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SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE
SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE
WHITE NDUMISO NGCOBO Foreword by Fred Khumalo SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE .
Part Chris Rock. 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 . Ngcobo is a couple of notches funnier than David Bullard and certainly more articulate than Xolela Mangcu. not least his ambivalence to the holy principle of praising dysfunctionality as long as it is indigenous” – Denis Beckett “A highly gifted. His humour is eﬀortless as he peppers you machine-gun style with the home truths of a township raconteur” – Fred Khumalo “Some Of My Best Friends Are White was so good that I was sorely tempted to slaughter a cow in celebration” – David Bullard “Lots of fun. [Ngcobo] is good value on all fronts.“A hilarious collection of ballsy in-your-face writing… Ngcobo is PJ O’Rourke with too much melanin and minus the jingoistic tendencies. part Toby Young. Guaranteed to cure sense of humour failure” – James Mitchell. and with substance. highly opinionated writer. light mix of sarcasm and sharp wit… A streetwise author and a sharp commentator” – Drum “Some Of My Best Friends Are White has been hailed as one of the funniest books on the new South Africa. And this young gun is more quarrelsome than I am… Drink from the jug and be quenched” – Bongani Madondo “Sharp. parting from the pattern of achieving book-length by repetition. The Star “A delicious. Witty.
delightfully insightful and funny… Saying it as it is. 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. kicking holy cows out the way” – Annette Bayne. hearty laugh at ourselves. The Sowetan “Ngcobo will yet prove one of the most important commentators living in South Africa today.“[C]hampion armchair critic Ndumiso Ngcobo paints whomsoever he likes with a broadly oﬀensive yet humorous brush lodged ﬁrmly in his cheek. How refreshing to be left feeling hope that we may all get along someday. But the obvious aﬀection that lies behind his observations softens the sting. Whether you’re black or white. I couldn’t stop giggling… [I]t will have you laughing at yourself. Reader’s Digest “I had a blast reading Ndumiso Ngcobo’s Some Of My Best Friends Are White. your neighbours and the nouveau riche – and many other things besides” – Namhla Tshisela. after all” – Ann Donald. Ngcobo stomps across the colour lines with impunity. he says everything you ever thought but never quite had the brains to put together in a cohesive. tribes and contrasting cultures. this should ﬁll in some of the grey areas” – GQ “Hard hitting. The Citizen “[T]his collection oﬀers us a long. Our country’s screwed up. The Witness . funny argument” – Kgomotso Matsunyane. we have our prejudices and seriously weird ways – so what? Despite claiming ignorance. we’re trying to reconcile vastly diﬀerent languages. 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.
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thoughtleader. Under the pseudonym Silwane kaNjila. . Ndumiso is married with three children.za. he has become one of the most widely read bloggers on the Mail & Guardian-hosted site www. Raised on a rural diet of conservative Catholicism and Zulu traditionalism.ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ndumiso Ngcobo was born in Mpumalanga Township in KwaZuluNatal.co. he managed to successfully incorporate writing and beer drinking into his daily corporate life. and was the ﬁrst blogger to receive oﬃcial media accreditation for an ANC conference (in Polokwane).
My brother from a MoTswana mother. who not only taught me how to read but what to read. the love of my life. Mxolisi and Nkalipho. My kids.” The Maﬁa Gang. . Malume Maﬁka Pascal Gwala – my guru who is my other guru’s guru. Reverend Fathers Mxolisi Ngcobo and Nhlanhla Nkosi – my brothers. Bafanyana and Phangiwe Ngcobo. Ntobeko and Vumezitha. I want to write just like you and make women weak-kneed with “wordsmithy words” dripping from my pen like honey. whose insistence on a staple diet of the Holy Rosary and proper discipline always kept me out of trouble. from whom I borrowed hundreds of hours while I wrote this. Fred Khumalo – my guru. my unﬂappable rock and my best friend. whose “I have a dream” speech got the ball rolling. When I grow up.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I’d like to thank – in my best Cuba Gooding Jr Oscar-acceptancespeech voice – the following people: Tebogo – my wife. my soulmate. who survives my whisky breath every Sunday morning. spiritual advisors and intellectual sparring partners. My brothers. 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. My folks. Sandile Ngidi – makwande Hlomuka. my centre. Pat Masithela. Mazwi.
In loving memory of my grandmother. who taught us. most importantly. her grandkids. of laughing at our loved ones. Margaret Kinloch-Gwala (1913 – 1998). the value of laughing at ourselves – and. .
CONTENTS by Fred Khumalo Foreword 12 Just talking shit to the animals… Introduction 14 Ubuntu in the modern age – when a black man can drive a R500.000 car but doesn’t have the cash to pay for petrol Eish. It’s the endless abuse from the pyscho driver Taxi Commuting: An Experience From HelL 67 . 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. I Ain’t Got It. he’s just a pragmatic fellow Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 55 It’s not the near-death experience that makes it so bad. He doesn’t love violence.
we all complain about crime. But they’re a funny lot. Larney 125 South Africans just love democracy. Here’s what to do if you really want to end up in prison Let The Masses Eat Pap 143 My Criminal Life 157 . 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 why won’t local leaders let us drink beer at the beach? Black or white. 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.Black women have embraced the new SA and are heading for success. aren’t they? That’s No Dhal Off My Mutton Breyani.
moving from the ribald to the raucous. Ngcobo is PJ O’Rourke with too much melanin and minus the jingoistic tendencies. Or just pretend to be either of the two.” That’s how Herman Charles Bosman opened his startlingly beautiful short story Heloise’s Teeth. leads you down a familiar street. their tangy aroma lulling you into deep relaxation. Larney” to see what I mean. from the peripheral to the profound – ballsy writing leavened with insightful humour (if there’s such a thing). Ngcobo continues this tradition. So. Some writers get too self conscious when they indulge in what has come to 12 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . in-your-face writing that was about nothing and everything – Gus Silber’s marvelous Braaivleis Of The Vanities.Foreword by Fred khumalo Ndumiso “Silwane” Ngcobo. A god putting his hand up to his eyes. He could as easily be writing about Ndumiso Ngcobo’s collection of think pieces in this book. with rotting peaches carpeting the ﬂoor. we began to see a ﬂowering of new. you have to be drunk. Ngcobo has taken humour writing to another level. delivered in shimmering. A god would understand this story. and on the imaginations of our writers. In the 1990s. then – guaranteed to make you laugh and think at the same time. the Herman Charles Bosman of the townships “You won’t really understand this story unless you are drunk. and ﬁnally gets you seated under a peach tree. And then he bewitches you with his tales. It’s not often that you can think while you’re roaring with laughter. Though think pieces is a perhaps a misnomer. His humour is eﬀortless as he peppers you machine-gun style with the home truths of a township raconteur. all right. We’ll call it a paradoxical collection of pieces. Hilarious stuﬀ that nevertheless got you thinking. with apartheid angst slowly loosening its grip on this nation. Just turn to his take on Mbongeni Ngema’s AmaNdiya in his piece “That’s No Dhal Oﬀ My Mutton Breyani. streetwise prose. He takes you by the hand. or be a god in order to understand and enjoy Ngcobo’s pieces. for example. and Arthur Goldstuck’s urban legends and ghost stories.
putting himself in the middle of them and therefore rendering himself a victim of his sharp tongue – self-deprecating analysis at its best. ﬁnd someone standing in the street minding their own business and proceed to bhibiza them. the machine gun hits you in the face: you blame Indians for their success. agreeing that. but what are you doing about black people’s laziness? Bam-bam! Just like that! This is some serious shit that reeks of originality. these Indians are all robbing us blind! And just when you begin to feel comfortable blaming Indians for their ﬁnancial success. Timing is of the essence. 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. And you can’t just sommer bhibiza anyone willy-nilly. After all. for instance. Not just anywhere on the face. You can’t. Sample this: “we Zulus have a well-developed pragmatism.be called political uncorrectese. 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. It won’t win a Nobel prize. but it will keep you highly entertained. there goes my boy. You can’t bhibiza someone in the eye.” Ngcobo lays it on the table. Not Ngcobo. That would just be wrong. We bhibiza to bring order back into situations. There are cringeworthy moments galore. he tells real-life stories. Violence is just the insurance policy we cash in to establish order. You may read some lines – guﬀawing as you do – and ﬁnd yourself unconsciously nodding in agreement and recognition: ah. Bhibi! June 2007 Foreword 13 . 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. yes. and allows you to enjoy it as he gives you stereotype after stereotype – and you ﬁnd yourself. You bhibiza someone when they are back-chatting you – preferably mid-sentence. we’re not violent savages.
Unit A662). I was ﬁve years old. heaving in anticipation…” And good luck to them. Greeks and Romans. When she entered the only other bedroom in her modest matchbox house (Mpumalanga Township. “She lay sprawled on the Persian rug. Sometime in the year 1977. a nursing sister. Phangiwe Rosemary Ngcobo. 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. Thousands started the journey. let me break from tradition and start at the beginning. They’re probably getting stuck into a book that begins. On his excursions outside of his bedroom. 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. Rosemary Ngcobo. Bafanyana Ngcobo. The boy was completely oblivious to the danger. That boy – obviously – was yours truly. invested a few hundred rand in a set of Children’s Encyclopaedias. I’m glad you’ve made it this far. 14 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . because it’s been a month since I submitted the ﬁnal manuscript. of course. The dim. together with her schoolteacher husband. got up in the middle of the night to investigate a strange odour. That’s how engrossed he was in the world so vividly painted by Professor Nyembezi’s lyrical words. missed a turn somewhere and ended up in the Romance section of the bookstore.INTRODUCTION Dear Reader Welcome. Instead of punishing the boy. ﬂickering ﬂame of the candle was ominously licking at the ragged curtain hanging from the solitary window in the tiny room. The boy spent the next couple of years getting lost in the worlds of the Egyptians. 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. This is probably my ﬁfth attempt at the introduction to this book: ironic.
I was probably at one of my lowest ebbs in my life. at a crossroads in my life. being “developed”: being told about my “immense potential” and how I was a “key resource” and a future leader of that great organisation. Tebogo and I visited my sister. As luck would have it. in love and in lust with the power of ideas. passionate human cog in the machinations of industry were taking their toll. Thapelo Pat Masithela. most importantly. The four of us sat around the table and had a conversation that went to the core of my hazy. I had spent those years getting shifted from one department to the next. normally a reserved fellow. he was in the throes of the very same crisis. crowded bar with the riﬀraﬀ of savages I call my friends. I have always known that I would one day write a book. Tebogo. The last position I held – in a long stream of tedious. The exertions of chiselling myself to ﬁt the mould of the energised. These were words I had heard before during my stint as a high-school science and maths teacher. soul-diminishing and often demeaning jobs in the corporate world – wasn’t even a real job. I am at my happiest when I am in a smoke-ﬁlled. I had a bottle of beer in my hand and a glaze in my bloodshot eyes. It crystallised the source of my unhappiness. Buhle Masithela. The trick. In January 2006.I had just fallen in love with the written word. fuzzy feelings of impotent unease. 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. Since then. at the time. Thapelo. our voices raised. I spent my days “managing” people with real jobs and reporting on what they did. and her hubby. with the idea of mental sparring and combat: with discourse. published or not. I had just “celebrated” a minor milestone: ﬁve years working for a major multinational. our faces ﬂushed. our speech slurred. When I arrived at the Masithelas’. my wife. I was. was to be truthful about your true passion and somehow turn that into an endeavour that would be able to Introduction 15 . we concluded. as we stumble from one poorly constructed argument to the next half-baked bagful of lies (to quote Michael Jackson). And. my brother-in-law. was uncharacteristically animated.
I arrived at Fred Khumalo’s house in the north of Johannesburg. in late 2006. I like it. I started writing down all my opinions. It’s me. whether it’s proposing a new theory for how the pyramids were built or pondering why men have nipples. Thapelo and I discovered that evening that we shared the same passion: a deep love for thinking just for the sake of it. armed with a few pages of my writing and a bottle of Scotch. after an evening in the company of Miles. Coltraine and Fred. a small crowd of animals is gathered under the tree. watching a sleeping lioness on the ground. I’m waiting for that lioness to wake up so I can hump her brains out. “What are you up to?” asks the giraﬀe. gets the same story and also awaits the extravaganza. a lady from my publishers’ Sales department couldn’t say the title without giggling nervously and having an uncontrollable sneezing ﬁt. then that title didn’t make it to the Grey Street Mosque. To quote him. 16 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . the King himself saunters on to the scene and up to the crowd of eager perverts. Talking shit to the animals? Well. the story goes that a giraﬀe came upon a monkey perched high up in a tree. Finally. Next up. then? Well. he hopes. if you must know. From that day onwards. The Scotch had worked! What’s this all about. a writer? A few months later. to solicit his opinion. it’s what Ndumiso Ngcobo thinks about the world. At about three o’clock the following morning. The ﬁrst of a series of books. Still. waiting for the sexual assault on the Queen of the jungle. But if the process by which this book came about was the “up” run of the Comrades. Apparently. though. the giraﬀe settles down in anticpation. Me. with the encouragement and reassurance I needed. I was still unsure. I submitted them to a few publishing houses. Finally. I staggered out of his house. Soon enough. “Well.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. “My dream occupation would be to sit in a room and have people asking me my opinions on anything and everything. a hippo comes around. The working title for this book was Just Talking Shit To The Animals.sustain a semblance of a decent life.” Not one to miss a free porn show. Some Of My Best Friends Are White was conceived.
Hey. I hope you ﬁnd all of this as fascinating as I do. Hopefully. Welcome to the kwaibook. others retarded.za/silwane).co. Enjoy the ride. my publishers didn’t want to sell it like that. If the Ben Okris and JM Coetzees are classical jazz and opera of the writing world. You.” I’m the monkey. They wanted black people laughing at the strange habits of white folk. this is literary kwaito. “Nothing much. Most of this was written with tongue ﬁrmly in cheek. I told them.za. others on nothing but conjecture and ignorance. please do so through my blog. and they wanted white people laughing at the inexplicable folly of black folk. Some of my opinions are smart.co. if you know what I mean… I call these my non-opinions. abusive taxi drivers – and so on. so they made sure I covered a lot of appropriately South African topics: uppity black women. Whatever you think. That means that some of my opinions are not really my opinions.” says the monkey. Some of my opinions are based on deep philosophical observations. I am humbled that you are reading it. Hopefully some of my opinions – and my non-opinions – will intrigue you and convince you that I’m a genius. We are gathered here for the purpose of listening to me talk shit to my animals. where I skulk around in the wee hours of the morning as Silwane kaNjila (see www. But I also hope to infuriate you. are part of the crowd of pervs. But a fair proportion will leave you convinced that I’m a downright fool. Of course. NN June 2007 PS: Perhaps you have come across me already at thoughtleader. crazy white folk. I’m still talking shit to the animals. Often I say “black” when I mean “white” and “up” when I mean “down”.thoughtleader. “Just talking shit to the animals. I’m cool with that. the reader. Introduction 17 . But if anyone asks me.“So what’s this gathering then?” he roars with menace. They wanted “cross-cultural insight into South African life”. I will amuse you. If you would like to contact me.
Eish! I ain’t got it. Joe .
Still. right? Oh ye of little knowledge! With my people. full of ambition. They share sundowners at Mivami in Hillbrow. before my mind was poisoned by “un-African” ideas. In the darkie context. Even back then. Three guys and two girls. Until month end approached. To a non-darkie. As a black man. she left two rooms empty-handed. Nothing wrong with that. But sadly. that is.200 monthly wage – but life was good nonetheless. I have been accosted with similar situations literally hundreds of times. They share Kodak moments at Times Square in Yeoville. this phenomenon completely befuddled me. Except that two of the commune members’ record of paying for rent and food was pathetic. Okay. food appeared on the table every breakfast and every dinner. their newfound loves and break-ups. Five young black people move into a house together in downtown Johannesburg. And every member of the commune dug in hungrily. Money was tight – I was personally getting by on a R1. their joys and pains. when we all had to pitch in and pay for our wonderful way of life. the solution to the “problem” we had is a no-brainer: just kick their non-paying asses into the street. a little more complicated. And invariably the high-calibre individuals under the spotlight shrug 20 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . The feeling in the air is one of high hope about the upcoming ground-breaking elections. They share Bafana Bafana’s historic win over Zambia on the day of Mandela’s inauguration at Ellis Park stadium. month in and month out. they never fully share the rent and food bills. maybe not so wonderful. the concept of collective responsibility and the practice of it are separate entities. January 1994. things are a tad diﬀerent. One of the girls was responsible for rent collection and. their ups and downs. The commune members spend almost all their time together. They share their respective successes and failures. They share pitchers of vodka-laced sangria at the Pizza Hut on Pretoria Street in Hillbrow.J ust picture it. hopes and dreams. impending freedom and the general upward mobility that’s sure to follow. I was one of those young people.
Joe. You just do not characterise another black man that way unless you’re willing to step outside. 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. Eish! I Ain’t Got It. you ain’t got it? Did you have it and then lose it? And if you never had it in the ﬁrst place. It’s a debate-ender. digging deeper is just unacceptable. A whitey’s mind will be abuzz with a host of questions. no doubt: What do you mean. People have lost their lives for daring to call a darkie Eurocentric. being Eurocentric is worse than being a paedophile with serial-killer tendencies. Once another black man has uttered that line. thug Tsotsi: ﬁend. “Eish! I ain’t got it. It would be… Eurocentric.their shoulders and give me the same line when asked to pay: “Eish! I ain’t got it. 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. where I come from. And in our world. In fact. No. it would be downright un-African. If you did. Just don’t call him Eurocentric. Joe”. Joe 21 . That’s the darkie body armour against paying rent.” That’s it. you shut up and accept his assertion. this is perfectly acceptable. It is the battle cry of all cheapskates across the darkie landscape. After all. white on the inside) being two other favourites. the shame! You see. So when another black individual has uttered the words. We call each other by the darkie terms of endearment instead: Lova: unemployed individual who doesn’t bother looking for a job Sgebengu: ﬁend. Oh. “Eurocentric” is a swearword. 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. And that goes for any of its variations – coconut and Oreo (dark on the outside.
but some of us are doing okay these days. There was a fair bit of dinner and a lot of drinks – to the tune of R2.” 22 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Well. he had no money to pay! But I shouldn’t have been too perturbed. Honestly. Great ideals.400 Polo shoes on his feet R4. That’s an obscene amount for black people in South Africa. What really crawled up my leg. I know.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 R7.456. 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. Suddenly.* We darkies come from the same mother. hey? Where my steely commitment to ubuntu and other lofty. Call it the RDP of the spirit. Joe. my friend: whisky. We live by the mantra. come month end: “Eish! I ain’t got it. We believe in such noble ideals as ubuntu. yet fuzzy.600 Hugo Boss pants R2. brandy. I sat around a table with four of my brethren for dinner and drinks. Mbeki has his “RDP of the soul” and I have my own RDP. the same womb.000 BMW ride home R500. Yet without fail. one of my dining companions developed a strange aﬄiction: an allergic reaction to the piece of paper detailing that he had thrown back double cognacs to the value of R400. darkie concepts begins to waver is when you start to observe some of the spending patterns of dark-complexioned individuals who like to plead poverty. slid under my boxer shorts and into my black. you’d think. If he’s short of cash. Whatever spirit you want. cognac. what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine. Not too long ago. Here’s an example. I don’t. When the bill ﬁnally came.000 music system and his CD collection grew by ﬁve CDs every month. I really don’t mind paying for a brother.
