King or Joker?

Dear King Goodwill Zwelithini, Defender of the Zulus, Head of the Ubukhosi, Sovereign of the Ancient Order of the Knobkierie, Wearer of Leopards, Emperor of Nongoma and Father of Many.

Bayete! Or, in the mangled parlance of those magnificent men who brought development and apartheid to our shores, hoezit!

Well done on congratulating the old National Party regime for their hard work and single-minded determination. It couldn’t have been easy keeping the races apart for so many years and it’s about time a man of your standing gave them their due. You, Sir, are the black Donald Trump of our generation. I’d be surprised if FW de Klerk, or, at the very least, Steve Hofmeyr, doesn’t invite you over for a round of jukskei and a brace of Witblits and Coke.

As you so rightly pointed out, it was the Afrikaners who built the economy and army into the most powerful in Africa. All of this without any help from the other 90% of the population. Quite an achievement. As the Aryan Brotherhood like to say, white is might.

And then, in your courageous words, “this so-called democracy” came along and everything went to hell in a handbasket. You were speaking at your kwaKhethomthandayo Palace to celebrate your 44 years on the throne. That’s the royal throne, obviously. Some white people use the word ‘throne’ when they talk about the toilet. It’s the unspeakable English who talk like this. Get your impis to round them up at once. Is Shaka’s Rock still working? Toss them off, I say. That’s another English expression, but I shan’t elaborate. We want mass murder, here, not mass debations.

Also, you might want to think of simplifying the name of your palace. It’s damnably difficult for white people to pronounce and you might find yourself being accused of failing to appreciate the true value of colonialism. How about Windsor Castle? Your British counterpart would be awfully grateful and I imagine she would want to reward you in much the same way Queen Victoria rewarded King Cetshwayo.

You said history would judge black people harshly as they had failed to build on the successes of the apartheid regime. With all due respect, I’m not sure I agree. One of the biggest successes of the previous order was to prevent black people from getting a proper education. After we were subjected to the scourge of democracy, successive black ministers have done a spectacular job of building on this. PW Botha and his knights in shining polyester suits succeeded in not providing black people with everything from health care to jobs and I’d argue that the ANC has done an admirable job in, if not building on, then at least maintaining that particular status quo.

What was your favourite thing about apartheid? Not being able to go to the movies or beaches in town, not being allowed to sit on park benches or snog white women, having separate public toilets and entrances, being unable to live in a nice suburb or eat in decent restaurants, living in a hostel, carrying a dompas, working for a pittance? There’s so much good stuff, I suppose it’s unfair to ask you to pick just one.

You said you considered yourself lucky to have been born in the same year the National Party came to power. Sadly, I was born more than a decade later and cursed my misfortune at having missed all the excitement of watching white supremacy blossom. Fortunately, the best years of apartheid were still to come so not all was lost.

I’m sorry to say that I never contributed much to the apartheid infrastructure that your ungrateful countrymen are so quick to torch. I’m not very good with my hands. I did, however, play a small part in helping the army to become such an awesome fighting machine. Regrettably, I killed no one. I was thrust into the Signals regiment and taught how to type. As I said, a small part, but a part nevertheless.

Thanks to democracy – and by democracy I obviously mean black people – today’s army could be vanquished by an ADT unit from Ballito. Assuming, of course, the unit was made up of white Afrikaners.

You also proudly said there were medals hanging in your palace that the apartheid government had awarded to the Zulu kingdom, and that you didn’t know how it happened that the Afrikaners respect you so much. It’s a mystery to me, too. Perhaps you should have a word with Uncle Gatsha. He might know a thing or two about it.

King

 

Stayin’ Alive – South Africa’s new disco anthem

The Americans sent men to the moon in 1969 but we can’t work out how to put our traffic lights on a separate circuit.

And now, on top of the electricity shedding, there’s water shedding.

Stop complaining. This isn’t Syria. If you don’t like it, emigrate. You needn’t go far. I’ve just got back from the Mozambican fishing village of Tofo. They never have power cuts. And when you turn the tap on, water comes out. Okay, you probably shouldn’t drink it, but their beer is so cheap and yummy that you don’t have to.

If you don’t want to emigrate because of work commitments and … oh, please, who are you are kidding. If you don’t want to emigrate because no other country will have you, then you are going to have to learn to survive.

Funnily enough, not that it’s remotely funny, those who will find it easiest to survive is the generation or two that know their way around candles, paraffin stoves and river water. It’s as if the National Party helped prepare them for today.

In times of crisis, people pull together. It doesn’t happen here, but I’m sure it does in other parts of the world. Here we turn feral, snarling and lashing out at anyone who doesn’t talk or look like us. Or drives a Volvo. This is as it should be.

