An open letter to Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula

Dear Comrade Fiks,

Well done on cracking down on sports that don’t have enough darkies in their teams. This is Africa, not Scandinavia. Did you know that in some parts of Norway you aren’t even allowed to be black without permission from the government? Of course you did. You are one of the few Cabinet ministers who know things they aren’t paid to know ­– like Beyoncé’s bra size. Or paid to not know – like whether bribes helped us secure the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Last week you decided that our rugby, cricket, athletics and netball federations would no longer be allowed to pitch for international tournaments because they had failed to meet their transformation targets. I don’t think you went far enough and I hope you’re not going soft on us. The people running these sports should be charged with treason and shot. I have my own AK-47 and I’m prepared to do the dirty work. All I need are bullets and a business card introducing me as The Transformer.

Like you, I have had it with white people and their Volvo-driving, child-rearing, dog-patting ways. Yes, we win a lot of games, but celebrating a victory perpetrated by a predominantly white team is like celebrating Germany winning the Kristallnacht Cup in 1938.

Quite frankly, I am astounded that netball is still a sport in this country. There are hardly any fatalities or crowd stampedes and the rules make absolutely no sense. No running with the ball? What the hell kind of sport is that? Why even bother with a ball? I watched a netball game when I was a teenager and at half-time, crazed with adolescent lust, I ran home and locked myself in my room for two days. I almost died.

Netball in South Africa is not only a racist sport but it is also deeply sexist. I have never seen men playing netball. Are they not allowed to? This is unacceptable. I should point out that if men do, in fact, play netball, I have no wish to watch them. Please do not send me any literature on this.

Your decision to ban our national netball team from competing against other countries does not go far enough. The players must be charged with treason and shot.

Cricket, too, is well deserving of your wrath. How dare they? I mean, really, how very dare they? Not only are they all white, apart from whatshisname with the face, but their uniforms are also all white. Sometimes they wear green, but it’s an open secret that green is the new white. And they call themselves the Proteas after a particularly unlovely flower that lives in Cape Town, the final refuge of white people. It is clearly a conspiracy.

Cricket is not a game that should be played by people, period. It should be played by animals. Dogs, particularly golden retrievers, would be brilliant at fielding but their batting might need work. The higher order simians would also make the game far more entertaining and I, for one, would certainly buy a ticket to watch the Jakarta Gibbons take on the Durban Vervets. Chimpanzees, too, are equipped with deadly bowling arms and it makes no sense that the likes of Dale Steyn and Hansie Cronje are allowed to play while they aren’t. The entire team should be charged with treason and shot.

I was delighted to see that you included athletics as one of the sports that needed kicking to the curb. Black people spent years jumping through hoops and running from the cops. They are natural athletes. White people can’t jump for shit and they only ever run when they’re late for their flight to Perth. I don’t even know what athletics is. Or, for that matter, are. I turned to the electronic oracle that dupes stupid people into thinking they’re smarter than they are and apparently athletics is “an exclusive collection of sporting events that involve running, jumping, throwing and walking”. Walking is a sport? I do it all the time. Well, on Friday afternoons, anyway. To the bottle store, mostly. Does this make me an athlete? Of course it does. Would I want to represent my country? Of course not. White people are only good for representing everything that is wrong with this country. This is the way it should be. Let us not even speak of the fact that when foreigners hear the term ‘South African athlete’ they automatically think of a trigger-happy psycho on stumps.

The athletics team must be charged with treason and shot.

And you’re going after rugby, too? You’re a braver man than I am, Gunga Din. I’m paraphrasing here. Unless, of course, your codename in the struggle actually was Gunga Din. It seems unlikely, though. Maybe it was Ganga Dim. I apologise. That’s the medication talking.

To be honest, I don’t think you should have blackballed rugby for being too white. Many of us only watch rugby in the hope that the game will degenerate into a bloodbath. If you take away the Afrikaners – a tribe that invented the bloodbath – we’d be left with Beast Matawaririua (is he Maori?) and the other one. I don’t remember his name. The one with the teeth. I’m just not convinced that black people should play rugby. They are inclined to stick to the rules and rarely try to murder anyone. Well, not on the pitch, anyway. Obviously all bets are off once they’re back in the township.

I urge you, then, to exempt rugby from transformation and instead target tennis and golf. You don’t get sports whiter than these. There is no reason why our top tennis teams aren’t all black. Well, apart from the white lie that black people have terrible hand-eye coordination. This is disproved by our very own President Jacob Zuma who is brilliant at seeing opportunities and grabbing them with both hands. It doesn’t matter whether it’s avoiding trial, making money or winning three straight sets, the man has talent. So if you agree that tennis is little more than a white-collar crime, you need to charge the team with treason and have them shot.

