Crafting a new revolution

There is so much to write about this week. The crisis at the country’s universities. Oscar Pistorius’ release into controlled captivity. Britain’s unseemly fawning over the president of one of the world’s most repressive and undemocratic regimes – no, not Syria. China. So I thought I’d write about beer instead.

The poetically named Anheuser-Busch InBev has put in a cheeky offer to buy SABMiller for $104-billion. Big deal. That’s my monthly tab at the pub.

I’m not usually a fan of megalithic corporate conglomerates, but this one will be able to penetrate deep into Africa, Asia and Latin America. If there’s one thing the poor need, it’s greater access to fresh beer.

Unlike some people I could mention, beer has always been there for me. That’s not strictly true. It hasn’t been as loyal to me as I have been to it. I have spent many nights in its company, only to wake up the next morning to find that it has stabbed me in the brain and made off with my cellphone.

I am not alone in this. Many of my compatriots are in a committed relationship with beer and yet South Africa is not even in the top 24 countries that love beer the most. This is pathetic and I, for one, am deeply ashamed. I know I’m doing my bit. It’s you people out there – drinking wine and other rubbish – that are letting us down.

At the bottom of the list, 67% of Ecuadoreans drink beer. We can’t even beat that. Fiji, for heaven’s sake, drinks more beer than we do. Namibia at least does the continent proud, coming in third with an unhealthy 96.7%. Bhutan, of all places, takes top honours. There, the entire population drinks beer. They score a perfect 100%. Those Buddhists sure could teach us a thing or two about commitment.

Anyway. At least it’s still October, a month in which beer is worshipped around the world. Not so much in Saudi Arabia. The northern hemisphere traditionally pays tribute to beer at the height of the fall. The height of the fall often depends on where you are and how much beer you’ve had. America named this season after the Pilgrims developed a taste for Wampanoag homebrew and spent seven months struggling to get to their feet. We call it autumn although we also fall a fair bit. It’s very confusing.

The Germans gave us Oktoberfest. However, they also gave us the Third Reich. Then again, they gave us the Easter Bunny. But they also gave us the accordion. On the other hand, they gave us aspirin, essential to any serious beer-drinkers’ survival kit. So it all evens out in the end.

Many countries have followed Germany’s example and celebrate their own version of the Oktoberfest. According to my research, “the southern Mexico City borough of Xochimilco hosts an annual traditional German knees-up complete with beer and bratwurst, all served up with a fiery Mexican twist”. The twist presumably comes when the Los Zetas cartel crashes the party and kills everyone.

Durban doesn’t have an Oktoberfest because it’s held in September so they have to call it the Bierfest. It’s quite understandable. It’s hot, the venue is available and the beer is on ice. What the hell difference does it make what month it is? We’re going to be drinking beer solidly every day until the end of the year anyway.

The first mistake the organisers of the Bierfest made was to introduce a European element to the festivities, offering oompah bands, ‘Bavarian’ barmaids with their chests hanging out, weird German sausages and so on. Their second mistake was not to invite me.

With October running out of days, I was becoming anxious about missing the few remaining opportunities to celebrate the month of beer. Of course I had been celebrating all along, but slumped on the couch throwing peanuts at the monkeys and talking to a dog I don’t have isn’t much fun. I wanted to be among fellow aficionados, or, as my mother used to call them, drunks.

After going for a surf at Umdloti the other day, I was standing under the shower when this guy joined me. It’s not what it sounds like. For a start, he had his own shower. And he didn’t just come out of the bushes, either. He had also been surfing. Surfers in Durban don’t generally talk to each other unless they’re related or have known each other for at least twenty years.

This dude broke with tradition and said he’d seen me around. Asked who I was. I gave him a fake name because I don’t trust anyone, least of all myself. Next thing you know, I’ve been kidnapped and sold off to a gang of degenerate white slave traders operating out of the Bush Tavern. It can happen.

A few days later I saw his picture in the paper. He wasn’t involved in human trafficking at all. What he had done, though, was start his own brewery. I cursed myself for being such a fool. It was as if I had allowed a soul mate to slip through my fingers. The company is called Poison City Brewing. My column is called Durban Poison. The logo is five surfboards positioned to resemble the leaf of one of Durban’s most popular herbaceous plants – the Cannabis sativa. I have five surfboards and … well, I needed no further proof that the invisible hand of Jah was trying to bring this brewery and me together.

Using my finely honed investigative skills, I tracked him down and insisted that he introduce me to his beer. It’s a lager called The Bird. I hoped he would leave us alone for a while so that we might become better acquainted. Instead, he invited me to a mini Oktoberfest at his home. After making sure that nobody would be wearing lederhosen and I wouldn’t be expected to do the ridiculous Chicken Dance, I agreed to attend. He said that, as a nod to tradition, his German wife would be there. Blonde? Yes. Okay, then. Dark-haired German women terrify me. It doesn’t feel right. Like tall clowns. Or talking sheep.

It turned out to be way better than a normal beerfest because the beer was free. Obviously it had to be an invitation-only affair. Open something like that up to the public and you’d have to get the riot police in. Especially on the north coast.

Being a Sunday I was dressed casually – much like a homeless person dresses casually – and was relieved to find myself in good company. This wasn’t the kind of crowd one might expect at, say, a wine-tasting soiree. I suppose a beer made by a company called Poison Brewing, with a logo that might get you searched at a roadblock, was never going to attract a conventional crowd. I might have been the only person there without a tattoo. Or, oddly, a young child.

And that’s the point, really. Anti-establishmentarianism might be damnably hard to say when you’re off your face, but with a bit of effort it can become the new zeitgeist.

If this Anheuser-Busch-SABMiller merger goes ahead, they will control a third of all global beer sales and rake in $64-billion a year. And they’ll pay tax in Belgium. I’m done with making rich people richer. Anheuser-Busch chairman Olivier Goudet and his accomplices have quite enough money.

If craft beer is the Che Guevara of the brewing industry, carry me to the barricades.

BenBeer

SUCK ON  THIS: Ben Trovato has found a crafty way to deal with giant brewing monopolies – show them The Bird.

 

 

 

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.

An open letter to ANC Secretary General Comrade Gwede Mantashe

images

Dear Comrade Gwede,

Well done on giving our courts a swift kick in the nuts. That’ll teach them to have what you call a negative attitude towards the government. It’s almost as if they believe the myth that they are an independent branch. They need to focus more on ‘branch’ and less on ‘independent’. And what do we do when the branch of a tree turns rotten? Yes, we send our least favourite child up the tree with a chainsaw to cut it off. Or, even better, burn the tree down and plant a new one. A tree approved by the ministry of forestry.