Joe 23 . The truth. Whenever anyone broached the subject of the rising price of bread she’d emit a tiny whimper. of course. And we all knew it. naturally. bankrolling his extravagant musical taste. sigh deeply. One ice-cold weekend – with one of those lazy -30°C winds (“it’s lazy cos it don’t go around you. Yadda yadda yadda. get a sad look in her puppy-dog eyes and… “Eish! I ain’t got it. used to sharing one tagless Rooibos teabag between two mugs. is that she had two sources of cash: her folks and her boyfriend. Joe. And boy did she know it. Every guy in the house thought of her with illicit. 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. But every guy who passed through that commune lived in the hope that one day she would toss some sexual crumbs his way. The rent money just never got to us because it was used to fund her extensive wardrobe. No-one shared my vision – so we plodded on. 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. I’d be called callous.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”. Some of my housemates and I would have skinner sessions behind his back. Nobody got any. For our palates. unbrotherly feelings just bubbling underneath the surface. it goes through you”) – the skate’s boyfriend visited the commune. of course. 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. this was some gourmet stuﬀ. bringing with him a big container of Ricoﬀy. a large bag of sugar and a giant container of Cremora.” And you’d feel deeply ashamed for letting a little thing like money stand in the way of such deep friendships. So we all skirted the issue and circled her like a pack of hounds around a female in February. As we chased the Highveld winter away with mug after mug of caﬀeine heaven.
“Does anybody need this?” Oh. not with family and certainly not with cheapskate friends. I chose the low. I don’t often get to say this. Use the secret chicken-munching information to extort some sexual favours in return for my silence. I had two options. Things got real nasty after that. Not in business. I love my white peeps. gives Manto Tshabalala-Msimang a bear hug and calls her “comrade”. so I relish it: I love them white folk to bits. real classy behaviour. not with colleagues. Every member of the commune congregated in one room and munched on chips without inviting our non-paying seductress. That was an eye-opening experience. There was one other black oke living there and. I know. A study in rent collection. At the end of the evening. Or blurt it out to the other commune members. 24 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . And she never consumed another morsel of food at anybody’s expense. true to form. 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. white people don’t fuck around. I guarantee you that that individual will be a social pariah until the day Tony Leon joins the ANC. In my time I’ve also shared a house with a predominantly white group of people. 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. man. Then she took out R56.50 in exact change and held out the calculator. saying. I tell you. When it comes to money. The way I saw it. blabbermouth road. I remember once going out to dinner with a predominantly white group of people. 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.kitchen to make another cup only to realise that the coﬀee had disappeared with our caﬀeine pusher when he left. before whipping out a pocket calculator and crunching the numbers. how touched I was! I dare any black person to pull this stunt in the company of other darkies. he decided to pull the Eish-I ain’t-got-it-Joe trick one month end.
I was being left alone to rule the roost as the token black in a white house. That’s right. Habits such as holding our friends responsible for paying for things. instead of just mimicking the way white people speak. Joe 25 . When it comes to cash. rather it’s the currency that’s the issue. I love that about white people. black people are soft. Sheer bliss. And the root cause of it.” Eish! I Ain’t Got It. here’s a far-out idea: perhaps. but none of us invests 60 hours a week into those lofty ideals – so please give me a break. we need to copy some of their more progressive habits. So after all my talk. we like to place God and family above making money on our what’s-important-to-me lists. But I think that black people are not necessarily uncomfortable discussing money. in fact. Don’t tell me we’re about to haggle over R50 now. Pretty please with my R50 on top. Not only were we getting rid of a non-paying Tommy Hilﬁger-clad chancer. Heaven is indeed a place on earth.” You’re damn skippy we’re about to have a major verbal misunderstanding. but I’ve always just ﬁgured that we all exist for the sole purpose of amassing as much money as possible. White people are ruthless about money – which is why they get to keep so much of it. To see what I mean. 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. I believe. owes me R50. is there a better reason in the world to have it out with someone than money? I don’t know about anyone else. I cannot count the number of times I’ve tried to point out to an individual that he. what with all our nasal twanging. right before the Poll Tax Uprising: “Don’t tell me we’re about to haggle over one bull now. Take the don’t-tell-me-we’re-about-to-haggle-over-R50now incident I mentioned before and imagine that conversation taking place in 1906. just remember that most of us are only two or three generations away from a time when our currency was not cash. to which I’ve had this line thrown back at me: “Come on. I was secretly celebrating. Plus. isn’t it? Granted. is that black people are just uncomfortable talking about money.As we all stood on the patio bidding him a tearful farewell a week later. There’s an unspoken shame associated with having it out with someone over money.
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 . reactionary. one of them will ask. Unless you have shared a matchbox house with a dozen siblings. I dream that one evening a group of seven Polo-clad black people will arrive at a restaurant and. 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. Once we change the currency from rands to cattle. we might just get somewhere. all seven people shrug their shoulders and recite in unison: “Eish! I ain’t got it. Just like Dr King in 1960s America. self-hating enemy of the African Renaissance by perpetually angry PhD types in This Or That Centre Study. When we. You’ll never understand the appreciation that black people have for the ﬁner things in life. Here’s my thing. One of the very ﬁrst times I went out with him for drinks. I have a friend who I’ve known for about 15 years. 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. Joe!” Before I’m accused of being a Eurocentric. cousins and aunts. as they get to their table.For some reason. he stopped us all: “Before we sit down. I just want to be clear about the bill. you’ll never get it. 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’s paying? If we’re all paying. I have a dream. he caught me by surprise with behaviour I’d never witnessed before. “Before we sit down. I think black people miss the point that money is a measure of wealth and prosperity – just like cattle. Mr Double-Chinned PhD Type: where you call these things socio-economic factors. I wiped a little tear from the corner of my eye. you’ll never get it. I knew we were going to be friends for a long time. are we splitting it six ways or are we each paying for what we had?” As we sat down (having cleared it up). The same factors inﬂuence my own decisions every single day. a group of about six black people. got to our table.
they go inside. As the same person tries to bum R20 oﬀ you for petrol. Then. come on. Joe 27 . BMW-driving dark-hued individuals who drive to Alexandra or Umlazi every evening to have dinner at mommy’s place. So he kept driving until he got to a township garage Eish! I Ain’t Got It. for Chrissakes!” Not that it would help. of course. 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. even though we were driving past ﬁlling stations. As a result. pay for their drinks and their cigarettes. Instead. drive them to a club. I’m ashamed to say I know many such people on a personal basis. Not because mommy’s cooking kicks ass. People who expect other people to bankroll their existence. 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. you know I’m right. The reason? He was self-conscious of the fact that he only had R10 to purchase gas. You’d have better luck convincing the fundamentalist Muslims that George W Bush is a well-meaning born-again gentleman who had altruistic. pay their cover charges. it’s only R100. they go outside to their cars to take large swigs from Hansa quarts they happened to have brought along for the ride. when they “need a piss”. These are the same individuals who know the days when their grandmothers get paid their monthly pension grants.with dropped suspension and R20. you feel like screaming at the top of your voice. nanna. I wish I was making all of this up.” Curse me out if you want. “Aw.000 rims that they cannot aﬀord. buy one bottle of Heineken and keep it on the table for three hours. democratic reasons for sending American troops into Iraq. get yourself a freaking Corolla. “Nigga. People who think it’s acceptable for you to drive 50 kilometres out of your way to pick them up from their houses. 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. we all know Boss-clad. Once again. but because their housemates back at the townhouse complex are sick of funding their food.
” 28 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .” (Translated: “Please could I have R10 of unleaded petrol. “Tiger unleaded. spreads his hands and gives the attendant a shrug: “Eish! I ain’t got it. I have actually been in a Jeep Cherokee – market value R350. asks for R7.50 of unleaded. Joe. fumbles around in his wallet.000 – with an individual who rolled down his electric window and uttered the words.”) You know. That’s right. it’s just a matter of time before a darkie rolls into a township ﬁlling station. boss.– where nobody would judge him. sir.
Joe 29 .Eish! I Ain’t Got It.
Kasie Fabulous .
After a while. but when we who have ﬁnances take our own kids out of these schools we leave them without resources!” I castigated vehemently. Take a bow. I argued that the reason the townships were in a perpetual state of economic depression was the fact that black people moved away as soon as they started to make money. I have to interrupt my carefully planned itinerary and head to Gugulethu. look at the mountain and start visiting all the traditional tourist spots. you head for the townships. I said it. “We should all be ashamed for moving to the suburbs instead of staying to improve the places that made us!” I shrieked hysterically. There. 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. There’s a deﬁnite black-tourist drill in Cape Town. “We all lament the poor quality of education in township schools. a catastrophe. Alcohol has the tendency to unearth passions in people that they were never aware of before. The reason we were having the debate in the ﬁrst place is because we were under the inﬂuence – naturally. Your hospitality is a marvel to behold. Nyanga or Langa just to feel human again. people of Gugulethu. First you arrive. After carefully removing drops of my spittle from his face. A friend and I were recently having a conversation about this very phenomenon: the horrors of Cape Town versus the hospitality of its townships. “We simply leave the places that have nurtured us and moulded us into who we are!” I cried loudly. but my dislike for the Mother City stems mostly from the fact that each time I visit. many times. My buddy was not particularly impressed. Then.’m not a big fan of Cape Town. 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. I have various reasons for this. Langa and Nyanga – you’ve been the saving grace of that part of the world many. he composed himself and calmly suggested that I check I 32 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .
out my family tree for connections to Adolf Hitler. man. what do you mean?” “That is the essence of your suggestion. All I could do was proceed to cast aspersions on his general blackness. Townships are diverse. I once lived in a house for three years and never knew the name of even one of my neighbours. And it was wrong!” “Okay. in eﬀect. Still. It’s kasie fabulous. The unspoken motto Kasie Fabulous 33 . I was down and out. There is – despite suggestions that this spirit is dying – a general communal camaraderie that permeates throughout most townships. Every opportunity I get. maybe even Eurocentric or coconut. suggesting that we selfimpose the Group Areas Act on ourselves. I think I called him an Uncle Tom. Every little corner has something unique and interesting to oﬀer. the man had delivered a knockout punch in one swift move.” “You are. The suburbs are unfriendly. “You do realise you moved out of the townships. You’re suggesting that we go back to a time when black people lived on only 13 per cent of the land. So you’re suggesting that all wealthy black people should sell their houses in the suburbs and move back to the townships?” “Yes. neighbours are having animated conversations over the fence. brother! For sellouts like me who are hell-bent on land redistribution. dynamic and lively places. But I was a goner. leaving the prime land in this country to white people in the suburbs and the cities. So you are. I love the townships. Drive down any street and kids are running around. No true bruiser concedes defeat that easily. Brother Malcolm. I am! We are taking valuable money out of communities who need it desperately…” “I hear you. men are sitting outside and enjoying cold ones amid lots of chitchat and laughter. cold places. There is a buzz. this is what we are losing out on. an unmistakable vibe that hangs in the air. right?” “Yes.” “Er. yes. um. I head for the nearest kasie I can ﬁnd. complicating a very simple matter…” I oﬀered weakly.
I could almost sense his thoughts: “Damn. Oh. in the process of looking for some inferior brandy at the other end. We’ve never exchanged more than a few muﬄed grunts at each other when we’ve been within the fake-grin zone. say. where I quickly grabbed the nearest Merlot. (My wife was later to call me “you idiot”. almost knocking over a vodka display in his haste. 34 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . But anything outside the ﬁve metres is outside the “fake-grin zone”. we give each other fake grins when we’re forced to be within. He then sidled over into Neutral territory next to the fruit-juice fridge to await my next move. 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. 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. ﬁve metres of each other. The anal administrative types in charge seem to have way too much time on their hands. I quickly moved on. He took his opportunity and made a frantic dash towards the Cheap Brandy subsection. hate their guts right back. having just entered the Spirits aisle in which I was acquiring a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black. “Don’t bother me and I won’t bother you.” These days. After all. and here he was closing in ominously. we’re not uncivilised savages. I was in a corner.) Our retarded waltz ended when I spotted him getting into his car and speeding oﬀ. that was close!” These are the great lengths we go to to avoid talking to each other in the ’burbs. giving Wine a wide berth. I was meant to get my wife a bottle of red but didn’t want to take the chance just yet. But that’s not the only problem out here in the complexes. I took a clever detour through the Warm Beer aisle and backtracked towards Wine. my white neighbours at my cluster-home complex on the East Rand view me with disdain and suspicion – and I. Heaving a sigh of relief. as she had speciﬁcally asked for a Cabernet Sauvignon.in the suburbs is. it seems. The cheapskate was. I recently spotted one of my neighbours at the local liquor outlet. of course. The expression on his face was of immense relief. don’t get me wrong. so I hovered around Liqueurs to allow him time to return to Spirits. what would I do? Thinking fast.
If I were a betting man. I’d go with Mr Tigerprint Blinds from #7. My hands are full just rescuing expensive vases from my two-year-old terrorist. who has a keen interest in property destruction. I was having nostalgic longings for some carefree township living. My wife will testify under oath that I was. Like trying to ﬁnd out who reversed into the aloe plant last week. I have no idea who stole Mrs Hudson’s stockings from her laundry line. I was fed up with these complex-dwelling retards. I couldn’t care less that the girlie-man from #7 has tiger-print blinds! And while we’re on the Code Of Conduct. And I have an alibi.1. trying to hump a pillow in our bedroom. As a result. 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. where my wife grew up. of kids playing in the streets and neighbours connecting over fences.5 of the 154-page Code Of Conduct. (Long story – a case of mistaken identity involving too much whisky. the white people want to blame the black man for this Great Lingerie Robbery. by the way. for that matter. The man drives an orange Peugeot 307 cabriolet. I personally don’t have time for anything but keeping up with my one wife and two kids. at that precise time. let’s get another one of your stupid rules out of the way. I will do it. As a matter of fact. for crying out loud.I have often wondered if these people have jobs – or lives. Kasie Fabulous 35 . thank you very much. Cross-dresser right there! But no.) I’m tired of being the prime suspect for anything that goes wrong around here. Let’s forget for one second that that three-legged piece of canine shit is a racist if ever there was one.45 on Sunday morning. 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. Or who kicked the Chihuahua from #3 then pissed on it at 3. hang it upsidedown on my balcony and burn incense. The next time I want to slaughter a goat. I was gatvol with all the rules and aloofness. I took that 154-page pile of arbitrariness and gave it to my two-year-old so that he could express himself artistically. 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.
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. you seem to be rather in a hurry. the cold beverage I held in my hand spilling onto my lap. Damn you. My wife hit them hard and we all jerked forward violently. 17-inch rims and music blaring from his speakers. barely out of his teens. As we turned into the main road. The cause of the jam was our friend Goldtooth in the Mazda. a fellow in a white Mazda 323 violently swerved onto our path from a lane meant for cars going straight. By the time he returned to his vehicle. Is everyone all right at home?” You cannot trust my wife’s version of events at times like these. 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. 323 driver! The gentleman in question – and I use the term very loosely – was a young man. I’ve certainly rejected her story with the contempt it deserves. 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 .* With my wife at the wheel. He had sommer come to a dead stop in the middle of a busy main road. The car. But I was abruptly brought back to earth by the attempted murder of my family when we entered the township. God bless the inventor of ABS brakes. Being the empathetic human being that I am. there must have been at least 15 cars waiting behind him. he was driving had dropped suspension. I hypothesised out loud that perhaps he was in a hurry to take a dying relative to hospital. 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. “Good grief.30pm. young fellow. we continued along the main road only to ﬁnd that the lane we were travelling in had come to a standstill. To rub salt into the wounds. or rather the contraption. yet there wasn’t any sign of apology or remorse. with gold teeth and a fake-diamond stud in one ear. I believe the exact words I used were.
I’m not too sure what they’re called any more or what we’re meant to be commemorating. 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. My township break to soak up some ubuntu had started on a bad note. But Good Friday is a pure. I suppose. suburbs-dweller visiting the township here. it seems they are open to interpretation these days and people celebrate any way they want. the primary reason the banks. Speeding at 130km/h in 60km/h zones is commonplace. When was this act promulgated? Last time I checked. Once upon a time. would the moron who took his home theatre system speakers outside and decided to spice up Good Friday Holy Mass in the Catholic Church of this particular Pretoria township with sounds from Percy Sledge please stand up. that it doesn’t interfere with the primary objective of the day. You. Driving on pavements is a daily occurrence. Isn’t it? I could be wrong. Clearly the laws that apply elsewhere do not apply here. 100 per cent unadulterated good-old-fashioned Christian holiday. So. are the type of person who gives imbeciles a bad name. 16 June or 24 September. Unlike those compromise holidays that occur on 21 March. you might as well drive with a sign on your car reading. Kasie Fabulous 37 . That was on Easter Thursday which. And people stop and gawk at you if they notice you’ve deployed your seat belt. Three-point U-turns over double barrier lines during peak hour are a popular manoeuvre. I would suggest. I think the traﬃc department should just concede defeat and release a Township Driving Rules Handbook. one of the few remaining holidays on our calendar that have an unambiguous meaning. Soweto Day and Shaka Day respectively. The rest of the people can do whatever the hell it is that they want – on the proviso. Does this seriously need to be speciﬁcally stated? No? Okay then. 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. sir. was followed by Good Friday. as you might imagine. But I was undeterred in my quest to reconnect with my people. these used to be Sharpeville Day.road users.
Silly me. “Shut up. But it didn’t end there. Another high-calibre individual next door decided to pre-empt the Resurrection by giving the neighbourhood a gift that kept on giving.Considering that every one of your neighbours has his own music system and speakers. this is the work of the last solitary brain cell in a nitwit’s head. The thoughtful fellow dished out a free soul-classics concert at about 100. I’ve heard sweaty intellectual types in tight-ﬁtting suits talk about this phenomenon. fat man! You don’t know what you’re talking about!” 38 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . thinking along these lines: “Looky here at me. under normal circumstances. I would. 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. have driven myself to a corner shop and got some ENO or something. 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. looky here at me. I’ve seen pythons do this on BBC Wildlife. I declare. 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. this practice is thoroughly perplexing. All because my township neighbours would not allow me to lie down and do what all reptiles do when they have overindulged. When I lived in the township I did the same. From what I can gather. They say it’s indicative of the self-hate that black people harbour due to colonialism and white rule. But an experience I’d had at another township a few weeks before made me think twice… It is often noted that kasie dwellers are not particularly supportive of township enterprise. Judy Boucher kicks ass and Chris de Burgh should be knighted he’s so slammin’ and oh. To this. I have speakers and tweeters and graphic equalisers and things and oh. Good Catholics do not eat meat on Good Friday. As a result. as I was rudely reminded when we got back to my in-laws’ house after the Holy Mass/Percy Sledge combo.” Praising the Lord is just not the same when you’re accompanied by Percy Sledge and his mates.000 decibels – until 4am the following day. I felt an irresistible urge to lie down and use minimal movement. Rather than visit their local store.
