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SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE
SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE
WHITE NDUMISO NGCOBO Foreword by Fred Khumalo SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE .
highly opinionated writer. Author Ndumiso Ngcobo pokes fun at everyone and everything – from white neighbours to township life to BEE bigwigs – while never forgetting to laugh at himself” – You . not least his ambivalence to the holy principle of praising dysfunctionality as long as it is indigenous” – Denis Beckett “A highly gifted. And this young gun is more quarrelsome than I am… Drink from the jug and be quenched” – Bongani Madondo “Sharp. light mix of sarcasm and sharp wit… A streetwise author and a sharp commentator” – Drum “Some Of My Best Friends Are White has been hailed as one of the funniest books on the new South Africa. and with substance. [Ngcobo] is good value on all fronts. His humour is eﬀortless as he peppers you machine-gun style with the home truths of a township raconteur” – Fred Khumalo “Some Of My Best Friends Are White was so good that I was sorely tempted to slaughter a cow in celebration” – David Bullard “Lots of fun. Ngcobo is a couple of notches funnier than David Bullard and certainly more articulate than Xolela Mangcu. Part Chris Rock. part Toby Young. The Star “A delicious. Witty.“A hilarious collection of ballsy in-your-face writing… Ngcobo is PJ O’Rourke with too much melanin and minus the jingoistic tendencies. Guaranteed to cure sense of humour failure” – James Mitchell. parting from the pattern of achieving book-length by repetition.
How refreshing to be left feeling hope that we may all get along someday. we have our prejudices and seriously weird ways – so what? Despite claiming ignorance.“[C]hampion armchair critic Ndumiso Ngcobo paints whomsoever he likes with a broadly oﬀensive yet humorous brush lodged ﬁrmly in his cheek. Our country’s screwed up. he says everything you ever thought but never quite had the brains to put together in a cohesive. But the obvious aﬀection that lies behind his observations softens the sting. tribes and contrasting cultures. Ngcobo’s indulgence in some prime national lampooning – like explaining Zulu bloodlust as pragmatism or asking why whiteys are obsessed with playing games for team building – betrays refreshing insight into this strange country we live in. The Citizen “[T]his collection oﬀers us a long. kicking holy cows out the way” – Annette Bayne. Not that any of us can get too comfortable in our chuckles – Ngcobo has a decidedly pointed pen that prods sharply at those parts of ourselves that we tend to ignore. funny argument” – Kgomotso Matsunyane. this should ﬁll in some of the grey areas” – GQ “Hard hitting. The Sowetan “Ngcobo will yet prove one of the most important commentators living in South Africa today. your neighbours and the nouveau riche – and many other things besides” – Namhla Tshisela. delightfully insightful and funny… Saying it as it is. Whether you’re black or white. after all” – Ann Donald. hearty laugh at ourselves. I couldn’t stop giggling… [I]t will have you laughing at yourself. we’re trying to reconcile vastly diﬀerent languages. Reader’s Digest “I had a blast reading Ndumiso Ngcobo’s Some Of My Best Friends Are White. Ngcobo stomps across the colour lines with impunity. The Witness .
co. • Managing director: Grant Schreiber Publishing director: Daniel Ford Publishing manager: Tim Richman Art director: Francois Pretorius • Distributed by Quartet Sales and Marketing Printed and bound by Paarl Print. mechanical. 2009 7 9 8 • Publication © 2007 Two Dogs Text © 2007 Ndumiso Ngcobo Cover image © 2007 Gallo Images/www.com • All rights reserved. stored in a retrieval system or transmitted.twodogs. The Waterfront. No part of this publication may be reproduced. 8001 info@twodogs. without the prior written permission of the copyright owners. electronic. Cape Town. in any form or by any means. photocopying.za www.gettyimages.co. recording or otherwise.za • First published 2007 Reprinted 2008 (ﬁve times). Oosterland Street. South Africa • ISBN 9781920137182 Dobermann pinscher giving a snarl .Published by Two Dogs an imprint of SchreiberFord Publications • SchreiberFord Publications PO Box 50664. Paarl.
and was the ﬁrst blogger to receive oﬃcial media accreditation for an ANC conference (in Polokwane).za. Raised on a rural diet of conservative Catholicism and Zulu traditionalism. Under the pseudonym Silwane kaNjila.ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ndumiso Ngcobo was born in Mpumalanga Township in KwaZuluNatal.co. he managed to successfully incorporate writing and beer drinking into his daily corporate life.thoughtleader. he has become one of the most widely read bloggers on the Mail & Guardian-hosted site www. Ndumiso is married with three children. .
Mazwi. Bafanyana and Phangiwe Ngcobo. who not only taught me how to read but what to read. spiritual advisors and intellectual sparring partners. Fred Khumalo – my guru. whose insistence on a staple diet of the Holy Rosary and proper discipline always kept me out of trouble.” The Maﬁa Gang. My brother from a MoTswana mother. I want to write just like you and make women weak-kneed with “wordsmithy words” dripping from my pen like honey. . My kids. The Brotherhood Of Savages – “We happy few! We band of savage brothers. my soulmate. Reverend Fathers Mxolisi Ngcobo and Nhlanhla Nkosi – my brothers. Malume Maﬁka Pascal Gwala – my guru who is my other guru’s guru. who survives my whisky breath every Sunday morning. Sandile Ngidi – makwande Hlomuka. When I grow up. Ntobeko and Vumezitha.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I’d like to thank – in my best Cuba Gooding Jr Oscar-acceptancespeech voice – the following people: Tebogo – my wife. My brothers. Mxolisi and Nkalipho. who remind me that I’m not special at every opportunity they get. Pat Masithela. My folks. the love of my life. my unﬂappable rock and my best friend. whose “I have a dream” speech got the ball rolling. my centre. from whom I borrowed hundreds of hours while I wrote this.
her grandkids. Margaret Kinloch-Gwala (1913 – 1998).In loving memory of my grandmother. most importantly. . the value of laughing at ourselves – and. who taught us. of laughing at our loved ones.
Joe! 19 The modern dilemma: life in the ’burbs with strange white folk versus life in the townships with strange black folk Kasie Fabulous 31 Why on Earth would a black man bungee jump? Welcome to corporate South Africa Crazy-Ass White People 43 The Zulu man has always been misunderstood.CONTENTS by Fred Khumalo Foreword 12 Just talking shit to the animals… Introduction 14 Ubuntu in the modern age – when a black man can drive a R500.000 car but doesn’t have the cash to pay for petrol Eish. It’s the endless abuse from the pyscho driver Taxi Commuting: An Experience From HelL 67 . I Ain’t Got It. he’s just a pragmatic fellow Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 55 It’s not the near-death experience that makes it so bad. He doesn’t love violence.
Now if only they could get a beer order right… God Bless The Black Woman 79 My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours Children today are a nightmare. What they need is some good old-fashioned Zulu discipline 91 Aﬃrmative Action is one of the most controversial topics in the land. But no-one looks at it from both points of view Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned To Radio Sonder Grense 103 Ever wondered why black men are never at home? You’d leave too if you knew who was in charge They Might Have To Bite off Our Heads 115 The Indian community adds much-needed colour to our rainbow. But why won’t local leaders let us drink beer at the beach? Black or white. aren’t they? That’s No Dhal Off My Mutton Breyani. we all complain about crime.Black women have embraced the new SA and are heading for success. Larney 125 South Africans just love democracy. Here’s what to do if you really want to end up in prison Let The Masses Eat Pap 143 My Criminal Life 157 . But they’re a funny lot.
we began to see a ﬂowering of new. or be a god in order to understand and enjoy Ngcobo’s pieces. Ngcobo continues this tradition. you have to be drunk. Or just pretend to be either of the two.” That’s how Herman Charles Bosman opened his startlingly beautiful short story Heloise’s Teeth. then – guaranteed to make you laugh and think at the same time. and ﬁnally gets you seated under a peach tree. and Arthur Goldstuck’s urban legends and ghost stories.Foreword by Fred khumalo Ndumiso “Silwane” Ngcobo. He takes you by the hand. and on the imaginations of our writers. He could as easily be writing about Ndumiso Ngcobo’s collection of think pieces in this book. the Herman Charles Bosman of the townships “You won’t really understand this story unless you are drunk. Some writers get too self conscious when they indulge in what has come to 12 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Ngcobo has taken humour writing to another level. Just turn to his take on Mbongeni Ngema’s AmaNdiya in his piece “That’s No Dhal Oﬀ My Mutton Breyani. Though think pieces is a perhaps a misnomer. Ngcobo is PJ O’Rourke with too much melanin and minus the jingoistic tendencies. from the peripheral to the profound – ballsy writing leavened with insightful humour (if there’s such a thing). And then he bewitches you with his tales. So. all right. Larney” to see what I mean. In the 1990s. for example. streetwise prose. moving from the ribald to the raucous. We’ll call it a paradoxical collection of pieces. It’s not often that you can think while you’re roaring with laughter. leads you down a familiar street. Hilarious stuﬀ that nevertheless got you thinking. with rotting peaches carpeting the ﬂoor. with apartheid angst slowly loosening its grip on this nation. delivered in shimmering. in-your-face writing that was about nothing and everything – Gus Silber’s marvelous Braaivleis Of The Vanities. their tangy aroma lulling you into deep relaxation. A god putting his hand up to his eyes. A god would understand this story. His humour is eﬀortless as he peppers you machine-gun style with the home truths of a township raconteur.
You may read some lines – guﬀawing as you do – and ﬁnd yourself unconsciously nodding in agreement and recognition: ah. It won’t win a Nobel prize. Timing is of the essence. After all.” Ngcobo lays it on the table. He could be writing about the sense of entitlement among black people or the shifty nature of Indians or the double standards of white English-speaking liberals – deep sociological studies but never taking himself too seriously. You bhibiza someone when they are back-chatting you – preferably mid-sentence.be called political uncorrectese. yes. Violence is just the insurance policy we cash in to establish order. You can’t bhibiza someone in the eye. he tells real-life stories. but what are you doing about black people’s laziness? Bam-bam! Just like that! This is some serious shit that reeks of originality. we’re not violent savages. but it will keep you highly entertained. putting himself in the middle of them and therefore rendering himself a victim of his sharp tongue – self-deprecating analysis at its best. Sample this: “we Zulus have a well-developed pragmatism. agreeing that. for instance. That would just be wrong. We bhibiza to bring order back into situations. and allows you to enjoy it as he gives you stereotype after stereotype – and you ﬁnd yourself. As a result we have quite an advanced vocabulary for beating up people… We have a speciﬁc word for using the back of the hand to slap someone on the lips. tell them the truth! But you wouldn’t feel comfortable repeating the truth to the next person because some of his truths are so – eish – painful. Bhibi! June 2007 Foreword 13 . Not just anywhere on the face. ﬁnd someone standing in the street minding their own business and proceed to bhibiza them. You can’t. the machine gun hits you in the face: you blame Indians for their success. these Indians are all robbing us blind! And just when you begin to feel comfortable blaming Indians for their ﬁnancial success. there goes my boy. And you can’t just sommer bhibiza anyone willy-nilly. There are cringeworthy moments galore. Not Ngcobo.
together with her schoolteacher husband. The boy spent the next couple of years getting lost in the worlds of the Egyptians. a nursing sister. That boy – obviously – was yours truly. Greeks and Romans. “She lay sprawled on the Persian rug. I was ﬁve years old. The boy was completely oblivious to the danger. let me break from tradition and start at the beginning. ﬂickering ﬂame of the candle was ominously licking at the ragged curtain hanging from the solitary window in the tiny room. Instead of punishing the boy. When she entered the only other bedroom in her modest matchbox house (Mpumalanga Township. he would often grab a “sword” from the peach tree in his parents’ yard to correct that travesty of justice by slaying Paris just as he aimed his arrow at Achilles. invested a few hundred rand in a set of Children’s Encyclopaedias. The dim. because it’s been a month since I submitted the ﬁnal manuscript. They’re probably getting stuck into a book that begins. heaving in anticipation…” And good luck to them. 14 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . This is probably my ﬁfth attempt at the introduction to this book: ironic. Bafanyana Ngcobo. Phangiwe Rosemary Ngcobo.INTRODUCTION Dear Reader Welcome. Sometime in the year 1977. of course. Thousands started the journey. missed a turn somewhere and ended up in the Romance section of the bookstore. Unit A662). But isn’t that usually the way we do things – arse ﬁrst? Especially in this country… In that case. I’m typing this in the bar of a Durban beachfront hotel on a slow Thursday night with a cold beer as my sole companion. she was alarmed to ﬁnd her second-born son buried deep in a Zulu-language novel entitled Ubudoda Abukhulelwa by Professor Sibusiso Nyembezi. got up in the middle of the night to investigate a strange odour. That’s how engrossed he was in the world so vividly painted by Professor Nyembezi’s lyrical words. On his excursions outside of his bedroom. I’m glad you’ve made it this far. Rosemary Ngcobo.
I had a bottle of beer in my hand and a glaze in my bloodshot eyes. our voices raised. Buhle Masithela. Thapelo Pat Masithela. I am at my happiest when I am in a smoke-ﬁlled. passionate human cog in the machinations of industry were taking their toll. fuzzy feelings of impotent unease. we concluded. at the time. published or not. being “developed”: being told about my “immense potential” and how I was a “key resource” and a future leader of that great organisation. Since then. at a crossroads in my life. crowded bar with the riﬀraﬀ of savages I call my friends. These were words I had heard before during my stint as a high-school science and maths teacher. It crystallised the source of my unhappiness. was uncharacteristically animated. I was. I spent my days “managing” people with real jobs and reporting on what they did. was to be truthful about your true passion and somehow turn that into an endeavour that would be able to Introduction 15 . The four of us sat around the table and had a conversation that went to the core of my hazy. I had spent those years getting shifted from one department to the next. our speech slurred. When I arrived at the Masithelas’. In January 2006. my brother-in-law. with the idea of mental sparring and combat: with discourse. I was probably at one of my lowest ebbs in my life. And. As luck would have it. I have always known that I would one day write a book.I had just fallen in love with the written word. most importantly. I had just “celebrated” a minor milestone: ﬁve years working for a major multinational. Tebogo and I visited my sister. The trick. Scenes like this are the closest I ever feel to complete exhilaration – if you ignore the moments I spend snuggled up with my best friend. our faces ﬂushed. Tebogo. soul-diminishing and often demeaning jobs in the corporate world – wasn’t even a real job. normally a reserved fellow. as we stumble from one poorly constructed argument to the next half-baked bagful of lies (to quote Michael Jackson). he was in the throes of the very same crisis. Thapelo. The exertions of chiselling myself to ﬁt the mould of the energised. The last position I held – in a long stream of tedious. my wife. and her hubby. in love and in lust with the power of ideas.
“What are you up to?” asks the giraﬀe. watching a sleeping lioness on the ground. a writer? A few months later.sustain a semblance of a decent life. The ﬁrst of a series of books. gets the same story and also awaits the extravaganza. to solicit his opinion. Some Of My Best Friends Are White was conceived. I was still unsure. At about three o’clock the following morning. Coltraine and Fred. the King himself saunters on to the scene and up to the crowd of eager perverts. the story goes that a giraﬀe came upon a monkey perched high up in a tree. The Scotch had worked! What’s this all about. armed with a few pages of my writing and a bottle of Scotch. Me. whether it’s proposing a new theory for how the pyramids were built or pondering why men have nipples. The working title for this book was Just Talking Shit To The Animals. Talking shit to the animals? Well. To quote him. he hopes. Thapelo and I discovered that evening that we shared the same passion: a deep love for thinking just for the sake of it.” Not one to miss a free porn show. in late 2006. I started writing down all my opinions. it’s what Ndumiso Ngcobo thinks about the world. waiting for the sexual assault on the Queen of the jungle. It’s me. Finally. Soon enough. though. 16 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . then? Well. Apparently. “Well. I’m waiting for that lioness to wake up so I can hump her brains out. Still. with the encouragement and reassurance I needed. after an evening in the company of Miles. I arrived at Fred Khumalo’s house in the north of Johannesburg. a small crowd of animals is gathered under the tree. I like it. I staggered out of his house. But if the process by which this book came about was the “up” run of the Comrades. a hippo comes around. I submitted them to a few publishing houses. Finally. then that title didn’t make it to the Grey Street Mosque. Next up.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. if you must know. From that day onwards. the giraﬀe settles down in anticpation. a lady from my publishers’ Sales department couldn’t say the title without giggling nervously and having an uncontrollable sneezing ﬁt. “My dream occupation would be to sit in a room and have people asking me my opinions on anything and everything.
You. are part of the crowd of pervs.za. I am humbled that you are reading it.“So what’s this gathering then?” he roars with menace. Most of this was written with tongue ﬁrmly in cheek. But if anyone asks me. If the Ben Okris and JM Coetzees are classical jazz and opera of the writing world.thoughtleader. That means that some of my opinions are not really my opinions. I hope you ﬁnd all of this as fascinating as I do.za/silwane). crazy white folk. Welcome to the kwaibook. others retarded. my publishers didn’t want to sell it like that. please do so through my blog. They wanted “cross-cultural insight into South African life”. others on nothing but conjecture and ignorance. Hopefully. and they wanted white people laughing at the inexplicable folly of black folk. if you know what I mean… I call these my non-opinions. They wanted black people laughing at the strange habits of white folk. Hopefully some of my opinions – and my non-opinions – will intrigue you and convince you that I’m a genius. Some of my opinions are based on deep philosophical observations. Hey. so they made sure I covered a lot of appropriately South African topics: uppity black women. I’m cool with that. this is literary kwaito. Introduction 17 . I told them. But a fair proportion will leave you convinced that I’m a downright fool. abusive taxi drivers – and so on. “Nothing much.” I’m the monkey.” says the monkey. NN June 2007 PS: Perhaps you have come across me already at thoughtleader. I’m still talking shit to the animals. Enjoy the ride.co. where I skulk around in the wee hours of the morning as Silwane kaNjila (see www. Whatever you think. Of course.co. the reader. Some of my opinions are smart. But I also hope to infuriate you. “Just talking shit to the animals. If you would like to contact me. We are gathered here for the purpose of listening to me talk shit to my animals. Often I say “black” when I mean “white” and “up” when I mean “down”. I will amuse you.
Eish! I ain’t got it. Joe .
They share sundowners at Mivami in Hillbrow. Money was tight – I was personally getting by on a R1. And invariably the high-calibre individuals under the spotlight shrug 20 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . they never fully share the rent and food bills. I have been accosted with similar situations literally hundreds of times. she left two rooms empty-handed. I was one of those young people. Five young black people move into a house together in downtown Johannesburg. maybe not so wonderful. They share Kodak moments at Times Square in Yeoville. One of the girls was responsible for rent collection and. Even back then. They share pitchers of vodka-laced sangria at the Pizza Hut on Pretoria Street in Hillbrow. their joys and pains. their ups and downs. the solution to the “problem” we had is a no-brainer: just kick their non-paying asses into the street.200 monthly wage – but life was good nonetheless. As a black man. when we all had to pitch in and pay for our wonderful way of life. The commune members spend almost all their time together. this phenomenon completely befuddled me. They share Bafana Bafana’s historic win over Zambia on the day of Mandela’s inauguration at Ellis Park stadium. But sadly.J ust picture it. Still. Except that two of the commune members’ record of paying for rent and food was pathetic. hopes and dreams. impending freedom and the general upward mobility that’s sure to follow. To a non-darkie. the concept of collective responsibility and the practice of it are separate entities. that is. food appeared on the table every breakfast and every dinner. right? Oh ye of little knowledge! With my people. things are a tad diﬀerent. In the darkie context. their newfound loves and break-ups. before my mind was poisoned by “un-African” ideas. Three guys and two girls. month in and month out. a little more complicated. full of ambition. And every member of the commune dug in hungrily. The feeling in the air is one of high hope about the upcoming ground-breaking elections. Nothing wrong with that. Okay. They share their respective successes and failures. Until month end approached. January 1994.
Joe. what was your plan all along? Do you have the faintest idea where we might come up with the shortfall? Are you oﬀering to vacate your room so we can get a paying housemate? But you cannot ask any of these questions. you ain’t got it? Did you have it and then lose it? And if you never had it in the ﬁrst place. “Eish! I ain’t got it. “Eurocentric” is a swearword. It would be… Eurocentric. the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu once implored us all never to “impugn the motives of others but to accept the bona ﬁdes of all” – much to President Mbeki’s chagrin. And that goes for any of its variations – coconut and Oreo (dark on the outside. it would be downright un-African. being Eurocentric is worse than being a paedophile with serial-killer tendencies. So when another black individual has uttered the words. We call each other by the darkie terms of endearment instead: Lova: unemployed individual who doesn’t bother looking for a job Sgebengu: ﬁend. No. Oh. If you did. People have lost their lives for daring to call a darkie Eurocentric. you shut up and accept his assertion. this is perfectly acceptable. A whitey’s mind will be abuzz with a host of questions. It is the battle cry of all cheapskates across the darkie landscape. And in our world. After all. digging deeper is just unacceptable. thug Tsotsi: ﬁend. Eish! I Ain’t Got It. thug. no doubt: What do you mean. In fact. That’s the darkie body armour against paying rent. You just do not characterise another black man that way unless you’re willing to step outside. where I come from. white on the inside) being two other favourites. It’s a debate-ender. Joe”. Joe 21 .” That’s it. Once another black man has uttered that line.their shoulders and give me the same line when asked to pay: “Eish! I ain’t got it. the shame! You see. Just don’t call him Eurocentric. with kleptomaniac tendencies Nja yami: my dog Skhokho: charred remains at the bottom of the pot after cooking pap The list is much longer – get acquainted with kwaito if you want to know more – and you can call a black man anything along these lines.
What really crawled up my leg.” 22 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine. We live by the mantra. There was a fair bit of dinner and a lot of drinks – to the tune of R2. Suddenly. my friend: whisky. If he’s short of cash. cognac. but some of us are doing okay these days. hey? Where my steely commitment to ubuntu and other lofty. I don’t.600 Hugo Boss pants R2. Mbeki has his “RDP of the soul” and I have my own RDP.400 Polo shoes on his feet R4. yet fuzzy. Great ideals. he had no money to pay! But I shouldn’t have been too perturbed.000 BMW ride home R500. hairy ass was observing just how short of cash this particular brother was: Polo hat on his head R400 Prada jacket on his shoulders R9. Honestly. Yet without fail. Whatever spirit you want. come month end: “Eish! I ain’t got it. I know. That’s an obscene amount for black people in South Africa. Here’s an example. slid under my boxer shorts and into my black.* We darkies come from the same mother. I really don’t mind paying for a brother. brandy. the same womb. Call it the RDP of the spirit. you’d think. We believe in such noble ideals as ubuntu.456. Not too long ago. I sat around a table with four of my brethren for dinner and drinks. When the bill ﬁnally came. one of my dining companions developed a strange aﬄiction: an allergic reaction to the piece of paper detailing that he had thrown back double cognacs to the value of R400. darkie concepts begins to waver is when you start to observe some of the spending patterns of dark-complexioned individuals who like to plead poverty.000 Shamelessly wriggling out of R491 for his drinks PATHETIC! One of the non-paying individuals I shared a house with back in ’94 had a sophisticated R7. Joe.000 music system and his CD collection grew by ﬁve CDs every month. Well.
I’d be called callous. The rent money just never got to us because it was used to fund her extensive wardrobe. No-one shared my vision – so we plodded on. is that she had two sources of cash: her folks and her boyfriend. Joe. The truth. When I’d put it to them that perhaps someone should suggest to our Poor Joe that if he went to the Chinaman’s pawnshop around the corner and exchanged just three of his CDs each month he’d have enough cash for his rent. bringing with him a big container of Ricoﬀy. One ice-cold weekend – with one of those lazy -30°C winds (“it’s lazy cos it don’t go around you. past indiscretions were forgotten… But the gloves came oﬀ later that afternoon when one of us went into the Eish! I Ain’t Got It. For our palates. Some of my housemates and I would have skinner sessions behind his back. Nobody got any. sigh deeply. a large bag of sugar and a giant container of Cremora. So we all skirted the issue and circled her like a pack of hounds around a female in February. it goes through you”) – the skate’s boyfriend visited the commune. unbrotherly feelings just bubbling underneath the surface. The other half of the Eish-I-ain’t-got-it-Joe duo was a girl who had perfected the art of using her feminine allure to get what she wanted. Yadda yadda yadda. used to sharing one tagless Rooibos teabag between two mugs. And boy did she know it. get a sad look in her puppy-dog eyes and… “Eish! I ain’t got it. of course. naturally. Every guy in the house thought of her with illicit. this was some gourmet stuﬀ. Joe 23 .Any further probing of his errant ways would be followed by a heartwrenching story about how his mom got up at 3am every day to start the ﬁrst of her three jobs to feed his 14 siblings and “fuck the Boers for exploiting our mothers”. As we chased the Highveld winter away with mug after mug of caﬀeine heaven. And we all knew it. But every guy who passed through that commune lived in the hope that one day she would toss some sexual crumbs his way.” And you’d feel deeply ashamed for letting a little thing like money stand in the way of such deep friendships. Whenever anyone broached the subject of the rising price of bread she’d emit a tiny whimper. of course. bankrolling his extravagant musical taste.
At the end of the evening. I chose the low. Her bubble of decadent living oﬀ our hard-earned cash ﬁnally burst one day when I caught her red-handed munching away furiously on a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken at the taxi rank just before going home. When it comes to money. Things got real nasty after that.50 in exact change and held out the calculator. one of those prim and proper girls with blemishless skin and pearly white teeth took the bill and proceeded to carefully scan for the items she had consumed. “Does anybody need this?” Oh. not with colleagues. Things were never the same and the commune ﬁzzled out into a Eurocentric lack of excitement: black people who pay their way – imagine that! When it comes to money and friendships. blabbermouth road. Every member of the commune congregated in one room and munched on chips without inviting our non-paying seductress. he decided to pull the Eish-I ain’t-got-it-Joe trick one month end. I had two options. I don’t often get to say this. white people don’t fuck around. I guarantee you that that individual will be a social pariah until the day Tony Leon joins the ANC. Or blurt it out to the other commune members. so I relish it: I love them white folk to bits.kitchen to make another cup only to realise that the coﬀee had disappeared with our caﬀeine pusher when he left. There was one other black oke living there and. gives Manto Tshabalala-Msimang a bear hug and calls her “comrade”. I tell you. I know. before whipping out a pocket calculator and crunching the numbers. true to form. Not in business. real classy behaviour. how touched I was! I dare any black person to pull this stunt in the company of other darkies. I love my white peeps. In my time I’ve also shared a house with a predominantly white group of people. man. not with family and certainly not with cheapskate friends. And she never consumed another morsel of food at anybody’s expense. Then she took out R56. Use the secret chicken-munching information to extort some sexual favours in return for my silence. I remember once going out to dinner with a predominantly white group of people. A study in rent collection. That was an eye-opening experience. 24 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . The way I saw it. saying.
to which I’ve had this line thrown back at me: “Come on. Heaven is indeed a place on earth. To see what I mean. I love that about white people. Plus. I was secretly celebrating. my darkie friend! Only the rightful owner of the R50 in question has any right to determine whether R50 is a signiﬁcant sum or not. black people are soft. Habits such as holding our friends responsible for paying for things. we need to copy some of their more progressive habits. Joe 25 . Don’t tell me we’re about to haggle over R50 now. here’s a far-out idea: perhaps. I cannot count the number of times I’ve tried to point out to an individual that he. right before the Poll Tax Uprising: “Don’t tell me we’re about to haggle over one bull now. Take the don’t-tell-me-we’re-about-to-haggle-over-R50now incident I mentioned before and imagine that conversation taking place in 1906. just remember that most of us are only two or three generations away from a time when our currency was not cash. but I’ve always just ﬁgured that we all exist for the sole purpose of amassing as much money as possible. There’s an unspoken shame associated with having it out with someone over money. instead of just mimicking the way white people speak. But I think that black people are not necessarily uncomfortable discussing money. what with all our nasal twanging. in fact.” Eish! I Ain’t Got It.” You’re damn skippy we’re about to have a major verbal misunderstanding. Sheer bliss. And the root cause of it. I was being left alone to rule the roost as the token black in a white house. is there a better reason in the world to have it out with someone than money? I don’t know about anyone else. we like to place God and family above making money on our what’s-important-to-me lists. isn’t it? Granted. is that black people are just uncomfortable talking about money. White people are ruthless about money – which is why they get to keep so much of it. rather it’s the currency that’s the issue. When it comes to cash. but none of us invests 60 hours a week into those lofty ideals – so please give me a break. I believe. Pretty please with my R50 on top. Not only were we getting rid of a non-paying Tommy Hilﬁger-clad chancer. owes me R50. That’s right.As we all stood on the patio bidding him a tearful farewell a week later. So after all my talk.