As you so rightly pointed out, “There is a drive in sections of the judiciary to create chaos for governance.” At first I was skeptical. After all, judges are overweight, unfit and shortsighted. Quite unsuited to leading baying mobs to the barricades. However, this is probably nothing more than a cunning disguise. Beneath those black robes they are all Batman. The moment they receive the Bat-Signal – transmitted from DA headquarters – they will implement their dastardly plan and, amid the chaos, overthrow the ANC regime.

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko is also aware of what’s really going down. When he spoke to police investigators a few weeks ago, he said, “some elements of the judiciary meet with characters to produce certain judgments.” He’s absolutely right. That’s what a Full Bench does. Well, they call it a Full Bench in public but it’s really called the Star Chamber and they have funny handshakes and virgin sacrifices when they meet in underground caves at midnight on every full moon.

The problem seems, as you say, to be limited to the North Gauteng and Western Cape high courts. But for how long? Attack is the best form of defence, comrade. I’m sure you learnt that when you read Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book as a child. Launch a pre-emptive strike. Do it now, before this incendiary talk of “judicial independence” infects other courts in the country.

Obviouslythe Western Cape High Court would turn maverick. It’s embedded in a province controlled by rebel forces. But North Gauteng? That’s ANC country, that is. Even more inexplicable is that two of the three judges who ordered the arrest of the much-loved humanitarian pacifist Omar al-Bashir are not members of the Caucasian race. Why are these brothers not on your payroll?

There is an outside chance, I suppose, that the robed renegades are simply doing what they are paid to do. But even that would be an aberration in the brave new world you are trying to build. Let us, for a moment, hypothesise that these judges are not, as unlikely as it sounds, attempting to bring the government to its knees and are merely applying the law. If that is the case, then it is the law that is at fault.

Guy Fawke’s Day is just over four months away. This gives you enough time to collect the statute books and burn them in a magnificent bonfire on the lawns of the Union Buildings. Invite the peasants. Let them toast marshmallows or Mozambicans. It will be a fresh start and people will laugh and clap and dance.

If that sounds too much like hard work, all you need do is rig the next election so your party wins a four-thirds majority and then change the constitution to exempt all card-carrying members of the ANC from all laws. Or scrap the constitution altogether. I mean, really, what are laws when you think about it? They are just things invented by Romans and Dutchmen to discourage civilisation from descending into savagery. Personally, I am all for a bit of savagery. There are too many people standing politely in queues, driving at the speed limit and apologising for pushing their trolley into your ankles. When I go to the bank, I want to be able to use a machete to get to the front of the queue. Hell, why even bother with queues? If you can afford plastic explosives, blow up the bank and go straight to the vaults. Why even bother with money? Just take what you want. Impunity rocks, man! If Dostoyevsky lived in your beautiful dystopian new, new South Africa, he would rewrite Crime and Punishment and take out all the punishment and just call it Crime and it would be even better than the original.

Like millions of other South Africans who aren’t members of the counterrevolutionary opposition, I embrace your vision. Like you, I, too, watched the brilliant socio-political documentary, Mad Max: Fury Road. Did we see Imperator Furiosa laying charges of assault against Immortan Joe? Or Joe’s hot wives taking him to the maintenance court? Of course not. They had complete freedom to do as they wished. It was almost as if they were members of the ANC’s national executive committee.

By the time you have silenced the courts, those who have fuel, water and guns will be the law. I have petrol at the moment, but I swapped my gun for a bag of weed. Yes, I know. I should have just shot the dealer and taken the weed. And I don’t have much water. The municipality has put me on some kind of trickle system and I am forced to bath in vodka and drink gin to stay alive. No, I’m not complaining. Really. I’m not. I swear. Please don’t send the black helicopters.

Let’s keep things tribal. Your leader and mine, Comrade Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma the First, by the Grace of God President of the Republic of South Africa, Head of the Household, Defender of the Faith, Pastor of the Flock, Defeater of the Mbeki, Unifier of the Nation, Msholozi of Msholozis, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, Conqueror of the Apartheid Regime and Owner of Property in Nkandla … where was I?

Oh, that’s right. As you know, he has ordered the provinces to divert R100m away from the grasping hands of the ungrateful proletariat and give it to junior traditional leaders. If you move quickly, there should still be enough left over to build a dozen or so rudimentary kraals where pro-law agitators can be fined. Or executed. Depending on the weather.

You do know, don’t you, that it is not just the courts that are jeopardising our chances of achieving full dictatorship. There are also people walking openly in the streets, as we speak, who have negative attitudes towards the government. They need to be rounded up and sent to re-education camps like the ones they had in Vietnam and still have in China and North Korea – countries you surely admire for their robust approach towards anyone foolish enough to disrespect those accorded the divine right to rule.

As for the International Criminal Court, well, you probably can’t shut them down. But you are quite right when you say they are dangerous. They have the power to put people in jail, for god’s sake. You don’t get more dangerous than that. And, yes, we should withdraw from it. While we’re at it, let us withdraw from any organisation that thinks it can tell us what to do. It’s time to take a stand. New visa regulations are stopping anyone from coming in and the falling rand is stopping anyone from leaving. This is good. We’re on the right track. Show the world, comrade, that the ANC can fuck up this country far more than the National Party ever could. That will teach them. Or us. Whatever.

 

 

Happy St Patrick’s Day

Why is it that the Irish have all the fun? To be sure, there was that nasty business with the potatoes in 1845, but if it weren’t for the Great Hunger, Boston and New York wouldn’t be the same today.

Apart from the potato famine, the Irish have always had nothing but a rollicking good time. Well, apart from the potato famine and 200 years of sectarian violence.

St Patrick’s Day is full of fun traditions. The colour green plays a big part. After a day of eating green food and drinking green beer, many people go to bed with their faces suffused in many interesting shades of green. This happened to me after one particularly robust St Paddy’s Day with friends in Durban. My girlfriend at the time said it wouldn’t have happened if I had listened to her and had my stomach pumped. But where’s the fun in that?

On St Patrick’s Day, the Irish bring out the shamrock – the three-leafed clover that is said to attract good luck. On our public holidays, South Africans bring out the five-leafed cannabis that usually attracts the police and not such good luck.

The Irish kiss the Blarney Stone; South Africans get stoned, talk blarney and kiss anything that isn’t nailed to the floor.

In Dublin, the St. Patrick’s Day parade is part of a five-day festival attended by half a million people. We don’t have parades, we have protest marches. And although the attendance is nowhere near Irish levels, ours can go on for a lot longer than five days (depending on whether the festivities spill over into arbitration).

