The only power Eskom has is the power to unite South Africans against a common enemy. That’s quite an achievement. Read more in today’s column in The Citizen. If you can’t find a copy, you can always subscribe.
Eskom has been fucking with us for years and there’s no end in sight. Here’s a letter I wrote to the boss of the power utility in 2011. This was before the Guptas even got their claws into it.
This is the fourth time I am writing this letter to you. The first three times you turned the power off before I could press save. I was angry before. I am now incensed.
I live in Cape Town, supposedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but what the hell good does that do when I can’t see anything for most of the time? Oh, sure, the sun still works, but how much longer can it be before you find a way to switch that off too?
The first time Eskom plunged the province into darkness, you kept very quiet and hoped nobody had noticed. Truth is, we weren’t too bothered. Unless you were on a life support machine. But it was a novelty. The power cut forced married couples to go to bed early where, without the option of reading or television, they were left with no alternative but to have sex. Apparently this helps to keep couples together. Or at least from killing each other.
Then you turned the power off several more times over the next few weeks. Suddenly it wasn’t such fun. Weeping women, saturated with sex, begged their husbands to sell up and emigrate to a country with electricity.
People began going hungry, fridges defrosted, beers got warm. The only thing moving in the streets were four men on horseback riding from town to town shouting in what sounded like Aramaic.
You, in the meantime, denied that anything was wrong. “Relax,” you said. “Everything’s under control.” The rolling blackouts got worse. Suburb after suburb, town after town, became engulfed in darkness.
Your men in suits went into a huddle. “The masses are revolting. What are we going to call this thing?” A middle-ranking executive blew his chances of ever getting promoted by replying: “An unmitigated fucking disaster?” But the truth is not something to be bandied about at times like these, is it?
“Let’s call it load shedding,” you said brightly. “That makes it sound like we are getting rid of something that we have too much of. People will want to thank us.”
Apparently not, though. Instead, people wanted to hunt you down and ram a syringe full of sodium pentathol, or any kind of truth serum, into your fat lying capitalist arse.
Once the ANC had pointed out that your incompetence was going to lose them control of Cape Town, which it subsequently did, you said sorry in a very small voice and pretended to cry.
The then public enterprises minister, Alec Erwin, felt so bad for you that he made up a story about a bunch of imaginary warlocks throwing a bolt into one of the Koeberg nuclear power station’s generators, damaging a rotor and causing a serious power shortfall in the Western Cape.
Since Koeberg is your baby, and a potentially lethal one at that, the last thing you wanted was the government suggesting that just anyone could walk up to the facility and gain entrance by scaling a wall. Oops, sorry, Greenpeace already did that several years ago.
So you dismissed Erwin’s claim. Erwin, under the mistaken impression that you were right behind him, quickly denied ever mentioning the word “sabotage” or even knowing where Koeberg was. “Look,” said Erwin, “I don’t even use electricity. I’m a gas man, myself.”
So not only were we surviving on tins of baked beans heated over cheap candles, but we now also knew that our shivering bodies could be incinerated in a boiling tsunami of radioactive particles at any moment.
Then, once businesses hit the magical mark of R500-million in losses, you began publishing a load shedding schedule in the local newspapers. But even then, you never lost your keen sense of humour. I bet you found it hard to stifle a giggle when you tricked people into thinking that they would be without power from 2.30pm to 4.30pm on Wednesday, only for the lights to go out from 7pm to midnight on Thursday. You did this, with a twinkle in your eye, in towns around the Western Cape. And sometimes even in the Northern Cape, although it’s not quite as much of a laugh for you because the folk in Kimberley don’t even notice these things.
Sometimes, in the middle of a spot of load shedding, you would switch the power back on and then, a few seconds later, turn it off. What’s the point of earning R13-million a year if you can’t have a bit of fun? If you have the ability to make millions of people go “yay!” and, moments later, “fuuuck!” in perfect synchronisation, then you should go right ahead and do it. I know I would.
In the unlikely event that you decide to do the decent thing and resign, I would like to be the first to propose that Homer Simpson takes your place. He has worked at the Springfield Nuclear Power Station and will cause far less mayhem than you already have.
