This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
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 .
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 . Witty. highly opinionated writer. Guaranteed to cure sense of humour failure” – James Mitchell.“A hilarious collection of ballsy in-your-face writing… Ngcobo is PJ O’Rourke with too much melanin and minus the jingoistic tendencies. parting from the pattern of achieving book-length by repetition. [Ngcobo] is good value on all fronts. part Toby Young. Ngcobo is a couple of notches funnier than David Bullard and certainly more articulate than Xolela Mangcu. and with substance. 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. 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. The Star “A delicious. Part Chris Rock. 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.
tribes and contrasting cultures. your neighbours and the nouveau riche – and many other things besides” – Namhla Tshisela. 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. How refreshing to be left feeling hope that we may all get along someday.“[C]hampion armchair critic Ndumiso Ngcobo paints whomsoever he likes with a broadly oﬀensive yet humorous brush lodged ﬁrmly in his cheek. delightfully insightful and funny… Saying it as it is. Reader’s Digest “I had a blast reading Ndumiso Ngcobo’s Some Of My Best Friends Are White. But the obvious aﬀection that lies behind his observations softens the sting. hearty laugh at ourselves. The Sowetan “Ngcobo will yet prove one of the most important commentators living in South Africa today. funny argument” – Kgomotso Matsunyane. kicking holy cows out the way” – Annette Bayne. we have our prejudices and seriously weird ways – so what? Despite claiming ignorance. we’re trying to reconcile vastly diﬀerent languages. I couldn’t stop giggling… [I]t will have you laughing at yourself. The Citizen “[T]his collection oﬀers us a long. after all” – Ann Donald. this should ﬁll in some of the grey areas” – GQ “Hard hitting. Whether you’re black or white. Ngcobo stomps across the colour lines with impunity. 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. Our country’s screwed up. he says everything you ever thought but never quite had the brains to put together in a cohesive. The Witness .
2009 7 9 8 • Publication © 2007 Two Dogs Text © 2007 Ndumiso Ngcobo Cover image © 2007 Gallo Images/www.com • All rights reserved. • 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. in any form or by any means.za • First published 2007 Reprinted 2008 (ﬁve times). Cape Town.Published by Two Dogs an imprint of SchreiberFord Publications • SchreiberFord Publications PO Box 50664. without the prior written permission of the copyright owners.co. Paarl.twodogs. The Waterfront.gettyimages. photocopying. recording or otherwise. No part of this publication may be reproduced. mechanical. electronic.co. Oosterland Street. South Africa • ISBN 9781920137182 Dobermann pinscher giving a snarl . 8001 info@twodogs. stored in a retrieval system or transmitted.za www.
and was the ﬁrst blogger to receive oﬃcial media accreditation for an ANC conference (in Polokwane).za. Under the pseudonym Silwane kaNjila.co. Ndumiso is married with three children. he managed to successfully incorporate writing and beer drinking into his daily corporate life.ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ndumiso Ngcobo was born in Mpumalanga Township in KwaZuluNatal.thoughtleader. Raised on a rural diet of conservative Catholicism and Zulu traditionalism. . he has become one of the most widely read bloggers on the Mail & Guardian-hosted site www.
Fred Khumalo – my guru. spiritual advisors and intellectual sparring partners.” The Maﬁa Gang. My folks. Malume Maﬁka Pascal Gwala – my guru who is my other guru’s guru. from whom I borrowed hundreds of hours while I wrote this. my centre. whose “I have a dream” speech got the ball rolling. Mxolisi and Nkalipho. Reverend Fathers Mxolisi Ngcobo and Nhlanhla Nkosi – my brothers. My kids. Mazwi. who survives my whisky breath every Sunday morning. my soulmate. the love of my life. . Sandile Ngidi – makwande Hlomuka. my unﬂappable rock and my best friend. When I grow up. who not only taught me how to read but what to read. My brother from a MoTswana mother.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I’d like to thank – in my best Cuba Gooding Jr Oscar-acceptancespeech voice – the following people: Tebogo – my wife. My brothers. I want to write just like you and make women weak-kneed with “wordsmithy words” dripping from my pen like honey. Pat Masithela. whose insistence on a staple diet of the Holy Rosary and proper discipline always kept me out of trouble. Ntobeko and Vumezitha. who remind me that I’m not special at every opportunity they get. The Brotherhood Of Savages – “We happy few! We band of savage brothers. Bafanyana and Phangiwe Ngcobo.
.In loving memory of my grandmother. of laughing at our loved ones. Margaret Kinloch-Gwala (1913 – 1998). the value of laughing at ourselves – and. who taught us. her grandkids. most importantly.
000 car but doesn’t have the cash to pay for petrol Eish. 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.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. He doesn’t love violence. It’s the endless abuse from the pyscho driver Taxi Commuting: An Experience From HelL 67 . 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.
But why won’t local leaders let us drink beer at the beach? Black or white. we all complain about crime.Black women have embraced the new SA and are heading for success. 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. But they’re a funny lot. Here’s what to do if you really want to end up in prison Let The Masses Eat Pap 143 My Criminal Life 157 . aren’t they? That’s No Dhal Off My Mutton Breyani. 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. Larney 125 South Africans just love democracy.
leads you down a familiar street. you have to be drunk. So. It’s not often that you can think while you’re roaring with laughter. Or just pretend to be either of the two. 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. we began to see a ﬂowering of new. streetwise prose. for example. Just turn to his take on Mbongeni Ngema’s AmaNdiya in his piece “That’s No Dhal Oﬀ My Mutton Breyani.” That’s how Herman Charles Bosman opened his startlingly beautiful short story Heloise’s Teeth. He takes you by the hand. from the peripheral to the profound – ballsy writing leavened with insightful humour (if there’s such a thing). then – guaranteed to make you laugh and think at the same time. We’ll call it a paradoxical collection of pieces. the Herman Charles Bosman of the townships “You won’t really understand this story unless you are drunk. in-your-face writing that was about nothing and everything – Gus Silber’s marvelous Braaivleis Of The Vanities. Ngcobo continues this tradition. all right. with apartheid angst slowly loosening its grip on this nation. and on the imaginations of our writers. And then he bewitches you with his tales. with rotting peaches carpeting the ﬂoor. or be a god in order to understand and enjoy Ngcobo’s pieces. and Arthur Goldstuck’s urban legends and ghost stories. A god putting his hand up to his eyes. Larney” to see what I mean. Though think pieces is a perhaps a misnomer. Hilarious stuﬀ that nevertheless got you thinking.Foreword by Fred khumalo Ndumiso “Silwane” Ngcobo. and ﬁnally gets you seated under a peach tree. moving from the ribald to the raucous. In the 1990s. their tangy aroma lulling you into deep relaxation. Ngcobo has taken humour writing to another level. Ngcobo is PJ O’Rourke with too much melanin and minus the jingoistic tendencies. Some writers get too self conscious when they indulge in what has come to 12 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . delivered in shimmering. He could as easily be writing about Ndumiso Ngcobo’s collection of think pieces in this book.
You may read some lines – guﬀawing as you do – and ﬁnd yourself unconsciously nodding in agreement and recognition: ah. You bhibiza someone when they are back-chatting you – preferably mid-sentence. but it will keep you highly entertained. We bhibiza to bring order back into situations. yes. there goes my boy. agreeing that. and allows you to enjoy it as he gives you stereotype after stereotype – and you ﬁnd yourself. 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. ﬁnd someone standing in the street minding their own business and proceed to bhibiza them. putting himself in the middle of them and therefore rendering himself a victim of his sharp tongue – self-deprecating analysis at its best. we’re not violent savages. 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. these Indians are all robbing us blind! And just when you begin to feel comfortable blaming Indians for their ﬁnancial success. You can’t. Violence is just the insurance policy we cash in to establish order. After all. There are cringeworthy moments galore.be called political uncorrectese. Not just anywhere on the face.” Ngcobo lays it on the table. Bhibi! June 2007 Foreword 13 . It won’t win a Nobel prize. Timing is of the essence. You can’t bhibiza someone in the eye. 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. That would just be wrong. for instance. And you can’t just sommer bhibiza anyone willy-nilly. Not Ngcobo. but what are you doing about black people’s laziness? Bam-bam! Just like that! This is some serious shit that reeks of originality. Sample this: “we Zulus have a well-developed pragmatism. he tells real-life stories. the machine gun hits you in the face: you blame Indians for their success.
14 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .INTRODUCTION Dear Reader Welcome. I was ﬁve years old. Phangiwe Rosemary Ngcobo. let me break from tradition and start at the beginning. That’s how engrossed he was in the world so vividly painted by Professor Nyembezi’s lyrical words. The boy was completely oblivious to the danger. Unit A662). ﬂickering ﬂame of the candle was ominously licking at the ragged curtain hanging from the solitary window in the tiny room. Bafanyana Ngcobo. together with her schoolteacher husband. got up in the middle of the night to investigate a strange odour. Thousands started the journey. Sometime in the year 1977. 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. Greeks and Romans. invested a few hundred rand in a set of Children’s Encyclopaedias. That boy – obviously – was yours truly. But isn’t that usually the way we do things – arse ﬁrst? Especially in this country… In that case. she was alarmed to ﬁnd her second-born son buried deep in a Zulu-language novel entitled Ubudoda Abukhulelwa by Professor Sibusiso Nyembezi. “She lay sprawled on the Persian rug. The dim. Rosemary Ngcobo. missed a turn somewhere and ended up in the Romance section of the bookstore. On his excursions outside of his bedroom. because it’s been a month since I submitted the ﬁnal manuscript. This is probably my ﬁfth attempt at the introduction to this book: ironic. The boy spent the next couple of years getting lost in the worlds of the Egyptians. 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. Instead of punishing the boy. I’m glad you’ve made it this far. heaving in anticipation…” And good luck to them. They’re probably getting stuck into a book that begins. a nursing sister. When she entered the only other bedroom in her modest matchbox house (Mpumalanga Township. of course.
passionate human cog in the machinations of industry were taking their toll. at the time. as we stumble from one poorly constructed argument to the next half-baked bagful of lies (to quote Michael Jackson). I had a bottle of beer in my hand and a glaze in my bloodshot eyes. The exertions of chiselling myself to ﬁt the mould of the energised. When I arrived at the Masithelas’. soul-diminishing and often demeaning jobs in the corporate world – wasn’t even a real job. in love and in lust with the power of ideas. Buhle Masithela. In January 2006. And. I have always known that I would one day write a book. I was probably at one of my lowest ebbs in my life. he was in the throes of the very same crisis. 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. The trick. The four of us sat around the table and had a conversation that went to the core of my hazy. Since then. normally a reserved fellow. was to be truthful about your true passion and somehow turn that into an endeavour that would be able to Introduction 15 . Thapelo. These were words I had heard before during my stint as a high-school science and maths teacher. I had just “celebrated” a minor milestone: ﬁve years working for a major multinational.I had just fallen in love with the written word. at a crossroads in my life. I had spent those years getting shifted from one department to the next. I spent my days “managing” people with real jobs and reporting on what they did. our voices raised. fuzzy feelings of impotent unease. our speech slurred. I am at my happiest when I am in a smoke-ﬁlled. It crystallised the source of my unhappiness. Thapelo Pat Masithela. and her hubby. was uncharacteristically animated. most importantly. The last position I held – in a long stream of tedious. my brother-in-law. I was. we concluded. with the idea of mental sparring and combat: with discourse. As luck would have it. my wife. being “developed”: being told about my “immense potential” and how I was a “key resource” and a future leader of that great organisation. crowded bar with the riﬀraﬀ of savages I call my friends. published or not. our faces ﬂushed. Tebogo. Tebogo and I visited my sister.
sustain a semblance of a decent life. Soon enough. Me. At about three o’clock the following morning. a lady from my publishers’ Sales department couldn’t say the title without giggling nervously and having an uncontrollable sneezing ﬁt. if you must know. a writer? A few months later. in late 2006. after an evening in the company of Miles. 16 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . The ﬁrst of a series of books. with the encouragement and reassurance I needed. But if the process by which this book came about was the “up” run of the Comrades. The Scotch had worked! What’s this all about. I arrived at Fred Khumalo’s house in the north of Johannesburg. Still. then? Well. To quote him. I’m waiting for that lioness to wake up so I can hump her brains out. it’s what Ndumiso Ngcobo thinks about the world. Coltraine and Fred. though. the giraﬀe settles down in anticpation. whether it’s proposing a new theory for how the pyramids were built or pondering why men have nipples. the King himself saunters on to the scene and up to the crowd of eager perverts. Apparently. The working title for this book was Just Talking Shit To The Animals. From that day onwards.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. to solicit his opinion. Some Of My Best Friends Are White was conceived. watching a sleeping lioness on the ground. Talking shit to the animals? Well. he hopes. Next up. “My dream occupation would be to sit in a room and have people asking me my opinions on anything and everything. I started writing down all my opinions. I was still unsure. I submitted them to a few publishing houses. “What are you up to?” asks the giraﬀe. Finally. Finally. a small crowd of animals is gathered under the tree. waiting for the sexual assault on the Queen of the jungle. “Well. I like it. a hippo comes around. the story goes that a giraﬀe came upon a monkey perched high up in a tree. gets the same story and also awaits the extravaganza. then that title didn’t make it to the Grey Street Mosque. Thapelo and I discovered that evening that we shared the same passion: a deep love for thinking just for the sake of it. I staggered out of his house.” Not one to miss a free porn show. armed with a few pages of my writing and a bottle of Scotch. It’s me.
“Just talking shit to the animals. the reader. abusive taxi drivers – and so on. crazy white folk. Hey. I am humbled that you are reading it. others on nothing but conjecture and ignorance. But if anyone asks me. If the Ben Okris and JM Coetzees are classical jazz and opera of the writing world. my publishers didn’t want to sell it like that. But I also hope to infuriate you. Some of my opinions are smart.” says the monkey. Of course. “Nothing much.” I’m the monkey. Most of this was written with tongue ﬁrmly in cheek.thoughtleader.co. Often I say “black” when I mean “white” and “up” when I mean “down”. if you know what I mean… I call these my non-opinions. are part of the crowd of pervs. please do so through my blog. Introduction 17 . They wanted black people laughing at the strange habits of white folk. I hope you ﬁnd all of this as fascinating as I do. I told them. and they wanted white people laughing at the inexplicable folly of black folk. NN June 2007 PS: Perhaps you have come across me already at thoughtleader. so they made sure I covered a lot of appropriately South African topics: uppity black women. where I skulk around in the wee hours of the morning as Silwane kaNjila (see www. You.co. I’m cool with that. If you would like to contact me. Some of my opinions are based on deep philosophical observations. I will amuse you. Welcome to the kwaibook. others retarded. They wanted “cross-cultural insight into South African life”.za. We are gathered here for the purpose of listening to me talk shit to my animals.“So what’s this gathering then?” he roars with menace. Enjoy the ride. I’m still talking shit to the animals. But a fair proportion will leave you convinced that I’m a downright fool. That means that some of my opinions are not really my opinions. Hopefully. Hopefully some of my opinions – and my non-opinions – will intrigue you and convince you that I’m a genius.za/silwane). Whatever you think. this is literary kwaito.
Eish! I ain’t got it. Joe .
impending freedom and the general upward mobility that’s sure to follow. Three guys and two girls. right? Oh ye of little knowledge! With my people. They share Kodak moments at Times Square in Yeoville. that is. They share sundowners at Mivami in Hillbrow. when we all had to pitch in and pay for our wonderful way of life. maybe not so wonderful. this phenomenon completely befuddled me. The commune members spend almost all their time together. As a black man. I have been accosted with similar situations literally hundreds of times. Five young black people move into a house together in downtown Johannesburg. they never fully share the rent and food bills. In the darkie context.200 monthly wage – but life was good nonetheless. she left two rooms empty-handed. before my mind was poisoned by “un-African” ideas. Until month end approached. The feeling in the air is one of high hope about the upcoming ground-breaking elections. One of the girls was responsible for rent collection and. the solution to the “problem” we had is a no-brainer: just kick their non-paying asses into the street. To a non-darkie. things are a tad diﬀerent. full of ambition. Okay. Still. Except that two of the commune members’ record of paying for rent and food was pathetic.J ust picture it. Nothing wrong with that. a little more complicated. And invariably the high-calibre individuals under the spotlight shrug 20 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . They share Bafana Bafana’s historic win over Zambia on the day of Mandela’s inauguration at Ellis Park stadium. They share their respective successes and failures. their joys and pains. January 1994. I was one of those young people. their ups and downs. And every member of the commune dug in hungrily. Money was tight – I was personally getting by on a R1. hopes and dreams. month in and month out. They share pitchers of vodka-laced sangria at the Pizza Hut on Pretoria Street in Hillbrow. food appeared on the table every breakfast and every dinner. But sadly. Even back then. their newfound loves and break-ups. the concept of collective responsibility and the practice of it are separate entities.
no doubt: What do you mean. white on the inside) being two other favourites. It is the battle cry of all cheapskates across the darkie landscape. thug Tsotsi: ﬁend. it would be downright un-African. And that goes for any of its variations – coconut and Oreo (dark on the outside. 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. It would be… Eurocentric. We call each other by the darkie terms of endearment instead: Lova: unemployed individual who doesn’t bother looking for a job Sgebengu: ﬁend. A whitey’s mind will be abuzz with a host of questions. where I come from. People have lost their lives for daring to call a darkie Eurocentric. 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. thug. And in our world. being Eurocentric is worse than being a paedophile with serial-killer tendencies. After all. “Eurocentric” is a swearword. digging deeper is just unacceptable. you shut up and accept his assertion. Joe. 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. Oh. the shame! You see. So when another black individual has uttered the words. “Eish! I ain’t got it. this is perfectly acceptable. If you did. Just don’t call him Eurocentric. No.their shoulders and give me the same line when asked to pay: “Eish! I ain’t got it. 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. Eish! I Ain’t Got It.” That’s it. In fact. Once another black man has uttered that line. It’s a debate-ender. Joe”. Joe 21 . you ain’t got it? Did you have it and then lose it? And if you never had it in the ﬁrst place.
Well. yet fuzzy. he had no money to pay! But I shouldn’t have been too perturbed. I know. brandy. come month end: “Eish! I ain’t got it.” 22 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine. When the bill ﬁnally came. Mbeki has his “RDP of the soul” and I have my own RDP. hey? Where my steely commitment to ubuntu and other lofty. Call it the RDP of the spirit. 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. 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. slid under my boxer shorts and into my black.400 Polo shoes on his feet R4. I don’t. Whatever spirit you want. Suddenly. the same womb.600 Hugo Boss pants R2. but some of us are doing okay these days.* We darkies come from the same mother.456. Great ideals.000 BMW ride home R500. I sat around a table with four of my brethren for dinner and drinks. If he’s short of cash. I really don’t mind paying for a brother. Joe. Honestly. We live by the mantra. you’d think. my friend: whisky. We believe in such noble ideals as ubuntu.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. cognac. That’s an obscene amount for black people in South Africa. What really crawled up my leg. There was a fair bit of dinner and a lot of drinks – to the tune of R2. 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 R400.000 music system and his CD collection grew by ﬁve CDs every month. Here’s an example. Yet without fail. Not too long ago.
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. 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. of course.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”.” And you’d feel deeply ashamed for letting a little thing like money stand in the way of such deep friendships. is that she had two sources of cash: her folks and her boyfriend. The rent money just never got to us because it was used to fund her extensive wardrobe. As we chased the Highveld winter away with mug after mug of caﬀeine heaven. The truth. a large bag of sugar and a giant container of Cremora. Every guy in the house thought of her with illicit. Whenever anyone broached the subject of the rising price of bread she’d emit a tiny whimper. Some of my housemates and I would have skinner sessions behind his back. get a sad look in her puppy-dog eyes and… “Eish! I ain’t got it. But every guy who passed through that commune lived in the hope that one day she would toss some sexual crumbs his way. this was some gourmet stuﬀ. unbrotherly feelings just bubbling underneath the surface. naturally. So we all skirted the issue and circled her like a pack of hounds around a female in February. And we all knew it. bankrolling his extravagant musical taste. it goes through you”) – the skate’s boyfriend visited the commune. bringing with him a big container of Ricoﬀy. Joe. For our palates. 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. Joe 23 . used to sharing one tagless Rooibos teabag between two mugs. of course. No-one shared my vision – so we plodded on. One ice-cold weekend – with one of those lazy -30°C winds (“it’s lazy cos it don’t go around you. sigh deeply. Yadda yadda yadda. Nobody got any. And boy did she know it. I’d be called callous.
24 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . At the end of the evening. he decided to pull the Eish-I ain’t-got-it-Joe trick one month end. 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. 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. I chose the low. gives Manto Tshabalala-Msimang a bear hug and calls her “comrade”. 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. When it comes to money. And she never consumed another morsel of food at anybody’s expense. The way I saw it. not with family and certainly not with cheapskate friends. 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. saying. A study in rent collection.50 in exact change and held out the calculator. so I relish it: I love them white folk to bits. real classy behaviour. There was one other black oke living there and. blabbermouth road. In my time I’ve also shared a house with a predominantly white group of people. That was an eye-opening experience. I had two options. man.kitchen to make another cup only to realise that the coﬀee had disappeared with our caﬀeine pusher when he left. I love my white peeps. Every member of the commune congregated in one room and munched on chips without inviting our non-paying seductress. Things got real nasty after that. true to form. not with colleagues. white people don’t fuck around. I tell you. how touched I was! I dare any black person to pull this stunt in the company of other darkies. I know. “Does anybody need this?” Oh. Then she took out R56. I remember once going out to dinner with a predominantly white group of people. before whipping out a pocket calculator and crunching the numbers. I don’t often get to say this. Not in business. Use the secret chicken-munching information to extort some sexual favours in return for my silence.