On St Patrick’s Day – or any other day – Ireland’s bars are full of happy people. The Irish are possibly the most self-deprecating nation on earth and they have no qualms about telling jokes about themselves. Like this one.

“O’Connell was staggering home with a pint of booze in his back pocket when he slipped and fell heavily. Struggling to his feet, he felt something wet running down his leg.
“Please,” he implored, “let it be blood!”

When South Africans have a few drinks and tell jokes, they usually end up having to explain themselves to the Human Rights Commission.

Ireland has Leprechauns. They are small, not particularly friendly and spend their time making shoes. We have Tokoloshes. They are extremely aggressive, have holes in their heads and resemble a cross between a zombie and a gremlin.

Ireland has St Patrick. We had Nelson Mandela. Both were arrested and incarcerated. Legend has it that St Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. Mandela drove all the racists out of South Africa. Well, maybe not all.

It was on St. Patrick’s Day that Ireland’s cricket team eliminated Pakistan from the 2007 World Cup. South Africa, on the other hand, lost to Bangladesh and then went on to score a magnificent 27 for five against Australia.

Want to be lucky today?

If you’re Irish:

  1. Find a four-leaf clover. 2. Wear green. 3. Catch a Leprechaun.

If you’re South African:

  1. Find a job. 2. Wear a bulletproof vest. 3. Catch a roadworthy taxi.

 

Prophet and Loss

marleybear
I feel sick when I think of all the people selling their icons for a bag of cash and a pound of power. More than 150 million plastic crucified Jesuses are pumped out each year. Cuba sells Che Guevara lollipops. Even the ANC once got Nelson Mandela to publicly endorse Jacob Zuma, a man who, in the old days, would have been tracked down by bounty hunters and brought in dead or alive.
Now, the family of the late, great Bob Marley has launched what they describe as the world’s first global cannabis brand. It will be called Marley Natural and will come in a range of different strains, cannabis-infused lotions, creams and various accessories. The new brand is being developed with Privateer Holdings based in Washington State.
So the family has finally decided the prophet needs to turn even more of a profit. Here’s what I expect we can look forward to in the near future.
I Shot the Sheriff – an Xbox game in which a posse of downtrodden Rastas must move 500kg of weed from Montego Bay to Miami without getting caught by heavily armed cops on the take.
One Love – weed-flavoured condoms in a range of red, green and gold.
No Woman, No Cry – a range of environment-friendly inflatable dolls.
Lively Up Yourself – tetrahydrocannibanol-based anti-depressants.
Misty Morning – toilet sprays that smell like the inside of a bong.
Positive Vibrations – a range of sex toys designed to resemble the smokeable heads of a dope plant.
Rat Race – a board game in which players have to score from a natural mystic, ride a horse called Natty and avoid being converted by stiff-necked fools.
Stop That Train – a range of hemp T-shirts aimed at rail commuters who are always late.
Turn Your Lights Down Low – a marketing jingle for Eskom.
Small Axe – a pocket-sized skunk-scented deodorant that attracts women and repels police.
Soul Shakedown Party – a virtual reality computer game with Rasta avatars who buy and sell the corrupt souls of crazy baldheads in a natural mystic place called Rainbow Country.
Ambush in the Night – a range of bulletproof hemp jackets designed for South Africans who work later than 6pm.
Burnin’ and Lootin’ – a range of affordable weapons for the poor.
Mr Brown – a restaurant chain that doesn’t allow white people.
 
 
 
 

Beavers and headbutts

Last week I decided the mind was a lost cause, but the body was still in with a fighting chance. Acting on the assumption that transformation shouldn’t take more than one edition of Men’s Health, I purloined the magazine and began the metamorphisizational process. I ended up comfort eating, binge drinking and hating everyone but myself. That’s pretty much par for the course for a narcissistic misanthrope with self-destructive tendencies, so I can’t really say it worked.

Being exclusively in the company of men has always made me uneasy. Sure, they start off just wanting to chat about the rugby or compare notes on smacking their bitches up. But then they get some liquor down them and they want to either sleep with me or kill me. Or, if they’re German, both.

I think it would be beneficial for all concerned if women read men’s magazines and men read women’s magazines. We need to understand what the other gender is thinking. Get a handle on their needs. Their dreams. Their desires. Only then will we stop fighting and co-exist in blissful silence.

So I went out and bought a copy of Women’s Health. Standing in the queue, people glanced into my basket. I do it to their baskets, but I don’t judge them like they judged me. I could see their eyes labeling me. Pervert. Weirdo. Probably one of them intersex freaks.

It didn’t help that the cover shrieked, “Best. Butt. Ever.” Did the people around me seriously believe that I wanted to sculpt an A-list booty in just four moves? I thought I saw a man side-eyeing my bum. I gave him a look that under normal circumstances would have been a death stare, but now came across as a coquettish come-on. My feminine side was getting in touch with me and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

fatty

I hurried to my car, painfully aware that my hips were misbehaving, and raced off to a beachfront bar to regroup. The cover promised the advice of a Love Coach. “Stay single or settle? You decide.” That’s the first six-word feature story I’ve ever seen. Rock solid advice, too. You decide. Brilliant. That’s what I call empowerment. Nothing more to be said.

The cover also asked me if I could fit into my mother’s wedding dress. It seemed unlikely. Women who have been married for a certain length of time cannot look upon their wedding dresses without either smiling or weeping. And rarely do they pass them on to their daughters for fear that they, too, will be cursed.

Back home, I got into a scented foam bath and opened the magazine. The first thing I saw was two girls in tight Levi jeans. They seemed to be having a lot of fun without men being present. Fine with me.

I skipped ahead to the ‘Ask Women’s Health’ page. The question of the month was, “Is it okay to work out three days in a row to get in my weekly exercise?” The writer would have it that it depends on the type of exercise you’re doing. I would say it depends on other things. If you’re single, sure. Work out 50 hours a week, if you like. But if you have a boyfriend or husband (or a partner who is lesbian, bisexual, trangendered etc etc) then working out three days in a row is not going to work out. Meals will go uncooked, egos will go unstroked and genitalia will feel neglected.

Page 19 reveals that stressed women are 29 percent less likely to fall pregnant. One of the reasons women are stressed is that they know men like me are buying Women’s Health magazine to find out stuff like this.

I was astounded to discover a whole page devoted to sex. I thought there’d be a paragraph at most. Exercise apparently helps fight the libido-killing effects of antidepressants. What if you’re taking antidepressants because the idea of having sex with your husband is what’s depressing you?

A study found that women on “mood uppers” who did a 20-minute workout had double the genital arousal than when they hadn’t exercised at all. So there it is, guys. The secret is to pump ‘em full of Zoloft, Prozac or Cymbalta and make ‘em do a hundred push ups. You’ll have to beat them off with a club after that.