Apart from the loose bolt, short circuits caused by mist and soot, an unusually high tide at Llandudno beach and the gay pride parade, the power crisis is the result of you believing in 1998 (accurately, as it turned out), that South Africa was doomed to become just another corrupt debt-ridden crime-ravaged basket case and consequently there was no point in maintaining your power stations or even building new ones because they would just be taken over by squatters or stripped down and sold on the black market.
In the intervening years the population has grown and a lot more boys have reached drinking age. More shebeens means more fridges to keep more beers cold. Now there is simply not enough electricity to keep all those new fridges running. This is how countries descend into civil war.
Now you are asking us to help you by bathing in cold water, cooking over primus stoves, washing our clothes in the river and eating by candlelight. It’s fine for the majority, but we white folk are simply not accustomed to this lifestyle.
Vote Homer Simpson.
Global warming could wipe out three quarters of all species. Is this really such a terrible thing? I wouldn’t complain if climate change saw an end to, say, mosquitoes, hadedas and sharks. Or anything, really, that thinks it can bite me or shout at me before the sun even rises. I’m including an ex-girlfriend here.
There is only one species of human – two if you include women – but at least nine million species of crawling, flying, jumping, swimming things in the bush and oceans. And every one of them wants us dead, make no mistake. We’re the ones who are endangered here.
There are loads of species we’ve never even set eyes on and I don’t see the point of keeping them around. If we can’t throw them bits of bread, take pictures of them, make them do tricks or eat them, they’re useless to us. There are microorganisms so small that you can’t see them even when they wear their bright yellow jumpsuits and play the harpsichord on Saturday nights. Bacteria pretend to be on our side, but they’re not. We must kill them before they kill us.
So when I heard that America’s pre-pubescent president had pulled his country out of the Paris Climate Accord, I broke out the tequila, turned up the music and danced with the cat until the noise woke the hadedas. See how they like it.
America joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries out of 195 who want nothing to do with this filthy accord. If you’re a true patriot, you will support these three countries at every turn. Invest in Nicaragua. Take your holidays in Syria. Sing the Star Spangled Banner before going to work. It’s the right thing to do.
Donald the Magnificent once said that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. In other words, climate change is not real. Like goats. Or the moon. His supporters understand this kind of language. Evolution is a hoax. Vaccines are the devil’s work. Barack Obama is a lizard. The pope is a Muslim. Guns don’t kill people. America is finally in safe hands. The tiny hands of a man who falls asleep in mid-Tweet, god bless his swollen Christian heart.
One of the goals of this fake climate pact is to keep global temperatures from rising by 2ºC. With the exception of my second wife, I have never come across such selfishness. Four million people live in the Arctic region. It drops to -40 in January. But even though the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, it’s just not fast enough. Those who live there have to stick lighted matches into their eyes to unfreeze their eyeballs in the morning. Do you think they’re against planet-warming emissions? Of course not. So let’s help our Eskimo brothers, or whatever the hell they call themselves, by spraying aerosols into the air and putting those yummy chlorofluorocarbons to work.
Donald is making Europe nervous. This is a good thing. For too long Europe has annoyed us with their strong currency, efficient public transport and bloody-minded insistence on speaking languages that aren’t English or even Zulu. Addressing last week’s G7 meeting, Germany’s vivacious president Angela Merkel said, “The times when we could completely rely on others are, to an extent, over.” This, with typical Teutonic subtlety, was aimed squarely at America. I imagine Comrade Trump was delighted to hear that fewer people were relying on him.
Six of the G7 countries claim to understand the importance of combating the depraved myth known as climate change. If they wanted Donald to also understand, they should’ve given him an animated cartoon of ice caps melting and Manhattan being flooded. Maybe with a cute squirrel narrating. They only have themselves to blame, with their big words and fancy pants logic.
Big Don has always vowed to jumpstart America’s economy. He has already tried to do this by connecting the positive red to the positive Russians and the negative black to … I don’t know. I don’t have all the details. It’s late. Feel free to come up with your own metaphors and analogies.
Somehow the health of the planet became more important than money. I know, Donald. I know. It’s inexplicable to me, too. This foolishness started a long time ago. It goes back to the first Bush. Even the name has ecological connotations. That dynasty of bunny-hugging bohemians set a nasty precedent of bombing our enemies with minimal collateral damage to the environment.