Habits such as holding our friends responsible for paying for things. in fact. Plus. Don’t tell me we’re about to haggle over R50 now. I love that about white people. There’s an unspoken shame associated with having it out with someone over money. we like to place God and family above making money on our what’s-important-to-me lists. but I’ve always just ﬁgured that we all exist for the sole purpose of amassing as much money as possible. And the root cause of it. just remember that most of us are only two or three generations away from a time when our currency was not cash. black people are soft. instead of just mimicking the way white people speak. I believe. to which I’ve had this line thrown back at me: “Come on. right before the Poll Tax Uprising: “Don’t tell me we’re about to haggle over one bull now. I cannot count the number of times I’ve tried to point out to an individual that he. rather it’s the currency that’s the issue. but none of us invests 60 hours a week into those lofty ideals – so please give me a break. But I think that black people are not necessarily uncomfortable discussing money. Joe 25 . That’s right. Not only were we getting rid of a non-paying Tommy Hilﬁger-clad chancer. we need to copy some of their more progressive habits. Heaven is indeed a place on earth. I was being left alone to rule the roost as the token black in a white house. isn’t it? Granted.As we all stood on the patio bidding him a tearful farewell a week later. Pretty please with my R50 on top. To see what I mean. is that black people are just uncomfortable talking about money. here’s a far-out idea: perhaps.” Eish! I Ain’t Got It. So after all my talk.” You’re damn skippy we’re about to have a major verbal misunderstanding. owes me R50. 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. When it comes to cash. 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. White people are ruthless about money – which is why they get to keep so much of it. is there a better reason in the world to have it out with someone than money? I don’t know about anyone else. what with all our nasal twanging. Sheer bliss.
got to our table. One of the very ﬁrst times I went out with him for drinks. I just want to be clear about the bill. Mr Double-Chinned PhD Type: where you call these things socio-economic factors. Unless you have shared a matchbox house with a dozen siblings. are we splitting it six ways or are we each paying for what we had?” As we sat down (having cleared it up). all seven people shrug their shoulders and recite in unison: “Eish! I ain’t got it. When we. Just like Dr King in 1960s America.For some reason. a group of about six black people. I prefer to call them excuses for making dumb decisions. let me hasten to add this: I’m acutely aware of the socio-economic factors that lead to this type of behaviour. cousins and aunts. reactionary. you’ll never get it. we might just get somewhere. Here’s my thing. I have a friend who I’ve known for about 15 years. I dream that one evening a group of seven Polo-clad black people will arrive at a restaurant and. I knew we were going to be friends for a long time. I have a dream. I think black people miss the point that money is a measure of wealth and prosperity – just like cattle. 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. 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. I wiped a little tear from the corner of my eye. “Before we sit down. he caught me by surprise with behaviour I’d never witnessed before. 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 . Once we change the currency from rands to cattle. one of them will ask. self-hating enemy of the African Renaissance by perpetually angry PhD types in This Or That Centre Study. he stopped us all: “Before we sit down. Who’s paying? If we’re all paying. The same factors inﬂuence my own decisions every single day. Joe!” Before I’m accused of being a Eurocentric. as they get to their table. you’ll never get it. You’ll never understand the appreciation that black people have for the ﬁner things in life.
The reason? He was self-conscious of the fact that he only had R10 to purchase gas.000 rims that they cannot aﬀord. These are the same individuals who know the days when their grandmothers get paid their monthly pension grants. I’m ashamed to say I know many such people on a personal basis. As the same person tries to bum R20 oﬀ you for petrol. drive them to a club. come on.with dropped suspension and R20. You’d have better luck convincing the fundamentalist Muslims that George W Bush is a well-meaning born-again gentleman who had altruistic. 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. 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. so they can go bum money oﬀ these senior citizens. I wish I was making all of this up. they go inside. buy one bottle of Heineken and keep it on the table for three hours. for Chrissakes!” Not that it would help. they go outside to their cars to take large swigs from Hansa quarts they happened to have brought along for the ride. People who think it’s acceptable for you to drive 50 kilometres out of your way to pick them up from their houses. even though we were driving past ﬁlling stations. As a result. democratic reasons for sending American troops into Iraq. Not because mommy’s cooking kicks ass. BMW-driving dark-hued individuals who drive to Alexandra or Umlazi every evening to have dinner at mommy’s place. of course. People who expect other people to bankroll their existence. “Aw. we all know Boss-clad. but because their housemates back at the townhouse complex are sick of funding their food. pay for their drinks and their cigarettes. you feel like screaming at the top of your voice. Once again. get yourself a freaking Corolla. “Nigga.” Curse me out if you want. 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. you know I’m right. So he kept driving until he got to a township garage Eish! I Ain’t Got It. Joe 27 . it’s only R100. pay their cover charges. Then. nanna. Instead. when they “need a piss”.
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. sir. That’s right. asks for R7.” (Translated: “Please could I have R10 of unleaded petrol. Joe. fumbles around in his wallet. I have actually been in a Jeep Cherokee – market value R350.” 28 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . “Tiger unleaded.– where nobody would judge him.50 of unleaded. boss. spreads his hands and gives the attendant a shrug: “Eish! I ain’t got it.”) You know.
Eish! I Ain’t Got It. Joe 29 .
Kasie Fabulous .
“We all lament the poor quality of education in township schools. Take a bow. My buddy was not particularly impressed. First you arrive. The reason we were having the debate in the ﬁrst place is because we were under the inﬂuence – naturally. many times. he composed himself and calmly suggested that I check I 32 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . After a while. “We simply leave the places that have nurtured us and moulded us into who we are!” I cried loudly. Nyanga or Langa just to feel human again. A friend and I were recently having a conversation about this very phenomenon: the horrors of Cape Town versus the hospitality of its townships. Then. but my dislike for the Mother City stems mostly from the fact that each time I visit. I have various reasons for this. 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. There’s a deﬁnite black-tourist drill in Cape Town. Alcohol has the tendency to unearth passions in people that they were never aware of before. I said it. I have to interrupt my carefully planned itinerary and head to Gugulethu. people of Gugulethu. a catastrophe. After carefully removing drops of my spittle from his face. 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. 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.’m not a big fan of Cape Town. but when we who have ﬁnances take our own kids out of these schools we leave them without resources!” I castigated vehemently. Langa and Nyanga – you’ve been the saving grace of that part of the world many. Your hospitality is a marvel to behold. There. you head for the townships. “We should all be ashamed for moving to the suburbs instead of staying to improve the places that made us!” I shrieked hysterically. look at the mountain and start visiting all the traditional tourist spots.
You’re suggesting that we go back to a time when black people lived on only 13 per cent of the land. There is a buzz. I think I called him an Uncle Tom. right?” “Yes. No true bruiser concedes defeat that easily. I was down and out. So you’re suggesting that all wealthy black people should sell their houses in the suburbs and move back to the townships?” “Yes. Drive down any street and kids are running around. Every opportunity I get. So you are.” “You are. Every little corner has something unique and interesting to oﬀer. I head for the nearest kasie I can ﬁnd. maybe even Eurocentric or coconut.out my family tree for connections to Adolf Hitler. The unspoken motto Kasie Fabulous 33 . I love the townships. men are sitting outside and enjoying cold ones amid lots of chitchat and laughter. in eﬀect. Brother Malcolm. what do you mean?” “That is the essence of your suggestion. And it was wrong!” “Okay. man. leaving the prime land in this country to white people in the suburbs and the cities. dynamic and lively places. I once lived in a house for three years and never knew the name of even one of my neighbours. the man had delivered a knockout punch in one swift move. this is what we are losing out on. There is – despite suggestions that this spirit is dying – a general communal camaraderie that permeates throughout most townships. an unmistakable vibe that hangs in the air. brother! For sellouts like me who are hell-bent on land redistribution. Still. It’s kasie fabulous. um. cold places. Townships are diverse. The suburbs are unfriendly. I am! We are taking valuable money out of communities who need it desperately…” “I hear you. “You do realise you moved out of the townships.” “Er. All I could do was proceed to cast aspersions on his general blackness. complicating a very simple matter…” I oﬀered weakly. suggesting that we selfimpose the Group Areas Act on ourselves. yes. neighbours are having animated conversations over the fence. But I was a goner.
we give each other fake grins when we’re forced to be within. so I hovered around Liqueurs to allow him time to return to Spirits. don’t get me wrong. The expression on his face was of immense relief. having just entered the Spirits aisle in which I was acquiring a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black. I took a clever detour through the Warm Beer aisle and backtracked towards Wine. Heaving a sigh of relief. almost knocking over a vodka display in his haste. of course. that was close!” These are the great lengths we go to to avoid talking to each other in the ’burbs. 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. say. we’re not uncivilised savages. “Don’t bother me and I won’t bother you. I was in a corner. I could almost sense his thoughts: “Damn. 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 was meant to get my wife a bottle of red but didn’t want to take the chance just yet. what would I do? Thinking fast. 34 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . in the process of looking for some inferior brandy at the other end. (My wife was later to call me “you idiot”.) Our retarded waltz ended when I spotted him getting into his car and speeding oﬀ. He then sidled over into Neutral territory next to the fruit-juice fridge to await my next move. The cheapskate was. But that’s not the only problem out here in the complexes. where I quickly grabbed the nearest Merlot.in the suburbs is. He took his opportunity and made a frantic dash towards the Cheap Brandy subsection. I quickly moved on. hate their guts right back. as she had speciﬁcally asked for a Cabernet Sauvignon. ﬁve metres of each other. giving Wine a wide berth.” These days. We’ve never exchanged more than a few muﬄed grunts at each other when we’ve been within the fake-grin zone. my white neighbours at my cluster-home complex on the East Rand view me with disdain and suspicion – and I. it seems. Oh. The anal administrative types in charge seem to have way too much time on their hands. After all. I recently spotted one of my neighbours at the local liquor outlet. But anything outside the ﬁve metres is outside the “fake-grin zone”. and here he was closing in ominously.
I was gatvol with all the rules and aloofness. of kids playing in the streets and neighbours connecting over fences. Kasie Fabulous 35 . for crying out loud. If I were a betting man. My wife will testify under oath that I was. The man drives an orange Peugeot 307 cabriolet.45 on Sunday morning. where my wife grew up. I took that 154-page pile of arbitrariness and gave it to my two-year-old so that he could express himself artistically. by the way.1. I will do it. I personally don’t have time for anything but keeping up with my one wife and two kids. 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. for that matter. Cross-dresser right there! But no. And I have an alibi. The next time I want to slaughter a goat. Let’s forget for one second that that three-legged piece of canine shit is a racist if ever there was one. hang it upsidedown on my balcony and burn incense. trying to hump a pillow in our bedroom. (Long story – a case of mistaken identity involving too much whisky. 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. As a result.) I’m tired of being the prime suspect for anything that goes wrong around here. I couldn’t care less that the girlie-man from #7 has tiger-print blinds! And while we’re on the Code Of Conduct.I have often wondered if these people have jobs – or lives.5 of the 154-page Code Of Conduct. let’s get another one of your stupid rules out of the way. I’d go with Mr Tigerprint Blinds from #7. 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. My hands are full just rescuing expensive vases from my two-year-old terrorist. I was having nostalgic longings for some carefree township living. at that precise time. I have no idea who stole Mrs Hudson’s stockings from her laundry line. I was fed up with these complex-dwelling retards. Like trying to ﬁnd out who reversed into the aloe plant last week. thank you very much. Or who kicked the Chihuahua from #3 then pissed on it at 3. the white people want to blame the black man for this Great Lingerie Robbery. As a matter of fact. who has a keen interest in property destruction.
I believe the exact words I used were. 17-inch rims and music blaring from his speakers. we continued along the main road only to ﬁnd that the lane we were travelling in had come to a standstill. By the time he returned to his vehicle. God bless the inventor of ABS brakes.30pm. 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. a fellow in a white Mazda 323 violently swerved onto our path from a lane meant for cars going straight. My wife hit them hard and we all jerked forward violently. 323 driver! The gentleman in question – and I use the term very loosely – was a young man. But I was abruptly brought back to earth by the attempted murder of my family when we entered the township. I hypothesised out loud that perhaps he was in a hurry to take a dying relative to hospital. Damn you. the cold beverage I held in my hand spilling onto my lap. As we turned into the main road. barely out of his teens. I’ve certainly rejected her story with the contempt it deserves. with gold teeth and a fake-diamond stud in one ear. 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. or rather the contraption. there must have been at least 15 cars waiting behind him. To rub salt into the wounds. The car.* With my wife at the wheel. “Good grief. 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 . young fellow. yet there wasn’t any sign of apology or remorse. He had sommer come to a dead stop in the middle of a busy main road. 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. Being the empathetic human being that I am. The cause of the jam was our friend Goldtooth in the Mazda. he was driving had dropped suspension. you seem to be rather in a hurry. Is everyone all right at home?” You cannot trust my wife’s version of events at times like these.
Soweto Day and Shaka Day respectively. Three-point U-turns over double barrier lines during peak hour are a popular manoeuvre. Once upon a time. That was on Easter Thursday which. 100 per cent unadulterated good-old-fashioned Christian holiday. the primary reason the banks. one of the few remaining holidays on our calendar that have an unambiguous meaning. that it doesn’t interfere with the primary objective of the day. 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. sir. But I was undeterred in my quest to reconnect with my people. Clearly the laws that apply elsewhere do not apply here. as you might imagine. I suppose. 16 June or 24 September. are the type of person who gives imbeciles a bad name. My township break to soak up some ubuntu had started on a bad note. you might as well drive with a sign on your car reading. I would suggest. I think the traﬃc department should just concede defeat and release a Township Driving Rules Handbook. was followed by Good Friday. suburbs-dweller visiting the township here.road users. Unlike those compromise holidays that occur on 21 March. it seems they are open to interpretation these days and people celebrate any way they want. Does this seriously need to be speciﬁcally stated? No? Okay then. I’m not too sure what they’re called any more or what we’re meant to be commemorating. When was this act promulgated? Last time I checked. Isn’t it? I could be wrong. The rest of the people can do whatever the hell it is that they want – on the proviso. 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. Driving on pavements is a daily occurrence. You. Speeding at 130km/h in 60km/h zones is commonplace. these used to be Sharpeville Day. And people stop and gawk at you if they notice you’ve deployed your seat belt. But Good Friday is a pure. 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. Kasie Fabulous 37 . So.
They say it’s indicative of the self-hate that black people harbour due to colonialism and white rule. 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. looky here at me. Silly me. When I lived in the township I did the same. 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 have speakers and tweeters and graphic equalisers and things and oh. Another high-calibre individual next door decided to pre-empt the Resurrection by giving the neighbourhood a gift that kept on giving. All because my township neighbours would not allow me to lie down and do what all reptiles do when they have overindulged. Rather than visit their local store. this is the work of the last solitary brain cell in a nitwit’s head. “Shut up.” Praising the Lord is just not the same when you’re accompanied by Percy Sledge and his mates. I would. fat man! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” 38 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Judy Boucher kicks ass and Chris de Burgh should be knighted he’s so slammin’ and oh. as I was rudely reminded when we got back to my in-laws’ house after the Holy Mass/Percy Sledge combo. I’ve seen pythons do this on BBC Wildlife.Considering that every one of your neighbours has his own music system and speakers. The thoughtful fellow dished out a free soul-classics concert at about 100. 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. this practice is thoroughly perplexing. But it didn’t end there. have driven myself to a corner shop and got some ENO or something. thinking along these lines: “Looky here at me. I felt an irresistible urge to lie down and use minimal movement.000 decibels – until 4am the following day. As a result. 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. I’ve heard sweaty intellectual types in tight-ﬁtting suits talk about this phenomenon. under normal circumstances. Good Catholics do not eat meat on Good Friday. To this. I declare. From what I can gather.
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 .
Because white folk are the weirdest people under God’s sky. And I’m personally quite grateful that they came down here to the bottom of Africa when they did. Still. 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. I need to get a few things oﬀ my chest – because I have a few tiny problems with white people. a few stubborn black people who didn’t realise that this was all for their own good had themselves some accidents. leaving us alone to ride around in our Beemers. Granted. however. there’s no way around it. My people believe that when you murder a bovine creature in broad daylight. “weird” is a subjective term. At times. Ah well. dead people from your family who passed on 44 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . you knew it was coming…) Now don’t get upset just yet. Who wants to be a pariah for eternity? Still. If they hadn’t. Sure. But before the white folk and I all hold hands and sing Kumbaya together. of course. It does have some genuine drawbacks. (Come on. our bare asses sticking to the leather seats. we’d all still be skulking around caves in loincloths. I am rather fond of white people. Lord forbid my rant culminates in my melanin-deﬁcient brothers emigrating to Australia en masse. No. I worry about stuﬀ like that. I will be given a wide berth by my black brethren as we bounce around the clouds. making clicking noises at each other and sacriﬁcing virgins to pagan gods. This statement means. Dingane kaSenzangakhona. Imagine that. I didn’t think so. I kinda like white people. I think this stuﬀ needs to be said. What bothers me about my lack of ill feeling towards my white brethren is the fact that when I get to black heaven. RIP. imagine how a bare ass clings to your BMW’s leather seats on a crisp highveld morning in July. If you’re still not sold on the handy convenience of long pants.I have a confession. paleface. But I think you’ll agree with me that it was all for the greater good. 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. throughout those colonialism and apartheid episodes.
But my people are not on trial here. 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. games and entertainment. Notice how that question was italicised and in a paragraph all on its own. That’s how much I do not get it. But in that time. I tugged repeatedly and with all my feeble strength at ropes – inevitably ending up on my potbelly in the mud. I was only there for six years. I must concede. the hairy guy from Sales. I embarrassed myself. have led me to this conclusion. Hence my generalisation. White people are. It has to be. 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. Nothing of what I’m about to mention is made up. athlete’s foot-infested feet – then strain the juice so that I could drink the Crazy-Ass White People 45 . The thing is. My experience in the corporate world is admittedly limited. departmental team-building exercises. oﬃce tactical workshops or in-house brainstorming sessions that did not involve grown men looking ridiculous in silly hats. In my time in the corporate world. I watched Barry. Countless hours in the corporate world. I hoisted my fat ass up trees for the purpose of tying my team ﬂag onto a makeshift mast. surrounded by white people. Right? My time spent in white playgrounds was never that extensive. it has to be true. my family and all my cattle-murdering forefathers many.in 1376 will make everybody forget that you defrauded parliament and drank beer on your parole weekend oﬀ. Correct me if I’m wrong here. crush grapes with his bare. And I reckon they’re weird. I was never part of any company bosberaads. I ran through forests. I spent a few hours playing with the grandkids of the good white folk for whom my grandmother worked for 30-odd years. many times doing stupid. bandannas or home-made masks. but white kids in this country have generally had it really good when it comes to toys. I wore fancy dress. Hell. crazy-ass white people want to play games? I honestly do not get it. wrestling each other to the ground or shooting at each other with lumps of paint. moronic shit in the name of team building and company morale.
there can be only one logical question: what kind of retarded shit is this? I don’t know about anyone else. the only lasting eﬀect these exercises had on me was to trigger waves of nausea each time I bumped into Barry from Sales. Of course. well okay. Of course. them highly strung white people need to take the edge oﬀ sometimes. and I’m pretty sure most of my black brothers had. It probably had to do with the build up of seed in my loins. 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. I’m an open-minded guy – the line “live and let live” pretty much sums up my approach to life – and. In fact. therefore. I’ve always given such a person a real wide berth from that day onwards. Way to go. But that was purely for sustenance (just think Nazi nuns and four pathetic slivers of bread for supper). stressed-out people in a corporate department tend to bond with each other under these ridiculous circumstances. underpaid. Lord knows. But why. for some inexplicable reason. now that I’m in my 30s. I wouldn’t argue against such a pearl of wisdom – and yet.fungal concoction. I still roamed the forest on the perimeter of the Catholic Mission boarding school I attended with a slingshot to shoot guinea fowl. All this so we could bond. too. I should go back to playing games. 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 . me. why. Occasionally. I even played cricket. Ordinarily. I’m willing to let middleaged white people gun about on quad bikes destroying pristine beaches and giggling like idiots. If it helps them get oﬀ. being me. as a result. oh why must I be dragged into this? The explanation I’ve been given is that overworked. white people. but I just had better things to do from then onwards. 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 clung on for dear life. I do not understand. but I had outgrown games by the time I turned 14.
didn’t Daddy create spreadsheets to count the number of inane customer complaints about company products?” “Kind of. damn it. No jumping oﬀ aeroplanes with only a rucksack on my back.” “Well. No bungee jumping for me. 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. Mommy?” “Well. This is about teamwork. not quite.” “What the hell is bungee jumping. you’re always told the same thing (in a suitably excitable voice): “This shows your zest for life. son. If everybody else is risking having their brains splattered on the rocky shore down there then. to demonstrate his passion for his work. 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.only part of me they’d ﬁnd would be the helmet. 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 . That would be a career-limiting move. your father tied a piece of rope around his ankle and jumped of a bridge. Mommy?” “Well.” “How did it happen? Did he slip? Did someone push him? Did the cops catch the guy?” “Er. man! Your passion for living!” How exactly does gliding 200 metres above ground without a parachute show passion for life? Try passion for dying. He was bungee jumping during a team-building exercise. mom. And when you complain. he fell oﬀ a bridge. Unfortunately the rope snapped and his brains were splattered all over the rocks on the Vaal River bed. you must too! I do not want to do any more death-defying stunts in the name of passion. Of course you can’t really say no either.” “But Mommy. I always imagine this conversation between my twoyear-old son and my widow ten years from now: “So.” “Why did he do it. tell me the story of how Dad passed on. No shark-cage diving.
I’m passionate about my beer. here’s a thought. Nothing beats good old human greed to get people to pull together and work as a team. Yet white people get these impromptu bursts of curiosity and they want to know how I feel about my job. I usually get really drunk and then have a heart-to-heart with my wife. Incentives. but I personally sent out my CV to 24 companies. If my gripe is about my wife. how about giving them that same R150. I think you have to forget some fundamental truths. I have another gripe about white people. there is only one sure way of ensuring great teamwork in any department. department managers: buy lots of booze and let people talk to each other. I sure ain’t passionate about my desk job. Of the remaining seven.The astounding thing is that if the end result you’re looking for is really just to get some socialising happening at work. But when all’s said and done. though. Maybe other people are diﬀerent.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. Now there’s a word. To be a boss. 17 of which never bothered to reply.000 on an arbitrary event. I’m passionate about Kaizer Chiefs. I’ve always just made the natural assumption that my feelings are mine. Am I feeling energised? Am I feeling passionate? Passionate. I’m passionate about money. I’m passionate about my wife and kids. I’m as serious as a heart attack about that one. I’m resigning. Monetary incentives to be precise. Why is it that they have an uncontrollable urge to share their inner feelings with strangers? I’ve never been able to understand it. I think you have to develop blanket amnesia regarding the process involved in getting a job. Moving on from the team-building exercises. It’s no great secret that people bond when they’ve had a few.” But enough with the games. where geeks from Accounts get to hurl raw eggs at each other. If I absolutely have to share them with anyone. Instead of wasting R150. had bluer 48 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . then I call one of my buddies and bitch about her. 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.