I discover that only ten percent of women know when is the best time to conceive each month. Seriously? Are they being raised by wolves? It’s like men not knowing that erections are caused by the pull of the moon.

“The sperm need to be inside the Fallopian tubes before the egg is released.” The only comparatively serious thing men need to know is, “You have to be inside the pub before last round is called.” I can see how it might lead to arguments among couples trying for a child.

“You released your egg yet?”

“How do I know if I’ve released my bloody egg? It’s not going to send me a text, is it?”

“I’ve got to get back to work.”

“So put your bloody sperm in my Fallopian tubes, then. Hurry up. Then take the dog for a walk.”

“It’s your turn to walk the dog.”

“Shut up and get on.”

Over the page, I discover that 59 percent of Women’s Health readers prefer shopping in warmer temperatures. The rest apparently prefer fighting their way through blizzards and ice storms. I don’t know what to say about this.

And on to The Daddy Diet. “Moms-to-be often pop prenatal frolate to protect the health of their unborn babies.” What the hell is frolate? It sounds like an optional extra at a frozen yoghurt stand. “Would you like some frolate with that, sir?” The very next sentence reads, “Now a Canadian study has found that nearly 30 percent of mouse litters sired by a father deficient in the nutrient had birth defects.” WTF? Are we mice or men?

“If a baby bump is your goal, tell your guy to aim for about 400mcg of the nutrient each day from the leafy greens, fruit and fortified cereals.” Listen, honey. If your guy worries about his intake of leafy greens, don’t be surprised when he runs off with your brother.

Then, page upon page of products. Wrinkles? Try this serum freshly squeezed from the pineal gland of a Kihansi spray toad. Dead skin? Use a peel made from algae scraped from the belly of a Vietnamese coughing crab and you’ll be sloughing like a snake in no time at all. Stinky? Daub a little essence of fruit bat on your wrists and make new friends instantly. Dry hair? Rub in a cupful of oil secreted by the rare albino killer whale. Too white for the night? Spread on a 24-hour bronzer made from the foreskins of an isolated Ethiopian tribe. Too dark for the park? Take a long, luxurious bath filled with Tippex.

I’d have to look like Elephant Man before turning to some of this stuff. Polyfiller would be cheaper and just as effective as L’Oreal Paris Nude Magique Blur Cream Instant Flawless Perfector. And as for the Black Pearl Prestige G-Mask Gravity Black Mud Mask (only R1 198!), well, I often wake up with a face covered in mud at no cost to anything but my liver. That’s why I have the skin of a 19-year-old. Tortoise.

The further I read, the more I get the impression that women worry far too much about their looks. It’s your minds we care about, girls. Ha ha. Just kidding. I know you’re not doing it for us.

Fitness seems to be important for both genders. I understand the need for men to be fit because we’re forever chasing women and on the rare occasion that we catch one, we have to do all the heavy lifting, in and out of bed. I don’t know why women need to maintain their fitness levels. They don’t even have to climb very far up the corporate ladder before hitting a glass ceiling and going home early with a headache. Maybe that’s why, under the section Get-Fit Tricks, they’re offered the “one-dumbbell solution”. It sounds like a starter husband and lasts about as long.

There’s a feature about how best to protect your heart, which, quite frankly, is ridiculous since everyone knows that only one in a thousand women has a heart.

“According to a US study, 40 percent of women rarely give their hearts a second thought.” According to a study done in my study a few seconds ago, 90 percent of women rarely give men’s hearts a second thought. Sorry. That’s the bitter lemon in my gin talking.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends cutting back on red meat. Hang on. Tim Noakes recommends we eat a lamb for breakfast, a sheep for lunch and a cow for supper. With bowls of steaming offal for dessert. It’s all so confusing.

“Light tippling may drop your risk for sudden cardiac death by 30 to 40 percent.” In South Africa, light tippling constitutes three bottles of wine, two tequila shooters and an Irish coffee.

“Just keep it to one drink or fewer per day.” Nobody who was born in this country has ever had just one drink per day. And, unless my maths is worse than I thought, less than one drink per day is roughly equivalent to no drink at all per day. You might as well kill yourself.

There are three pages on tea. I like tea. But I don’t trust it. My first wife was a tea addict. I’m not blaming tea for the collapse of the marriage, but something pushed her over the edge. If it comes down to tea or me, then, yes, I am blaming the tea.

A double page spread explains the transcendental complexities of the sell-by date. For the hard of thinking, pictures of common foods are provided together with their lifespans. Gherkins, for example, are good for up to a year. Probably less if they’ve been standing with the lid off under a tree outside Tripoli. I have fished food out of dustbins and eaten it after it was tossed out by women treating the sell-by date as if it were some kind of biblical injunction. I don’t mean dustbins in the street. I’m talking about in my home. Or their home. Whatever.

A more useful feature might have explained how a woman can tell when a man has reached his sell-by date. If he looks, smells or tastes bad, throw him away and get a fresh one.

Then, five pages on one woman’s struggle to lose six kilos in the 14-week run-up to her wedding. You wouldn’t believe the things I have lost in the same amount of time. Cars and jobs, mainly. Six kilos? Please. I want to know what she weighs after her first year of marriage. What’s that, darlin’? I can’t make out what you’re saying because your mouth is always full.

fat-1

Readers are invited to learn the secret to the perfectly grilled steak. “Meat is an ideal source of muscle-building protein.” Damn straight. Nobody knows this better than the animal it’s coming off. We are told there is nothing better than meat grilled to perfection.

“On the other hand, there is nothing worse than wasting money on meat that is dried out and tough.” Yes, there is. It’s buying dried out, tough meat from a butchery in Baghdad, then getting snatched by an Islamic State terrorist and having your head cut off before you can eat it.

Finally, on page 83, we get to sex and love. How very whimsical to link the two.

Right away, we learn about the world’s first rotating couples’ massager. “They’re worn by the woman during sex …” My sphincter snapped shut. No thank you. Maybe after I’ve done a stretch in C-Max. And, yes, I do mean stretch in the worst possible way. Besides, I’m not interested in anything that comes with a difficulty rating of 4/5. That’s the same difficulty rating I give to fixing a leaking U-joint. Or, for that matter, rolling a perfect marijuana joint

We also learn how to upload our own porn videos to tasteful websites that offer videos of “real loving couples having real sex”. Share in the laughter and joy as “Wendy and Dave make love in their own bedroom with the sun streaming in from outside.” Voyeurism at it’s white-knuckled glassy-eyed best. Watching old movies of Vietnamese villages being napalmed is less repulsive.