Lyndon B Johnson was on the right track when he ordered napalm to be used on the jungles of Vietnam. Vegetation gets out of hand. It needs to be taught a lesson.
I saw a snake in a tree on Wednesday night while having a beer on my veranda with a friend. He said there was no need to call the police because it was probably a harmless grass snake that had learnt to climb trees. I said it was more likely to be a deadly tree snake and dialled the flying squad. It went to voicemail and I gave up. He said there was no such thing as a tree snake so I told him about the Afrikaans-speaking snakes who go by the gang name of Boomslang and he left shortly afterwards which was good because it meant more beer for me but also bad because if the viper launched an aerial attack I’d have no-one to talk to while I died.
Nobody needs serpents harassing them while they’re drinking and I, for one, urge Agent Orange to issue an executive order stopping this nonsense once and for all. He is the only man with the power to teach nature a lesson from which it will never recover.
Next to himself, Donald loves fossil fuels more than he loves his wife who can’t stand him. The older the fossil, the better it burns. The spine of a brontosaurus can light up the Bronx for a month. Eskom, on the other hand, loves coal almost as much as it loves Brian Molefe. Unlike Molefe, though, there is little chance of coal disappearing.
The hairy-legged, jumper-wearing counter-revolutionaries who dwell among us claim that coal is a finite resource. This is nonsense. Everyone I know has a bag or two of charcoal in their garage. And they know people who know people who have bags of their own. Every petrol station and cafe has lashings of charcoal. The earth and even most people are made of coal. Je suis carbon.
Our dear friends, the Guptas, own entire mines full of charcoal. These are not people who run out of things, whether it be fuel, money or excuses. And I can’t imagine they’d ever want to put themselves in a position where they might have to tell their adopted family, the Zumas, to either give up meat or start using solar-powered braais.
Lying is the new truth. Girls are the new boys. Dogs are the new cats. It occurs to me that I can write any gibberish and get away with it because nobody can tell the difference or perhaps even gives a damn.
This past week, Eskom’s dissembling chair Dr Ben Ngubane and our ethically flaccid myrmidon of an energy minister appeared before a parliamentary committee and performed the foxtrot, waltz, tango and samba – all from a sitting position. The room was awash in sophistry and subterfuge when Ngubane lifted his hands like some kind of wounded messiah. “Give us the benefit of the doubt,” he wheedled. The longest of shots with nary a blush in sight.
What does this man have a doctorate in? Audacity? Shamelessness? Was he genuinely impervious to the cloying stench of doubt that pervaded the room, let alone the country, or does he simply think we’re all complete idiots? Like most wannabe messiahs, a bit of both, I expect.
Meanwhile, above the rattle and hum of overheated shredding machines at Megatwatt Park, liquidators appointed to wind up a mining company owned by Ngubane and his wife Sheila are proceeding with a court application in which they accuse the couple of using fake documents to personally lay claim to the lucrative mining rights.
A little more of that yummy benefit, sir? Perhaps drizzled in dashed expectations with a splash of misplaced trust?
I feel ill. Let’s move on to matters marginally less nauseating but equally repellent. The tripartite alliance, once hailed as the great unifier of workers, socialists and the exploited – everyone apart from white people, in other words – has almost overnight been reduced to the ANC standing bewildered in the middle of the ballroom wondering where its dancing partners have gone.
Cosatu has made it clear to President Jacob Zuma that he should stop checking his in-box for invitations to their insurrectionist soirees. The Communist Party, clinging to the teachings of some of history’s most impressive mass murderers, moves upwind whenever Zuma’s name is mentioned. The churches have Elysium-mailed a photo of the president to St Peter so that he can stick it up on the Pearly Gates in the event that Zuma, post mortem, manages to bribe his way out of hell. The veterans and stalwarts are rattling their Zimmer frames. The deputy president thinks we’re becoming a mafia state and wants a judicial commission of inquiry. And the general populace, among whom I reluctantly count myself, can do nothing more than shake its head and order another round.