You’ll never understand the appreciation that black people have for the ﬁner things in life. let me hasten to add this: I’m acutely aware of the socio-economic factors that lead to this type of behaviour. Unless you have experienced the indescribable thrill of a brand-new piece of clothing against your skin when everything up to that point had been a hand-me-down. self-hating enemy of the African Renaissance by perpetually angry PhD types in This Or That Centre Study. he caught me by surprise with behaviour I’d never witnessed before. Who’s paying? If we’re all paying. who doesn’t have the money to pay for this shit?” And then my dream turns into a nightmare because next thing in the sequence. The same factors inﬂuence my own decisions every single day. I have a friend who I’ve known for about 15 years. got to our table. When we. you’ll never get it. we might just get somewhere. Mr Double-Chinned PhD Type: where you call these things socio-economic factors. reactionary. I prefer to call them excuses for making dumb decisions. I knew we were going to be friends for a long time. I wiped a little tear from the corner of my eye. I think black people miss the point that money is a measure of wealth and prosperity – just like cattle. “Before we sit down. Just like Dr King in 1960s America. you’ll never get it. all seven people shrug their shoulders and recite in unison: “Eish! I ain’t got it. Once we change the currency from rands to cattle. one of them will ask. Unless you have shared a matchbox house with a dozen siblings. I have a dream. Joe!” Before I’m accused of being a Eurocentric. I just want to be clear about the bill.For some reason. he stopped us all: “Before we sit down. are we splitting it six ways or are we each paying for what we had?” As we sat down (having cleared it up). I know many black men who would rather go hungry (or get gullible housemates to pay for their food) than trade in the top-of-the-range BMW 330i 26 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . as they get to their table. I dream that one evening a group of seven Polo-clad black people will arrive at a restaurant and. Here’s my thing. One of the very ﬁrst times I went out with him for drinks. a group of about six black people. cousins and aunts.
These are the same individuals who know the days when their grandmothers get paid their monthly pension grants. democratic reasons for sending American troops into Iraq. nanna. Joe 27 . “Nigga. they go inside. it’s only R100. Once again. even though we were driving past ﬁlling stations. Just like we all know darkies who park their Volvos outside the News Café on Musgrave Road in Durban – just so everybody knows they’re hanging out there – but who don’t really patronise the establishment.” Curse me out if you want. drive them to a club. I wish I was making all of this up. but because their housemates back at the townhouse complex are sick of funding their food. I’m ashamed to say I know many such people on a personal basis. People who think it’s acceptable for you to drive 50 kilometres out of your way to pick them up from their houses. you feel like screaming at the top of your voice. So he kept driving until he got to a township garage Eish! I Ain’t Got It. pay for their drinks and their cigarettes. get yourself a freaking Corolla. Instead. for Chrissakes!” Not that it would help. of course. You’d have better luck convincing the fundamentalist Muslims that George W Bush is a well-meaning born-again gentleman who had altruistic. BMW-driving dark-hued individuals who drive to Alexandra or Umlazi every evening to have dinner at mommy’s place. we all know Boss-clad. pay their cover charges. Not because mommy’s cooking kicks ass. you know I’m right. As the same person tries to bum R20 oﬀ you for petrol. People who expect other people to bankroll their existence. The reason? He was self-conscious of the fact that he only had R10 to purchase gas. they go outside to their cars to take large swigs from Hansa quarts they happened to have brought along for the ride. so they can go bum money oﬀ these senior citizens.with dropped suspension and R20.000 rims that they cannot aﬀord. “Aw. As a result. when they “need a piss”. Then. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve driven with a guy in a Jeep Cherokee with the petrol light on for a good ten kilometres. and drive another 50 kilometres out of your way to drop them oﬀ again – and don’t even have the decency to oﬀer to pay for your petrol. buy one bottle of Heineken and keep it on the table for three hours. come on.
” 28 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . sir. “Tiger unleaded.” (Translated: “Please could I have R10 of unleaded petrol. it’s just a matter of time before a darkie rolls into a township ﬁlling station.000 – with an individual who rolled down his electric window and uttered the words. asks for R7. spreads his hands and gives the attendant a shrug: “Eish! I ain’t got it. Joe. I have actually been in a Jeep Cherokee – market value R350. boss.– where nobody would judge him.50 of unleaded. fumbles around in his wallet. That’s right.”) You know.
Joe 29 .Eish! I Ain’t Got It.
Kasie Fabulous .
There’s a deﬁnite black-tourist drill in Cape Town. I have to interrupt my carefully planned itinerary and head to Gugulethu. Take a bow. but my dislike for the Mother City stems mostly from the fact that each time I visit. I have various reasons for this.’m not a big fan of Cape Town. “We simply leave the places that have nurtured us and moulded us into who we are!” I cried loudly. Then. people of Gugulethu. I argued that the reason the townships were in a perpetual state of economic depression was the fact that black people moved away as soon as they started to make money. I said it. First you arrive. Your hospitality is a marvel to behold. “We all lament the poor quality of education in township schools. “We should all be ashamed for moving to the suburbs instead of staying to improve the places that made us!” I shrieked hysterically. After a while. our drunken talk took a diﬀerent twist and we got on to the exodus of upwardly mobile blacks out of the townships: was it a good thing or not? I argued very strongly and passionately that this was a horrible thing. a catastrophe. Nyanga or Langa just to feel human again. My buddy was not particularly impressed. he composed himself and calmly suggested that I check I 32 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . After carefully removing drops of my spittle from his face. A friend and I were recently having a conversation about this very phenomenon: the horrors of Cape Town versus the hospitality of its townships. Langa and Nyanga – you’ve been the saving grace of that part of the world many. Alcohol has the tendency to unearth passions in people that they were never aware of before. look at the mountain and start visiting all the traditional tourist spots. after three days of forking out R250 for see-through 50-gram slivers of alleged steak and being treated like a suspected al-Qaeda operative by restaurant staﬀ. many times. There. The reason we were having the debate in the ﬁrst place is because we were under the inﬂuence – naturally. but when we who have ﬁnances take our own kids out of these schools we leave them without resources!” I castigated vehemently. you head for the townships.
maybe even Eurocentric or coconut. “You do realise you moved out of the townships. this is what we are losing out on. man. No true bruiser concedes defeat that easily. So you are. Drive down any street and kids are running around. I love the townships. an unmistakable vibe that hangs in the air. Townships are diverse. So you’re suggesting that all wealthy black people should sell their houses in the suburbs and move back to the townships?” “Yes. in eﬀect. There is – despite suggestions that this spirit is dying – a general communal camaraderie that permeates throughout most townships. There is a buzz. what do you mean?” “That is the essence of your suggestion. um. It’s kasie fabulous. All I could do was proceed to cast aspersions on his general blackness. cold places. I once lived in a house for three years and never knew the name of even one of my neighbours. brother! For sellouts like me who are hell-bent on land redistribution. I was down and out. I think I called him an Uncle Tom. leaving the prime land in this country to white people in the suburbs and the cities. I head for the nearest kasie I can ﬁnd. Every opportunity I get. The suburbs are unfriendly. But I was a goner. neighbours are having animated conversations over the fence. men are sitting outside and enjoying cold ones amid lots of chitchat and laughter. complicating a very simple matter…” I oﬀered weakly. the man had delivered a knockout punch in one swift move. The unspoken motto Kasie Fabulous 33 . right?” “Yes. And it was wrong!” “Okay.” “You are. Still. You’re suggesting that we go back to a time when black people lived on only 13 per cent of the land. I am! We are taking valuable money out of communities who need it desperately…” “I hear you.” “Er.out my family tree for connections to Adolf Hitler. suggesting that we selfimpose the Group Areas Act on ourselves. Every little corner has something unique and interesting to oﬀer. Brother Malcolm. yes. dynamic and lively places.
I quickly moved on. I could almost sense his thoughts: “Damn. But anything outside the ﬁve metres is outside the “fake-grin zone”. “Don’t bother me and I won’t bother you. 34 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . we give each other fake grins when we’re forced to be within. as she had speciﬁcally asked for a Cabernet Sauvignon. He then sidled over into Neutral territory next to the fruit-juice fridge to await my next move. He took his opportunity and made a frantic dash towards the Cheap Brandy subsection. it seems. hate their guts right back. The anal administrative types in charge seem to have way too much time on their hands. I was meant to get my wife a bottle of red but didn’t want to take the chance just yet. giving Wine a wide berth. but I wasn’t about to waste precious time looking at wine labels and risk entering the fake-grin zone with the imbecile from #15. I took a clever detour through the Warm Beer aisle and backtracked towards Wine. what would I do? Thinking fast. we’re not uncivilised savages.in the suburbs is. don’t get me wrong. of course. my white neighbours at my cluster-home complex on the East Rand view me with disdain and suspicion – and I. where I quickly grabbed the nearest Merlot. We’ve never exchanged more than a few muﬄed grunts at each other when we’ve been within the fake-grin zone. The expression on his face was of immense relief. I was in a corner. We must have spotted each other at the same moment because he beat a hasty retreat towards the Wine aisle as I snatched at my whisky. Heaving a sigh of relief. Oh. But that’s not the only problem out here in the complexes.) Our retarded waltz ended when I spotted him getting into his car and speeding oﬀ. After all. almost knocking over a vodka display in his haste. having just entered the Spirits aisle in which I was acquiring a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black. I recently spotted one of my neighbours at the local liquor outlet. The cheapskate was.” These days. in the process of looking for some inferior brandy at the other end. (My wife was later to call me “you idiot”. that was close!” These are the great lengths we go to to avoid talking to each other in the ’burbs. and here he was closing in ominously. say. ﬁve metres of each other. so I hovered around Liqueurs to allow him time to return to Spirits.
I don’t need your permission – my ancestors told me it was okay! These body-corporate sticklers really have too much time to waste on witchhunts.1. Let’s forget for one second that that three-legged piece of canine shit is a racist if ever there was one. I personally don’t have time for anything but keeping up with my one wife and two kids. at that precise time. If I were a betting man. the white people want to blame the black man for this Great Lingerie Robbery. who has a keen interest in property destruction. Or who kicked the Chihuahua from #3 then pissed on it at 3.) I’m tired of being the prime suspect for anything that goes wrong around here. So you can understand how it came to pass that I packed the family in the car not too long ago and headed for a holiday to Mamelodi Township near Pretoria. Cross-dresser right there! But no. As a matter of fact. I really have no time to cramp my wide ass into someone’s tiny lounge to discuss unit #7’s noncompliance with the curtain-colour code in section 4. of kids playing in the streets and neighbours connecting over fences. I will do it. for crying out loud. The man drives an orange Peugeot 307 cabriolet. I’d go with Mr Tigerprint Blinds from #7. (Long story – a case of mistaken identity involving too much whisky. I have no idea who stole Mrs Hudson’s stockings from her laundry line. My wife will testify under oath that I was. Like trying to ﬁnd out who reversed into the aloe plant last week. thank you very much.5 of the 154-page Code Of Conduct. I was having nostalgic longings for some carefree township living. And I have an alibi. let’s get another one of your stupid rules out of the way. I was fed up with these complex-dwelling retards.45 on Sunday morning. I took that 154-page pile of arbitrariness and gave it to my two-year-old so that he could express himself artistically. The next time I want to slaughter a goat. hang it upsidedown on my balcony and burn incense. trying to hump a pillow in our bedroom. As a result. I was gatvol with all the rules and aloofness. where my wife grew up.I have often wondered if these people have jobs – or lives. by the way. I couldn’t care less that the girlie-man from #7 has tiger-print blinds! And while we’re on the Code Of Conduct. for that matter. Kasie Fabulous 35 . My hands are full just rescuing expensive vases from my two-year-old terrorist.
Being the empathetic human being that I am. I believe the exact words I used were. the cold beverage I held in my hand spilling onto my lap. we continued along the main road only to ﬁnd that the lane we were travelling in had come to a standstill. with gold teeth and a fake-diamond stud in one ear. Anyone who has driven in a township has been a victim of this phenomenon: geniuses deciding to park in the middle of the road without any regard for other 36 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . The car. By the time he returned to his vehicle. disembarked from his deathmobile to have a “conversation” with a young lady wearing the tiniest skirt I have ever seen – including in those stupid “hood ﬂicks” that SABC 1 screens at 11.30pm. I’ve certainly rejected her story with the contempt it deserves. a fellow in a white Mazda 323 violently swerved onto our path from a lane meant for cars going straight. “Good grief. My wife hit them hard and we all jerked forward violently. there must have been at least 15 cars waiting behind him. young fellow. He had sommer come to a dead stop in the middle of a busy main road. yet there wasn’t any sign of apology or remorse. the car cruised up the N3 en route to Pretoria and my heart steadily ﬁlled with the joy and warm anticipation of friendly people sharing beers on stoeps. Damn you. 323 driver! The gentleman in question – and I use the term very loosely – was a young man. I hypothesised out loud that perhaps he was in a hurry to take a dying relative to hospital. But I was abruptly brought back to earth by the attempted murder of my family when we entered the township. The cause of the jam was our friend Goldtooth in the Mazda. I would never utter these words in front of the kids: “Fuck you and your whole rotten family of inbred swine!” That would be irresponsible. barely out of his teens.* With my wife at the wheel. As we turned into the main road. Is everyone all right at home?” You cannot trust my wife’s version of events at times like these. 17-inch rims and music blaring from his speakers. or rather the contraption. God bless the inventor of ABS brakes. he was driving had dropped suspension. To rub salt into the wounds. you seem to be rather in a hurry.
Soweto Day and Shaka Day respectively. Does this seriously need to be speciﬁcally stated? No? Okay then. I think the traﬃc department should just concede defeat and release a Township Driving Rules Handbook. suburbs-dweller visiting the township here. Perhaps I missed that issue of the Government Gazette that declared it Good Friday And GettingDrunk-And-Defecating-In-The-Streets-If-You-Don’t-Feel-Like-Church Day. the primary reason the banks. was followed by Good Friday. I suppose. you might as well drive with a sign on your car reading. these used to be Sharpeville Day. that it doesn’t interfere with the primary objective of the day. I would suggest. it seems they are open to interpretation these days and people celebrate any way they want. When was this act promulgated? Last time I checked. sir. are the type of person who gives imbeciles a bad name. Once upon a time. So. Isn’t it? I could be wrong. But Good Friday is a pure. The rest of the people can do whatever the hell it is that they want – on the proviso. Kasie Fabulous 37 . But I was undeterred in my quest to reconnect with my people. Clearly the laws that apply elsewhere do not apply here. My township break to soak up some ubuntu had started on a bad note. Speeding at 130km/h in 60km/h zones is commonplace. one of the few remaining holidays on our calendar that have an unambiguous meaning. would the moron who took his home theatre system speakers outside and decided to spice up Good Friday Holy Mass in the Catholic Church of this particular Pretoria township with sounds from Percy Sledge please stand up. That was on Easter Thursday which. And people stop and gawk at you if they notice you’ve deployed your seat belt. as you might imagine. I’m not too sure what they’re called any more or what we’re meant to be commemorating. Three-point U-turns over double barrier lines during peak hour are a popular manoeuvre.road users. schools and oﬃce blocks are closed on this day is to allow the alleged 70 per cent of our population that is Christian to observe perhaps the most sacred day on the Christian calendar. 16 June or 24 September. You. Driving on pavements is a daily occurrence. Unlike those compromise holidays that occur on 21 March. 100 per cent unadulterated good-old-fashioned Christian holiday.
“Shut up. To this. looky here at me. I’ve heard sweaty intellectual types in tight-ﬁtting suits talk about this phenomenon. Another high-calibre individual next door decided to pre-empt the Resurrection by giving the neighbourhood a gift that kept on giving. thinking along these lines: “Looky here at me. I’ve seen pythons do this on BBC Wildlife. they will melt in the sun and board three taxis to go buy a loaf of bread and a litre of milk 20 kilometres away. I would. Any notion of getting the much-needed rest my gastrointestinal tract required to convert the small cow in my tummy into amino acids was soon forgotten as I joined the rest of the family in a riveting installment of Noot Vir Noot.000 decibels – until 4am the following day. As a result. All because my township neighbours would not allow me to lie down and do what all reptiles do when they have overindulged. I declare. Rather than visit their local store. But an experience I’d had at another township a few weeks before made me think twice… It is often noted that kasie dwellers are not particularly supportive of township enterprise. Judy Boucher kicks ass and Chris de Burgh should be knighted he’s so slammin’ and oh. So I took it on myself to devour about two kilogram’s worth of red meat the following day to make up for my enforced 24-hour vegetarianism. From what I can gather. When I lived in the township I did the same. They say it’s indicative of the self-hate that black people harbour due to colonialism and white rule. The thoughtful fellow dished out a free soul-classics concert at about 100. fat man! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” 38 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . under normal circumstances. Good Catholics do not eat meat on Good Friday. have driven myself to a corner shop and got some ENO or something. this is the work of the last solitary brain cell in a nitwit’s head. as I was rudely reminded when we got back to my in-laws’ house after the Holy Mass/Percy Sledge combo. I felt an irresistible urge to lie down and use minimal movement. Silly me. But it didn’t end there. this practice is thoroughly perplexing.” Praising the Lord is just not the same when you’re accompanied by Percy Sledge and his mates.Considering that every one of your neighbours has his own music system and speakers. I have speakers and tweeters and graphic equalisers and things and oh.
My recent experience had occurred in Umlazi. I’d just dropped my son oﬀ with relatives when I remembered that I was out of beer at home. So I decided to do my bit for township enterprise and get myself a case. Silly me. I arrived at the local shebeen and, after waiting several minutes for service even though I was the only customer in there, I ﬁnally came face to face with the owner. I inquired how much a tray of cold ones would cost… and waited several more minutes while he disappeared to the back to ﬁnd a pocket calculator. When he re-emerged, he chose to ignore me completely and serve other people, muttering something about “people who do not know what they want”. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, the owner turned to me and gave me a price: R124 for a case of local beer. I gulped – this seemed a tad steep. So I asked what a six-pack cost: R27 was the answer. My quick mental arithmetic told me that if I purchased a case I’d be paying R31 a six-pack, so I gulped again. Why would I be penalised for buying more? My inquiry was met with a so-youthink-you’re-smart smirk followed by a curt, “Take it or leave it.” My attempt at playing a dangerous game – “Okay, I’ll take four six-packs, please” – was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The township entrepreneur lost it. He promised to unleash upon me bodily harm such as I had only witnessed in Maﬁa movies. In between a steady stream of expletives, he cast aspersions on my entire lineage and let me in on secrets, such as the fact that my forefathers had wanton liaisons with females of loose morals. His parting shot was the most irrational attempt at a justiﬁcation for a premium for purchasing in bulk: “You want to come here and deplete my stock, you [censored for white readers]!?” Huh? There you have it. Genius township entrepreneurs actually penalise customers for buying more. And I’m the guilty one for spending my money at Ultra Liquors, where they’ll give me an ice-cold case for R89? I’d rather hate myself and save R35, thank you. I emerged from that establishment 15 minutes later, beer-less, dazed and confused, wondering if I was victim of one of Desmond Dube’s pranks. Sadly not. Similar bizarre circumstances exist at the Masiphumelele location in Cape
Town, where the local entrepreneurs have been at loggerheads with Somaliowned businesses. Forget the detail; that’s all a smoke screen. The crux of the matter seems to be that these vile, underhanded Somalis have been undercutting the “indigenous” businessmen. How? By selling goods at lower prices. I watched with incredulity when Special Assignment ran a feature on it. Yet another highcalibre individual (who kept on referring to “Somalians”) explained that they couldn’t compete with people who had such low margin aspirations. Had I died and been reincarnated in some communist hell? Here I’d been living under the delusion that South Africa is a free-market economy. At least I – unlike the Somali traders – wasn’t being murdered for my misunderstanding. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who knows deep down inside that this whole situation is incredibly short-sighted, unfair and tantamount to gross human-rights violations. It is the same retarded logic that Raymond Ackerman – God bless that old man – is ﬁghting. I think he should be able to oﬀer me a litre of unleaded for R4.50 if he so wishes. And shut the fuck up, Mr Economics PhD! I don’t want to hear how this price regulation is in my own interest. As a result of all this, I’m not buying a house in Masiphumelele or Mamelodi any day soon. I’d rather live in my cold, unfriendly complex with high walls and electric fences. At least if the owner of the café around the corner wants to charge me R15 for a 2-litre Coke, I can duck into the Kwikspar and get it for R10. And I think the poor people of Masiphumelele and elsewhere should be able to do the same. So, I’ve come to a conclusion. Mr Goldtooth in the Mazda who cuts oﬀ people and parks in the street, Mr Percy Sledge during Holy Mass guy, Mr Free Concert until the wee hours and, especially you, Mr Bulk Purchase Levy, this is for you: you can all suck on my nuts! If you have a problem with that, you can pay me a visit at my cold, unfriendly complex. I’ll be the guy hiding behind an aloe plant to avoid getting into the fake-grin zone with the cross-dresser from #7. Watch out, because I might just piss on you.
Some Of My Best Friends Are White
Crazy-ass White people .
my people and I love our Beemers with leather seats and I think we’re all secretly grateful for long pants to avoid that sticky situation. a few stubborn black people who didn’t realise that this was all for their own good had themselves some accidents. Ah well. Lord forbid my rant culminates in my melanin-deﬁcient brothers emigrating to Australia en masse. (Come on. What bothers me about my lack of ill feeling towards my white brethren is the fact that when I get to black heaven.I have a confession. Imagine that. But I think you’ll agree with me that it was all for the greater good. My people believe that when you murder a bovine creature in broad daylight. At times. however. This statement means. If they hadn’t. leaving us alone to ride around in our Beemers. I will be given a wide berth by my black brethren as we bounce around the clouds. paleface. If you’re still not sold on the handy convenience of long pants. making clicking noises at each other and sacriﬁcing virgins to pagan gods. But before the white folk and I all hold hands and sing Kumbaya together. Sure. imagine how a bare ass clings to your BMW’s leather seats on a crisp highveld morning in July. I worry about stuﬀ like that. And I’m personally quite grateful that they came down here to the bottom of Africa when they did. RIP. Granted. “weird” is a subjective term. No. Because white folk are the weirdest people under God’s sky. It does have some genuine drawbacks. we’d all still be skulking around caves in loincloths. our bare asses sticking to the leather seats. dead people from your family who passed on 44 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I am rather fond of white people. I need to get a few things oﬀ my chest – because I have a few tiny problems with white people. Still. there’s no way around it. throughout those colonialism and apartheid episodes. of course. I think this stuﬀ needs to be said. you knew it was coming…) Now don’t get upset just yet. I didn’t think so. Who wants to be a pariah for eternity? Still. I kinda like white people. that in one fell swoop I have managed to eliminate entirely the minute statistical probability that I had of some day sharing a cold one with Robert Mugabe. Dingane kaSenzangakhona.
I must concede. athlete’s foot-infested feet – then strain the juice so that I could drink the Crazy-Ass White People 45 . many times doing stupid. Because it’s the only way to explain the question that would permanently ring in my head when I was at work: Why is it that every freaking time we get together to discuss strategy. That’s how much I do not get it. Right? My time spent in white playgrounds was never that extensive. I watched Barry. White people are. I spent a few hours playing with the grandkids of the good white folk for whom my grandmother worked for 30-odd years. crush grapes with his bare. In my time in the corporate world. Countless hours in the corporate world. and on rare excursions to department stores in Pinetown and Durban when I was growing up I saw white people’s trolleys laden with toys at the till. I wore fancy dress. have led me to this conclusion. Hell. moronic shit in the name of team building and company morale. wrestling each other to the ground or shooting at each other with lumps of paint. I was only there for six years. my family and all my cattle-murdering forefathers many. My experience in the corporate world is admittedly limited. It has to be. Hence my generalisation. it has to be true. I embarrassed myself. games and entertainment. crazy-ass white people want to play games? I honestly do not get it. Correct me if I’m wrong here. I tugged repeatedly and with all my feeble strength at ropes – inevitably ending up on my potbelly in the mud. I ran through forests. surrounded by white people. And I reckon they’re weird. oﬃce tactical workshops or in-house brainstorming sessions that did not involve grown men looking ridiculous in silly hats.in 1376 will make everybody forget that you defrauded parliament and drank beer on your parole weekend oﬀ. The thing is. But my people are not on trial here. I was never part of any company bosberaads. I hoisted my fat ass up trees for the purpose of tying my team ﬂag onto a makeshift mast. departmental team-building exercises. But in that time. bandannas or home-made masks. Notice how that question was italicised and in a paragraph all on its own. but white kids in this country have generally had it really good when it comes to toys. the hairy guy from Sales. Nothing of what I’m about to mention is made up.
I’ve always given such a person a real wide berth from that day onwards. for some inexplicable reason. Lord knows. but I had outgrown games by the time I turned 14. I even played cricket. now that I’m in my 30s. Of course. All this so we could bond. well okay. being me. Ordinarily. the only lasting eﬀect these exercises had on me was to trigger waves of nausea each time I bumped into Barry from Sales. I should go back to playing games. as a result. It probably had to do with the build up of seed in my loins. why. But why. Way to go. them highly strung white people need to take the edge oﬀ sometimes. stressed-out people in a corporate department tend to bond with each other under these ridiculous circumstances. Of course. and the only thing that made me feel somewhat safer was the helmet on my head – until I realised that if we crashed from that height the 46 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I’m willing to let middleaged white people gun about on quad bikes destroying pristine beaches and giggling like idiots. me. too.fungal concoction. But that was purely for sustenance (just think Nazi nuns and four pathetic slivers of bread for supper). I do not understand. therefore. I’m an open-minded guy – the line “live and let live” pretty much sums up my approach to life – and. white people. and I’m pretty sure most of my black brothers had. If it helps them get oﬀ. In fact. I clung on for dear life. there can be only one logical question: what kind of retarded shit is this? I don’t know about anyone else. I recently found myself ﬂoating 200 metres in the air above the Indian Ocean in an unsteady contraption that can best be described as a moped with wings. I still roamed the forest on the perimeter of the Catholic Mission boarding school I attended with a slingshot to shoot guinea fowl. but I just had better things to do from then onwards. oh why must I be dragged into this? The explanation I’ve been given is that overworked. Occasionally. underpaid. I wouldn’t argue against such a pearl of wisdom – and yet. I have never felt closer to a colleague after he’s inadvertently let one go in my face while we’ve been involved in a tug-of-war.
” “Why did he do it. to demonstrate his passion for his work. damn it. I always imagine this conversation between my twoyear-old son and my widow ten years from now: “So. Of course you can’t really say no either. And when you complain. No shark-cage diving. your father tied a piece of rope around his ankle and jumped of a bridge. man! Your passion for living!” How exactly does gliding 200 metres above ground without a parachute show passion for life? Try passion for dying. you must too! I do not want to do any more death-defying stunts in the name of passion. didn’t Daddy create spreadsheets to count the number of inane customer complaints about company products?” “Kind of. No jumping oﬀ aeroplanes with only a rucksack on my back. This is about teamwork. I really can’t comprehend the uncontrollable urge my white brethren have to engage in death-defying activities – and to drag everybody else with them.” “But Mommy. Unfortunately the rope snapped and his brains were splattered all over the rocks on the Vaal River bed. tell me the story of how Dad passed on. No bungee jumping for me. you’re always told the same thing (in a suitably excitable voice): “This shows your zest for life. Two minutes before I went on the damned thing I had to call my wife and tell her where my life insurance policy documents were.” “What the hell is bungee jumping.” “Well. Mommy?” “Well. He was bungee jumping during a team-building exercise. mom.only part of me they’d ﬁnd would be the helmet. That would be a career-limiting move. If everybody else is risking having their brains splattered on the rocky shore down there then.” “How did it happen? Did he slip? Did someone push him? Did the cops catch the guy?” “Er. Mommy?” “Well. he fell oﬀ a bridge. but…” “So you’re telling me I have holes in my socks because that lunatic jumped oﬀ a bridge to display his passion for spreadsheeting?” Crazy-Ass White People 47 . not quite. son.