And on to the glutes, the source of so much conflict in the world today.

images

From what I can make out, it’s harder to develop a good bum than it is to develop a good brain. A “strength and conditioning specialist” said the booty is like the final frontier. “The true test of a woman’s commitment to strategic eating and intelligent fitness is the quality of her glutes and hamstrings.” I don’t know what that means. I do know, however, that relationships based solely on glutes rarely last longer than an hour or two. I don’t know what the deal is with hamstrings. I don’t recall ever looking at a woman and thinking, “Hmm. Poor quality hamstrings on that one. Someone should have her put down.”

“Research indicates that a smaller waist and larger hip circumference acts as a magnet to the opposite sex across most cultures and multiple generations.” Only most cultures? I want to know more about the culture that prefers huge waists and tiny hips. And where do they find these women? Maybe they aren’t really women at all. Maybe they’re men with giant beer bellies and skinny alcoholic hips. As for appealing to multiple generations, if your boyfriend’s father, grandfather and ten-year-old brother are hitting on you because you’ve got a tight ass and childbearing hips, you’re probably hanging out with the wrong family.

Jesus. Does this magazine never end? There’s a feature that asks why so many women are struggling to concentrate. Two words. Facebook. Twitter. Luckily, there are drugs that can cure us of our addiction to social media. Call me.

Last week I wrote about Men’s Health magazine and now I have written about Women’s Health magazine. This brings to an end my contribution to the war for gender equality.

My conclusions in this comparative study will be published separately if and when I feel less drunk.

Big elections need big rulers – get the measure of it today

What I enjoy most about elections is waking up early, packing a cooler box of beer and a moonbag of amphetamines, and setting off to cast my ballot at as many polling stations as possible before being arrested.

I have a dozen or so fake IDs and six or seven disguises, one of which is a dolphin suit. It’s getting a bit frayed around the tail, but not enough to arouse suspicions at a voting station in one of the poorer areas. Maybe I’ll use that one in a fishing village. They’re accustomed to seeing all types demanding a say in this democracy lark.

I also have a T-Rex suit but in 2009 an electoral officer with the face of a Shetland pony told me that lizards weren’t allowed to participate in the process. If my arms hadn’t been so short, I would have shown her a process or two of my own.

I also like to dress as a madman, which really only entails putting on whatever I find strewn next to the bed, and implore people not to vote. Sometimes I fall to my knees, arms outstretched.

“Don’t do it!” I beg. “Go home! Save yourselves! It’s not too late!” If anyone makes eye contact, I waddle over on my knees, much like Oscar must have done stumping up and down furiously formulating his defence, and cling to their legs.

“It’s not worth it!” I cry. “No good can come of it! Think of the children!” Before being dragged away by agents of the state, I have on a number of occasions succeeded in persuading people to leave the line. Sometimes they run.

I don’t vote because queues make me psychotic and voting booths make me claustrophobic. And also because I believe governments have a malevolent influence on society and I refuse to be party to this filthy business.

Speaking of party, I have yet to see a complete list of who has made it on to the ballot. Not even a single volunteer has rung my doorbell to solicit my vote. In the last few days, I received three unsolicited smses. One was from Helen Zille trying to sell me Utopia, another was from St Elmo’s trying to sell me two large pizzas for the price of what I would imagine two large pizzas should cost, and the third was from a gentleman informing me that I had won the Lagos lottery. I’m more inclined to trust the Nigerian.

Voting in a de facto one-party democracy is about as effective as snorting rhino horn to upsize your willy, but if you insist on wasting a perfectly good public holiday by standing in line with a bunch of other sheeple, and you still haven’t made up your mind who to give your X to, let me give you a hand.

Actually, if you don’t know by now who it is you’re going to vote for, you shouldn’t be allowed to vote. You wouldn’t wander in to the tote on a whim and put a grand on number nine in the seventh race just because you like the sound of his name, would you? That’s just mad, that is. You need to study their track record. Check their pedigree. See if they have a handicap. Find out who’s holding the reins. It’s the same with racehorses.

Here, then, is a very brief guide to what you can expect to find on the ballot paper on Wednesday. I found the names on the IEC’s website. If you don’t see anything you fancy, take the Kasril option and vote for everyone. Or draw something. Preferably obscene. The ballot counters will appreciate it.

African Christian Democratic Party. Three members in parliament. Vote for them if you feel comfortable with a party that has the blood of Jesus Christ represented in its logo. Also if you want to see abortionists, gays and purveyors of pornography consigned to the flames of eternal damnation. No dancing, please.

African Independent Congress. Big in Matatiele. Part of their mission statement reads, “To enforce a fund-raising culture of society members for the supply of needed resources relevantly, including subsidisation of community service schemes by AIC membership politically deployed in representative capacity to paid government posts/ranks.” Rank outsider.

African National Congress. This election’s dark horse. In with a chance. Vote for them if you don’t pay tax, are a deployed cadre or rely on securing tenders for a living.

African People’s Convention. One seat in parliament. Slogan: The Alternative Voice. Good for Pan Africanists. Bad for white people.

AgangSA. A new party led by an old face. A merger with the official opposition was abandoned after their first kiss. A vote for Agang is a vote for Nathan Kirsh.

Al Jama-Ah. Vote for them if you want to see women banned from driving and shoplifters relieved of their hands. Not all their ideas are this good.

Azanian People’s Organisation. Supported by black intellectuals and academics. One seat in parliament. No inference intended.

Bushbuckridge Residents Association. Might appeal to voters who live in gated communities and enjoy attending body corporate meetings where there are actual bodies lying around. Bring your own sjambok.

Congress of the People. Leadership of the party depends on whichever high court judge is sitting. President-for-now, Mosiuoa Lekota, has offered to eat his hat if the party gets fewer than 1.3 million votes. Party insiders are attempting to source edible hats.

Democratic Alliance. Stands a good chance of winning the elections. In 2034. A natural home for relatively normal white people and well-spoken darkies who either jumped ship or were never invited aboard the government gravy boat in the first place.

Economic Freedom Fighters. A vote for the EFF puts you in line for a trip down the rabbit hole into a magical country where everyone gets a farm, mine and bank for free. Well, everyone except white people. They get to emigrate.

First Nation Liberation Alliance. Don’t pretend to be khoi. If you can’t find a rock painting with one of your ancestor’s names on it, go somewhere else.

Front Nasionaal/National Front. Established primarily to get Clive Derby-Lewis out of jail and into a slightly bigger and better-run facility called a volkstaat. Vote for them if you know the lyrics to Steve Hofmeyr’s music and believe that the earth is 6 000 years old.

Independent Civic Organisation of SA. The less said the better.