As for golf, the less said the better. Whiteys think darkies are only interested in joining golf clubs so they can meet women, drink the bar dry, steal the silverware and take home an Egyptian snow goose for the braai.

I can’t think of any high-profile black golfers apart from Squirrel Ramaphosa. As far as I know, the deputy president has never been seen washing his clothes in the water hazard, urinating openly on the fairway or using a machete to settle an argument over the interpretation of Rule 27. Then again, he is more a politician than a golfer.

Well done on leaving our soccer team alone. Even though you called them a bunch of losers two years ago, Bafana Bafana are a model of transformation. Well, they would be if it weren’t for Dean Furman and his white tendencies. You might want to charge him with treason and have him shot. It’s up to you. Meanwhile, the South African Football Association continues to set the benchmark for excellence and they stand as a shining example of … I’m sorry. I have to go and lie down for a bit.

Soccer

 BEN TROVATO has offered to help Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula enforce transformation through the barrel of a gun.

An open letter to our fearless leader

Dear Comrade Dr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma the First, 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, I hereby greet you.

I see Armscor vehemently denies intending to spend R4-billion on a new aircraft for you. I presume this means it’ll be closer to R5-billion. Good for you. A hard-working president such as yourself deserves nothing less. Ignore the critics. They’re just jealous because they don’t have free air travel on a plane with its own fire pool, amphitheatre and onboard cattle kraal.

Whatever you do, don’t get an Airbus. Buses are used by the poor. They are for common folk who can’t afford jets. Tell them you will only consider buying one if they change the name to Airpalace or Aircastle. Even Airchâteau would be a step up from Airbus.

Since Armscor is responsible for picking out your new Airmansion, why don’t you get them to fit it with guns? A president who travels in a giant luxury fighter plane would be respected and feared around the world. The Japanese have a nice range of 30mm cannons that can be fitted to the wings. Can’t go wrong with that. You could have your own personal Pearl Harbour. Coming in low and strafing Cape Town’s Waterfront on a Sunday morning would certainly give the DA a run for its money. Actually, scrap that. Machine guns are for amateurs. What you want are missiles. I’d suggest the AGM-142 Raptor. A moving target is more fun. You could get some practice taking out those silly cable cars that ferry drunk and stoned tourists up and down Table Mountain.

Hell, these are all half-measures. Get Armscor to lash a couple of cruise missiles to the fuselage. If you wanted to attack, say, Lesotho, you needn’t even go very far. Take it up for a spin around Pretoria, point the snout towards Maseru and press the button. Send in the infantry to bayonet the wounded and it’s all yours by lunchtime. A man of your stature should have a second country. A holiday country, if you will. The peasants would love you more, if that’s even possible.

Speaking of which, I don’t understand why the counter-revolutionaries are criticising you for saying that as far as you’re concerned, the ANC, and not the country, comes first. Of course it does. It was, after all, the ANC and its private army of indentured civil servants who gave you eight years in office – which doesn’t even give you much time to properly feather your retirement nest. What has the country ever done for you? It just sits there with its stupid misshapen mountains and dried up dams, making no effort whatsoever to improve the lives of you and your family.

You’ve said some profound things over the years ­– minorities have fewer rights, be careful of clever blacks, women must have more children and so on – but there’s one that still mystifies me. You once said the ANC would rule until Jesus returned. So it’s one of two things, then. Either you don’t believe Jesus could ever return because then you might as well believe in unicorns, or the Second Coming would be a terrible thing because it would effectively mean the end of ANC rule. I suppose it would. Christianity’s main man was never a huge fan of gamblers and money-lenders and he’d cause mayhem in the casinos and banks. And his water-into-wine trick wouldn’t be any good since we have no water. I suppose you could always neutralise him through co-option. Comrade Jesus Christ, Minister of Miracles. It has a ring to it. And once he’s paying off his BMW 750i and his new wife has a gold card and a Clicks account, you’ll have him right where you want him.

So, anyway. A ministerial task team has found that you appointed a liar and a cheat as your chief of police. Were these among the qualities that helped Riah Phiyega get the job in the first place or did she become like that while in office? I don’t suppose it really matters. Nothing matters.

Quite frankly I don’t know why I keep writing to you. It’s patently obvious that your advisors never allow you to read anything other than Game supplements and watch nothing more informative than The Bold and the Beautiful. After all, if you were allowed unfettered access to unbiased journalism, would you still be able to confidently stand up and deny being a liability to the country? Of course you would. Reality is subjective and anyone who argues otherwise should be flogged.