I usually get really drunk and then have a heart-to-heart with my wife. had bluer 48 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I’m passionate about Kaizer Chiefs. where geeks from Accounts get to hurl raw eggs at each other. here’s a thought. Now there’s a word. I’m passionate about my wife and kids. But when all’s said and done. ﬁve sent me “We regret to inform you” love letters and the other guys interviewed me three times before settling on a guy from UCT who was taller than me.000 on an arbitrary event. but I personally sent out my CV to 24 companies. If I absolutely have to share them with anyone. how about giving them that same R150. I’m as serious as a heart attack about that one. 17 of which never bothered to reply. Incentives. Moving on from the team-building exercises. I sure ain’t passionate about my desk job. department managers: buy lots of booze and let people talk to each other.” But enough with the games. I’m resigning. It’s no great secret that people bond when they’ve had a few. Of the remaining seven. Maybe other people are diﬀerent. Yet white people get these impromptu bursts of curiosity and they want to know how I feel about my job. Why is it that they have an uncontrollable urge to share their inner feelings with strangers? I’ve never been able to understand it. Monetary incentives to be precise. I’m passionate about my beer. If my gripe is about my wife.The astounding thing is that if the end result you’re looking for is really just to get some socialising happening at work. there is only one sure way of ensuring great teamwork in any department. I think you have to develop blanket amnesia regarding the process involved in getting a job. Nothing beats good old human greed to get people to pull together and work as a team. I have another gripe about white people. I’ve always just made the natural assumption that my feelings are mine. Instead of wasting R150.000 as an incentive? The results will shock you! And I do believe that the technical response for any non-monetary incentive scheme should be this: “Kiss my ass. though. I’m passionate about money. then I call one of my buddies and bitch about her. To be a boss. Am I feeling energised? Am I feeling passionate? Passionate. I think you have to forget some fundamental truths.
The Lord is my witness about this one.eyes. (But hey. I wanted to make up a story about how I used to climb up a peach tree to hide from uncle Bobo who used to “touch me there”.) As a result. scratching my body wildly and letting out bloodcurdling screams. I’m not going down that road in this chapter. awful memories. I’m grateful for that. Asking people in the workplace to share deep feelings is just a bad idea all round. Then I’d have a conversation with someone they couldn’t see. I’m glad that somebody has to do it and I’m glad that that person is me – because at the end of the day I will have money to buy beer. For the coup de grâce I’d start wailing uncontrollably. Being passionate and energised about this job is hard. I’ve visited their homes and spent Crazy-Ass White People 49 . with the words now with 25% less salt! emblazoned on the sleeve. But no-one in their right mind is passionate about a desk job. I’d start sobbing as I told them how the smell of lawn in this 5-star establishment (venue for our team-building exercise. naturally) was triggering those awful. my passion for the company I work for extends only to the fact that they didn’t reject me. I have. As bad as pink shirts on men. all the while twitching and shaking. “I didn’t strangle all those people in Cape Town!” I wonder what they’d do then. I could be sitting at home in boxer shorts. came the tell-usabout-your-past line of enquiry. So I’m not complaining that I’ve been busting my balls and working an average of ten overtime hours a week since I started here. blonder hair. taste less salty. I lost track of the number of times everyone at work was made to sit around in a circle and share childhood memories. Don’t get me wrong. But don’t expect me to be passionate about a job where I sit at a desk all day. Doesn’t mean I’m not working hard for it. I had to ﬁght oﬀ the urge to freak them white people out. scratching my nuts and watching Ricki Lake as we speak. White folk at work is only the half of it. okay? Following on the heels of the how-are-you-feeling questions. yelling. but I’ve tried socialising with white people. Doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for it. whiter teeth and the ability to talk nonstop for three hours. updating spreadsheets that detail how many bored Norwood housewives have telephoned to complain that our relaunched soups. After a while.
glazed look on my face for ten minutes. I’ve tried to reach out.entire evenings playing Scrabble – an activity I had last engaged in when I was 11. There’s no denying it. mingle. Forgive me. I’ve failed. I approached this bunch of white guys. Sometimes I sit there and I can see their lips moving. By that stage. the conversation 50 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I’ve gone out with them to all their crazy hang-outs. But these white guys had shifted the posts again. I have a friend who feels exactly the same way. I can never understand what the hell white people are on about during conversations. You know what it’s like: if three black people stand in a group and talk. While in the throes of my jungle fever. I recently approached a group of about ﬁve guys at a company function. Apparently I was the only one who hadn’t seen it. For one. Some sort of comeback for our Zulu and Tsonga and whatnot.” Never mind the fact that you’re all from completely diﬀerent departments. by the way – were standing there having an animated conversation about some documentary on National Geographic. expecting to stand there and wing it about the past weekend’s Tri-Nations or the Tour de France – or anything from planet Earth. for the most part. but my mind simply refuses to tune in to their frequency. But I’m sorry to say that. And then you look around and see seven other lily-white cliques chatting without a problem. I even went to a place to sit around and have my face painted. I have ﬁnally got to a point where I can have a decent conversation about scrums and lineouts without sounding like a complete nitwit. So I stood there with my double whisky in hand. “Why are you guys standing alone? Come now. but I’m guessing it coincided with something silly like the Champions League ﬁnal. His hypothesis is that white people have a secret language they use to talk about us while we’re standing right there. with what must have been a stupeﬁed. I’ve even joined them as they went to watch other crazy white people do two-hour stage shows – shows in which not a word is uttered. A documentary about frogs mating or some other shit. some white manager type is bound to come around and say something like. The three of them – with an average age of about 30. In any case. I can hear the words. Through a painful process. involving hours on the internet and listening to Naas’s dreadful droning.
“Gotcha! We’re just fucking with you. with 47 cameras following them around? Maybe I’m missing something here. I’m not making it up. If that is their best foot forward then God help us all. click his tongue. of course. and black people are proud of their names. rips out their spleens and makes jewellery with their kidney stones”. How do you go from that to Zap. wink at me and say. No-one is asking you to learn the Zulu language. is not all. So why am I writing all these things? To start a movement to drive whitey back Crazy-Ass White People 51 . a rude hand gesture? When I read the name Jacques. So you know. a conversation from this galaxy! Another conversational favourite at work was the weekly analysis of the latest episode of The Amazing Race. Which is why I have no respect for the underachievers who end up on these shows. I quietly excused myself and went and joined a couple of black women who were having an excited conversation about how they both wanted Lucas Radebe to father their oﬀspring. but surely everybody knows that these losers are acting? Surely? Hello! Put a camera on me for 24/7 like those idiots on Survivor and I can assure you that I will discover inside of me profoundness such as has never been witnessed in the history of “reality” TV before. man. his name means “an iguana that whips other iguanas with his tail.” But no. you don’t hear me say Jackass. complete with the obligatory French lip purse. The ﬂying type. but I put in an eﬀort to say Jacques. Ah. But white folk lap it all up – and they want to share their excitement with me every Wednesday morning! And that.had turned to the migratory pattern of birds as they ﬂy north during winter. Black people’s names mean something. Honest. I half expected one of them to turn around. Are white people so desperate for entertainment that they fall for a show about people catching buses from place to place. These fellows were having a seriously animated conversation about birdies. just learn to pronounce the name of the guy who you’ve been sharing a cubicle with for ﬁve years. do you? That may be how I think it should be pronounced. I’m black. And most of us are tired of hearing white people call a guy Zap because they can’t bother to work out how to pronounce Xam’obhaxul’abanye.
into the sea? Of course not, what would be the point of that? I told you, I kinda like the white man. And this ass is not clinging on to leather seats, thank you very much. This is just me sharing my thoughts and suggesting that we should all peep through the hole in the Great Wall Of China every now and then. Hey, it might sound like a retarded analogy, but here goes. The Great Wall Of China was built to keep the unwanted hordes out of China. It was a pretty great wall. Now imagine two tribes, the Wangs and the Changs, living on opposite sides of the wall. Imagine that on the Wang side the wall is painted green, and on the Chang side it’s painted red. Without too much imagination you can see how the Wangs and the Changs could blindly argue for centuries, shouting over the wall at each other about their respective colours. The Wangs would be totally sold on the fact that they were right and the Changs were an impregnable fortresses of stupidity. And vice versa. Only by making a hole in the wall, climbing through and looking at the wall from the other side can any real consensus be reached. Hey, maybe a bit of green over there isn’t such a bad idea. And maybe a bit of red over here could be good. Bovine-killer that I am, I have climbed across the wall. I’ve bungee jumped, microlighted, drank athlete’s-foot-infested juice and had raw eggs hurled at me. I’ve learned about scrums, googlies and bogeys. And it’s been good. Sort of. So let there be some climbing through the hole in the Great Wall, just to take a look and see what it’s like. Can we do that, please? I may not understand everything about those crazy palefaces, but I know a bit about them now and, like I said, I kinda like white people. In fact, some of my best friends are white.
Some Of My Best Friends Are White
Crazy-Ass White People
Have you hugged a Zulu today? .
whether we’re in the ANC. amaZulu are still a perpetually horny lot with a violent streak. Shangaans are still big-dicked buﬀoons with a penchant for red socks. hasn’t he? Nowadays I can hardly go anywhere without being forced to assume the role of designated spokesperson for Zuma and Zulus everywhere. IFP. their singing and dancing. Zulus from all walks of life are in the same boat. but there are some timeless truths in our part of the world. Moving right along. Nothing could be further from the truth. And. For the longest time. BaSotho are still untrustworthy mpimpis. It took a lot of courage to write that. We Zulus come from a long line of proud people who love their meat. Our sharpened pragmatism is generally 56 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Yes. It seems that I’m not alone. SAB or BAT. We may be a decade and a half into postapartheid South Africa. No we’re not. AZAPO. I am umZulu. BaTswana are still notoriously frugal with meat during feasts. AmaXhosa are still sly con artists with scant regard for anyone’s property. at least the males among us. we Zulus remain a people with an admirable appreciation of the good old-fashioned ass-whuppin’. he’d soon see that not much has changed around here. I bet you Can Themba would shake his head incredulously and decide to return to the land of our forefathers for an eternity of drinking sorghum beer and ox blood. people have misread us and concluded that we’re just naturally bloodthirsty.partheid is dead! Long live apartheid! If Can Themba were to pull oﬀ that whole resurrection trick last seen 2. PAC. Most of all. And Jacob Zuma has placed on record what we did with our poontangphobic males back in the day… Zuma has deﬁnitely put us smack bang in the centre of the tribal map. But that’s another story altogether. I know.000 years ago and come check us out today. and their poontang – well. of course.
So you see: pragmatism. in the middle of a violent wrestling match. The reason we’ve remained lifelong friends is because we established a pecking order that day. swords. Julius Caesar and Peter The Great are celebrated conquerors. before that. the Map Of The Gun – can’t help but realise that virtually every border we have was “negotiated” with the use of gunpowder. labelled boxes. Hierarchy is important to us. Shaka was just a practical Zulu fellow with a clear vision of what he wanted his world to look like. He whose behind was spanked in a ﬁght must always back down – then order is restored. Simple. We hate confusion. uncertainty and fuzzy situations. He once walked into a beer hall in Durban’s infamous Dalton Road to ﬁnd two men. even though they killed people on a genocidal scale. They had their hands around each other’s necks and. Zulu people seek order. I used to work with a 50-something-year-old colleague called Lefty Mshengu. That’s a classic case of confusing the means with the end.mistaken for a propensity for violence. And I think spearism should take its rightful place among the other isms that are no-nos in our Bill Of Rights. We love to establish pecking orders and maintain them religiously. as I like to call it. We like things in neat. He told me a story that I still believe is the ultimate testimony to Zulu pragmatism. No they don’t. Sithole and Mhlongo. Smacks to me of spearism. Yet our man King Shaka has been described as a warmongering savage because he used his trusty spear to build a nation and establish a clearly deﬁned pecking order. And. Anyone who has ever spent more than a few moments poring over the map of the world – or. I met him in a primary school soup-and-bread queue when we had a misunderstanding about who was ahead in the line. I have always maintained an acute appreciation of my limitations. by the looks of Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 57 . Whenever we’ve had heated disagreements. An unquenchable thirst for order. We solved our dilemma by means of a ﬁst ﬁght in which my ass was handed to me. That’s what we Zulus have. He took an assortment of directionless riﬀraﬀ – clans throwing spears at each other from a kilometre apart – and turned them into an eﬃcient nation with a well-oiled war machine. I have a friend called Siﬁso. Saying that Zulu people love violence is like saying dung beetles love shit.
At least three of the spectators quickly jumped up and pulled him away. Both combatants were sweating profusely and the whites of Sithole’s eyes were bulging out of their sockets. the eerie silence in the beer hall was broken by a deep. In the KwaNyavu village along the Umgeni River near Nagle Dam there is a high school called Inhlanhlayabebhuze. agreed on a date and took leave of absence from their respective jobs. Soon after. I used to teach maths and science there in the mid ’90s. a death was imminent. The student body was called to the assembly area and a representative from 58 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Five men immediately stepped in and separated the quarrelling couple. from knobkierries and sjamboks to pangas. booming sound reminiscent of the trumpets of Jericho emanating from deep inside Sithole’s bowels. Their Zulu reasoning? There was no point in ending an evenly matched ﬁght because it would mean that the following Friday the two would be at it again. The parents heard of the mooted mass action. leaving the men to ﬁght on. nonchalantly sipping on their sorghum beer. a school boycott was brewing over some or other grievance. Soon enough. At a predetermined time they congregated at the gate of the school carrying an assortment of weapons. “Kahle. the students thought they should be a part of it.things. Lefty was naturally horriﬁed and leapt towards the men to pry them apart. This way. Silly little punks. And the men at the beer hall wanted peace and order in their drinking hole. There was a calm silence inside the beer hall as 30 or so spectators sat there watching the near-fatal wrestling match. Sithole would be reminded of the outcome of this ﬁght next time he wanted to pick a ﬁght with Mhlongo. spears and home-made guns. Sithole. But as the winds of change that were sweeping across the land blew through that valley. Beautiful. ingani wena bakuklinya khona lapha waze wasuza?” (Sithole. A more traditional Zulu people you are unlikely ever to ﬁnd. The height of pragmatism – acute understanding of the factors at play in establishing order and maintaining it. didn’t he strangle you right here until you farted?) And order would be restored with that quick reminder of Sithole’s ﬂatulence of capitulation.
We do not mind making new children if it’s absolutely necessary. People who belong in the violence-equals-irrational school of thought also tend to be guided by intangibles such as morality. but I cannot. the spokesman of the Parent Army explained.” And that was that for the great strike at Inhlanhlayabebhuze High School. But there is another school of thought. People who believe this seem to be in the majority in the world. They were there to tell their kids that this nonsense about a class boycott would end that day. It was ended by a front-on approach backed up with very unsubtle threats of crushed skulls and brains splattered all over the veranda. A sign of an irrational. I have a great appreciation for this. let them step forward and this matter would be resolved in a matter of minutes. it becomes clear that pragmatism sits at the core of most violent acts. we Zulus have a well-developed pragmatism. that believes violence can be useful – indeed. Perhaps. One gentleman with a jackhammer had this chilling parting shot: “We sleep with our wives every night. But I also tend to have the morals of a sewer rat – which has taught me that sometimes we need to put morals aside. without which humans would be marginally lower life forms than hyenas. illogical mind. As a result we have quite an advanced vocabulary for beating up people. I have heard people argue that the use of violence is a sign of a lack of reasoning. when you take morality out of the equation. If any of the students did not agree. And. In these cases.the parents addressed them. We brought you into this world and by God and sunny Jesus we will not hesitate to take you out. in all likelihood we’d have been picking skull fragments oﬀ the ﬂoor in the aftermath. it may be the only eﬀective method – in certain circumstances. towards which I personally lean. They would not stand for this silliness. like I say. I think that if the mutinous punks had deﬁed their fathers. and certainly at times it is the case. was the general sentiment. The parents were not there to ﬁght anyone. Violence is just the insurance policy we cash in to establish order. I wish I could put your mind at ease and tell you the men were just kidding around with their kids. A few years ago. I sent out an e-mail Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 59 .
friends and family asking them to remind me of all the Zulu synonyms for hitting someone. A neighbourhood watch of sorts. The things they can do with their sticks are scary.to my Zulu colleagues. The last three words are synonyms for slapping someone.” (We knock the karate out of the man and leave him standing all alone. I have watched stick ﬁghting up close. Qhasabula. Within two days we had collected 71 words. Ngqubuza. The response was overwhelming. who used to roam the township armed with nothing but sticks and shields. Not just anywhere on the face. and one guy whipping his stick and hitting the other on the back of the head. That’s right: we have a speciﬁc word for using the back of the hand to slap someone on the lips. ﬁnd someone standing in the street minding their own business and proceed to bhibiza them. After all. You bhibiza someone when they are back-chatting you – preferably mid-sentence. for instance. These guys had a saying that when accosted by a karate expert: “Sishaya ukalati uwele laphaya kusale indoda yodwa. Forget martial arts and all that pseudo-spiritual mumbo jumbo that goes with it. I do believe that it is one of the most sophisticated and scientiﬁc ﬁghting methods known to man. Bhibiza. Sakaza. there was a bunch of guys. Xhofoza. facing each other. We bhibiza to bring order back into situations. That would just be wrong. And you can’t just sommer bhibiza anyone willy-nilly. When I was growing up. Bhaklaza. You can’t bhibiza someone in the eye. A snotty young gangsta wannabe is talking back to you because you asked him to stop knocking your beer – bhibiza! – problem solved. there was a programme on TV chronicling the history of stick ﬁghting in KZN. Not too long ago. we’re not violent savages. Bhembebula. Xebula. Dukluza. the diﬀerence being the sound the slap elicits. Bhibiza refers to backhanding someone on the lips. I still have the list to this day. they reported to our ward councillors. Of course.) Those stick-ﬁghting Zulus are some nasty guys. Qhasabula and sakaza both involve slapping someone using the palm of the hand. Titinya. Timing is of the essence. Nenebula. the ultimate insult for a Zulu man is to have 60 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . order restored. Now that’s what I call skill. known as oqonda. I have seen two men stick sparring. These are just a small sample. You can’t. Phohloza. Bhonya. Gqema.
there is a dark side to the kingdom of the Zulu. Just to show that there are no ill feelings. Or Phuzekhemisi. That’s right. savage lot? Just like anything that is well intentioned. and bleeding often. I was minding my business on North Beach. The kind of respect you saw in Jabu Khanyile. These are not Zulu men. the victor is honour-bound to take the vanquished to a nearby stream. spiky hair and nigga attitudes have.a wound in the back of his head. “bad blood” leaves you. clean the wound and apply a mud pack to it. protected lives. Questions such as. They just haven’t bled yet to earn their wings. to qualify to be a proper Zulu man. you must have bled in your youth. My pleasant Friday evening was ruined by a young man who clearly had not bled enough. Fair enough. A few weeks ago. Aggressive. A wound like that raises questions. I felt that. Metro cops in that part of the world have an unyielding intolerance for anyone with alcohol breath. there is inevitably someone with a gash on their head. It was a month-end Friday night. We Zulus believe that when you bleed. “Were you running away from the ﬁght when you got hit?” And Zulu men never run away from ﬁghts. Every time. The dark side comes in the form of punk-ass young men who have never bled in their soft. We had a minor misunderstanding over my ice. warmongering blood is purged from your system. in one’s youth brings about the kind of respect you see in Shwi from Shwi and Mtekhala. Does this sound like the behaviour of a bloodthirsty. And bad blood is what a lot of the young fellows walking around Durban these days with their low-hanging jeans. my friends and I should be able to enjoy it in relative peace. And you have to admit that some of the most respectful people you’ll ever encounter are Zulu people. Bleeding. When all the sparring is done. but I had decided to stick to old-fashioned H2O as my beverage of choice. since I had purchased the ice in question. And you must have bled often enough. These are potential Zulu men. You can’t just open a gash on a man’s head and not provide ﬁrst aid afterwards. The young man had a pretty loose understanding of the laws of ownership and was willing to impose his will on me aiming an empty bottle Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 61 . as we all know. It is an honour thing. hanging out with a couple of other Zulu men.
it was a ﬁght I had tried very hard to avoid. I’m just glad I’m not the one who had to pay a visit to the casualty ward of the nearest hospital that evening missing a few teeth. (Though the tongue lashing I got from my wife as she applied ice to my inﬂamed hands was punishment enough. Let’s say. is that it wasn’t. All they need to do is ﬁnd an excuse. A 30-something married man with children involved in a public ﬁst ﬁght over ice. Peace and order must be ensured. When he ﬁnally got up he was a changed man. So savagely. I know. that you see a well-dressed fellow arrive at a party in a fancy BMW. I agree. So there you have it. A contrite and peaceful young man. A vanquished enemy is never left in a state where he can get up and ﬁght again any time soon. In my defence. They always assume that there has to be a reason before someone beats up on you. When I was done punching him. I have witnessed poor peace-loving and meek fellows from outside of KwaZulu-Natal being subjected to the irrational behaviour of these un-bled young guns. The answer. No there doesn’t. it’s downright shameful. which may or may not involve the tried-and-tested method of feigning stupidity and twisting the other party’s innocuous utterances. But the young gun had placed me in an untenable position – a position where either he bled or I did. Pretty cruel. either studying or working in Durban. Any potential future violence must be avoided at any cost. As I repeatedly pummelled his soft face with my ﬁst I kept on asking myself why all of this was really necessary. And they never see it coming. for an example.) These young men who have grown up without bleeding in a controlled manner are giving us all a bad name. Especially the okes from Gauteng.of beer at my head. I’m happy to report that my pragmatic decision to stomp on him had the desired eﬀect. But this is an evolutionary remnant from when my forefathers were ﬁghting Shaka’s wars. in fact. Let’s say you are standing 62 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . It’s only at that point that I realised what I was dealing with: bad blood. that his three companions didn’t consider entering the fray for even a second. I have to admit that I punched him rather savagely. I let him drop onto the ﬂoor and stomped on him a few times. of course.
If the party is in a place like KwaMashu. you think you can ﬁght me then? Outside. Professional boxers deserve every cent of the obscene amounts of money they get paid. I’m sorry.” It works 90 per cent of the time. Three minutes is a long. “So sorry. What you say to him is this: “What are you staring at? Did you misplace your girlfriend or something?” “I wasn’t staring. Sentence them to six months of bare-knuckle sparring against professional boxers. allow me to save you a lot of pain. If you haven’t been involved in a ﬁst ﬁght before. I didn’t…” “So you were staring at her then?” “Look. humble submission won’t help. preferably next to the exit. But then there is always that situation where even the best-intentioned. long. are you?” “No. That’s what I always do. I don’t want to ﬁght…” “Oh. The only thing to do is to feign deafness and just leave that spot. What they never understand is that there is nothing they can say to avoid this inevitable collision course. And then it’s on. Standing in front of another man punching back at you as hard as you are punching at him is the closest most of us will ever get to hell before we die. And let’s say you want to kick his ass without looking absolutely unjustiﬁed as you go about it. ﬁnd another spot. now!” I have seen poor guys from Gauteng being subjected to this maze of circular logic and getting that deer-caught-in-the-headlights look. If you absolutely have to stay. careful to apologise to any guy who steps on my shoes. long time during a ﬁst ﬁght.” “Oh. I have a solution to the wife-beating syndrome aﬄicting our nation that would deter anyone from ever raising their hand to a woman. We’ve all watched boxing on TV and been appalled when Dingaan Thobela was gasping for air by the third round.there with your girlfriend and you’re uncomfortable with the manner in which she is staring at this smooth fellow. then I just head for the car. Let the wife beaters experience the sensation of teeth clanking against each other from well- Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 63 . I’m so clumsy. man. It seems I got my foot inadvertently caught underneath yours. so you’re calling me a liar.
Go on.aimed punches to the lips. do not ridicule him. Do not call him violent. 64 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Sentencing yellow-bellied wife-beating scum to six months of having their lips bust daily is not violence. Zulu men deserve a hug. in fact. So the next time you meet a Zulu man. And this nation needs a bit of Zulu pragmatism. It’s an eﬀective. It’s a Zulu solution. Zulu men do not deserve ridicule and cheesy jokes. Do not call him any derogatory names. Let’s see how many would emerge from that situation and return to their wayward. pragmatic solution that will make gonadless wife beaters think before putting their grubby hands on a helpless woman. cowardly ways. you know you want to.
Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 65 .
Taxi commuting: an experience from hell .
will take a liking to me. And I imagine that Godoba might take one look at me in the shower and rub his hands with glee.I fear jail. 68 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . It is the one fate that would actually force me to abandon my straightand-narrow ways and engage in criminal activities. otherwise known as traﬃc ﬁnes. That fate is being forced to use a minibus taxi as a means of daily transport again. for some reason. I have a famous aversion for anything even slightly on the oﬀ side of the law. What completely mortiﬁes me about jail is the high likelihood that some enormous 150-kilogram beast called Godoba. I ﬁnd myself in the unlikely situation of facing a certain jail term. I spent the ﬁrst 20-odd years of my life using taxis every day. The explanation is simple: since I stopped travelling by taxi. I know. but believe me it’s true. And no. So I ﬁll in my tax returns. This might seem like an exaggeration to those uninitiated in the ways of the minibus taxi. one fate that I rate substantially higher on my experiencesfrom-hell list. When I used taxis on a regular basis. I fear jail more than I fear death itself. pay my TV-licence fee on time and contribute religiously to the Road Construction Fund. locking myself up in the garage with the engine running and having me a wee mortal slumber. If. my conﬁdence levels have soared exponentially. I’m not talking about the fact that taxi operators show amazing disregard for commuters’ lives. There is. I was subjected to the worst indignities under the sun. Anything to avoid going to jail. Due to a mind-boggling amount of beer consumption and a total lack of exercise. I’m not talking about the fact that the average minibus taxi has inoperable indicators. As a result. who hasn’t seen a woman since the days when the ANC was still pushing a socialist agenda. pulling stunts that would make Juan Pablo Montoya wet his pants. Or even that they will weave through peakhour traﬃc. you best believe I’m writing a little love note. Or that taxi drivers will pack 23 overweight big mamas from e-kasie into a vehicle designed to carry 12 Japanese midgets without any regard for their comfort or safety. however. Godoba will possess a half-metre black mamba. After all. Naturally. I have developed a few ﬂeshy bits around my torso and rear. Sounds ridiculous. baby’s-bum-smooth tyres and a monkey wrench for a steering wheel.
The unwritten rule is “Once you’re in. conceding that she has indeed got into the taxi in the ﬁrst place (and once you’re in. happened to pull over. you’re in”. In my life. blocked her way and uttered the bloodcurdling command. this is a practice from hell itself. Naturally she got out of the taxi and started to make her way towards the car. you just happen to be travelling from Durban to some obscure place in the butt crack of the world like Bizana in the Transkei. And you’re not even allowed to step outside. “Does this taxi look like a waiting room to you? No! Now get back in there!” So. But not at the Mpumalanga Township taxi rank. But outside of peak hours this is a nightmare. I have had to wait inside a taxi for four hours while the temperature was 35°C in the shade.That is just a given. Our driver. you’re in. Our hero the taxi driver cast a scornful glance at the husband as if to say. We had been waiting for about 45 minutes when a man. ostensibly to give the driver the fare and be on her way. who I understood to be her husband. I’m talking about some of the most horrendous indignities ever perpetrated by human beings on other human beings. say. If. That might be a 20-minute wait at worst. (If only the same principle was as rigorously applied in our correctional facilities. I’m talking about something more serious here. One such unlucky person was a lady in a nurse’s uniform who was obviously in a hurry to get to work. and all that). this story ends here. stretch your legs and have a smoke or make wee wee.) On dozens of occasions I’ve witnessed commuters being subjected to threats and acts of violence for deciding that they have had enough of the wait and daring to step out of the taxi. just part of the gamble people take each time they step into a minibus taxi. the woman did the logical thing and reached for her purse. No. In any other place on Earth. who had been sitting on a bench in the shade stuﬃng his face with greasy Russian sausages jumped up. however. Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 69 . A taxi will not leave for its destination unless every seat has been occupied. which is not necessarily a bad thing if you are commuting from. the Durban CBD to Umlazi Township. taxis do not run on any schedule. For starters. which makes the mode of transport very ﬂexible.