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 .
throughout those colonialism and apartheid episodes. our bare asses sticking to the leather seats. 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. But before the white folk and I all hold hands and sing Kumbaya together. we’d all still be skulking around caves in loincloths. RIP. you knew it was coming…) Now don’t get upset just yet. Sure. And I’m personally quite grateful that they came down here to the bottom of Africa when they did. I am rather fond of white people. imagine how a bare ass clings to your BMW’s leather seats on a crisp highveld morning in July. Still. I worry about stuﬀ like that. a few stubborn black people who didn’t realise that this was all for their own good had themselves some accidents. of course. I didn’t think so. paleface. This statement means. “weird” is a subjective term. No. Dingane kaSenzangakhona. dead people from your family who passed on 44 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . If you’re still not sold on the handy convenience of long pants. At times.I have a confession. leaving us alone to ride around in our Beemers. Granted. But I think you’ll agree with me that it was all for the greater good. I will be given a wide berth by my black brethren as we bounce around the clouds. (Come on. If they hadn’t. It does have some genuine drawbacks. I need to get a few things oﬀ my chest – because I have a few tiny problems with white people. Lord forbid my rant culminates in my melanin-deﬁcient brothers emigrating to Australia en masse. however. Imagine that. Who wants to be a pariah for eternity? Still. Because white folk are the weirdest people under God’s sky. My people believe that when you murder a bovine creature in broad daylight. making clicking noises at each other and sacriﬁcing virgins to pagan gods. there’s no way around it. What bothers me about my lack of ill feeling towards my white brethren is the fact that when I get to black heaven. I kinda like white people. Ah well. I think this stuﬀ needs to be said. 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.
surrounded by white people. have led me to this conclusion. crush grapes with his bare. I tugged repeatedly and with all my feeble strength at ropes – inevitably ending up on my potbelly in the mud. I was never part of any company bosberaads. But my people are not on trial here. Nothing of what I’m about to mention is made up. 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. games and entertainment. many times doing stupid. It has to be. I hoisted my fat ass up trees for the purpose of tying my team ﬂag onto a makeshift mast. I watched Barry. 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. but white kids in this country have generally had it really good when it comes to toys. My experience in the corporate world is admittedly limited. Correct me if I’m wrong here. But in that time. departmental team-building exercises.in 1376 will make everybody forget that you defrauded parliament and drank beer on your parole weekend oﬀ. I wore fancy dress. my family and all my cattle-murdering forefathers many. And I reckon they’re weird. I must concede. I was only there for six years. moronic shit in the name of team building and company morale. Hell. Countless hours in the corporate world. Hence my generalisation. Notice how that question was italicised and in a paragraph all on its own. White people are. Right? My time spent in white playgrounds was never that extensive. the hairy guy from Sales. wrestling each other to the ground or shooting at each other with lumps of paint. oﬃce tactical workshops or in-house brainstorming sessions that did not involve grown men looking ridiculous in silly hats. The thing is. I embarrassed myself. bandannas or home-made masks. I ran through forests. athlete’s foot-infested feet – then strain the juice so that I could drink the Crazy-Ass White People 45 . I spent a few hours playing with the grandkids of the good white folk for whom my grandmother worked for 30-odd years. it has to be true. crazy-ass white people want to play games? I honestly do not get it. That’s how much I do not get it. In my time in the corporate world.
Lord knows. If it helps them get oﬀ. I still roamed the forest on the perimeter of the Catholic Mission boarding school I attended with a slingshot to shoot guinea fowl. I’ve always given such a person a real wide berth from that day onwards. Way to go. as a result. But that was purely for sustenance (just think Nazi nuns and four pathetic slivers of bread for supper). why. 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 even played cricket. I do not understand.fungal concoction. I wouldn’t argue against such a pearl of wisdom – and yet. Of course. them highly strung white people need to take the edge oﬀ sometimes. I clung on for dear life. stressed-out people in a corporate department tend to bond with each other under these ridiculous circumstances. for some inexplicable reason. All this so we could bond. In fact. and the only thing that made me feel somewhat safer was the helmet on my head – until I realised that if we crashed from that height the 46 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I’m an open-minded guy – the line “live and let live” pretty much sums up my approach to life – and. white people. I should go back to playing games. well okay. and I’m pretty sure most of my black brothers had. Of course. me. underpaid. 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. oh why must I be dragged into this? The explanation I’ve been given is that overworked. the only lasting eﬀect these exercises had on me was to trigger waves of nausea each time I bumped into Barry from Sales. It probably had to do with the build up of seed in my loins. being me. now that I’m in my 30s. too. I’m willing to let middleaged white people gun about on quad bikes destroying pristine beaches and giggling like idiots. but I just had better things to do from then onwards. Ordinarily. Occasionally. But why. therefore. but I had outgrown games by the time I turned 14. there can be only one logical question: what kind of retarded shit is this? I don’t know about anyone else.
damn it. Unfortunately the rope snapped and his brains were splattered all over the rocks on the Vaal River bed. 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. tell me the story of how Dad passed on. And when you complain. No bungee jumping for me. to demonstrate his passion for his work. If everybody else is risking having their brains splattered on the rocky shore down there then. you must too! I do not want to do any more death-defying stunts in the name of passion. I always imagine this conversation between my twoyear-old son and my widow ten years from now: “So. 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 . mom. didn’t Daddy create spreadsheets to count the number of inane customer complaints about company products?” “Kind of. Of course you can’t really say no either. No shark-cage diving. This is about teamwork. No jumping oﬀ aeroplanes with only a rucksack on my back. Mommy?” “Well. That would be a career-limiting move. not quite. you’re always told the same thing (in a suitably excitable voice): “This shows your zest for life. your father tied a piece of rope around his ankle and jumped of a bridge. man! Your passion for living!” How exactly does gliding 200 metres above ground without a parachute show passion for life? Try passion for dying.” “How did it happen? Did he slip? Did someone push him? Did the cops catch the guy?” “Er.” “What the hell is bungee jumping. 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.” “Why did he do it.only part of me they’d ﬁnd would be the helmet.” “But Mommy. he fell oﬀ a bridge. son. Mommy?” “Well. He was bungee jumping during a team-building exercise.” “Well.
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. I have another gripe about white people. Incentives. But when all’s said and done. If my gripe is about my wife. Monetary incentives to be precise. Of the remaining seven. here’s a thought. I sure ain’t passionate about my desk job. I’m passionate about money.000 on an arbitrary event. department managers: buy lots of booze and let people talk to each other. 17 of which never bothered to reply. I’m passionate about my beer. 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. Yet white people get these impromptu bursts of curiosity and they want to know how I feel about my job. Am I feeling energised? Am I feeling passionate? Passionate. I think you have to forget some fundamental truths. I think you have to develop blanket amnesia regarding the process involved in getting a job. then I call one of my buddies and bitch about her. Why is it that they have an uncontrollable urge to share their inner feelings with strangers? I’ve never been able to understand it. where geeks from Accounts get to hurl raw eggs at each other. I’ve always just made the natural assumption that my feelings are mine. had bluer 48 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . though. I’m as serious as a heart attack about that one. If I absolutely have to share them with anyone. I’m passionate about my wife and kids. Maybe other people are diﬀerent. Moving on from the team-building exercises.The astounding thing is that if the end result you’re looking for is really just to get some socialising happening at work. Instead of wasting R150. I’m resigning. Nothing beats good old human greed to get people to pull together and work as a team. I usually get really drunk and then have a heart-to-heart with my wife.” But enough with the games. I’m passionate about Kaizer Chiefs. It’s no great secret that people bond when they’ve had a few. there is only one sure way of ensuring great teamwork in any department. To be a boss. but I personally sent out my CV to 24 companies. how about giving them that same R150. Now there’s a word.
(But hey.) As a result. After a while. But no-one in their right mind is passionate about a desk job. Doesn’t mean I’m not working hard for it. I’ve visited their homes and spent Crazy-Ass White People 49 . For the coup de grâce I’d start wailing uncontrollably. But don’t expect me to be passionate about a job where I sit at a desk all day. I’d start sobbing as I told them how the smell of lawn in this 5-star establishment (venue for our team-building exercise. Being passionate and energised about this job is hard.eyes. yelling. The Lord is my witness about this one. Then I’d have a conversation with someone they couldn’t see. I lost track of the number of times everyone at work was made to sit around in a circle and share childhood memories. updating spreadsheets that detail how many bored Norwood housewives have telephoned to complain that our relaunched soups. I had to ﬁght oﬀ the urge to freak them white people out. scratching my body wildly and letting out bloodcurdling screams. but I’ve tried socialising with white people. came the tell-usabout-your-past line of enquiry. I could be sitting at home in boxer shorts. I’m grateful for that. Asking people in the workplace to share deep feelings is just a bad idea all round. blonder hair. 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. taste less salty. 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”. awful memories. 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. As bad as pink shirts on men. Doesn’t mean I’m not thankful for it. Don’t get me wrong. my passion for the company I work for extends only to the fact that they didn’t reject me. White folk at work is only the half of it. with the words now with 25% less salt! emblazoned on the sleeve. all the while twitching and shaking. okay? Following on the heels of the how-are-you-feeling questions. I have. whiter teeth and the ability to talk nonstop for three hours. scratching my nuts and watching Ricki Lake as we speak. naturally) was triggering those awful. I’m not going down that road in this chapter. “I didn’t strangle all those people in Cape Town!” I wonder what they’d do then.
with what must have been a stupeﬁed. There’s no denying it. I’ve gone out with them to all their crazy hang-outs. In any case. I can hear the words. glazed look on my face for ten minutes. For one. You know what it’s like: if three black people stand in a group and talk. But I’m sorry to say that. I can never understand what the hell white people are on about during conversations. Through a painful process. While in the throes of my jungle fever. I have a friend who feels exactly the same way. His hypothesis is that white people have a secret language they use to talk about us while we’re standing right there. I approached this bunch of white guys. By that stage. The three of them – with an average age of about 30. mingle. involving hours on the internet and listening to Naas’s dreadful droning. But these white guys had shifted the posts again. some white manager type is bound to come around and say something like. 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’ve failed. 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. I recently approached a group of about ﬁve guys at a company function. I even went to a place to sit around and have my face painted. but I’m guessing it coincided with something silly like the Champions League ﬁnal. I have ﬁnally got to a point where I can have a decent conversation about scrums and lineouts without sounding like a complete nitwit. Some sort of comeback for our Zulu and Tsonga and whatnot. I’ve tried to reach out. “Why are you guys standing alone? Come now.entire evenings playing Scrabble – an activity I had last engaged in when I was 11. for the most part. Sometimes I sit there and I can see their lips moving.” Never mind the fact that you’re all from completely diﬀerent departments. I’ve even joined them as they went to watch other crazy white people do two-hour stage shows – shows in which not a word is uttered. A documentary about frogs mating or some other shit. but my mind simply refuses to tune in to their frequency. by the way – were standing there having an animated conversation about some documentary on National Geographic. Forgive me. So I stood there with my double whisky in hand. the conversation 50 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .
you don’t hear me say Jackass. rips out their spleens and makes jewellery with their kidney stones”. Honest. wink at me and say. Ah. a rude hand gesture? When I read the name Jacques. his name means “an iguana that whips other iguanas with his tail.had turned to the migratory pattern of birds as they ﬂy north during winter. of course. 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. Black people’s names mean something. No-one is asking you to learn the Zulu language. How do you go from that to Zap. So you know.” But no. These fellows were having a seriously animated conversation about birdies. 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. The ﬂying type. So why am I writing all these things? To start a movement to drive whitey back Crazy-Ass White People 51 . I half expected one of them to turn around. “Gotcha! We’re just fucking with you. I’m not making it up. Which is why I have no respect for the underachievers who end up on these shows. 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. is not all. do you? That may be how I think it should be pronounced. click his tongue. with 47 cameras following them around? Maybe I’m missing something here. complete with the obligatory French lip purse. Are white people so desperate for entertainment that they fall for a show about people catching buses from place to place. and black people are proud of their names. man. a conversation from this galaxy! Another conversational favourite at work was the weekly analysis of the latest episode of The Amazing Race. just learn to pronounce the name of the guy who you’ve been sharing a cubicle with for ﬁve years. but I put in an eﬀort to say Jacques. I’m black. If that is their best foot forward then God help us all. But white folk lap it all up – and they want to share their excitement with me every Wednesday morning! And that.
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? .
I am umZulu. hasn’t he? Nowadays I can hardly go anywhere without being forced to assume the role of designated spokesperson for Zuma and Zulus everywhere. BaSotho are still untrustworthy mpimpis. amaZulu are still a perpetually horny lot with a violent streak. And Jacob Zuma has placed on record what we did with our poontangphobic males back in the day… Zuma has deﬁnitely put us smack bang in the centre of the tribal map. but there are some timeless truths in our part of the world. SAB or BAT. Moving right along. and their poontang – well. Zulus from all walks of life are in the same boat. It took a lot of courage to write that. AZAPO. Most of all. Nothing could be further from the truth. AmaXhosa are still sly con artists with scant regard for anyone’s property. at least the males among us. their singing and dancing. IFP. we Zulus remain a people with an admirable appreciation of the good old-fashioned ass-whuppin’. BaTswana are still notoriously frugal with meat during feasts. For the longest time. Our sharpened pragmatism is generally 56 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . It seems that I’m not alone. I know. We Zulus come from a long line of proud people who love their meat. people have misread us and concluded that we’re just naturally bloodthirsty. No we’re not. But that’s another story altogether. 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. he’d soon see that not much has changed around here. Shangaans are still big-dicked buﬀoons with a penchant for red socks. And. whether we’re in the ANC.000 years ago and come check us out today.partheid is dead! Long live apartheid! If Can Themba were to pull oﬀ that whole resurrection trick last seen 2. of course. We may be a decade and a half into postapartheid South Africa. PAC. Yes.
labelled boxes. Zulu people seek order. And I think spearism should take its rightful place among the other isms that are no-nos in our Bill Of Rights. He once walked into a beer hall in Durban’s infamous Dalton Road to ﬁnd two men. We solved our dilemma by means of a ﬁst ﬁght in which my ass was handed to me. Simple. He whose behind was spanked in a ﬁght must always back down – then order is restored. Julius Caesar and Peter The Great are celebrated conquerors. They had their hands around each other’s necks and. Whenever we’ve had heated disagreements. I have a friend called Siﬁso. Hierarchy is important to us. I have always maintained an acute appreciation of my limitations. And. I used to work with a 50-something-year-old colleague called Lefty Mshengu. even though they killed people on a genocidal scale. 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. Saying that Zulu people love violence is like saying dung beetles love shit. Shaka was just a practical Zulu fellow with a clear vision of what he wanted his world to look like. as I like to call it. 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. The reason we’ve remained lifelong friends is because we established a pecking order that day. No they don’t. So you see: pragmatism. swords. I met him in a primary school soup-and-bread queue when we had a misunderstanding about who was ahead in the line. An unquenchable thirst for order. We like things in neat. We love to establish pecking orders and maintain them religiously. before that. the Map Of The Gun – can’t help but realise that virtually every border we have was “negotiated” with the use of gunpowder.mistaken for a propensity for violence. Smacks to me of spearism. That’s a classic case of confusing the means with the end. in the middle of a violent wrestling match. Anyone who has ever spent more than a few moments poring over the map of the world – or. Sithole and Mhlongo. We hate confusion. He told me a story that I still believe is the ultimate testimony to Zulu pragmatism. That’s what we Zulus have. by the looks of Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 57 . uncertainty and fuzzy situations.
Soon after. Sithole would be reminded of the outcome of this ﬁght next time he wanted to pick a ﬁght with Mhlongo. At least three of the spectators quickly jumped up and pulled him away. leaving the men to ﬁght on. a school boycott was brewing over some or other grievance. Both combatants were sweating profusely and the whites of Sithole’s eyes were bulging out of their sockets. The parents heard of the mooted mass action. Beautiful. But as the winds of change that were sweeping across the land blew through that valley. In the KwaNyavu village along the Umgeni River near Nagle Dam there is a high school called Inhlanhlayabebhuze. from knobkierries and sjamboks to pangas. ingani wena bakuklinya khona lapha waze wasuza?” (Sithole. nonchalantly sipping on their sorghum beer. At a predetermined time they congregated at the gate of the school carrying an assortment of weapons. a death was imminent. Soon enough. A more traditional Zulu people you are unlikely ever to ﬁnd. booming sound reminiscent of the trumpets of Jericho emanating from deep inside Sithole’s bowels. the students thought they should be a part of it. The student body was called to the assembly area and a representative from 58 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Sithole. This way.things. agreed on a date and took leave of absence from their respective jobs. Five men immediately stepped in and separated the quarrelling couple. the eerie silence in the beer hall was broken by a deep. The height of pragmatism – acute understanding of the factors at play in establishing order and maintaining it. “Kahle. 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. Lefty was naturally horriﬁed and leapt towards the men to pry them apart. Silly little punks. And the men at the beer hall wanted peace and order in their drinking hole. I used to teach maths and science there in the mid ’90s. 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. There was a calm silence inside the beer hall as 30 or so spectators sat there watching the near-fatal wrestling match. spears and home-made guns.
We do not mind making new children if it’s absolutely necessary. I have a great appreciation for this. People who believe this seem to be in the majority in the world. let them step forward and this matter would be resolved in a matter of minutes.” And that was that for the great strike at Inhlanhlayabebhuze High School.the parents addressed them. They were there to tell their kids that this nonsense about a class boycott would end that day. If any of the students did not agree. like I say. without which humans would be marginally lower life forms than hyenas. But I also tend to have the morals of a sewer rat – which has taught me that sometimes we need to put morals aside. I wish I could put your mind at ease and tell you the men were just kidding around with their kids. we Zulus have a well-developed pragmatism. But there is another school of thought. towards which I personally lean. One gentleman with a jackhammer had this chilling parting shot: “We sleep with our wives every night. A sign of an irrational. I think that if the mutinous punks had deﬁed their fathers. but I cannot. They would not stand for this silliness. A few years ago. was the general sentiment. illogical mind. And. when you take morality out of the equation. The parents were not there to ﬁght anyone. and certainly at times it is the case. it may be the only eﬀective method – in certain circumstances. in all likelihood we’d have been picking skull fragments oﬀ the ﬂoor in the aftermath. Perhaps. it becomes clear that pragmatism sits at the core of most violent acts. I sent out an e-mail Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 59 . People who belong in the violence-equals-irrational school of thought also tend to be guided by intangibles such as morality. Violence is just the insurance policy we cash in to establish order. It was ended by a front-on approach backed up with very unsubtle threats of crushed skulls and brains splattered all over the veranda. I have heard people argue that the use of violence is a sign of a lack of reasoning. the spokesman of the Parent Army explained. In these cases. As a result we have quite an advanced vocabulary for beating up people. that believes violence can be useful – indeed. We brought you into this world and by God and sunny Jesus we will not hesitate to take you out.