The ANC says the confederacy of dunces formerly known as the tripartite alliance “is founded on a common commitment to the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution”. Right now I don’t have the energy to research these so-called objectives. Quite frankly, I’m struggling to make it to the fridge and back. I imagine, though, that they don’t involve selling the country to a sprawling family of robber barons from Uttar Pradesh.
Political analysts keep saying that Zuma is against the ropes. That this or the other latest scandal is the one which will bring him to his knees. But it never happens. A long time ago, when he ditched all pretense at being an honourable man, Zuma adopted what’s known in legal circles as the Stalingrad defence. Here’s the definition.
“This is a strategy of wearing down the plaintiff by tenaciously fighting anything the plaintiff presents by whatever means possible and appealing every ruling favourable to the plaintiff. Here, the defendant does not present a meritorious case. This tactic or strategy is named for the Russian city besieged by the Germans in World War II.”
As we all know, or, in my case, as I’ve just learnt, the Nazis got their arses handed to them in a battle that lasted just over five months. Today the city is known as Volgograd.
In South Africa, where Bolsheviks and Nazis shop side by side in Woolworths, the forces of democracy are bravely fighting the Battle of State Capture. One day, Zuma’s name, like that of Stalingrad, might also be changed. My personal preference is inmate #1/9/2017.
The ANC’s national executive committee is meeting as we speak. Well, as you speak. I live alone and don’t speak much at all. I’m just sitting here on a broken chair hoping that I can finish this column before the beer runs out.
The NEC is a big organ with lots of members. And while Zuma has lots of organs and a big member, the NEC has the power to end his career as commander-in-thief. They did it before to Thabo Mbeki. In terms of ethics and morality, Mbeki was like Jesus compared to Zuma.
Thing is, experts say, not that we can believe a word anyone says any more, that Zuma has the support of at least 60% of the NEC. These are the patriots who saved his Teflon-coated skin in November last year. According to the ANC’s website, which I eventually managed to access after threatening to take Telkom to the International Court of Justice, the NEC has 107 members, 21 of whom are ex-officio members. I don’t know what that means. Maybe they have to bring their own lunch. Among them are cabinet ministers and members of parliament, all of whom are going to have to vote in an upcoming motion of no confidence in the president. Unless, of course, the NEC does the right thing this weekend.
The party’s incomprehensible secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, says that voting against the president would be a betrayal of the ANC and that the party needs to deal with its problems internally. There we go, then. The old organised conspiracy theorist subculture. The illness, if it even exists, will be treated from within. Vaccinations cause disease. Blood transfusions and medical treatment are the work of the devil. Christian Scientists. Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Amish. Scientologists. The ANC.
Brazil has the Zika virus. We have the Zuma virus. What a time to be alive. Or, if this carries on for much longer, dead.
You might think it’s enough that we have to contend with a corrupt, indolent government fronted by a venal, incompetent president, but it’s not. Far from it. This godless cluster of hustlers and harlots make up just one slice of the putrefying pie that South Africans have to eat every day of their lives.
Luckily for the president and his vile coterie of delinquents and desperados, we, the people, have an extraordinary capacity for tolerating whatever is dealt out to us without complaint.
Another big slice of this toxic pie is made up of the parastatals and the private sector. The little that remains of the pie is infested with robbers, rapists and murderers. Right, that’s enough about pies.
Speaking of corporate douchebaggery, I always thought it odd that we went from daily power blackouts to business as usual virtually overnight and nobody ever really explained how that happened. Now, thanks to the Dentons report, we know it was a scam by certain people in Eskom to enrich themselves and their buddies through emergency fuel sales. It was a manufactured crisis. Treason charges should apply.
Earlier this week, a court awarded a one billion rand settlement to Comair after it found that SAA wrongly offered travel agents incentives to book people on this pathetic excuse of a state-owned airline. Travel agents are like estate agents. Buy them a bottle of gin and they’ll do whatever you ask. By the way, don’t gloat about the fine. Ultimately, you’ll be paying it through the inevitable government bailout.
Now we hear that seventeen banks – including our very own Standard Bank, Absa and Investec – are to be prosecuted for fixing the rand. This makes no sense. The rand has been broken for a long time. Isn’t it a good thing that someone’s trying to fix it? Apparently not. Apparently there has been massive skulduggery afoot for the last ten years at least. It has something to do with colluding on spreads for spot trades, creating fictitious bids and offers at agreed times and manipulating prices in foreign currency trading. Gibberish to me and you, but the Competition Commission seems to understand it.