Motivated purely by altruism and definitely not a desire to profit from misfortune, some companies are taking to the Internet with tips on what to do when the lights go out and the taps run dry.

Many of these helpful hints seem to be aimed at people who were raised by wolves and who are only now learning to live among humans. One website provides examples of “non-electrical illuminating devices”. What luck. I would never have come up with torches and candles on my own.

It also suggests that you invite friends over and build “a nice old-fashioned bonfire” after which you can “play charades or cards or even share ghost stories”. Yes, playing charades during load shedding is a brilliant idea. “I’ve got it! You’re … hello? Are you still there?” As for terrifying stories, just read the front page of any one of our daily newspapers.

“You could even pass the time by having long conversations with your friends or engaging in political debates.” Talking in the dark? What a revolutionary concept. I wouldn’t, however, recommend initiating a political debate in a room where you can’t see anyone’s hands. Not in South Africa.

“You could even use the fire to cook.” Really? I always thought fires were only good for warming one’s goolies and spitting into.

“You could even host a ‘dance in the dark disco’ if you have the right equipment, such as cell phones, iPods, mp3 players, laptops, and especially battery-powered speakers.” First, you can’t have a disco without a glitter ball and someone selling ecstasy. Second, load shedding is a reminder of the future that waits like a ravening beast from hell. Nobody but crazy people, morphine addicts and small children should, when the power fails, be in the mood for flailing about the lounge while Stayin’ Alive claws its way out of a Nokia 1200.

And this gem: “Remember – our ancestors survived without electricity for thousands of years, so why can’t we do the same?” Our ancestors also wore no clothes, never worked a day in their lives and had rough sex with random Neanderthals out in the open, so why can’t we do the same? Actually, there have been times I’ve done that.

Then there is Solidariteit. These shrieking liberals have come up with what they call a Noordplan: 2 Weke Sonder Eskom. Their emergency plan is not yet available in English. It’s almost as if they only want Afrikaans-speaking people to survive two weeks without Eskom.

Their tagline reads, “Doen jou eie ding.” The hippies have been saying this for years. Do your own thing, man. Far out. It’s good to see the reactionary right finally catching on.

Their plan appears to be based on Armageddon as imagined in the Pythonesque Book of Revelation. Stockpiling of the kind that hasn’t been seen since Nelson Mandela was released comes highly recommended. You will also need to test a few alternative routes between work and home. I don’t know why. Perhaps they have inside information that Satan intends sending his devil mole-souls to burrow beneath our major freeways and collapse them at rush hour.

And, naturally, this: “Keep a weapon on you. It can be anything from a gun to pepper spray.” I don’t know about you, but I want a gun that first shoots pepper spray and then, while the suspect is screaming and scrabbling at his eyes, shoots a bullet into a part of his brain that turns him from a psychopath into a poet. That would be awesome. Unless the bullet clipped the wrong synapse and turned him from a poet into a psychopath. What the hell. Violence isn’t an exact science.

Solidariteit also suggests we get a two-way radio to stay in touch with our neighbourhood watch. Imagine if one day someone invents a communications device that makes walkie-talkies obsolete. Yes, I know this kind of heretical talk can get an oke burnt at the stake. But still. One can wonder.

“Find out if any amateur radio operators live in your area.” An amateur radio operator, as far as I know, is someone who struggles to tell the difference between Ukhozi FM and Radio Sonder Grense. I can’t see how this will help when the four horsemen pull up at the last KFC for the last Streetwise 5.

“Connect with a local community structure.” They suggest Afriforum. There’s no mention of the ANC Youth League.

“Make sure everyone in the family has enough to drink.” This is the best part of their plan by far. A family that drinks together stays together.

“Be frugal with your money and draw extra cash if you still can.” Where the hell are we now? Greece? There are also other things besides money that you can use to acquire stuff. They suggest using cigarettes to trade. How very poor white. When trading with the natives, I suppose one can use shiny beads and packets of salt.

To relax, you can “go through old photo albums”. Perhaps this is how some cultures relax, but I can’t do it without crying like a baby. Or you can “repack boxes of old stuff”. That’s got to be a barrel of laughs. I shall try it when I tire of putting scorpions down my trousers.

Okay, that’s enough about the lunatic fringe. I have some tips of my own.

Most importantly, be prepared. “Be Prepared” is also the motto of the Boy Scout movement. I don’t know what the motto of the Girl Guides is. Probably “Be Careful”. It was in 1907 that Robert Baden-Powell came up with the idea of dressing young boys in tight khaki shirts and shorts and taking them off to remote areas to “camp”. No wonder he said they should be prepared.

Let’s not get distracted. In the context of Eskom and other shadowy organisations that control our resources, we need to be prepared to go without. It’s only going to get worse now that god won’t make it rain and the regulatory body has refused Eskom’s request for a 25% increase in tariffs. They’re going to be sulky and vindictive and will lash out willfully when it comes to pulling the switches. I don’t know what god’s plan is. There’s a very good chance he doesn’t have one.