But don’t expect me to be passionate about a job where I sit at a desk all day. whiter teeth and the ability to talk nonstop for three hours.) As a result. I’ve visited their homes and spent Crazy-Ass White People 49 . Then I’d have a conversation with someone they couldn’t see. all the while twitching and shaking. As bad as pink shirts on men. I have. Asking people in the workplace to share deep feelings is just a bad idea all round. updating spreadsheets that detail how many bored Norwood housewives have telephoned to complain that our relaunched soups. yelling. I’m grateful for that. 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. Don’t get me wrong. “I didn’t strangle all those people in Cape Town!” I wonder what they’d do then. okay? Following on the heels of the how-are-you-feeling questions. For the coup de grâce I’d start wailing uncontrollably. 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. I had to ﬁght oﬀ the urge to freak them white people out. Being passionate and energised about this job is hard.eyes. The Lord is my witness about this one. taste less salty. After a while. blonder hair. But no-one in their right mind is passionate about a desk job. naturally) was triggering those awful. but I’ve tried socialising with white people. with the words now with 25% less salt! emblazoned on the sleeve. I’d start sobbing as I told them how the smell of lawn in this 5-star establishment (venue for our team-building exercise. my passion for the company I work for extends only to the fact that they didn’t reject me. Doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for it. came the tell-usabout-your-past line of enquiry. I could be sitting at home in boxer shorts. Doesn’t mean I’m not working hard for it. scratching my nuts and watching Ricki Lake as we speak. White folk at work is only the half of it. I’m not going down that road in this chapter. scratching my body wildly and letting out bloodcurdling screams. awful memories. I lost track of the number of times everyone at work was made to sit around in a circle and share childhood memories. 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”. (But hey.
Some sort of comeback for our Zulu and Tsonga and whatnot. And then you look around and see seven other lily-white cliques chatting without a problem. Apparently I was the only one who hadn’t seen it. But these white guys had shifted the posts again. involving hours on the internet and listening to Naas’s dreadful droning. I recently approached a group of about ﬁve guys at a company function. for the most part. but my mind simply refuses to tune in to their frequency. So I stood there with my double whisky in hand. While in the throes of my jungle fever. A documentary about frogs mating or some other shit. But I’m sorry to say that. “Why are you guys standing alone? Come now. By that stage. some white manager type is bound to come around and say something like. Through a painful process. 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. I’ve failed. Forgive me. I have a friend who feels exactly the same way. by the way – were standing there having an animated conversation about some documentary on National Geographic.entire evenings playing Scrabble – an activity I had last engaged in when I was 11. I’ve gone out with them to all their crazy hang-outs. I have ﬁnally got to a point where I can have a decent conversation about scrums and lineouts without sounding like a complete nitwit.” Never mind the fact that you’re all from completely diﬀerent departments. but I’m guessing it coincided with something silly like the Champions League ﬁnal. You know what it’s like: if three black people stand in a group and talk. mingle. I approached this bunch of white guys. glazed look on my face for ten minutes. The three of them – with an average age of about 30. In any case. His hypothesis is that white people have a secret language they use to talk about us while we’re standing right there. There’s no denying it. I even went to a place to sit around and have my face painted. I can hear the words. expecting to stand there and wing it about the past weekend’s Tri-Nations or the Tour de France – or anything from planet Earth. I can never understand what the hell white people are on about during conversations. the conversation 50 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . For one. with what must have been a stupeﬁed. Sometimes I sit there and I can see their lips moving. I’ve tried to reach out.
rips out their spleens and makes jewellery with their kidney stones”. a rude hand gesture? When I read the name Jacques.had turned to the migratory pattern of birds as they ﬂy north during winter. of course. Ah. and black people are proud of their names. How do you go from that to Zap. with 47 cameras following them around? Maybe I’m missing something here. just learn to pronounce the name of the guy who you’ve been sharing a cubicle with for ﬁve years. I’m not making it up. I half expected one of them to turn around. The ﬂying type. 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. man. I’m black. Are white people so desperate for entertainment that they fall for a show about people catching buses from place to place. but I put in an eﬀort to say Jacques.” But no. But white folk lap it all up – and they want to share their excitement with me every Wednesday morning! And that. Black people’s names mean something. 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. do you? That may be how I think it should be pronounced. So you know. So why am I writing all these things? To start a movement to drive whitey back Crazy-Ass White People 51 . 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. These fellows were having a seriously animated conversation about birdies. his name means “an iguana that whips other iguanas with his tail. “Gotcha! We’re just fucking with you. wink at me and say. Which is why I have no respect for the underachievers who end up on these shows. If that is their best foot forward then God help us all. you don’t hear me say Jackass. click his tongue. No-one is asking you to learn the Zulu language. complete with the obligatory French lip purse. is not all. a conversation from this galaxy! Another conversational favourite at work was the weekly analysis of the latest episode of The Amazing Race. Honest.
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? .
but there are some timeless truths in our part of the world. AZAPO. It took a lot of courage to write that. Our sharpened pragmatism is generally 56 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . and their poontang – well. Shangaans are still big-dicked buﬀoons with a penchant for red socks. Yes. 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. Zulus from all walks of life are in the same boat. We Zulus come from a long line of proud people who love their meat. And. Moving right along.000 years ago and come check us out today. I know. of course. BaTswana are still notoriously frugal with meat during feasts. IFP. people have misread us and concluded that we’re just naturally bloodthirsty. amaZulu are still a perpetually horny lot with a violent streak. It seems that I’m not alone. Most of all. BaSotho are still untrustworthy mpimpis. I am umZulu. PAC. We may be a decade and a half into postapartheid South Africa. we Zulus remain a people with an admirable appreciation of the good old-fashioned ass-whuppin’. hasn’t he? Nowadays I can hardly go anywhere without being forced to assume the role of designated spokesperson for Zuma and Zulus everywhere. Nothing could be further from the truth. But that’s another story altogether. at least the males among us. he’d soon see that not much has changed around here. whether we’re in the ANC. SAB or BAT. 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. For the longest time. No we’re not.partheid is dead! Long live apartheid! If Can Themba were to pull oﬀ that whole resurrection trick last seen 2. AmaXhosa are still sly con artists with scant regard for anyone’s property. their singing and dancing.
That’s what we Zulus have. 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. Simple. as I like to call it. 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.mistaken for a propensity for violence. He once walked into a beer hall in Durban’s infamous Dalton Road to ﬁnd two men. before that. labelled boxes. We solved our dilemma by means of a ﬁst ﬁght in which my ass was handed to me. Julius Caesar and Peter The Great are celebrated conquerors. in the middle of a violent wrestling match. uncertainty and fuzzy situations. And I think spearism should take its rightful place among the other isms that are no-nos in our Bill Of Rights. I used to work with a 50-something-year-old colleague called Lefty Mshengu. Saying that Zulu people love violence is like saying dung beetles love shit. swords. Anyone who has ever spent more than a few moments poring over the map of the world – or. Whenever we’ve had heated disagreements. That’s a classic case of confusing the means with the end. 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 a friend called Siﬁso. We hate confusion. And. So you see: pragmatism. He told me a story that I still believe is the ultimate testimony to Zulu pragmatism. We love to establish pecking orders and maintain them religiously. The reason we’ve remained lifelong friends is because we established a pecking order that day. even though they killed people on a genocidal scale. Sithole and Mhlongo. No they don’t. I have always maintained an acute appreciation of my limitations. Zulu people seek order. We like things in neat. the Map Of The Gun – can’t help but realise that virtually every border we have was “negotiated” with the use of gunpowder. They had their hands around each other’s necks and. An unquenchable thirst for order. by the looks of Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 57 . He whose behind was spanked in a ﬁght must always back down – then order is restored. 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. Smacks to me of spearism.
Five men immediately stepped in and separated the quarrelling couple. This way. Sithole would be reminded of the outcome of this ﬁght next time he wanted to pick a ﬁght with Mhlongo. 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. 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. Soon enough. the eerie silence in the beer hall was broken by a deep. Sithole. The student body was called to the assembly area and a representative from 58 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . In the KwaNyavu village along the Umgeni River near Nagle Dam there is a high school called Inhlanhlayabebhuze. I used to teach maths and science there in the mid ’90s. a death was imminent.things. The height of pragmatism – acute understanding of the factors at play in establishing order and maintaining it. leaving the men to ﬁght on. Silly little punks. A more traditional Zulu people you are unlikely ever to ﬁnd. nonchalantly sipping on their sorghum beer. But as the winds of change that were sweeping across the land blew through that valley. 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. Beautiful. booming sound reminiscent of the trumpets of Jericho emanating from deep inside Sithole’s bowels. agreed on a date and took leave of absence from their respective jobs. from knobkierries and sjamboks to pangas. ingani wena bakuklinya khona lapha waze wasuza?” (Sithole. “Kahle. spears and home-made guns. Soon after. At a predetermined time they congregated at the gate of the school carrying an assortment of weapons. the students thought they should be a part of it. a school boycott was brewing over some or other grievance. 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. Lefty was naturally horriﬁed and leapt towards the men to pry them apart.
but I cannot. People who belong in the violence-equals-irrational school of thought also tend to be guided by intangibles such as morality. But I also tend to have the morals of a sewer rat – which has taught me that sometimes we need to put morals aside. The parents were not there to ﬁght anyone. we Zulus have a well-developed pragmatism. In these cases. It was ended by a front-on approach backed up with very unsubtle threats of crushed skulls and brains splattered all over the veranda. and certainly at times it is the case. illogical mind. when you take morality out of the equation. it becomes clear that pragmatism sits at the core of most violent acts.the parents addressed them. We brought you into this world and by God and sunny Jesus we will not hesitate to take you out. They were there to tell their kids that this nonsense about a class boycott would end that day. in all likelihood we’d have been picking skull fragments oﬀ the ﬂoor in the aftermath. A sign of an irrational. I wish I could put your mind at ease and tell you the men were just kidding around with their kids. I sent out an e-mail Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 59 . towards which I personally lean. People who believe this seem to be in the majority in the world. I have heard people argue that the use of violence is a sign of a lack of reasoning. like I say. But there is another school of thought. Perhaps. was the general sentiment. that believes violence can be useful – indeed. We do not mind making new children if it’s absolutely necessary. let them step forward and this matter would be resolved in a matter of minutes. And. it may be the only eﬀective method – in certain circumstances. A few years ago.” And that was that for the great strike at Inhlanhlayabebhuze High School. Violence is just the insurance policy we cash in to establish order. I have a great appreciation for this. One gentleman with a jackhammer had this chilling parting shot: “We sleep with our wives every night. If any of the students did not agree. As a result we have quite an advanced vocabulary for beating up people. without which humans would be marginally lower life forms than hyenas. the spokesman of the Parent Army explained. They would not stand for this silliness. I think that if the mutinous punks had deﬁed their fathers.
I still have the list to this day. Forget martial arts and all that pseudo-spiritual mumbo jumbo that goes with it. That would just be wrong. there was a programme on TV chronicling the history of stick ﬁghting in KZN. Bhaklaza. Sakaza. I have watched stick ﬁghting up close. Not just anywhere on the face.” (We knock the karate out of the man and leave him standing all alone. After all. there was a bunch of guys. Bhembebula. You can’t bhibiza someone in the eye. I do believe that it is one of the most sophisticated and scientiﬁc ﬁghting methods known to man. Not too long ago. Nenebula. Xebula. You bhibiza someone when they are back-chatting you – preferably mid-sentence. the diﬀerence being the sound the slap elicits. Bhibiza. These guys had a saying that when accosted by a karate expert: “Sishaya ukalati uwele laphaya kusale indoda yodwa. Phohloza. A neighbourhood watch of sorts. facing each other. Qhasabula. I have seen two men stick sparring. the ultimate insult for a Zulu man is to have 60 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Of course. The response was overwhelming.) Those stick-ﬁghting Zulus are some nasty guys. The last three words are synonyms for slapping someone. Titinya. The things they can do with their sticks are scary. Timing is of the essence. Now that’s what I call skill. We bhibiza to bring order back into situations. You can’t. known as oqonda. Bhibiza refers to backhanding someone on the lips. These are just a small sample. A snotty young gangsta wannabe is talking back to you because you asked him to stop knocking your beer – bhibiza! – problem solved. ﬁnd someone standing in the street minding their own business and proceed to bhibiza them. for instance. Ngqubuza. friends and family asking them to remind me of all the Zulu synonyms for hitting someone. we’re not violent savages. Bhonya. Xhofoza. and one guy whipping his stick and hitting the other on the back of the head. Qhasabula and sakaza both involve slapping someone using the palm of the hand. That’s right: we have a speciﬁc word for using the back of the hand to slap someone on the lips. they reported to our ward councillors. Dukluza. Within two days we had collected 71 words. And you can’t just sommer bhibiza anyone willy-nilly. When I was growing up. who used to roam the township armed with nothing but sticks and shields. order restored. Gqema.to my Zulu colleagues.
as we all know. there is a dark side to the kingdom of the Zulu. there is inevitably someone with a gash on their head. These are potential Zulu men. you must have bled in your youth. to qualify to be a proper Zulu man. Every time.a wound in the back of his head. That’s right. I felt that. clean the wound and apply a mud pack to it. We Zulus believe that when you bleed. And bad blood is what a lot of the young fellows walking around Durban these days with their low-hanging jeans. Metro cops in that part of the world have an unyielding intolerance for anyone with alcohol breath. They just haven’t bled yet to earn their wings. And you have to admit that some of the most respectful people you’ll ever encounter are Zulu people. And you must have bled often enough. We had a minor misunderstanding over my ice. Just to show that there are no ill feelings. I was minding my business on North Beach. Questions such as. A wound like that raises questions. hanging out with a couple of other Zulu men. the victor is honour-bound to take the vanquished to a nearby stream. spiky hair and nigga attitudes have. in one’s youth brings about the kind of respect you see in Shwi from Shwi and Mtekhala. Bleeding. Fair enough. It is an honour thing. When all the sparring is done. A few weeks ago. These are not Zulu men. “bad blood” leaves you. My pleasant Friday evening was ruined by a young man who clearly had not bled enough. warmongering blood is purged from your system. and bleeding often. my friends and I should be able to enjoy it in relative peace. Or Phuzekhemisi. You can’t just open a gash on a man’s head and not provide ﬁrst aid afterwards. It was a month-end Friday night. “Were you running away from the ﬁght when you got hit?” And Zulu men never run away from ﬁghts. The dark side comes in the form of punk-ass young men who have never bled in their soft. savage lot? Just like anything that is well intentioned. 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 . Does this sound like the behaviour of a bloodthirsty. Aggressive. protected lives. but I had decided to stick to old-fashioned H2O as my beverage of choice. since I had purchased the ice in question. The kind of respect you saw in Jabu Khanyile.
They always assume that there has to be a reason before someone beats up on you. In my defence. 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. that his three companions didn’t consider entering the fray for even a second. A 30-something married man with children involved in a public ﬁst ﬁght over ice. But the young gun had placed me in an untenable position – a position where either he bled or I did. It’s only at that point that I realised what I was dealing with: bad blood. that you see a well-dressed fellow arrive at a party in a fancy BMW. Peace and order must be ensured. So there you have it. 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. I know. When he ﬁnally got up he was a changed man. in fact. of course.of beer at my head. So savagely. for an example. I let him drop onto the ﬂoor and stomped on him a few times. Pretty cruel. either studying or working in Durban. A vanquished enemy is never left in a state where he can get up and ﬁght again any time soon. As I repeatedly pummelled his soft face with my ﬁst I kept on asking myself why all of this was really necessary. Any potential future violence must be avoided at any cost.) These young men who have grown up without bleeding in a controlled manner are giving us all a bad name. it was a ﬁght I had tried very hard to avoid. which may or may not involve the tried-and-tested method of feigning stupidity and twisting the other party’s innocuous utterances. it’s downright shameful. I agree. The answer. Especially the okes from Gauteng. But this is an evolutionary remnant from when my forefathers were ﬁghting Shaka’s wars. All they need to do is ﬁnd an excuse. No there doesn’t. A contrite and peaceful young man. is that it wasn’t. I’m happy to report that my pragmatic decision to stomp on him had the desired eﬀect. And they never see it coming. Let’s say you are standing 62 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I have to admit that I punched him rather savagely. Let’s say. When I was done punching him.
I’m sorry. 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. Professional boxers deserve every cent of the obscene amounts of money they get paid. And then it’s on. long time during a ﬁst ﬁght. you think you can ﬁght me then? Outside. But then there is always that situation where even the best-intentioned. allow me to save you a lot of pain.there with your girlfriend and you’re uncomfortable with the manner in which she is staring at this smooth fellow. If you haven’t been involved in a ﬁst ﬁght before. “So sorry. man. That’s what I always do. Let the wife beaters experience the sensation of teeth clanking against each other from well- Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 63 . It seems I got my foot inadvertently caught underneath yours. We’ve all watched boxing on TV and been appalled when Dingaan Thobela was gasping for air by the third round. 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. Three minutes is a long. I’m so clumsy.” “Oh. And let’s say you want to kick his ass without looking absolutely unjustiﬁed as you go about it. preferably next to the exit. long. careful to apologise to any guy who steps on my shoes.” It works 90 per cent of the time. I don’t want to ﬁght…” “Oh. then I just head for the car. humble submission won’t help. What you say to him is this: “What are you staring at? Did you misplace your girlfriend or something?” “I wasn’t staring. are you?” “No. If the party is in a place like KwaMashu. Sentence them to six months of bare-knuckle sparring against professional boxers. I have a solution to the wife-beating syndrome aﬄicting our nation that would deter anyone from ever raising their hand to a woman. I didn’t…” “So you were staring at her then?” “Look. If you absolutely have to stay. What they never understand is that there is nothing they can say to avoid this inevitable collision course. The only thing to do is to feign deafness and just leave that spot. so you’re calling me a liar.
in fact. It’s an eﬀective. Zulu men deserve a hug. cowardly ways. Zulu men do not deserve ridicule and cheesy jokes. And this nation needs a bit of Zulu pragmatism. do not ridicule him. So the next time you meet a Zulu man. Let’s see how many would emerge from that situation and return to their wayward. Go on. Sentencing yellow-bellied wife-beating scum to six months of having their lips bust daily is not violence. Do not call him violent. you know you want to. Do not call him any derogatory names. It’s a Zulu solution.aimed punches to the lips. 64 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . pragmatic solution that will make gonadless wife beaters think before putting their grubby hands on a helpless woman.
Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 65 .
Taxi commuting: an experience from hell .
The explanation is simple: since I stopped travelling by taxi. pay my TV-licence fee on time and contribute religiously to the Road Construction Fund. I have a famous aversion for anything even slightly on the oﬀ side of the law. 68 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I’m not talking about the fact that the average minibus taxi has inoperable indicators. I was subjected to the worst indignities under the sun. I fear jail more than I fear death itself. Godoba will possess a half-metre black mamba. Naturally. however. pulling stunts that would make Juan Pablo Montoya wet his pants. one fate that I rate substantially higher on my experiencesfrom-hell list. my conﬁdence levels have soared exponentially. will take a liking to me. I spent the ﬁrst 20-odd years of my life using taxis every day. Sounds ridiculous. locking myself up in the garage with the engine running and having me a wee mortal slumber.I fear jail. After all. As a result. When I used taxis on a regular basis. There is. That fate is being forced to use a minibus taxi as a means of daily transport again. I know. I have developed a few ﬂeshy bits around my torso and rear. If. And I imagine that Godoba might take one look at me in the shower and rub his hands with glee. Anything to avoid going to jail. 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. otherwise known as traﬃc ﬁnes. I’m not talking about the fact that taxi operators show amazing disregard for commuters’ lives. for some reason. who hasn’t seen a woman since the days when the ANC was still pushing a socialist agenda. So I ﬁll in my tax returns. What completely mortiﬁes me about jail is the high likelihood that some enormous 150-kilogram beast called Godoba. Due to a mind-boggling amount of beer consumption and a total lack of exercise. And no. Or even that they will weave through peakhour traﬃc. It is the one fate that would actually force me to abandon my straightand-narrow ways and engage in criminal activities. baby’s-bum-smooth tyres and a monkey wrench for a steering wheel. but believe me it’s true. I ﬁnd myself in the unlikely situation of facing a certain jail term. you best believe I’m writing a little love note. This might seem like an exaggeration to those uninitiated in the ways of the minibus taxi.
A taxi will not leave for its destination unless every seat has been occupied. Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 69 . however. We had been waiting for about 45 minutes when a man.That is just a given. Our driver. and all that). In any other place on Earth. That might be a 20-minute wait at worst. say. stretch your legs and have a smoke or make wee wee. the Durban CBD to Umlazi Township. ostensibly to give the driver the fare and be on her way. just part of the gamble people take each time they step into a minibus taxi. And you’re not even allowed to step outside. you’re in”. happened to pull over. taxis do not run on any schedule. The unwritten rule is “Once you’re in. I’m talking about some of the most horrendous indignities ever perpetrated by human beings on other human beings. Naturally she got out of the taxi and started to make her way towards the car. this story ends here. you just happen to be travelling from Durban to some obscure place in the butt crack of the world like Bizana in the Transkei. which is not necessarily a bad thing if you are commuting from. conceding that she has indeed got into the taxi in the ﬁrst place (and once you’re in. blocked her way and uttered the bloodcurdling command. who I understood to be her husband. But outside of peak hours this is a nightmare. you’re in. In my life. For starters. which makes the mode of transport very ﬂexible. I’m talking about something more serious here. (If only the same principle was as rigorously applied in our correctional facilities. “Does this taxi look like a waiting room to you? No! Now get back in there!” So. No. Our hero the taxi driver cast a scornful glance at the husband as if to say. the woman did the logical thing and reached for her purse. who had been sitting on a bench in the shade stuﬃng his face with greasy Russian sausages jumped up. But not at the Mpumalanga Township taxi rank. If. this is a practice from hell itself.) 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. One such unlucky person was a lady in a nurse’s uniform who was obviously in a hurry to get to work. I have had to wait inside a taxi for four hours while the temperature was 35°C in the shade.
took out her purse and tried to hand him the R3. the woman.“Oh. you reluctantly make your way towards the hippos… er. The poor husband started getting out of the car but was discouraged by the driver’s mates who stood up threateningly. Especially when you get there and three spots are already ﬁlled. go to the back seat!” That’s another thing. 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. one ominously clutching an object strapped to his hip under his shirt. grabbed her wrist and dragged her towards the taxi in full view of her husband. Until about ﬁve years ago I used to weigh no more than 60 kilograms. it might be understandable – but sadly it isn’t. man. stared him down deﬁantly. While there may be enough room to accommodate four of those Japanese midgets back there. If this situation was perhaps a rare exception. Inevitably. after being ordered to go to the back seat. in our world nobody willingly volunteers for the back row. you think to yourself. On closer inspection. the back row has the worst seats in the house because four people are supposed to squeeze in there together. They really are not very small. with the big head and glasses. “Are you deaf? I said back in the taxi!” At this point. how I wish you would have intervened and prevented this nonsense”. lunch box cluttering to the ground and hard-boiled eggs scattering in every direction. big-boned women in the rear. you can’t even see the seat because they are sitting literally hip-to-gigantic-hip. As anybody who has ever travelled by minibus taxi knows. the taxi drivers always pick on the smallest person in the queue: “You. So. He slapped the coins out of her palm. a couple of them by women who would put sumo grandmasters to shame. which made me the victim of hundreds of uncomfortable taxi trips.50 for the trip she had not taken. The husband wisely stood down. What happened next is something daily taxi commuters have witnessed dozens of times. ejected a salivary projectile through a gap in his front teeth and barked. obviously of strong will. There just is no space for 70 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . It’s just mean.
but he’s just blocking the entrance. of course. complete with subwoofers. you’re in” rule. And then the stereo would come on. You shake your head and look back at the driver for some sympathy. And because of how he has set the graphic equalisers. sometimes I crank it up. the tweeters are like needles piercing your eardrums. that would make any nightclub owner envious. of course. staring you down. As the sturdiness of your ribcage is being tested to the limits. which are getting more and more confused trying to work out what this aural abuse is all about. You turn around and make your ﬁrst attempt at sitting down – and. Now we’d be hurtling at breakneck speed towards our destination (or towards our Maker). Now. 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. But nothing can prepare you for the experience of Mahlathini And The Mahotella Queens making contact with your eardrums at 2. Especially with the deep bass associated with umbhaqanga music. At this point I’d realise why my head was touching the roof of the car: we were sitting on top of 5. 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. all you manage to do is to dig your hip a couple of centimetres into the furrow between the large ladies. so you sigh and try to make the most of it.one more person. the women start engaging in a most useless exercise in an attempt to open up some space – the bum shimmy.500-kilowatt disco speakers. Tweeters. So you get up and try a slightly lateral approach (a manoeuvre I became quite adept at through experience). your bony little ass lands atop two ﬂeshy thighs. You realise the only way you’re going to get into the back seat is by backing up towards it. Our driver had just become our disc jockey and he insisted on entertaining us. Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 71 . At this point you remember the “Once you’re in.300 decibels. And. The sum total of this generally used to leave me suspended in space between the hippo hips. wiggling their behinds to try to create space. when I’m alone in the car. I love my music to death and. that’s what I believe they are called. you become aware of another sound in the region of your head – the little speakers taxi operators install there just to mess with you. You know. At this point.