By the way, did you know that on your salary you can afford 293 Big Macs a day? That’s more than Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Congratulations. We’re all very proud of you.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma holds up a banknote bearing the face of former president Nelson Mandela in Pretoria February 11, 2012. Zuma on Saturday announced the launch of new notes bearing the image of Mandela to coincide with the 22nd anniversary of Mandela's release from prison. REUTERS/Stringer (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR2XNTG

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Maid in South Africa

The exchange of labour for money is the greatest confidence trick since some dude called Abraham duped his slave into paying for his own circumcision. I don’t know the finer details but apparently it’s all there in the Book of Genesis. Read it if you like. Don’t tell me how it ends. Badly, I imagine.

This is how transactions involving the swapping of work for currency almost always end. Badly. Bosses feel they’re not getting value for their money and employees feel they’re not getting money for their value. So the bosses start firing people who sometimes come back a bit later on and do some firing of their own. Fair play to them.

That’s why, when it comes to people who perform menial labour, I have a soft spot for domestic workers. Despite the way they’ve been treated in the past, they hardly ever wake you up with a cup of tea and a gun to your head. There’s more chance of your wife doing that sort of thing. Except your wife wouldn’t bother with the tea. Unless it was poisoned. In which case she wouldn’t bother with the gun.

Domestic workers have been with us for a long time. I don’t mean in South Africa, specifically. Throughout human history there have been drawers of water, hewers of wood, washers of dishes and fat bastards exploiting them.

Not much has changed over the last four thousand years. Sure, the pay has gone up a bit but the work is pretty much the same. Do the laundry, kill the king’s half-brother, mop up the blood, fellate the first cousins and report to the supervisor for further instructions.

I have a domestic worker and I live alone. I find that appalling. How much of a pig can one person be that he has to hire another entire person to clean up after him? A pretty big pig, as it turns out. Yeah, I’m the prettiest pig in town. In my defence, though, I didn’t go looking for her. She came to me. She knocked on my door one day and asked if I needed help. I asked if she was a psychiatrist. Apparently not.

My instinctive reaction was to threaten to have her arrested if she ever again showed up on my doorstep offering to make my life easier. But then my empathy gland squirted a shot of empath into my brain and I relented. It’s why I can’t go to the SPCA on a Saturday morning just to browse. Of course I’m not equating humans with animals. I’m merely trying to make the point that I am sensitive to the needs of sentient beings of whatever species. But while I’ll happily take in a homeless dog, I’m unlikely to extend the same courtesy to a homeless man. Does that make me a bad person? In a perfect universe, yes. But the universe is not perfect. It’s way too big for a start. And just when you think you’re getting somewhere, you trip over a brown dwarf and fall into a black hole.

“How are you placed for Tuesdays?” I said, as if I were arranging a regular squash game with my lawyer. Not that I have a lawyer. I did, once. His street name was Psycho Syd and he refused to defend me on anything so I had to let him go.

She said Tuesdays were fine. I quickly introduced myself because if you don’t do this right away, domestic workers will call you “boss” or “master” and you let it slide until it’s too late to start over and you spend years and years hating yourself for allowing this strange woman to make you feel as if you were the captain of the Amistad with a brother who personally captured Kunta Kinte.

“Call me Sir Ben,” I said. “We shall reserve my full title for special occasions such as my birthday.” She nodded slowly. “And what, my good lady, is your name?”

She glanced over her shoulder, clearly considering making a run for it. She wouldn’t have got far. I would have brought her down like a leopard on a startled doe and dragged her back to the doorway so that we may complete the formalities.

“Betty,” she said. I snorted and raised the singed remnants of my eyebrows. “Madam,” I said. “I am not referring to the name foisted upon you through neo-colonial imperatives. What is the name given to you by your mummy? Your tribal name.” She sighed heavily. “Nkosiphendule.” I nodded. “Great. Betty it is, then.”

Yes, I am fully aware that the domestic worker industry is traditionally exempt as a subject for humour and that I am treading in a minefield where every mine could blow my career to bits. Not that I have a career. I did, once.

It doesn’t really make sense, though, that the efforts of those who toil in this field should remain off-limits in our daily quest for cheap laughs. After all, thanks to the success of the national democratic revolution, domestic workers are now freely exploited by members of all races.

Every blue-collar worker brings his or her own idiosyncrasies to the job. Plumbers show us their cracks. Electricians talk as if their last job was on the space shuttle. Builders destroy your house and disappear. Domestic workers have their own unique quirks and foibles and we would be doing them a grave disservice if we had to leave them off the list of things to complain about around the braai on a Saturday afternoon.

The apex maids, if I may use that phrase without endangering my livelihood, are in great demand. However, they are like unicorns. Unicorns in uniforms. Suburban etiquette dictates that if you find one, you don’t keep her to yourself. Friendships have ended and families fallen out because of one person refusing to share.