Essentially, it boils down to men in dark suits and cocaine moustaches making late-night calls to one another on secure lines and even on WhatsApp to distort supply and demand in such a way that they get rich and we get screwed. It’s now up to the Competition Tribunal to listen to the lies unleashed by the lawyers of these treacherous weasels and, hopefully, deliver unto them their just deserts. In other words, strip them naked and organise a lottery where ordinary people can win tickets to line up and whip them as they crawl through the streets.
Every time the rand dips in value, the thin-lipped hollow-eyed economists are trotted out to explain it in terms we can all understand. Market forces, economies of trading partners, price of oil, inflation blah blah blah. Not once have any of them suggested the rand is unconscious in the back of a fiscal ambulance as a singular result of collusion by the banks themselves. Are the economists gullible, lazy or part of this conspiracy themselves? Strip them naked and flog them.
In 2015, the rand lost 26% of its value in six months. We were told it was because the People’s Bank of China devalued the yuan by two percent. We scratched our heads and looked puzzled, then stuffed a boerie roll into our faces and ordered another round.
Bankers are usurers. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, usurers are placed in the inner ring of the seventh circle of hell, along with the blasphemers and the sodomites. Banks shouldn’t be allowed to have things like soccer stadiums named after them. Banks should only be allowed to lend their names to cemeteries, hospitals, homeless shelters, lunatic asylums and anywhere else we might end up when they foreclose on our homes and repossess our children.
Banks are bleak places. Bleaker even than post offices and funeral parlours. There is no music. Nobody smiles or laughs. If anyone talks, it’s in hushed tones, hands over mouths, little shakes of the head, a quick widening of the eyes. Does money really command the kind of respect you might expect to find at a wake for the Queen of England? Of course it does.
I get anxious in banks. Not only because they can seal the doors electronically and trap me inside, but also because I sense they somehow know I’m planning the robbery in my head. I check out the cameras and guards, the distance from the tellers to the exit. I try to locate the doors leading to the vaults. Decide who I’d take hostage. I bet I’m not the only who does this.
Everyone looks miserable because a bank is the only place of business where you hand over bags of cash and walk out empty-handed. There’s not the natural give-and-take of commerce. Sure, you can also walk out with money, but it’s hard to get excited when you know it was your money all along. They were just keeping it for you because you’re an idiot and can’t be trusted to look after it.
Even dentist’s waiting rooms are more cheerful than banks. They at least have music, magazines, comfy couches and children’s toys. Banks have nowhere to sit and nothing to distract you. All they offer are long queues and tellers who refuse to meet your eye then disappear for long periods of time for no apparent reason. And television sets telling you that if you haven’t started saving for your retirement by the time you’re 35, you’re almost certain to die a sad and lonely death.
It was Shakespeare who said, “Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loseth both itself and friend. And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” I have never fully understood what the smarmy little gaylord was on about, but I do know that he failed to foresee the effect that banking would have on spam.
How I long for the days when one’s in-box was cluttered with the nourishing solicitations of honest merchants who wished nothing more than to provide us with equine peni and erections sturdy enough to serve as construction site cranes.
Now, thanks to the bankers, our in-boxes have become low-rent repositories for all manner of bloodsucking leeches who gather to feed off our pain. The sex-mongers have slunk away to lick their wounds along those desolate, unlit stretches of the information superhighway where none care to venture.
It was only yesterday that our shining eyes, so filled with hope, were ineluctably drawn to subject lines that said, “View the red-hot sluts in your area now!” Today, the subject lines say, “View the foreclosed homes in your area now!”
Roll up, folks. These homes are being given away. Hurry, hurry, hurry before the previous owners sell their kidneys and move back in.
Not long ago, infidelity was “Michael’s” stock in trade. But, thanks to the bankers, the bottom has fallen out of the lonely housewives’ market. “Michael’s” subject line no longer reads, “I found you a smokin’ hot married mama.” Now it says, “I found you a new job.”
Is this the brave, new world we were promised? A world where we would rather work than get laid? Rather look at pictures of empty houses than naked women?