Some say you should keep a torch handy. That’s rubbish. These are the kind of people who are afraid to drink and drive and look before they cross the road. Torches are gay. Live dangerously. Buy a box of matches and a dozen military flares. You’ll need a flare gun or a good throwing arm. A flare will light up your entire street, making you popular among those of your neighbours whose homes survive the fire.

Some people think candles are romantic, but they’re not. Candles are only romantic if they fall over while you’re passed out and they set your house alight, allowing you to collect a huge insurance payout and move to the Bahamas where you fall in love with a dusky heiress to an oil fortune.

I’m with Solidariteit on the need to stockpile, but don’t stop with koeksusters and cans of meatballs in spaghetti. Stockpile diesel, wood, Cornish pasties, beer, Nik-Naks, ice creams, dope cookies, coffee, cheese, cigarettes and adult nappies. Open a pop-up shop and sell everything for ten times the price you paid. Use the money to set yourself up in a country with a future. Botswana, maybe.

Water shedding really hit home when I got an email from the body corporate this week. It’s the words everyone who lives in a complex dreads hearing. “Please accept that you will not have a blue pool until the water crisis is over.” What? This is an outrage. White people need regular access to clean, swimmable water or they will shrivel up and die.

The second hammer blow came when I went for breakfast in Ballito and asked for a glass of water to pacify my hangover. The waiter shook his head sadly. “No water. Too dirty.” I tried explaining that no water was too dirty for my condition but his face grew even sadder.

So what you need to do, then, is keep water purification tablets handy. When your water gets cut, crush the tablets, mix them with a little tobacco and smoke them. It can’t hurt to try. Maybe it can.

Also, get your hands on as much psychotropic medication as possible. The solution to the energy and water crisis lies in selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. We’re all going to have to remain calm. Very calm.

When it comes to comestibles, milk will keep longer if it stays in the fridge. Who cares? Unless you’re a baby cow, get rid of it. Leave it out for the burglars. They love milk. Especially the cat burglars. Gin kept in the fridge tastes so much better and will keep way longer than milk.

cat burglar

Fresh food will rot so you need to grow your own. If you plant potatoes, sugar cane, agave cacti, poppies and coca, you will never run out of vodka, rum, tequila, heroin or cocaine. I’m not advocating you take drugs. I’m just trying to help us all get through this bad patch. If it even is a patch.

Water restrictions mean you will not be able to wash your car, clothes or body. Be prepared to be filthy. Since I am currently unattached, I don’t have a problem with filthy. This might be the reason I am unattached.

If you absolutely have to wash, buy one of those outdoor showers from a camping shop. Hang it from a tree in your garden. If your neighbour complains, hang him from a tree in his garden. Everyone will think it’s suicide. The way things are headed, there’s bound to be a lot of that going around.

Washing dishes will no longer be an option. I went for lunch at my father’s house in Durban North last weekend and discovered that mongooses are meticulous plate-cleaners. When they’re done, all you need do is pack the crockery away and go for a rabies shot.

mongoose

And there won’t be water to flush your toilet, either. Your options are limited. You could take 500g of Imodium every hour, dig a pit latrine or buy a dog suit and take a dump out on the pavement. I’m going with the dog suit. It’s going to have to be a big one. I’m thinking Irish Wolfhound. And if the brak from across the street tries to mount me, well, it’s been a while. Right now I’ll take what I can get.

South Africa – a nation of Brit-boeties, Boers, Bantu and other bliksems

South Africa has a long and proud history of democratic rule – along with other shining examples like Cuba, North Korea and the Mongol Empire.

Even though the Khoikhoi and San were taking decisions by consensus long before Jan van Riebeeck sashayed into Table Bay in 1652, it was really the Europeans who brought the concept of modern democracy to these shores. They also brought syphilis, guns, racism and Christianity, but we shall stick with democracy for now.

The very first ballot took place aboard the Drommedaris when the passengers and crew voted, through a show of hands and a fair amount of crying and screaming, to go back to Holland. “This looks nothing like the brochures!” they wailed. “Where are the quaint fish markets? The cycling paths? Where are the coffee shops and the dimpled harlots?”

Van Riebeeck said it was his boat and he would land wherever he damn well pleased, an attitude that gained in popularity as the Dutch settlers slowly mutated into Afrikaners.

In the years leading up to 1910, the British, the Zulus and the Boers had a whale of a time slaughtering one another. It was all fun and games until someone lost an eye and the British said they didn’t want to play any more.

“Here’s what we are going to do, chaps. We are going to let you become a self-governing dominion of the British Empire.” The Boers scratched their heads. Isn’t that where the British played dominoes? The Zulus heard about the plan last Thursday.