Most, however, fall somewhat short of apex. Not a few fall into the Movers and Breakers category. Nkosi-Betty is a Breaker. Her first couple of Tuesdays were marked by the sound of plates and cups plummeting to their death. In normal circumstances, the hurling of invective follows the smashing of crockery. But on Tuesdays the impact is followed by an eerie silence. If a soup bowl breaks and there is no sound to acknowledge it, perhaps it never existed. Or perhaps, the next time I open the cupboard and find one instead of four bowls, I will think I must have taken the other three for a little outing and inadvertently left them on a park bench or at the beach.

Then came a Tuesday when it was as if a poltergeist had snuck into the cutlery drawer and was tossing knives and forks about the kitchen. So now I leave the premises before the demolition derby can begin. I often have nowhere to go. There are some Tuesdays that I sit at a bus stop and wait for six hours to pass.

Some people get Movers. I think I’d rather have a Mover than a Breaker, to be honest. They keep you on your toes by shifting things to new and interesting locations. Okay, sure, if you find your car keys on the toilet roll holder and your underwear folded neatly in the microwave, she might be more than just a Mover. Quite a few Movers are also frustrated interior decorators and you’ll frequently find the layout of your lounge has changed substantially by the end of the day.

Then there are the Groovers and the Takers. When you get home you’ll find your DStv is on the gospel channel and your radio is set to Ukhozi FM. That’s when you know you have a Groover. You tell yourself that she combines the dancing with the cleaning rather than simply kicking things under the furniture as she pirouettes from one room to another.

The Takers generally help themselves to whatever they please. They arrive with a small handbag and leave with three bulging plastic bags. It’s not really stealing, though. I think it’s more of a civil service mentality and it’s best to let it slide. Unless, of course, a bakkie arrives to pick her up and a couple of guys load up your bed.

So here’s the question. Would you rather live in a developed country where everything works but you can’t afford a servant, or in a country with a rapacious, corrupt government and a functionally innumerate president but, thanks to a history steeped in violence and injustice, there’s a huge pool of cheap labour available?

And it is cheap. Oh, yes. Thanks to white liberal guilt, domestic workers in the Western Cape are the highest paid in the country. They get an average of R188.50 per day. Or, in terms we can all understand, the price of a case of beer. KwaZulu-Natal romps home in third place with R151 a day, the equivalent of a McMeal and two bottles of wine. That’s more than enough to feed a family of five for a week.

You don’t want to live in the Northern Cape if you’re a domestic worker. Those penurious swine pay their servants R120 a day. I wouldn’t live in the Northern Cape if you paid me that every minute.

Before you decide to emigrate, bear this in mind. A company called Maids of London charges the equivalent of R204 an hour for someone to come around and do a little light dusting. And if you’re going to New York, be prepared to pay between R1 500 and R3 000 a day to have your home cleaned. For that price you’d expect Angelina Jolie in a frilly French maid’s outfit. Instead, you get a belligerent Bulgarian banging on about how the dirty Syrian refugees are destroying Europe.

In South Africa the recommended minimum wage for domestic workers is R10.95 an hour. R10.95. You’re probably thinking this was set by the National Party in 1984, right? Wrong. It was set by the labour department last year. With comrades like these …

Ben-Maid in hell

 

 

White male gets blackmailed

Someone is trying to blackmail me and, quite frankly, I’m delighted. I consider it an honour and it shall become the latest addition to my heavily embellished curriculum vitae.

The blackmailers call themselves The Impact Team and their business is to extort money from subscribers who were exposed in the recent hack of the Ashley Madison infidelity website. Once again, let me reiterate that I signed up for research purposes.

The site has 36 million members so it must have been a very busy few weeks for the blackmailers. I was wondering when they’d get around to contacting me.

The thing is, though, I don’t believe they are who they say they are. The person or group who initially hacked the site call themselves The Impact Team and it seems highly unlikely that they did it for personal enrichment. In fact, the hackers said they would take on any target in the future that made money off “the pain of others, secrets and lies”.

The email I got, then, almost certainly comes from someone using The Impact Team’s name as a way of acquiring credibility. Blackmailers, as everyone knows, are five rungs below hackers on the ladder of evil. Besides, I picked up several errors similar to those found in emails sent by those lovable 419 rogues. Relax, my brudda, nobody has said anything about Nigeria.

After trying to scare me by naming the city I live in and accurately quoting the last four digits on my credit card, they said, “We are very pleased to announce you what will follow.” They gave me two options, which I thought awfully decent of them.

