Stellenbosch mafia have pretty much cornered the market.
In Joburg alone a newly formed unit has recorded over two thousand cases of corruption involving almost R15-billion. More than 450 officials linked to bribery and corruption have been arrested and dozens more suspended. If Squirrel comes in and helps the DA to clean things up, a lot of institutional expertise in the specialised field of white collar crime will be lost.
Truth is I’m not wild about either option. I don’t trust anyone who is prepared to spend R18-million on a buffalo. Beer, yes. Buffalo, not so much. And he’s tight with Coca-Cola, a company with a worse record than my ex-wife when it comes to mistreating people. On the other hand the economy could do with some Venda financing.
I don’t like Nkosazana very much either. She’s short and surly and reminds me of my old woodwork teacher who used to beat us with a cricket bat. I’m also not convinced of her ability to exercise good judgement. I’m not talking about her marrying you, but there is that matter of cigarette smugglers contributing to her campaign. Smuggling I don’t mind, but cigarettes are the devil’s work.
Anyway, comrade, have a good Christmas. If someone gives you shares in Oakbay, get them off your hands as soon as possible. Or use them to start a fire. Burn your house down. Claim the insurance. Move to Mexico. That’s what I would do.