Congratulations on making it to the end of the beginning. Twelve years of being bullied, belittled and, in several thousand cases, banged up. A South African education prepares you for real life like no other.
I wish I could give you some advice on how to get through the exams without suffering a nervous breakdown. When I hear the word ‘exams’, my sphincter snaps shut and my knees sweat. And that’s not only because the last exam I took involved my prostate.
I regard the brutally interrogative nature of exams with fear and loathing. Sit down and shut up. Don’t move. Don’t look around. Answer these questions. Now. Think very carefully before you answer. Tell us how much you know. Tell us everything. And be warned. If your answers are wrong, we will make sure you never go to university. You will never find a job. We will destroy you.
If it were up to me, kiddo, you wouldn’t be asked to simplify tan(90° + x) .sin(-x-180°). In fact, I can’t believe they are still teaching this filth in our schools. If you are 18 and interested in relationships between fixed points and angles, you’re in a whole lot of trouble and I can’t help you. Trigonometry is the work of the devil. Sure, it can tell you the distance to a nearby star. But why do you need to know this? Are you planning on going there? Don’t you think your mother would start worrying when she last heard from you five light years ago?
The only numbers you need to know are the cellphone numbers of people who work for the government. Call them up and ask them to organise a job for you. Bribe, blackmail or threaten them. The main thing is to get your bum in the butter.
If you don’t manage to crack the Grade 12 pass mark of 30 percent, don’t despair. President Zuma has a Grade Four education and look how well he did. Of course, you are going to have to find a way of getting other people to subsidise your lifestyle. You probably have the gift of the gab, right? After all, you must have spent the last decade talking in class instead of paying attention. Start a political party. Tell people they will rot in hell if they don’t give you money. And smile a lot. If you can dance, so much the better. Make sure they watch your feet, not your hands.
The rest of you will soon have a senior certificate in your grubby little paws. This is an important piece of paper and will come in useful when you’re jobless and homeless and need something to burn to keep warm at night.
As a new cog in a very old machine, you may feel a little lost in this big, grown-up world. Don’t worry. It won’t last for long. Soon you will have lots of new friends phoning you at all hours of the day and night. Many of them will work for SARS, the municipality, traffic department, insurance companies, estate agencies and banks. Not all of them will want your money. Some will want your vote. Others will want your soul. Try to fight off the politicians and proselytizers for as long as you can.
Also, get yourself a gun. Especially if you live in KZN. If you find yourself being chased down the N2 by the police or hemmed in by a car full of blue-light bodyguards, the decent and patriotic thing to do is shoot yourself. This spares them the trouble of having to do it and they can get back to doing the important work we pay them to do.
Good luck, then. I do hope you aren’t the ones to nudge my country over the edge and into the abyss.