Inkatha Freedom Party. Full marks for never giving up. Led by the same man since 1856, the IFP appeals to Zulus who are more familiar with pangas than they are with tender documents. With 18 seats in parliament, their most popular member is Mario Ambrosini. He recently tabled a bill that, if passed, would make it compulsory for citizens over the age of 18 to smoke marijuana at least once a month.

Keep it Simple, Stupid. They have participated in three general elections, never getting more than 7 000 votes. They just won’t shut up. Needless to say, KISS is headed by a white woman.

Kingdom Governance Movement. Formed last year by an ex-ANC minister in the Eastern Cape … I’m sorry. I just can’t go on.

Minority Front. The party represents all minorities in South Africa, but more specifically the Indian community, especially those from KwaZulu-Natal (Durban in particular) but mostly people who live at 347 Florence Nightingale Drive, Chatsworth (the Rajbansi home).

National Freedom Party. The party is led by a Zulu woman, which means someone else’s mother has had to take her place tilling the soil. Bit selfish. Presumably well connected since she is still alive.

Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. Another one-seat wonder. Support faded once people began suspecting that Azania and Narnia were the same country.

Pan Africanist Movement. Never heard of them. That’s a good enough reason as any to vote for them.

Patriotic Alliance. Run by a former bank robber. Popular in the coloured community, especially among those who work in the informal sector selling drugs, guns and women.

Ubuntu Party. Out to destroy the evil banking sector. Headed, unbelievably, by a white man. Their manifesto makes sense. Vote for them. Or not. I don’t care.

United Christian Democratic Party. Founded by Lucas Mangope in 1997 … right, that’s enough.

United Congress. Formed by some dude who jumped off the Cope boat. No rational reason to vote for them unless you’re related or owe him money.

United Democratic Movement. Principled but dull.Should be able to run the country given the right drugs.

Manchester United. Lying seventh in the Premier League. More chance of winning the election than this year’s title.

Vryheidsfront Plus. Hahahahaha! What? No, I’m not laughing at you. I swear. Please put me down. You’re hurting me. I’m sorry, okay? I thought you were someone else.

Workers and Socialist Party. No explanation needed. And I’m not just saying that because it’s late and I’m giddy with excitement. Okay, giddy with beer.

 

Gettin’ me a little R&R

It wasn’t long before I was convinced that Mkuze Game Reserve had no animals. Judging by the size of the staff, it was entirely possible that they had eaten the lot.

I went into a hide where a section of fence along the walkway had been smashed by either an angry elephant or a hungry Ezemvelo Wildlife employee upon discovering that someone had wolfed the last impala.

Inside the hide was a family of three. The man had a camera with a zoom lens the size of a 420mm howitzer. I put my phone on vibrate and laid it gently on the wooden counter. Five minutes later it vibrated.

Shh,” said the woman. I was about to apologize but she held up her hand. “I heard a lion!” My phone vibrated again. “Did you hear that?” she said excitedly. I casually slid the phone into my pocket. “Yes,” I said. “He sounds close.” A terrapin snuck its snout out of the muddy water two metres away. The husband swung his giant lens around and fired off a round. The terrapin disappeared.

The thing about sitting in a hide is that often the animals aren’t aware that you have paid to see them. I waved my receipt through the slit but still nothing. I spotted three turtle doves and a tree trunk that I kept mistaking for a baby elephant with a crocodile’s face. Animal sounds drifted out of the bush at fairly regular intervals, but that’s easy enough to arrange with a few cleverly hidden speakers.

Driving through the reserve, I came around a corner and almost ploughed into a flock of rhino. One of the reasons I hate poachers is because I will never again be able to look at another rhino without thinking, “That’s the price of a Ferrari he’s got on his nose.” I drove closer to inspect this lucrative appendage and the bastard had the nerve to charge me.

Fifty bucks for a look, mister,” he said. No, he didn’t. He lowered his head, snorted and took three or four lumbering steps towards my car. I am accustomed to things lowering their heads, snorting and lumbering around my apartment, but this was altogether more frightening. He stopped in his tracks before I could even find first gear. We gave each other the lazy eye, then, having made whatever primeval point it was he thought he was making, he ambled into the bush.

Back at camp, I saw a sign warning that hyenas were attracted to braais. It said they were opportunistic and would grab food whenever they could. Please. I have been to conferences and seen what civil servants are capable of when the buffet opens. Hyenas are amateurs.

The next morning I headed for Mozambique. After a couple of hours I arrived at the border. Or, more accurately, I arrived at the back of a long line of parked 4x4s. My heart sank. I would be there for days, possibly weeks. I would have to sleep in the car and beg food from local villagers. I would probably go mad and kill myself.

I had apparently forgotten it was Easter weekend. This is the price you pay for being an atheist.

It was mayhem. People milled about like sheep, bleating, “Where am I meant to go now?” To their credit, the South Africans and Mozambicans were doing their best to get people through as quickly as possible. Forms were snatched, passports stamped, money exchanged for worthless pieces of paper and, finally, tyres were deflated. Well, other people deflated their tyres.

I think it’s an urban myth perpetuated by men who like to cut a rugged image by dropping to one knee and sticking a match into their valves. I set off down a sandy track. I had gone about nine metres before someone on the side of the road, kneeling next to his tyres, shouted that I was going the wrong way.

I pretended that I was just trying out my non-deflated tyres before making a u-turn. The Land Rover sank up to its ankles. I got out and shouted at the car. I kicked its tyres and slapped its face. With a dog, you need to bite its ear to let it know who’s boss. Land Rovers are no different to dogs, except you need to use more violence. For all I know, they enjoy a bit of the rough stuff. That’s probably why they break down so often.

Anyway, it seemed to have learnt its lesson and got me out of the hole it had dug for itself and onto the right road. Not that you could call it a road. You couldn’t call it signposted, either.

I was booked into a place called Gamboozini lodge in Ponta do Ouro, which means Place of Gold in Spanish or whatever the hell language it is they speak in these parts. It was supposed to be 10kms from the border. I had been bouncing along for a lot further than that, causing permanent injury to my kidneys, when I arrived at Ponta Malongane.

Gripped by a raging thirst and nursing a belly full of badly rattled organs, I spotted a man beckoning me towards a shack made entirely of sticks, straw and bottles of alcohol. It seemed rude to ask for directions without purloining a local beer at least.

After an hour or so, it seemed rude to leave at all. Ever. The Dosem beer was delicious. The reggae was fabulous. The company good. I could sleep on the floor behind the bar. I’d wash glasses and repair the fittings, not that you could call them fittings.