What happened next is something daily taxi commuters have witnessed dozens of times. While there may be enough room to accommodate four of those Japanese midgets back there. the taxi drivers always pick on the smallest person in the queue: “You. the woman. They really are not very small. you reluctantly make your way towards the hippos… er. you think to yourself. the back row has the worst seats in the house because four people are supposed to squeeze in there together.“Oh. grabbed her wrist and dragged her towards the taxi in full view of her husband. lunch box cluttering to the ground and hard-boiled eggs scattering in every direction. go to the back seat!” That’s another thing. He slapped the coins out of her palm. Especially when you get there and three spots are already ﬁlled. after being ordered to go to the back seat. one ominously clutching an object strapped to his hip under his shirt. big-boned women in the rear. obviously of strong will.50 for the trip she had not taken. in our world nobody willingly volunteers for the back row. “Are you deaf? I said back in the taxi!” At this point. Inevitably. There just is no space for 70 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . stared him down deﬁantly. it might be understandable – but sadly it isn’t. ejected a salivary projectile through a gap in his front teeth and barked. The poor husband started getting out of the car but was discouraged by the driver’s mates who stood up threateningly. with the big head and glasses. which made me the victim of hundreds of uncomfortable taxi trips. a couple of them by women who would put sumo grandmasters to shame. As anybody who has ever travelled by minibus taxi knows. It’s just mean. The husband wisely stood down. If this situation was perhaps a rare exception. by the way: is all the name-calling that goes on in taxi-commuting circles really necessary? Heavy women being referred to as hippos without any provocation and all that. On closer inspection. Until about ﬁve years ago I used to weigh no more than 60 kilograms. how I wish you would have intervened and prevented this nonsense”. man. So. you can’t even see the seat because they are sitting literally hip-to-gigantic-hip. took out her purse and tried to hand him the R3.
And because of how he has set the graphic equalisers. so you sigh and try to make the most of it. At this point I’d realise why my head was touching the roof of the car: we were sitting on top of 5. but he’s just blocking the entrance. when I’m alone in the car. Tweeters. The sum total of this generally used to leave me suspended in space between the hippo hips. all you manage to do is to dig your hip a couple of centimetres into the furrow between the large ladies. you’re in” rule. which are getting more and more confused trying to work out what this aural abuse is all about. Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 71 .500-kilowatt disco speakers. Now. You turn around and make your ﬁrst attempt at sitting down – and. At this point you remember the “Once you’re in. of course. with the panels of the taxi creaking loudly because the vehicle had been involved in a crash six months before and was apparently welded back together using aluminium foil. At this point. And. sometimes I crank it up. But nothing can prepare you for the experience of Mahlathini And The Mahotella Queens making contact with your eardrums at 2. You realise the only way you’re going to get into the back seat is by backing up towards it. that would make any nightclub owner envious. your bony little ass lands atop two ﬂeshy thighs. I love my music to death and. You shake your head and look back at the driver for some sympathy.300 decibels. Now we’d be hurtling at breakneck speed towards our destination (or towards our Maker). you become aware of another sound in the region of your head – the little speakers taxi operators install there just to mess with you. the tweeters are like needles piercing your eardrums. staring you down.one more person. that’s what I believe they are called. Especially with the deep bass associated with umbhaqanga music. of course. Our driver had just become our disc jockey and he insisted on entertaining us. holding on to the seat in front of me for dear life – and by this time the taxi driver would already have started up and got moving. complete with subwoofers. wiggling their behinds to try to create space. So you get up and try a slightly lateral approach (a manoeuvre I became quite adept at through experience). As the sturdiness of your ribcage is being tested to the limits. the women start engaging in a most useless exercise in an attempt to open up some space – the bum shimmy. And then the stereo would come on. You know.
One of the tactics used to wage war is to be completely unreasonable towards your intended target. It goes all the way back to King Shaka’s reign over the Zulu nation in the 19th century. Simply issue impossible ultimatums that you know cannot be met. Everybody knows the drill.” Now try to explain to him that the gentleman in the back seat has a co-traveller in the row in front of his and that row will give fares for four people… “NO! Ayize ngezihlalo!” (“I want the money row by row. Woe unto those who send money forward to cover the fare for only two people! The immediate retort is standard: “I am not aware of any row with two people. You see. which I used to take almost every day as a teenager. I must digress for a moment to explain some of the odd behaviour of taxi drivers. And the rule – from the AGM again? – is that the money must reach the driver in three lots: four fares from the back row. As such.”) And God help you all should something unfortunate happen. And taxi drivers – who generally tend to be Zulu – use the taxi trip for these purposes. I always used to wonder how these pay points were agreed to. Maybe a 50c coin rolls oﬀ between someone’s ﬁngers as the money is passed on and the fares get to the front fractionally short… At this point. Was there an Annual General Meeting where the points were decided? For the MpumalangaTownship-to-Durban route. there must be a row collector – the person in your row who must collect the cash from those sitting alongside. who passes it on until it gets to the driver. the pay point was just past the Marianhill Toll Plaza. Now the money is passed to the row collector in front of you. you will have a lot to answer for. should your cash be 20c short. Sir Theophilus Shepstone pulled this trick on King Cetshwayo ahead of the Battle Of Isandlwana.* Each taxi route has a point at which everybody just knows it’s time to pay up. Shaka instilled a sense of warring confrontation in Zulu men back then and these days there are too many Zulu men who do not have an outlet for their warrior tendencies. for instance. Firstly. Being a row collector is potentially fatal business. 72 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . three each from the next two rows. they are wont to use the most inopportune moments to blow oﬀ some steam.
there are four basic rules to telling the driver where you are getting oﬀ: 1. Should the collective ancestors of you and your fellow occupants desert you while you are in the Taxi Warrior’s death trap. Now. “If he can’t be on time for his ﬁrst interview…” If only employers could actually appreciate just what we have to go through to get to work. he narrows his eyes. Bad move. you need to be on your toes. The Rank Tribunal takes place after the taxi prosecutor’s interrogation skills have failed to ﬁsh out the culprit responsible for robbing him of R0. This is tantamount to an admission of guilt in the eyes of the genius who is transporting you. At this point. Now you are parked on the side of the N3 in the yellow strip having a forensic audit on where the elusive coin might have disappeared to. At this point. in a taxi you have to verbally communicate this against the stiﬀ competition of Mahlathini who is bellowing a centimetre above your head at 2. Meanwhile. Communicating where you are getting oﬀ is not a simple matter of pressing a bell like you would in a bus. then utters the feared words. no amount of reasoning or logic is going to save you from the inevitability of the Rank Tribunal. ill fortune may strike and there will be a 50c shortage in the total fare. No siree.300 decibels – never mind the scream of the engine. I was once in this situation while on my way to a job interview and I had the audacity to make an oﬀer to merely give the driver the 50c that was short so we could get a move on. If you are lucky enough to escape a Rank Tribunal or similar incident after all the ﬁnancial transactions have been concluded and actually ﬁnd yourself in one piece as you approach your destination. The Mystery Of The Missing Fifty Cents must be solved by the rank’s Committee Of Wise Men. you all think you’re smart? I’m taking you back to the rank!”) Oh no! Not the rank! And of course now your driver is already pulling an illegal U-turn and speeding 35 kilometres back to where you came from. “Hho. You cannot tell him where you are getting oﬀ too early – “too early” Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 73 . my prospective employers in Durban are shaking their heads thinking. So we return to our journey from hell.in December 1878 – and the Zulu nation seems to have learnt the lesson.50 – after about 45 minutes. nicabanga ukuthi nihlakaniphile? Ngiphindela nani e-lenke!” (“So.
”) 2. this is one of life’s many riddles. he will drop you oﬀ three stops after the one you wanted to disembark at and you’ll have to backtrack the length of three rugby ﬁelds. (“You told me too early. And. You’re always breaking them. nobody except the pilot is allowed to open the windows. even if Durban is experiencing a mid-February 41°C. 17 kilometres earlier. As annoyed as I may have been at the time.” What can possibly go wrong as one slides open a window? For me. how in the hell is a mother of ﬁve who had to be up at 3. I regularly had to suﬀer the indignity of sitting in my default back seat between two big mamas with ﬂeshy arms pinning me back. This is unequivocally ludicrous. You cannot shout too loudly. I was sitting in the front alongside the driver when I dozed oﬀ. on the same list as the nipples-on-men mystery. (“How the hell am I supposed to hear you when you whisper?”) 4. You cannot speak too softly. Here’s another favourite rule of mine: the no-sleeping-in-the-taxi law. In the case of long-distance taxi trips you may have to take another taxi to backtrack to the town you were going to. there are more rules about taxi commuting to enhance the experience. (“Are you mad? I can’t stop now!”) 3.being at the subjective discretion of the death-mobile pilot. I forgot. A well-timed backhand to my lips put paid to any thoughts of slumber. with bullets of sweat rolling down my face. of course. struggling to breathe. the God of taxi commuters everywhere is a living God. I know an unfortunate woman in her sixties who got dumped at the Grey Street rank in central Durban by a Pietermaritzburg taxi driver because she had not timeously communicated that she was going to Pinetown. The reason for this rule? “You passengers cannot operate the windows. On one of the few occasions that I wasn’t in my back-row seat. One of my favourites is the fact that. You cannot tell him too late either.30am in order to take three taxis (being subjected to at least one Rank Tribunal in the process) to get to work at 6am going to stop herself from dozing oﬀ in a taxi at 8 o’clock at night? How? Thankfully. 100 per cent humidity heatwave. (“Do I look fucking deaf to you?!”) If you are lucky. a God of 74 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .
Ah. People who have never used taxis assume that the passengers sympathise with their pilot. dragging him out of the taxi. but that day the God of Retribution was clearly patrolling the stretch of the M13 between Field’s Hill and Pinetown. The oﬀended party consisted of two men in an old red Ford Escort. two red-faced white guys spilled out of the vehicle and honed in on our man. The next time you see a taxi being written up by a traﬃc oﬃcer. a scrawny little man with a big head was suspended between two giant thighs. Often you will see amused or even gleeful faces in the taxi. (Though his in-taxi vigilance might explain why he was swerving all over the road the rest of the time. Our driver had just ﬁnished abusing me for committing the cardinal sin of taking a Smoothie sweet out of its wrapper and popping it into my mouth. After that. giggling his ass oﬀ. When both cars came to a screeching halt at the lights.Justice and Retribution.) He was still smirking when he got bored with the monotony of the trip and willy-nilly changed lanes – as usual. I was instructed to spit the sweet out of the window and take the wrapper from my pocket and throw it out too. How he’d seen this happening from his spot up front. As blow upon blow rained upon his face. No. It would seem that Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 75 .500 ﬁne for driving with smooth tyres. before a well-placed punch was planted in his solar plexus. almost running it oﬀ the road. I was in a taxi travelling between Mpumalanga Township and Pinetown. About 15 years ago. because every regular taxi commuter has experienced those moments of comeuppance when the lords of the road are humbled. it was a downright ass-whuppin’ of titanic proportions. such as when the driver is pulled over by the cops and given a R1. Some moments are not as dramatic as others. study the faces of the passengers. giving as well as he was getting until the cars got to the traﬃc lights entering Pinetown. they don’t. There was a verbal confrontation with lots of impolite gestures and our pilot in ﬁne vocal nick. which was deftly sidestepped. But sometimes the living God strikes back in far more spectacular fashion. It was a massacre! Our driver managed only one wild swing. Our driver had picked on the wrong car to mess with. I don’t know. without indicating – causing the car abreast of him to swerve violently. The God of commuters has struck back on their behalf.
but each time I see him he is dead silent. these Boers can whip ass!”) That literally brought the whole house down – without even a peep from our tormentor.” Stiﬀ-lipped – literally – the wounded warrior got back into the taxi. I would not be subjected to any more of that abuse. No more dying in the heat. one of them spotted something stuck to his windscreen wiper. It is highly unlikely. No more rules from an AGM I wasn’t invited to.” (“Damn. All was well with the world. The deathly silence was broken by a voice inside the taxi. anesibhaxu nanka amaBhunu. because as the men walked back to their car. little man. Perhaps it is sheer coincidence. when I could ﬁrst string together a little more than R3. looked at his swollen face in the mirror. My Smoothies sweet wrapper! I took it as a sign from above: God’s way of saying. No more row collector.50. Sometimes when I drive around Pinetown. with a faraway glazed look in his eye.our God was not without an advanced sense of irony that day. rolled it into a ball and threw it at their victim. Several years ago. And then the little man from 15 years before giggles himself silly again. No more Mahotella Queens screaming in my ear. No more! Never! They will never take me alive! 76 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . “Hhayibo. I know. I still see the same taxi driver taking passengers from point A to point B. never to torment any passenger again. Say it with me: No more back-row sitting between hippo hips. imagining that the driver’s lips were forever sealed that day. I made a vow: even if the alternative was purchasing a rickety 1976 Colt Gallant from a dealer with too much hair gel on Durban’s notorious Umgeni Road. wiped oﬀ the blood from his nosebleed and started the car. Even if it meant stealing a ride and a potential encounter with Godoba. My fantasy always ends with him and me in a heated road-rage incident and me hitting him with the ultimate left hook: “Back oﬀ! I’m related to the Boers in the red Escort. but a man can always dream. “This one was for you. Order had been restored. removed it. No more Rank Tribunal.” And then I laugh some more. years later.
Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 77 .
God bless the black woman (Oh boy…) .
I should jot down a few of my observations on the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of its behaviour. A black woman.) Either way. after three decades of studying the black female of the species. the black female of the species is a species all on its own. And I suspect that even the most hardened African terrorist locked up at Guantanamo Bay gets shivers up his spine at the mere thought of having to explain to his wife what the hell he was doing getting mixed up with those al-Qaeda fellows in the ﬁrst place. it happened in church. at the age of ﬁve. For one. as all black men do. Egyptologist types tell us that the commissioning of the construction of the pyramids was the result of an elaborate spiritual belief system to preserve the bodies of the Pharaohs and aid their transition into the afterlife… No ways. There is nothing in the world I fear more than a black woman on the warpath. my great love for black women had been born. he made a detour through Greece. I knew I was in trouble. Bravado usually prevents us from admitting this. so I’ll just say it on behalf of us all. Exactly what would happen after we got married was a bit fuzzy… Perhaps I’d then go outside and play? (Coincidentally. I’ve been studying it since I had my ﬁrst crush. But our hero was under 80 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Some Egyptian Pharaoh dude back in 2645bc went out to war to conquer a few primitive tribes up in Europe and plunder valuable treasures. brother.s soon as the idea occurred to me that perhaps. otherwise they’d know that the motivation to build such colossal structures can come from only one source. In a 21st-century setting he might have picked her up a pair of 100-carat diamond earrings or a year’s supply of Prada designer fashion. rather than face her wrath. I fear black women. I used to ogle a woman who must have been in her twenties. Those Egyptologists obviously don’t get out much. On his way back. An unscrupulous lieutenant leaked his secret to his queen back in Egypt and. Today. and fantasise about marrying her. Of course. I had exactly the same question in my mind when I ﬁnally did get hitched for real 27 years later. hooked up with some licentious Greek hussies and fathered a few dozen kids during a drunken orgy. our Pharaoh decided to get something special on his way home. During Holy Mass.
For example. My grannies.a bit more pressure. my cousins. resilient and beautiful black women. It says. It is. But. Kuli Roberts of Bitches Brew notoriety was there. They emit a distinct aura. This is my time to talk! Now here’s a bit of an anticlimax after that long-winded seven-paragraph opening: I have nothing but love and respect for black women. Forget whale watching. So he built a few pyramids on his way back home. Five minutes into the show. check out the newly arrived Black Diamonds. They really are. Women in general tend to take themselves way too seriously. drinking red wine by the glass.” At the core of this Sandton Brigade’s antics is a simple explanation. I’ve been having nightmares about this piece. I need to add a but. this is payback time for all those episodes when bossy black women have belittled my African manhood. Masechaba Moshoeshoe from The Big Question was there. So why all the trouble of writing this? Well. The obligatory posse of big-chested government ministers with double-barrelled surnames was there.30am and I was told to talk to the hand. This is for all those times I tried to profess my undying love to a black sister on the sweaty dance ﬂoor of a nightclub at 3. before we all start hugging and praise-singing. And more recently my wife. He needed to perform a labour of love of such gigantic proportions that he would be forgiven for his wanton liaisons with women from inferior civilisations. But black women are funny. therefore. with their townhouses. Blackwoman watching is a far more fascinating hobby. All my life I’ve been surrounded by strong. All in fear of the black woman. with much fear and trepidation that I venture into these shark-infested waters. And black women being God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 81 . snazzy hatchbacks and hair extensions. “I wouldn’t be caught dead at a Red Hanger Sale. my colleagues. Somizi Mhlongo was there… It was horrible. my aunts. Last night I dreamt that Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu invited me to the 3Talk studios under the guise of discussing this book. intelligent. she let loose on me an assortment of angry black women from all walks of life. my sisters. my mom.
We black people are extremists in everything we do. they never do anything in half measures. on the inside lane. Her hair is tied up in a neat hair-extension ponytail and her face is a study in concentration. After decades of being oppressed on two fronts – for being female and for being black – I’d probably take myself too seriously. Her lips are pressed ﬁrmly together and her face says. three sizes too big and tied with a safety pin. surely? It’s 7. Black women are the epitome of what I think the previous generations struggled so hard for. You only have two seconds to study her as you whizz past (hooting loudly). (So you know that whole apartheid thingy never stood a chance. it’s one of my sisters. but you can’t forget that expression. no truck limping along. Which is about right. too.) The result is that my sisters take themselves way too seriously and they never back down. That’s right. Nothing stands in the way of their success.black. you’d think. I like that. The mystery of the 78km/h traﬃc ﬂow is solved 30 seconds later when you observe the pink Fiat Palio with one occupant crawling along at the front of the queue.52am. And you can see three kilometres ahead of you and there’s no obstruction on the road – no accident. So you follow suit and break yet another traﬃc law. “I don’t know how this damn thing works. Her bosom is literally pressed up against the steering wheel and she is clutching at the wheel in a vice grip so tight her knuckles have gone white. You’ve all experienced this. But you’re crawling along at 78km/h for some unfathomable reason. One thing that always fascinates me about black women is their steely resolve to succeed against the odds – even if that means wearing a ﬂatmate’s pair of pants. even if it means they have to take up 71 directorships to secure a future for their children. And the engine is wailing in high-pitched agony – because she’s still in third gear. I’m done with trying 82 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . The word “tenacity” always comes to mind on the highway as I overtake one of my sisters. so they can look “ﬂy” for an important meeting. Everyone in front of you is indicating left to get around whatever seems to be the hold-up. You’re pathetically late for an 8 o’clock meeting and you’re sticking to the fast lane because you have delusions of getting there on time.
I know a woman whose folks live in an East Rand township and she will never go there to visit. I always get a warm glow in my chest when I see this. sister. This morning probably. hollow chest thumping and trying to score cheap points. have the sisters embraced the newly found aﬄuence that comes with being part of the emerging black middle class. And my oh my. Professional black men might live in the suburbs but you know they’re heading for the township when the weekend comes. ﬁlthy and “there’s too much crime”. “You’re new to this. Our sisters have no business there. that’s your history right there! With aﬄuence comes lifestyle diseases. Just go into a black woman’s bathroom and you understand why the pharmaceutical industry is making more money than the diamond industry these days. you best believe the sister is joining that group of white women for a weekend of rock climbing and jumping out of aeroplanes. If you don’t like my driving. “Will this enhance my chances of that promotion?” If the answer is yes. Black women have no time for that nonsense. The girl felt so bad that she hastily added. The looks she got were a mixture of pity and scorn. “But I do get stress headaches occasionally. they’re bragging about who pops the most pills! Some poor girl. They have truly moved on and up. the mild depression. are my sisters popping pills these days. I was recently sitting around a table with a few sisters and the conversation was about all the ailments they have: the sinusitis. the migraines and so on. a recent arrival on the scene.” It was God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 83 . overtake on my left and let me be. Why? The place is chaotic. it’s black women. My tenacious sisters! My Nubian queens! If ever there’s a group in this land that has truly embraced the new dispensation. They are only interested in practical questions. And boy. happened to mention that she doesn’t actually need any pills.to work out the gears and I’ll be damned if I’m going to try to change lanes.” We’ve all witnessed this scene. My brothers and I will mumble something about a dead relative and head for Soweto in search of 17-year-old schoolgirls. I’m going to work to be somebody. We men are too busy with our boardroom wars. aren’t you?” they all seemed to be asking. Come on. such as. And after a while it hit me: these women aren’t complaining.
the reason I ask is because she…” “Listen.” “You misunderstand. But if it’s a private matter. The horror! Because I’m an idiot with a death wish. then. the Prozac bit happened only in my head. “Good morning. I had the following conversation on the phone. it used to be… Is this a private call or related to [brand X]?” “Bhuti” – my African accent betraying me yet again – “I’m very busy. in which case I would transfer you to the new brand manager. Depending on whether you’re calling about…” “Why didn’t you say so upfront?” “Sorry. Call me a sellout – if the shoe ﬁts – but 84 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . when in fact they live in lower Glenwood. then I can give you her mobile number. east of Essenwood Road. Are you on Prozac or some other shit like that?” Okay.” “I’m afraid she doesn’t work here any more. I’ll say this: sometimes black women piss me oﬀ. I have an acute appreciation for why black women sometimes cross the blurry line between “assertive” and just downright rude. Still. it’s beautiful to behold the hushed tones as they discuss someone who actually buys vegetables from the fresh-produce market. Durban. can I or can’t I talk to her? I really do not have the time for this.too late. it’s all because of my brothers and me. I just need to talk to Miss Newman. I was trying to establish whether you were calling about [brand X]. girlfriend! Why would anyone do this when there’s a Woolies Foodmarket on every corner? Or when the conversation turns to someone who claims to live in Glenwood. how may I–?” “Is this Miss Newman’s phone?” “No… Er.” “Oh! Give me her mobile number. but the rest is true. Bhuti. “close to the Technikon”. though. Hello. Just before I quit my corporate desk job.” “Most certainly. It’s our fault. The thing is. The background to it is that my phone extension used to belong to a brand manager who had left the business. her unsophisticated status had been established.
In this case. Short of a casual.black women cannot enjoy the luxury of going out anywhere. Recently. I might add – that I generally try to avoid being served by black women when I’m looking to exchange my money for goods and services. looking good. so that you don’t wait any longer?” And oﬀ she went. As a result of our own despicable behaviour. And so the rude black woman is a monster of our collective creation that is now coming back to terrorise us. The traﬃc oﬃcer who gives her a ticket or not. without being hit on by an assortment of oddball characters. My jaw almost hit the ﬂoor. Black women have to ward oﬀ predatory advances every moment of the day. But it’s understandable – really. when I delicately put it to my wife – who is fervently feminist. she shocked me by admitting that she does the same. The security guard at the gate of her townhouse complex. The petrol attendant when she ﬁlls up. With a sinking feeling. After waiting for a good ten minutes without getting any attention. it is. And I understand that the black woman is now on the oﬀensive – she’s on the warpath and she’s swinging the momentum in her favour. just as Dr Frankenstein’s did. depending on her willingness to give him her “digits”. past the ﬁrm-assertiveness mark. sir. But she is a monster nonetheless. I understand that black women perpetually have to assert themselves – especially in the business setting. who had been leaning against the bar counter the whole time we were there. Can I take your drinks order in the meantime. But as is the nature of any pendulum. disinterested glance. our women do not have the luxury of being indiscriminately pleasant to people in general. Could she kindly alert whoever was working our section to our presence? “Mostly certainly. she hadn’t God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 85 . we waved down a white waitress who was clearly not serving our section. As she should. even if they’re just getting some groceries from Woolies or picking up their prescriptions. Just this past weekend a mate of mine and I decided to have a few draughts and watch the ships go by at a Durban harbour spot. I realised she was heading straight towards one of our sisters. it can sometimes swing too far in the other direction.
with visions of waitress spit mixed in with the beer froth.” “And would you mind opening them for us…” My idiot friend chipping in. I speciﬁ–” “Well. I was told you ordered Castle Lager. excuse me. Then she slowly lumbered up to the bar and stood there – no. She didn’t even look up and started punching furiously on her keyboard. What seemed like an eternity passed. “Er. still without looking up: “There’s no booking in that name. She reached our table and.” “That’s not what I was told. drinks in hand. gentlemen”.” “I’m certain she did. produced my driver’s licence and told her my name. what’s with the name-calling? My good mood already disappearing. She said Castle Lager. Excuse me!” “Ja?” “There’s been a mix up. reluctant shuﬄe back to the bar for the correct order… Last year I had the misfortune of being served by a girl at a car-rental counter in one of our international airports. “No. Then. It really doesn’t matter. please. surly shuﬄe towards us. I’d be picking it up on the system. The white waitress whispered something to her and pointed in our direction. Baba. slouched over the counter – while the young bartender sprung into action.” “That’s impossible. it is possible. no! Bring it unopened!” Me. maybe you didn’t hear properly. It doesn’t matter…” “No.looked in our direction the whole time. No reaction. Cue clicking mouth sound and slow.” “Honest mistake. 86 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . without so much as an “Afternoon. No movement. And then came the slow. If there had been a booking.” Okay. Could I just have a Castle Lite. I heard very well. I cheerfully greeted her. plonked down two unopened beers and two glass tumblers and started walking oﬀ. I was in the kind of good mood that can only be brought about by an ice-cold in-ﬂight beverage. not a Castle Lager. We ordered a Heineken and a Castle Lite.
She typed in the reference number. speak to a Zulu guy from Durban in Sesotho! “Tell you what. “Ma’am. just a few minutes ago. I’d rather just book another car using my personal credit card. Baba. but if you wait for about 10 minutes I think I can organise something for you.” “Baba. Baba. right now!” “Yolanda. a re na dikoloi. Their oﬃce hours are eight to ﬁve. casting “Backstabber!” glances at Yolanda. punched in the reference number and frowned. it seems that your travel agency has made a mistake. “Sir. been the source of my good mood started pressing other buttons. Then her face relaxed and she smiled at me. “Now listen here! I insist on speaking to whoever’s in charge. Oh sweet Yolanda. perhaps?” All the while Purple Eyelids glared at me with ﬂaring nostrils. this gentlemen o batla o bua le wena! Now stand aside. God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 87 . working girl.” “Not until I have been served. Would you like anything while you wait? Tea. ﬁshed out a print-out with the conﬁrmation details from the travel agency and victoriously gave it to her. When I was done. her purple eyelids blinking 17 times a second.I ﬁddled in my bag. Do you mind standing aside? Next!” At this point the beer that had. There must be a mistake somewhere. Can I speak to whoever is in charge here?” “What for? She’ll give you the same answer. sorry.” By this stage she’s looking at me for the ﬁrst time – no. it’s 7. “No. Ke mafello a kgwedi. I suggest you call your travel agency and clear this up. I’m still not picking it up on the system. sizing me up is a more apt description – and tapping her pen against the counter impatiently. coﬀee or some water. The booking was made and then cancelled.” Finally Yolanda emerged from the back and I explained my dilemma while she listened to me patiently. I want to serve di-khastama. We’re quite busy. you professional.” Well done. she took my e-mail print-out.30 in the evening.
Honestly. I’m tired of suﬀering for my brothers’ sins! I didn’t sign up for the whole Messiah deal! Despite my protestations and despite my fear. assertive black woman but damn it. Nothing more. Yes. am I not? Sometimes. Sometimes. And I’m shaking in my boots just thinking what she’ll say when she reads this. I’d like to simply walk up to the counter. All I want from you is to take away this blunt butter knife and bring me a steak knife so I can enjoy my ribs. truth be told. God bless the black woman. I have no delusions of ever fathering any of your oﬀspring. all I want is some courtesy. curvaceous African behind. I really am. She’s a dark. Much smarter than I am. I just want my steak knife. slap my credit card down. you are a strong. all I want is my boarding ticket so I can go sit at McGinty’s and take the edge oﬀ after a trying day. Unlike that fat pig you served in the morning. Just don’t give me attitude. I just want peace and quiet. Because I get attitude when I try to be friendly and I get attitude when I try to be all business. You don’t have to be nice. For once. I’m married to one and I would make the same choice 1. hell you don’t have to smile or look like you want to be here. I’d like to be able to do what I do when a 54-year-old Afrikaner tannie is behind the counter. bark my surname and get some service. I’m tired of trying to walk the tightrope between being standoﬃsh and being too forward with black females. beautiful. soulful and intelligent woman.000 times over. nothing less.* I’m tired of this. After all. I’m just too exhausted to expend my last ounce of energy performing the balancing act between arrogant aloofness and courteous engagement. Pretty please with Castle on top. I’m the freaking customer here. 88 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I love black women. I have no interest in your luscious. It’s a lose-lose situation. strong.