Those ravening banker beasts have a lot to answer for.
I hear you want to increase the price of electricity by seventeen percent. Is that all? Why the restraint? I’m sure you are familiar with the expression, “Go big or go home.” Don’t hold back, my friend. You should be asking for eighty percent. In this country, greed is rewarded.
The counter-revolutionary press says that even a seventeen percent increase would be a “major blow” to the country. If there is one thing this country needs right now, it is a major blow. When President Zuma recently played musical chairs with the finance ministry, causing world markets to bludgeon the rand into submission, we thought that was a major blow. It wasn’t. It was nothing more than a bitch slap. It didn’t come close to bringing us to our senses.
The Illuminati-controlled media are, of course, once again exaggerating wildly. All you’re trying to do is make a bit of money, for God’s sake. We’re all capitalists, here. Everyone’s battling to squeeze a buck out of something or someone. In your case, you’re trying to squeeze R23-billion out of us. More power to you, I say, even if it does mean less to us. There’s a joke in there somewhere. I might already have made it. Hard to tell any more.
Let me see if I understand this correctly. You have suffered a massive shortfall in revenue largely as a result of us using less electricity, which we only did because you asked us to. So we are to be punished for being conscientious, patriotic citizens. We are idiots for listening to you in the first place. We deserve to be punished.
There’s a term being used by the anti-Eskomites. They say you are trying to “claw back” money you have already spent. I like it. Claw back. It evokes images of vampires and werewolves ripping and tearing at something too scared and helpless to run for cover.
Seventeen percent. That’s what you’re asking for. It’s also what I got for maths in matric. Coincidence? I hope so. I’m good with numbers – just don’t ask me to do calculations. At least we have that in common. I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m good with counting. Oh, yes. I will whip the president’s arse in a counting competition. But that’s not enough to get me elected. Not that I wish to. I just want electricity. I don’t even mind if you give me the cheap stuff. Most people I know find their lights way too bright and would be quite happy to pay half the price for a diluted version of the good shit.
So you have applied to the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to give you the increase. Isn’t that a bit like asking your crack dealer cousin to slip you a rock while the wife isn’t looking? You’re related. It’s no good pretending otherwise. You don’t always get on, sure, especially when the neo-liberal wing of the fascist media start snooping around, but you’re basically blood. You’re sucking on the same vein, right?
Thanks to democracy, Nersa has to play a charade called “public hearings” before deciding on whether or not you should be allowed to jack up your prices. In the days before prevarication and dissembling became skills to be listed on one’s CV, public hearings would involve the actual public. Then again, they did sometimes end in public executions. Perhaps that’s why Nersa is holding their hearings in convention centres, far from the great unwashed. Nobody needs public opinion when it’s standing on a chair brandishing a blunt machete and shouting in a deep Transkei dialect.
A man who attended the Cape Town hearings, who looks like he knows a thing or two about agriculture, said farmers wouldn’t be able to absorb the increase. I find that hard to believe. Have you seen the size of farmers? They got that way by absorbing all sorts of things.
He also said food security would be in jeopardy. What? Since when did food get its own security? This is outrageous. Bandits can wander in off the street willy-nilly and help themselves to our wives and children, but there are armed guards on the butternuts?
Equally outrageous is the DA’s storming of your offices at Megatwatt Park this week, demanding that your executives repay the R63-million they’ve received in bonuses since load-shedding began. It’s obvious the bonuses are not a reward for competence and hard work, but are meant as compensation for the shame of working at Eskom. It’s like danger pay, except it’s their reputations at risk.
So-called economists against the increase claim that consumers are already reeling from high food and fuel prices, the drought and a currency that should be in calipers by now. This is nonsense. They are reeling from too much beer and weed and need to be disciplined.
Apparently you have overspent by several billion rand because you completely overestimated the demand for electricity. Look, I know that Benoni used car salesman Amps van der Volt only invented electricity in 1994, but how do you overestimate demand? Are you saying you generated a whole bunch of electricity only to find nobody needed it? And they didn’t need it because you had spent years telling them not to use it? This is the kind of conversation Alice had with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare.