Xebula. And you can’t just sommer bhibiza anyone willy-nilly. Titinya. Within two days we had collected 71 words.” (We knock the karate out of the man and leave him standing all alone. who used to roam the township armed with nothing but sticks and shields. Sakaza. You can’t. Gqema. I have seen two men stick sparring. A snotty young gangsta wannabe is talking back to you because you asked him to stop knocking your beer – bhibiza! – problem solved. friends and family asking them to remind me of all the Zulu synonyms for hitting someone. Nenebula. When I was growing up. We bhibiza to bring order back into situations. The things they can do with their sticks are scary. Bhibiza refers to backhanding someone on the lips.to my Zulu colleagues. and one guy whipping his stick and hitting the other on the back of the head. These guys had a saying that when accosted by a karate expert: “Sishaya ukalati uwele laphaya kusale indoda yodwa. Phohloza. Qhasabula and sakaza both involve slapping someone using the palm of the hand. we’re not violent savages. for instance. Ngqubuza. there was a programme on TV chronicling the history of stick ﬁghting in KZN. the ultimate insult for a Zulu man is to have 60 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . That’s right: we have a speciﬁc word for using the back of the hand to slap someone on the lips. there was a bunch of guys. You bhibiza someone when they are back-chatting you – preferably mid-sentence. A neighbourhood watch of sorts. I still have the list to this day. ﬁnd someone standing in the street minding their own business and proceed to bhibiza them. order restored. The response was overwhelming. Of course. That would just be wrong. I do believe that it is one of the most sophisticated and scientiﬁc ﬁghting methods known to man. After all. Qhasabula. Bhaklaza. Forget martial arts and all that pseudo-spiritual mumbo jumbo that goes with it. The last three words are synonyms for slapping someone.) Those stick-ﬁghting Zulus are some nasty guys. Bhibiza. Now that’s what I call skill. You can’t bhibiza someone in the eye. These are just a small sample. the diﬀerence being the sound the slap elicits. they reported to our ward councillors. Dukluza. Bhembebula. Xhofoza. facing each other. Not too long ago. Not just anywhere on the face. known as oqonda. Timing is of the essence. Bhonya. I have watched stick ﬁghting up close.
These are not Zulu men. since I had purchased the ice in question. We Zulus believe that when you bleed. spiky hair and nigga attitudes have. I was minding my business on North Beach. protected lives. there is inevitably someone with a gash on their head. These are potential Zulu men. I felt that. And you have to admit that some of the most respectful people you’ll ever encounter are Zulu people. We had a minor misunderstanding over my ice. Does this sound like the behaviour of a bloodthirsty. The dark side comes in the form of punk-ass young men who have never bled in their soft. my friends and I should be able to enjoy it in relative peace. you must have bled in your youth. They just haven’t bled yet to earn their wings. the victor is honour-bound to take the vanquished to a nearby stream. warmongering blood is purged from your system. 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 . Metro cops in that part of the world have an unyielding intolerance for anyone with alcohol breath. It was a month-end Friday night. to qualify to be a proper Zulu man. “bad blood” leaves you. “Were you running away from the ﬁght when you got hit?” And Zulu men never run away from ﬁghts. It is an honour thing. in one’s youth brings about the kind of respect you see in Shwi from Shwi and Mtekhala. A wound like that raises questions. Every time. Questions such as.a wound in the back of his head. and bleeding often. A few weeks ago. My pleasant Friday evening was ruined by a young man who clearly had not bled enough. there is a dark side to the kingdom of the Zulu. Or Phuzekhemisi. The kind of respect you saw in Jabu Khanyile. Aggressive. as we all know. That’s right. Just to show that there are no ill feelings. You can’t just open a gash on a man’s head and not provide ﬁrst aid afterwards. And bad blood is what a lot of the young fellows walking around Durban these days with their low-hanging jeans. but I had decided to stick to old-fashioned H2O as my beverage of choice. Bleeding. When all the sparring is done. savage lot? Just like anything that is well intentioned. And you must have bled often enough. Fair enough. clean the wound and apply a mud pack to it. hanging out with a couple of other Zulu men.
which may or may not involve the tried-and-tested method of feigning stupidity and twisting the other party’s innocuous utterances. 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. for an example. As I repeatedly pummelled his soft face with my ﬁst I kept on asking myself why all of this was really necessary. Let’s say you are standing 62 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I’m happy to report that my pragmatic decision to stomp on him had the desired eﬀect. I agree. of course. is that it wasn’t. A 30-something married man with children involved in a public ﬁst ﬁght over ice. that you see a well-dressed fellow arrive at a party in a fancy BMW. Pretty cruel. 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. I have to admit that I punched him rather savagely. Peace and order must be ensured. Especially the okes from Gauteng. it was a ﬁght I had tried very hard to avoid. They always assume that there has to be a reason before someone beats up on you. either studying or working in Durban. So savagely. When he ﬁnally got up he was a changed man. Any potential future violence must be avoided at any cost. in fact. No there doesn’t. But the young gun had placed me in an untenable position – a position where either he bled or I did. I let him drop onto the ﬂoor and stomped on him a few times. And they never see it coming. All they need to do is ﬁnd an excuse. But this is an evolutionary remnant from when my forefathers were ﬁghting Shaka’s wars. The answer. It’s only at that point that I realised what I was dealing with: bad blood. So there you have it. A vanquished enemy is never left in a state where he can get up and ﬁght again any time soon.of beer at my head. (Though the tongue lashing I got from my wife as she applied ice to my inﬂamed hands was punishment enough. A contrite and peaceful young man. Let’s say. When I was done punching him. it’s downright shameful. I know. that his three companions didn’t consider entering the fray for even a second.) These young men who have grown up without bleeding in a controlled manner are giving us all a bad name. In my defence.
are you?” “No. And then it’s on. That’s what I always do. long. We’ve all watched boxing on TV and been appalled when Dingaan Thobela was gasping for air by the third round.” It works 90 per cent of the time. 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. And let’s say you want to kick his ass without looking absolutely unjustiﬁed as you go about it. If you haven’t been involved in a ﬁst ﬁght before.” “Oh. It seems I got my foot inadvertently caught underneath yours. Three minutes is a long. What they never understand is that there is nothing they can say to avoid this inevitable collision course. But then there is always that situation where even the best-intentioned. I’m so clumsy. preferably next to the exit. If the party is in a place like KwaMashu. Professional boxers deserve every cent of the obscene amounts of money they get paid. ﬁnd another spot. “So sorry. careful to apologise to any guy who steps on my shoes. so you’re calling me a liar. I don’t want to ﬁght…” “Oh. then I just head for the car. The only thing to do is to feign deafness and just leave that spot. I’m sorry. humble submission won’t help. If you absolutely have to stay. Sentence them to six months of bare-knuckle sparring against professional boxers. I didn’t…” “So you were staring at her then?” “Look. Let the wife beaters experience the sensation of teeth clanking against each other from well- Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 63 .there with your girlfriend and you’re uncomfortable with the manner in which she is staring at this smooth fellow. you think you can ﬁght me then? Outside. man. allow me to save you a lot of pain. What you say to him is this: “What are you staring at? Did you misplace your girlfriend or something?” “I wasn’t staring. long time during a ﬁst ﬁght. 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. I have a solution to the wife-beating syndrome aﬄicting our nation that would deter anyone from ever raising their hand to a woman.
pragmatic solution that will make gonadless wife beaters think before putting their grubby hands on a helpless woman. 64 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . do not ridicule him.aimed punches to the lips. you know you want to. Let’s see how many would emerge from that situation and return to their wayward. Do not call him violent. cowardly ways. Zulu men deserve a hug. in fact. So the next time you meet a Zulu man. And this nation needs a bit of Zulu pragmatism. It’s a Zulu solution. Do not call him any derogatory names. Zulu men do not deserve ridicule and cheesy jokes. It’s an eﬀective. Go on. Sentencing yellow-bellied wife-beating scum to six months of having their lips bust daily is not violence.
Have You Hugged A Zulu Today? 65 .
Taxi commuting: an experience from hell .
pulling stunts that would make Juan Pablo Montoya wet his pants. Naturally. but believe me it’s true. pay my TV-licence fee on time and contribute religiously to the Road Construction Fund. That fate is being forced to use a minibus taxi as a means of daily transport again. Sounds ridiculous. I know. As a result. for some reason. And I imagine that Godoba might take one look at me in the shower and rub his hands with glee. I ﬁnd myself in the unlikely situation of facing a certain jail term. Or even that they will weave through peakhour traﬃc. one fate that I rate substantially higher on my experiencesfrom-hell list. It is the one fate that would actually force me to abandon my straightand-narrow ways and engage in criminal activities. I have a famous aversion for anything even slightly on the oﬀ side of the law. locking myself up in the garage with the engine running and having me a wee mortal slumber. I spent the ﬁrst 20-odd years of my life using taxis every day. Due to a mind-boggling amount of beer consumption and a total lack of exercise. There is. 68 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . When I used taxis on a regular basis. The explanation is simple: since I stopped travelling by taxi. I’m not talking about the fact that taxi operators show amazing disregard for commuters’ lives. Godoba will possess a half-metre black mamba. baby’s-bum-smooth tyres and a monkey wrench for a steering wheel. Anything to avoid going to jail. I fear jail more than I fear death itself. who hasn’t seen a woman since the days when the ANC was still pushing a socialist agenda. And no. 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. After all. I have developed a few ﬂeshy bits around my torso and rear. I’m not talking about the fact that the average minibus taxi has inoperable indicators. This might seem like an exaggeration to those uninitiated in the ways of the minibus taxi. my conﬁdence levels have soared exponentially.I fear jail. So I ﬁll in my tax returns. however. I was subjected to the worst indignities under the sun. you best believe I’m writing a little love note. otherwise known as traﬃc ﬁnes. will take a liking to me. If. What completely mortiﬁes me about jail is the high likelihood that some enormous 150-kilogram beast called Godoba.
which makes the mode of transport very ﬂexible. you just happen to be travelling from Durban to some obscure place in the butt crack of the world like Bizana in the Transkei. the woman did the logical thing and reached for her purse. Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 69 . blocked her way and uttered the bloodcurdling command. I have had to wait inside a taxi for four hours while the temperature was 35°C in the shade. happened to pull over.) 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.That is just a given. But not at the Mpumalanga Township taxi rank. ostensibly to give the driver the fare and be on her way. and all that). “Does this taxi look like a waiting room to you? No! Now get back in there!” So. But outside of peak hours this is a nightmare. That might be a 20-minute wait at worst. Our driver. For starters. I’m talking about some of the most horrendous indignities ever perpetrated by human beings on other human beings. In my life. Naturally she got out of the taxi and started to make her way towards the car. you’re in. In any other place on Earth. One such unlucky person was a lady in a nurse’s uniform who was obviously in a hurry to get to work. I’m talking about something more serious here. however. the Durban CBD to Umlazi Township. taxis do not run on any schedule. (If only the same principle was as rigorously applied in our correctional facilities. just part of the gamble people take each time they step into a minibus taxi. you’re in”. which is not necessarily a bad thing if you are commuting from. A taxi will not leave for its destination unless every seat has been occupied. Our hero the taxi driver cast a scornful glance at the husband as if to say. this is a practice from hell itself. And you’re not even allowed to step outside. If. The unwritten rule is “Once you’re in. this story ends here. who had been sitting on a bench in the shade stuﬃng his face with greasy Russian sausages jumped up. conceding that she has indeed got into the taxi in the ﬁrst place (and once you’re in. No. who I understood to be her husband. say. stretch your legs and have a smoke or make wee wee. We had been waiting for about 45 minutes when a man.
a couple of them by women who would put sumo grandmasters to shame. He slapped the coins out of her palm. with the big head and glasses. the woman. As anybody who has ever travelled by minibus taxi knows. stared him down deﬁantly. you think to yourself. It’s just mean. big-boned women in the rear. What happened next is something daily taxi commuters have witnessed dozens of times. 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.50 for the trip she had not taken. took out her purse and tried to hand him the R3. the taxi drivers always pick on the smallest person in the queue: “You. you reluctantly make your way towards the hippos… er. it might be understandable – but sadly it isn’t. The husband wisely stood down. So. the back row has the worst seats in the house because four people are supposed to squeeze in there together. obviously of strong will. Until about ﬁve years ago I used to weigh no more than 60 kilograms. On closer inspection. you can’t even see the seat because they are sitting literally hip-to-gigantic-hip. There just is no space for 70 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . go to the back seat!” That’s another thing. man. They really are not very small. 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. If this situation was perhaps a rare exception. which made me the victim of hundreds of uncomfortable taxi trips. one ominously clutching an object strapped to his hip under his shirt. ejected a salivary projectile through a gap in his front teeth and barked. grabbed her wrist and dragged her towards the taxi in full view of her husband. lunch box cluttering to the ground and hard-boiled eggs scattering in every direction.“Oh. in our world nobody willingly volunteers for the back row. after being ordered to go to the back seat. Inevitably. While there may be enough room to accommodate four of those Japanese midgets back there. “Are you deaf? I said back in the taxi!” At this point. how I wish you would have intervened and prevented this nonsense”.
one more person. of course. And because of how he has set the graphic equalisers. You realise the only way you’re going to get into the back seat is by backing up towards it. I love my music to death and.300 decibels. And. that would make any nightclub owner envious. Especially with the deep bass associated with umbhaqanga music. wiggling their behinds to try to create space. You turn around and make your ﬁrst attempt at sitting down – and. you’re in” rule. You know. of course. Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 71 . At this point you remember the “Once you’re in. which are getting more and more confused trying to work out what this aural abuse is all about. As the sturdiness of your ribcage is being tested to the limits. Tweeters. The sum total of this generally used to leave me suspended in space between the hippo hips. At this point. sometimes I crank it up. so you sigh and try to make the most of it. you become aware of another sound in the region of your head – the little speakers taxi operators install there just to mess with you.500-kilowatt disco speakers. You shake your head and look back at the driver for some sympathy. complete with subwoofers. staring you down. when I’m alone in the car. 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. Our driver had just become our disc jockey and he insisted on entertaining us. all you manage to do is to dig your hip a couple of centimetres into the furrow between the large ladies. Now we’d be hurtling at breakneck speed towards our destination (or towards our Maker). the women start engaging in a most useless exercise in an attempt to open up some space – the bum shimmy. At this point I’d realise why my head was touching the roof of the car: we were sitting on top of 5. that’s what I believe they are called. And then the stereo would come on. but he’s just blocking the entrance. the tweeters are like needles piercing your eardrums. Now. But nothing can prepare you for the experience of Mahlathini And The Mahotella Queens making contact with your eardrums at 2. So you get up and try a slightly lateral approach (a manoeuvre I became quite adept at through experience). 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. your bony little ass lands atop two ﬂeshy thighs.
Firstly. It goes all the way back to King Shaka’s reign over the Zulu nation in the 19th century. Being a row collector is potentially fatal business. should your cash be 20c short. three each from the next two rows. As such. Simply issue impossible ultimatums that you know cannot be met. the pay point was just past the Marianhill Toll Plaza. they are wont to use the most inopportune moments to blow oﬀ some steam. And the rule – from the AGM again? – is that the money must reach the driver in three lots: four fares from the back row. Woe unto those who send money forward to cover the fare for only two people! The immediate retort is standard: “I am not aware of any row with two people. Now the money is passed to the row collector in front of you.”) And God help you all should something unfortunate happen. you will have a lot to answer for. I must digress for a moment to explain some of the odd behaviour of taxi drivers. One of the tactics used to wage war is to be completely unreasonable towards your intended target. 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. Everybody knows the drill.” Now try to explain to him that the gentleman in the back seat has a co-traveller in the row in front of his and that row will give fares for four people… “NO! Ayize ngezihlalo!” (“I want the money row by row. for instance. And taxi drivers – who generally tend to be Zulu – use the taxi trip for these purposes. which I used to take almost every day as a teenager. Sir Theophilus Shepstone pulled this trick on King Cetshwayo ahead of the Battle Of Isandlwana. 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. 72 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . there must be a row collector – the person in your row who must collect the cash from those sitting alongside. who passes it on until it gets to the driver.* Each taxi route has a point at which everybody just knows it’s time to pay up. Was there an Annual General Meeting where the points were decided? For the MpumalangaTownship-to-Durban route. You see. I always used to wonder how these pay points were agreed to.
300 decibels – never mind the scream of the engine. You cannot tell him where you are getting oﬀ too early – “too early” Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 73 . you need to be on your toes. ill fortune may strike and there will be a 50c shortage in the total fare. 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. Communicating where you are getting oﬀ is not a simple matter of pressing a bell like you would in a bus. Meanwhile. 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. So we return to our journey from hell. he narrows his eyes. then utters the feared words. my prospective employers in Durban are shaking their heads thinking. 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. At this point. Now you are parked on the side of the N3 in the yellow strip having a forensic audit on where the elusive coin might have disappeared to. “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. This is tantamount to an admission of guilt in the eyes of the genius who is transporting you.in December 1878 – and the Zulu nation seems to have learnt the lesson. 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. At this point. nicabanga ukuthi nihlakaniphile? Ngiphindela nani e-lenke!” (“So. Now. Should the collective ancestors of you and your fellow occupants desert you while you are in the Taxi Warrior’s death trap. “Hho. 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. Bad move. no amount of reasoning or logic is going to save you from the inevitability of the Rank Tribunal. there are four basic rules to telling the driver where you are getting oﬀ: 1. No siree. The Mystery Of The Missing Fifty Cents must be solved by the rank’s Committee Of Wise Men.50 – after about 45 minutes.
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. 100 per cent humidity heatwave.being at the subjective discretion of the death-mobile pilot. of course. there are more rules about taxi commuting to enhance the experience. (“Are you mad? I can’t stop now!”) 3. 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. (“You told me too early. even if Durban is experiencing a mid-February 41°C. (“Do I look fucking deaf to you?!”) If you are lucky. nobody except the pilot is allowed to open the windows. on the same list as the nipples-on-men mystery. A well-timed backhand to my lips put paid to any thoughts of slumber. Here’s another favourite rule of mine: the no-sleeping-in-the-taxi law. 17 kilometres earlier. On one of the few occasions that I wasn’t in my back-row seat. I was sitting in the front alongside the driver when I dozed oﬀ. this is one of life’s many riddles. he will drop you oﬀ three stops after the one you wanted to disembark at and you’ll have to backtrack the length of three rugby ﬁelds. This is unequivocally ludicrous. (“How the hell am I supposed to hear you when you whisper?”) 4. One of my favourites is the fact that. You cannot speak too softly. how in the hell is a mother of ﬁve who had to be up at 3. I forgot. As annoyed as I may have been at the time.”) 2.” What can possibly go wrong as one slides open a window? For me. You cannot tell him too late either. the God of taxi commuters everywhere is a living God. And. with bullets of sweat rolling down my face.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 reason for this rule? “You passengers cannot operate the windows. In the case of long-distance taxi trips you may have to take another taxi to backtrack to the town you were going to. struggling to breathe. You cannot shout too loudly. a God of 74 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .
giggling his ass oﬀ. Ah. it was a downright ass-whuppin’ of titanic proportions. 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 massacre! Our driver managed only one wild swing. When both cars came to a screeching halt at the lights. but that day the God of Retribution was clearly patrolling the stretch of the M13 between Field’s Hill and Pinetown. giving as well as he was getting until the cars got to the traﬃc lights entering Pinetown. a scrawny little man with a big head was suspended between two giant thighs. But sometimes the living God strikes back in far more spectacular fashion. No. which was deftly sidestepped. About 15 years ago. before a well-placed punch was planted in his solar plexus. The God of commuters has struck back on their behalf. almost running it oﬀ the road.) He was still smirking when he got bored with the monotony of the trip and willy-nilly changed lanes – as usual. two red-faced white guys spilled out of the vehicle and honed in on our man. Often you will see amused or even gleeful faces in the taxi. As blow upon blow rained upon his face. I don’t know.Justice and Retribution. The next time you see a taxi being written up by a traﬃc oﬃcer. I was instructed to spit the sweet out of the window and take the wrapper from my pocket and throw it out too. I was in a taxi travelling between Mpumalanga Township and Pinetown. How he’d seen this happening from his spot up front. they don’t. without indicating – causing the car abreast of him to swerve violently. study the faces of the passengers. dragging him out of the taxi. Some moments are not as dramatic as others. People who have never used taxis assume that the passengers sympathise with their pilot.500 ﬁne for driving with smooth tyres. because every regular taxi commuter has experienced those moments of comeuppance when the lords of the road are humbled. The oﬀended party consisted of two men in an old red Ford Escort. There was a verbal confrontation with lots of impolite gestures and our pilot in ﬁne vocal nick. After that. (Though his in-taxi vigilance might explain why he was swerving all over the road the rest of the time. It would seem that Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 75 . such as when the driver is pulled over by the cops and given a R1. Our driver had picked on the wrong car to mess with.