God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 89 .
90 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .
My kids will turn out better than yours My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 91 .
But isn’t this the case with every other aspect of our lives? The passengers of the Titanic had the illusion of happiness (and safety) up until the moment the damn thing hit that iceberg. and ride on their backs yelling. we don’t do things in half measures. I used it to good eﬀect to lure gullible white women to my bed as a young man. your previously disadvantaged status is questionable. Let me put it this way: when I was growing up I saw nothing wrong with my life. black people being black people. Now don’t get me wrong. I guess you could call my happy childhood an illusion of a happy childhood. Apparently. I feel that way each time I have 92 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . it’s just abnormal for anyone to have had a happy childhood these days. The apartheid-brutalised-me angle is a good angle – a fruitful angle. I blame Sigmund Freud for all this nonsense. And just in case anyone thinks I’m suggesting for a moment that this pain is not real. Personally. Still. but the more pain we had. How we feel about things is just a factor of what we know and what we don’t know. Apparently. of course it is! Don’t be ridiculous. I cannot help but wonder if there’s anything wrong with me. And as we have established. So it seems to me that not only has it become rather fashionable to talk about the pain of our childhoods. they’d let me wear a Stetson hat and boots. Sometimes. to help ease the pain of the apartheid brutality that I suﬀered. Practically everybody I know has repressed issues from their formative years that they need to work through. “Yee-ha! This one’s for my people in the ghetto!” So you know I’m all for that angle. the better. we have caught on to the idea that everything can be blamed on our pasts. my people and I are rather extreme in everything we do. I am personally happy to admit that I’m an extraordinarily ignorant person. At least. especially our childhoods. whether it’s working hard or partying hard. especially on naive university chicks. Why can’t people just be a bit fucked up and deal with it? Of course. Now. This is true so often. unless you’re regularly seeing a shrink to work through “the pain of growing up under the brutality of apartheid”. Perhaps I just didn’t know any better. It has come to my attention that this makes me a one-in-a-billion individual. Worked like a charm. because I really had a happy childhood.I had a happy childhood.
at the moment he’s enjoying sucking both thumbs loudly. when I was his age. she’d probably pull some fancy psychology tricks to convince me that. I’m bombarded with messages – blunt or subliminal – to the eﬀect that kids are extraordinarily fragile beings. in fact. I wonder about these things. And if he’s not making revolting sounds.conversations with other people. He has that nasty thumb-sucking habit going on. he’s grabbing my hand. Even if I were to emerge from the session convinced that my childhood had. Raising children today is a complicated matter. Growing up. When I look at my kids. indeed. Ignorance was bliss.) I have not been able to write more than two sentences without being distracted by his slurping noises. (And I’m not talking about the kind of thumb sucking Professor Shadrack Gutto engages in when asked if the NPA will charge Zuma two weeks before the 2007 ANC Congress or not. Every direction I turn. I’d still be a bit sceptical. I’m not. My dad reserved the God-given right to roundhouse kick me in the chest if I messed with his song-writing process. it might lead to My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 93 . I would never have been able to get away with assaulting my dad as he sat at his table with his music manuscripts. For instance. smearing me with drool and slapping me in the eye. it gave me the illusion of safety. been painful and unhappy. How I feel about food now is very diﬀerent from what I felt before. The same goes for my childhood. Yet I have to worry about the fact that if I give the little Hitler in my TV room a tiny slap on the wrist. She’d use hypnotherapy to persuade me that my unhappy childhood memories are buried somewhere deep inside my subconscious – in the “Apartheid Brutality” folder. I was happy. Thirty-odd years ago. I never gave too much thought to opening a can of food or a packet of chips and popping the contents into my mouth. I’d still wonder just how “real” this retrospective unhappy childhood was. at the same time. I’m sitting writing this in my TV room with my two-year-old. If I had to go see a shrink. my childhood in a poor township neighbourhood was anything but blissfully happy. no doubt. until I worked as an R&D technologist in a food-processing plant. Other people seem to be extremely certain about things in general. These days I always have a moment of pause before I eat anything.
I was worried he might take the rejection of his regurgitation as a rejection of himself as a person. We ate three times a day. I was seven years old. But after seven years of idle threats I got bolder. Silly little boy. my folks were doing quite well. He then told me to go into the bathroom and wash my behind. But it was just a part of my life. I started testing his resolve. given some rags and told to go play outside. Sometimes the whole aﬀair degenerated into outright ﬁst ﬁghts. that’s three victories and 347 losses. My elder brother and I shared a bed and spent most Saturday mornings in a mortal combat we called “ukudova-dovana” – essentially two hours of trying to kick each other in the nuts. As a matter of fact. So I’m endeavouring to write this while chewing on some grape pulp that he just ﬁshed out of his mouth and fed to me. But don’t get me wrong and think he brutally beat us up on a daily basis. As I entered my house about ten minutes after it ﬁnished. Yes. By township standards. Just once. That’s how everybody else I knew lived. These days we’re not supposed to touch our kids. but nobody slept in the kitchen. My dad asked me where I’d been and I casually told him I had been at the Khumalos’. This particular Friday I decided to spend my evening from 7pm to 8pm standing on a crate outside a neighbour’s house watching that brilliant Western series The High Chaparral through the window. I started brazenly ﬂouting the rules – like the rule that said we had to be inside the house by dusk. And I don’t want my son visualising my face as he punches a pillow in a futuristic shrink’s oﬃce. Up until that point. I breathed a sigh of relief in the belief that I was oﬀ the hook. Nothing weird there. As the blows rained down on me in the conﬁnes of our tiny poor excuse for 94 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . catching up on my television viewing.lengthy therapy sessions for him 30 years from now. during which I amassed an appalling 3–347 record. my dad only ever laid his hand on my puny little ass once. I was imagining that I was Manolito shooting through an army of Red Injuns. I don’t know about this. Excuse me while I go puke. I grew up in a Zulu household. My three brothers and I shared a bedroom with a distant aunt. Kids were fed. he had always merely admonished me and made cold threats of hell to pay if I didn’t follow his rules. I was in high spirits. I was. My dad employed the good old-fashioned fear factor to keep us in check.
We watched John Tate moer Gerrie Coetzee together. politically correct types reading this will be frowning and shaking their heads in pity right now. He was. sons and dads are supposed to have tight relationships. He told me not to do those things and I knew that if I avoided doing those things. I edged much closer to my Maker than at any other point in my life before or since. My dad would catch me standing with a horny little thang and just give me the look. I feared the man more than Schabir Shaik fears an actual jail cell. Black people know the look. That was 1979. I’d avoid another ass-whuppin’. The beating must have lasted only about a minute or so but it felt more like ten hours. had given me a beating that was going to have a lifetime eﬀect on me. after all. in his wisdom. My dad and I did a lot of father-son things together. it was clearly only an illusion of a near-death experience. From that day onwards. And as a matter of fact. Dof.a bathroom. Looking back. the ﬁrst and last time my dad ever laid a hand on me. He taught me about girls and that I mustn’t “get the drop or pubic lice”. He took us to Nagle Dam for picnics. Now!” The normal teenager experience of coping with venereal diseases (as they My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 95 . “Leave that ho alone and come back home. And the reason I never did drugs or impregnated half the ﬂoozies in my neighbourhood was because of that beating. I came back from school to ﬁnd that he had bought us a TV set of our own. only using a leather belt and not a panga. I had never known naked fear. That beatdown he gave me was as good as it gets. Like me handing him the spanners as he ﬁxed the car. I still do. And then my father coldly left the bathroom and it was over. At least it felt that way to me. My dad beat me to within an inch of my life. But I feared the man. He taught me how to drive in his 1980 Mazda 323 when I was 13. After all. Up until that point. He’s turning 67 this year and I still jump when he calls my name. We watched Muhammad Ali retain his heavyweight title for the third time against Leon Spinks together. Its eﬀects have lasted almost 30 years now. My dad. It says. The following Monday afternoon. But the illusion worked. That’s right: fear. aren’t they? They’re supposed to play ball in the park. Things like me wheeling away weeds after he was done weeding the garden. It just sounds wrong hearing how a son feared his own father. hug a lot and say “I love you” on the phone. Sure – in a Hollywood movie.
it’s very important that he believes. Perhaps. He must believe that this is a possibility the moment he decides to cross the line. So that ass-kicking has served my purposes for seven years already. Still. Admittedly. I’d much rather have an unhappy son with childhood issues – a breathing unhappy son with an actuarialscience degree driving his Mercedes-Benz to his Tuesday appointments with the 96 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I have only ever had to show my 12-year-old who’s boss once in his life. that I’m not mentally stable and that I would quite possibly hack him to pieces with a panga if I discovered he’d been shoplifting . Of course. I want them to avoid STDs and criminal activities. That’s what kids need. Dad. imagine what he will do to me if I’m caught with da herb or arrested for slapping a ho. So in essence. No backchat or skulking about. It was only after I left home to study at university that I had my ﬁrst experience with the dreaded “drop”. buddy. I want them to be happy. Kids need to know that you own their little asses right up until they’re 21. Thanks. My kids might just grow up to hate me. bless his soul. he just does it. That shit might work like a charm with a Chihuahua. I’m sure it saved me from many cases of gonorrhoea. my dad saved me from possible castration and life as a eunuch. gets the fear of God in his eyes when I bark at him to go tidy his room. I must have been thinking.” I want my kids to have the same kind of childhood as me. Seven beautiful years. Or pepper spray. Don’t be silly. I’d probably opt for a sjambok. And as a result. A teenaged son needs to be under no illusions about your willingness to bust his skull open with a metal pipe. In my subconscious mind.were called then) was unknown to me as a direct result of that look. Especially in this MTV era. drugs or gangsterism. you believe in that “stern voice command” being touted by the pop media. I shall judiciously mete out savage beatings on their little backsides. but I doubt it will have much eﬀect on a rebellious 17-yearold if you don’t have anything to back it up. He must have been about ﬁve at the time. there is an inherent danger in my approach. in your house. Good luck. The little man. That beating was also the reason I never got mixed up in crime. I would never actually beat my son with a metal pipe. with every ﬁbre of his being. But that’s a chance I’m willing to take. “If he almost killed me for watching a wholesome TV show.
podgy little softie. and savagely beating them up later in life. angry African man is strangling his rebellious son in the bathroom. In fact. The kid was screaming his lungs out because his rights were being trampled upon – he wanted his own whisky and we were depriving him – and I was attempting to ease his pain. what he doesn’t know is that I’m biding my time until he reaches ﬁve before I’m comfortable with planting a blow to his solar plexus and knocking the wind out of his petulant little ass. It’s during that one per cent of the time when a man is supposed to pull his bad-cop routine that wives have a tendency to botch things up by acting as unwelcome buﬀers. So it seems I exist solely for the purposes of trying to feed my kids whisky when they’re two years old. dear. The real reason my two-year-old rolls around on the ﬂoor with laughter when I try to tell him sternly to be quiet is because he knows I’m just a soft teddy bear. The problem comes with the implementation of this brilliant plan. my natural inclination is to give kids what they want – especially when they’re two years old. heartless Cruella. You see. wives and husbands have to get the goodcop-bad-cop routine down. deep down inside I’m really just a nice guy. I’m really just a short. But it’s for their own good. I try to act tough but I’m far from it. my wife is in charge in my house. I’m the guy he can spit on and whose eyes he can gouge out. Ninety-nine per cent of the time. angry African men don’t like to be told. As a result. the vicious. Of course. “Okay. In order for there to be balance. So she had her way. that’s enough. For now. I want them to fear me. Fortunately.” But sometimes the problem is the man. And I want them to tap into that fear My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 97 . The reason being that each household has a serpent with a mutinous streak. a wife is supposed to stay out of it. The wife is supposed to be more empathetic than the husband to kids’ whining and selﬁsh carrying on. the wife is a good ally to have. That’s right: the goddamned woman. my wife has had to wrestle me to the ground and pry his juice bottle from my ﬁngers when I’m trying to pour the little man a whisky. When a sweaty. I’m so soft with him.shrink to talk about my evil ass – than a one-eyed eunuch who says he’s happy to see me when I visit him at C-Max. Otherwise the whole thing doesn’t work. Sweaty.
“What happened to the one per cent?” Right up until university. each time he came into the class and saw me. he called me to the front and beat me up. I want my kids to know that if they contract AIDS. The man was a good teacher. So he fucked us up to instil the fear of God into us. We used to have a race to see who would ﬁnish ﬁrst and get the higher marks. Should their hormones get the better of them and they give in to their lust and tap some ass. He regularly beat me as if the 16 Days Of Activism had expired the day before. But I want them to be so fearful of my wrath that they’ll have to respectfully decline. Or to read over my exam answers. rip out the drip from their forearms and beat them to death. Mr Mtshali. I got 99 per cent… Mr Mtshali took our class for ﬁve of the ten subjects we were doing that year. As a result. Thank you. Not because they “love life”. but because they fear for their lives should they catch AIDS. but in my haste to beat him I wrote 2. Beat me up. I remember one particular day like it was yesterday – and it was all of 24 years ago. I panicked. So when I read all this rubbish about banning corporal punishment from 98 Some of my best friends are white Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Between the two of us. The answer to the last problem was –2. But he also understood that being a good teacher was not enough. So instead of obtaining 100 per cent. I will kill them before the AIDS does. That man gave me more beatings than Tina got from Ike. fearless kids who’ve never had a hand laid on them in anger shove white powder in their faces in nightclubs. And he kept on asking me.when your unruly. Snotty-faced 11-yearolds are generally not very impressed by excellent teaching methods and all that nonsense. I never forgot to put a minus sign in front of a negative number. My Standard 5 class teacher was Mr Mtshali. It was a Friday and we duly wrote our weekly test to determine who was the top student that week – a maths test. Not beat me. I want my kids to want to try the white powder. when I got to the last sum and saw him busy underlining answers. That day. I want them to have the presence of mind to wear a condom. it was not enough who got the higher marks. That’s right: I’ll charge into the hospital. My best friend Siﬁso and I just happened to be the top two students in the class and we had a strong competitive streak.
I tell you. That is why that congregation of feeble minds at the UN headquarters in New York formed the Security Council. When we misbehaved back in high school. Otherwise we’d be on resolution #8. If she’d just given us a well-aimed backhand. I’m hoping that dof people would never read this. I’m kicking that snitch to the curb – I’m certain there’s a free spot on the pavement in front of the Childline call centre. It was a lot more fun than European history. heartless man. that meant staying outside while the lesson went on without you. Essentially. My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 99 . I dare them – I double dare them. But I’ll still kick their backsides to straighten them up – hopefully only once or twice in their lives. But back to my house. Threats need to be backed up. Let’s see how many zit-faced little thugs with low-hanging pants will show up to school without homework. Am I advocating child abuse? Hardly. It is the same principle that is applied in every other sphere of our lives. she would have been far more eﬀective. Is it possible that dof people could read this and feel emboldened to use excessive force on their kids? Yes. Otherwise they’re just threats.our schools. I love them too much. But as soon as I take oﬀ them orange overalls. it’s cool. Some punishment for a 15-year-old who doesn’t want to be in the classroom in the ﬁrst place! I was sent out a couple of times myself and I’d spend all of that time planning all manner of evil retribution on her German behind. one of the silly nuns would send us out of the class to give us time out “to think about we’d done wrong”. But. Sending 12-year-olds to the naughty corner doesn’t work. I’m not an unreasonable. The unwritten rule to every aspect of our existence is “Comply – or else”. I always shake my head sadly. If any of my kids call that Childline number. I say get each school at least one Mr Mtshali and give him the powers to get medieval on their asses.567. brutal force on my oﬀspring. I would never use excessive.356 by now and Charles Taylor would still be chopping oﬀ hands across West Africa. Poor teachers! I don’t think it’s any coincidence that schools are now ﬁlled with general lawlessness and unruly kids running amok doing drugs and stabbing each other. The smell of blood in your nose has a way of modifying behaviour that no amount of being kicked out of class or detention can achieve. I’ll take my punishment like a man.
That kid was yours truly. wholesome lives and get degrees and decent jobs because they fear the consequences of not toeing the line. Kids should live pure. We work so hard because we fear failure. because we fear retiring without enough money. Nowadays I live 600 kilometres from my dad. We pay our rates because we fear living in dark houses. 100 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I don’t have a degree in Child Psychology. Information Age know-it-alls. I will open the door and my dad will be standing there with a leather belt. so I can’t outsmart these Googling. When he calls me on the phone and summons me home for the purpose of talking to me. The only thing I have ever seen work in getting a kid to stick to the straight and narrow was a trusty ass-whuppin’ and some healthy fear and respect. We (mostly) don’t do crime because we fear the Scorpions and we fear jail time. We drive at 119km/h on KZN highways because we fear Bheki Cele’s Gestapo. I cannot take the statistically improbable chance that the doorbell will ring. I don’t have the balls to ask him why. Nationwide. It rules most of us in any case. I always imagine that it would be a tad diﬃcult to explain the welts on my butt to my wife. I get on the net and take advantage of the war between Mango. I didn’t go to Parenting School. Kulula and 1time. so I don’t know any other way. That’s all a man can try to accomplish as a father.* Fear.
My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 101 .
102 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .
Humping Marmite containers while tuned in to Radio kakamas .
I think you deserve it more than I do. don’t we? Especially for a bunch as rainbowy as we’re supposed to be. After all.D amn! We all get excited about aﬃrmative action. If Mbeki and Co. So I’ll oversimplify matters and invite ridicule by displaying my notorious ignorance. blah. on TV – blah. on the radio. I just don’t get it. aﬃrmative action has been with us since the 17th century. you’ve been around here from the days when Koornhof was upgrading us from Natives to Bantus. You’d think 45-year-old white dino… men would be ecstatic about the whole idea and start composing ditties about President Mbeki’s general greatness for stepping up the rate of transformation in the workplace. forever.” But then again. Sarel. This is not a matter of principle. I think that a whole lot of white okes would discover inside of them a passion for aﬃrmative action they didn’t know existed before. as many would have us believe. Here goes. Say. (And if you’re a woman. perhaps we’re not as rainbowy as we like to think we are. The whole thing seems to me to be rather simple. reaching into his colon for a nice round ﬁgure – seven recorded sightings of black stockbrokers on the JSE before 1994. blah. let’s give preference to middle-aged white blokes”. were to turn around and say. if this is not a matter of principle. what would happen? I doubt there’d be any marches from that section of the population currently protesting the grave injustice. it’s in the newspapers. Every single day. It is a matter of expediency. “We’ve had this aﬃrmative action thingy for black people long enough. In fact. So. You’d think young black guns would turn down senior management positions with well-considered explanations: “It’s just not fair. in their inﬁnite wisdom.) It is not an accident that there were exactly – he says. There wouldn’t be too many recorded cases of white okes popping veins in their skulls screaming about reverse reverse racism. what is it about then? It seems to me to be a simple case of South Africa’s favourite obsession: race. As usual. So am I saying that there is no noble and just principle inherent in the acceptance 104 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . the fuzzy messy mass where my brain cells are supposed to be can’t quite process the intricate detail required to make sense of it all.
ﬁnger-wagging individuals forced hard-working. that people like me. in 2007. Newton on crack but hey. it’s not hard to work out who supports what. This is the pro-David Bullard school of thought that believes every black man with a triple-digit IQ should be downright insulted if he’s oﬀered a job ahead of poor Sarel just because he’s black. rainbowy people have forgotten. I believe that we take sides in the AA debate using little but our viscera. Riiiiiiight. employ exactly the same method. But I will qualify my standpoint by noting that I try extremely hard to understand positions with which I violently disagree.or rejection of the concept of aﬃrmative action? But of course not. who think Robbie should be canonised for his great wisdom.) And now it’s time for my notorious and often ignorant opinion to rear its ugly head again. When it comes to those poor guys just out trying to get a job. During this time. I’m just pointing out that. We form our opinions emotionally and only rationalise them later. in a time that most forward-looking. a few misguided. Sir Isaac freaking Newton. By pure coincidence. okay. Here’s my bash at what I understand to be the retarded rationale against aﬃrmative action. Seventy per cent of the time I think he’s a downright nitwit and 30 per cent of the time I think he’s related to Isaac Newton. though. proponents of AA tend to be black okes and the naysayers generally tend to be white okes. This way. honest and God-fearing white people to Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 105 . don’t be daft. there are a sprinkling of whiteys batting on the pro-AA side and a splash of black people who have reservations about it. khaki-clad. It goes without saying. That’s why I’m such a fervent consumer of that irascible bullet-dodging Bullard’s weekly column. so you were never going to win any prizes for guessing which way I leant. of course. I’m a black man who has beneﬁted from aﬃrmative action. let me get this out of the way now: yes. (Okay. Or both. we can – for example – call Talk Radio 702 and tell John Robbie that he’s a fool for supporting AA and not sound like rabid racists as we do it. that these people are most likely to be those who are unaﬀected by aﬃrmative action or are rolling in the dough. conciliatory. Note. Many moons ago. there was this passing stupidity called apartheid. of course.
Ouch! On inquiring as to the root cause of this situation. these evil cartoon ﬁgures might have possibly kept a few poor dark people from Soweto and places like that from doing proudly South African things. But that was 13 years ago and we’ve held hands and sung Shosholoza together after that Stransky miracle and can we please just get on with it? What’s the point of going down this path of retribution and punishing white people for not packing up and heading for New Zealand to even out the human-to-sheep ratio in that auspicious. I wish I had a rebuttal to this undeniable. All I have to oﬀer is my Marmite story. The eggheads in various governmental departments have got that covered. watertight logic.begrudgingly accept some privileges they hadn’t really asked for. that last bit is generally the rallying cry and ultimate debate-ending rationalisation for why aﬃrmative action is a terrible idea – all the incompetent. It seems that. It seemed the young man had somehow inadvertently/on purpose inserted his genitals into a jar of Marmite. aren’t we shooting ourselves in the foot if we take incompetent. Sadly. The jar had then given under the tremendous pressure of his tremendous manhood and glass fragments had become lodged in his gonad sac. non-murderous part of the world? Plus. Being an admitted AA beneﬁciary. I don’t. ineﬃcient retards in senior positions who’ve been letting down their companies and country since this whole AA madness was instituted. Like swimming in the sea. going to the cinema and watching Naas dropping them three-pointers in shoulder pads at Loftus. a bizarre tale involving either a disturbing wager or an extreme case of sexual starvation emerged. indeed! The little Einstein decided against reporting the matter immediately and. Let’s be honest. Ouch. the yeast in the product started a furious binary-ﬁssion session in that fertile environment. maybe slightly slow-witted people and make them run things? Of course. a young man in a posh private boarding school presented himself to the school nurse with a worrying problem: he had grotesquely swollen gonads. inexperienced and possibly. Can’t blame him – I would also be embarrassed to 106 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . predictably. At the same time. it was just unfair. once upon a time.
thus forcing them to add a warning on the label in the future: while certainly sexually arousing. But I’ll steer clear of that one – this is not a “One-Bullard-two-bullets” rant that I believe a student from one of our institutions of progressively lower learning directed at the Bullet Dodger.present my Marmite-jar-shagging little balls to the school nurse. After all. this is the picture that is emanating from numerous surveys about the patterns in the corporate world. I humbly submit. should the parents of the young man have sued the makers of Marmite for causing their precious son’s balls to swell up? In that intellectually imposing part of the world called the United States Of America. male brethren then? Is it fair that they are being relegated to the margins of society to sit atop beer crates all day listening to Mandoza CDs and De La Rey? After all. Research paper after research paper has statically shown how 90 per cent of white matriculants end up roaming the streets being career protesters over social problems created by the rampant unemployment in the greater Constantia area. The question is. what would hung-over blokes all across the land do without that source of salt the morning after? Aﬃrmative action is supposed to beneﬁt those people who didn’t have opportunities during that little apartheid/colonialism glitch. In the sane world. Such as all the Mzansi people who swear by Sunlight as their enema of choice. we laugh at such an idiotic course of action. My point? Blaming the abuse or improper implementation of aﬃrmative action is a bit like toyi-toying and calling for the withdrawal of Marmite – because of its supposedly ball-swelling eﬀects. this would be a no-brainer. this jar is not meant to be humped.) And so what of our white. Sue the shit out of the Marmite-makers. would want yummy Marmite oﬀ our shelves. (Another brief tangent: throwing around terms like “competent” whenever the topic of AA comes up really crawls up my behind. then. And only an idiot. however. This is a conciliatory “Let’s-all-hold-hands-andstop-the-jar-humping” piece. I was told this story in the context of a consumer-safety training course which explained that consumers sometimes misuse and abuse products meant for other purposes. Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 107 . We can subsequently divide these people into two categories: the competent and those exhibiting the potential to become competent.
after all – my own personal experience of this situation. bald. white teeth. the group being aﬃrmed is the traditional standard-bearer. Short. if I am to believe the tales I’m told. Your standard-bearer being the tall. don’t you? UCT in this context 108 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . podgy black guys. white cream and a sprinkling of chocolate ﬂakes on top. Or are people exaggerating a little bit?) From what I’ve seen.right? Did someone just call me a sarcastic little sanctimonious twerp? Perhaps. white guy from UCT with a full set of hair and a set of straight. That’s what this is about. Good-looking black chicks from UCT with private-school accents (GBCs) 3. There. I said it! The pecking order in the workplace nowadays is: 1. Black guys from UCT of any height or looks as long as there’s a twang (BGTs) 5. To this day. the stats I’ve seen certainly seem to point to the fact that the face of senior management remains middle-aged and white. Aﬃrmative action of yesteryear is still the pervasive form of aﬃrmative action. with those few shining. let me move quickly away from there and talk about my own experience of this. And before we get into a pointless you-show-me-your-stats-and-I’ll-show-you-mine waltz. there won’t be any reference to that other situation in our hallowed government departments where. whining about reverse racism and inadequate transformation respectively. the ability to shoot an AK-47 and recite the Freedom Charter is enough of a qualiﬁcation to balance a R300-million budget. They remain at the bottom of the heap with short. the face of the South African corporate still retains the same old cappuccino model: lots of dark coﬀee at the bottom. podgy guys irrespective of colour (Don’t even have acronyms) And you know I’m right about the UCT thing. Tall white guys from UCT with great hair and good teeth (TWGs) 2. The status quo remains. Bald. If the shoe ﬁts… If anything. bald white guys with crooked yellow teeth are out of the standard-bearer loop. delicious chocolate ﬂakes at the top. (For that reason. Good-looking white chicks from UCT with great hair and teeth (GWCs) 4.
if they’re lucky. the same pecking order is followed. And in the event of a disagreement during a R20-million project. For the beneﬁt of the poor individuals who were cramming Biblical Studies instead (shame!). the tie-breaker is which one went to UCT. and competence. are always stuck in the cubicle next to the elevator. I’ve always likened it to the graveyard-shift radio presenter from a kak community station – Radio Kakamas. such a job really does exist. you can throw in a great face and bits in the right places. blonde hair and blue eyes. that’s when certain genetic characteristics tend to appear hand-in-hand in people. It’s 4. In the event of a stalemate between two tall white guys with good hair and teeth. great hair and great teeth. I was the podgy guy doing it. great hair and great teeth beat stubby. say. Anybody who’s made it through Standard 9 Biology and paid attention knows about the phenomenon of linked genes. That’s always the ﬁrst tie-breaker. it’s quite funny watching the expressions of people as they listen to one of these okes make a point during meetings. many times. The podgy guys. Or black skin and traditional weapons in their pants. everybody is getting jiggy on more auspicious stations Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 109 . Short. You know they can see the lips moving. I’m not making it up. they can hear the words – but they haven’t the faintest clue what the oke is on about.15am and the poor guy is sweating bullets making some really good points. In women. You’ll see bemused yet sympathetic faces. This has happened to me many. But no-one is tuned in to Radio Kakamas. No. These are the smartest individuals running industry in this land. creating spreadsheets that detail how many housewives complained that the chilli-ﬂavoured soup tasted chilli-ish that month.being the equivalent of the Ivy League in the US. Tallness. gesticulating wildly in the studio booth. For example. bald and yellow teeth. (Hehehe…) After about a year or so of walking through the corridors of a typical corporate. Pearls of wisdom about the greatness of General De La Rey are tumbling oﬀ his tongue. bald and porky black guys from the College Of Mediocrity with no twang have no chance at all. you cannot help but notice the correlation between the genes for tallness. and glazed expressions all around. In fact.