I’m also going to be applying for an increase this year. I haven’t had one in three years. In my line of work, there are no public hearings. There is just me whining and begging and an editor who says no. At least you can flip the switch in protest. All I can do is stop writing and go to the beach every day. Hmm.
It’s Halloween tonight and I, for one, cannot wait to put on my succubus suit and go creeping around the neighbourhood late at night banging on doors, shouting: “Trick or treat!” The real sport starts when the homeowner presses his panic button. You then have seven minutes to break into the house, tie the occupants up, find a treat and get out before an armed response unit can shoot you in the head. The kids love it.
Not all of us celebrate Halloween on the 31st of October. For a lot of South Africans, every night is Halloween. The only difference is that these perennial pranksters can’t be bothered to dress up. To be fair, though, some do make the effort and put on a balaclava. Traditionally, a treat is a handful of sweets or, if you hit a vegan house, an eggplant without the egg. Our year-round rogues rarely settle for less than cellphones, money and guns. Or, at the very least, an HD-ready plasma TV. Anyway. Who are we to judge? A treat is mos a treat. I would advise against opting for the trick unless you want to watch someone juggling with your testicles or super-glueing your wife to the wall.
I have celebrated Halloween ever since I was dishonourably discharged from the Army of Christ in the early ’80s. Standards were higher back then. These days they take anyone. I would like to call myself a pagan, but I can’t. Worshipping nature is all very well if it knows its place. By this, I mean its place is not down my broeks stinging my bollocks to death. Nor does it have any business trying to crush me, drown me or bury me alive. It would be a far better idea if nature were to worship us. That way the ants would stay out of the butter and sharks would be a little nicer to us. Is that too much to ask?
Besides, I have grown weary of flappy-lipped adherents of monotheistic religions using “pagan” in a pejorative sense while relying on me not to over-do the sacrificial lamb at our Saturday night synod. Adding insult to injury, they are the ones who invariably bogart the bong. Bloody heathens. I generally refrain from defending my position for fear of inviting the fate met by Hypatia of Alexandria, a pagan philosopher, mathematician and astronomer who was killed by a Christian mob in 415CE.
Unfortunately for the employed, Halloween is not a public holiday in South Africa. If only the Soweto Uprising had taken place on 31 October instead of 16 June. Youth Day would be so much more entertaining if it were combined with Halloween. The horror is already there. All we would need are police uniforms, nitrous oxide grenades, a few dozen crates of cherry-flavoured vodka and some live music. And maybe some live ammunition. And a smattering of drug squad dogs all sniffed out and hoping to reach retirement age without any major drama.
At this time of year carving vegetables into grotesque shapes is popular in some cultures. In my house it’s called dinner. In Ireland and Scotland they use scooped-out turnips. It’s that lack of imagination that allowed the English to oppress them for so long. In America they use pumpkins. In Israel they use Palestinians.
I don’t know what we can use here. If I tell people that instead of eating their madumbi this week, they should carve them so they look like little tokoloshes, they will think I work for the DA. And if I tell them to put a small candle inside the hollowed-out madumbi, they will think I work for Eskom. Either way I’m screwed.
If only we could make some kind of genetically modified clone of Julius Malema’s head and carve that, instead of wasting perfectly good vegetables. It’s the ideal shape and consistency. And scary as hell.
Halloween’s imagery is derived from horror movies and literature like Frankenstein and Dracula. Here, it can be derived from films and books like Bitch, please! I’m Khanyi Mbau and There’s A Zulu On My Stoep.
Halloween costumes are traditionally based on skeletons, monsters, witches and ghosts. This year I want to wear a Jacob Zuma costume. He might not be supernatural, but he’s well on his way to becoming a superhero. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Teflon Man!
There are many overseas traditions that can be adapted to local conditions. Take apple bobbing, for instance. Instead of using your teeth to grab an apple from a bucket of water, you must use your political connections to win a tender wrapped in fly-paper and coated in honey. This creates a hilarious yet potentially sticky situation, especially if the Hawks find out about it.
The telling of horror stories is also a popular feature of Halloween. Gather the children around and, in the unlikely event the municipality hasn’t already done it for you, switch off the lights. Tell them about The Picture of Dorian Gray or The Man Whose Mouth Tasted of Wormwood or The Third Term of Jacob Zuma.