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. Perhaps it is sheer coincidence. “This one was for you. 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. No more! Never! They will never take me alive! 76 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . one of them spotted something stuck to his windscreen wiper. looked at his swollen face in the mirror. years later.our God was not without an advanced sense of irony that day. removed it. No more dying in the heat. No more row collector. “Hhayibo. but a man can always dream. imagining that the driver’s lips were forever sealed that day. And then the little man from 15 years before giggles himself silly again. because as the men walked back to their car. No more rules from an AGM I wasn’t invited to. these Boers can whip ass!”) That literally brought the whole house down – without even a peep from our tormentor. My Smoothies sweet wrapper! I took it as a sign from above: God’s way of saying. It is highly unlikely.” (“Damn. but each time I see him he is dead silent.” And then I laugh some more. anesibhaxu nanka amaBhunu. Say it with me: No more back-row sitting between hippo hips.50. No more Mahotella Queens screaming in my ear. I still see the same taxi driver taking passengers from point A to point B. Sometimes when I drive around Pinetown. with a faraway glazed look in his eye. Even if it meant stealing a ride and a potential encounter with Godoba. The deathly silence was broken by a voice inside the taxi. I would not be subjected to any more of that abuse. No more Rank Tribunal.” Stiﬀ-lipped – literally – the wounded warrior got back into the taxi. little man. never to torment any passenger again. wiped oﬀ the blood from his nosebleed and started the car. Order had been restored. rolled it into a ball and threw it at their victim. I know. All was well with the world. when I could ﬁrst string together a little more than R3.
Taxi Commuting: An Experience From Hell 77 .
God bless the black woman (Oh boy…) .
so I’ll just say it on behalf of us all. I had exactly the same question in my mind when I ﬁnally did get hitched for real 27 years later. An unscrupulous lieutenant leaked his secret to his queen back in Egypt and. During Holy Mass. On his way back. brother. I fear black women. Bravado usually prevents us from admitting this. I’ve been studying it since I had my ﬁrst crush. But our hero was under 80 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . my great love for black women had been born. 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. I used to ogle a woman who must have been in her twenties. 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. hooked up with some licentious Greek hussies and fathered a few dozen kids during a drunken orgy. as all black men do. There is nothing in the world I fear more than a black woman on the warpath. A black woman. and fantasise about marrying her. rather than face her wrath. otherwise they’d know that the motivation to build such colossal structures can come from only one source. Of course. Today. Some Egyptian Pharaoh dude back in 2645bc went out to war to conquer a few primitive tribes up in Europe and plunder valuable treasures. Those Egyptologists obviously don’t get out much. 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. For one. Exactly what would happen after we got married was a bit fuzzy… Perhaps I’d then go outside and play? (Coincidentally.s soon as the idea occurred to me that perhaps. the black female of the species is a species all on its own. he made a detour through Greece. I should jot down a few of my observations on the idiosyncrasies and peculiarities of its behaviour.) Either way. I knew I was in trouble. at the age of ﬁve. it happened in church. our Pharaoh decided to get something special on his way home. after three decades of studying the black female of the species.
My grannies. intelligent. this is payback time for all those episodes when bossy black women have belittled my African manhood. my mom. 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. It is. Forget whale watching. therefore. before we all start hugging and praise-singing.30am and I was told to talk to the hand.” At the core of this Sandton Brigade’s antics is a simple explanation. The obligatory posse of big-chested government ministers with double-barrelled surnames was there. It says. For example. my sisters. I need to add a but. All my life I’ve been surrounded by strong. They emit a distinct aura. And more recently my wife. Somizi Mhlongo was there… It was horrible. And black women being God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 81 . with their townhouses. They really are. my cousins. my aunts. Women in general tend to take themselves way too seriously. Blackwoman watching is a far more fascinating hobby. “I wouldn’t be caught dead at a Red Hanger Sale. drinking red wine by the glass. 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. with much fear and trepidation that I venture into these shark-infested waters. Masechaba Moshoeshoe from The Big Question was there. resilient and beautiful black women. So why all the trouble of writing this? Well. Kuli Roberts of Bitches Brew notoriety was there. Last night I dreamt that Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu invited me to the 3Talk studios under the guise of discussing this book. she let loose on me an assortment of angry black women from all walks of life. I’ve been having nightmares about this piece. snazzy hatchbacks and hair extensions. check out the newly arrived Black Diamonds. 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. But black women are funny. my colleagues. Five minutes into the show.a bit more pressure. But. So he built a few pyramids on his way back home. All in fear of the black woman.
Black women are the epitome of what I think the previous generations struggled so hard for. so they can look “ﬂy” for an important meeting. (So you know that whole apartheid thingy never stood a chance. no truck limping along. but you can’t forget that expression. So you follow suit and break yet another traﬃc law. But you’re crawling along at 78km/h for some unfathomable reason. You’ve all experienced this. on the inside lane. That’s right. “I don’t know how this damn thing works. they never do anything in half measures. And you can see three kilometres ahead of you and there’s no obstruction on the road – no accident. even if it means they have to take up 71 directorships to secure a future for their children. too. I’m done with trying 82 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . 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.52am. three sizes too big and tied with a safety pin. Her hair is tied up in a neat hair-extension ponytail and her face is a study in concentration. Everyone in front of you is indicating left to get around whatever seems to be the hold-up. 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. After decades of being oppressed on two fronts – for being female and for being black – I’d probably take myself too seriously. You only have two seconds to study her as you whizz past (hooting loudly).) The result is that my sisters take themselves way too seriously and they never back down. And the engine is wailing in high-pitched agony – because she’s still in third gear. 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. The word “tenacity” always comes to mind on the highway as I overtake one of my sisters. We black people are extremists in everything we do. Nothing stands in the way of their success. it’s one of my sisters. I like that. you’d think. Which is about right.black. Her lips are pressed ﬁrmly together and her face says. surely? It’s 7. 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.
have the sisters embraced the newly found aﬄuence that comes with being part of the emerging black middle class. such as. Why? The place is chaotic. ﬁlthy and “there’s too much crime”. 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. it’s black women. We men are too busy with our boardroom wars. And boy. that’s your history right there! With aﬄuence comes lifestyle diseases. you best believe the sister is joining that group of white women for a weekend of rock climbing and jumping out of aeroplanes. happened to mention that she doesn’t actually need any pills. I always get a warm glow in my chest when I see this. And after a while it hit me: these women aren’t complaining. a recent arrival on the scene. They are only interested in practical questions. I was recently sitting around a table with a few sisters and the conversation was about all the ailments they have: the sinusitis. they’re bragging about who pops the most pills! Some poor girl. Black women have no time for that nonsense. And my oh my. are my sisters popping pills these days. the mild depression. hollow chest thumping and trying to score cheap points. The looks she got were a mixture of pity and scorn. This morning probably.” It was God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 83 . overtake on my left and let me be. My brothers and I will mumble something about a dead relative and head for Soweto in search of 17-year-old schoolgirls. Professional black men might live in the suburbs but you know they’re heading for the township when the weekend comes. Our sisters have no business there.” We’ve all witnessed this scene. I’m going to work to be somebody. “But I do get stress headaches occasionally. They have truly moved on and up. the migraines and so on. I know a woman whose folks live in an East Rand township and she will never go there to visit.to work out the gears and I’ll be damned if I’m going to try to change lanes. If you don’t like my driving. “You’re new to this. “Will this enhance my chances of that promotion?” If the answer is yes. My tenacious sisters! My Nubian queens! If ever there’s a group in this land that has truly embraced the new dispensation. sister. Come on. aren’t you?” they all seemed to be asking. The girl felt so bad that she hastily added.
east of Essenwood Road. Still. Just before I quit my corporate desk job. then. how may I–?” “Is this Miss Newman’s phone?” “No… Er.” “I’m afraid she doesn’t work here any more. I was trying to establish whether you were calling about [brand X]. Call me a sellout – if the shoe ﬁts – but 84 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I just need to talk to Miss Newman. The horror! Because I’m an idiot with a death wish. The background to it is that my phone extension used to belong to a brand manager who had left the business. I had the following conversation on the phone. But if it’s a private matter. the reason I ask is because she…” “Listen. “close to the Technikon”. when in fact they live in lower Glenwood.” “You misunderstand. It’s our fault. the Prozac bit happened only in my head. I have an acute appreciation for why black women sometimes cross the blurry line between “assertive” and just downright rude. I’ll say this: sometimes black women piss me oﬀ. Bhuti. Are you on Prozac or some other shit like that?” Okay. The thing is. it’s all because of my brothers and me. but the rest is true. her unsophisticated status had been established.too late. then I can give you her mobile number. can I or can’t I talk to her? I really do not have the time for this. “Good morning. in which case I would transfer you to the new brand manager. Hello.” “Oh! Give me her mobile number. Depending on whether you’re calling about…” “Why didn’t you say so upfront?” “Sorry. 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. it’s beautiful to behold the hushed tones as they discuss someone who actually buys vegetables from the fresh-produce market.” “Most certainly. though. Durban. 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.
As she should. But as is the nature of any pendulum. even if they’re just getting some groceries from Woolies or picking up their prescriptions. it is. Just this past weekend a mate of mine and I decided to have a few draughts and watch the ships go by at a Durban harbour spot. I 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. The security guard at the gate of her townhouse complex. she hadn’t God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 85 . After waiting for a good ten minutes without getting any attention. Recently. In this case. past the ﬁrm-assertiveness mark. Could she kindly alert whoever was working our section to our presence? “Mostly certainly. But it’s understandable – really. Short of a casual. Black women have to ward oﬀ predatory advances every moment of the day. we waved down a white waitress who was clearly not serving our section. With a sinking feeling. looking good. And so the rude black woman is a monster of our collective creation that is now coming back to terrorise us. The petrol attendant when she ﬁlls up. when I delicately put it to my wife – who is fervently feminist. it can sometimes swing too far in the other direction. she shocked me by admitting that she does the same. disinterested glance. I understand that black women perpetually have to assert themselves – especially in the business setting. My jaw almost hit the ﬂoor. depending on her willingness to give him her “digits”. The traﬃc oﬃcer who gives her a ticket or not. Can I take your drinks order in the meantime. our women do not have the luxury of being indiscriminately pleasant to people in general. sir. I realised she was heading straight towards one of our sisters.black women cannot enjoy the luxury of going out anywhere. so that you don’t wait any longer?” And oﬀ she went. who had been leaning against the bar counter the whole time we were there. just as Dr Frankenstein’s did. As a result of our own despicable behaviour. 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. But she is a monster nonetheless. without being hit on by an assortment of oddball characters.
please. Cue clicking mouth sound and slow.” Okay.” “I’m certain she did. She said Castle Lager. It really doesn’t matter. without so much as an “Afternoon. No reaction. Could I just have a Castle Lite. I was told you ordered Castle Lager. surly shuﬄe towards us. not a Castle Lager. I was in the kind of good mood that can only be brought about by an ice-cold in-ﬂight beverage. “No. 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.” “And would you mind opening them for us…” My idiot friend chipping in. She reached our table and. Excuse me!” “Ja?” “There’s been a mix up. produced my driver’s licence and told her my name. We ordered a Heineken and a Castle Lite.” “That’s impossible. plonked down two unopened beers and two glass tumblers and started walking oﬀ.” “Honest mistake. I cheerfully greeted her. I speciﬁ–” “Well. 86 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . what’s with the name-calling? My good mood already disappearing. maybe you didn’t hear properly.” “That’s not what I was told. It doesn’t matter…” “No. “Er. She didn’t even look up and started punching furiously on her keyboard. The white waitress whispered something to her and pointed in our direction. Then. I’d be picking it up on the system. Baba. excuse me. still without looking up: “There’s no booking in that name. I heard very well. no! Bring it unopened!” Me. Then she slowly lumbered up to the bar and stood there – no. If there had been a booking. drinks in hand.looked in our direction the whole time. gentlemen”. What seemed like an eternity passed. slouched over the counter – while the young bartender sprung into action. And then came the slow. it is possible. No movement. with visions of waitress spit mixed in with the beer froth.
Oh sweet Yolanda. I’d rather just book another car using my personal credit card. just a few minutes ago. punched in the reference number and frowned. There must be a mistake somewhere. ﬁshed out a print-out with the conﬁrmation details from the travel agency and victoriously gave it to her.” Finally Yolanda emerged from the back and I explained my dilemma while she listened to me patiently.30 in the evening. She typed in the reference number. it seems that your travel agency has made a mistake.I ﬁddled in my bag. she took my e-mail print-out. I want to serve di-khastama. “No. been the source of my good mood started pressing other buttons. The booking was made and then cancelled.” “Not until I have been served. working girl.” Well done. but if you wait for about 10 minutes I think I can organise something for you. I’m still not picking it up on the system. “Ma’am. speak to a Zulu guy from Durban in Sesotho! “Tell you what. Do you mind standing aside? Next!” At this point the beer that had. right now!” “Yolanda. casting “Backstabber!” glances at Yolanda.” By this stage she’s looking at me for the ﬁrst time – no. Then her face relaxed and she smiled at me. I suggest you call your travel agency and clear this up. God Bless The Black Woman (Oh Boy…) 87 . Their oﬃce hours are eight to ﬁve. “Now listen here! I insist on speaking to whoever’s in charge. it’s 7. this gentlemen o batla o bua le wena! Now stand aside. sizing me up is a more apt description – and tapping her pen against the counter impatiently. Can I speak to whoever is in charge here?” “What for? She’ll give you the same answer. Baba. perhaps?” All the while Purple Eyelids glared at me with ﬂaring nostrils. When I was done.” “Baba. you professional. Would you like anything while you wait? Tea. Ke mafello a kgwedi. her purple eyelids blinking 17 times a second. We’re quite busy. Baba. a re na dikoloi. coﬀee or some water. “Sir. sorry.
Honestly. Nothing more. Sometimes. strong. I’m tired of trying to walk the tightrope between being standoﬃsh and being too forward with black females. am I not? Sometimes. beautiful. soulful and intelligent woman. Just don’t give me attitude. all I want is my boarding ticket so I can go sit at McGinty’s and take the edge oﬀ after a trying day. And I’m shaking in my boots just thinking what she’ll say when she reads this. assertive black woman but damn it. It’s a lose-lose situation. nothing less. Much smarter than I am. 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. slap my credit card down. all I want is some courtesy. you are a strong. I have no delusions of ever fathering any of your oﬀspring. hell you don’t have to smile or look like you want to be here. I have no interest in your luscious. God bless the black woman. I’d like to simply walk up to the counter. I really am. Pretty please with Castle on top. 88 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . You don’t have to be nice. I just want my steak knife. I’m just too exhausted to expend my last ounce of energy performing the balancing act between arrogant aloofness and courteous engagement. After all. I love black women. 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.* I’m tired of this. curvaceous African behind. Because I get attitude when I try to be friendly and I get attitude when I try to be all business. truth be told. I’m married to one and I would make the same choice 1. Unlike that fat pig you served in the morning. I’d like to be able to do what I do when a 54-year-old Afrikaner tannie is behind the counter. For once. bark my surname and get some service. Yes. I’m the freaking customer here. I just want peace and quiet. She’s a dark.000 times over.