It’s just that… well. Me : Are we clear what the contractual notice period with them is? GWC : Yeah. Sometimes a man just gets tired of talking to himself in the graveyard shift of Radio Kakamas and tries to sneak into the standard-bearer loop via the back door. after all. GWC. That’s when you realise that standard-bearing is not rooted in rabid racism. stumpy black guy looking like a sausage in Action Cricket regalia trying to make sense of yorkers. Not really. I’ve been one of those guys. we must take our business out of X. I know the feeling.such as Radio Sonder Grense. She is. I’ve been there.” Anyone who has ever worked in the corporate world knows the pattern. Next thing you know people are looking at her diﬀerently and listening more attentively when she speaks. In South Africa’s modern corporate world. There’s a certain herd mentality that permeates throughout society generally. let’s admit it. Is there an echo in here? Am I inaudible? Maybe I’m actually dead and I’m having a Bruce-Willis-in-The-SixthSense experience. And you are just a twangless guy from College Middle-Of-Nowhere. the standard is exactly that: the standard. And it’s nobody’s fault. you’re right. We’re having Legal check the contract. taller and more gorgeous than you are. in any case. And I just sit there with my jaw on the ﬂoor. We don’t want to stray outside the law. Your ideas are. too. That’s when you see a twangless. TWG : Well spotted there. The myth is entrenched and the halo around her head is starting to get a downright saintly glow. The standard-bearers tend to stick together – and reject the inferior classes below them. just crap. and the workplace is not spared. Why couldn’t you have come up with that gem about checking contractual obligations? And you’ve got to know your place. the myth is compounded: “We almost walked into that one blind before the Good-looking White Chick saved us from the ﬁre. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I’ve had this happen to me during a meeting: TWG : Whatever happens. And in every subsequent meeting from then onwards. Well done. GWC. googlies and inswingers. the likelihood of your ideas sounding less crappy increases with your ability to exhibit an understanding of 110 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .
viscerally form opinions about people and things. Then we internalise those opinions. Make up your own damn mind. Black guys are exactly the same (unless they’ve been brainwashed into believing that they are worthless – but that’s for another time…). The ability to understand the intricacies of a scrum is genetically linked to the ability to know when Legal should be contacted. Remember that you are a member of the human race. maybe not. you realise that speaking up at that diversity workshop wasn’t such a good idea. It’s a fact. Ditto Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 111 . are these guys going to keep on whining and whingeing for ever? Hasn’t it been long enough – it’s been like. 13 years already? And then. That’s just how it is. So is there a point to any of this then? Maybe. despite our best intentions. And so because of where we come from. black okes hang out with other black okes and marry black chicks. When challenged with any rational facts that are in conﬂict with our entrenched opinions. the fact that the rest of us don’t is a rule to remember. Or of talking knowledgeably about the propensity of a cricket pitch to break up on the ﬁfth day of a test match. wit ous tend to think other wit ous are smart and everybody else is a nitwit until they prove themselves. and you are looking to ﬁll a position that AA regulations insist must go to a black oke. as a rule. we should be doing the rationalising before we reach an opinion. however tongue-in-cheek you are. In case you haven’t worked it out yet. But if you’re a tall. Jeez. There’s no point in just going through the motions “because legislation says I must”. because nobody wants to come across as a bloody whinger. That’s why. white guy with great hair. Pointing out these things. what. We intuitively. And while there are the occasional glowing exceptions who do this. Casually dropping into a conversation that you just got yourself scuba-diving gear helps. Don’t mess with what’s worked for 300 years.the technical subtleties of a rugby scrum or lineout. from UCT or thereabouts. too. We suﬀer from a condition that professional mindfuckers – sometimes known as psychiatrists – like to call cognitive dissonance. I hope you remember my moronic rant. Time to shut up and look for opportunities to wear tight-ﬁtting Action Cricket gear. we creatively come up with our own “rational facts” that favour our internalised positions. always leads to the same response.
If you do that.) Or. We’re human beings.the wit ous. remember – and there is no recorded evidence of the persuasive approach working anywhere in changing people’s hearts. This drought-ridden yet beautiful wasteland we call home will be 100 per cent coloured in a hundred years anyway. There’s no point in hiring a guy to sit in a cubicle next to the stairway counting the number of people not using the handrails. if it makes you feel better. (That’s another real job. as I like to put it. So break free of the cognitive-dissonance mould. You can have an angry. Believe me. or you can try to make it work. Look at it this way. And it’s why we need to start breaking free of the mould and challenging what we believe intuitively without much thought. There just might be a little diamond in what you perceive to be a piece of dung. Prada-clad. You’re just another jar-humping TWG or GWC. If you want to conjure up an image of the demographics in the year 2107. 112 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Just tune in. no amount of persuasion is going to change the natural course of events. AA is here. fat black guy walking around the corridors doing exactly bugger all or you can tune into Radio Kakamas and turn that disillusionment into money for everybody. You can ﬁght it. Live with it. The current lot at the Union Buildings are a bunch of misguided. paying a guy money so he can talk to himself on the graveyard shift on Radio Kakamas. think Mitchell’s Plain. you’re misusing aﬃrmative action. I swear. Look at us still debating this issue 13 years on. ﬁnger-wagging individuals hellbent on imposing this aﬃrmative-action nonsense.
Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 113 .
They might have to bite off our heads .
Did you say 30 or 13 per cent? What? I thought so. Run a quick check on the percentage of recently launched products that even come close to performing as well as the research predicted and you’ll see what I mean.I recently had a rather interesting conversation with a dear friend. consumer immersion after consumer immersion and survey after survey have all started to pick up a disturbing and perplexing fact about South African society. geniuses in Pepsi T-shirts descend upon a taxi rank and ask people what beverage they enjoy most – and then give out samples of Pepsi as a reward. Just oestrogen and snot. She’s a brand manager of sorts. the methodology described above is a pretty apt description of a lot of corporate “research”. That is. only women and children are to be found. there are no males in any black households in this country. Nothing wrong with the enthusiasm shown by our researchers. I said – how could it be explained? At times like this. all things being equal. I decided to forego my natural suspicion of research. 116 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . and found myself in two minds about whether or not to believe it. Diﬀerent strokes and all that. there’s no testosterone anywhere. when I heard of this phenomenon of wide-scale male absenteeism from black family life. for example. It would seem that research paper after research paper. The only “research” I ever witnessed in my time was the type where. Still. it seems that in every black household these researchers visit. Now. I stopped believing in the veracity of the ﬁndings of most research papers not too long after I joined the corporate world. She was sharing with me what she thought was a baﬄing phenomenon she’d recently become aware of. Assuming this “fact” was true – assuming. Indeed. Anyhow. when there’s a tricky dilemma on the table. In the unlikely event that an obtuse corporate moron is getting worked up reading this. That’s right – where there’s a black family. who just happens to believe in what she does for the corporate company she works for. I have a standard approach: I take a swig of beer and apply the cynic’s creed. Evidently. most people discover a deep-down passion for Pepsi they never knew existed before. the simplest explanation for anything is probably the most accurate one. it’s just that when there are free samples of Pepsi to be had. I’ll concede that I’m oversimplifying matters just a tad.
Not even once. she never got to see my father. philosophy nerds. that he was indeed a living. until only one or two generations ago. The thing is. been a resident of my upper colon. How he never actually got to see of any of his kids unless he needed ﬁelds to be ploughed or had lost cattle that required ﬁnding. Sometimes I got the They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 117 . with a portion of BS on the side. yadda yadda.(Yes. this is also known as Ockham’s razor. of course. This is a bit of a gross generalisation. just go with it. jumped in and agreed with me. I regaled her with facts of how. I did my obligatory song and dance. backing me right up. I hypothesised passionately that. How he would only invite his wives into his hut nocturnally to claim his conjugal rights. I argued passionately that this research showed a lack of understanding of African culture. Which is why I was particularly surprised when my wife. breathing person. an African man needed the company of other men because he was just not genetically predisposed to sitting in a living room with his wife and kids and watching TV. It’s not often that my loving wife will concur with a theory of mine that had. but it makes sense when you think about it. the ﬁrst ﬁve times she visited my parents’ home back in the Valley Of A Thousand Hills. And that explains the absence of black males from living rooms across the land… This explanation had. I gave it some thought and it didn’t take me long to work out that it’s the nature of most black males to hump women and then leave them to fend for themselves. yes. moments earlier. And she spent the night three of those ﬁve times. of course. And yet there she was. You see. I prefer to call it the cynic’s creed. an African man never sat around with women and children. who had been a silent part of the conversation to this point. Being a black male. How he always slept in a separate hut. I can well understand how my wife believed it. okay?) So what’s the simplest explanation for this absence of black males from families? Well. yawn… You know I’m right. I had to assure her that my father was not a ﬁgment of my imagination. the migrant-labour system and other socio-economic drivel. to the present day. in defence of the black male when my brand-manager friend confronted me with this information. There may be more elaborate explanations to do with colonialism. been whipped directly out of my ass.
Those ﬁrst ﬁve times my wife visited my family house. We still have exactly the same genetic aversion to staying at home and chatting to the wives and kids. baby-oil container in hand. Leaving work and heading for the Top Rank in Clermont to drink quarts of beer and partake in a sheep’s-head feast is just downright irresponsible. Issues that shape the direction of the country. I envy my dad and his ilk. They are traditional men. And she wasn’t upset or anything.30pm to share the trials and tribulations of Cherel. Much harder than I anticipated when I got married. who is herself sleeping with her stepfather who is also her halfbrother – or whatever. That’s the general idea behind the 75 huts you’ve seen at Zuma’s Inkandla homestead. reading the papers and listening to Radio Zulu. Issues such as why Raymond Hack is still the CEO of SAFA and who owes him a huge favour at Soccer City. limp-wristed poor excuses for men sit at home and watch soapies. Those huts could probably add up to a four-storey mansion – but this would exponentially increase the likelihood of Mshiniwami being accosted by one of his oﬀspring. Zulu men don’t sit in the main house and joke with the kids. Real men don’t. there is a greater expectation that we should be back at home by 6.feeling she was studying me intently for signs of dementia – perhaps I had an imaginary friend. Spending time at home is a hard. Barker and the Matabanes on Isidingo and to talk about our days. At least they have plausible excuses for their aversion to their families. hard thing to do. Undesirable situation. My mom would sometimes have to take his supper to him in the car. I’ll admit it. My generation and I are running out of excuses. I think she was just happy he was at home and not 118 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . It was only afterwards that I understood for the ﬁrst time why my dad would get home. But because our lives are becoming increasingly Western. Zulu men sit with other men and discuss issues of national importance. my dad was always in one of the outside buildings. My father is a very traditional Zulu man. Henpecked. And traditional Zulu men just do not sit in the lounge with their families and watch Brooke sleep with the husband of her daughter. too… And I couldn’t blame her. drive his car into the garage after work and just stay there for three hours.
I’m hopeless. Darkies don’t mess around with that DIY shit unless they work in a workshop during the day in any case. Once my kids are sick of playing with me. Just like the sheepskin car-seat covers in my dad’s garage. bull-saving people from the SPCA are getting more belligerent when taking on African traditions. So that’s not an option either. Keeping cows in the yard to milk and herd about might make me feel more like a man but those Eurocentric. I don’t have a mechanical bone in my body. The few times my dad would brave the indignity of sitting with us in the lounge watching TV always coincided with a particularly steamy episode of Dallas or Falcon Crest – and then he would feign a sneezing ﬁt and make his escape to the bedroom. I’m ashamed to say that my wife assembled every single piece of furniture They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 119 . Hurling sharp weapons at midgets from across the street might curry some favour with the wife and make her see me in a proud and diﬀerent light. Cos then I’d have to explain myself to Selebi’s henchmen. milking cows and stabbing attackers from neighbouring villages with spears because of grazing-pasture disputes. but I wouldn’t be kidding anyone. uncontrollable urges to bore holes through the necks of unsuspecting bovines. And no smart person wants to do that. None of them is black. scratching my nuts. I wander the house aimlessly in my boxers. it’s probably not such a great idea. I’ve thought about it. Five hundred years ago I would have been out there ﬁxing the fence to the kraal. Some smart guys I know keep untidy workshops in their garages and disappear to these havens for hours under the pretence of do-it-yourself projects. But as much as I’d like to pierce the annoying little bastard from across the road through his Adam’s apple with an arrow. but I can’t. of course. And African people have irrational. My own reasons for not spending my life at home are less traditional and more… psychological.out gallivanting with his buddies and impregnating local skanks. Even when the bog-standard household DIY stuﬀ needs doing. At the very core of my discomfort with being eternally at home is the fact that my wife and kids have no practical use for me there. I’m just like the food-processing-blender-whatchamacallit we bought two years ago because it seemed like a good idea at the time. for reasons unknown to me.
That’s because right after the light-bulb changing episode I was left with an irresistible urge to mount my spouse. After several trips to Game. But then I would have been taking the risk of her passing some snide remark. Thank goodness for KY. It’s just so complicated down there! I know I’m going to have to resort to calling in the experts without her ﬁnding out. rabid. I was able to remove it after twisting it this way and that for about 20 minutes – the exertion had me in rivers of sweat – but putting in the new one proved rather trickier. in the mould of Gandhi and the Swiss Minister Of Defence. I made a mental note never to invite the show-oﬀ around for a braai at my house again. Not only that. It took him about 23 seconds and – voilà! – there was light. This means bribing the maid. Lord knows our landscape is littered with enough bastards. My wife has already ﬁgured out that the sand in the ﬁlter must be changed. wife-molesting lunatic. I swallowed my pride and called a friend who is a mechanic. I was ready to replace the old one. So far. most of the time. So I’m the light-bulb hero. A look that I believe should only be reserved for husbands. it’s taken me three days to ﬁgure out which one is the ﬁlter. The They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 121 . You know. which involved getting the wrong-sized bulbs on more than one occasion. I’m having heart palpitations. As I sit here. to assert my manhood. a hand towel and some water-based lubricant.wife can’t reach the ﬁxtures. We recently needed to change the ﬂuorescent kitchen light. she has printed out an instructional page from the internet to guide me. I might have disrobed to reveal my equipment in all its glory and she could have let slip: “Are you sure you can work that thing. Well. non-violent man. but I have to wonder if anyone has ever “researched” the correlation between the inability to change ﬂuorescent light bulbs in the kitchen and the incidence of marital rape in suburbia. Another 20 minutes later. right. Not to be callous about a serious matter. To avoid a potentially explosive domestic misunderstanding I resisted my carnal urges and retired to the bedroom with a pile of FHM magazines. Yeah. I caught my wife giving him a look with admiration-ﬁlled eyes. But that type of remark would turn even the Dalai Lama into a sweaty. the swimming pool outside needs attention desperately. or do you not need help from your mechanic friend?” I’m a calm.
I’m quite positive he’d disown me. If he knew that I was the senior vice-president in charge of changing light bulbs and taking out the garbage. I can whip out that Woolies card faster than Clint Eastwood could whip out a pistol in The Good. mama. She’s in charge. Buying blouses from Woolies is one thing I can do without a problem. I have settled on a nice blouse from Woolies to shut her up after the pool-service guys have come to perform my manly duties. Women hold all the cards in the 21st century. “Yoo. And then he’d remember why he spends so little time at home. The only question is. do you want to do it the easy way or the hard way? If my father knew what went on in my house. I’m grateful that I’m a member of the human species. she would somehow make sure she went up in front of a female judge and she’d just explain the situation calmly. you will be assimilated. My wife rules the house. Resistance is futile. If I had been a spider my wife would have bitten my head oﬀ right after getting that lovely pregnant feeling during one of our Tuesday-night sessions. he would have a ﬁt.maid has an inexplicable propensity to share details of what went on in the house while my wife has been away. You best believe it would be stricken from the roll. Frankly. The Bad And The Ugly. 122 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I’m just grateful my head is still attached to my body. I said it. I never saw such evil pictures on the television when I went into the bedroom to hang up the ironing!” To avoid such tattletale reports. A man can’t even have an innocent porn festival without the wife hearing about it. I gave up the silly delusion of being the boss about two months into my marriage. That’s all I’m useful for. Reduced to purchasing blouses to bribe the maid when he should be out in the veld castrating troublesome bulls to prepare them for a life of tilling soil. That’s right. And if she ever got into trouble with the law for biting my head oﬀ. My father would be proud… This is the lot of the African man when he moves to this jungle called suburbia. Truth be told.
They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 123 .
larney .That’s no dhal off my mutton breyani.
It’s Freudian. A “fact” I’ve heard bandied about asserts that Durban has the highest concentration of Indians outside of India.) So where am I going with all this? Let me share a story with you which might – just might – explain what’s going on in my head. and expecting too much of us. And in all likelihood. I could be wrong. of course. I reckon. Maybe I’m being too harsh on us all. I have no reason to doubt this. they’d just shrug their shoulders. when that person is standing around a ﬁre at a braai back in Umlazi. stood in the middle of their lounge and made this pronouncement. And it goes without saying that if you substitute the word “Indian” with “black”. A young white woman invited herself over to my table and started chatting to me. “Yup.” I believe that the only people who ever say things like “I have no problem with Indian people” are people who don’t like Indian people very much. then I’d take that fact to the bank. cold one in hand. But until I’m presented with conclusive evidence to the contrary. (You probably know the drill by now – but I could be wrong. “Jewish” or “gay” my argument still holds enough water to run a bath for a sumo wrestler. If walking around Durban is anything to go by. I’m always open to that possibility. yeah I know you’re so sorry to hear that. he’s racist. I realised she must 126 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I imagine that if I walked into the Maharaj household in Chatsworth. I grew up in the greater Durban area – yeah. colourful words like “coolie” will be ﬂying around. But each time I hear a statement along these lines. I personally ﬁnd it ridiculous that in this country you still hear people saying things like this. I’ll go on assuming that I’m right. “white”. After 30 seconds. I had a rather bizarre experience at a Durban spot recently. Given a little bit of thought. I’d never been to this particular Florida Road pub/club before and I was waiting. ha ha. go on sipping their mindrel and ask me to “make the TV slow”. this line is devoid of any real usefulness or signiﬁcance.“I have no beef with Indian people. So there you have it: anyone who ever feels the compulsion to tell you how they have no problem with Indian people can’t stand Indians.” No pun intended. Very funny. for the arrival of an untrustworthy buddy. my immediate reaction is.
Therefore. She unfortunately persisted and continued suggesting that I “pick up a black girl” and follow her and her boyfriend to a suburb in the north. I ﬁnd. went something like this: “I hate fucking coolies. that’s what I do!) But being picked up by a twitchy junkie is not very ﬂattering.” “All blacks hate coolies. dear. At this point. Also. she gestured to two gentlemen of Asian extraction at a nearby table who were using sign language to communicate their wishes to get down and dirty with her. I prefer my mind intact and unblown.” I wish I could tell you how I immediately put that twitching druggie bigot in That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani.” “Urrmghh.” “C’mon. so I continued declining respectfully. but I could see how this whole scenario could end up on the front page: “Naked couple found strangled in beach-front ﬂat. So I politely declined her oﬀer and asked her to please stop spitting into my eye. I’m a big-headed man with a pot belly and matchstick legs. I was promised. the idea was making my skin crawl. which made me look about nervously. Our conversation from this point. I tend to feel quite ﬂattered and pleased with myself.) “Urrmghh. Larney 127 . After another 30 seconds of conversation with her – basically. I know you also hate these fucking leeches. And then she started getting really excited. And call me a pessimist. blow our minds. her talking nonstop and twitching at regular intervals – it also dawned on me that she was trying to pick me up. where they would. just admit it.have been tripping on some pretty strong narcotics. I generally frequent places that don’t involve people hitting on each other. Then I wave my wedding band around and they get a defeated look in their drunken eyes. don’t you?” (Gulp. (I promise you. My matrimonial vows aside. So I don’t get picked up very often.” Realising she wasn’t making much headway. the twitcher switched her line of attack by making it clear to me just how much she preferred black guys to Indian guys. I have a pronounced aversion to people on drugs. on the rare occasions that a young lass bats her eyelashes at me and makes suggestive hints that we blow this joint and go exchange bodily ﬂuids.
And yes. “But I don’t hate Indians” would probably press the nuke lenasia button in Thabo’s oﬃce if he thought no-one was looking. It didn’t help that her two-metre tall beast of a lover was sitting at the next table – waiting to “blow my mind”. They’ll point out how they love dhal and breyani and bunny chow and all that other hot stuﬀ from the Oriental Restaurant at The Workshop. The point of this story – besides the obvious point of bragging about the fact that I get picked up by drugged-out white women while skulking about in shady places – is to take a closer look at that “all blacks hate coolies” idea. So I’ll say it: like most generalisations. I also think that the ﬁrst person to say. Of course. They will passionately and elaborately oﬀer you lengthy lists of all the Indian friends they’ve had in their lives. I swear. I’m a ﬁrm believer that the ﬁrst person to hold his nose in a lift is probably the guy who farted. I wish I could tell you how I defended the honour of my Indian brethren and that I didn’t mince my words in castigating her for her un-rainbowness. for that matter. just like the silent wind-ripper in the lift. I wish I could tell you how I quoted liberally from our constitution and let her know just how oﬀended I was by her comments. They’ll tell you excitedly how “I have no beef with Indian people. And yes.her place and told her I wouldn’t stand for any more of her racist nonsense. Of the few things I’ve learnt in my time. that includes black people. But I’m a notoriously weak-backboned weasel and my sole consideration at this point was avoiding upsetting this ﬁdgety crackhead. I’m acutely aware of that 128 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . So I shrugged my shoulders like the wimp that I am and wiped oﬀ more saliva from my eyelashes. a lot of black people will vehemently deny this. I wish I could tell you how I spoke to her in very strong terms about just how abhorrent I ﬁnd racism and any form of bigotry. one is that twometre tall beast-like brutes with a propensity for blowing people’s minds generally tend to be rather unimpressed with the Bill Of Rights and other random things like that. It just seems to me to be a logical conclusion. Most people I know are racist. It’s just that…” Let me interrupt myself again and get this out of the way. Extending that rationale. Now. let’s not forget. the twitchy junkie’s observation was based on more than a grain of truth.
oh. it goes all the rainbowy ways. I’m not one to let insigniﬁcant things like facts get in the way of my preconceived ideas. too. Potato. the song caused controversy a while back for fuelling black-on-Indian tensions and encouraging racial stereotyping. especially in KZN. Listen. Heck. blah blah blah. Not to racially stereotype. I’m aware. Racism/prejudice/bigotry – I don’t really care what you want to call it. yeah. I’m aware of the school of thought that asserts that only those with money and power can be racists. but that’s your cultural lesson for the day. back to the point. When people start telling me just how much they don’t have “problems” with Indian people. bro. Larney 129 . some pig ears and.” That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. It’s like Clinton telling us he didn’t have sexual relations with that woman – yeah. So I couldn’t help but snort sarcastically when Mbongeni Ngema started giving us all that BS about how his intentions were to “get people talking about AfricanIndian relations” when he wrote his song AmaNdiya. I’m even aware that the term “racism” was coined in the ’30s and has a very speciﬁc meaning. this goes both ways. she only blew you. whiteys. I remember walking into a butchery in Daveyton township in Ekurhuleni and they were selling the CD – in a butchery! How’s that for a distribution channel? “Can I please have some lamb chops.) I know nothing about the sales of that excellent piece of music – oh. That’s all semantics to me.whole retarded notion that black people are incapable of racism. cut the crap. That song was about you trying to sell some fucking records. tomato – whatever. It would save a lot of hassle. So. it’s just the loss of blood that kills them. it’s our racist ways. Telling me that black people cannot be racist is like telling me people don’t die of gunshot wounds. (For those of you who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. throw some AmaNdiya in there. it was musically brilliant. that racism has to be institutionalised and used to oppress to be really called racism. I know they’re as racist as motherfuckers. methinks – but I suspect they were quite high. Yes. strictly speaking. And just in case you think I’m picking on black people. too. And you knew that black people. If there’s one thing we’re all equal-opportunities about in this country. Still. would eat that shit up because it would resonate with them. I just wish we were more open about it.
Black people don’t like that Indian people are better oﬀ than them. I can only oﬀer you my opinion. obviously. everybody came. that’s what I would have told them. and I didn’t see what qualiﬁed them to have Yvonne Chaka Chaka visit their house instead of mine. nothing more. ﬁnancially and pretty much in every other way. That’s one way of doing it.Such creative marketing. I suppose that I could register my lazy ass with an institution of higher learning. Even Yvonne Chaka Chaka made an appearance once. a Mercedes-Benz. perform some “research” – that is. If someone had asked me what I thought their secret was. I’m going to take it as fact. a couple of other luxury vehicles and lots of nice stuﬀ in their home. Yvonne Chaka Chaka! So naturally I resented these neighbours of mine. So what’s this Indian hatred about then? As usual. Nothing particularly odd about this. So I’ll take the low road and just talk about my unacademic opinions. and they just happened to make more money than my folks. I’m not planning on doing any formal research on this assertion but. Because I 130 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . These were not special people. It seems logical to me that people not doing so well ﬁnancially would resent people doing better than them – keeping up with the Joneses and all that. I would have had much more intelligent conversations with Yvonne Chaka Chaka. (This was the ’80s. When they threw parties.) They were much better oﬀ than us. That’s the high road. Once again. based on my wanderings around Durban. I was rather unimpressed with each of them as individuals. TV interviews and being featured in credible publications with words like “insightful” being used to describe you. It seems to me that the issue at hand is the fact (or perception?) that Indians are more prosperous than black people. Good old money. I thought. But I’m not a high-road kind of guy. I hypothesised that the family in question was a rather lucky bunch. so they were black. not Indian. let me tell you about the family that lived across the road from my own humble home when I was growing up. I insisted to myself. They had a double-storey house. To illustrate my point. ask 12 drunks on Warwick Avenue why they hate Indians – write a Masters thesis on the matter and then parade it as fact. the road that leads to accolades.
or they were… So when the elder son was incarcerated. milk.kept my opinion to myself. And it wasn’t just the money. They were either uppity. I didn’t realise just how many other people in our street felt the same way until the day the eldest son in the family was arrested for some pretty serious crimes involving money. shoe polish and pretty much everything under the sun. or they were snobbish. sacks of cement. they left their house at 4. after delivering all their employees to their homes. Indians were “dirt-poor. clucked and told me.30am. too. He always tells me about an Indian family who were so poor they got hand-me-down clothes from us.30am on average. or they were patronising. just like us”. The fact that that entire family woke up at 4am every day to go open up their respective businesses across town didn’t make any impression on me. While we were all back home around 5pm. One of my other neighbours looked at me knowingly. this didn’t faze my neighbours and me. pieces of wors. That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. By the time we all dragged our lazy asses out of bed at 6. Or my tongue-clucking neighbours. the verdict was unanimous: “We always knew it. Relative levels of prosperity. Because of my spinelessness. that family over the road was already collecting a steady stream of notes and coins in business transactions involving bread. The gate at my house was locked by 6pm. it was other stuﬀ. Oh no. when he was growing up in the ’40s. or they were aloof.30am. And then he gets pretty excited when he tells me how. I have an elderly family member who always passionately tells me how. While my family left the house at 7. Larney 131 . Whoever was driving their truck that day used to lock their gate around 10pm.” And I had no option but to agree. And they stayed on their feet the whole day and worked their ﬁngers to the bone. “I always knew it. they returned at 8pm. We were relentless. Still. Indians “think they’re white now that they have money”. the question that’s begging to be asked never quite comes out: “But how did they get to be so rich now if they were so poor once upon a time?” I think I can guess the answers I would get. all of a sudden.” This story of my neighbours is a transparent analogy of what I think is the root cause of anti-Indian sentiment.
just like the rest of us. after all. I believe. people who believe this garbage would never let this fact get in the way of their Indian prejudices. My opinion is that Indians are just another bunch of people vying for a piece of the cake. I’m never one to shy away from an anecdotal “truth”. I’d be told of twotiming and consorting with the oppressors. The whole lot are back-stabbers! We’re all human. and other general thievery. Most of the characters in those stories are decidedly un-Indian of course. I agree that some Indians are back-stabbers – but no more than black people or white people or coloured people or any other people I have come across in my life. The spread of stab wounds in my back indicates that Indians are responsible for approximately three per cent of them which. I’d be told about fraud involving millions. Me being me. of course. I’d be told how the Indians rode on the back of African people to make money. Is this not a slightly more plausible hypothesis than the they-stole-it theory? The word “shady” gets bandied about a lot when people speak about Indians.) So that doesn’t really mean much. I could be wrong. But just like the rest of us. Indian people got more prosperous than black people because they were more industrious and enterprising people.I’d be told gruesome tales of exploitation and back-stabbing. for that matter. in the overwhelming majority of cases. Sounds very familiar to me – seems like every time I open the Mail & Guardian and the Sunday Times. (Or brown or yellow or red. My own humble submission is that. is demographically consistent. this evil race of thieving people! I’ve often been given the advice that you should never trust an Indian because he will stab you in the back at the ﬁrst opportunity. But it’s not like there aren’t tales of black and white corruption doing the rounds. Then they spent their hard-earned money on sending their sons and daughters to study law. Some of them are kind. so I can only assume that there is something to those stories of Indian corruption. medicine. I read some story with a similar tone. they are most shady. others are colossal 132 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . and they woke up at 4am every day to peddle their wares – long before their darkie neighbours. But. I’d be told of preferential treatment. the arts and economics. Oh.