It goes all the way back to King Shaka’s reign over the Zulu nation in the 19th century.* Each taxi route has a point at which everybody just knows it’s time to pay up. As such. 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. Now the money is passed to the row collector in front of you.”) And God help you all should something unfortunate happen. for instance. Sir Theophilus Shepstone pulled this trick on King Cetshwayo ahead of the Battle Of Isandlwana. three each from the next two rows. Everybody knows the drill. Firstly. One of the tactics used to wage war is to be completely unreasonable towards your intended target. You see. 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. Simply issue impossible ultimatums that you know cannot be met. I always used to wonder how these pay points were agreed to.” 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. 72 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Being a row collector is potentially fatal business. there must be a row collector – the person in your row who must collect the cash from those sitting alongside. which I used to take almost every day as a teenager. Was there an Annual General Meeting where the points were decided? For the MpumalangaTownship-to-Durban route. should your cash be 20c short. And taxi drivers – who generally tend to be Zulu – use the taxi trip for these purposes. 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. I must digress for a moment to explain some of the odd behaviour of taxi drivers. you will have a lot to answer for. And the rule – from the AGM again? – is that the money must reach the driver in three lots: four fares from the back row. who passes it on until it gets to the driver. they are wont to use the most inopportune moments to blow oﬀ some steam. the pay point was just past the Marianhill Toll Plaza.
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. “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. there are four basic rules to telling the driver where you are getting oﬀ: 1. Meanwhile. You cannot tell him where you are getting oﬀ too early – “too early” Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 73 .50 – after about 45 minutes. At this point. This is tantamount to an admission of guilt in the eyes of the genius who is transporting you. 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. Communicating where you are getting oﬀ is not a simple matter of pressing a bell like you would in a bus. nicabanga ukuthi nihlakaniphile? Ngiphindela nani e-lenke!” (“So. At this point. my prospective employers in Durban are shaking their heads thinking. 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. 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. 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. Bad move.in December 1878 – and the Zulu nation seems to have learnt the lesson. ill fortune may strike and there will be a 50c shortage in the total fare. “Hho.300 decibels – never mind the scream of the engine. Now. then utters the feared words. So we return to our journey from hell. you need to be on your toes. No siree. 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. The Mystery Of The Missing Fifty Cents must be solved by the rank’s Committee Of Wise Men. no amount of reasoning or logic is going to save you from the inevitability of the Rank Tribunal. he narrows his eyes. Should the collective ancestors of you and your fellow occupants desert you while you are in the Taxi Warrior’s death trap.
(“How the hell am I supposed to hear you when you whisper?”) 4. I was sitting in the front alongside the driver when I dozed oﬀ. A well-timed backhand to my lips put paid to any thoughts of slumber. struggling to breathe. 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. 100 per cent humidity heatwave. there are more rules about taxi commuting to enhance the experience. (“You told me too early. This is unequivocally ludicrous. The reason for this rule? “You passengers cannot operate the windows.being at the subjective discretion of the death-mobile pilot.”) 2. 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. One of my favourites is the fact that. You cannot shout too loudly. (“Do I look fucking deaf to you?!”) If you are lucky.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. the God of taxi commuters everywhere is a living God. nobody except the pilot is allowed to open the windows. As annoyed as I may have been at the time. On one of the few occasions that I wasn’t in my back-row seat. Here’s another favourite rule of mine: the no-sleeping-in-the-taxi law. this is one of life’s many riddles. I regularly had to suﬀer the indignity of sitting in my default back seat between two big mamas with ﬂeshy arms pinning me back. You’re always breaking them. 17 kilometres earlier. of course. I forgot. You cannot speak too softly. In the case of long-distance taxi trips you may have to take another taxi to backtrack to the town you were going to.” What can possibly go wrong as one slides open a window? For me. (“Are you mad? I can’t stop now!”) 3. a God of 74 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . even if Durban is experiencing a mid-February 41°C. on the same list as the nipples-on-men mystery. with bullets of sweat rolling down my face. And. how in the hell is a mother of ﬁve who had to be up at 3. You cannot tell him too late either.
After that. People who have never used taxis assume that the passengers sympathise with their pilot. 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. it was a downright ass-whuppin’ of titanic proportions. but that day the God of Retribution was clearly patrolling the stretch of the M13 between Field’s Hill and Pinetown. study the faces of the passengers. How he’d seen this happening from his spot up front. almost running it oﬀ the road. which was deftly sidestepped. I don’t know. The oﬀended party consisted of two men in an old red Ford Escort. without indicating – causing the car abreast of him to swerve violently. giving as well as he was getting until the cars got to the traﬃc lights entering Pinetown. But sometimes the living God strikes back in far more spectacular fashion. dragging him out of the taxi. Often you will see amused or even gleeful faces in the taxi. Ah. It was a massacre! Our driver managed only one wild swing. (Though his in-taxi vigilance might explain why he was swerving all over the road the rest of the time.500 ﬁne for driving with smooth tyres. It would seem that Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 75 . About 15 years ago. before a well-placed punch was planted in his solar plexus. Some moments are not as dramatic as others.) He was still smirking when he got bored with the monotony of the trip and willy-nilly changed lanes – as usual. giggling his ass oﬀ. I was instructed to spit the sweet out of the window and take the wrapper from my pocket and throw it out too. No. Our driver had picked on the wrong car to mess with. they don’t. The next time you see a taxi being written up by a traﬃc oﬃcer. I was in a taxi travelling between Mpumalanga Township and Pinetown. because every regular taxi commuter has experienced those moments of comeuppance when the lords of the road are humbled. such as when the driver is pulled over by the cops and given a R1. There was a verbal confrontation with lots of impolite gestures and our pilot in ﬁne vocal nick. a scrawny little man with a big head was suspended between two giant thighs. The God of commuters has struck back on their behalf.Justice and Retribution. As blow upon blow rained upon his face. When both cars came to a screeching halt at the lights. two red-faced white guys spilled out of the vehicle and honed in on our man.
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.50. these Boers can whip ass!”) That literally brought the whole house down – without even a peep from our tormentor. No more Mahotella Queens screaming in my ear. “This one was for you. I know. All was well with the world. Say it with me: No more back-row sitting between hippo hips. 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. Several years ago. wiped oﬀ the blood from his nosebleed and started the car. Perhaps it is sheer coincidence. never to torment any passenger again. “Hhayibo. because as the men walked back to their car. No more! Never! They will never take me alive! 76 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Even if it meant stealing a ride and a potential encounter with Godoba. 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. removed it. years later. The deathly silence was broken by a voice inside the taxi. Sometimes when I drive around Pinetown. little man. I still see the same taxi driver taking passengers from point A to point B. No more rules from an AGM I wasn’t invited to.our God was not without an advanced sense of irony that day. imagining that the driver’s lips were forever sealed that day. No more row collector. Order had been restored. anesibhaxu nanka amaBhunu. but a man can always dream. No more Rank Tribunal. And then the little man from 15 years before giggles himself silly again. one of them spotted something stuck to his windscreen wiper. but each time I see him he is dead silent.” And then I laugh some more. rolled it into a ball and threw it at their victim.” Stiﬀ-lipped – literally – the wounded warrior got back into the taxi. with a faraway glazed look in his eye. when I could ﬁrst string together a little more than R3. No more dying in the heat.” (“Damn. I would not be subjected to any more of that abuse. It is highly unlikely.
Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 77 .
God bless the black woman (Oh boy…) .
I had exactly the same question in my mind when I ﬁnally did get hitched for real 27 years later. the black female of the species is a species all on its own. For one.) Either way. 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. I used to ogle a woman who must have been in her twenties. otherwise they’d know that the motivation to build such colossal structures can come from only one source. rather than face her wrath. at the age of ﬁve. our Pharaoh decided to get something special on his way home. Those Egyptologists obviously don’t get out much. There is nothing in the world I fear more than a black woman on the warpath. 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. and fantasise about marrying her. after three decades of studying the black female of the species. An unscrupulous lieutenant leaked his secret to his queen back in Egypt and. my great love for black women had been born. brother. Exactly what would happen after we got married was a bit fuzzy… Perhaps I’d then go outside and play? (Coincidentally. Of course. as all black men do. Today. so I’ll just say it on behalf of us all. Bravado usually prevents us from admitting this. it happened in church.s soon as the idea occurred to me that perhaps. I’ve been studying it since I had my ﬁrst crush. hooked up with some licentious Greek hussies and fathered a few dozen kids during a drunken orgy. A black woman. I fear black women. 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. Some Egyptian Pharaoh dude back in 2645bc went out to war to conquer a few primitive tribes up in Europe and plunder valuable treasures. he made a detour through Greece. On his way back. I knew I was in trouble. But our hero was under 80 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . During Holy Mass. I should jot down a few of my observations on the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of its behaviour.
And black women being God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 81 . It is. But. They really are. Kuli Roberts of Bitches Brew notoriety was there. Forget whale watching. check out the newly arrived Black Diamonds.” At the core of this Sandton Brigade’s antics is a simple explanation. my aunts. So why all the trouble of writing this? Well. intelligent. my sisters. But black women are funny. And more recently my wife. my mom.a bit more pressure. resilient and beautiful black women. my colleagues. before we all start hugging and praise-singing. They emit a distinct aura. Somizi Mhlongo was there… It was horrible. “I wouldn’t be caught dead at a Red Hanger Sale. with their townhouses. 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.30am and I was told to talk to the hand. Masechaba Moshoeshoe from The Big Question was there. she let loose on me an assortment of angry black women from all walks of life. So he built a few pyramids on his way back home. 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. The obligatory posse of big-chested government ministers with double-barrelled surnames was there. snazzy hatchbacks and hair extensions. Women in general tend to take themselves way too seriously. For example. I need to add a but. this is payback time for all those episodes when bossy black women have belittled my African manhood. All in fear of the black woman. therefore. Five minutes into the show. with much fear and trepidation that I venture into these shark-infested waters. I’ve been having nightmares about this piece. 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. my cousins. It says. All my life I’ve been surrounded by strong. drinking red wine by the glass. Blackwoman watching is a far more fascinating hobby. Last night I dreamt that Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu invited me to the 3Talk studios under the guise of discussing this book. My grannies.
52am. I’m done with trying 82 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . You only have two seconds to study her as you whizz past (hooting loudly). 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. I like that. surely? It’s 7. Which is about right. even if it means they have to take up 71 directorships to secure a future for their children. The word “tenacity” always comes to mind on the highway as I overtake one of my sisters. no truck limping along. But you’re crawling along at 78km/h for some unfathomable reason. you’d think. Everyone in front of you is indicating left to get around whatever seems to be the hold-up.) The result is that my sisters take themselves way too seriously and they never back down. Black women are the epitome of what I think the previous generations struggled so hard for. Nothing stands in the way of their success. but you can’t forget that expression. You’ve all experienced this. 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. (So you know that whole apartheid thingy never stood a chance. Her lips are pressed ﬁrmly together and her face says. “I don’t know how this damn thing works. they never do anything in half measures. We black people are extremists in everything we do. 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. it’s one of my sisters. 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. And the engine is wailing in high-pitched agony – because she’s still in third gear. too. And you can see three kilometres ahead of you and there’s no obstruction on the road – no accident. That’s right. so they can look “ﬂy” for an important meeting. So you follow suit and break yet another traﬃc law. three sizes too big and tied with a safety pin. on the inside lane. 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.black.
aren’t you?” they all seemed to be asking. Come on. And my oh my. The looks she got were a mixture of pity and scorn. Our sisters have no business there. The girl felt so bad that she hastily added. Black women have no time for that nonsense. I always get a warm glow in my chest when I see this. a recent arrival on the scene. My tenacious sisters! My Nubian queens! If ever there’s a group in this land that has truly embraced the new dispensation. 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. that’s your history right there! With aﬄuence comes lifestyle diseases. the mild depression. They are only interested in practical questions. Professional black men might live in the suburbs but you know they’re heading for the township when the weekend comes. This morning probably. sister. “Will this enhance my chances of that promotion?” If the answer is yes. 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. And after a while it hit me: these women aren’t complaining. you best believe the sister is joining that group of white women for a weekend of rock climbing and jumping out of aeroplanes. “You’re new to this. Why? The place is chaotic. have the sisters embraced the newly found aﬄuence that comes with being part of the emerging black middle class. such as. They have truly moved on and up. they’re bragging about who pops the most pills! Some poor girl. I know a woman whose folks live in an East Rand township and she will never go there to visit. ﬁlthy and “there’s too much crime”. happened to mention that she doesn’t actually need any pills.” It was God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 83 . And boy. overtake on my left and let me be. are my sisters popping pills these days. If you don’t like my driving. it’s black women. the migraines and so on.” We’ve all witnessed this scene. We men are too busy with our boardroom wars. “But I do get stress headaches occasionally. hollow chest thumping and trying to score cheap points. I was recently sitting around a table with a few sisters and the conversation was about all the ailments they have: the sinusitis.to work out the gears and I’ll be damned if I’m going to try to change lanes.
Bhuti.” “You misunderstand.” “Most certainly. 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. I just need to talk to Miss Newman. in which case I would transfer you to the new brand manager. then. “Good morning.too late. Call me a sellout – if the shoe ﬁts – but 84 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .” “I’m afraid she doesn’t work here any more. The thing is. I have an acute appreciation for why black women sometimes cross the blurry line between “assertive” and just downright rude. it’s all because of my brothers and me. I had the following conversation on the phone. but the rest is true. Durban. when in fact they live in lower Glenwood. it’s beautiful to behold the hushed tones as they discuss someone who actually buys vegetables from the fresh-produce market. But if it’s a private matter. It’s our fault. her unsophisticated status had been established. Are you on Prozac or some other shit like that?” Okay.” “Oh! Give me her mobile number. The horror! Because I’m an idiot with a death wish. I’ll say this: sometimes black women piss me oﬀ. The background to it is that my phone extension used to belong to a brand manager who had left the business. Hello. Depending on whether you’re calling about…” “Why didn’t you say so upfront?” “Sorry. can I or can’t I talk to her? I really do not have the time for this. the reason I ask is because she…” “Listen. then I can give you her mobile number. 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. the Prozac bit happened only in my head. east of Essenwood Road. though. I was trying to establish whether you were calling about [brand X]. Still. “close to the Technikon”. Just before I quit my corporate desk job.
when I delicately put it to my wife – who is fervently feminist. My jaw almost hit the ﬂoor. The traﬃc oﬃcer who gives her a ticket or not. In this case. past the ﬁrm-assertiveness mark. After waiting for a good ten minutes without getting any attention. But she is a monster nonetheless. But as is the nature of any pendulum. But it’s understandable – really. looking good. we waved down a white waitress who was clearly not serving our section. Can I take your drinks order in the meantime. sir. so that you don’t wait any longer?” And oﬀ she went. Black women have to ward oﬀ predatory advances every moment of the day.black women cannot enjoy the luxury of going out anywhere. Could she kindly alert whoever was working our section to our presence? “Mostly certainly. our women do not have the luxury of being indiscriminately pleasant to people in general. 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. 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. it is. I understand that black women perpetually have to assert themselves – especially in the business setting. As a result of our own despicable behaviour. even if they’re just getting some groceries from Woolies or picking up their prescriptions. As she should. 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. she shocked me by admitting that she does the same. just as Dr Frankenstein’s did. without being hit on by an assortment of oddball characters. it can sometimes swing too far in the other direction. she hadn’t God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 85 . I realised she was heading straight towards one of our sisters. who had been leaning against the bar counter the whole time we were there. And so the rude black woman is a monster of our collective creation that is now coming back to terrorise us. Short of a casual. With a sinking feeling. disinterested glance. The petrol attendant when she ﬁlls up. The security guard at the gate of her townhouse complex. depending on her willingness to give him her “digits”.
She didn’t even look up and started punching furiously on her keyboard. I speciﬁ–” “Well. slouched over the counter – while the young bartender sprung into action. plonked down two unopened beers and two glass tumblers and started walking oﬀ. produced my driver’s licence and told her my name. no! Bring it unopened!” Me. It really doesn’t matter.” “I’m certain she did. I cheerfully greeted her. not a Castle Lager. We ordered a Heineken and a Castle Lite. No reaction. No movement.looked in our direction the whole time. please. 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. Cue clicking mouth sound and slow. 86 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I was in the kind of good mood that can only be brought about by an ice-cold in-ﬂight beverage. I was told you ordered Castle Lager. with visions of waitress spit mixed in with the beer froth. surly shuﬄe towards us. She said Castle Lager. “No. it is possible.” “That’s impossible. I’d be picking it up on the system. what’s with the name-calling? My good mood already disappearing. gentlemen”. What seemed like an eternity passed. Could I just have a Castle Lite. drinks in hand. Baba. without so much as an “Afternoon. If there had been a booking.” Okay.” “And would you mind opening them for us…” My idiot friend chipping in.” “That’s not what I was told. “Er. She reached our table and. The white waitress whispered something to her and pointed in our direction. maybe you didn’t hear properly. And then came the slow. Then. Excuse me!” “Ja?” “There’s been a mix up. It doesn’t matter…” “No. Then she slowly lumbered up to the bar and stood there – no. still without looking up: “There’s no booking in that name. I heard very well. excuse me.” “Honest mistake.
“No. just a few minutes ago. Do you mind standing aside? Next!” At this point the beer that had. Then her face relaxed and she smiled at me. Ke mafello a kgwedi. Baba. “Sir.I ﬁddled in my bag. I suggest you call your travel agency and clear this up. God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 87 . Can I speak to whoever is in charge here?” “What for? She’ll give you the same answer. right now!” “Yolanda. There must be a mistake somewhere. been the source of my good mood started pressing other buttons. Their oﬃce hours are eight to ﬁve. Oh sweet Yolanda. coﬀee or some water. a re na dikoloi. it seems that your travel agency has made a mistake.” “Not until I have been served. sorry. her purple eyelids blinking 17 times a second.30 in the evening. working girl. speak to a Zulu guy from Durban in Sesotho! “Tell you what. it’s 7. I’m still not picking it up on the system. Baba. We’re quite busy. Would you like anything while you wait? Tea.” By this stage she’s looking at me for the ﬁrst time – no. I want to serve di-khastama. but if you wait for about 10 minutes I think I can organise something for you. casting “Backstabber!” glances at Yolanda. She typed in the reference number. she took my e-mail print-out. “Ma’am. “Now listen here! I insist on speaking to whoever’s in charge. ﬁshed out a print-out with the conﬁrmation details from the travel agency and victoriously gave it to her.” “Baba. perhaps?” All the while Purple Eyelids glared at me with ﬂaring nostrils.” Finally Yolanda emerged from the back and I explained my dilemma while she listened to me patiently. I’d rather just book another car using my personal credit card. this gentlemen o batla o bua le wena! Now stand aside. you professional.” Well done. When I was done. The booking was made and then cancelled. sizing me up is a more apt description – and tapping her pen against the counter impatiently. punched in the reference number and frowned.
She’s a dark. You don’t have to be nice. 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. Pretty please with Castle on top. I just want my steak knife. I really am. curvaceous African behind. Just don’t give me attitude. slap my credit card down. I have no delusions of ever fathering any of your oﬀspring. I just want peace and quiet. I’d like to simply walk up to the counter. I’m tired of trying to walk the tightrope between being standoﬃsh and being too forward with black females. I’m just too exhausted to expend my last ounce of energy performing the balancing act between arrogant aloofness and courteous engagement. truth be told. Much smarter than I am. soulful and intelligent woman. beautiful. I’m the freaking customer here. I’d like to be able to do what I do when a 54-year-old Afrikaner tannie is behind the counter. After all. For once. Unlike that fat pig you served in the morning. 88 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . And I’m shaking in my boots just thinking what she’ll say when she reads this. Yes. I have no interest in your luscious.000 times over. bark my surname and get some service. assertive black woman but damn it. Sometimes. I’m married to one and I would make the same choice 1. Honestly. It’s a lose-lose situation. you are a strong. Nothing more. Because I get attitude when I try to be friendly and I get attitude when I try to be all business. all I want is my boarding ticket so I can go sit at McGinty’s and take the edge oﬀ after a trying day.* I’m tired of this. I love black women. hell you don’t have to smile or look like you want to be here. nothing less. all I want is some courtesy. God bless the black woman. am I not? Sometimes. strong. 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.
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 .