So it came to pass that General Louis Botha was elected South Africa’s first prime minister. Even though he fought like a tiger during the Boer War, he retained a soft spot for a girl who later insisted on being called Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, the Union of South Africa and Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

As one of only three or four Boers who had ever been to London, Botha earned a reputation as something of a Brit-boetie, which was almost as bad as being seen kissing a darkie.

In 1947, King George VI popped in at the Royal Cape for a round of golf and a stern word with the Bantu. The following year, the National Party was voted into power and it was a long, long time before anyone from Buckingham Palace came near us again.

“Who are those dreadful people?” the king asked over a cup of Earl’s Grey beneath the royal gazebo at Balmoral. “They are called Afrikaners, daddy,” said Liz. “Rather like the Dutch, but a little more, shall we say, déclassé?”

But let us not get ahead of ourselves. On 15 September, 1910, people of a Caucasian persuasion came out in their thousands to vote in the first general election. The darkies thought the whiteys were leaving and spontaneous, yet hopelessly premature, celebrations broke out in the native yards.

Three main parties and a smattering of independents vied for 121 seats in the country’s first parliament. Nearly 105 years later, the number of parties fighting to get their snouts into the national trough has quadrupled. Parliament is also much bigger, but then so are its members.

Back then, elections were held every two, three or five years, depending on public transport and the calving season.

In 1915, the National Party made its first appearance on the ballot, as did the Socialist Party, which scared everyone by scooping 140 votes.

The Nats took ’24, ’29 and ’33 while 1938 was a huge year for the Socialist Party. Back on the ballot after a well-earned 13-year break, they took their first seat and predicted that by the end of the year everyone would be driving Ladas and calling each other comrade.

South Africa’s place in the world was well and truly secured in 1948, when National Party leader DF Malan (who later retired and became an airport) released a visionary manifesto supporting the prohibition of mixed marriages, the banning of black trade unions and job reservation for whites.

Thick, hairy clumps of farmers, their barefoot wives, wagon-mechanic sons and child-bearing daughters voted overwhelmingly for Malan – and the National Party remained resolutely in power until 1994. Good one, guys. Mooi skoot.

1960 was a particularly memorable year. A regular carnival. The mielies were fat, the lambs were healthy, the ANC was banned, there was a massacre in Sharpeville, a state of emergency was declared, Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd was shot and wounded and 850 000 white people voted in favour of cutting ties with Britain and then spent the next 35 years playing ‘international’ rugby fixtures against neighbouring towns, travelling ‘abroad’ to Margate and reading the Bible, the only book approved by the censorship board.

Soon after the Republic of Skunks and Polecats was formed, an aberration called the Progressive Party appeared on the ballot sheet. The party was so popular that by 1974 they had wracked up an impressive six seats in parliament. The NP, with 122 seats, shook with fear. Okay, so it might have been laughter.

Beginning to suspect that not everyone in the country was deliriously happy with existing political arrangements, the government held a whites-only referendum in 1983 to gauge support for the creation of a tricameral parliament that would allow coloureds and Indians to have a say in their own affairs, on condition that they tucked their shirts in and smoked their zol in the parking lot.

Meddling foreigners pointed out that the government had forgotten to include 23 million black people in the referendum. “What?” shouted PW Botha. “You lie, you bliksems. There’s nobody here by that name.”

By 1989 you couldn’t walk down the street without a bomb going off. It all became a bit much for Botha, sensitive man that he was. He had a stroke – a stroke of good luck for most – and was strong-armed out of the presidency.

The last all-white election took place in 1989. Feeling the winds of change hot against their necks, voters threw their weight behind the Democratic Party and … oops, wrong fairy tale. Here’s what really happened. A solid 80% of just over two million ballots were cast for the National Party, the Conservative Party and the Herstigte Nasionale Party combined. That’s how thrilled white people were at the prospect of a new society based on justice and equality for all. The Democratic Party limped in with 33 seats. It’s blindingly obvious why Jacob Zuma is so in love with the Afrikaners.

The country’s last white president pocketed a Nobel Peace Prize by unbanning the ANC and releasing Nelson Mandela. Then he threatened to sue the Truth and Reconciliation Commission if it implicated him in apartheid crimes and repaid one of the NP’s main financial backers by sleeping with his wife. Good man, that de Klerk.

Needless to say, 1994 was the mother of all elections. For the first time, darkies were allowed to vote. The ANC swept into power and, oddly enough, failed to nationalise the mines, torch the churches and eat our children.

And so here we are today. Half of parliament fiddled their expenses and kept their jobs, our top judges are at each others’ throats, the socialists are coming through the windows and our next president is closer than ever to finding his machine gun.

I’m so excited that, come Monday, I shall vote for everyone on the ballot.