“We will publish your complete data (secret fantasies, conversations, pictures) and will match the data with your name and address on our new site. Your family, colleagues, friends will be informed. Many thanks to Facebook & Co. Email account contacts are a worthwhile information. You should better change the login data but it is to late.”

See what I’m saying? Anyone with the technological ability to hack into a site like Ashley Madison would probably be able to string a coherent sentence together.

So that was my first option, which, on reflection, wasn’t really an option at all. That was the threat. Option 2 was the option, and yet wasn’t.

“We are providing a chance to solve this case. You make a payment of 1.1 Bitcoins to …” Here, they provide a jumbled sequence of no fewer than 33 numbers and letters. No wonder Bitcoins have never really caught on.

Helpfully, they explain where I can buy Bitcoins and how to do the transfer. They also provide the exchange rate. One Bitcoin is worth $228 dollars. Fascinating. Then, as if in a James Bond movie, the clock starts ticking. “The time ends in five days. We will not publish your data and we will not inform your contacts.” In the event I still hadn’t got the message, they tacked on what appear to be terms and conditions.

“Reply is a waste of energy and time.

“We will never contact you again after you paid us. Our guarantee!

“You are ignoring us? We will not give you a second chance. Then we will inform your family and friends about you. Non-payment and we will destroy your life 100%.

“We do not make empty promises.

“Thanks. The Impact Team.”

In spite of their advice, I replied.

“Dear Sir/Madam. I have decided to reply because I have plenty of energy and time, as you’d expect from someone who subscribed to Ashley Madison. Here’s the thing, my brudda. Compared to my friends, I am a paragon of virtue. Revealing my ‘secret fantasies’ would only embarrass them, not me. Nobody wants to hang out with someone whose fantasy is to live in a world where animals can talk. As for my family, they couldn’t give a damn what I do, just as long as I don’t ask them for money. And when it comes to destroying my life, well, I’m doing a pretty good job of that without your help. I do, however, have a counter-offer. You give me two Bitcoins or I will publish your email and expose you for the loathsome, semi-literate filth that you are. Thanks. Ben Trovato.”

Unknown

 

 

Dear Saudi Arabia

Congratulations on your decision to kill the Shiite boy who goes by the name Ali Mohammed al-Nimr. Teenagers are dreadful at the best of times, what with their sighing and eye-rolling and endless demands for human rights and justice. If I had my way they would all be put to death.

I suppose I shouldn’t call him a boy. He is, after all, 20 years old. However, he was still a teenager when he committed the dastardly crimes for which he must die. Apparently he participated in the Arab Spring protests in 2012. Is that right? My kid once participated in a school play and by the end of it I wanted to slaughter the entire cast and most of the audience, so I know how you feel.

I gather you are breaking with tradition and not beheading the lad. Well done. Beheading is too good for some people. Crucifixion is the only language this generation understands. Well, that and textese and SMSish. Hang on. I’m getting conflicting information here. Some reports say you’re going to behead him and then crucify him. I don’t want to sound like a liberal, but isn’t that overkill? I apologise. You obviously know what you’re doing. I’m a bit worried, though. Crucifixion can lead to new religions forming and nobody, least of all you, wants that happening. Yes, I’m talking about a certain Mr J Christ of Bethlehem. If the Romans had let him off with a light whipping and a warning, Christianity would probably not exist today. And even if it did, their symbol certainly wouldn’t be a cross. I’m just saying be careful, that’s all.

Your own media, which never gets anything wrong under pain of death – in my country that’s just an expression – said you wanted to string up the body after the beheading as a warning to others. I may be out of line here, but would the average Saudi be shocked at the sight of just one body? From what I’ve heard, one can barely move in Riyadh for the corpses of people executed for jaywalking or littering. That’s just the men. Apparently the countryside is littered with the bodies of female radicals who were caught driving, watching television or talking to men who weren’t their brothers.

Wouldn’t it be more effective to round up everyone who participated in the Arab Spring and crucify the lot of them? You could do a thousand a day for three months. If the United Nations starts gnashing its gums, tell them it’s none of their damn business what you do. Tell them it’s population control. If they threaten to pass a resolution, threaten to fire nuclear missiles into New York. You do have nukes, right? You’d better have, or even Israel could whip your arse.

I hear France has also asked you to call off the execution. France! That’s a laugh. After the terrible things they did in the Congo. No, wait. That was the Belgians. Same thing. If they want a united Europe, then all of Europe must take collective responsibility for all the horror.

At least you don’t have to worry about Britain putting the boot in. Their prime minister is too busy doing damage control after it emerged that he stuck his honourable member into a dead pig when he was younger. Also, they really want to land that £6m contract to provide prison expertise to your country. To be honest, I’m surprised you still bother with prisons. Decapitation is so much more cost-effective in the long run. I hope you’re not going soft on us.