I blame Sigmund Freud for all this nonsense. I feel that way each time I have 92 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . we don’t do things in half measures. Apparently. because I really had a happy childhood. So it seems to me that not only has it become rather fashionable to talk about the pain of our childhoods. Let me put it this way: when I was growing up I saw nothing wrong with my life. it’s just abnormal for anyone to have had a happy childhood these days. they’d let me wear a Stetson hat and boots. Still. and ride on their backs yelling. my people and I are rather extreme in everything we do. your previously disadvantaged status is questionable.I had a happy childhood. I cannot help but wonder if there’s anything wrong with me. 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. Personally. “Yee-ha! This one’s for my people in the ghetto!” So you know I’m all for that angle. And just in case anyone thinks I’m suggesting for a moment that this pain is not real. of course it is! Don’t be ridiculous. unless you’re regularly seeing a shrink to work through “the pain of growing up under the brutality of apartheid”. How we feel about things is just a factor of what we know and what we don’t know. At least. especially our childhoods. I used it to good eﬀect to lure gullible white women to my bed as a young man. Now don’t get me wrong. Sometimes. This is true so often. Why can’t people just be a bit fucked up and deal with it? Of course. Worked like a charm. to help ease the pain of the apartheid brutality that I suﬀered. I am personally happy to admit that I’m an extraordinarily ignorant person. black people being black people. but the more pain we had. we have caught on to the idea that everything can be blamed on our pasts. Apparently. And as we have established. The apartheid-brutalised-me angle is a good angle – a fruitful angle. whether it’s working hard or partying hard. Practically everybody I know has repressed issues from their formative years that they need to work through. I guess you could call my happy childhood an illusion of a happy childhood. especially on naive university chicks. the better. It has come to my attention that this makes me a one-in-a-billion individual. Perhaps I just didn’t know any better. Now.
How I feel about food now is very diﬀerent from what I felt before. When I look at my kids. The same goes for my childhood. I’m not. at the same time. Every direction I turn. in fact. Ignorance was bliss. it gave me the illusion of safety. my childhood in a poor township neighbourhood was anything but blissfully happy. it might lead to My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 93 . at the moment he’s enjoying sucking both thumbs loudly. 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 never gave too much thought to opening a can of food or a packet of chips and popping the contents into my mouth. when I was his age. Growing up. been painful and unhappy. I’d still be a bit sceptical.) I have not been able to write more than two sentences without being distracted by his slurping noises. smearing me with drool and slapping me in the eye. These days I always have a moment of pause before I eat anything. He has that nasty thumb-sucking habit going on. 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. I’m sitting writing this in my TV room with my two-year-old. he’s grabbing my hand. Even if I were to emerge from the session convinced that my childhood had. If I had to go see a shrink. I’d still wonder just how “real” this retrospective unhappy childhood was. she’d probably pull some fancy psychology tricks to convince me that. until I worked as an R&D technologist in a food-processing plant. Other people seem to be extremely certain about things in general. no doubt. I wonder about these things. Raising children today is a complicated matter.conversations with other people. And if he’s not making revolting sounds. (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. I was happy. Thirty-odd years ago. indeed. My dad reserved the God-given right to roundhouse kick me in the chest if I messed with his song-writing process. For instance. I’m bombarded with messages – blunt or subliminal – to the eﬀect that kids are extraordinarily fragile beings. I would never have been able to get away with assaulting my dad as he sat at his table with his music manuscripts.
Sometimes the whole aﬀair degenerated into outright ﬁst ﬁghts. I started brazenly ﬂouting the rules – like the rule that said we had to be inside the house by dusk. Yes. These days we’re not supposed to touch our kids.lengthy therapy sessions for him 30 years from now. I don’t know about this. As a matter of fact. I was worried he might take the rejection of his regurgitation as a rejection of himself as a person. But it was just a part of my life. That’s how everybody else I knew lived. 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. But after seven years of idle threats I got bolder. my dad only ever laid his hand on my puny little ass once. 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. he had always merely admonished me and made cold threats of hell to pay if I didn’t follow his rules. We ate three times a day. catching up on my television viewing. My three brothers and I shared a bedroom with a distant aunt. I was in high spirits. Silly little boy. Nothing weird there. given some rags and told to go play outside. that’s three victories and 347 losses. I started testing his resolve. By township standards. Excuse me while I go puke. I grew up in a Zulu household. Just once. As I entered my house about ten minutes after it ﬁnished. I was imagining that I was Manolito shooting through an army of Red Injuns. My dad employed the good old-fashioned fear factor to keep us in check. my folks were doing quite well. My dad asked me where I’d been and I casually told him I had been at the Khumalos’. Kids were fed. He then told me to go into the bathroom and wash my behind. And I don’t want my son visualising my face as he punches a pillow in a futuristic shrink’s oﬃce. during which I amassed an appalling 3–347 record. but nobody slept in the kitchen. I was seven years old. I was. But don’t get me wrong and think he brutally beat us up on a daily basis. As the blows rained down on me in the conﬁnes of our tiny poor excuse for 94 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . 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. Up until that point. I breathed a sigh of relief in the belief that I was oﬀ the hook.
hug a lot and say “I love you” on the phone. My dad and I did a lot of father-son things together. But I feared the man. After all. I still do. “Leave that ho alone and come back home. He was. But the illusion worked. We watched John Tate moer Gerrie Coetzee together. And as a matter of fact. only using a leather belt and not a panga. Dof. the ﬁrst and last time my dad ever laid a hand on me.a bathroom. Black people know the look. He’s turning 67 this year and I still jump when he calls my name. sons and dads are supposed to have tight relationships. I had never known naked fear. My dad beat me to within an inch of my life. He taught me about girls and that I mustn’t “get the drop or pubic lice”. From that day onwards. aren’t they? They’re supposed to play ball in the park. Like me handing him the spanners as he ﬁxed the car. That’s right: fear. He taught me how to drive in his 1980 Mazda 323 when I was 13. after all. I edged much closer to my Maker than at any other point in my life before or since. I’d avoid another ass-whuppin’. He took us to Nagle Dam for picnics. That beatdown he gave me was as good as it gets. I came back from school to ﬁnd that he had bought us a TV set of our own. it was clearly only an illusion of a near-death experience. Things like me wheeling away weeds after he was done weeding the garden. politically correct types reading this will be frowning and shaking their heads in pity right now. Up until that point. Looking back. Sure – in a Hollywood movie. in his wisdom. The beating must have lasted only about a minute or so but it felt more like ten hours. It says. The following Monday afternoon. had given me a beating that was going to have a lifetime eﬀect on me. At least it felt that way to me. And then my father coldly left the bathroom and it was over. That was 1979. Its eﬀects have lasted almost 30 years now. It just sounds wrong hearing how a son feared his own father. And the reason I never did drugs or impregnated half the ﬂoozies in my neighbourhood was because of that beating. We watched Muhammad Ali retain his heavyweight title for the third time against Leon Spinks together. Now!” The normal teenager experience of coping with venereal diseases (as they My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 95 . I feared the man more than Schabir Shaik fears an actual jail cell. He told me not to do those things and I knew that if I avoided doing those things. My dad. My dad would catch me standing with a horny little thang and just give me the look.
there is an inherent danger in my approach. Kids need to know that you own their little asses right up until they’re 21. A teenaged son needs to be under no illusions about your willingness to bust his skull open with a metal pipe. Perhaps. you believe in that “stern voice command” being touted by the pop media.” I want my kids to have the same kind of childhood as me. bless his soul. That shit might work like a charm with a Chihuahua. Or pepper spray. The little man. Seven beautiful years. drugs or gangsterism. he just does it. 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 . But that’s a chance I’m willing to take. “If he almost killed me for watching a wholesome TV show. I’m sure it saved me from many cases of gonorrhoea. I have only ever had to show my 12-year-old who’s boss once in his life. In my subconscious mind. He must have been about ﬁve at the time. Dad. gets the fear of God in his eyes when I bark at him to go tidy his room. Don’t be silly. Good luck. Still. my dad saved me from possible castration and life as a eunuch. That beating was also the reason I never got mixed up in crime. 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 .were called then) was unknown to me as a direct result of that look. So that ass-kicking has served my purposes for seven years already. I want them to be happy. I would never actually beat my son with a metal pipe. with every ﬁbre of his being. in your house. No backchat or skulking about. So in essence. I’d probably opt for a sjambok. buddy. My kids might just grow up to hate me. imagine what he will do to me if I’m caught with da herb or arrested for slapping a ho. but I doubt it will have much eﬀect on a rebellious 17-yearold if you don’t have anything to back it up. Especially in this MTV era. It was only after I left home to study at university that I had my ﬁrst experience with the dreaded “drop”. He must believe that this is a possibility the moment he decides to cross the line. I must have been thinking. it’s very important that he believes. I want them to avoid STDs and criminal activities. Thanks. That’s what kids need. Admittedly. Of course. And as a result. I shall judiciously mete out savage beatings on their little backsides.
podgy little softie. a wife is supposed to stay out of it. and savagely beating them up later in life. that’s enough. The wife is supposed to be more empathetic than the husband to kids’ whining and selﬁsh carrying on. “Okay. heartless Cruella. I’m really just a short. 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. Of course. my wife is in charge in my house. 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. Otherwise the whole thing doesn’t work. So it seems I exist solely for the purposes of trying to feed my kids whisky when they’re two years old. angry African man is strangling his rebellious son in the bathroom. I want them to fear me. But it’s for their own good. Sweaty. In order for there to be balance. When a sweaty. 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. Ninety-nine per cent of the time. The problem comes with the implementation of this brilliant plan. deep down inside I’m really just a nice guy. I’m the guy he can spit on and whose eyes he can gouge out. 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. I try to act tough but I’m far from it. And I want them to tap into that fear My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 97 . my natural inclination is to give kids what they want – especially when they’re two years old. dear. So she had her way. 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. For now. 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. That’s right: the goddamned woman. the wife is a good ally to have.” But sometimes the problem is the man. You see. The reason being that each household has a serpent with a mutinous streak. wives and husbands have to get the goodcop-bad-cop routine down. In fact. angry African men don’t like to be told. As a result. Fortunately. the vicious.
Mr Mtshali. And he kept on asking me. 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 . I got 99 per cent… Mr Mtshali took our class for ﬁve of the ten subjects we were doing that year. That day. “What happened to the one per cent?” Right up until university. But he also understood that being a good teacher was not enough. fearless kids who’ve never had a hand laid on them in anger shove white powder in their faces in nightclubs. rip out the drip from their forearms and beat them to death. Thank you. Snotty-faced 11-yearolds are generally not very impressed by excellent teaching methods and all that nonsense.when your unruly. I remember one particular day like it was yesterday – and it was all of 24 years ago. I want them to have the presence of mind to wear a condom. Beat me up. Or to read over my exam answers. but because they fear for their lives should they catch AIDS. Should their hormones get the better of them and they give in to their lust and tap some ass. The man was a good teacher. when I got to the last sum and saw him busy underlining answers. So he fucked us up to instil the fear of God into us. Not beat me. Between the two of us. I want my kids to know that if they contract AIDS. I want my kids to want to try the white powder. But I want them to be so fearful of my wrath that they’ll have to respectfully decline. He regularly beat me as if the 16 Days Of Activism had expired the day before. My best friend Siﬁso and I just happened to be the top two students in the class and we had a strong competitive streak. Not because they “love life”. he called me to the front and beat me up. I never forgot to put a minus sign in front of a negative number. As a result. We used to have a race to see who would ﬁnish ﬁrst and get the higher marks. I panicked. I will kill them before the AIDS does. My Standard 5 class teacher was Mr Mtshali. but in my haste to beat him I wrote 2. It was a Friday and we duly wrote our weekly test to determine who was the top student that week – a maths test. So instead of obtaining 100 per cent. That man gave me more beatings than Tina got from Ike. The answer to the last problem was –2. each time he came into the class and saw me. That’s right: I’ll charge into the hospital. it was not enough who got the higher marks.
I’m not an unreasonable. I would never use excessive.356 by now and Charles Taylor would still be chopping oﬀ hands across West Africa. I’ll take my punishment like a man. 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. If she’d just given us a well-aimed backhand. I say get each school at least one Mr Mtshali and give him the powers to get medieval on their asses. Is it possible that dof people could read this and feel emboldened to use excessive force on their kids? Yes. brutal force on my oﬀspring. If any of my kids call that Childline number. But as soon as I take oﬀ them orange overalls. Otherwise they’re just threats. 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. that meant staying outside while the lesson went on without you.567. It is the same principle that is applied in every other sphere of our lives. I always shake my head sadly. Essentially.our schools. My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 99 . I’m hoping that dof people would never read this. I dare them – I double dare them. It was a lot more fun than European history. 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. one of the silly nuns would send us out of the class to give us time out “to think about we’d done wrong”. it’s cool. Otherwise we’d be on resolution #8. But. Threats need to be backed up. I love them too much. That is why that congregation of feeble minds at the UN headquarters in New York formed the Security Council. Sending 12-year-olds to the naughty corner doesn’t work. heartless man. she would have been far more eﬀective. When we misbehaved back in high school. The unwritten rule to every aspect of our existence is “Comply – or else”. But I’ll still kick their backsides to straighten them up – hopefully only once or twice in their lives. I tell you. 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. Am I advocating child abuse? Hardly. Let’s see how many zit-faced little thugs with low-hanging pants will show up to school without homework. But back to my house.
We work so hard because we fear failure. because we fear retiring without enough money. I don’t have the balls to ask him why. so I don’t know any other way.* Fear. wholesome lives and get degrees and decent jobs because they fear the consequences of not toeing the line. I didn’t go to Parenting School. 100 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . That kid was yours truly. so I can’t outsmart these Googling. We (mostly) don’t do crime because we fear the Scorpions and we fear jail time. I always imagine that it would be a tad diﬃcult to explain the welts on my butt to my wife. Nationwide. Information Age know-it-alls. We drive at 119km/h on KZN highways because we fear Bheki Cele’s Gestapo. I will open the door and my dad will be standing there with a leather belt. I cannot take the statistically improbable chance that the doorbell will ring. Kulula and 1time. When he calls me on the phone and summons me home for the purpose of talking to me. I don’t have a degree in Child Psychology. 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. It rules most of us in any case. Nowadays I live 600 kilometres from my dad. Kids should live pure. That’s all a man can try to accomplish as a father. I get on the net and take advantage of the war between Mango. We pay our rates because we fear living in dark houses.
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 .
as many would have us believe. So am I saying that there is no noble and just principle inherent in the acceptance 104 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . let’s give preference to middle-aged white blokes”. Every single day. it’s in the newspapers. This is not a matter of principle. what is it about then? It seems to me to be a simple case of South Africa’s favourite obsession: race. reaching into his colon for a nice round ﬁgure – seven recorded sightings of black stockbrokers on the JSE before 1994. After all. I just don’t get it. Say. 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. It is a matter of expediency.) It is not an accident that there were exactly – he says. I think you deserve it more than I do. if this is not a matter of principle. If Mbeki and Co. 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. You’d think young black guns would turn down senior management positions with well-considered explanations: “It’s just not fair. So I’ll oversimplify matters and invite ridicule by displaying my notorious ignorance. Sarel. There wouldn’t be too many recorded cases of white okes popping veins in their skulls screaming about reverse reverse racism.” But then again. forever. 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. what would happen? I doubt there’d be any marches from that section of the population currently protesting the grave injustice. perhaps we’re not as rainbowy as we like to think we are. The whole thing seems to me to be rather simple. on the radio. Here goes. “We’ve had this aﬃrmative action thingy for black people long enough. blah. (And if you’re a woman. on TV – blah. aﬃrmative action has been with us since the 17th century. in their inﬁnite wisdom. don’t we? Especially for a bunch as rainbowy as we’re supposed to be. As usual. In fact. were to turn around and say. blah.D amn! We all get excited about aﬃrmative action. you’ve been around here from the days when Koornhof was upgrading us from Natives to Bantus. So.
Sir Isaac freaking Newton. (Okay. 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. conciliatory. It goes without saying. proponents of AA tend to be black okes and the naysayers generally tend to be white okes. that these people are most likely to be those who are unaﬀected by aﬃrmative action or are rolling in the dough. employ exactly the same method. so you were never going to win any prizes for guessing which way I leant. That’s why I’m such a fervent consumer of that irascible bullet-dodging Bullard’s weekly column. Many moons ago. During this time. in a time that most forward-looking. khaki-clad.or rejection of the concept of aﬃrmative action? But of course not. of course. 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. rainbowy people have forgotten. I’m just pointing out that. don’t be daft. who think Robbie should be canonised for his great wisdom. there are a sprinkling of whiteys batting on the pro-AA side and a splash of black people who have reservations about it. Note. Or both. honest and God-fearing white people to Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 105 . in 2007. Here’s my bash at what I understand to be the retarded rationale against aﬃrmative action. We form our opinions emotionally and only rationalise them later. I’m a black man who has beneﬁted from aﬃrmative action. This way. When it comes to those poor guys just out trying to get a job. I believe that we take sides in the AA debate using little but our viscera. Riiiiiiight. okay. a few misguided. ﬁnger-wagging individuals forced hard-working. let me get this out of the way now: yes. 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. Newton on crack but hey. though. But I will qualify my standpoint by noting that I try extremely hard to understand positions with which I violently disagree. of course. it’s not hard to work out who supports what.) And now it’s time for my notorious and often ignorant opinion to rear its ugly head again. that people like me. By pure coincidence. there was this passing stupidity called apartheid.
it was just unfair. 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. I don’t. The eggheads in various governmental departments have got that covered. Sadly. once upon a time. 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. I wish I had a rebuttal to this undeniable. Can’t blame him – I would also be embarrassed to 106 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . All I have to oﬀer is my Marmite story. that last bit is generally the rallying cry and ultimate debate-ending rationalisation for why aﬃrmative action is a terrible idea – all the incompetent. 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. aren’t we shooting ourselves in the foot if we take incompetent. Let’s be honest. the yeast in the product started a furious binary-ﬁssion session in that fertile environment. ineﬃcient retards in senior positions who’ve been letting down their companies and country since this whole AA madness was instituted. indeed! The little Einstein decided against reporting the matter immediately and. At the same time.begrudgingly accept some privileges they hadn’t really asked for. Ouch! On inquiring as to the root cause of this situation. The jar had then given under the tremendous pressure of his tremendous manhood and glass fragments had become lodged in his gonad sac. inexperienced and possibly. non-murderous part of the world? Plus. predictably. It seemed the young man had somehow inadvertently/on purpose inserted his genitals into a jar of Marmite. Being an admitted AA beneﬁciary. a bizarre tale involving either a disturbing wager or an extreme case of sexual starvation emerged. It seems that. Like swimming in the sea. Ouch. going to the cinema and watching Naas dropping them three-pointers in shoulder pads at Loftus. watertight logic.
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. (Another brief tangent: throwing around terms like “competent” whenever the topic of AA comes up really crawls up my behind. this is the picture that is emanating from numerous surveys about the patterns in the corporate world. In the sane world. Sue the shit out of the Marmite-makers. would want yummy Marmite oﬀ our shelves. I humbly submit. 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. this would be a no-brainer. We can subsequently divide these people into two categories: the competent and those exhibiting the potential to become competent. then. 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. After all. 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. however. this jar is not meant to be humped. we laugh at such an idiotic course of action. 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. Such as all the Mzansi people who swear by Sunlight as their enema of choice. 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. And only an idiot. This is a conciliatory “Let’s-all-hold-hands-andstop-the-jar-humping” piece. Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 107 . 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.present my Marmite-jar-shagging little balls to the school nurse. The question is.) And so what of our white. thus forcing them to add a warning on the label in the future: while certainly sexually arousing.
Your standard-bearer being the tall. There. white cream and a sprinkling of chocolate ﬂakes on top. Good-looking black chicks from UCT with private-school accents (GBCs) 3. Aﬃrmative action of yesteryear is still the pervasive form of aﬃrmative action. the face of the South African corporate still retains the same old cappuccino model: lots of dark coﬀee at the bottom. Good-looking white chicks from UCT with great hair and teeth (GWCs) 4. bald. They remain at the bottom of the heap with short. delicious chocolate ﬂakes at the top.right? Did someone just call me a sarcastic little sanctimonious twerp? Perhaps. don’t you? UCT in this context 108 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . (For that reason. let me move quickly away from there and talk about my own experience of this. bald white guys with crooked yellow teeth are out of the standard-bearer loop. the group being aﬃrmed is the traditional standard-bearer. the stats I’ve seen certainly seem to point to the fact that the face of senior management remains middle-aged and white. if I am to believe the tales I’m told. white teeth. whining about reverse racism and inadequate transformation respectively. Short. Or are people exaggerating a little bit?) From what I’ve seen. Bald. That’s what this is about. after all – my own personal experience of this situation. the ability to shoot an AK-47 and recite the Freedom Charter is enough of a qualiﬁcation to balance a R300-million budget. Tall white guys from UCT with great hair and good teeth (TWGs) 2. white guy from UCT with a full set of hair and a set of straight. The status quo remains. If the shoe ﬁts… If anything. I said it! The pecking order in the workplace nowadays is: 1. And before we get into a pointless you-show-me-your-stats-and-I’ll-show-you-mine waltz. podgy guys irrespective of colour (Don’t even have acronyms) And you know I’m right about the UCT thing. podgy black guys. Black guys from UCT of any height or looks as long as there’s a twang (BGTs) 5. with those few shining. there won’t be any reference to that other situation in our hallowed government departments where. To this day.
and glazed expressions all around. 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. blonde hair and blue eyes. Short. (Hehehe…) After about a year or so of walking through the corridors of a typical corporate. great hair and great teeth. You’ll see bemused yet sympathetic faces. bald and yellow teeth. This has happened to me many. Tallness. But no-one is tuned in to Radio Kakamas. In fact. The podgy guys.15am and the poor guy is sweating bullets making some really good points. that’s when certain genetic characteristics tend to appear hand-in-hand in people. Or black skin and traditional weapons in their pants. These are the smartest individuals running industry in this land. you cannot help but notice the correlation between the genes for tallness. great hair and great teeth beat stubby. gesticulating wildly in the studio booth. For the beneﬁt of the poor individuals who were cramming Biblical Studies instead (shame!). I was the podgy guy doing it. I’m not making it up. creating spreadsheets that detail how many housewives complained that the chilli-ﬂavoured soup tasted chilli-ish that month. many times. In the event of a stalemate between two tall white guys with good hair and teeth. And in the event of a disagreement during a R20-million project. the tie-breaker is which one went to UCT. It’s 4. are always stuck in the cubicle next to the elevator. Pearls of wisdom about the greatness of General De La Rey are tumbling oﬀ his tongue. For example. such a job really does exist. and competence. it’s quite funny watching the expressions of people as they listen to one of these okes make a point during meetings. everybody is getting jiggy on more auspicious stations Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 109 . In women. you can throw in a great face and bits in the right places. I’ve always likened it to the graveyard-shift radio presenter from a kak community station – Radio Kakamas. the same pecking order is followed. bald and porky black guys from the College Of Mediocrity with no twang have no chance at all.being the equivalent of the Ivy League in the US. No. say. if they’re lucky. they can hear the words – but they haven’t the faintest clue what the oke is on about. You know they can see the lips moving.
too. after all. I’ve been there. Me : Are we clear what the contractual notice period with them is? GWC : Yeah.such as Radio Sonder Grense. The myth is entrenched and the halo around her head is starting to get a downright saintly glow. TWG : Well spotted there. And it’s nobody’s fault. Not really. you’re right. stumpy black guy looking like a sausage in Action Cricket regalia trying to make sense of yorkers.” Anyone who has ever worked in the corporate world knows the pattern. The standard-bearers tend to stick together – and reject the inferior classes below them. GWC. and the workplace is not spared. Next thing you know people are looking at her diﬀerently and listening more attentively when she speaks. In South Africa’s modern corporate world. 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 I just sit there with my jaw on the ﬂoor. That’s when you see a twangless. in any case. Your ideas are. That’s when you realise that standard-bearing is not rooted in rabid racism. And you are just a twangless guy from College Middle-Of-Nowhere. We don’t want to stray outside the law. Why couldn’t you have come up with that gem about checking contractual obligations? And you’ve got to know your place. 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 . She is. And in every subsequent meeting from then onwards. 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. GWC. We’re having Legal check the contract. googlies and inswingers. the standard is exactly that: the standard. Well done. There’s a certain herd mentality that permeates throughout society generally. we must take our business out of X. I’ve been one of those guys. 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. I know the feeling. just crap. taller and more gorgeous than you are. It’s just that… well.
white guy with great hair. So is there a point to any of this then? Maybe. we creatively come up with our own “rational facts” that favour our internalised positions. however tongue-in-cheek you are. black okes hang out with other black okes and marry black chicks. as a rule. and you are looking to ﬁll a position that AA regulations insist must go to a black oke. But if you’re a tall. The ability to understand the intricacies of a scrum is genetically linked to the ability to know when Legal should be contacted. because nobody wants to come across as a bloody whinger. In case you haven’t worked it out yet. Make up your own damn mind. from UCT or thereabouts. viscerally form opinions about people and things. We suﬀer from a condition that professional mindfuckers – sometimes known as psychiatrists – like to call cognitive dissonance. maybe not. despite our best intentions. Or of talking knowledgeably about the propensity of a cricket pitch to break up on the ﬁfth day of a test match. 13 years already? And then. Time to shut up and look for opportunities to wear tight-ﬁtting Action Cricket gear. We intuitively. That’s why. the fact that the rest of us don’t is a rule to remember. Ditto Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 111 . Remember that you are a member of the human race. When challenged with any rational facts that are in conﬂict with our entrenched opinions. Pointing out these things. always leads to the same response. And so because of where we come from. I hope you remember my moronic rant. what. are these guys going to keep on whining and whingeing for ever? Hasn’t it been long enough – it’s been like. That’s just how it is. Then we internalise those opinions. too. Don’t mess with what’s worked for 300 years. Casually dropping into a conversation that you just got yourself scuba-diving gear helps. we should be doing the rationalising before we reach an opinion.the technical subtleties of a rugby scrum or lineout. wit ous tend to think other wit ous are smart and everybody else is a nitwit until they prove themselves. Jeez. It’s a fact. Black guys are exactly the same (unless they’ve been brainwashed into believing that they are worthless – but that’s for another time…). you realise that speaking up at that diversity workshop wasn’t such a good idea. And while there are the occasional glowing exceptions who do this. There’s no point in just going through the motions “because legislation says I must”.