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 .
the better. and ride on their backs yelling. How we feel about things is just a factor of what we know and what we don’t know. At least. because I really had a happy childhood. especially our childhoods. your previously disadvantaged status is questionable. I blame Sigmund Freud for all this nonsense. Now don’t get me wrong. Still. but the more pain we had. we have caught on to the idea that everything can be blamed on our pasts. Apparently. unless you’re regularly seeing a shrink to work through “the pain of growing up under the brutality of apartheid”. Why can’t people just be a bit fucked up and deal with it? Of course. “Yee-ha! This one’s for my people in the ghetto!” So you know I’m all for that angle. I guess you could call my happy childhood an illusion of a happy childhood. Perhaps I just didn’t know any better. Worked like a charm. Now. black people being black people. And as we have established. 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. it’s just abnormal for anyone to have had a happy childhood these days.I 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. we don’t do things in half measures. I used it to good eﬀect to lure gullible white women to my bed as a young man. I feel that way each time I have 92 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . This is true so often. The apartheid-brutalised-me angle is a good angle – a fruitful angle. I cannot help but wonder if there’s anything wrong with me. It has come to my attention that this makes me a one-in-a-billion individual. they’d let me wear a Stetson hat and boots. of course it is! Don’t be ridiculous. especially on naive university chicks. to help ease the pain of the apartheid brutality that I suﬀered. Sometimes. Personally. I am personally happy to admit that I’m an extraordinarily ignorant person. And just in case anyone thinks I’m suggesting for a moment that this pain is not real. Practically everybody I know has repressed issues from their formative years that they need to work through. my people and I are rather extreme in everything we do. whether it’s working hard or partying hard. Apparently. Let me put it this way: when I was growing up I saw nothing wrong with my life.
my childhood in a poor township neighbourhood was anything but blissfully happy. And if he’s not making revolting sounds. in fact. I’m sitting writing this in my TV room with my two-year-old. I was happy. I’d still wonder just how “real” this retrospective unhappy childhood was. it might lead to My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 93 . Even if I were to emerge from the session convinced that my childhood had. she’d probably pull some fancy psychology tricks to convince me that. Thirty-odd years ago. (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 wonder about these things. no doubt. I’m not. He has that nasty thumb-sucking habit going on. When I look at my kids. If I had to go see a shrink.conversations with other people. at the moment he’s enjoying sucking both thumbs loudly. The same goes for my childhood. Other people seem to be extremely certain about things in general. Raising children today is a complicated matter. at the same time. I’m bombarded with messages – blunt or subliminal – to the eﬀect that kids are extraordinarily fragile beings. indeed. been painful and unhappy. Every direction I turn. he’s grabbing my hand. when I was his age. Ignorance was bliss. 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 never gave too much thought to opening a can of food or a packet of chips and popping the contents into my mouth. How I feel about food now is very diﬀerent from what I felt before. I would never have been able to get away with assaulting my dad as he sat at his table with his music manuscripts. until I worked as an R&D technologist in a food-processing plant. These days I always have a moment of pause before I eat anything. My dad reserved the God-given right to roundhouse kick me in the chest if I messed with his song-writing process. I’d still be a bit sceptical. it gave me the illusion of safety. For instance. 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 have not been able to write more than two sentences without being distracted by his slurping noises. Growing up. smearing me with drool and slapping me in the eye.
during which I amassed an appalling 3–347 record. I started brazenly ﬂouting the rules – like the rule that said we had to be inside the house by dusk. I was in high spirits. As a matter of fact. I breathed a sigh of relief in the belief that I was oﬀ the hook. By township standards. I was. And I don’t want my son visualising my face as he punches a pillow in a futuristic shrink’s oﬃce. But it was just a part of my life. Silly little boy. Kids were fed. given some rags and told to go play outside. my dad only ever laid his hand on my puny little ass once. catching up on my television viewing. I started testing his resolve. my folks were doing quite well. Yes. But after seven years of idle threats I got bolder. 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. I grew up in a Zulu household. Nothing weird there. These days we’re not supposed to touch our kids. Up until that point. that’s three victories and 347 losses. My three brothers and I shared a bedroom with a distant aunt. But don’t get me wrong and think he brutally beat us up on a daily basis. but nobody slept in the kitchen. I was worried he might take the rejection of his regurgitation as a rejection of himself as a person.lengthy therapy sessions for him 30 years from now. This particular Friday I decided to spend my evening from 7pm to 8pm standing on a crate outside a neighbour’s house watching that brilliant Western series The High Chaparral through the window. I don’t know about this. My dad employed the good old-fashioned fear factor to keep us in check. That’s how everybody else I knew lived. Excuse me while I go puke. My dad asked me where I’d been and I casually told him I had been at the Khumalos’. I was seven years old. We ate three times a day. Sometimes the whole aﬀair degenerated into outright ﬁst ﬁghts. As I entered my house about ten minutes after it ﬁnished. he had always merely admonished me and made cold threats of hell to pay if I didn’t follow his rules. He then told me to go into the bathroom and wash my behind. Just once. As the blows rained down on me in the conﬁnes of our tiny poor excuse for 94 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . 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. I was imagining that I was Manolito shooting through an army of Red Injuns.
sons and dads are supposed to have tight relationships. Dof. had given me a beating that was going to have a lifetime eﬀect on me. The beating must have lasted only about a minute or so but it felt more like ten hours. My dad and I did a lot of father-son things together. the ﬁrst and last time my dad ever laid a hand on me. He taught me how to drive in his 1980 Mazda 323 when I was 13. I still do. politically correct types reading this will be frowning and shaking their heads in pity right now. Sure – in a Hollywood movie. My dad. He took us to Nagle Dam for picnics. I feared the man more than Schabir Shaik fears an actual jail cell. At least it felt that way to me. I had never known naked fear. Black people know the look. But the illusion worked. He told me not to do those things and I knew that if I avoided doing those things. And as a matter of fact. My dad beat me to within an inch of my life. That was 1979. in his wisdom. And the reason I never did drugs or impregnated half the ﬂoozies in my neighbourhood was because of that beating. only using a leather belt and not a panga. Up until that point. He was. hug a lot and say “I love you” on the phone. We watched John Tate moer Gerrie Coetzee together. It says. “Leave that ho alone and come back home. I’d avoid another ass-whuppin’. My dad would catch me standing with a horny little thang and just give me the look. After all. it was clearly only an illusion of a near-death experience. We watched Muhammad Ali retain his heavyweight title for the third time against Leon Spinks together. He taught me about girls and that I mustn’t “get the drop or pubic lice”. I edged much closer to my Maker than at any other point in my life before or since. Its eﬀects have lasted almost 30 years now. And then my father coldly left the bathroom and it was over. I came back from school to ﬁnd that he had bought us a TV set of our own. Things like me wheeling away weeds after he was done weeding the garden. Looking back. From that day onwards. Now!” The normal teenager experience of coping with venereal diseases (as they My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 95 . That’s right: fear. But I feared the man. The following Monday afternoon. That beatdown he gave me was as good as it gets. Like me handing him the spanners as he ﬁxed the car. aren’t they? They’re supposed to play ball in the park. He’s turning 67 this year and I still jump when he calls my name. It just sounds wrong hearing how a son feared his own father.a bathroom. after all.
Kids need to know that you own their little asses right up until they’re 21.” I want my kids to have the same kind of childhood as me. in your house. I shall judiciously mete out savage beatings on their little backsides. buddy. Seven beautiful years. Don’t be silly. He must believe that this is a possibility the moment he decides to cross the line. The little man. Admittedly. But that’s a chance I’m willing to take. my dad saved me from possible castration and life as a eunuch. And as a result. No backchat or skulking about. He must have been about ﬁve at the time.were called then) was unknown to me as a direct result of that look. “If he almost killed me for watching a wholesome TV show. gets the fear of God in his eyes when I bark at him to go tidy his room. 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 . there is an inherent danger in my approach. with every ﬁbre of his being. but I doubt it will have much eﬀect on a rebellious 17-yearold if you don’t have anything to back it up. In my subconscious mind. Perhaps. I must have been thinking. Still. That’s what kids need. Dad. he just does it. I want them to avoid STDs and criminal activities. I’d probably opt for a sjambok. So in essence. Of course. So that ass-kicking has served my purposes for seven years already. That beating was also the reason I never got mixed up in crime. it’s very important that he believes. Good luck. I have only ever had to show my 12-year-old who’s boss once in his life. That shit might work like a charm with a Chihuahua. 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 . Especially in this MTV era. A teenaged son needs to be under no illusions about your willingness to bust his skull open with a metal pipe. It was only after I left home to study at university that I had my ﬁrst experience with the dreaded “drop”. I’m sure it saved me from many cases of gonorrhoea. imagine what he will do to me if I’m caught with da herb or arrested for slapping a ho. Thanks. bless his soul. I want them to be happy. Or pepper spray. drugs or gangsterism. My kids might just grow up to hate me. I would never actually beat my son with a metal pipe. you believe in that “stern voice command” being touted by the pop media.
my natural inclination is to give kids what they want – especially when they’re two years old. that’s enough. 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.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. In fact. my wife is in charge in my house. You see. And I want them to tap into that fear My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 97 . When a sweaty. The problem comes with the implementation of this brilliant plan. the wife is a good ally to have. Of course. dear. The wife is supposed to be more empathetic than the husband to kids’ whining and selﬁsh carrying on. “Okay. wives and husbands have to get the goodcop-bad-cop routine down.” But sometimes the problem is the man. and savagely beating them up later in life. In order for there to be balance. angry African men don’t like to be told. heartless Cruella. podgy little softie. So she had her way. angry African man is strangling his rebellious son in the bathroom. I’m so soft with him. For now. deep down inside I’m really just a nice guy. 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. 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. the vicious. So it seems I exist solely for the purposes of trying to feed my kids whisky when they’re two years old. Fortunately. The reason being that each household has a serpent with a mutinous streak. As a result. Sweaty. I’m really just a short. Otherwise the whole thing doesn’t work. I try to act tough but I’m far from it. But it’s for their own good. That’s right: the goddamned woman. I want them to fear me. 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. a wife is supposed to stay out of it. Ninety-nine per cent of the time. I’m the guy he can spit on and whose eyes he can gouge out. 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.
I want my kids to know that if they contract AIDS. I will kill them before the AIDS does. he called me to the front and beat me up. So he fucked us up to instil the fear of God into us. each time he came into the class and saw me. My best friend Siﬁso and I just happened to be the top two students in the class and we had a strong competitive streak. “What happened to the one per cent?” Right up until university. I panicked. We used to have a race to see who would ﬁnish ﬁrst and get the higher marks. fearless kids who’ve never had a hand laid on them in anger shove white powder in their faces in nightclubs. I got 99 per cent… Mr Mtshali took our class for ﬁve of the ten subjects we were doing that year. it was not enough who got the higher marks. The answer to the last problem was –2. I want my kids to want to try the white powder. Or to read over my exam answers. He regularly beat me as if the 16 Days Of Activism had expired the day before. As a result. Beat me up. but because they fear for their lives should they catch AIDS. rip out the drip from their forearms and beat them to death. when I got to the last sum and saw him busy underlining answers. It was a Friday and we duly wrote our weekly test to determine who was the top student that week – a maths test. Not beat me. But he also understood that being a good teacher was not enough. Not because they “love life”. Thank you. My Standard 5 class teacher was Mr Mtshali. So instead of obtaining 100 per cent. Mr Mtshali. I never forgot to put a minus sign in front of a negative number.when your unruly. The man was a good teacher. Should their hormones get the better of them and they give in to their lust and tap some ass. And he kept on asking me. I want them to have the presence of mind to wear a condom. That’s right: I’ll charge into the hospital. 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 . But I want them to be so fearful of my wrath that they’ll have to respectfully decline. Between the two of us. but in my haste to beat him I wrote 2. That day. Snotty-faced 11-yearolds are generally not very impressed by excellent teaching methods and all that nonsense. I remember one particular day like it was yesterday – and it was all of 24 years ago. That man gave me more beatings than Tina got from Ike.
I’m not an unreasonable. Let’s see how many zit-faced little thugs with low-hanging pants will show up to school without homework.our schools. Essentially. I tell you. But back to my house. I love them too much. I’ll take my punishment like a man. it’s cool.356 by now and Charles Taylor would still be chopping oﬀ hands across West Africa. 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. When we misbehaved back in high school. brutal force on my oﬀspring. Sending 12-year-olds to the naughty corner doesn’t work. I always shake my head sadly. Threats need to be backed up. But I’ll still kick their backsides to straighten them up – hopefully only once or twice in their lives. Otherwise they’re just threats. heartless man. But. I dare them – I double dare them. 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.567. she would have been far more eﬀective. The smell of blood in your nose has a way of modifying behaviour that no amount of being kicked out of class or detention can achieve. I would never use excessive. If any of my kids call that Childline number. Am I advocating child abuse? Hardly. It was a lot more fun than European history. If she’d just given us a well-aimed backhand. one of the silly nuns would send us out of the class to give us time out “to think about we’d done wrong”. But as soon as I take oﬀ them orange overalls. Otherwise we’d be on resolution #8. 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. It is the same principle that is applied in every other sphere of our lives. that meant staying outside while the lesson went on without you. I’m hoping that dof people would never read this. 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. The unwritten rule to every aspect of our existence is “Comply – or else”. My Kids Will Turn Out Better Than Yours 99 . That is why that congregation of feeble minds at the UN headquarters in New York formed the Security Council.
When he calls me on the phone and summons me home for the purpose of talking to me. Kids should live pure. Information Age know-it-alls. Kulula and 1time. I will open the door and my dad will be standing there with a leather belt. We pay our rates because we fear living in dark houses. I get on the net and take advantage of the war between Mango. We (mostly) don’t do crime because we fear the Scorpions and we fear jail time. Nationwide. 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. I don’t have a degree in Child Psychology. I cannot take the statistically improbable chance that the doorbell will ring. wholesome lives and get degrees and decent jobs because they fear the consequences of not toeing the line. so I don’t know any other way.* Fear. That kid was yours truly. We work so hard because we fear failure. That’s all a man can try to accomplish as a father. I didn’t go to Parenting School. Nowadays I live 600 kilometres from my dad. I always imagine that it would be a tad diﬃcult to explain the welts on my butt to my wife. 100 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . We drive at 119km/h on KZN highways because we fear Bheki Cele’s Gestapo. I don’t have the balls to ask him why. because we fear retiring without enough money. so I can’t outsmart these Googling.
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 .
) It is not an accident that there were exactly – he says. Sarel. it’s in the newspapers. This is not a matter of principle. if this is not a matter of principle. In fact. You’d think young black guns would turn down senior management positions with well-considered explanations: “It’s just not fair. forever. were to turn around and say. 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. (And if you’re a woman. let’s give preference to middle-aged white blokes”. So. blah. I think you deserve it more than I do. what would happen? I doubt there’d be any marches from that section of the population currently protesting the grave injustice. Every single day. aﬃrmative action has been with us since the 17th century. don’t we? Especially for a bunch as rainbowy as we’re supposed to be. blah.D amn! We all get excited about aﬃrmative action. as many would have us believe. So I’ll oversimplify matters and invite ridicule by displaying my notorious ignorance. on the radio. As usual.” But then again. There wouldn’t be too many recorded cases of white okes popping veins in their skulls screaming about reverse reverse racism. “We’ve had this aﬃrmative action thingy for black people long enough. I just don’t get it. Say. It is a matter of expediency. The whole thing seems to me to be rather simple. you’ve been around here from the days when Koornhof was upgrading us from Natives to Bantus. So am I saying that there is no noble and just principle inherent in the acceptance 104 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . reaching into his colon for a nice round ﬁgure – seven recorded sightings of black stockbrokers on the JSE before 1994. 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. After all. in their inﬁnite wisdom. perhaps we’re not as rainbowy as we like to think we are. Here goes. on TV – blah. 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 is it about then? It seems to me to be a simple case of South Africa’s favourite obsession: race.
Riiiiiiight. Or both. a few misguided.or rejection of the concept of aﬃrmative action? But of course not. We form our opinions emotionally and only rationalise them later. (Okay. employ exactly the same method. though. don’t be daft. conciliatory. Sir Isaac freaking Newton. it’s not hard to work out who supports what. there was this passing stupidity called apartheid. 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. But I will qualify my standpoint by noting that I try extremely hard to understand positions with which I violently disagree. 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. of course. Here’s my bash at what I understand to be the retarded rationale against aﬃrmative action. khaki-clad. proponents of AA tend to be black okes and the naysayers generally tend to be white okes. in a time that most forward-looking. Note. let me get this out of the way now: yes. okay. that these people are most likely to be those who are unaﬀected by aﬃrmative action or are rolling in the dough. Newton on crack but hey. Many moons ago. that people like me. This way. I’m just pointing out that. in 2007. ﬁnger-wagging individuals forced hard-working. there are a sprinkling of whiteys batting on the pro-AA side and a splash of black people who have reservations about it. honest and God-fearing white people to Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 105 . By pure coincidence. During this time. That’s why I’m such a fervent consumer of that irascible bullet-dodging Bullard’s weekly column. I’m a black man who has beneﬁted from aﬃrmative action. who think Robbie should be canonised for his great wisdom. rainbowy people have forgotten. I believe that we take sides in the AA debate using little but our viscera. When it comes to those poor guys just out trying to get a job.) And now it’s time for my notorious and often ignorant opinion to rear its ugly head again. 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. It goes without saying. so you were never going to win any prizes for guessing which way I leant. of course.
It seems that. it was just unfair. 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. At the same time. Ouch. It seemed the young man had somehow inadvertently/on purpose inserted his genitals into a jar of Marmite. I don’t. maybe slightly slow-witted people and make them run things? Of course. aren’t we shooting ourselves in the foot if we take incompetent. once upon a time. predictably. Sadly. ineﬃcient retards in senior positions who’ve been letting down their companies and country since this whole AA madness was instituted. Like swimming in the sea. Being an admitted AA beneﬁciary. All I have to oﬀer is my Marmite story. Can’t blame him – I would also be embarrassed to 106 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . The eggheads in various governmental departments have got that covered. indeed! The little Einstein decided against reporting the matter immediately and. inexperienced and possibly. The jar had then given under the tremendous pressure of his tremendous manhood and glass fragments had become lodged in his gonad sac. that last bit is generally the rallying cry and ultimate debate-ending rationalisation for why aﬃrmative action is a terrible idea – all the incompetent. the yeast in the product started a furious binary-ﬁssion session in that fertile environment. Let’s be honest.begrudgingly accept some privileges they hadn’t really asked for. 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. 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 wish I had a rebuttal to this undeniable. a bizarre tale involving either a disturbing wager or an extreme case of sexual starvation emerged. watertight logic. Ouch! On inquiring as to the root cause of this situation. going to the cinema and watching Naas dropping them three-pointers in shoulder pads at Loftus. non-murderous part of the world? Plus.
Such as all the Mzansi people who swear by Sunlight as their enema of choice. this is the picture that is emanating from numerous surveys about the patterns in the corporate world. this jar is not meant to be humped. 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. we laugh at such an idiotic course of action. 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.) And so what of our white. 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. Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 107 . I humbly submit. In the sane world. We can subsequently divide these people into two categories: the competent and those exhibiting the potential to become competent. however. 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. And only an idiot. This is a conciliatory “Let’s-all-hold-hands-andstop-the-jar-humping” piece.present my Marmite-jar-shagging little balls to the school nurse. thus forcing them to add a warning on the label in the future: while certainly sexually arousing. (Another brief tangent: throwing around terms like “competent” whenever the topic of AA comes up really crawls up my behind. After all. 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. 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. this would be a no-brainer. The question is. Sue the shit out of the Marmite-makers. 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. would want yummy Marmite oﬀ our shelves.
the face of the South African corporate still retains the same old cappuccino model: lots of dark coﬀee at the bottom. (For that reason. delicious chocolate ﬂakes at the top. don’t you? UCT in this context 108 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Good-looking white chicks from UCT with great hair and teeth (GWCs) 4. And before we get into a pointless you-show-me-your-stats-and-I’ll-show-you-mine waltz. Black guys from UCT of any height or looks as long as there’s a twang (BGTs) 5. bald white guys with crooked yellow teeth are out of the standard-bearer loop. I said it! The pecking order in the workplace nowadays is: 1. white cream and a sprinkling of chocolate ﬂakes on top. If the shoe ﬁts… If anything. whining about reverse racism and inadequate transformation respectively. the stats I’ve seen certainly seem to point to the fact that the face of senior management remains middle-aged and white. The status quo remains. the ability to shoot an AK-47 and recite the Freedom Charter is enough of a qualiﬁcation to balance a R300-million budget. white guy from UCT with a full set of hair and a set of straight. Tall white guys from UCT with great hair and good teeth (TWGs) 2. Bald. Your standard-bearer being the tall. Aﬃrmative action of yesteryear is still the pervasive form of aﬃrmative action. Or are people exaggerating a little bit?) From what I’ve seen. Good-looking black chicks from UCT with private-school accents (GBCs) 3. with those few shining. They remain at the bottom of the heap with short. let me move quickly away from there and talk about my own experience of this.right? Did someone just call me a sarcastic little sanctimonious twerp? Perhaps. white teeth. podgy black guys. podgy guys irrespective of colour (Don’t even have acronyms) And you know I’m right about the UCT thing. after all – my own personal experience of this situation. That’s what this is about. bald. if I am to believe the tales I’m told. the group being aﬃrmed is the traditional standard-bearer. There. there won’t be any reference to that other situation in our hallowed government departments where. Short. To this day.