Where else could you come across this scene? You’re waiting at the robots and a car pulls up next to you. For the ﬁrst three months.) Another huge distinguisher between Indians and the rest of us is. I had an Indian friend. But you know what I mean. For starters. Some of them are hard-working. please! There’s no red soft drink on the market!” And my voice would get really screechy and rise by a few octaves explaining that there was indeed such a thing and that generations of Indian people had grown up on it. One was that. The only way you can tell it’s a 1990 Jetta 2. others I think are assholes. Some I trust. And then I would be educated that mindrel was a mineral drink – usually Sparletta Sparberry. Larney 133 . others I would prefer not to ask to hold my wallet for me. people thought I was making up softdrink ﬂavours when I asked for Sparberry. no. Well. of course. These are not special people. So Indian people are just like the rest of us. but I liked him because he also had his uses. but sometimes I look at certain vehicles on the streets of Durban and.” Huh? I didn’t realise the damn thing was going fast! (And to this day.) This is just one thing.0 CLi is because the writing on the boot says so – That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. after I got kicked out of university residence. he oﬀered a room at his house in Isipingo for me to use for about six months – for a nominal fee. they have a tendency to say things that I don’t understand. “Ey. “Nigga.bastards. I gratefully accepted and moved in with his Indian family. Cars may be inanimate objects. Iron Brew or Cream Soda. the things they do to their cars. let me retract that – they’re not quite like everybody else. who happen to have their own funny shit that they do. of course. I didn’t know what these people were talking about. We’d be sitting around the dinner table and I’d be asked to pass the mindrel. others are lazy. Some of them I really like. I feel sorry for the damn things. He had his faults actually. you! Make the TV slow. They’d talk about things I had never heard of in my life – like mindrel. man. These are people just like the rest of us. (The ﬁrst time I lived in Gauteng in ’94. I do not know what they were going on about. And then I’d look at my buddy and wait for the translation. Back when I was a student in the early ’90s.
Then there’s the boot spoiler that looks like it’s been scrounged from a Formula One scrapyard. But there is nothing else about the car that identiﬁes it as a 1990 Jetta 2. You stare. with windows ﬁrmly rolled up.000-kilowatt subwoofers alongside you. golden smile and waves at you with a hand that is decorated with 23 pieces of jewellery. And you feel a warm glow in your heart because you realise “Goddamnit. What the hell was the owner thinking when he devised this monstrosity? The guy in the passenger seat ﬂashes you a shiny. From where I sit. I’m home!” How can anybody hate that? This is the shit that makes Durban so fascinating. the contraption – you have two low-sitting individuals with bopping heads.and you can see the VW sign. Things that add colour to an otherwise grey existence as we all shuﬄe about reluctantly to fulﬁl our dull duties as cogs in the machine. casting embarrassed glances at you and shaking his head at the crazy sight. Inside the car – no. I have no freaking clue what the big idea is with Bollywood movies. but a budget graﬃti artist has emblazoned a redand-orange ﬁre-spitting dragon on each side. I estimate that they 134 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . What is there to hate about any of this? For me it is part of everyday contradictions – things that make life worth living. Knight Rider-type laser beam ﬂashes on the front grille. The car is stationary. Right behind this pair of Einsteins is a portly.0 CLi. but it’s shaking violently and there’s a thud in your chest from the 2. bespectacled Indian man in a huge Mercedes-Benz. gobsmacked. The front grille comes from a Golf and so do the headlights. The car is black. That is the beauty of our diversity. I suppose it would help if I had actually sat through at least one of them. You’re in your own vehicle. and is hanging on for dear life. With each thump of the bass beat a neon blue. The obligatory Manchester United ﬂag is hanging from the rear-view mirror. but the hubcaps are spinning. and he’s opted for 21-inch mag wheels so that the car looks like it should be driving on the sand dunes in Iraq alongside the Humvees. The owner has attached side panels that are almost scraping the tarmac because of the dropped suspension. You get the impression the driver should be taxiing on an airport runway getting ready for takeoﬀ. There’s also colour in the form of Bollywood movies.
This makes for an intriguing story because of the added argy-bargy between the two okes. who just happens to be an army general. had a three-hour beer-guzzling session with the boys. let’s pause the movie for a while and all dance and sing. shiny dress and says something. but I think she says. there’s always a rich family from a higher class. and then. So I can’t deny it. My Hindi is not what it should be. Now the mother of the lady in the middle of it all appears from nowhere in a beautiful. disappeared to have the car washed. the woman being fought over appears at that moment with about 350 of her best friends and the song-and-dance routine gets even better and more colourful. Saving Private Ryan. but that’s what it seems like. And then the armies meet in the mountains for a showdown. I’m all for the gory action ﬁlm with soldiers dying in pools of their own blood. I’m told these classes are called castes. And then the poor jilted love interest joins the army of rebels which takes on the regular army. if the shiny uniform is anything to go by. The reason I lose my concentration during these ﬁlms is not because the story lines are uninteresting. I have seen a Bollywood movie start on SABC 3. there’s always a poor family from a lower caste. what with all those soldiers in uniform waving their riﬂes rhythmically in the air like they just don’t care. and all that great choreography and hip That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. I could be wrong. man. For some reason. Then the daughter of the rich family falls in love with the son from the poor family.” Now all the soldiers form perfect lines and someone turns on a ghetto blaster and everybody gyrates in perfect unison. for instance. instantly jumped up to get my car keys. So there’s a rich family from a higher caste.last an average of ﬁve to six hours. visited a sick relative in hospital… and when I came back home. I ﬁnd them rather fascinating. naturally. Bollywood movies deﬁnitely have some things going for them. And I also enjoy Michael Jackson’s Remember The Time video. It’s beautiful. “Okay. both of whom want the beautiful lady. From what I can gather. But perhaps I’m a weird individual in that I want my movies and MTV videos separate. Larney 135 . Then they force her to marry a rich cousin. it was still on. In fact. Then the mother from the rich family threatens to slit her wrists if her daughter goes ahead and marries the poor sod.
This kind of arrangement would never ﬂy with black people. I used to shake my head in amazement when I saw this before I actually lived in an Indian suburb with my buddy’s family. I may not be a fan of Bollywood. “Die. I’d always just assumed they were really wealthy. Just like at the Oriental Restaurant. which made for interesting moments when I was there. when SABC 3 tries to educate my ignorant ass and bring some culture into my life by showing Bollywood movies. With good reason. It seems that my friend’s dad and his brother built the house together and then moved in with their respective families (including the obligatory grandmother). but I think the rest of the imbeciles in this great nation can learn a thing or two from our Indian brethren. kind of. There’d be ﬁst ﬁghts in the yard 136 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . in fact. Not together. No roti soaking in dhal for me. and then continue selfconsciously up the stairs. the only access was through the ground-ﬂoor lounge. there’d be some spectacular misunderstandings. I want my roti on one plate and my dhal in a separate bowl. four-bathroom double-storey mansion. People dying and hip gyrations don’t mix. I respectfully decline.gyrations and whatnot. That’s why. you dirty rotten scoundrel. My buddy’s family called the top. The ﬁrst time I came home late and on my own. I’m fussy like that. I always grab my keys. I had to walk into someone else’s lounge while the entire family sat there watching TV. Well. Their house was a relatively modest ninebedroom. Everybody should do themselves a favour and take a leisurely drive through a predominantly Indian township or suburb. two families lived there. Right after the uncle with the “wet look” hair draws his sword and utters the bloodcurdling words. Black people are ﬁrm believers in the no-two-bulls-in-one-kraal philosophy. you imbecile you” and then bursts into song. Because of the design of the house. Only once I lived there did I realise that. I think if I lived upstairs with my family and my brother lived downstairs. I lose interest. The number of three-storey mansions is mind-boggling. Thank you. too. So when my Indian friends insist that we catch a ﬂick together and they suggest a title with 34 words. When I had visited before. But I want them separate. I imagine they tossed a coin to determine who took what ﬂoor.
don’t waste time asking dumb questions. just join the queue. Foolish me. I discovered I was about to get a great deal on a shaving gel. our roads would be far less clogged up.involving either my brother and I. They all packed themselves into the one Corolla. when I saw my neighbour. But then the Christmas break came and I couldn’t believe the scene that unfolded before my eyes one morning. minding my own business. That’s one thing we could all learn from our Indian brethren: the discipline required to car pool. It’s safe to say that I’m follicularly challenged in the facial region. Plus. I used to live in a complex on the East Rand. I was standing in the garden. A claustrophobic aggravation. If we all did this. I did exactly that not too long ago when I was still a corporate man. Ah. Fair enough. his family and his visitors ﬁle out of his place. The Indian chap in the onebedroom unit opposite mine lived there with his wife and kid. And two families living on top of each other – literally – is a major aggravation. my people and me. despite the fact that I had gathered they were oﬀ to Carnival City just around the corner. so I did the only thing I could do given the circumstances: I bought three. I counted nine people – ﬁve adults and four kids. Chicken and pap have a way of doing that. Larney 137 . eight people in a Tazz is stretching the point. shaving foam and razor gift pack. I reckon. it was That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. isn’t he? He certainly has his idiosyncrasies. We may want to exercise a touch less enthusiasm for the wisdom of car pooling of course. the Indian man is an interesting one. such as a healthy appetite for a bargain. When I got to the front. So when I saw nine people ﬁle out of the house I naturally assumed they were using both cars. no Tazz could take more than three average-sized black people in the back seat in any case. That word pops into my mind whenever I overtake another Tazz stuﬀed with eight occupants on a Durban highway. Claustrophobia. But hey. It’s an often-repeated fact that when you see a bunch of Indians queuing. so I guess I now have suﬃcient shaving equipment to last until 2024. our wives or a combination thereof. We don’t respond too well to aggravation. My neighbour owned a Toyota Corolla and the visitors also owned a Corolla – don’t ask. I walked into the staﬀ shop looking for a little snack and there was a 12-man queue of Indian guys – which I just sommer joined.
you no want DVD?” Me: “No. but my eloquent explanations to the eﬀect that I didn’t get a DVD because I just hadn’t planned on it were clearly inadequate.marked down by 50 per cent! That’s what I’ve learnt from my Indian buddies. just take advantage of a bargain. you coming?” Me: [Looking up again. that’s real cheap.] “Ey. The idea that I was not ready to take advantage of a great deal just wouldn’t register in my colleagues’ minds. “DVD guy here!” I did what I normally do in situations like these: I looked up brieﬂy then continued doing what I was doing. But not today for me. A visibly excited.” OOBNB: “Cheap cheap DVD. are you fucking crazy?” before disappearing down the passageway. no. Don’t waste time contemplating whether or not you actually need the thing.” OOBNB: “R40 a DVD. “Ey.” The man gave me a look that I read to say. It was unheard of. out-of-breath Indian colleague burst through the doorway of our open-plan section and.” Me: “I’m sure they are. The bearer of this Earthshattering news was still there. For the rest of the day I would have to ﬁeld the same question about 17 times.” Me: “Oh.” OOBNB: [Waiting for me to jump up and run with him to reception. they are. Everybody looked at me like I was speaking in some kind of monkey language. trying to regain his breath. I hadn’t planned on it. “You dumb man.” OOBNB: “But R40 they are!” Me: “Yeah. I hadn’t planned on getting a DVD today. When I ﬁrst moved down to Durban to work on a site that had predominantly Indian staﬀ. after a few large gulps of air. and he looked at me incredulously: Out-of-breath news bearer: “Ey. I had a memorable experience that confounded me at the time. they are. But the oﬃce cleared faster than the counters at Home Aﬀairs when the clock strikes 3pm. that’s a low price. announced in a burst. why you didn’t buy a DVD and come?” I am a generally articulate individual.] “Er. 138 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .
If everyone suddenly decided to drink Castle.A few weeks later I happened to mention in passing in the oﬃce that I had driven past what seemed like a few hundred fellows holding sardines on the main road on my way back from the post oﬃce. they deserve to have fun poked at them – just That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. Five hundred kilometres away to avoid unnecessary bloodshed is more like it. of course). What happened next was completely unexpected (though not in retrospect. I had just driven past the ﬁsh-mongering fellows. What’s there to hate about that? The way I see it. with all the associated sentimental crap that forced generosity-of-spirit campaigns seem to engender. and that would really put a dampener on my in-ﬂight entertainment. And hey. and that is also quite okay. I’m not advocating progressive policy of Rainbow Nation forums and conferences. It’s kind of a guiding principle of mine. Not everyone likes what I like and not everyone talks the way I talk. Feeling in the mood for pork chops that night. I guess I just wanted an excuse to poke fun at Indian people. Luckily. he stopped momentarily to ask incredulously. Lord knows. white people like their gin and tonic. But to each his own. generally. “You not coming?” I wanted to explain how I felt like pork chops that evening. I prefer pork chops to dirt-cheap sardines. But don’t be fooled. both these scenes I’ve described repeated themselves every time there was a bargain to be had in the area. black chicks like their wine by the glass and Indian folk like their mindrels. I’m just saying we should live and let live. we should all be embracing these funny little anecdotes as part of who we all are. All I could hear was the word “Sardines!” being shouted over and over as people grabbed car keys and made for the door. I prefer my MTV videos separate from my epic movies. I soon learnt the lesson: Indians. don’t you think? Tolerance and all that. A mini-stampede broke out. we’d be out of stock in no time. As one fellow rushed past me. I’m not such an altruistic guy. I’m grateful for that. That’s a pretty great message. At regular intervals at the same job. I’d much rather have my brothers not living in my house. enjoy a bargain. but he was already halfway down the passage. And they consider you mentally deranged if you choose not to enjoy one. and that’s cool. Larney 139 .
You could do what I’m doing as I write this: giggle like a schoolgirl. Whatever you do.like the rest of us. larney. 140 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Or you could grind your teeth and write an angry letter to the newspaper. it’s no dhal oﬀ my mutton breyani. How you choose to react to fun-pokery is up to you.
That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. Larney 141 .
Let the masses eat pap .
you need to have a strong. In order to be an eﬀective leader. And that’s the best-case scenario. one instance where democracy ever worked properly. 144 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . well-developed autocratic streak. socialism and weightloss plans come to mind. But a lot of ideas look great when you read about them in books. you have to have a very clear idea of where you want to take the sheep following you. So democracy resides in that neat little box in my brain labelled useful only on paper. deep down in places they don’t talk about during party congresses. I’m all for the whole benevolent-dictatorship idea. certainly not the way in which I’ve seen it being practised in this country. And I’ve got to say that democracy doesn’t convince me. Christianity. As we all know. or even heard of. Public representatives who spend their term in oﬃce doing exactly diddly-squat is the other popular option. democracy really looks great. because then we could all stop being quietly diplomatic and just call a spade a spade. The most accurate deﬁnition of democracy is probably “an autocratic government chosen by the people”. To be a good leader. People cannot be trusted with such noble ideals. This seems rather logical from where I’m standing. together with Dr Phil’s entire collection of self-help ﬁction and Das Kapital. what party leaders say about democracy and what they practise tends to be quite diﬀerent. I have never read about. I would be really happy if everyone could just accept this deﬁnition. All of the great ideas mentioned above would solve most of life’s problems were it not for one obstacle: human beings. On paper. Know what I’m saying? The thing is. You need to have a clear personal vision.I ’ve never really been fully onboard with this whole democracy thing. And I’m of the belief that. It seems that the pattern is identical in every nation that attempts this form of governance. most leaders feel the same way. Without a clear vision you’re just another weak-willed comrade stumbling along from one consultative imbizo to the next. The pattern being that the electorate chooses public representatives. who then ignore all their election promises and spend their terms in oﬃce doing whatever the hell they want. Doesn’t mean they work out well. in any case.
And yet. I had been quite keen to delve into the core of the complicated topic and understand why I can’t toyi-toyi into Soccer City and single-handedly boot out Mr Hack. I have the right to decide who gets to lead this country. I have the morals of a pubic louse. so I decided I’d enlightened myself suﬃciently on the machinations of our democracy and hastily moved towards the bar. I read newspapers everyday. My exertions had left me rather parched – all from a 45-second “conversation” with a senior public representative. I listen to debates on TV and on the radio. I needed a large beer to recover. There is only one conclusion: Autocracy 1 – 0 Democracy I’d much rather have an intelligent. True story. Not me. the other day I bumped into Minister Makhenkesi Stoﬁle at the airport and tried to get a rational answer to the question. As the story above illustrates. my commitment to democracy is decidedly ﬁckle. And then he mumbled something about the matter being much more complicated than meets the eye. according to democratic principles. That’s why I’m such a Fidel fan. I think grand decisions on how the nation should be governed should be left to the people who know what they’re doing. I personally do not want to be consulted.Nothing wrong with imbizos – except that I could possibly be one of the nitwits that are consulted at these things. I’ve always made a gallant eﬀort to keep myself informed about issues of national importance. benevolent dictator making all the important decisions for me. Why. He was giving me that look I’ve seen in the eyes of bouncers outside Durban nightclubs at 4am. What I want is so stupid and moronic that I really shouldn’t even be allowed to vote. but I was discouraged by the burly bodyguard with an earpiece who was skulking around the minister. It follows quite Let The Masses Eat Pap 145 . “Why can’t I pelt SAFA’s Raymond Hack with pebbles each time I see him at football games?” He gave me a look that made it quite apparent that he was genuinely concerned I might be infected with rabies. I read politicians’ biographies to get a sense of what they truly think about important things. Not only that.
he might still be in prison today. And I quite like Vavi and Nzimande. When those lovable comrades were going on about how Mbeki has been displaying dictatorship tendencies lately. No biggie. by the way. “Yeah. Remember the whole nationalanthem saga? How did we end up with Die Stem being part of the anthem when the majority in this country wanted it out of here? If we’d had a referendum on the matter at the time. waiting for the consultative process to get to branch level. an integral aspect of Leadership 101. it was a retarded song. but fast-forward a couple of years and you’ll probably ﬁnd most people shrugging their shoulders and saying.naturally that during the recent spat between Vavi. I wanted to write them an open letter with a one-liner: “Niggers. A little bit of controversy a while back. They are good. I believe. and he knew the rest of us would get over it soon enough.”) So the big chief waved his hand and Die Stem stayed. on the other hand. bro! Mandela was exactly the same way. Nzimande and Mbeki. if Mandela hadn’t started negotiating bilaterally with those Nat dinosaurs while he was in jail. If I had to use that scale. I was fully behind Mbeki. Clearly. please!” But of course Mbeki has some dictatorial qualities – which is. But Mandela realised there was no point in upsetting the horns-wearers. (Kinda like that De La Rey piece of non-news. The fact that Mbeki has dictatorial tendencies is a bit of a no-brainer to me – like duh. the wisdom of judiciously 146 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . hornswearing Blue Bulls supporters. Mbeki. Instead of bitching and moaning about Mbeki’s autocratic tendencies they maybe should have focused more on the speciﬁc issues that they think Mbeki had bulldozed through without consulting them. I’d have to dismiss offhand everything Mbeki said and did. Die Stem would now only be sung by boisterous. aﬀable and charismatic comrades. But I try very hard to disregard my meticulously assembled sliding scale of assholeness when it comes to these things. And Mbeki says and does a lot of smart things. turns his charm on only when it suits him. Autocracy 2 – 0 Democracy In fact.
ignored the ACDP’s call for a referendum on the matter. It was a good decision. but I honestly do not have the time to educate myself on the nuances and intricacies involved in managing the complexities of governance. Like I’ve said. a friend of mine even e-mailed pictures of two such individuals kissing passionately. I prefer to use my sliding scale of perceived assholeness. Using this method. All I use to make up my mind about which ministers I think are smart and which ones are complete wastepipes are the 20-second segments I Let The Masses Eat Pap 147 . I spit on Zackie Achmat and I think Judge Cameron is a great guy – and I haven’t met either of these gentlemen. marital inﬁdelity and divorce should remain the exclusive preserve of people who practise “normal” heterosexual sex. “Should homosexuals be allowed to get married and be as miserable as the rest of us?” Indeed. Hating gay people based on their sexual orientation is so limiting. in their all-seeing wisdom. That is why I believe our leaders. I believe that more than two thirds of the voting public of this country would feel strongly that marriage. beards all a-tangle. I fought oﬀ waves of nausea and applauded.applied autocracy should not even be in question. Two hairy-backed individuals can now look each other in the eye and lie. you read right. I rely on the ever-useful green monster as a source for my righteous indignation. A great decision! Autocracy rules! Autocracy 3 – 0 Democracy Perhaps I speak only for myself here.” This week. “Till death do us part. So I could well be speaking right out of my rectum when I say that I think about 70 per cent of our population would vote “No” if there was a referendum asking the question. But now it’s signed and sealed for gay people. I’m always open to the notion that I’m wrong and that my opinions are uninformed and ignorant.) And when the scale fails me. I personally make every attempt to hate everybody and there are so many other criteria you can use to get just the right amount of righteous indignation you need to make it look eﬀective. domestic violence. (I’ve got TV to thank for those opinions.
Retards. • 1992 referendum – Back then there were still people who thought I wasn’t sophisticated enough to vote.see on the news. Eﬀectively. That and articles from newspapers – and those always tend to be opinion pieces. and yeah. thus ensuring that they would never. Or born-again Christian. ever get my vote as long as I live. So I’ll make a start and declare my voting record since I turned 18. I feel very strongly about the number 28 for my own personal reasons. We make uninformed choices. I tell all my friends where my cross was made. you’re likely to vote ANC. give Balfour R150. If you’re white you’re likely to vote for the DA. And so I reach my retarded opinions in front of the TV or while reading the paper at breakfast: “Hmm. wears safari suits and sticks a comb in his socks. but I have no way of knowing if the number 28 really will get me the R50. There is nothing of value in the thought process I employ to vote. Unless you’re rural and Afrikaner. • 1994 – ANC (both national and provincial) 148 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .” Why bother with this whole democracy nonsense then? The sum total of my democratic participation seems to be making a cross for whichever street gang has hoodwinked me into believing in them for the time being. Oh. And don’t get me started on this rubbish about keeping one’s vote secret. buddy. Sure. What’s this big secret we’re all supposed to take to our graves? I think we should all just declare which gang we roll with.000. Many people have tried to hoodwink me into believing that the rationale behind their vote is better than mine. Maybe we should pay her R2 million a year. the horses and political candidates we back have an uncanny ability to let us down very badly. we choose blindly. Unless you’re rural and Zulu. Just like the numbers at the roulette table.) Voting for a party is a lot like me betting on number 28 at the roulette table. Zulu people have a phrase for this: “Sithenga ingulube isesakeni” (Buying a pig inside a sack. Or your dad is/was a member of either the PAC or BC. Or your dad owns a tractor.000 I desire. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma seems to know what she’s doing. Why? That’s like two F-students who are sharing a desk during an exam hiding answers from each other. If you’re black.
I stood up and addressed a question towards my councillor. I got a bit impatient. what system was he going on about? I wanted to ask someone for the date just to conﬁrm that it was indeed 1997. would you believe it? • 2004 – ANC (both national and provincial) • 2006 – Once again. And compared to the national polls. In the end.• 1996 – ANC (both ward and proportional votes) • 1999 – ANC (both national and provincial) • 2001 – I meant to vote but I started at the Ben Loch pub in Benoni. So there you have it: four times out of six I voted for the ANC. The beer won hands down. I pretty much had no information at all on the candidates in my area. Mr Councillor.” I wanted to cut Scarface short and bark. My localgovernment voting record isn’t great. This confused me somewhat. it was a choice between cutting down on the drinking time or voting. During the 2006 local-government election. as you can see. local government elections are the ones where all the parties actually have a shot at swaying my thinking. But here’s my gripe. The last time I attended one of these was at the back end of ’97. By the time I was ready to vote. So I decided to make my democratic contribution. I believe that I requested some kind of written update from him detailing what he had done so far and what his plans were for the ward. After three hours of various people talking in circles and generating a large amount of hot air. I woke up two hours late and my day just ran away from me. “Please answer this question. Alas. the reason being that I have an irrational aversion to attending these ward public meetings. among other things. but Let The Masses Eat Pap 149 . I meant to vote. A fellow with a scar running from the corner of his left eye to the corner of his mouth sprung up to answer on the councillor’s behalf and started waﬄing away – despite the fact that I had speciﬁcally said. “I don’t remember asking you a goddamned thing!” But there was something in the cold. menacing manner in which he addressed me that sharpened my self-preservation instincts and left me biting my tongue. the polling station was closed. So he just continued waﬄing on about “people with counter-revolutionary tendencies who are agents of the system”. Ditto with my provincial vote to a certain extent. I didn’t make it in either 2001 or 2006.
so please shut up!” At least with the national elections I have Mondli Makhanya and Ferial Haﬀajee to give me my opinions. But I think I can take this one to the bank: Terror Lekota has no idea what the name of my 150 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Yet this individual is eerily silent on where he stands on local issues that directly aﬀect me. Mr Bighead. they are famously useless during local-government elections. Because the media stopped reporting on the news a while ago. or whichever other angry minister type wants to enter the fray. Issues such as why I can’t pee in the street or drink beer at the beach. aaight? Let the big-headed boys up on them posters speak for themselves. I may even start legal proceedings against anyone making such unfounded allegations. Call it a hunch. any suggestions that I don’t go to these meetings because they eat into my drinking time. with the contempt they deserve. my view of oncoming traﬃc is obstructed by a poster with a mugshot of a big-headed person vying for my vote. it seems. God bless the media. All they cover is what the excitable ministers and party bigwigs have to say. Just tell me why. Each time I drive out of my house. I know nothing. I’m a self-admitted ignoramus. can I not relieve myself in the street when I’m really pressed? Instead. I struggle to understand this. This really should not be the way to make an election call. I am heavily dependent on the big mugshot pictures on those election posters to make my informed choice on which guy or gal I’m voting for during local-government elections. And each time I shout at the TV: “You’re not a candidate. these days every story has an angle and an opinion. And that is my story to explain why I don’t attend meetings to get to know my public representatives. As a result of all this.” Once again. Terror. I wish I knew where each of the candidates stands on local government issues close to my heart. So I turn to the media for help – but alas. And I will reject. “Listen. This is not about the army. but it’s the only way.it didn’t seem prudent to upset him any further. This would seal or break any deal with me. I’m being bombarded with a war of words between the Reverend Meshoe and the perpetually furious Terror Lekota. I honestly want to say.
They may as well have been mutes. The only thing I was supposed to base my vote on was the poster with the face. maybe we need to take another picture of you. The guy reminded me too much of HF Verwoerd. I can neither conﬁrm nor deny whether any of these people even had arms.” My only other realistic choices were the ACDP guy and the IFP woman. of course. That’s it. “Look. And then I’d be. Well done.elected ward councillor is. That is. I was using the 0. Steve. I was pretty sure he’d end up voting against street peeing during council meetings. Hendrick. ACDP committee. I believe. the gist of the diﬀerent tiers of government. so I could have gone with her as well. Let The Masses Eat Pap 151 . In fact. Ain’t nothing wrong with Ma Agnes. my man. but I just couldn’t rise above my pettiness. IFP committee. I have to wonder about the committee who approved that poster. torsos and legs. I tried really hard not to let this inﬂuence my decision. He reminded me too much of that Steve Urkel guy from TV. And so there you have it – my options for the representative to ﬁght my street-pissing battles were the Bakers man and Ma Agnes. “Yo. I thought we were all for pissing where we want. as far as I can tell. like.500 kilometres away. in a racially mixed suburb. I didn’t trust Steve Urkel to stand his ground when all those other people insisted that I couldn’t pee in the street. In fact. All because the localgovernment election was being fought on the strength of posters. The ACDP guy always conjured up the smell of baking cookies because he looked exactly like that Bakers man from the TV ad.” and he’d giggle and say something stupid like. But in 2006. The IFP woman was a spitting image of Ma Agnes from Isidingo. And angry ministers who live 1. “Oops! Did I do that?” Then there was the DA candidate. the geniuses desperate for my vote were not saying anything to me.6 seconds or so that I had as I drove past them to make my decision. The ANC candidate wasn’t even in the running. Well done. Someone should have had the good sense to look at the picture and say. And if that is true. Bad decision. then it follows that he should let the man speak for himself. That’s a good picture to put up on a poster.