So break free of the cognitive-dissonance mould. And it’s why we need to start breaking free of the mould and challenging what we believe intuitively without much thought. We’re human beings. Live with it. The current lot at the Union Buildings are a bunch of misguided. Look at it this way. This drought-ridden yet beautiful wasteland we call home will be 100 per cent coloured in a hundred years anyway. There just might be a little diamond in what you perceive to be a piece of dung. AA is here. You’re just another jar-humping TWG or GWC. no amount of persuasion is going to change the natural course of events. I swear. ﬁnger-wagging individuals hellbent on imposing this aﬃrmative-action nonsense. Prada-clad. 112 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Just tune in. remember – and there is no recorded evidence of the persuasive approach working anywhere in changing people’s hearts. Look at us still debating this issue 13 years on. 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.the wit ous.) Or. think Mitchell’s Plain. You can ﬁght it. Believe me. if it makes you feel better. 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’re misusing aﬃrmative action. paying a guy money so he can talk to himself on the graveyard shift on Radio Kakamas. If you do that. If you want to conjure up an image of the demographics in the year 2107. as I like to put it. or you can try to make it work. (That’s another real job. You can have an angry.
Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 113 .
They might have to bite off our heads .
Still. Now. I have a standard approach: I take a swig of beer and apply the cynic’s creed. there’s no testosterone anywhere. Assuming this “fact” was true – assuming. I’ll concede that I’m oversimplifying matters just a tad. 116 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . when I heard of this phenomenon of wide-scale male absenteeism from black family life. She was sharing with me what she thought was a baﬄing phenomenon she’d recently become aware of. In the unlikely event that an obtuse corporate moron is getting worked up reading this. when there’s a tricky dilemma on the table. Did you say 30 or 13 per cent? What? I thought so. and found myself in two minds about whether or not to believe it. it seems that in every black household these researchers visit. for example. I decided to forego my natural suspicion of research. only women and children are to be found. Diﬀerent strokes and all that. most people discover a deep-down passion for Pepsi they never knew existed before. consumer immersion after consumer immersion and survey after survey have all started to pick up a disturbing and perplexing fact about South African society. It would seem that research paper after research paper. She’s a brand manager of sorts. the simplest explanation for anything is probably the most accurate one. there are no males in any black households in this country. I stopped believing in the veracity of the ﬁndings of most research papers not too long after I joined the corporate world. That’s right – where there’s a black family. Indeed. it’s just that when there are free samples of Pepsi to be had. Nothing wrong with the enthusiasm shown by our researchers. Evidently. who just happens to believe in what she does for the corporate company she works for. 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. Anyhow.I recently had a rather interesting conversation with a dear friend. I said – how could it be explained? At times like this. 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. Just oestrogen and snot. all things being equal. That is. the methodology described above is a pretty apt description of a lot of corporate “research”. The only “research” I ever witnessed in my time was the type where.
(Yes. been whipped directly out of my ass. backing me right up. I can well understand how my wife believed it. that he was indeed a living. I hypothesised passionately that. Not even once. she never got to see my father. How he would only invite his wives into his hut nocturnally to claim his conjugal rights. The thing is. There may be more elaborate explanations to do with colonialism. And she spent the night three of those ﬁve times. philosophy nerds. yes. And yet there she was. How he always slept in a separate hut. Which is why I was particularly surprised when my wife. I had to assure her that my father was not a ﬁgment of my imagination. to the present day. with a portion of BS on the side. I did my obligatory song and dance. of course. yadda yadda. in defence of the black male when my brand-manager friend confronted me with this information. but it makes sense when you think about it. breathing person. This is a bit of a gross generalisation. moments earlier. yawn… You know I’m right. 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. I argued passionately that this research showed a lack of understanding of African culture. I regaled her with facts of how. You see. I prefer to call it the cynic’s creed. 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. who had been a silent part of the conversation to this point. 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. okay?) So what’s the simplest explanation for this absence of black males from families? Well. been a resident of my upper colon. And that explains the absence of black males from living rooms across the land… This explanation had. until only one or two generations ago. the ﬁrst ﬁve times she visited my parents’ home back in the Valley Of A Thousand Hills. this is also known as Ockham’s razor. an African man never sat around with women and children. jumped in and agreed with me. It’s not often that my loving wife will concur with a theory of mine that had. Being a black male. the migrant-labour system and other socio-economic drivel. Sometimes I got the They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 117 . of course. just go with it.
Much harder than I anticipated when I got married. hard thing to do. Barker and the Matabanes on Isidingo and to talk about our days. And traditional Zulu men just do not sit in the lounge with their families and watch Brooke sleep with the husband of her daughter. My generation and I are running out of excuses. It was only afterwards that I understood for the ﬁrst time why my dad would get home. We still have exactly the same genetic aversion to staying at home and chatting to the wives and kids. Spending time at home is a hard. baby-oil container in hand. My father is a very traditional Zulu man. I’ll admit it. Issues that shape the direction of the country. But because our lives are becoming increasingly Western. too… And I couldn’t blame her. 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. Those ﬁrst ﬁve times my wife visited my family house. My mom would sometimes have to take his supper to him in the car.30pm to share the trials and tribulations of Cherel. limp-wristed poor excuses for men sit at home and watch soapies. Issues such as why Raymond Hack is still the CEO of SAFA and who owes him a huge favour at Soccer City. I think she was just happy he was at home and not 118 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . That’s the general idea behind the 75 huts you’ve seen at Zuma’s Inkandla homestead. I envy my dad and his ilk. Zulu men sit with other men and discuss issues of national importance. 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. They are traditional men. Zulu men don’t sit in the main house and joke with the kids. drive his car into the garage after work and just stay there for three hours. who is herself sleeping with her stepfather who is also her halfbrother – or whatever. 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. Henpecked. reading the papers and listening to Radio Zulu. Undesirable situation. At least they have plausible excuses for their aversion to their families. Real men don’t. And she wasn’t upset or anything. my dad was always in one of the outside buildings.
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. bull-saving people from the SPCA are getting more belligerent when taking on African traditions. Five hundred years ago I would have been out there ﬁxing the fence to the kraal. My own reasons for not spending my life at home are less traditional and more… psychological. I wander the house aimlessly in my boxers. 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. Even when the bog-standard household DIY stuﬀ needs doing. Just like the sheepskin car-seat covers in my dad’s garage. Once my kids are sick of playing with me. scratching my nuts. None of them is black. Keeping cows in the yard to milk and herd about might make me feel more like a man but those Eurocentric. 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. it’s probably not such a great idea. of course. 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. 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. but I wouldn’t be kidding anyone. for reasons unknown to me. I don’t have a mechanical bone in my body. I’m ashamed to say that my wife assembled every single piece of furniture They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 119 . 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. And African people have irrational. I’m hopeless. I’m just like the food-processing-blender-whatchamacallit we bought two years ago because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I’ve thought about it. Darkies don’t mess around with that DIY shit unless they work in a workshop during the day in any case. And no smart person wants to do that. but I can’t. So that’s not an option either. uncontrollable urges to bore holes through the necks of unsuspecting bovines.out gallivanting with his buddies and impregnating local skanks.
I made a mental note never to invite the show-oﬀ around for a braai at my house again. To avoid a potentially explosive domestic misunderstanding I resisted my carnal urges and retired to the bedroom with a pile of FHM magazines. So I’m the light-bulb hero. It took him about 23 seconds and – voilà! – there was light. I’m having heart palpitations. Another 20 minutes later. most of the time. We recently needed to change the ﬂuorescent kitchen light. Thank goodness for KY. A look that I believe should only be reserved for husbands. 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. Yeah. 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. or do you not need help from your mechanic friend?” I’m a calm. Well.wife can’t reach the ﬁxtures. You know. 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. But that type of remark would turn even the Dalai Lama into a sweaty. So far. I caught my wife giving him a look with admiration-ﬁlled eyes. the swimming pool outside needs attention desperately. But then I would have been taking the risk of her passing some snide remark. As I sit here. non-violent man. to assert my manhood. This means bribing the maid. in the mould of Gandhi and the Swiss Minister Of Defence. a hand towel and some water-based lubricant. it’s taken me three days to ﬁgure out which one is the ﬁlter. My wife has already ﬁgured out that the sand in the ﬁlter must be changed. wife-molesting lunatic. 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 ready to replace the old one. Not to be callous about a serious matter. right. which involved getting the wrong-sized bulbs on more than one occasion. That’s because right after the light-bulb changing episode I was left with an irresistible urge to mount my spouse. she has printed out an instructional page from the internet to guide me. I swallowed my pride and called a friend who is a mechanic. Not only that. After several trips to Game. The They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 121 . Lord knows our landscape is littered with enough bastards.
That’s all I’m useful for. she would somehow make sure she went up in front of a female judge and she’d just explain the situation calmly. Frankly. I gave up the silly delusion of being the boss about two months into my marriage. 122 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .maid has an inexplicable propensity to share details of what went on in the house while my wife has been away. My wife rules the house. The Bad And The Ugly. And then he’d remember why he spends so little time at home. Buying blouses from Woolies is one thing I can do without a problem. do you want to do it the easy way or the hard way? If my father knew what went on in my house. The only question is. Women hold all the cards in the 21st century. She’s in charge. 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. he would have a ﬁt. A man can’t even have an innocent porn festival without the wife hearing about it. I can whip out that Woolies card faster than Clint Eastwood could whip out a pistol in The Good. mama. Truth be told. 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. I said it. 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. I’m grateful that I’m a member of the human species. I’m just grateful my head is still attached to my body. you will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. My father would be proud… This is the lot of the African man when he moves to this jungle called suburbia. And if she ever got into trouble with the law for biting my head oﬀ. If he knew that I was the senior vice-president in charge of changing light bulbs and taking out the garbage. “Yoo. 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. I’m quite positive he’d disown me. That’s right. You best believe it would be stricken from the roll.
They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 123 .
larney .That’s no dhal off my mutton breyani.
then I’d take that fact to the bank.) 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. Given a little bit of thought.“I have no beef with Indian people. If walking around Durban is anything to go by. I’d never been to this particular Florida Road pub/club before and I was waiting. Very funny. And in all likelihood. this line is devoid of any real usefulness or signiﬁcance. I realised she must 126 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . But each time I hear a statement along these lines. when that person is standing around a ﬁre at a braai back in Umlazi. And it goes without saying that if you substitute the word “Indian” with “black”. yeah I know you’re so sorry to hear that. “Jewish” or “gay” my argument still holds enough water to run a bath for a sumo wrestler. he’s racist. A “fact” I’ve heard bandied about asserts that Durban has the highest concentration of Indians outside of India. and expecting too much of us. A young white woman invited herself over to my table and started chatting to me. my immediate reaction is. stood in the middle of their lounge and made this pronouncement. “Yup. I grew up in the greater Durban area – yeah.” No pun intended. I had a rather bizarre experience at a Durban spot recently. 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. I reckon. I could be wrong. of course.” 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. cold one in hand. for the arrival of an untrustworthy buddy. I’ll go on assuming that I’m right. I personally ﬁnd it ridiculous that in this country you still hear people saying things like this. But until I’m presented with conclusive evidence to the contrary. go on sipping their mindrel and ask me to “make the TV slow”. I have no reason to doubt this. Maybe I’m being too harsh on us all. ha ha. “white”. colourful words like “coolie” will be ﬂying around. they’d just shrug their shoulders. (You probably know the drill by now – but I could be wrong. I’m always open to that possibility. I imagine that if I walked into the Maharaj household in Chatsworth. After 30 seconds. It’s Freudian.
So I don’t get picked up very often. I tend to feel quite ﬂattered and pleased with myself. So I politely declined her oﬀer and asked her to please stop spitting into my eye. Therefore. After another 30 seconds of conversation with her – basically. don’t you?” (Gulp. Then I wave my wedding band around and they get a defeated look in their drunken eyes. where they would. so I continued declining respectfully.” “C’mon. I have a pronounced aversion to people on drugs. that’s what I do!) But being picked up by a twitchy junkie is not very ﬂattering. the idea was making my skin crawl. I’m a big-headed man with a pot belly and matchstick legs. My matrimonial vows aside. I know you also hate these fucking leeches.” “Urrmghh. but I could see how this whole scenario could end up on the front page: “Naked couple found strangled in beach-front ﬂat. just admit it. I was promised. 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.” Realising she wasn’t making much headway. At this point. went something like this: “I hate fucking coolies. I generally frequent places that don’t involve people hitting on each other. Also.” I wish I could tell you how I immediately put that twitching druggie bigot in That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. her talking nonstop and twitching at regular intervals – it also dawned on me that she was trying to pick me up. Our conversation from this point. 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. 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. And then she started getting really excited. blow our minds.have been tripping on some pretty strong narcotics. which made me look about nervously. And call me a pessimist. I ﬁnd.” “All blacks hate coolies. (I promise you. I prefer my mind intact and unblown. the twitcher switched her line of attack by making it clear to me just how much she preferred black guys to Indian guys. Larney 127 . dear.) “Urrmghh.
So I’ll say it: like most generalisations. It’s just that…” Let me interrupt myself again and get this out of the way. a lot of black people will vehemently deny this. So I shrugged my shoulders like the wimp that I am and wiped oﬀ more saliva from my eyelashes. let’s not forget. Now. I’m acutely aware of that 128 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Of course. 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. that includes black people. just like the silent wind-ripper in the lift. Most people I know are racist. for that matter. But I’m a notoriously weak-backboned weasel and my sole consideration at this point was avoiding upsetting this ﬁdgety crackhead. They will passionately and elaborately oﬀer you lengthy lists of all the Indian friends they’ve had in their lives. It didn’t help that her two-metre tall beast of a lover was sitting at the next table – waiting to “blow my mind”. I also think that the ﬁrst person to say. I swear. 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. 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. 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. Of the few things I’ve learnt in my time. I’m a ﬁrm believer that the ﬁrst person to hold his nose in a lift is probably the guy who farted. They’ll tell you excitedly how “I have no beef with Indian people. And yes. It just seems to me to be a logical conclusion.her place and told her I wouldn’t stand for any more of her racist nonsense. 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. And yes. Extending that rationale. 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. “But I don’t hate Indians” would probably press the nuke lenasia button in Thabo’s oﬃce if he thought no-one was looking. the twitchy junkie’s observation was based on more than a grain of truth.
whole retarded notion that black people are incapable of racism. I’m even aware that the term “racism” was coined in the ’30s and has a very speciﬁc meaning. Still. too. If there’s one thing we’re all equal-opportunities about in this country. cut the crap. That song was about you trying to sell some fucking records. 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. it’s our racist ways. That’s all semantics to me. it’s just the loss of blood that kills them. Listen. strictly speaking. it was musically brilliant. And just in case you think I’m picking on black people. 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. whiteys. Potato. I’m aware of the school of thought that asserts that only those with money and power can be racists. It would save a lot of hassle. too. it goes all the rainbowy ways. So. Racism/prejudice/bigotry – I don’t really care what you want to call it. that racism has to be institutionalised and used to oppress to be really called racism. this goes both ways.” That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. especially in KZN. but that’s your cultural lesson for the day. bro. I’m not one to let insigniﬁcant things like facts get in the way of my preconceived ideas. It’s like Clinton telling us he didn’t have sexual relations with that woman – yeah. Not to racially stereotype. she only blew you. tomato – whatever. Larney 129 . (For those of you who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. Telling me that black people cannot be racist is like telling me people don’t die of gunshot wounds. back to the point. And you knew that black people.) I know nothing about the sales of that excellent piece of music – oh. When people start telling me just how much they don’t have “problems” with Indian people. throw some AmaNdiya in there. I’m aware. methinks – but I suspect they were quite high. some pig ears and. yeah. I just wish we were more open about it. Yes. the song caused controversy a while back for fuelling black-on-Indian tensions and encouraging racial stereotyping. oh. I know they’re as racist as motherfuckers. Heck. would eat that shit up because it would resonate with them. blah blah blah.
nothing more. everybody came. Black people don’t like that Indian people are better oﬀ than them.Such creative marketing. based on my wanderings around Durban. So I’ll take the low road and just talk about my unacademic opinions. so they were black. If someone had asked me what I thought their secret was. I suppose that I could register my lazy ass with an institution of higher learning. So what’s this Indian hatred about then? As usual. ﬁnancially and pretty much in every other way. let me tell you about the family that lived across the road from my own humble home when I was growing up. I thought. and they just happened to make more money than my folks. and I didn’t see what qualiﬁed them to have Yvonne Chaka Chaka visit their house instead of mine. a couple of other luxury vehicles and lots of nice stuﬀ in their home. Because I 130 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .) They were much better oﬀ than us. Yvonne Chaka Chaka! So naturally I resented these neighbours of mine. I was rather unimpressed with each of them as individuals. I would have had much more intelligent conversations with Yvonne Chaka Chaka. a Mercedes-Benz. obviously. To illustrate my point. I’m not planning on doing any formal research on this assertion but. It seems to me that the issue at hand is the fact (or perception?) that Indians are more prosperous than black people. perform some “research” – that is. That’s the high road. the road that leads to accolades. 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. They had a double-storey house. TV interviews and being featured in credible publications with words like “insightful” being used to describe you. I hypothesised that the family in question was a rather lucky bunch. Once again. I’m going to take it as fact. Nothing particularly odd about this. I insisted to myself. But I’m not a high-road kind of guy. that’s what I would have told them. not Indian. These were not special people. That’s one way of doing it. Even Yvonne Chaka Chaka made an appearance once. Good old money. ask 12 drunks on Warwick Avenue why they hate Indians – write a Masters thesis on the matter and then parade it as fact. When they threw parties. I can only oﬀer you my opinion. (This was the ’80s.
when he was growing up in the ’40s. The gate at my house was locked by 6pm. They were either uppity. While my family left the house at 7.” This story of my neighbours is a transparent analogy of what I think is the root cause of anti-Indian sentiment. sacks of cement. or they were… So when the elder son was incarcerated. He always tells me about an Indian family who were so poor they got hand-me-down clothes from us. Whoever was driving their truck that day used to lock their gate around 10pm. all of a sudden. this didn’t faze my neighbours and me. they left their house at 4. Relative levels of prosperity.” And I had no option but to agree.30am. 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. Indians were “dirt-poor. Indians “think they’re white now that they have money”. And it wasn’t just the money. We were relentless. Still. 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.kept my opinion to myself. Or my tongue-clucking neighbours. too. “I always knew it. or they were snobbish.30am on average. Because of my spinelessness. 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. just like us”.30am. pieces of wors. or they were aloof. the verdict was unanimous: “We always knew it. shoe polish and pretty much everything under the sun. Larney 131 . That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. or they were patronising. By the time we all dragged our lazy asses out of bed at 6. I have an elderly family member who always passionately tells me how. it was other stuﬀ. One of my other neighbours looked at me knowingly. Oh no. after delivering all their employees to their homes. clucked and told me. While we were all back home around 5pm. And then he gets pretty excited when he tells me how. milk. And they stayed on their feet the whole day and worked their ﬁngers to the bone. that family over the road was already collecting a steady stream of notes and coins in business transactions involving bread. they returned at 8pm.
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. people who believe this garbage would never let this fact get in the way of their Indian prejudices. But just like the rest of us. I read some story with a similar tone. Sounds very familiar to me – seems like every time I open the Mail & Guardian and the Sunday Times. But. The whole lot are back-stabbers! We’re all human. Most of the characters in those stories are decidedly un-Indian of course. Oh. so I can only assume that there is something to those stories of Indian corruption. (Or brown or yellow or red. and other general thievery. 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. I believe. in the overwhelming majority of cases. I’d be told about fraud involving millions. 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. I’m never one to shy away from an anecdotal “truth”. the arts and economics. Me being me. Some of them are kind. and they woke up at 4am every day to peddle their wares – long before their darkie neighbours. I could be wrong. medicine.) So that doesn’t really mean much. others are colossal 132 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . My opinion is that Indians are just another bunch of people vying for a piece of the cake. they are most shady. My own humble submission is that. I’d be told of twotiming and consorting with the oppressors. But it’s not like there aren’t tales of black and white corruption doing the rounds. of course. after all. 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. Then they spent their hard-earned money on sending their sons and daughters to study law. The spread of stab wounds in my back indicates that Indians are responsible for approximately three per cent of them which. just like the rest of us. I’d be told of preferential treatment. I’d be told how the Indians rode on the back of African people to make money. for that matter. is demographically consistent.
