Twisted Koeksister

The loss of life today has been quite spectacular, even by our standards. Thousands of pigs, sheep, goats, cows and chickens fought among themselves for the honour of being the first to lay down their lives so that South Africans could celebrate National Braai Day in true style.

The day was a resounding success. Gutters ran red with blood, dogs ran wild with bones and paramedics ran themselves ragged tending to the usual braai-related assaults, rapes and homicides.

Brenda wanted to do something to mark Heritage Day. Something different. Quite frankly, I couldn’t see the point.

“We’re white,” I said. “We don’t have any heritage.” We did, on the other hand, have plenty of meat. It made far more sense to mark Braai Day.

We arranged to meet Ted and Mary down at the beach where we could fall down without worrying about concussing ourselves. This is always one of the biggest hazards facing those who choose to celebrate Braai Day instead of Heritage Day.

We passed a lot of families braaiing along the way. Many of them had taken over entire parking lots. Brenda wondered if arguments had broken out in homes across the Cape Flats this morning.

“I want to braai in the parking lot in Muizenberg.”

“Forget it. We’re going to the one in Camps Bay.”

“There’s a new lot opened near the Waterfront. Can we go there? Please, daddy!”

I told Brenda there was a very simple explanation.

“A lot of coloured people regard their cars as members of the family. We wouldn’t leave our child in a parking lot and go off and have fun without him, would we?” Actually, I would, but I couldn’t tell Brenda that.

Both Heritage Day and Braai Day are allegedly aimed at bringing South Africans closer together. In our case, it brought us a little too close.

Encamped on the beach, we had just finished our first case of Tafel and were wrestling a second kudu haunch onto the grid when we were forced to take up braai forks and fend off a pack of hungry darkies. Look, I’m all for unifying the nation and whatnot, but there are limits.

Engorged with dead animal and thoroughly beerlogged, we returned home to celebrate Heritage Day like the decent god-fearing patriots that we are. Heritage Day is a relatively new addition to the public holiday calendar. Prior to 1994, it was known as Right of Admission Reserved Day.

We agreed that the country has a fascinating array of indigenous fauna, all of which go well with one or other of the many indigenous sauces available in supermarkets everywhere.

Our flora, too, is not to be sneezed at. Unless, of course, you suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, in which case you have no business living here.

Look at our national flower, the giant protea. Actually, I can’t look at it for too long because I find it hostile and ugly. To be honest, I would rather look at roadkill.

Fynbos is unique to the Cape Floral Kingdom and you will be fined if you pick it. Cannabis sativa is unique to KwaZulu-Natal and you will be arrested if you smoke it. That’s diversity for you.

The central image on our coat of arms is a secretary bird, a graceful creature known for launching random attacks on unsuspecting tourists. It specialises in pinning people to the ground and pecking their eyes out.

Canada’s national bird is the Common Loon. A bit like our minister of basic education, really.

The motto on our coat of arms is !ke e:/xarra//ke. Nobody outside of the /Xam tribe knows what it means. Most South Africans think it’s computer code.

When it comes to the national animal, we have the springbok. France has some sort of chicken. Our rugby team is also called the Springboks. The French once accused them of playing like animals. This made us feel tremendously proud.

Our national fish is the galjoen. Like most hard-drinking South Africans, the galjoen is regarded as a creature that will fight to the death. Cooked over an open fire, however, galjoen tastes a lot better than the national drunk.

I am particularly proud of my heritage because South Africa is the cradle of humankind. So who cares if modern man migrated to Australia the moment he could stand upright? We’re still the cradle.

Our scientists have found blue-green algae dating back nearly four million years. Ted speculated that the slime was one of Glenn Agliotti’s earliest relatives. Let’s see if he’s still laughing with two broken legs.

In 2007, I was expecting to receive one of the national orders that President Mbeki handed out at this time of year. Unbelievably, I was passed over. Instead, Morné du Plessis got one. So did Roland Schoeman. And Schalk Pienaar.

If you’re white you have to be Afrikaans to get any kind of recognition in this country. As English-speakers, we are doomed. Even though our forefathers invented gin and tonic, lap dancing, airbags, the cat flap, shrapnel and the rubber band, nobody around here seems to care.

Oh, now I get it. Of course. It’s far more important to reward a people who came up with jukskei, witblits, the Voortrekker Monument, the G6 artillery gun and a racial superiority complex so twisted that it makes their koeksisters look straight.