By the way, congratulations on being chosen to head up the UN human rights council. This couldn’t have come at a better time for you. It doesn’t matter how much the limp-wristed dolphin-kissers wave their yoga mats and rattle their daisy chains, the fact remains that the US State Department has welcomed it, as do all right-wing, I beg your pardon, all right-thinking members of the global community.

By the way, you might want to get the plasterers in. I hear there are some nasty cracks developing in the House of Saud. The last thing you want to do is let the light in.

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Rum & Rugby

 

“BOKKE!”

Excuse me? Are you shouting at me? You, who called the cops because my music was too loud? You, whose bastard dog wakes me every morning? You, who has co-opted a clenched fist salute so feared and despised by you not too long ago? Fuck off back to your braai. I am not of your kind.

I refuse to wear the Springbok jersey for the same reason I refuse to wear fireproof overalls during Formula One season. I don’t want to walk around Pick n Pay looking like Jenson Button and then have to get into a dented 13-year-old Hyundai in front of other people. It’s embarrassing. Besides, once I removed my helmet they’d notice that I looked considerably less like McLaren’s top driver and more like Nick Nolte clinging to the untethered end of a long Saturday night.

I grew up in Durban in a relatively rugby-free environment believing it was illegal to wear Springbok kit in much the same way that it was illegal to impersonate a police officer. So on the odd occasion that I came across bloated and bellicose beer-stained boers wearing Bok jerseys, I assumed they had once played for the national side. What I couldn’t understand was how they all ended up in such poor condition.

I didn’t like rugby. I didn’t like the people who played it and I didn’t like the people who followed it. The night before South Africa was due to play New Zealand in the 1995 World Cup final, I was sitting in a bar jotting down some rubbish in a notebook when a large slobbering imbecile whacked me on the back and asked who I thought was going to win. “Win what?” I said, coughing up some blood. He rocked back on his heels and looked at me as if I were the idiot. “The rugby, you doos. What else?” I shrugged and said, “Who’s playing?” It was as if I had got up on my bar stool and announced that I was gay and had black friends.

It was only fairly recently that I watched an entire game. Not in a stadium or a bar, obviously. That would be intolerable. Rugby fans are louder than Syrian rebels and even worse losers. The game I watched was the one against Japan where the Springboks played like a bunch of girls at a Stuttafords spring sale.

By halftime I was begging the Bad Yellow-Eyed Woman to visit the Nigerian on the corner and bring me back half a dozen heroin speedballs. She laughed cruelly and turned up the volume so I could hear every word uttered by Japan’s 16th player, the dog-faced homunculus who kept shouting, “Green leave the ball!” Since when did our mastodons of fine Afrikaner stock start listening to foreign nancy boys armed with nothing more dangerous than empty threats and a whistle?

Even though I don’t fully understand the rules of the game, I do enjoy the sheer animalistic violence of it all. I’d prefer it if there were no rules, though. Get rid of the referee. He slows things down and ruins it for the rest of us. Give the men a free hand and let them play to the death.

My friend Swirling Eddie regards himself as something of a street psychologist and he reckons I am suffering from a rare breed of repressed psycho-sexual attraction to blood sports like rugby and marriage. He brought over a green Lycra shirt three sizes too small and a pair of skin-tight shorts that make me look like that cycling cyborg Lance Armstrong before he lost half his landing gear.

We are now surrounded by seven different species of alcohol and by halftime I intend to be off my face at the breakdown.

Jou ma se moa.

Rugby

 

 

 

 

 

 

God is a counter-evolutionary

I don’t know whether it was a dream or if I read it somewhere – I think I must have read it because I have lived in South Africa all my life and only have nightmares, not dreams – but I recall something about the education department wanting to stop teaching evolution to Grade 7 pupils because the concept was too difficult for them, and their teachers, to grasp.

I couldn’t agree more. Personally, I can think of nothing worse than having to stand in front of a room full of children and try to explain to them that we are descended from apes. Apes! Can you imagine? Children being what they are (dirty-minded, contumacious little ingrates aside), their first question would undoubtedly be, “Why?”

This is where my heart goes out to the teachers. They are trained to dispense knowledge, facilitate learning and nurture critical thinking skills and it is grossly unfair to expect them to be able to explain that we are a species called Homo something-or-other that developed as a result of genetic mutation and natural selection over a period of several millennia.

Were they to even attempt it, the reaction would be predictable. One of the children, and there is always one, will shout: “Jeffrey’s a homo!” There will be mass hysteria and the curly-haired, sensitive kid sitting in front will be pelted with used condoms and crack pipes.