These are people just like the rest of us. of course. But you know what I mean. of course. Back when I was a student in the early ’90s. Iron Brew or Cream Soda. Where else could you come across this scene? You’re waiting at the robots and a car pulls up next to you. no. he oﬀered a room at his house in Isipingo for me to use for about six months – for a nominal fee. others I would prefer not to ask to hold my wallet for me. 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. Cars may be inanimate objects. but I liked him because he also had his uses.) Another huge distinguisher between Indians and the rest of us is. So Indian people are just like the rest of us. let me retract that – they’re not quite like everybody else. but sometimes I look at certain vehicles on the streets of Durban and. We’d be sitting around the dinner table and I’d be asked to pass the mindrel. man. I gratefully accepted and moved in with his Indian family. And then I’d look at my buddy and wait for the translation. I do not know what they were going on about. He had his faults actually. These are not special people. others I think are assholes. Some I trust. I had an Indian friend. you! Make the TV slow. For the ﬁrst three months. And then I would be educated that mindrel was a mineral drink – usually Sparletta Sparberry. Some of them I really like. “Nigga. others are lazy. They’d talk about things I had never heard of in my life – like mindrel. people thought I was making up softdrink ﬂavours when I asked for Sparberry. Some of them are hard-working. For starters. the things they do to their cars. I didn’t know what these people were talking about.bastards. who happen to have their own funny shit that they do. I feel sorry for the damn things. Larney 133 . after I got kicked out of university residence. The only way you can tell it’s a 1990 Jetta 2. One was that. they have a tendency to say things that I don’t understand.0 CLi is because the writing on the boot says so – That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. “Ey.) This is just one thing.” Huh? I didn’t realise the damn thing was going fast! (And to this day. (The ﬁrst time I lived in Gauteng in ’94. Well.
The car is stationary. But there is nothing else about the car that identiﬁes it as a 1990 Jetta 2. but a budget graﬃti artist has emblazoned a redand-orange ﬁre-spitting dragon on each side. 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. Knight Rider-type laser beam ﬂashes on the front grille.and you can see the VW sign. bespectacled Indian man in a huge Mercedes-Benz. The owner has attached side panels that are almost scraping the tarmac because of the dropped suspension. The car is black. The front grille comes from a Golf and so do the headlights. What the hell was the owner thinking when he devised this monstrosity? The guy in the passenger seat ﬂashes you a shiny. With each thump of the bass beat a neon blue. You’re in your own vehicle. 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.000-kilowatt subwoofers alongside you. but it’s shaking violently and there’s a thud in your chest from the 2. I have no freaking clue what the big idea is with Bollywood movies. I estimate that they 134 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . You stare. And you feel a warm glow in your heart because you realise “Goddamnit. casting embarrassed glances at you and shaking his head at the crazy sight.0 CLi. the contraption – you have two low-sitting individuals with bopping heads. I suppose it would help if I had actually sat through at least one of them. That is the beauty of our diversity. with windows ﬁrmly rolled up. golden smile and waves at you with a hand that is decorated with 23 pieces of jewellery. Inside the car – no. I’m home!” How can anybody hate that? This is the shit that makes Durban so fascinating. Then there’s the boot spoiler that looks like it’s been scrounged from a Formula One scrapyard. There’s also colour in the form of Bollywood movies. You get the impression the driver should be taxiing on an airport runway getting ready for takeoﬀ. gobsmacked. The obligatory Manchester United ﬂag is hanging from the rear-view mirror. but the hubcaps are spinning. What is there to hate about any of this? For me it is part of everyday contradictions – things that make life worth living. Right behind this pair of Einsteins is a portly. From where I sit. and is hanging on for dear life.
I’m told these classes are called castes. My Hindi is not what it should be. and then. And I also enjoy Michael Jackson’s Remember The Time video. From what I can gather. but that’s what it seems like. It’s beautiful. it was still on. and all that great choreography and hip That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. I have seen a Bollywood movie start on SABC 3.” Now all the soldiers form perfect lines and someone turns on a ghetto blaster and everybody gyrates in perfect unison. Then they force her to marry a rich cousin. let’s pause the movie for a while and all dance and sing. So I can’t deny it. In fact. But perhaps I’m a weird individual in that I want my movies and MTV videos separate. Saving Private Ryan. Then the daughter of the rich family falls in love with the son from the poor family. if the shiny uniform is anything to go by. there’s always a poor family from a lower caste. who just happens to be an army general. visited a sick relative in hospital… and when I came back home. instantly jumped up to get my car keys.last an average of ﬁve to six hours. And then the armies meet in the mountains for a showdown. So there’s a rich family from a higher caste. For some reason. for instance. And then the poor jilted love interest joins the army of rebels which takes on the regular army. Now the mother of the lady in the middle of it all appears from nowhere in a beautiful. The reason I lose my concentration during these ﬁlms is not because the story lines are uninteresting. there’s always a rich family from a higher class. Larney 135 . disappeared to have the car washed. but I think she says. naturally. 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. This makes for an intriguing story because of the added argy-bargy between the two okes. I ﬁnd them rather fascinating. what with all those soldiers in uniform waving their riﬂes rhythmically in the air like they just don’t care. Then the mother from the rich family threatens to slit her wrists if her daughter goes ahead and marries the poor sod. I’m all for the gory action ﬁlm with soldiers dying in pools of their own blood. Bollywood movies deﬁnitely have some things going for them. shiny dress and says something. man. had a three-hour beer-guzzling session with the boys. “Okay. I could be wrong. both of whom want the beautiful lady.
“Die. Just like at the Oriental Restaurant. The ﬁrst time I came home late and on my own. Only once I lived there did I realise that. I think if I lived upstairs with my family and my brother lived downstairs. I respectfully decline. the only access was through the ground-ﬂoor lounge. I imagine they tossed a coin to determine who took what ﬂoor. People dying and hip gyrations don’t mix. there’d be some spectacular misunderstandings. when SABC 3 tries to educate my ignorant ass and bring some culture into my life by showing Bollywood movies. I may not be a fan of Bollywood. The number of three-storey mansions is mind-boggling. I’d always just assumed they were really wealthy. in fact. When I had visited before. There’d be ﬁst ﬁghts in the yard 136 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Right after the uncle with the “wet look” hair draws his sword and utters the bloodcurdling words. two families lived there. Thank you. So when my Indian friends insist that we catch a ﬂick together and they suggest a title with 34 words. But I want them separate. That’s why. but I think the rest of the imbeciles in this great nation can learn a thing or two from our Indian brethren.gyrations and whatnot. too. My buddy’s family called the top. Everybody should do themselves a favour and take a leisurely drive through a predominantly Indian township or suburb. No roti soaking in dhal for me. 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). I had to walk into someone else’s lounge while the entire family sat there watching TV. I want my roti on one plate and my dhal in a separate bowl. Their house was a relatively modest ninebedroom. Well. Black people are ﬁrm believers in the no-two-bulls-in-one-kraal philosophy. I lose interest. With good reason. you dirty rotten scoundrel. four-bathroom double-storey mansion. Because of the design of the house. you imbecile you” and then bursts into song. which made for interesting moments when I was there. I always grab my keys. Not together. and then continue selfconsciously up the stairs. 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. This kind of arrangement would never ﬂy with black people. I’m fussy like that. kind of.
They all packed themselves into the one Corolla. despite the fact that I had gathered they were oﬀ to Carnival City just around the corner. My neighbour owned a Toyota Corolla and the visitors also owned a Corolla – don’t ask. That’s one thing we could all learn from our Indian brethren: the discipline required to car pool. When I got to the front. I used to live in a complex on the East Rand. Ah. Chicken and pap have a way of doing that. A claustrophobic aggravation. our wives or a combination thereof. It’s safe to say that I’m follicularly challenged in the facial region. so I guess I now have suﬃcient shaving equipment to last until 2024. isn’t he? He certainly has his idiosyncrasies. just join the queue. But hey. the Indian man is an interesting one. eight people in a Tazz is stretching the point. If we all did this. shaving foam and razor gift pack. I discovered I was about to get a great deal on a shaving gel. Claustrophobia. It’s an often-repeated fact that when you see a bunch of Indians queuing. don’t waste time asking dumb questions. minding my own business. 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. my people and me. That word pops into my mind whenever I overtake another Tazz stuﬀed with eight occupants on a Durban highway. I reckon. Foolish me. 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. I did exactly that not too long ago when I was still a corporate man. Larney 137 . We may want to exercise a touch less enthusiasm for the wisdom of car pooling of course. Plus. such as a healthy appetite for a bargain. 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. Fair enough. So when I saw nine people ﬁle out of the house I naturally assumed they were using both cars. so I did the only thing I could do given the circumstances: I bought three.involving either my brother and I. it was That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. our roads would be far less clogged up. I was standing in the garden. We don’t respond too well to aggravation. I counted nine people – ﬁve adults and four kids. And two families living on top of each other – literally – is a major aggravation. no Tazz could take more than three average-sized black people in the back seat in any case.
Don’t waste time contemplating whether or not you actually need the thing.” OOBNB: “R40 a DVD. why you didn’t buy a DVD and come?” I am a generally articulate individual. you no want DVD?” Me: “No.” OOBNB: “Cheap cheap DVD.” Me: “I’m sure they are. The idea that I was not ready to take advantage of a great deal just wouldn’t register in my colleagues’ minds.marked down by 50 per cent! That’s what I’ve learnt from my Indian buddies. trying to regain his breath. For the rest of the day I would have to ﬁeld the same question about 17 times. But not today for me. “Ey. out-of-breath Indian colleague burst through the doorway of our open-plan section and. The bearer of this Earthshattering news was still there. 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.” OOBNB: “But R40 they are!” Me: “Yeah.] “Ey. and he looked at me incredulously: Out-of-breath news bearer: “Ey. they are. you coming?” Me: [Looking up again. are you fucking crazy?” before disappearing down the passageway. But the oﬃce cleared faster than the counters at Home Aﬀairs when the clock strikes 3pm. that’s real cheap.] “Er. I had a memorable experience that confounded me at the time. “DVD guy here!” I did what I normally do in situations like these: I looked up brieﬂy then continued doing what I was doing.” The man gave me a look that I read to say. A visibly excited. “You dumb man. they are. Everybody looked at me like I was speaking in some kind of monkey language. after a few large gulps of air. no. When I ﬁrst moved down to Durban to work on a site that had predominantly Indian staﬀ. announced in a burst. It was unheard of.” Me: “Oh.” OOBNB: [Waiting for me to jump up and run with him to reception. just take advantage of a bargain. I hadn’t planned on getting a DVD today. I hadn’t planned on it. 138 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . that’s a low price.
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. with all the associated sentimental crap that forced generosity-of-spirit campaigns seem to engender. And they consider you mentally deranged if you choose not to enjoy one. What happened next was completely unexpected (though not in retrospect. It’s kind of a guiding principle of mine. Not everyone likes what I like and not everyone talks the way I talk. black chicks like their wine by the glass and Indian folk like their mindrels. Larney 139 . both these scenes I’ve described repeated themselves every time there was a bargain to be had in the area. he stopped momentarily to ask incredulously. I prefer my MTV videos separate from my epic movies. generally. Five hundred kilometres away to avoid unnecessary bloodshed is more like it. I’m grateful for that. I had just driven past the ﬁsh-mongering fellows. That’s a pretty great message. If everyone suddenly decided to drink Castle. “You not coming?” I wanted to explain how I felt like pork chops that evening. A mini-stampede broke out. and that’s cool. they deserve to have fun poked at them – just That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. All I could hear was the word “Sardines!” being shouted over and over as people grabbed car keys and made for the door. At regular intervals at the same job. but he was already halfway down the passage. white people like their gin and tonic. and that is also quite okay. of course). But don’t be fooled. and that would really put a dampener on my in-ﬂight entertainment. Feeling in the mood for pork chops that night. I’d much rather have my brothers not living in my house. Luckily. I’m not advocating progressive policy of Rainbow Nation forums and conferences. As one fellow rushed past me. I prefer pork chops to dirt-cheap sardines. Lord knows. I’m just saying we should live and let live. enjoy a bargain. we’d be out of stock in no time. don’t you think? Tolerance and all that. I’m not such an altruistic guy. And hey. I soon learnt the lesson: Indians. we should all be embracing these funny little anecdotes as part of who we all are. But to each his own. What’s there to hate about that? The way I see it. I guess I just wanted an excuse to poke fun at Indian people.
Or you could grind your teeth and write an angry letter to the newspaper.like the rest of us. Whatever you do. You could do what I’m doing as I write this: giggle like a schoolgirl. larney. How you choose to react to fun-pokery is up to you. 140 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . it’s no dhal oﬀ my mutton breyani.
Larney 141 .That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani.
Let the masses eat pap .
144 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . And I’ve got to say that democracy doesn’t convince me. In order to be an eﬀective leader. This seems rather logical from where I’m standing. deep down in places they don’t talk about during party congresses. socialism and weightloss plans come to mind. because then we could all stop being quietly diplomatic and just call a spade a spade. But a lot of ideas look great when you read about them in books. People cannot be trusted with such noble ideals. Without a clear vision you’re just another weak-willed comrade stumbling along from one consultative imbizo to the next. As we all know. one instance where democracy ever worked properly. The pattern being that the electorate chooses public representatives. or even heard of. The most accurate deﬁnition of democracy is probably “an autocratic government chosen by the people”. I would be really happy if everyone could just accept this deﬁnition. And that’s the best-case scenario.I ’ve never really been fully onboard with this whole democracy thing. I’m all for the whole benevolent-dictatorship idea. To be a good leader. And I’m of the belief that. So democracy resides in that neat little box in my brain labelled useful only on paper. Doesn’t mean they work out well. in any case. On paper. you need to have a strong. Know what I’m saying? The thing is. Christianity. who then ignore all their election promises and spend their terms in oﬃce doing whatever the hell they want. democracy really looks great. I have never read about. You need to have a clear personal vision. It seems that the pattern is identical in every nation that attempts this form of governance. Public representatives who spend their term in oﬃce doing exactly diddly-squat is the other popular option. most leaders feel the same way. you have to have a very clear idea of where you want to take the sheep following you. what party leaders say about democracy and what they practise tends to be quite diﬀerent. All of the great ideas mentioned above would solve most of life’s problems were it not for one obstacle: human beings. well-developed autocratic streak. together with Dr Phil’s entire collection of self-help ﬁction and Das Kapital. certainly not the way in which I’ve seen it being practised in this country.
Not only that. I listen to debates on TV and on the radio. the other day I bumped into Minister Makhenkesi Stoﬁle at the airport and tried to get a rational answer to the question. I read newspapers everyday. And yet. 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. according to democratic principles. It follows quite Let The Masses Eat Pap 145 . my commitment to democracy is decidedly ﬁckle. Why. And then he mumbled something about the matter being much more complicated than meets the eye. I read politicians’ biographies to get a sense of what they truly think about important things. As the story above illustrates.Nothing wrong with imbizos – except that I could possibly be one of the nitwits that are consulted at these things. Not me. I have the right to decide who gets to lead this country. I personally do not want to be consulted. He was giving me that look I’ve seen in the eyes of bouncers outside Durban nightclubs at 4am. 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 morals of a pubic louse. My exertions had left me rather parched – all from a 45-second “conversation” with a senior public representative. I think grand decisions on how the nation should be governed should be left to the people who know what they’re doing. There is only one conclusion: Autocracy 1 – 0 Democracy I’d much rather have an intelligent. I needed a large beer to recover. True story. “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. so I decided I’d enlightened myself suﬃciently on the machinations of our democracy and hastily moved towards the bar. What I want is so stupid and moronic that I really shouldn’t even be allowed to vote. That’s why I’m such a Fidel fan. but I was discouraged by the burly bodyguard with an earpiece who was skulking around the minister.
but fast-forward a couple of years and you’ll probably ﬁnd most people shrugging their shoulders and saying. an integral aspect of Leadership 101. The fact that Mbeki has dictatorial tendencies is a bit of a no-brainer to me – like duh. please!” But of course Mbeki has some dictatorial qualities – which is. by the way. Clearly. Die Stem would now only be sung by boisterous. he might still be in prison today. 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. turns his charm on only when it suits him. Mbeki. I wanted to write them an open letter with a one-liner: “Niggers.”) So the big chief waved his hand and Die Stem stayed. the wisdom of judiciously 146 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . it was a retarded song. “Yeah. bro! Mandela was exactly the same way. on the other hand. (Kinda like that De La Rey piece of non-news. 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. Autocracy 2 – 0 Democracy In fact. I believe. I was fully behind Mbeki. No biggie. and he knew the rest of us would get over it soon enough. And Mbeki says and does a lot of smart things. When those lovable comrades were going on about how Mbeki has been displaying dictatorship tendencies lately. aﬀable and charismatic comrades. if Mandela hadn’t started negotiating bilaterally with those Nat dinosaurs while he was in jail. A little bit of controversy a while back. And I quite like Vavi and Nzimande. Nzimande and Mbeki. hornswearing Blue Bulls supporters.naturally that during the recent spat between Vavi. But Mandela realised there was no point in upsetting the horns-wearers. waiting for the consultative process to get to branch level. But I try very hard to disregard my meticulously assembled sliding scale of assholeness when it comes to these things. I’d have to dismiss offhand everything Mbeki said and did. They are good. If I had to use that scale.
Hating gay people based on their sexual orientation is so limiting. Two hairy-backed individuals can now look each other in the eye and lie.applied autocracy should not even be in question. a friend of mine even e-mailed pictures of two such individuals kissing passionately. (I’ve got TV to thank for those opinions. It was a good decision. I prefer to use my sliding scale of perceived assholeness. beards all a-tangle. you read right. A great decision! Autocracy rules! Autocracy 3 – 0 Democracy Perhaps I speak only for myself here. “Till death do us part. “Should homosexuals be allowed to get married and be as miserable as the rest of us?” Indeed. I rely on the ever-useful green monster as a source for my righteous indignation. I fought oﬀ waves of nausea and applauded. domestic violence. Like I’ve said. I spit on Zackie Achmat and I think Judge Cameron is a great guy – and I haven’t met either of these gentlemen. That is why I believe our leaders. 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 . marital inﬁdelity and divorce should remain the exclusive preserve of people who practise “normal” heterosexual sex. 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. in their all-seeing wisdom. Using this method. 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.” This week. but I honestly do not have the time to educate myself on the nuances and intricacies involved in managing the complexities of governance. ignored the ACDP’s call for a referendum on the matter. I believe that more than two thirds of the voting public of this country would feel strongly that marriage.) And when the scale fails me. 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.
you’re likely to vote ANC. Eﬀectively. 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. That and articles from newspapers – and those always tend to be opinion pieces. ever get my vote as long as I live. There is nothing of value in the thought process I employ to vote. give Balfour R150.000. Zulu people have a phrase for this: “Sithenga ingulube isesakeni” (Buying a pig inside a sack. If you’re white you’re likely to vote for the DA. we choose blindly. Retards. Why? That’s like two F-students who are sharing a desk during an exam hiding answers from each other. Unless you’re rural and Zulu. And don’t get me started on this rubbish about keeping one’s vote secret. buddy. Sure. Many people have tried to hoodwink me into believing that the rationale behind their vote is better than mine. Or your dad is/was a member of either the PAC or BC. Maybe we should pay her R2 million a year. We make uninformed choices. wears safari suits and sticks a comb in his socks. I tell all my friends where my cross was made.” 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. So I’ll make a start and declare my voting record since I turned 18. thus ensuring that they would never. Unless you’re rural and Afrikaner.) Voting for a party is a lot like me betting on number 28 at the roulette table. and yeah.see on the news. Or born-again Christian. I feel very strongly about the number 28 for my own personal reasons. If you’re black.000 I desire. Oh. • 1994 – ANC (both national and provincial) 148 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Just like the numbers at the roulette table. • 1992 referendum – Back then there were still people who thought I wasn’t sophisticated enough to vote. And so I reach my retarded opinions in front of the TV or while reading the paper at breakfast: “Hmm. Or your dad owns a tractor. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma seems to know what she’s doing. but I have no way of knowing if the number 28 really will get me the R50. the horses and political candidates we back have an uncanny ability to let us down very badly.
but Let The Masses Eat Pap 149 . “I don’t remember asking you a goddamned thing!” But there was something in the cold. By the time I was ready to vote. And compared to the national polls. I pretty much had no information at all on the candidates in my area. I stood up and addressed a question towards my councillor. Alas. Ditto with my provincial vote to a certain extent. it was a choice between cutting down on the drinking time or voting. local government elections are the ones where all the parties actually have a shot at swaying my thinking. The last time I attended one of these was at the back end of ’97. This confused me somewhat. After three hours of various people talking in circles and generating a large amount of hot air. In the end.” I wanted to cut Scarface short and bark. So there you have it: four times out of six I voted for the ANC. I didn’t make it in either 2001 or 2006. My localgovernment voting record isn’t great. among other things. 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. 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. So I decided to make my democratic contribution. Mr Councillor. as you can see.• 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. what system was he going on about? I wanted to ask someone for the date just to conﬁrm that it was indeed 1997. I got a bit impatient. the polling station was closed. would you believe it? • 2004 – ANC (both national and provincial) • 2006 – Once again. But here’s my gripe. So he just continued waﬄing on about “people with counter-revolutionary tendencies who are agents of the system”. “Please answer this question. During the 2006 local-government election. I woke up two hours late and my day just ran away from me. menacing manner in which he addressed me that sharpened my self-preservation instincts and left me biting my tongue. The beer won hands down. I meant to vote. the reason being that I have an irrational aversion to attending these ward public meetings.