 

 

A Flashback To Mandela Day 2012

On Mandela Day, the entrance to Addington Hospital resembled the entrance to the municipal market in Maputo when a fresh shipment of cocaine arrives. The doorway was jammed with hawkers and hustlers, malingerers and malcontents, and at least one second-hand sardine salesman, making it almost impossible for me and Ted to get inside.

“Out of our way, you murderous troglodytes!” Ted shouted, swinging his mop. “We’re on a mission from God!” That’s a bit strong, I thought. Mandela might be responsible for delivering South Africa unto democracy and saving our lily-white asses, but he’s not the ruler of heaven and earth. I am.

Earlier, we had agreed that this year we would do the 67 minutes of community service required of all red-blooded patriots. It seemed a small enough sacrifice compared to what Mandela went through, although having seen this week’s pictures of him at 94, it does seem as if island life agreed with him. I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but plenty of fresh sea air, simple meals and early nights do have their benefits. If you lack the discipline to stick with it, hire a baton-wielding white supremacist to keep you focused.

I suggested we spend 67 minutes on North Beach assisting the lifeguards but Ted had ideas of his own. He had heard people were being asked to report to Addington Hospital to help clean up this abysmal hell-hole. Having something of a history with this terrible place, I was less than enchanted. As a 10-year-old, I spent Christmas Day there having my face stitched up after my uncle tried to kill me with a surfboard. Then, a decade later, a couple of friends carried me in at 2am after a car ploughed into me. The driver was drunk, I was drunk, my friends were drunk, the doctors and nurses were drunk. It was one of those steamy summer nights when everyone in Durban is either drunk or stoned.

Anyway. I wasn’t wild about returning to a place that held such painful memories.

“What do you find in hospitals?” he said, trying to open a beer in my eye socket. I pushed him off. “Sick people,” I said, making the international sign for vomiting. “And drugs,” he said. “Lots and lots of them.”

Ted’s plan was that while hundreds of sanctimonious do-gooders were cleaning this pestilential bastion of squalor and disease, we would take advantage of the confusion and stock up on recreational pharmaceuticals.

It was a stupid plan fraught with such danger and potential for disaster that I thought it might just work. So, he with his mop and me with my broom, we fought our way off the street and into the hospital. A security guard tried to stop us but we were too quick for him.

Before we could get into the elevator, a woman with hippopotamic hips and a face like a melted Frisbee escorted us to the volunteer registration station. I was reluctant to register because once your name is on a government list, you’ll spend the rest of your life looking over your shoulder. Once they know there are people out there who are prepared to work for free and don’t belong to a union, you will never sleep easily. The knock on your door could come at any time.

“Come quickly,” they will say. “A million Zimbabweans need to be processed.” Or, “Get dressed, you’re the commissioner of police this week.”

We were each handed a lurid orange bib and a bottle of window cleaner and strict instructions not to go above the second floor. Ted said if the plan failed, we could always become car guards. I warned him about self-fulfilling prophesies but he said I was being paranoid and referred me to the psychiatric ward.

We got into the lift and hit the button for the 15th floor. There wasn’t much up there apart from a view of the harbour and a chapel that looked like it was designed by a committee of German atheists.

Working our way down the stairwell, we stopped off at every floor and went into every ward. You can tell the difference between state and private hospitals by the smell. Private hospitals smell of disinfectant. Government hospitals smell of stasis. And overtime.

We walked through the tuberculosis ward and I held my breath for seven minutes. Ted seemed to think TB wasn’t contagious and offered to lick the wall to prove it. His tongue was rubbing up against the peeling paint when a sister, who looked more like a brother, came around the corner and saw this monstrous act of depravity. In accordance with the government’s see-no-evil policy, she walked right on by.

Many of the wards showed no signs of life, let alone drugs. The obstetrics and gynae department was unnaturally quiet. I was disappointed. There is no more exquisite sound than a woman in full throat during a natural birth.

Ted wandered off hoping to stumble across some kind of pre-parturition peep show while I studied a poster showing a range of labour positions. If Cosatu were that flexible this country’s unemployment crisis would be over.

The baby ward was sealed off with glass doors, presumably to keep the stench from permeating the entire building. It’s not working. They need the kind of doors that are fitted to the Large Hadron Collider.

We sniffed around the circumcision clinic but everything was locked up, which was fortuitous because at this point we would have gladly traded half our willies for a couple of shots of pethidine.

Out on the street, freshly absorbed pathogens incubating in our bodies, a man handed Ted five rand before getting into his car. Better than a kick in the teeth, I suppose.

A last word of advice. If you’re going to be a patient at Addington, you might want to bring your own drugs.