Evolution can be a very disruptive subject to teach. It is highly suggestive and riddled with innuendo. How mortifying, then, for a professional pedagogue to have to tell her pupils that their ancestors slept with apes. Exposure to such filth can cause permanent damage to an impressionable young mind.

Apart from being a pack of pornographic lies, evolution is way too complicated for the human mind to comprehend. It would be far simpler for the teachers to explain that God, who needs no explanation, made Adam and Eve six thousand years ago. If any troublemakers in the class are not satisfied with this perfectly adequate explanation of our origins, all the teacher need do is draw a basic diagram showing how God made Adam from dust and then made Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. No further elucidation is needed.

Teachers should, however, warn their pupils not to try this at home. If I know boys, many of them will want to use their ribs to make girls in the privacy of their own bedrooms. At that age, it’s a lot easier and probably less painful than befriending a ready-made one.

Having said this, I should point out that I am not opposed to the idea of exposing children to different points of view – as long as they have nothing to do with the discredited and impossibly baffling theory of evolution.

I am a big fan of creationism. However, there’s a problem in that it only takes three or four minutes to teach, sometimes quicker if the teacher disallows questions. That leaves a lot of time to fill the lesson – hence my offering of an alternative theory to teach the grade sevens.

Mine is similar to the theory of intelligent design except that I believe our designer to be not particularly bright. He only has Himself to blame, really. He would be a lot smarter if He spent more time reading and less time drinking and smoking weed and staring off into space.

In short, we believe an Electric Catfish called Roger created the universe. Not deliberately, of course. He was three sheets to the wind when the accident happened. Whatever it was that he dropped made such a big bang that He was rendered stone deaf, which is why we forgive Him for never answering our prayers.

Even though my church has thousands of members, if not hundreds, it is unlikely that many of you will have heard of us. Catfishists worship clandestinely because there are people out there who wish to harm us. They say there is no evidence to support our beliefs, but the truth of the matter is that, even though we weren’t around when Roger inadvertently created the universe, we have written quite a thick book – The Holy Barbel – which explains everything.

As an act of faith and to silence the skeptics, we are offering one million rand to anyone who can provide scientific proof that Roger the Electric Catfish did not create all creatures great and small, plus a bunch of other stuff like volcanoes and bananas.

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Backwards to the future

Dear Comrade President Zuma,

Congratulations on your narrow escape at the reed dance in Nongoma the other day. I was alarmed to read that hundreds of bare-breasted virgins had become possessed by demons and rushed the stage where you and King Zwelithini were sitting. What a frightening thing to happen.

I have been to the reed dance and, quite frankly, the girls scared me even when they weren’t full of demons. One of them took a run at me, leaping into the air with a terrible shriek and gesticulating wildly with her ample buttocks. It wasn’t clear if this was a mating dance or a death threat and I felt uneasy after that.

Virgins are unpredictable at the best of times. Put three in a room and it’s mayhem. From what I’ve read, even the carpenter Joseph had a hard time controlling his wife, Mary. Then again, their kid was a bit of a handful. Getting forty thousand of them to strip virtually naked and dance for you is just asking for trouble.

I know it sounds unlikely, but perhaps Satan wasn’t responsible for this one. The king was late with his speech and the maidens had already gone back to the buses and tents to get out of the rain and cold. When he ordered the girls to return, is it not possible that they were half-mad with hypothermia and were simply looking for shelter? Alternatively, this might well have been the first wave of Zulu suffragettes whose minds have been poisoned by the inflammatory teachings of Oprah Winfrey.

Once feminism takes hold, you can kiss the reed dance goodbye. And it will be the last thing you kiss for a long, long time. Trust me. I know.

Prince Thulani Zulu of the royal household said the devil spirit is common among young girls. I suspect it’s also fairly common among older girls. Well, I’m thinking more of married women, here. One in particular, really. There would be much weeping and falling over and pretty much everything short of ectoplasm would come out of her potty mouth. So I know how you must have felt. We both had a close call.

People who were there said you were quickly escorted to safety, leaving the king to fend for himself. Fair enough. He carries what looks like a ceremonial battle-axe and dresses like a cross between a leopard and a lion. I certainly wouldn’t mess with him, and I’m no virgin.

Other people who were there denied that you were escorted to safety, saying you were simply popping off to the loo. Of course you were. Who wouldn’t want to go to the toilet after facing down a battalion of topless teenagers brimming with hormones and hobgoblins?

Sometimes I think demons are inside me, too, but then I drown them with beer and feel much better afterwards. At the next reed dance, you should give the girls beer. Maybe organise a few bands. Chuck a couple of cows on the fire. It could be wild.