My new friend urged me to try a local delicacy called an R&R. It consisted of a beer mug half filled with ice, half filled with Tipo Tinto rum and half filled with raspberry Sparletta. It was a mathematical impossibility. As was walking, after a few of them red rascals. It’s a good thing one cannot drive faster than walking speed along these roads. And if you do happen to fall out of your car, you land on soft sand.

There are several rustic bars on the road between Ponta Malongane and Ponta da Ouro, which helps to make the journey longer or shorter, depending on a range of factors. I suppose a 7km stretch can’t strictly be called a journey, but it certainly felt like it at times.

There are no tarred roads. It’s just a question of how thick the sand is. The road forks constantly and it doesn’t seem to matter whether you take the left or the right fork. Like our opposition parties, they usually merge at some point. However, one needs to do a fair amount of veering off the road if one wishes to to avoid having a drunk quad-biker land on one’s lap.

Soon enough I discovered where the multitudes from the border had got to. They were all in Ponta do Ouro. Going by their number plates, most of them seemed to come from Joburg. Going by their physiques, most of them seemed to come from Mordor. Orcs and Uruk-hais recuperating from the great battle littered the shores of the bay.

A howling onshore wind meant surfing was out of the question, so I bounced off in search of Gamboozini. I found it on the far end of the bad part of town. Not that Ponta has a good part. My accommodation, which I assumed would be sumptuous at R800 a night, turned out to be a room barely bigger than Nelson Mandela’s cell. The other guests were juvenile orcs whose shrieking and braying alone would have kept me awake, even without the giant anopheles mosquito launching raids at my face every thirty seconds.

White South Africans have done terrible things to Mozambicans. For a start, the locals have been led to believe that we all love rave music. For that alone, we should hang our heads in shame and, as penance, dispense cheap sweets to their tattered children and learn how to say “obigadro”. No, wait. That’s not right. Obrigado. That’s it. “Una cerveja e dos R&Rs, por favor. Obrigado.” That’s all the Mexican you need to know to survive in Mozambique. And if you’re hungry, chicken is frango. Whatever you do, don’t ask for a frango smoothie.

The other name for Ponta do Ouro in season is Gouge City. From a hundred bucks for a toasted bacon and egg to twenty bucks to park at the beach, the locals were out to get as much as they could before the aliens returned to their planet.

Here, babies are weaned on prawns. Stray dogs have prawn suppers. Homeless drunks are half-prawn, half-people. But herd a bunch of whiteys into a restaurant and suddenly prawns are priced according to the gold standard.

A gamboozini is a small pink hairless creature with a long snout that may or may not lurk in the undergrowth. After two nights, I felt myself turning into one and fled back to Ponta Malongane, whereupon I checked in to the Tartaruga Luxury Tented Camp. It was like going from Mogadishu to Maui – all dune forest and peace and well-behaved monkeys.

I was allocated a beautifully appointed tent with en suite bathroom, set deep in the bush, and my own personal fridge up in the self-catering area. Inexplicably, I had brought no food with me. I put six beers in my fridge, lest the other guests took me for a pauper, and drove off in search of sustenance. I didn’t have to go more than a kilometre or two before coming upon a promising place that offered views and alcohol.

The Land Rover protested and suggested we rather repair to an eatery that did not entail clambering up the side of a dune, but I put my foot down. Mozambican music was playing as I chose a table overlooking the endless flatlands of the south. A waiter brought me a cold beer. It was perfect – right up until a pack of feral Gautengers arrived, full of muscles and tattoos and R&Rs, and within minutes the music had changed to that execrable electronic shit.

I went inside and insisted that they return to Portuguese music. Three minutes later, the music went off. There was a long silence. It occurred to me that they were desperately searching for music from Lisbon. Music that reminded them of the savage brutes who had colonised them. A waiter came by and I attempted to explain that I had meant they should play Mozambican music. He listened politely and then, in perfect English, said, “I’m sorry. I don’t speak English.”

Just then, a man who looked as if he had been designed by Armscor rolled around the corner and headed towards my table. I closed my laptop and readied myself to fling it at him. MacBook Airs are aerodynamically designed for the express purpose of beheading troublemakers. He lurched to a halt and stood there, swaying gently. I was about to decapitate him when he spoke.

Does you mind if we get the bar okes to play Bob Marley?”

Was this some kind of cunning trick? To what end? It made no sense. “Sure,” I said. “Go ahead.” He flexed his muscles and made a grunting sound. “Come join us,” he said. “We playing drinking games.” I declined on the grounds of being on deadline. Also, drinking is not a game. It’s a damn serious business. People have died doing it.

He snorted, pawed the ground and lowered his head. I picked up the MacBook Air as if it were a Frisbee. Our eyes locked. Just then, the music kicked in. It was a message from Bob, via the barman.

The song was Crazy Baldheads.

 

A letter from South Africa – postal code 419

My dear respected Nigeria,

I came upon your good name in the newspapers and I hope you do not object me to approaching you with this information. I have the believe that you are a reputable and trustworthy country.

I come to you with the authority of God after the Virgin Merry came to me in a vision last night.

My name is South Africa. I am an elderly country and but we have many things in common. We are both countries in Africa. You were a British colony. I was a Dutch, British and Afrikaner colony. Your motto is ‘United and Faith, Peace and Progress’. Mine is !ke e: ǀxarra ǁke. I think this might be computer code. You have 170-million people. I have only 53-million. There would have been more but some died when I had a health minister and a president who said the cure for Aids was a beetroot.

Things have not been going so well at home since my father, Nelson Mandela, died. I have many, many children who steal from me every day. Factories are also trying to poison me. And I am suffering from potholes. I was always the biggest economy in Africa but now my market is shrinking and the money will not last for ever. You, madam, are now all of a sudden top of the dogs. It is a miracle. I accord you my congratulations and shower blessings upon your esteemed president, Badluck Jonathan. Please, I am desirous of entering a business relationship with you.

I have 185-million American dollars concealed in a suspense account in Pretoria. The Marie Vergin has told me to seek for a God-fearing partner in Africa to use this money for investment porpoises. When I saw your name, I knew God had sent me to you. I prayed for many nights because I was confused. I told God that you had toppled me with force of numbers. I asked Him why He did not just destroy you. Then Jesus came to me and told me that even though your GDP was 510-billion dollars, you urgently need the help of a humble Christian country like me.

It is with a cents of humanity that I wish to transfer all my money to you for investment in computer schools, cellphones and hotels for your one hundred million people who live on one dollar a day. I am therefore seeking your assistance in the following ways. Please send me a bank account number so that I may desposit my 285-million dollars. I am a modest girl of 15 and require you to keep my donation a secret.