You know they can see the lips moving. For the beneﬁt of the poor individuals who were cramming Biblical Studies instead (shame!). (Hehehe…) After about a year or so of walking through the corridors of a typical corporate. great hair and great teeth. creating spreadsheets that detail how many housewives complained that the chilli-ﬂavoured soup tasted chilli-ish that month. it’s quite funny watching the expressions of people as they listen to one of these okes make a point during meetings. the same pecking order is followed. In women. great hair and great teeth beat stubby. say. that’s when certain genetic characteristics tend to appear hand-in-hand in people. I’ve always likened it to the graveyard-shift radio presenter from a kak community station – Radio Kakamas. But no-one is tuned in to Radio Kakamas. I was the podgy guy doing it. You’ll see bemused yet sympathetic faces. It’s 4. Short. the tie-breaker is which one went to UCT. Pearls of wisdom about the greatness of General De La Rey are tumbling oﬀ his tongue.being the equivalent of the Ivy League in the US. everybody is getting jiggy on more auspicious stations Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 109 . That’s always the ﬁrst tie-breaker.15am and the poor guy is sweating bullets making some really good points. blonde hair and blue eyes. And in the event of a disagreement during a R20-million project. The podgy guys. and glazed expressions all around. For example. bald and porky black guys from the College Of Mediocrity with no twang have no chance at all. you cannot help but notice the correlation between the genes for tallness. they can hear the words – but they haven’t the faintest clue what the oke is on about. Or black skin and traditional weapons in their pants. if they’re lucky. I’m not making it up. and competence. These are the smartest individuals running industry in this land. This has happened to me many. No. you can throw in a great face and bits in the right places. bald and yellow teeth. Anybody who’s made it through Standard 9 Biology and paid attention knows about the phenomenon of linked genes. gesticulating wildly in the studio booth. are always stuck in the cubicle next to the elevator. In fact. In the event of a stalemate between two tall white guys with good hair and teeth. Tallness. many times. such a job really does exist.
taller and more gorgeous than you are. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Next thing you know people are looking at her diﬀerently and listening more attentively when she speaks. TWG : Well spotted there. 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. too. the myth is compounded: “We almost walked into that one blind before the Good-looking White Chick saved us from the ﬁre. I’ve been one of those guys. Not really. the standard is exactly that: the standard. I’ve had this happen to me during a meeting: TWG : Whatever happens. and the workplace is not spared. I know the feeling.such as Radio Sonder Grense. That’s when you see a twangless. we must take our business out of X. In South Africa’s modern corporate world. She is. 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’ve been there. Your ideas are. Me : Are we clear what the contractual notice period with them is? GWC : Yeah. Why couldn’t you have come up with that gem about checking contractual obligations? And you’ve got to know your place. And it’s nobody’s fault. And you are just a twangless guy from College Middle-Of-Nowhere. 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 .” Anyone who has ever worked in the corporate world knows the pattern. And I just sit there with my jaw on the ﬂoor. googlies and inswingers. in any case. after all. The standard-bearers tend to stick together – and reject the inferior classes below them. And in every subsequent meeting from then onwards. There’s a certain herd mentality that permeates throughout society generally. We’re having Legal check the contract. It’s just that… well. you’re right. That’s when you realise that standard-bearing is not rooted in rabid racism. Well done. The myth is entrenched and the halo around her head is starting to get a downright saintly glow. GWC. stumpy black guy looking like a sausage in Action Cricket regalia trying to make sense of yorkers. let’s admit it. just crap. GWC. We don’t want to stray outside the law.
It’s a fact. And while there are the occasional glowing exceptions who do this. too. We intuitively. from UCT or thereabouts. I hope you remember my moronic rant. we should be doing the rationalising before we reach an opinion. the fact that the rest of us don’t is a rule to remember. Make up your own damn mind. white guy with great hair. always leads to the same response. you realise that speaking up at that diversity workshop wasn’t such a good idea. But if you’re a tall. despite our best intentions. viscerally form opinions about people and things. 13 years already? And then. wit ous tend to think other wit ous are smart and everybody else is a nitwit until they prove themselves. and you are looking to ﬁll a position that AA regulations insist must go to a black oke. black okes hang out with other black okes and marry black chicks. Or of talking knowledgeably about the propensity of a cricket pitch to break up on the ﬁfth day of a test match. are these guys going to keep on whining and whingeing for ever? Hasn’t it been long enough – it’s been like. In case you haven’t worked it out yet. The ability to understand the intricacies of a scrum is genetically linked to the ability to know when Legal should be contacted. Pointing out these things. Time to shut up and look for opportunities to wear tight-ﬁtting Action Cricket gear. Black guys are exactly the same (unless they’ve been brainwashed into believing that they are worthless – but that’s for another time…). We suﬀer from a condition that professional mindfuckers – sometimes known as psychiatrists – like to call cognitive dissonance. because nobody wants to come across as a bloody whinger. maybe not. as a rule. Don’t mess with what’s worked for 300 years. There’s no point in just going through the motions “because legislation says I must”. however tongue-in-cheek you are. And so because of where we come from. Casually dropping into a conversation that you just got yourself scuba-diving gear helps.the technical subtleties of a rugby scrum or lineout. Remember that you are a member of the human race. Ditto Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 111 . what. That’s just how it is. we creatively come up with our own “rational facts” that favour our internalised positions. When challenged with any rational facts that are in conﬂict with our entrenched opinions. Jeez. Then we internalise those opinions. So is there a point to any of this then? Maybe. That’s why.
the wit ous. If you want to conjure up an image of the demographics in the year 2107. You can ﬁght it. 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. Prada-clad. So break free of the cognitive-dissonance mould. if it makes you feel better. The current lot at the Union Buildings are a bunch of misguided. 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. This drought-ridden yet beautiful wasteland we call home will be 100 per cent coloured in a hundred years anyway. remember – and there is no recorded evidence of the persuasive approach working anywhere in changing people’s hearts. If you do that. think Mitchell’s Plain. Look at us still debating this issue 13 years on. paying a guy money so he can talk to himself on the graveyard shift on Radio Kakamas. You can have an angry. (That’s another real job. as I like to put it. AA is here. no amount of persuasion is going to change the natural course of events. You’re just another jar-humping TWG or GWC. And it’s why we need to start breaking free of the mould and challenging what we believe intuitively without much thought. Live with it. There just might be a little diamond in what you perceive to be a piece of dung. or you can try to make it work. We’re human beings. Believe me.) Or. Just tune in. Look at it this way. ﬁnger-wagging individuals hellbent on imposing this aﬃrmative-action nonsense. I swear. 112 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .
Humping Marmite Containers While Tuned In To Radio Kakamas 113 .
They might have to bite off our heads .
for example. all things being equal. I’ll concede that I’m oversimplifying matters just a tad. Still. the methodology described above is a pretty apt description of a lot of corporate “research”. In the unlikely event that an obtuse corporate moron is getting worked up reading 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. Assuming this “fact” was true – assuming. it seems that in every black household these researchers visit. Now.I recently had a rather interesting conversation with a dear friend. Indeed. Evidently. 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. it’s just that when there are free samples of Pepsi to be had. It would seem that research paper after research paper. consumer immersion after consumer immersion and survey after survey have all started to pick up a disturbing and perplexing fact about South African society. and found myself in two minds about whether or not to believe it. That’s right – where there’s a black family. only women and children are to be found. the simplest explanation for anything is probably the most accurate one. I stopped believing in the veracity of the ﬁndings of most research papers not too long after I joined the corporate world. when I heard of this phenomenon of wide-scale male absenteeism from black family life. Diﬀerent strokes and all that. She was sharing with me what she thought was a baﬄing phenomenon she’d recently become aware of. there are no males in any black households in this country. The only “research” I ever witnessed in my time was the type where. Just oestrogen and snot. Anyhow. most people discover a deep-down passion for Pepsi they never knew existed before. who just happens to believe in what she does for the corporate company she works for. That is. 116 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Nothing wrong with the enthusiasm shown by our researchers. I have a standard approach: I take a swig of beer and apply the cynic’s creed. I said – how could it be explained? At times like this. there’s no testosterone anywhere. I decided to forego my natural suspicion of research. Did you say 30 or 13 per cent? What? I thought so. She’s a brand manager of sorts. when there’s a tricky dilemma on the table.
I did my obligatory song and dance. And yet there she was. I argued passionately that this research showed a lack of understanding of African culture. The thing is. There may be more elaborate explanations to do with colonialism. breathing person. Sometimes I got the They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 117 . of course. just go with it. I hypothesised passionately that. who had been a silent part of the conversation to this point. I regaled her with facts of how. the migrant-labour system and other socio-economic drivel. that he was indeed a living. with a portion of BS on the side. You see. It’s not often that my loving wife will concur with a theory of mine that had. yadda yadda. I can well understand how my wife believed it. 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. of course. How he always slept in a separate hut. backing me right up. been a resident of my upper colon. Being a black male. Not even once. moments earlier. This is a bit of a gross generalisation. I gave it some thought and it didn’t take me long to work out that it’s the nature of most black males to hump women and then leave them to fend for themselves.(Yes. the ﬁrst ﬁve times she visited my parents’ home back in the Valley Of A Thousand Hills. to the present day. And that explains the absence of black males from living rooms across the land… This explanation had. but it makes sense when you think about it. jumped in and agreed with me. this is also known as Ockham’s razor. And she spent the night three of those ﬁve times. until only one or two generations ago. I prefer to call it the cynic’s creed. philosophy nerds. Which is why I was particularly surprised when my wife. been whipped directly out of my ass. in defence of the black male when my brand-manager friend confronted me with this information. okay?) So what’s the simplest explanation for this absence of black males from families? Well. 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. an African man never sat around with women and children. she never got to see my father. yawn… You know I’m right. yes. I had to assure her that my father was not a ﬁgment of my imagination. How he would only invite his wives into his hut nocturnally to claim his conjugal rights.
feeling she was studying me intently for signs of dementia – perhaps I had an imaginary friend. drive his car into the garage after work and just stay there for three hours. too… And I couldn’t blame her. my dad was always in one of the outside buildings. 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. Spending time at home is a hard. reading the papers and listening to Radio Zulu. But because our lives are becoming increasingly Western. hard thing to do. baby-oil container in hand. Barker and the Matabanes on Isidingo and to talk about our days. Henpecked. We still have exactly the same genetic aversion to staying at home and chatting to the wives and kids. I envy my dad and his ilk. Issues such as why Raymond Hack is still the CEO of SAFA and who owes him a huge favour at Soccer City. My generation and I are running out of excuses. I think she was just happy he was at home and not 118 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Zulu men don’t sit in the main house and joke with the kids. Those ﬁrst ﬁve times my wife visited my family house. That’s the general idea behind the 75 huts you’ve seen at Zuma’s Inkandla homestead. Real men don’t. Much harder than I anticipated when I got married. My mom would sometimes have to take his supper to him in the car. Zulu men sit with other men and discuss issues of national importance.30pm to share the trials and tribulations of Cherel. Undesirable situation. Issues that shape the direction of the country. I’ll admit it. They are traditional men. 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. My father is a very traditional Zulu man. there is a greater expectation that we should be back at home by 6. limp-wristed poor excuses for men sit at home and watch soapies. who is herself sleeping with her stepfather who is also her halfbrother – or whatever. At least they have plausible excuses for their aversion to their families. It was only afterwards that I understood for the ﬁrst time why my dad would get home. And traditional Zulu men just do not sit in the lounge with their families and watch Brooke sleep with the husband of her daughter. And she wasn’t upset or anything.
I wander the house aimlessly in my boxers.out gallivanting with his buddies and impregnating local skanks. Even when the bog-standard household DIY stuﬀ needs doing. bull-saving people from the SPCA are getting more belligerent when taking on African traditions. I’m ashamed to say that my wife assembled every single piece of furniture They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 119 . 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. Once my kids are sick of playing with me. I don’t have a mechanical bone in my body. Darkies don’t mess around with that DIY shit unless they work in a workshop during the day in any case. but I can’t. I’ve thought about it. I’m just like the food-processing-blender-whatchamacallit we bought two years ago because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Just like the sheepskin car-seat covers in my dad’s garage. Five hundred years ago I would have been out there ﬁxing the fence to the kraal. I’m hopeless. but I wouldn’t be kidding anyone. it’s probably not such a great idea. And no smart person wants to do that. My own reasons for not spending my life at home are less traditional and more… psychological. 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. So that’s not an option either. 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. for reasons unknown to me. uncontrollable urges to bore holes through the necks of unsuspecting bovines. And African people have irrational. Keeping cows in the yard to milk and herd about might make me feel more like a man but those Eurocentric. of course. Cos then I’d have to explain myself to Selebi’s henchmen. milking cows and stabbing attackers from neighbouring villages with spears because of grazing-pasture disputes. But as much as I’d like to pierce the annoying little bastard from across the road through his Adam’s apple with an arrow. scratching my nuts. 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. None of them is black.
I swallowed my pride and called a friend who is a mechanic. My wife has already ﬁgured out that the sand in the ﬁlter must be changed. 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. rabid. or do you not need help from your mechanic friend?” I’m a calm. I made a mental note never to invite the show-oﬀ around for a braai at my house again. most of the time. a hand towel and some water-based lubricant. it’s taken me three days to ﬁgure out which one is the ﬁlter. 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. It took him about 23 seconds and – voilà! – there was light. A look that I believe should only be reserved for husbands. But that type of remark would turn even the Dalai Lama into a sweaty. Lord knows our landscape is littered with enough bastards. I was ready to replace the old one. 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. The They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 121 . Well.wife can’t reach the ﬁxtures. Not only that. This means bribing the maid. Another 20 minutes later. So I’m the light-bulb hero. After several trips to Game. As I sit here. the swimming pool outside needs attention desperately. You know. to assert my manhood. wife-molesting lunatic. 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. Thank goodness for KY. right. That’s because right after the light-bulb changing episode I was left with an irresistible urge to mount my spouse. But then I would have been taking the risk of her passing some snide remark. she has printed out an instructional page from the internet to guide me. Yeah. I’m having heart palpitations. So far. Not to be callous about a serious matter. non-violent man. in the mould of Gandhi and the Swiss Minister Of Defence. I caught my wife giving him a look with admiration-ﬁlled eyes. To avoid a potentially explosive domestic misunderstanding I resisted my carnal urges and retired to the bedroom with a pile of FHM magazines. We recently needed to change the ﬂuorescent kitchen light. which involved getting the wrong-sized bulbs on more than one occasion.
I can whip out that Woolies card faster than Clint Eastwood could whip out a pistol in The Good. 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. Buying blouses from Woolies is one thing I can do without a problem. You best believe it would be stricken from the roll. 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 never saw such evil pictures on the television when I went into the bedroom to hang up the ironing!” To avoid such tattletale reports. mama. 122 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . you will be assimilated. I said it. That’s right. Truth be told. 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. She’s in charge. I gave up the silly delusion of being the boss about two months into my marriage. 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. I’m grateful that I’m a member of the human species. Frankly. The Bad And The Ugly. Women hold all the cards in the 21st century. A man can’t even have an innocent porn festival without the wife hearing about it. My wife rules the house. And then he’d remember why he spends so little time at home. I’m just grateful my head is still attached to my body. My father would be proud… This is the lot of the African man when he moves to this jungle called suburbia.maid has an inexplicable propensity to share details of what went on in the house while my wife has been away. 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. The only question is. Resistance is futile. I’m quite positive he’d disown me. he would have a ﬁt. do you want to do it the easy way or the hard way? If my father knew what went on in my house. “Yoo.
They Might Have To Bite Oﬀ Our Heads 123 .
That’s no dhal off my mutton breyani. larney .
and expecting too much of us. Given a little bit of thought. I had a rather bizarre experience at a Durban spot recently. Very funny. I imagine that if I walked into the Maharaj household in Chatsworth.” 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. (You probably know the drill by now – but I could be wrong. then I’d take that fact to the bank. I have no reason to doubt this. they’d just shrug their shoulders. colourful words like “coolie” will be ﬂying around. ha ha. go on sipping their mindrel and ask me to “make the TV slow”. But until I’m presented with conclusive evidence to the contrary. I grew up in the greater Durban area – yeah. I realised she must 126 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I reckon. Maybe I’m being too harsh on us all. for the arrival of an untrustworthy buddy. my immediate reaction is.” No pun intended. I’m always open to that possibility. And it goes without saying that if you substitute the word “Indian” with “black”. A young white woman invited herself over to my table and started chatting to me. this line is devoid of any real usefulness or signiﬁcance. I’d never been to this particular Florida Road pub/club before and I was waiting. I’ll go on assuming that I’m right. he’s racist. when that person is standing around a ﬁre at a braai back in Umlazi. I could be wrong. It’s Freudian. stood in the middle of their lounge and made this pronouncement. But each time I hear a statement along these lines. “Yup. cold one in hand. “white”. yeah I know you’re so sorry to hear that. If walking around Durban is anything to go by. of course. 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. A “fact” I’ve heard bandied about asserts that Durban has the highest concentration of Indians outside of India. I personally ﬁnd it ridiculous that in this country you still hear people saying things like this. After 30 seconds.“I have no beef with Indian people. “Jewish” or “gay” my argument still holds enough water to run a bath for a sumo wrestler. And in all likelihood.) 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.
” I wish I could tell you how I immediately put that twitching druggie bigot in That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. the twitcher switched her line of attack by making it clear to me just how much she preferred black guys to Indian guys. dear. Larney 127 .) “Urrmghh. so I continued declining respectfully. where they would. So I don’t get picked up very often. her talking nonstop and twitching at regular intervals – it also dawned on me that she was trying to pick me up. (I promise you. I prefer my mind intact and unblown. So I politely declined her oﬀer and asked her to please stop spitting into my eye. but I could see how this whole scenario could end up on the front page: “Naked couple found strangled in beach-front ﬂat. After another 30 seconds of conversation with her – basically. I was promised. I tend to feel quite ﬂattered and pleased with myself. Our conversation from this point. And call me a pessimist.” “C’mon. don’t you?” (Gulp. And then she started getting really excited. just admit it.” “All blacks hate coolies. went something like this: “I hate fucking coolies. Also. I’m a big-headed man with a pot belly and matchstick legs. 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. that’s what I do!) But being picked up by a twitchy junkie is not very ﬂattering. My matrimonial vows aside. Then I wave my wedding band around and they get a defeated look in their drunken eyes. which made me look about nervously. the idea was making my skin crawl. Therefore. She unfortunately persisted and continued suggesting that I “pick up a black girl” and follow her and her boyfriend to a suburb in the north. At this point. I generally frequent places that don’t involve people hitting on each other. 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. I know you also hate these fucking leeches.” “Urrmghh. blow our minds. I have a pronounced aversion to people on drugs. I ﬁnd.have been tripping on some pretty strong narcotics.” Realising she wasn’t making much headway.