It makes just as much sense as voting for any of those other guys I know nothing about. Maybe you could get oﬀ your ass and stand at the Spine Road intersection next to the Pavilion and shake my hand. the entire cast of Isidingo could make a great provincial cabinet. Slu. Work up a sweat and amuse me. I ain’t voting. Maybe then I’ll realise that you have a full body and that you don’t really look like an apartheid icon. Of course. I think aspiring public representatives should work harder at getting my vote so they can go to council meetings and do whatever the hell it is that they want. Don’t mess with Bra Georgi. Are they serious? The Bigheads want my vote but I must hit the pavement searching for meetings in obscure halls so that Scarface can break my kneecaps? No thanks. my laaitie! This Gautrain business has fokol to do with you. for crying out loud! That’s like Bra Georgi from Isidingo being elected Premier of Gauteng. Follow the lead of the bright sparks in America. you need to get a little creative about these things. jam-packed with political jargon I don’t want to read.To top it oﬀ. Some snot-faced reporter would ask him a question and he’d get. the Bakers man and Ma Agnes actually had bodies. it was my duty to go out and ﬁnd these individuals on the posters. Candidates. Verwoerd. some bright spark from political circles would always appear on TV to berate the electorate for being apathetic. I do believe the technical phrase for how I felt about that is. Apparently. I’m happy to admit that none of this is about me. Not that it works better elsewhere. Come on. Ma Agnes would deﬁnitely do a better job than 152 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . They elected The Terminator as governor of California. The least they could do is be more entertaining. Hell. Perhaps instead of stuﬃng stupid pamphlets. “Well. get him out of here!” I’d deﬁnitely vote for Bra Georgi. tap dance. you can make the eﬀort to go out and ﬁnd us. But don’t just be a fat face on a poster.” Here is a suggestion to those body-less candidates next time around. speak to me and kiss my baby. “Luister. rather than us ﬁnding you. Democracy sucks in this country. to conﬁrm myself whether Urkel. Now wouldn’t that be something. I know they won’t vote for peeing in the streets. into my mailbox. screw you guys.
I mean. Guilty as charged. “Ngwanake. This is a hard thing to do. Getting really disagreeable and calling each other dictators is also a favourite pastime. the movies. She would slap silly those kids with knives. it seems. Instead. Once you’ve chosen. Then there’s the actual process itself – marking your cross. And deciding who to vote for is just the half of it. Still. And making sure companies you are a board member of get Let The Masses Eat Pap 153 . And our politicians are not in favour of happy people. Big. man. Ma Agnes is both tough and empathetic at the same time. Stuﬀ like pulling the plug on World Cup stadiums. Stuﬀ like making sure the vagrants. I prefer watching Kelly Khumalo getting sweaty on stage than me sweating in the sun at Orlando Stadium. see you in ﬁve years. I’m sorry.” And they would have to stop that nonsense because. coat-hanger salesmen and general homeless people – all these “nuisances” – are driven oﬀ the streets of Cape Town. who wouldn’t listen to Ma Agnes? But they would never allow celebrities in politics in this country because then we’d be entertained. That’s why we are always shouted at and told not to go to braais.that perpetually bemused Gauteng Education MEC woman. music festivals and other happy occasions on public holidays. if it’s a toss-up between watching Kelly Khumalo disrobe on a stage and listening to Kgalema Motlanthe call me “the masses” and tell me how grateful I should be that I can vote for Steve Urkel – well. Maybe that makes me a bad South African. an unpatriotic South African. we’re supposed to go sit in the sun at Orlando Stadium and listen to sweaty. And being entertained means we wouldn’t be miserable all the time. and tell them. Now you have to believe and hope that your chosen gang will do what they said they would. I’m going with Kelly. I prefer happiness over exhaustion and punching my ﬁst in the air next to Scarface. You better realise that for the next ﬁve years these guys are focusing on more important stuﬀ than doing what you want… Stuﬀ like seeing what travel vouchers are available. fat chance! Now you have to look forward to ﬁve years of people doing everything but create a better life for all. angry politicians try to bore us to death. And optimising car discounts. that’s it – bye bye. stop stabbing other kids! It’s not right.
Rather than this bickering lot we’ve voted for. think again. if they let Ma Agnes run this country alone for ten uninterrupted years. As well as not spending the money allocated to your department. This is what happens in the ﬁve years. The options we have are not real options at all. And the masses would be sure to get a little bit of gravy with their pap. we’d get something done. 154 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Meanwhile. they let the masses eat pap – as before. And if you’re dumb enough to think that choosing another street gang to represent you over the current lot is going to make a diﬀerence. I blame democracy. It’s akin to being asked how you’d like to be killed – by decapitation or a bullet to the head? Personally.all the government contracts.
Let The Masses Eat Pap 155 .
My criminal life .
That was 30 years ago. I had shots ﬁred at me from almost point-blank range at my father’s house in an attempted hijacking of his car. I literally mean that someone was stabbed. Which is mostly because they were rotten shots. But 20 years ago our boys in blue weren’t particularly concerned with inane endeavours such as ﬁghting actual crime. you see. nothing much has changed. hacked or bludgeoned with a weapon every single Friday in my neighbourhood. And that’s not a ﬁgure of speech. I’ve been a victim of a long list of crimes in my time. So they discharged their ﬁrearms in my general direction to expedite my arrival there. S 158 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I grew up in a township. I think most people have just witnessed a change in the nature of the crime. I saw my ﬁrst corpse when I was ﬁve years old. It just seems that the crime has spread itself more evenly across the country. I was stupid enough to tell the would-be hijackers I’d see them in hell before they made oﬀ with my dad’s Nissan Skyline. A stone’s throw away in KwaMashu. I never got used to it. I know. Hunting communists was signiﬁcantly higher on the list. but I imagine they are up a few hundred per cent from a decade or two ago. My grandmother used to work in Umhlanga Rocks. More recently and disturbingly. From where I’m standing today. We would guﬀaw out loud upon hearing stories of a guy down the road who’d broken the 100-metre Olympic record putting some distance between himself and some knife-wielding assailants. which was a generally crime-free part of the world back in the day.outh Africa has a crime problem. The good news is they didn’t leave with the car. Pretty much every weekend I walked to the shops and saw drops of blood on the pavement. But by the time I was about ten. Ever since I can remember. Violent crime is impossible to get used to. I was mugged at knife-point on a train between the Reunion and Isipingo stations in the south of Durban. To be honest. Years ago. crime has been a part of my life. I can’t give you the current crime statistics in Umhlanga. I have to concede that my friends and I had been desensitised to a degree. It was just a normal part of my life growing up – a right royal tragedy.
Beating the living shit out of harmless hookers seems to be right up there – while beating the shit out of semi-automatic-riﬂe-wielding gangsters who spray Fidelity Guards vehicles with bullets is not very high on their priority list. you best believe life would be about to get real uncomfortable for criminals. hardcore-jazz CDs that few people would appreciate. I know. west of Durban. and raping dicks guillotined. I’d institute laws that would make the Taliban look like a bunch of limp-wristed pinko-liberals. In the South African context. About R30. If you’re not clear on it just yet. Breathalysing alcoholics on Victoria Embankment is right up there – while paedophiles brutalise threemonth-old babies just down the road. I lived for three months in a nonstarter of a township called KwaNdengezi in the greater Pinetown area. Egotistical notions such as a lasting legacy would not hamper my presidency.000 worth of CDs in Morningside. Durban. (Long story involving being kicked out of a Pinetown ﬂat due to an unruly ﬂatmate’s My Criminal Life 159 . So please. if you’ve come across a copy of Miles Davis’s Tutu with the initials NN on it.) And I have some pretty strong views on the subject. If the South African public was ever foolish enough to vote me into the Union Buildings. In 1998. (Yes. And not too long ago.000 worth of those were obscure. So it really pisses me oﬀ when I look around and see what our highly trained crack squad of savvy law-enforcement oﬃcers keep themselves busy with on a day-to-day basis. contact me. It seems that our police oﬃcers spend a disproportionate amount of time arresting drunken university students on our beaches. we all think we’re qualiﬁed. I have a huge log jammed in my poop-hole about the crime situation in our land – a situation that some of us have experienced for as long as we’ve lived. this all makes me highly qualiﬁed to speak rather authoritatively on crime. my wife and I were relieved of about R40.Once I had to plead for my life with moisture in my pants while a yellowtoothed idiot pointed a gun to my head over a misunderstanding involving his slow-witted sister. Stealing hands would deﬁnitely be chopped oﬀ.
I heard a terrible story on the news about how another bunch of crime-busting professionals took 30 hours to discover the body of a slain child under the bed in a house they had surrounded. dreaming of beating up hard-working Zimbabwean illegal immigrants in Westdene.) A burglar entered the house while I was still up being regaled by the comedic “genius” of one Sinbad. I want to see what they’ll do. I want to see this. I guess they hated the fact that they were working an actual crime scene. But that’s too much for our civic protectors whose salaries we pay so that they can munch on chicken pies at the local BP while on duty. at least the rooster crowed three times. whenever I hear those terrible stories of vigilantism and mob justice. they left us in the hands of housebreaking. Even when St Peter’s faith wavered (bless that gentle. Twice! And then. “Wait. They beeped their horn twice. I tend to sympathise because I understand how it comes about. 160 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I merely shrugged and wondered how many times it happens in less prominent cases. So I locked myself in the bedroom and listened to the sounds of housebreaking scum transporting my things up and down the passage. for all they knew. Recently. I made a discreet phone call to the supposedly long arm of the law to come rescue our goods and possibly our lives. About 90 minutes later my housemates and I were busy tallying up our losses when we were interrupted by the sound of a car horn beeping at the gate. oh. The voice on the other side of the phone hit me with the response you don’t really want to hear under the circumstances: “I’ll send someone over as soon as we have a car available.shenanigans – God rest his soul. bearded Catholic man). Upon investigation we discovered that it was a police van. I was getting up to answer to the hoot of the law when a housemate grabbed me by the arm. They were probably standing there around that house with a faraway look in their eyes.” They beeped the horn again – and then the police van started pulling oﬀ slowly… These days.” I didn’t think it was worth mentioning the fact that I lived. a few hundred metres from the police station. They have no idea whether the bad guys are still here and holding us hostage at gunpoint or not. possibly murderous scum.
3.1. This might all seem unfair on our law enforcement fellows.4 As an afterthought. Keep revving the engine to avoid stalling.9 Now head for the nearest beach. 3.1. confectionery items and coﬀee.) 3. proceed to the house in which the occupants might be in the process of being gang-raped. maybe it isn’t.1 Wait 90 minutes to ensure dangerous felons have suﬃcient time to secure the house in question. (You never know.From what I’ve heard from a variety of minister types in grey suits and parliamentary Committees On This-That-And-The-Other.1. Maybe it is.6 Park the police vehicle outside the gate with engine running just in case the housebreaking scum are still there.1. I’ve been assured that our guys are more than adequately trained. I’m 35 years old and I have never been helped by a member of My Criminal Life 161 . indeed.1.1. Society is in danger from some people with open beer cans.8 Beep your horn a second time and then start pulling oﬀ. 3. Hopefully there is one. I stand to be corrected.7 Beep your horn once. If not. So I’d really love to see the Procedure To Apprehend Housebreaking Murderous Scum.1. surround the Durban University Of Technology Steve Biko campus and beat the living crap out of partying students. left. remember. 3. (The bad guys might still be there. You are now in the clear.5 Approach the house carefully just to be certain that the felons have. There might be horny husbands looking to take the edge oﬀ on Point Road with prostitutes.1 Standard operational procedure when apprehending housebreaking murderous scum 3. 3. 3.3 Make a detour to an ex-girlfriend’s ﬂat and point a loaded ﬁrearm at her head and threaten to end her life. but I doubt that it reads as follows: 3.1.) 3.2 Take a detour to the local BP garage with a Wild Bean Café and look menacing as you purchase an assortment of chicken pies.1.
If anything. passed out on a Strand Road pavement in the Cape Town CBD. let alone when I’ve gone there to report a crime. murderous scum? Two beeps and oﬀ we go. I’ll tell you where I have seen them. they don’t hoot at him twice and then move on. But for housebreaking. guys dusting for prints and taking statements – something! When I went to the police station after I was shot at inside my parents’ house. in any case. Come to my house and do your police thing that I pay taxes for you to do? I’ve seen this on American TV programmes. 162 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . They may even give him a few klaps if he shows any drunken resistance. Kicking 18-year-old female university students in the butt. You know. And that was the last time the matter was ever discussed. visible presence of members of our security agencies wherever the public is congregated for purposes of pleasure. The worst Gatiep can threaten them with is the odour of his piss-stained pants. North Beach. They carry out their duties with extraordinary zeal and fervour. At one stage he decided to take a tea break. Not one member of that august organisation in blue uniform came to have a look at the bullet holes in the walls and the ﬂoor. If members of the police services ﬁnd Gatiep pissed out of his mind. What had these lawless citizens done to deserve being removed from society for the night? They drank cider in public. Did I mention these were 18year-old female students? Considering the consistent. I have never received courteous service from them – not even when I’ve merely wanted them to certify a copy of my ID book. but I tend to believe that it has something to do with the low statistical probability that Gatiep might have an AK-47 or a panga to oﬀer resistance with. I’ve had this question thrown at me: “What would you like us to do?” I don’t know. the guy took my statement in three instalments. Durban. For a man caught with his pants around his ankles on top of a three-year-old? A three-hour wait until the community gets edgy and metes out some street justice. though. shoving them into the back of a van. It may be my cynical mind at work again. I think it’s safe to say that this is their chosen area of focus.our police services – not directly. Not even to stand around and look important. each about 45 minutes apart.
He pontiﬁcated that. Spraying a Coin Security guard with bullets is marginally higher on the sliding scale of evil than uprooting carrots from Mr Gatsheni’s carrot patch. If a tenyear-old street kid stole R10 from you.If it sounds like I’m suggesting that the cops ease up on the “petty” crimes and concentrate on the more serious crimes. sin-busting cry. Of course. At age ten. would you diligently ensure that he was My Criminal Life 163 . grey rules my life these days. His whole point being that excrement stinks just the same irrespective of the amount. the magnitude of the sin is irrelevant: sin is sin. Where there used to be black and white on the canvas of morality. It was all me – and the devil did not make me do it. As I’ve grown older. Sis’ Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and your moral-regeneration crusade. Yes. Anyone can see there is a diﬀerence between the theory of morality as is espoused in pulpits every Sunday and the practical application of it. and accepted that uprooting carrots from the school garden patch and then sticking the leafy stem back carried the same punishment as selling the Messiah out for 30 silver coins. But in my limited. To illustrate his excellent point. this didn’t discourage our hell-bound asses from our carrot-looting ways. We merely nodded. killing a baby to sell its body parts is on a somewhat diﬀerent plane to inhaling a herb that brings me closer to Jah. Except for the few hypocritical hours I spend at Holy Mass each year. the cut-and-dried lines that deﬁne right and wrong have become signiﬁcantly more blurry. we had a Bible-bashing teacher named Mr Gatsheni who drilled into our impressionable heads the absoluteness of sin. it’s because I am. Forgive me. continued digging up the carrot patch and waited for Judgment Day. snotfaced little devils. in God’s eyes. When I was in junior school. He had an unwavering faith and no-one doubted the appropriateness of his self-appointed role as the Almighty’s spokesman. there is now a broad band of grey. when we were sure to line up behind Hitler in the queue to the place where there would be perpetual wailing and gnashing of teeth. We were unrepentant. We merely shrugged our shoulders. decaying mind. we did not have counter-arguments against such inﬁnite wisdom. with narrow edges of black and white on either side. “Shit is shit” was his rallying. he used to liken sin to excrement. I did it.
What’s the point of them standing in the sun the whole day at the Pavilion.sent to a correctional facility? Let’s ask that diﬀerently. giving parking lessons to housewives? And the car guards already have uniforms – which. If you have a ten-year-old son and he pinches R10 from your wallet to go get himself a Magnum ice cream. All I’m saying is that I believe there’s a discrepancy between the zeal with which our law-enforcement agencies pursue lesser crimes. give the whole Esplanade-prostitute-donnering scene over to the car guards as well. such as drunk-and-disorderly behaviour. There is some good work being 164 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . might end up being sodomised by a gang of thugs after being stuck in the awaiting trial section for seven months because his mom doesn’t have the R200. going to suﬀer the indignity of having to call mommy dearest to bring him R200 for the admission-of-guilt ﬁne. give them pepper spray and make them patrol the beach. eﬃcient Durban Metro Police oﬃcers should be the removal of hiccuping hobos drinking cheap brandy from paper bags on Addington Beach. apprehending vagrants and students drinking beer. and the eagerness with which they pursue gangsters who bring death and mayhem to our streets every day. at worst. We could remove all the car guards from our shopping-mall parking lots. of course. I do not believe that the area of focus for our crack squad of highly trained. the Wits University student who is caught with a cannabis blunt outside a club in Norwood is. Lebo. is an integral part of law enforcement. would you report him to the police and wave him goodbye as they sent him to prison? I guess it ends up becoming a question of which kid you value more: your own or the street nuisance? More importantly. But let’s not go oﬀ the deep end here. So I propose that the police oﬃcers should focus on major crimes. and law enforcement of more minor oﬀences should be given over to another force – car guards. and being grounded for three months. who is caught with a blunt in Alexandra. I think oﬃcers trained in world-class detective methods are a bit of overkill for the beach. Hell. I’m being overly silly about all this. Tshepo. in practical terms it boils down to economics. as we all know.
So I’m personally going with Rudy Giuliani.” “Shit. Fair enough. How does that work? Is there a conversation between the hooker and the client that goes like this? “I’ll rock your world for R100. Not too many gunﬁre exchanges in Norwood. It’s not hard to understand why. but it really is tough trying to work out the link between diddling a hooker and spraying a security vehicle with bullets from an AK-47. tight-ﬁtting polyester pants rather enjoy the petty-crime scene. so a few friends and I decided we were going to consume some brandy in paper tumblers in the park outside. so that ain’t going to work over here. I imagine – that the boys in blue. If I were a cop. what sharp law-enforcement mind could My Criminal Life 165 . with his focuson-the-nuisances approach that seems to have rescued New York City from its crime-riddled lows in the ’80s.done by our police force. But we’re idiots in this country when it comes to doing cut-and-paste jobs of foreign solutions – and Giuliani just gave the local cops another excuse for the half-pie job they’re doing. We somehow need to get it across the Minister Of Safety And Security and to the National Police Commissioner and all his minions that cleaning up the petty crime is not the cleverest approach to confronting crime in South Africa. We couldn’t aﬀord R5-a-shot brandy at Shunter’s Pub at The Workshop Mall. I’d also probably go with locking up students in Norwood over that whole cash-intransit scene. There should be a cash-in-transit van in the vicinity – just grabbing my AK and I’ll be back in a jiﬀy. The reason I feel so strongly about all of this is because of my brush with the law as a varsity student back in Durban. After all. Don’t move.” But I can deﬁnitely make the link between locking up 16-year-old Lebo from Alexandria with a gang of awaiting-trial hijackers because he smoked a blunt. But it’s hard not to get the sense – as most of us do at times. I have a confession to make. and 18-year-old Lebo pointing a 9mm pistol at my head on the corner of Bowling and Catherine two years later. At times like these it’s always handy to blame someone for the situation we ﬁnd ourselves in. Unfortunately. I’ve only got R75. New York is not South Africa. I know next to nothing about criminology.
And when I ﬁnally realised just how paranoid I was being. sipping on some Jack Daniel’s. I realised that 166 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I was on the Underground one afternoon and there was a guy in a black suit. and the cops were just doing their jobs – but I’d much rather they had nabbed the pickpockets who’d been operating just a few metres from us in the park. if we’re so keen on foreign cut-and-paste jobs. I was certain it was a trap and I was being set up. Well done.see through this ingenious paper-tumbler ploy? Fifteen minutes later we were literally cast among the sodomites in the notorious CR Swart holding cells. Everywhere I went people were guzzling down long cans of Stella while out walking their dogs. Eventually I let my mind be free and I gave it a go. But the law is the law – however dumb. could we not rather follow the UK’s lead? (What a suggestion from a darkie!) The ﬁrst time I visited England. if the transaction occurs in a fancy restaurant in a 5-star hotel and the payment is made by means of a Platinum card it is ﬁne. it occurred to me that I now understood why most birds born in captivity can never ﬂy free when the cage door is opened. But I digress… I’m more particular about the stupidity of the law prohibiting me from walking down Marine Parade on a mid-January afternoon with a cold beer in my hand. my mind refused to accept this for a long time. Of course. I went to a pub on the banks of River Thames. Finally I saw a bench. with a laptop. I was convinced someone had unplugged my mind from the matrix – or something similar. The ﬁrst time I tried drinking in public in England was in Greenwich Village. one of those guys in black with funny hats. bought some Stella on tap and walked outside with it. don’t we? I think that the one forbidding women from taking cash from men to let them have sex with them is right up there. And we have lots of stupid laws. There is never any excuse to break the law. the Brits! But just like those born inside the matrix. sat down and hid my beer underneath it in between sips. That’s a good example of a stupid law that we should target and eradicate (to be replaced with a regulated system). Please understand that I’m not blaming anyone but me for that episode. I had learnt my lesson as a 17-year-old student in CR Swart jail and I refused to consume any alcohol in public. Now. I kept on looking around for a copper with a whistle – you know.
in their inﬁnite wisdom.” But I could be wrong – I’m wrong about things all the time. you say?) I love to do useless hypothetical calculations. Don’t get me wrong. Those who continue having their alcohol only in private (the alcoholics) and those who would take advantage of the new system and drink quietly and peacefully on our beaches and parks on hot summer days.those few moments walking with my beer in hand in public had made me feel strangely free. “Hey. The last time I checked there had not been any horriﬁc accidents on the stretch of the N2 between Umthatha and Idutywa caused by the fact that someone wasn’t wearing their seatbelt. (What’s that? Cynical. One thing I’m certain wouldn’t happen is that peaceful. The most diligently enforced laws are traﬃc laws. I wonder what our great leaders. You’ve just punished an individual of limited intellect for not having the presence of mind to look after himself. That’s my vote for where the Minister Of Safety My Criminal Life 167 . Of course. such as ﬁguring out how many cars are hijacked in the time that it takes a Metro Police oﬃcer to write up an individual for not wearing a seatbelt. law-abiding citizens would be split into two groups. I’m not advocating the foolishness of driving without a seatbelt. Especially in my home province of KZN. I’ve never been convinced that the zeal in giving out tickets had anything to with saving lives – but the roadworks are adequately funded. you haven’t made the world a safer place. street-pissing thing from now on. think we would do if they entrusted us with the mammoth responsibility of drinking in public. But that bunch already exists and is doing exactly that now with the law in place. by the way). I’m going to try that belligerent. I felt the way I imagine a guy feels as he streaks across the pitch at Wembley Stadium in his birthday suit (a feeling I fully intend to experience before everything shrivels up. Something tells me that decent. there is always the riﬀraﬀ who get drunk and belligerent. even though the carnage on the roads continues unabated. I’m merely pointing out that by spending 20 minutes giving that retard a ticket. I’d much rather you saved a senior citizen who was being hacked to death in her home in those 20 minutes. of course. law-abiding citizens would think hard about this new situation and say to themselves. and who ﬁght and urinate in public.
Charles.And Security should be focusing his energy. tell your boys to start cracking down on those bad guys waving guns at peaceful. beer-drinking guys like me. Or worse. I have a criminal past. Chances are his propensity for minor parking oﬀences is not going to escalate to the point where he is forcibly taking mobile phones from young women at gunpoint. 168 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . They don’t have to spend all their energy clamping down on the guy whose meter has expired. Hey. But then again. So maybe you don’t care what I think. please.
My Criminal Life 169 .
ALSO BY TWO DOGS. bad drivers. ISBN 9781920137250 Is It Coz I’m Black? . xenophobia. shape or form – South African satire at its best. traditional weddings. with no regard for political correctness or sacred cows of any size.. personal-security paranoia. Included among his targets this time around are his coloured cousins.. government incompetence and angry-white-male syndrome. The result is another collection of laser-sharp commentary. By Ndumiso Ngcobo The much-anticipated follow-up to the best-selling Some Of My Best Friends Are White sees the urban Zulu warrior returning to aim his streetwise eye at a fresh range of typically South African characters and social issues.
Robert Mugabe. crime. Valentine’s Day and more… “An absolute hoot… These guys are our version of the acerbic British columnists Jeremy Clarkson and AA Gill” – Saturday Dispatch ISBN 9781920137267 . Telkom.. cataloguing the never-ending kakness of our times. Fresh topics include Afrikaans music. gas braais. Eskom. corruption.ALSO BY TWO DOGS. Portaloos. personalised plates. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? By Tim Richman & Grant Schreiber The best-selling Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? is a funny. Facebook. Julius Malema. Tom Cruise. bank fees.. acerbic and deeply satirical A-to-Z frothy that cuts to the quick. quotas. the Vodacom meerkat. sparing nothing and no-one that aﬀects our lives. Hermanus. Paris Hilton. Kevin Pietersen. Jacob Zuma… Where does it end? “Fantastically funny” – Men’s Health ISBN 9781920137205 Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Still Kak? 2Kak 2Furious By Tim Richman & Grant Schreiber The sequel to Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? continues where the ﬁrst book left oﬀ. Car guards.
za . Josef Talotta.ALSO BY TWO DOGS. New Zealand. Why I’ll Never Live In Oz Again By Andrew Donaldson. Rick Crosier.. the UK. “A wonderful reminder about green grass and the other side and the sets of problems one exchanges in a bid to run away” – Natal Mercury ISBN 978 92013 706 8 Other books by Two Dogs: 293 Things Every SA Man Should Know Modern Man Is A Wimp… Why I’ll Never Live In Oz Again Defending The Caveman Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? 25 Cars To Drive Before You Die Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Still Kak? Is Dit Net Ek Of Is Als Tos? Is It Coz I’m Black? Beat The Crunch! FOR MORE INFORMATION ON TWO DOGS VISIT www. The updated edition includes recent author interviews and a new preface.twodogs. the US and Canada – from ﬁve South African journalists who’ve been there and done that. John Wardall and Tim Richman A pro-SA take on life in our ﬁve top emigration destinations – Australia.co..
Venturing without skaam across the colour barrier – through turbulent townships. my bhuti. Lekker. Some Of My Best Friends Are White takes an enlightened look at this Rainbow Nation of ours. funny argument” – Kgomotso Matsunyane South African Nonﬁction . in-your-face writing… Ndumiso Ngcobo is PJ O’Rourke with too much melanin and minus the jingoistic tendencies.SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE WHITE SUBVERSIVE THOUGHTS FROM AN URBAN ZULU WARRIOR • Why are minibus-taxi drivers so rude to their passengers? • Why are whiteys so obsessed with playing games? • Why can you never get decent service from a black chick? • What’s up with Zulu men and violence? • And Indians and their pimped-out cars? Throwing off any semblance of political correctness and happy to call a spade a spade. strange suburbs and even stranger corporate hallways – it takes a closer look at the weird mix of cultures and people that make up the crazy place we call home. “A hilarious collection of ballsy. His humour is effortless as he peppers you machine-gun style with the home truths of a township raconteur” – Fred Khumalo “Some Of My Best Friends Are White was so funny I was sorely tempted to slaughter a cow in celebration” – David Bullard “Ngcobo will yet prove one of the most important commentators living in South Africa today. he says everything you ever thought but never quite had the brains to put together in a cohesive.
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