In the meantime, please encourage the king to keep blaming evil spirits and demons for all the bad stuff that happens. It’s the only way we can weed out and burn the witches who send lightning to strike their neighbour’s hut by sneezing twice in a thunderstorm. You should also encourage more ANC MPs to publicly denounce evolution as a racist conspiracy.

This sort of thing helps us retain our less developed country status and keeps those foreign grants and low-interest loans rolling in. The country scores, the king gets another wife and you get to ogle thousands of breasts. Everyone’s a winner. Everyone except the witches. And science.

Reed Dance

 

Do we panic now or later?

I would like to commend America for alerting its citizens in South Africa to a possible terrorist attack on US interests in our magnificent country. It’s important to take care of one’s own.

The warning also serves as a handy reminder to extremists not to overlook South Africa when it comes time to review their annual programme of action. It doesn’t seem fair that Europe keeps benefitting from all the free publicity generated by the Jihadi. We also want to lead the news on CNN and Sky now and again. As Shakira once so eloquently pointed out, “Tsamina mina, eh eh, waka waka, eh eh, tsamina mina zangalewa, this time for Africa.”

Like any country with a struggling economy, we are deeply grateful for warnings of this nature, largely because of their deleterious effect on tourism, the rand, investor confidence and so on. By contributing to our decline, America is in essence inspiring us to work harder and do better. South Africa thanks you, President Obama.

America has, however, issued similar warnings in the past and nothing happened. Life, as we South Africans laughingly call it, continued as normal. Quite frankly, this sort of let-down is bad for morale and gives extremism a bad name. I hope we don’t see a repeat of 2010 when America issued a security alert and the only thing that got blown up was a soccer ball.

For those who don’t follow the news – President Zuma clearly being one – I shall repeat the warning:

“The U.S. Diplomatic Mission to South Africa has received information that extremists may be targeting U.S. interests in South Africa, to possibly include U.S. government facilities and other facilities identifiable with U.S. business interests. There is no additional information as to timing or potential targeting.”

Nicely handled, Uncle Sam. The delivery is no-nonsense and the substance is, well, there is none to speak of. If America ever knew the timing and target of an attack, they wouldn’t need to issue a warning, would they? They’d just send a Swat team around half an hour earlier and arrest the fuckers when they pitched up with their swarthy looks and sacks of Semtex. And if they did know the time and place, they could hardly tell us because then it would look like a false flag operation and Washington would have to admit that 9/11 was an inside job.

America obviously knows the location of “US interests” in South Africa. So, presumably, do the extremists. Then you get us, wandering about one hand down our broeks and the other clutching a beer, totally oblivious to the whereabouts of these potential targets. This is as it should be. We can’t be trusted with that sort of information. We keep voting for people who keep stealing our money. I wouldn’t trust us, either.

Since the warning is for the benefit of American citizens only, the rest of it also doesn’t apply to us. You’re allowed to read it, though. Just don’t take any notice.

“Review your personal security plans; remain aware and vigilant of your surroundings, including local events, monitor local news stations for updates and follow instructions from local authorities.”

In America, I presume “personal security plans” would include a trip to Spike’s Tactical and picking up an assault rifle called the Crusader. It’s inscribed with Psalm 144:1, which says, “Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” I am not making this up.

Here’s the “thinking” behind this, in the words of Ben “Mookie” Thomas, a spokesman for Spike’s Tactical and a former Blackwater security contractor. “We wanted to make sure we built a weapon that would never be able to be used by Muslim terrorists to kill innocent people or advance their radical agenda.”

Meanwhile, there are also plans to spray al-Shabaab terrorists with holy water and drop plastic crucifixes on al-Qaeda bases. I am making this up. I hope.

For some of us, our “personal security plans” include redoubling attempts to get Australian citizenship. My short-term plan is to learn a few phrases of Arabic, fly to Germany, chuck some red wine on my I Heart Damascus T-shirt, run around a bit to work up a sweat, then stagger into Alexanderplatz and claim refugee status. After than, I’ll get the hell out of Germany and move to the Costa Brava where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. I don’t have a long-term plan.

As for “follow instructions from local authorities”, I can’t see it working.

“Pay your electricity bill or we will cut you off.”

“But we’re under attack by Islamic State!”

“Doesn’t matter. Pay your bill.”

On the same day America issued its warning, I got an email from something called USAFIS Immigration Services urging me to give them $29 so that they may prepare and submit my application for a Green Card.

Fantastic. So I’ll leave my country with its, say, ten thousand endangered Americans and move to a country with 320 million of them, all of whom are presumably at constant risk of being shot, stabbed or blown up. That’s like inviting an arachnophobe to move into the spider house.

A Green Card? Not on your life, let alone mine.

defenderofthefaith