God bless the media. with the contempt they deserve. And each time I shout at the TV: “You’re not a candidate. I may even start legal proceedings against anyone making such unfounded allegations.” Once again. aaight? Let the big-headed boys up on them posters speak for themselves. As a result of all this. All they cover is what the excitable ministers and party bigwigs have to say. any suggestions that I don’t go to these meetings because they eat into my drinking time. I struggle to understand this. I honestly want to say.it didn’t seem prudent to upset him any further. I’m being bombarded with a war of words between the Reverend Meshoe and the perpetually furious Terror Lekota. This would seal or break any deal with me. This really should not be the way to make an election call. Yet this individual is eerily silent on where he stands on local issues that directly aﬀect me. I’m a self-admitted ignoramus. “Listen. my view of oncoming traﬃc is obstructed by a poster with a mugshot of a big-headed person vying for my vote. Because the media stopped reporting on the news a while ago. but it’s the only way. I know nothing. Issues such as why I can’t pee in the street or drink beer at the beach. so please shut up!” At least with the national elections I have Mondli Makhanya and Ferial Haﬀajee to give me my opinions. And I will reject. or whichever other angry minister type wants to enter the fray. So I turn to the media for help – but alas. Just tell me why. they are famously useless during local-government elections. And that is my story to explain why I don’t attend meetings to get to know my public representatives. it seems. This is not about the army. can I not relieve myself in the street when I’m really pressed? Instead. these days every story has an angle and an opinion. Call it a hunch. Mr Bighead. 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 . Terror. Each time I drive out of my house. 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. I wish I knew where each of the candidates stands on local government issues close to my heart.
I didn’t trust Steve Urkel to stand his ground when all those other people insisted that I couldn’t pee in the street. They may as well have been mutes. All because the localgovernment election was being fought on the strength of posters. Well done.elected ward councillor is. The ANC candidate wasn’t even in the running. The IFP woman was a spitting image of Ma Agnes from Isidingo. The guy reminded me too much of HF Verwoerd. IFP committee. I have to wonder about the committee who approved that poster. Bad decision. I was pretty sure he’d end up voting against street peeing during council meetings. He reminded me too much of that Steve Urkel guy from TV.” My only other realistic choices were the ACDP guy and the IFP woman. “Oops! Did I do that?” Then there was the DA candidate. as far as I can tell. That is. my man. And then I’d be. like. I was using the 0. And if that is true. I believe. torsos and legs. Let The Masses Eat Pap 151 . “Yo. In fact. the gist of the diﬀerent tiers of government. In fact. I can neither conﬁrm nor deny whether any of these people even had arms. Steve. in a racially mixed suburb. of course. I tried really hard not to let this inﬂuence my decision. so I could have gone with her as well. ACDP committee. And angry ministers who live 1. Hendrick. But in 2006. And so there you have it – my options for the representative to ﬁght my street-pissing battles were the Bakers man and Ma Agnes. That’s it. I thought we were all for pissing where we want. That’s a good picture to put up on a poster. The only thing I was supposed to base my vote on was the poster with the face.” and he’d giggle and say something stupid like. Ain’t nothing wrong with Ma Agnes. maybe we need to take another picture of you. the geniuses desperate for my vote were not saying anything to me. then it follows that he should let the man speak for himself. but I just couldn’t rise above my pettiness. Someone should have had the good sense to look at the picture and say.500 kilometres away. The ACDP guy always conjured up the smell of baking cookies because he looked exactly like that Bakers man from the TV ad. “Look.6 seconds or so that I had as I drove past them to make my decision. Well done.
you can make the eﬀort to go out and ﬁnd us. Of course.To top it oﬀ. tap dance. I know they won’t vote for peeing in the streets. rather than us ﬁnding you. The least they could do is be more entertaining. get him out of here!” I’d deﬁnitely vote for Bra Georgi. Candidates. Hell. Come on. for crying out loud! That’s like Bra Georgi from Isidingo being elected Premier of Gauteng. Apparently. Maybe you could get oﬀ your ass and stand at the Spine Road intersection next to the Pavilion and shake my hand. to conﬁrm myself whether Urkel. Don’t mess with Bra Georgi.” Here is a suggestion to those body-less candidates next time around. some bright spark from political circles would always appear on TV to berate the electorate for being apathetic. into my mailbox. Democracy sucks in this country. Not that it works better elsewhere. It makes just as much sense as voting for any of those other guys I know nothing about. Some snot-faced reporter would ask him a question and he’d get. Perhaps instead of stuﬃng stupid pamphlets. you need to get a little creative about these things. “Luister. my laaitie! This Gautrain business has fokol to do with you. Now wouldn’t that be something. the entire cast of Isidingo could make a great provincial cabinet. Maybe then I’ll realise that you have a full body and that you don’t really look like an apartheid icon. it was my duty to go out and ﬁnd these individuals on the posters. I’m happy to admit that none of this is about me. the Bakers man and Ma Agnes actually had bodies. jam-packed with political jargon I don’t want to read. “Well. 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. I ain’t voting. Slu. They elected The Terminator as governor of California. 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. Work up a sweat and amuse me. But don’t just be a fat face on a poster. I do believe the technical phrase for how I felt about that is. Ma Agnes would deﬁnitely do a better job than 152 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Follow the lead of the bright sparks in America. speak to me and kiss my baby. screw you guys. Verwoerd.
And being entertained means we wouldn’t be miserable all the time. we’re supposed to go sit in the sun at Orlando Stadium and listen to sweaty. see you in ﬁve years. that’s it – bye bye. “Ngwanake. She would slap silly those kids with knives. fat chance! Now you have to look forward to ﬁve years of people doing everything but create a better life for all. Once you’ve chosen. And making sure companies you are a board member of get Let The Masses Eat Pap 153 . Guilty as charged. Instead. 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. Stuﬀ like pulling the plug on World Cup stadiums. the movies. This is a hard thing to do. man. Still. Then there’s the actual process itself – marking your cross. angry politicians try to bore us to death. I prefer watching Kelly Khumalo getting sweaty on stage than me sweating in the sun at Orlando Stadium. Big. who wouldn’t listen to Ma Agnes? But they would never allow celebrities in politics in this country because then we’d be entertained. Getting really disagreeable and calling each other dictators is also a favourite pastime. I prefer happiness over exhaustion and punching my ﬁst in the air next to Scarface. Now you have to believe and hope that your chosen gang will do what they said they would. stop stabbing other kids! It’s not right. I’m going with Kelly. I’m sorry. music festivals and other happy occasions on public holidays. I mean. 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. That’s why we are always shouted at and told not to go to braais.that perpetually bemused Gauteng Education MEC woman.” And they would have to stop that nonsense because. and tell them. And our politicians are not in favour of happy people. And deciding who to vote for is just the half of it. an unpatriotic South African. Ma Agnes is both tough and empathetic at the same time. Maybe that makes me a bad South African. it seems. Stuﬀ like making sure the vagrants. coat-hanger salesmen and general homeless people – all these “nuisances” – are driven oﬀ the streets of Cape Town. And optimising car discounts.
The options we have are not real options at all. 154 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . As well as not spending the money allocated to your department. think again. And the masses would be sure to get a little bit of gravy with their pap.all the government contracts. It’s akin to being asked how you’d like to be killed – by decapitation or a bullet to the head? Personally. 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. Rather than this bickering lot we’ve voted for. I blame democracy. we’d get something done. they let the masses eat pap – as before. This is what happens in the ﬁve years. if they let Ma Agnes run this country alone for ten uninterrupted years. Meanwhile.
Let The Masses Eat Pap 155 .
My criminal life .
I think most people have just witnessed a change in the nature of the crime. you see. I saw my ﬁrst corpse when I was ﬁve years old. But by the time I was about ten. Ever since I can remember. I have to concede that my friends and I had been desensitised to a degree. But 20 years ago our boys in blue weren’t particularly concerned with inane endeavours such as ﬁghting actual crime. That was 30 years ago. And that’s not a ﬁgure of speech. My grandmother used to work in Umhlanga Rocks. I never got used to it. I literally mean that someone was stabbed. I was mugged at knife-point on a train between the Reunion and Isipingo stations in the south of Durban. nothing much has changed. Which is mostly because they were rotten shots. To be honest.outh Africa has a crime problem. Violent crime is impossible to get used to. S 158 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I know. I’ve been a victim of a long list of crimes in my time. Pretty much every weekend I walked to the shops and saw drops of blood on the pavement. crime has been a part of my life. So they discharged their ﬁrearms in my general direction to expedite my arrival there. which was a generally crime-free part of the world back in the day. I had shots ﬁred at me from almost point-blank range at my father’s house in an attempted hijacking of his car. hacked or bludgeoned with a weapon every single Friday in my neighbourhood. From where I’m standing today. Hunting communists was signiﬁcantly higher on the list. The good news is they didn’t leave with the car. 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. I can’t give you the current crime statistics in Umhlanga. More recently and disturbingly. 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. but I imagine they are up a few hundred per cent from a decade or two ago. A stone’s throw away in KwaMashu. It just seems that the crime has spread itself more evenly across the country. I grew up in a township. Years ago. It was just a normal part of my life growing up – a right royal tragedy.
) And I have some pretty strong views on the subject. 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. I lived for three months in a nonstarter of a township called KwaNdengezi in the greater Pinetown area. west of Durban. this all makes me highly qualiﬁed to speak rather authoritatively on crime. (Long story involving being kicked out of a Pinetown ﬂat due to an unruly ﬂatmate’s My Criminal Life 159 . It seems that our police oﬃcers spend a disproportionate amount of time arresting drunken university students on our beaches.000 worth of those were obscure. Durban.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. In 1998. 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. I know. If you’re not clear on it just yet. So please. And not too long ago. and raping dicks guillotined. If the South African public was ever foolish enough to vote me into the Union Buildings. 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. if you’ve come across a copy of Miles Davis’s Tutu with the initials NN on it. Breathalysing alcoholics on Victoria Embankment is right up there – while paedophiles brutalise threemonth-old babies just down the road. Egotistical notions such as a lasting legacy would not hamper my presidency. my wife and I were relieved of about R40. (Yes.000 worth of CDs in Morningside. In the South African context. hardcore-jazz CDs that few people would appreciate. you best believe life would be about to get real uncomfortable for criminals. Stealing hands would deﬁnitely be chopped oﬀ. About R30. I’d institute laws that would make the Taliban look like a bunch of limp-wristed pinko-liberals.
Recently. “Wait. bearded Catholic man). Even when St Peter’s faith wavered (bless that gentle. 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. possibly murderous scum. So I locked myself in the bedroom and listened to the sounds of housebreaking scum transporting my things up and down the passage. 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. 160 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . a few hundred metres from the police station. for all they knew. I merely shrugged and wondered how many times it happens in less prominent cases. 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. I guess they hated the fact that they were working an actual crime scene. I tend to sympathise because I understand how it comes about. whenever I hear those terrible stories of vigilantism and mob justice. I want to see what they’ll do. I want to see this. oh.” I didn’t think it was worth mentioning the fact that I lived. dreaming of beating up hard-working Zimbabwean illegal immigrants in Westdene.” They beeped the horn again – and then the police van started pulling oﬀ slowly… These days. They were probably standing there around that house with a faraway look in their eyes. I made a discreet phone call to the supposedly long arm of the law to come rescue our goods and possibly our lives.shenanigans – God rest his soul. Twice! And then. 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.) A burglar entered the house while I was still up being regaled by the comedic “genius” of one Sinbad. they left us in the hands of housebreaking. at least the rooster crowed three times. Upon investigation we discovered that it was a police van. They have no idea whether the bad guys are still here and holding us hostage at gunpoint or not. They beeped their horn twice. I was getting up to answer to the hoot of the law when a housemate grabbed me by the arm.
8 Beep your horn a second time and then start pulling oﬀ.1.1. I stand to be corrected. confectionery items and coﬀee.) 3. Keep revving the engine to avoid stalling. 3. proceed to the house in which the occupants might be in the process of being gang-raped. I’ve been assured that our guys are more than adequately trained. (The bad guys might still be there. maybe it isn’t.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. remember.1. If not.6 Park the police vehicle outside the gate with engine running just in case the housebreaking scum are still there. (You never know. 3. left. I’m 35 years old and I have never been helped by a member of My Criminal Life 161 . 3. This might all seem unfair on our law enforcement fellows.5 Approach the house carefully just to be certain that the felons have. Maybe it is. 3.1 Wait 90 minutes to ensure dangerous felons have suﬃcient time to secure the house in question.4 As an afterthought.3 Make a detour to an ex-girlfriend’s ﬂat and point a loaded ﬁrearm at her head and threaten to end her life.7 Beep your horn once. There might be horny husbands looking to take the edge oﬀ on Point Road with prostitutes. Society is in danger from some people with open beer cans.1.) 3. Hopefully there is one.1. 3.1.From what I’ve heard from a variety of minister types in grey suits and parliamentary Committees On This-That-And-The-Other.1. You are now in the clear. indeed.9 Now head for the nearest beach.1. surround the Durban University Of Technology Steve Biko campus and beat the living crap out of partying students. 3. but I doubt that it reads as follows: 3.1.1 Standard operational procedure when apprehending housebreaking murderous scum 3. So I’d really love to see the Procedure To Apprehend Housebreaking Murderous Scum.
I think it’s safe to say that this is their chosen area of focus. I’ll tell you where I have seen them. 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. What had these lawless citizens done to deserve being removed from society for the night? They drank cider in public. If members of the police services ﬁnd Gatiep pissed out of his mind. 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. They may even give him a few klaps if he shows any drunken resistance. they don’t hoot at him twice and then move on.our police services – not directly. They carry out their duties with extraordinary zeal and fervour. the guy took my statement in three instalments. At one stage he decided to take a tea break. 162 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . 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. let alone when I’ve gone there to report a crime. You know. It may be my cynical mind at work again. passed out on a Strand Road pavement in the Cape Town CBD. And that was the last time the matter was ever discussed. 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. murderous scum? Two beeps and oﬀ we go. Kicking 18-year-old female university students in the butt. Did I mention these were 18year-old female students? Considering the consistent. 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. in any case. Durban. If anything. each about 45 minutes apart. I’ve had this question thrown at me: “What would you like us to do?” I don’t know. though. 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. Not even to stand around and look important. North Beach. shoving them into the back of a van.
He had an unwavering faith and no-one doubted the appropriateness of his self-appointed role as the Almighty’s spokesman. He pontiﬁcated that. in God’s eyes. 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. Forgive me. We were unrepentant. we had a Bible-bashing teacher named Mr Gatsheni who drilled into our impressionable heads the absoluteness of sin. we did not have counter-arguments against such inﬁnite wisdom. Where there used to be black and white on the canvas of morality. Of course. there is now a broad band of grey.If it sounds like I’m suggesting that the cops ease up on the “petty” crimes and concentrate on the more serious crimes. the cut-and-dried lines that deﬁne right and wrong have become signiﬁcantly more blurry. We merely shrugged our shoulders. it’s because I am. Yes. I did it. 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. continued digging up the carrot patch and waited for Judgment Day. 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. killing a baby to sell its body parts is on a somewhat diﬀerent plane to inhaling a herb that brings me closer to Jah. As I’ve grown older. he used to liken sin to excrement. It was all me – and the devil did not make me do it. Sis’ Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and your moral-regeneration crusade. decaying mind. But in my limited. “Shit is shit” was his rallying. grey rules my life these days. the magnitude of the sin is irrelevant: sin is sin. When I was in junior school. 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. At age ten. snotfaced little devils. To illustrate his excellent point. sin-busting cry. with narrow edges of black and white on either side. If a tenyear-old street kid stole R10 from you. would you diligently ensure that he was My Criminal Life 163 . this didn’t discourage our hell-bound asses from our carrot-looting ways. We merely nodded. His whole point being that excrement stinks just the same irrespective of the amount. Except for the few hypocritical hours I spend at Holy Mass each year.
So I propose that the police oﬃcers should focus on major crimes. Tshepo. eﬃcient Durban Metro Police oﬃcers should be the removal of hiccuping hobos drinking cheap brandy from paper bags on Addington Beach. 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. at worst. is an integral part of law enforcement. If you have a ten-year-old son and he pinches R10 from your wallet to go get himself a Magnum ice cream. going to suﬀer the indignity of having to call mommy dearest to bring him R200 for the admission-of-guilt ﬁne. as we all know. I’m being overly silly about all this. the Wits University student who is caught with a cannabis blunt outside a club in Norwood is. But let’s not go oﬀ the deep end here. and law enforcement of more minor oﬀences should be given over to another force – car guards. of course. Hell. I do not believe that the area of focus for our crack squad of highly trained. We could remove all the car guards from our shopping-mall parking lots. give them pepper spray and make them patrol the beach. Lebo. I think oﬃcers trained in world-class detective methods are a bit of overkill for the beach. All I’m saying is that I believe there’s a discrepancy between the zeal with which our law-enforcement agencies pursue lesser crimes. and being grounded for three months.sent to a correctional facility? Let’s ask that diﬀerently. in practical terms it boils down to economics. There is some good work being 164 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . apprehending vagrants and students drinking beer. such as drunk-and-disorderly behaviour. give the whole Esplanade-prostitute-donnering scene over to the car guards as well. What’s the point of them standing in the sun the whole day at the Pavilion. 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. who is caught with a blunt in Alexandra. and the eagerness with which they pursue gangsters who bring death and mayhem to our streets every day. giving parking lessons to housewives? And the car guards already have uniforms – which.
If I were a cop. I know next to nothing about criminology.done by our police force. Fair enough. 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.” 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. so that ain’t going to work over here. There should be a cash-in-transit van in the vicinity – just grabbing my AK and I’ll be back in a jiﬀy. 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. Unfortunately. what sharp law-enforcement mind could My Criminal Life 165 . 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. After all. I’ve only got R75.” “Shit. At times like these it’s always handy to blame someone for the situation we ﬁnd ourselves in. 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. I imagine – that the boys in blue. But it’s hard not to get the sense – as most of us do at times. 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. Don’t move. so a few friends and I decided we were going to consume some brandy in paper tumblers in the park outside. So I’m personally going with Rudy Giuliani. It’s not hard to understand why. Not too many gunﬁre exchanges in Norwood. tight-ﬁtting polyester pants rather enjoy the petty-crime scene. and 18-year-old Lebo pointing a 9mm pistol at my head on the corner of Bowling and Catherine two years later. I have a confession to make. with his focuson-the-nuisances approach that seems to have rescued New York City from its crime-riddled lows in the ’80s. 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. New York is not South Africa.
I was convinced someone had unplugged my mind from the matrix – or something similar. with a laptop. Finally I saw a bench. The ﬁrst time I tried drinking in public in England was in Greenwich Village. if we’re so keen on foreign cut-and-paste jobs. That’s a good example of a stupid law that we should target and eradicate (to be replaced with a regulated system). Now. And we have lots of stupid laws. one of those guys in black with funny hats. Well done. Of course. bought some Stella on tap and walked outside with it. sat down and hid my beer underneath it in between sips. sipping on some Jack Daniel’s. 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. Eventually I let my mind be free and I gave it a go. I kept on looking around for a copper with a whistle – you know. I was on the Underground one afternoon and there was a guy in a black suit.see through this ingenious paper-tumbler ploy? Fifteen minutes later we were literally cast among the sodomites in the notorious CR Swart holding cells. I went to a pub on the banks of River Thames. And when I ﬁnally realised just how paranoid I was being. But the law is the law – however dumb. I was certain it was a trap and I was being set up. my mind refused to accept this for a long time. 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. 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. I realised that 166 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . the Brits! But just like those born inside the matrix. Please understand that I’m not blaming anyone but me for that episode. 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. it occurred to me that I now understood why most birds born in captivity can never ﬂy free when the cage door is opened. could we not rather follow the UK’s lead? (What a suggestion from a darkie!) The ﬁrst time I visited England. Everywhere I went people were guzzling down long cans of Stella while out walking their dogs. I had learnt my lesson as a 17-year-old student in CR Swart jail and I refused to consume any alcohol in public. There is never any excuse to break the law.
and who ﬁght and urinate in public. Something tells me that decent. of course. street-pissing thing from now on. Of course. law-abiding citizens would think hard about this new situation and say to themselves. I’d much rather you saved a senior citizen who was being hacked to death in her home in those 20 minutes. I’m not advocating the foolishness of driving without a seatbelt. You’ve just punished an individual of limited intellect for not having the presence of mind to look after himself. even though the carnage on the roads continues unabated. Especially in my home province of KZN. That’s my vote for where the Minister Of Safety My Criminal Life 167 . 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.those few moments walking with my beer in hand in public had made me feel strangely free. I wonder what our great leaders. 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.” But I could be wrong – I’m wrong about things all the time. in their inﬁnite wisdom. I’m merely pointing out that by spending 20 minutes giving that retard a ticket. One thing I’m certain wouldn’t happen is that peaceful. you haven’t made the world a safer place. 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. Don’t get me wrong. The most diligently enforced laws are traﬃc laws. I’m going to try that belligerent. But that bunch already exists and is doing exactly that now with the law in place. (What’s that? Cynical. you say?) I love to do useless hypothetical calculations. think we would do if they entrusted us with the mammoth responsibility of drinking in public. there is always the riﬀraﬀ who get drunk and belligerent. 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. I’ve never been convinced that the zeal in giving out tickets had anything to with saving lives – but the roadworks are adequately funded. by the way). “Hey.
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. tell your boys to start cracking down on those bad guys waving guns at peaceful. Charles. They don’t have to spend all their energy clamping down on the guy whose meter has expired.And Security should be focusing his energy. beer-drinking guys like me. But then again. Or worse. I have a criminal past. 168 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Hey. So maybe you don’t care what I think. please.
My Criminal Life 169 .
ISBN 9781920137250 Is It Coz I’m Black? .. Included among his targets this time around are his coloured cousins. xenophobia.. 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. shape or form – South African satire at its best. personal-security paranoia. bad drivers. government incompetence and angry-white-male syndrome. The result is another collection of laser-sharp commentary. traditional weddings. with no regard for political correctness or sacred cows of any size.ALSO BY TWO DOGS.
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 . Eskom. crime. 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. corruption. gas braais. Kevin Pietersen. Fresh topics include Afrikaans music. Telkom..ALSO BY TWO DOGS. Facebook. Julius Malema. cataloguing the never-ending kakness of our times. quotas. 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.. Tom Cruise. Paris Hilton. bank fees. Portaloos. Hermanus. personalised plates. sparing nothing and no-one that aﬀects our lives. Car guards. acerbic and deeply satirical A-to-Z frothy that cuts to the quick. the Vodacom meerkat. Robert Mugabe.
New Zealand. The updated edition includes recent author interviews and a new preface.za . “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. Why I’ll Never Live In Oz Again By Andrew Donaldson..co. John Wardall and Tim Richman A pro-SA take on life in our ﬁve top emigration destinations – Australia. Josef Talotta.ALSO BY TWO DOGS. the US and Canada – from ﬁve South African journalists who’ve been there and done that. Rick Crosier..twodogs. the UK.
Some Of My Best Friends Are White takes an enlightened look at this Rainbow Nation of ours. 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. 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. Venturing without skaam across the colour barrier – through turbulent townships. funny argument” – Kgomotso Matsunyane South African Nonﬁction . “A hilarious collection of ballsy. my bhuti. in-your-face writing… Ndumiso Ngcobo is PJ O’Rourke with too much melanin and minus the jingoistic tendencies. he says everything you ever thought but never quite had the brains to put together in a cohesive.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. Lekker.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.