The important thing, comrades, is not to let your Halloween be co-opted by the Christians. We are more Nosferatu than we are Cosatu. No praying. No fasting. No skiving off to church. Deconstruct all that Celtic reconstructionist propaganda and unleash your inner demons.
Operating under cover of darkness, thanks to those godless incompetents at Eskom, I knocked over the Weber after staging a one-man protest braai. The bad yellow-eyed woman woke me up several hours later. She was shouting at me about the carpet. I thought I was back in Angola and brought her down with a textbook scissor kick. Okay, that part isn’t exactly true. I pulled the duvet over my head and lay there whimpering.
She reached in and took me by the ears, dragging my head within striking distance. She pointed my face at the carpet. I thought she was going to rub my nose in it, like you do with a naughty puppy.
“What the hell is that?” she barked.
“I can’t see anything,” I said. Being half-blind with alcohol poisoning I could barely see the floor, let alone what was on it. That was when she rubbed my nose in it. It came up black.
“Do the rest of me,” I said. “I’ll qualify for a government tender in no time at all.”
She demanded to know why I had tracked soot across the carpet. “It wasn’t me,” I said. She got me into a half nelson and gave me a misguided tour of the house. The tracks led from my side of the bed to the fridge and then to the overturned braai. The tracks between the fridge and the braai looked like the aftermath of the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti.
Later that evening a friend came around and made unhelpful jokes about my carbon footprint. Once everyone except the bad yellow-eyed woman and I had stopped laughing, he put on his serious face and started talking about climate change. It’s this kind of conversation that turns normal people into narcoleptics and I tried to change the subject but he was having none of it.
“Did you know,” he said, causing me to yawn so violently that I almost dislocated my jaw, “that Gisele Bundchen is the UN’s advocate for environmental awareness?” That stopped me in my tracks. The same Gisele who had scorching monkey sex with Leonardo DiCaprio for three steamy years? This Brazilian babe is way hotter than global warming could ever be. She would have exploded by now if she didn’t have some German in her.
He said we were making a terrible mistake by relying so heavily on coal for our energy. I couldn’t have agreed more. My carbon footprints wouldn’t have been all over the house if someone had bothered to invent a Weber that could cook two chops and a bunch of boerewors using a picture of the sun and two wind chimes instead of 10kg of Glomor Anthracite Large Nuts that don’t even burn properly anyway.
I felt a build-up of greenhouse gases and went outside to deflate. The ozone layer looked just fine from where I stood. He followed me out and said we owed it to our children to stop burning fossil fuels. I laughed. The only things that stand a chance of surviving a planetary meltdown are Durban’s cockroaches and Tina Joemat-Pettersson.
Besides, the last fossil I burnt was the spine of a baby brontosaurus dug up by my dog dug outside Langebaan. I may as well have built the fire out of wet asbestos. I won’t braai with fossils again in a hurry, I can tell you that much.
I told the assembly of two that the government must have a plan to deal with climate change, even if it does involve Blade Nzimande condemning it as white patriarchal class-related conspiracy and Julius Malema demanding that the racist climate must adapt, not us.
The bad yellow-eyed woman laughed, but on closer inspection I saw she was choking on a piece of lemon. My so-called friend began giving her the Heimlich Manoeuvre and I had to step in and separate them after it went on for too long and started appearing inappropriate.
With another filthy cold front sweeping into the Cape, I fetched some of the woman’s aerosols and sprayed the atmosphere in the hope of raising the Earth’s temperature. I don’t care if the South Pole melts. I grew up in Durban and I need to be warm.
Tips on cutting emissions:
- Walk, cycle or take public transport. Carry a 9mm pistol made from compressed cannabis (R99 from GanjaGuns R Us).
- Install energy-saving light bulbs and buy reading glasses made from twigs and shards of discarded beer bottles.
- Place a blanket around your geyser. At night, put it to sleep by stroking its thermostat and singing to it. Anything by Cat Stevens works a treat.
- Hang your clothes outside instead of using the dryer. Buy an eco-friendly Rottweiler to watch the line.
- Eat genetically modified foods. This may not work if you plan on starting a family as two-headed children are known to be voracious eaters.
- Steal other people’s stuff.