From one regional power to another, I ask one only thing. The Virgin airline said I must request from you for the small amount of ten million barrels of oil. I must get this before I give you my 285-million dollars. I am also visioned to include in this donation the president of me. Jacob Zuma will be a big asset to your economy. This is a free gift from me to you. Please accept, for God’s sake.

For private and security reasons, please email me at southafrica@fahkyoobrudda.com so we can exchange account number. Let us move speedily if you show your interest with positive signals. Please to keep utmost confidence in this risk-free transaction to avoid World Bank from confiscating our countries.

Gob bless you, my African sister brother.

Mrs South Africa

Whites Only / Slegs Blanke

This column is reserved for white people only.

Relax. This isn’t as alarming as it sounds. It’s just that I have a few things to get off my sunken chest and it doesn’t apply to all who live in this magnificent brute of a country.

Right. Time to feed the trolls.

You – we – have been given another chance. Hard to believe, I know. We got our first Get Out of Genocide Free card in 1994, thanks, in part, to Nelson Mandela’s laudable attitude towards national reconciliation. Or perhaps it was simply the biggest case of Stockholm syndrome the world has ever seen.

Either way, the 1994 elections – and to a lesser extent the Soccer World Cup in 2010 – brought black and white people closer than ever. Sure, we fell apart soon after each event, but we had a taste of unity and it tasted good. Sweeter than hate, but not as sweet as revenge.

The likes of Steve Hofmeyr and Sunette Bridges would have it that the only reason black people haven’t killed us all by now is because bludgeoning is hard work and doesn’t pay very well.

I may be wrong, but what most black people were thinking in 1994 was, I imagine, very different to what most white people were thinking. If I had been, say, a middle-aged black man being allowed to vote for the very first time, I reckon that my immediate thoughts, as I folded my ballot paper with my X carefully inscribed in the block alongside the ANC’s logo, wouldn’t have been, “Yes! Now I can take my kids to Addington Beach.” No. I suspect my immediate thoughts would have been more along the lines of, “You fucking white bastards. Here we go. Payback time.”

The ANC won almost 63 percent of the vote. If ever there was a time to break out the champagne and pangas, that would have been it.

Prior to that, most white people were racists, consciously or otherwise. How could we not have been? Our neighbourhoods, schools, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, beaches, sports facilities and swimming pools were segregated by law right up until 1991. The only black people we ever came into contact with were our gardeners, maids and sellers of zol.

Black people were trouble. They must have been, otherwise they would have been allowed to live next door to us, right? Catch the same buses as us. Sit on the same park benches as us. Trouble is best avoided. And the government made it so easy for us to avoid trouble. Declare suburbs white by night. Confine the unrest to the townships. Then prevent the media from reporting on it. That way, nobody knows anything. Have elections every four years but don’t let the darkies vote and hope nobody notices. Come on. It’s a kind of democracy, right?

Eyes – narrowed through decades of fear, antipathy and suspicion – began opening as Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster prison on February 11, 1990, and didn’t immediately kill and eat a white baby. And, four years later, the cold hearts of many racists melted in the warm dawn of democracy. Well, if not melted, then certainly softened.

Pale hands, that once bore arms, began reaching out, slowly, hesitantly, when they heard this legendary terrorist say, hours after being released, “We call on our white compatriots to join us in the shaping of a new South Africa. The freedom movement is a political home for you too.”

What? Join them? After what we have done? There must be some mistake.

But there was no mistake. We were on the invitation – not as guests, but as locals. Comrades. Fellow citizens. And so we learned how to say hello and goodbye in Zulu and sing the first couple of bars of the new anthem and tell one darkie from another. But, because the centre of the dream was rooted in an ideal without solid foundations, it couldn’t hold. Soon enough, the barbarians were at the gates. Not, as one might think, clamouring for retribution, but merely seeking to redistribute the wealth that for so many years had been stockpiled in the suburbs.

And so, even in the minds of those of us who were prepared to forego our master race status in the name of fair play and giving those okes a break, the thieving bastards slowly but surely became thieving black bastards. The liberal veneer began flaking off faster than the gold on a Rolex bought on South Beach. Racial attitudes hardened quicker than superglue on a street kid’s nostrils.

“The vote not good enough, hey? Now you want our cars, money and jobs?”

And once we got wind of the fact that they were doing what all politicians do, only with a little less guile and finesse, our outrage could be contained only by the building of walls, both physical and metaphysical.

Boetie gaan weer border toe. Only this time, the borders were in our hearts and minds. I suppose the barricades were always there. They still are. We lower and lift them according to how aggrieved or magnanimous we feel.

Madiba’s death has, ironically, recharged our desolate souls. I have never seen so many pictures of white people crying over something that isn’t related to rugby. That must mean something.

In a recent blog post, Rhodes journalism professor Herman Wasserman said, “… we will have to move beyond reconciliation, wonderful as it is, to social justice, to equality in all its dimensions. There are many rivers still to cross. I am asking myself again: what can I do, what can I contribute?”

It’s a question all white people should be asking right now.

Standing on the balcony of Cape Town’s city hall hours after being released, Mandela told the crowd, “There must be an end to white monopoly on political power and a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed and our society thoroughly democratised.”

Mind the gap.

We don’t know how much Christo Wiese – worth R27.4-billion – gives to charity. Nor do we know how much Patrice Motsepe (R22.5-billion) or the Royal Bafokeng Consortium (R7-billion) give to worthy causes. But this isn’t about them. That’s a different matter for another day.

When it comes to philanthropy, this is not the time for white millionaires and billionaires to be coy. Let your worth be seen, rich dudes. There are five million of us in this country – mostly upper middle class and comfortably off – and we need to grab every opportunity to show the other 45 million that we are serious about making amends.

The death of Madiba has given us another chance to do that – a rare thing on a continent that doesn’t easily hand out second chances.

I worked with a lovely fellow called Mdu a few years ago. We often went drinking after work. One night he told me about the time the security police arrested him in Joburg in the late ‘80s. It was a case of mistaken identity. He showed me the scars on the inside of his thighs where they had electrocuted him. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t hate white people. He guzzled his beer and laughed and told me about an Afrikaner constable who had treated him with respect and who eventually convinced his superiors that they had the wrong man and got him released.

So let’s start performing random acts of kindness upon strangers. Touch paws. Engage. It could have a knock-on effect beyond our imagining.

And let us no longer be divided by race or political affiliation when it comes to marching, booing or whatever else it takes to get the government to behave like servants, and not masters, of the people. Let them know that we are, from this moment on, holding them to the standards set by Nelson Mandela.

At worst, if the good ship RSA does flounder and sink under the weight of corruption, sloth and incompetence, we can at least go down as compatriots, preferably with a beer in hand, and not tearing each other’s faces off.