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. Extending that rationale. And yes. And yes. 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. Now. So I’ll say it: like most generalisations. They will passionately and elaborately oﬀer you lengthy lists of all the Indian friends they’ve had in their lives. I swear. 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. 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. Most people I know are racist. It didn’t help that her two-metre tall beast of a lover was sitting at the next table – waiting to “blow my mind”. that includes black people. “But I don’t hate Indians” would probably press the nuke lenasia button in Thabo’s oﬃce if he thought no-one was looking. 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. just like the silent wind-ripper in the lift. It just seems to me to be a logical conclusion. the twitchy junkie’s observation was based on more than a grain of truth. But I’m a notoriously weak-backboned weasel and my sole consideration at this point was avoiding upsetting this ﬁdgety crackhead. Of the few things I’ve learnt in my time. 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. I’m acutely aware of that 128 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . let’s not forget. 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. I also think that the ﬁrst person to say.her place and told her I wouldn’t stand for any more of her racist nonsense. So I shrugged my shoulders like the wimp that I am and wiped oﬀ more saliva from my eyelashes. They’ll tell you excitedly how “I have no beef with Indian people. Of course. I’m a ﬁrm believer that the ﬁrst person to hold his nose in a lift is probably the guy who farted. for that matter.
it’s just the loss of blood that kills them. too. she only blew you. some pig ears and. would eat that shit up because it would resonate with them. yeah. That song was about you trying to sell some fucking records. strictly speaking. whiteys. Not to racially stereotype.) I know nothing about the sales of that excellent piece of music – oh. Telling me that black people cannot be racist is like telling me people don’t die of gunshot wounds. 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. It would save a lot of hassle. this goes both ways. bro.whole retarded notion that black people are incapable of racism. 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. oh. Larney 129 . And you knew that black people. but that’s your cultural lesson for the day. Potato. back to the point. I just wish we were more open about it. it was musically brilliant. That’s all semantics to me. When people start telling me just how much they don’t have “problems” with Indian people. blah blah blah. the song caused controversy a while back for fuelling black-on-Indian tensions and encouraging racial stereotyping. I know they’re as racist as motherfuckers. especially in KZN. cut the crap. I’m not one to let insigniﬁcant things like facts get in the way of my preconceived ideas. (For those of you who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about. Still. it’s our racist ways. I’m aware. that racism has to be institutionalised and used to oppress to be really called racism. too. tomato – whatever.” That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. It’s like Clinton telling us he didn’t have sexual relations with that woman – yeah. Listen. Racism/prejudice/bigotry – I don’t really care what you want to call it. I’m aware of the school of thought that asserts that only those with money and power can be racists. methinks – but I suspect they were quite high. throw some AmaNdiya in there. So. Heck. I’m even aware that the term “racism” was coined in the ’30s and has a very speciﬁc meaning. Yes. And just in case you think I’m picking on black people. If there’s one thing we’re all equal-opportunities about in this country. it goes all the rainbowy ways.
everybody came. Good old money. nothing more. Once again. It seems to me that the issue at hand is the fact (or perception?) that Indians are more prosperous than black people. based on my wanderings around Durban. and they just happened to make more money than my folks. not Indian. I would have had much more intelligent conversations with Yvonne Chaka Chaka. let me tell you about the family that lived across the road from my own humble home when I was growing up. and I didn’t see what qualiﬁed them to have Yvonne Chaka Chaka visit their house instead of mine. Black people don’t like that Indian people are better oﬀ than them. But I’m not a high-road kind of guy. the road that leads to accolades.) They were much better oﬀ than us. Yvonne Chaka Chaka! So naturally I resented these neighbours of mine. I hypothesised that the family in question was a rather lucky bunch. If someone had asked me what I thought their secret was. 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. So what’s this Indian hatred about then? As usual. Even Yvonne Chaka Chaka made an appearance once. I was rather unimpressed with each of them as individuals. ﬁnancially and pretty much in every other way. I insisted to myself. Because I 130 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . ask 12 drunks on Warwick Avenue why they hate Indians – write a Masters thesis on the matter and then parade it as fact. I can only oﬀer you my opinion.Such creative marketing. TV interviews and being featured in credible publications with words like “insightful” being used to describe you. I’m going to take it as fact. I’m not planning on doing any formal research on this assertion but. I thought. Nothing particularly odd about this. a couple of other luxury vehicles and lots of nice stuﬀ in their home. They had a double-storey house. That’s the high road. So I’ll take the low road and just talk about my unacademic opinions. obviously. a Mercedes-Benz. That’s one way of doing it. I suppose that I could register my lazy ass with an institution of higher learning. These were not special people. that’s what I would have told them. perform some “research” – that is. so they were black. When they threw parties. To illustrate my point. (This was the ’80s.
While my family left the house at 7. I have an elderly family member who always passionately tells me how.30am.kept my opinion to myself. One of my other neighbours looked at me knowingly. By the time we all dragged our lazy asses out of bed at 6. or they were patronising. “I always knew it. they left their house at 4. after delivering all their employees to their homes. And it wasn’t just the money. all of a sudden. this didn’t faze my neighbours and me. Indians “think they’re white now that they have money”. Relative levels of prosperity. or they were snobbish. just like us”. That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. they returned at 8pm.30am on average. He always tells me about an Indian family who were so poor they got hand-me-down clothes from us. And they stayed on their feet the whole day and worked their ﬁngers to the bone.30am. when he was growing up in the ’40s. Whoever was driving their truck that day used to lock their gate around 10pm. Still. They were either uppity. Oh no. While we were all back home around 5pm. it was other stuﬀ. Because of my spinelessness. Or my tongue-clucking neighbours. the verdict was unanimous: “We always knew it. And then he gets pretty excited when he tells me how. milk. 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. pieces of wors.” And I had no option but to agree. Indians were “dirt-poor. that family over the road was already collecting a steady stream of notes and coins in business transactions involving bread. clucked and told me. or they were aloof. 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. sacks of cement. or they were… So when the elder son was incarcerated. 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. The gate at my house was locked by 6pm. too. We were relentless. shoe polish and pretty much everything under the sun.” This story of my neighbours is a transparent analogy of what I think is the root cause of anti-Indian sentiment. Larney 131 .
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. I’m never one to shy away from an anecdotal “truth”. My own humble submission is that. I read some story with a similar tone. medicine. they are most shady. is demographically consistent. Most of the characters in those stories are decidedly un-Indian of course. Me being me. in the overwhelming majority of cases. I’d be told how the Indians rode on the back of African people to make money. others are colossal 132 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . for that matter. people who believe this garbage would never let this fact get in the way of their Indian prejudices. My opinion is that Indians are just another bunch of people vying for a piece of the cake. The spread of stab wounds in my back indicates that Indians are responsible for approximately three per cent of them which. Indian people got more prosperous than black people because they were more industrious and enterprising people. and they woke up at 4am every day to peddle their wares – long before their darkie neighbours. after all.) So that doesn’t really mean much. But just like the rest of us.I’d be told gruesome tales of exploitation and back-stabbing. I’d be told of preferential treatment. The whole lot are back-stabbers! We’re all human. Then they spent their hard-earned money on sending their sons and daughters to study law. just like the rest of us. 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. But. I’d be told of twotiming and consorting with the oppressors. Sounds very familiar to me – seems like every time I open the Mail & Guardian and the Sunday Times. of course. so I can only assume that there is something to those stories of Indian corruption. the arts and economics. But it’s not like there aren’t tales of black and white corruption doing the rounds. Some of them are kind. I believe. 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 could be wrong. I’d be told about fraud involving millions. (Or brown or yellow or red. Oh.
man. And then I would be educated that mindrel was a mineral drink – usually Sparletta Sparberry. Some of them I really like. Where else could you come across this scene? You’re waiting at the robots and a car pulls up next to you. but I liked him because he also had his uses. (The ﬁrst time I lived in Gauteng in ’94. Iron Brew or Cream Soda. Cars may be inanimate objects. Larney 133 . Well. Some I trust. who happen to have their own funny shit that they do. I gratefully accepted and moved in with his Indian family. He had his faults actually. 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. of course. “Ey. And then I’d look at my buddy and wait for the translation. no. the things they do to their cars. They’d talk about things I had never heard of in my life – like mindrel. you! Make the TV slow. of course. “Nigga. they have a tendency to say things that I don’t understand. others are lazy.0 CLi is because the writing on the boot says so – That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. But you know what I mean. I do not know what they were going on about. others I think are assholes. he oﬀered a room at his house in Isipingo for me to use for about six months – for a nominal fee. For the ﬁrst three months. These are people just like the rest of us. So Indian people are just like the rest of us.bastards. let me retract that – they’re not quite like everybody else. people thought I was making up softdrink ﬂavours when I asked for Sparberry. One was that. others I would prefer not to ask to hold my wallet for me. For starters.) Another huge distinguisher between Indians and the rest of us is. Back when I was a student in the early ’90s. I had an Indian friend. but sometimes I look at certain vehicles on the streets of Durban and. The only way you can tell it’s a 1990 Jetta 2. We’d be sitting around the dinner table and I’d be asked to pass the mindrel. after I got kicked out of university residence. These are not special people. I feel sorry for the damn things. Some of them are hard-working. I didn’t know what these people were talking about.” Huh? I didn’t realise the damn thing was going fast! (And to this day.) This is just one thing.
Knight Rider-type laser beam ﬂashes on the front grille. There’s also colour in the form of Bollywood movies. 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. I estimate that they 134 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . and is hanging on for dear life. but the hubcaps are spinning. What the hell was the owner thinking when he devised this monstrosity? The guy in the passenger seat ﬂashes you a shiny. From where I sit. With each thump of the bass beat a neon blue. You get the impression the driver should be taxiing on an airport runway getting ready for takeoﬀ. Right behind this pair of Einsteins is a portly. I have no freaking clue what the big idea is with Bollywood movies. but it’s shaking violently and there’s a thud in your chest from the 2. I’m home!” How can anybody hate that? This is the shit that makes Durban so fascinating. 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.0 CLi. The owner has attached side panels that are almost scraping the tarmac because of the dropped suspension.and you can see the VW sign. Then there’s the boot spoiler that looks like it’s been scrounged from a Formula One scrapyard. bespectacled Indian man in a huge Mercedes-Benz. casting embarrassed glances at you and shaking his head at the crazy sight. What is there to hate about any of this? For me it is part of everyday contradictions – things that make life worth living. Inside the car – no. with windows ﬁrmly rolled up. I suppose it would help if I had actually sat through at least one of them. You stare. the contraption – you have two low-sitting individuals with bopping heads. but a budget graﬃti artist has emblazoned a redand-orange ﬁre-spitting dragon on each side. You’re in your own vehicle. The car is stationary.000-kilowatt subwoofers alongside you. And you feel a warm glow in your heart because you realise “Goddamnit. The obligatory Manchester United ﬂag is hanging from the rear-view mirror. gobsmacked. But there is nothing else about the car that identiﬁes it as a 1990 Jetta 2. The front grille comes from a Golf and so do the headlights. The car is black. golden smile and waves at you with a hand that is decorated with 23 pieces of jewellery. That is the beauty of our diversity.
last an average of ﬁve to six hours.” Now all the soldiers form perfect lines and someone turns on a ghetto blaster and everybody gyrates in perfect unison. Saving Private Ryan. naturally. disappeared to have the car washed. there’s always a rich family from a higher class. I’m all for the gory action ﬁlm with soldiers dying in pools of their own blood. So I can’t deny it. for instance. it was still on. For some reason. Then the daughter of the rich family falls in love with the son from the poor family. Then they force her to marry a rich cousin. visited a sick relative in hospital… and when I came back home. But perhaps I’m a weird individual in that I want my movies and MTV videos separate. man. Larney 135 . instantly jumped up to get my car keys. And I also enjoy Michael Jackson’s Remember The Time video. Bollywood movies deﬁnitely have some things going for them. if the shiny uniform is anything to go by. who just happens to be an army general. and then. both of whom want the beautiful lady. let’s pause the movie for a while and all dance and sing. I have seen a Bollywood movie start on SABC 3. And then the poor jilted love interest joins the army of rebels which takes on the regular army. The reason I lose my concentration during these ﬁlms is not because the story lines are uninteresting. It’s beautiful. I’m told these classes are called castes. 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. there’s always a poor family from a lower caste. shiny dress and says something. In fact. and all that great choreography and hip That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. had a three-hour beer-guzzling session with the boys. I ﬁnd them rather fascinating. I could be wrong. “Okay. And then the armies meet in the mountains for a showdown. So there’s a rich family from a higher caste. but I think she says. From what I can gather. Now the mother of the lady in the middle of it all appears from nowhere in a beautiful. This makes for an intriguing story because of the added argy-bargy between the two okes. what with all those soldiers in uniform waving their riﬂes rhythmically in the air like they just don’t care. but that’s what it seems like. My Hindi is not what it should be. Then the mother from the rich family threatens to slit her wrists if her daughter goes ahead and marries the poor sod.
Thank you. when SABC 3 tries to educate my ignorant ass and bring some culture into my life by showing Bollywood movies. People dying and hip gyrations don’t mix. Well. My buddy’s family called the top. Their house was a relatively modest ninebedroom. there’d be some spectacular misunderstandings. But I want them separate. “Die. This kind of arrangement would never ﬂy with black people. too. There’d be ﬁst ﬁghts in the yard 136 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . I always grab my keys. I imagine they tossed a coin to determine who took what ﬂoor. I may not be a fan of Bollywood. I’d always just assumed they were really wealthy. I used to shake my head in amazement when I saw this before I actually lived in an Indian suburb with my buddy’s family. I’m fussy like that. you dirty rotten scoundrel. When I had visited before. 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 lose interest. Black people are ﬁrm believers in the no-two-bulls-in-one-kraal philosophy. I had to walk into someone else’s lounge while the entire family sat there watching TV. two families lived there. in fact. Right after the uncle with the “wet look” hair draws his sword and utters the bloodcurdling words. Just like at the Oriental Restaurant.gyrations and whatnot. but I think the rest of the imbeciles in this great nation can learn a thing or two from our Indian brethren. I think if I lived upstairs with my family and my brother lived downstairs. four-bathroom double-storey mansion. The ﬁrst time I came home late and on my own. you imbecile you” and then bursts into song. I respectfully decline. That’s why. Only once I lived there did I realise that. Because of the design of the house. With good reason. So when my Indian friends insist that we catch a ﬂick together and they suggest a title with 34 words. The number of three-storey mansions is mind-boggling. the only access was through the ground-ﬂoor lounge. which made for interesting moments when I was there. and then continue selfconsciously up the stairs. kind of. No roti soaking in dhal for me. Not together. Everybody should do themselves a favour and take a leisurely drive through a predominantly Indian township or suburb. I want my roti on one plate and my dhal in a separate bowl.
They all packed themselves into the one Corolla. I did exactly that not too long ago when I was still a corporate man. his family and his visitors ﬁle out of his place. don’t waste time asking dumb questions. If we all did this. But then the Christmas break came and I couldn’t believe the scene that unfolded before my eyes one morning. our wives or a combination thereof. eight people in a Tazz is stretching the point. We may want to exercise a touch less enthusiasm for the wisdom of car pooling of course. Ah. no Tazz could take more than three average-sized black people in the back seat in any case. despite the fact that I had gathered they were oﬀ to Carnival City just around the corner. So when I saw nine people ﬁle out of the house I naturally assumed they were using both cars. I discovered I was about to get a great deal on a shaving gel. my people and me. And two families living on top of each other – literally – is a major aggravation. Larney 137 . Foolish me. It’s safe to say that I’m follicularly challenged in the facial region. A claustrophobic aggravation. our roads would be far less clogged up. so I did the only thing I could do given the circumstances: I bought three. We don’t respond too well to aggravation. I used to live in a complex on the East Rand. Fair enough. Chicken and pap have a way of doing that. The Indian chap in the onebedroom unit opposite mine lived there with his wife and kid. when I saw my neighbour. just join the queue. shaving foam and razor gift pack. But hey. I counted nine people – ﬁve adults and four kids. That word pops into my mind whenever I overtake another Tazz stuﬀed with eight occupants on a Durban highway. minding my own business. When I got to the front. My neighbour owned a Toyota Corolla and the visitors also owned a Corolla – don’t ask. the Indian man is an interesting one.involving either my brother and I. isn’t he? He certainly has his idiosyncrasies. I was standing in the garden. Plus. 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 reckon. Claustrophobia. It’s an often-repeated fact that when you see a bunch of Indians queuing. That’s one thing we could all learn from our Indian brethren: the discipline required to car pool. such as a healthy appetite for a bargain. so I guess I now have suﬃcient shaving equipment to last until 2024. it was That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani.
” OOBNB: “But R40 they are!” Me: “Yeah. you no want DVD?” Me: “No. “You dumb man.marked down by 50 per cent! That’s what I’ve learnt from my Indian buddies. A visibly excited. just take advantage of a bargain.” OOBNB: “Cheap cheap DVD. It was unheard of. “DVD guy here!” I did what I normally do in situations like these: I looked up brieﬂy then continued doing what I was doing. announced in a burst.” OOBNB: “R40 a DVD. that’s real cheap. 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. and he looked at me incredulously: Out-of-breath news bearer: “Ey. For the rest of the day I would have to ﬁeld the same question about 17 times. I hadn’t planned on it. “Ey. trying to regain his breath. are you fucking crazy?” before disappearing down the passageway. why you didn’t buy a DVD and come?” I am a generally articulate individual. they are. out-of-breath Indian colleague burst through the doorway of our open-plan section and.” The man gave me a look that I read to say. When I ﬁrst moved down to Durban to work on a site that had predominantly Indian staﬀ. I had a memorable experience that confounded me at the time. But not today for me.” Me: “Oh. I hadn’t planned on getting a DVD today.] “Ey. Don’t waste time contemplating whether or not you actually need the thing. 138 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . that’s a low price. The idea that I was not ready to take advantage of a great deal just wouldn’t register in my colleagues’ minds. you coming?” Me: [Looking up again.” Me: “I’m sure they are.] “Er. Everybody looked at me like I was speaking in some kind of monkey language. But the oﬃce cleared faster than the counters at Home Aﬀairs when the clock strikes 3pm.” OOBNB: [Waiting for me to jump up and run with him to reception. The bearer of this Earthshattering news was still there. they are. no. after a few large gulps of air.
Larney 139 . What’s there to hate about that? The way I see it. with all the associated sentimental crap that forced generosity-of-spirit campaigns seem to engender. Luckily. I prefer pork chops to dirt-cheap sardines. Five hundred kilometres away to avoid unnecessary bloodshed is more like it. That’s a pretty great message.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. white people like their gin and tonic. Lord knows. generally. don’t you think? Tolerance and all that. and that would really put a dampener on my in-ﬂight entertainment. At regular intervals at the same job. I’m not advocating progressive policy of Rainbow Nation forums and conferences. I guess I just wanted an excuse to poke fun at Indian people. If everyone suddenly decided to drink Castle. “You not coming?” I wanted to explain how I felt like pork chops that evening. we’d be out of stock in no time. And hey. But don’t be fooled. Not everyone likes what I like and not everyone talks the way I talk. It’s kind of a guiding principle of mine. I had just driven past the ﬁsh-mongering fellows. I’m just saying we should live and let live. of course). they deserve to have fun poked at them – just That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani. But to each his own. but he was already halfway down the passage. As one fellow rushed past me. he stopped momentarily to ask incredulously. I’m grateful for that. I’m not such an altruistic guy. A mini-stampede broke out. What happened next was completely unexpected (though not in retrospect. I prefer my MTV videos separate from my epic movies. All I could hear was the word “Sardines!” being shouted over and over as people grabbed car keys and made for the door. black chicks like their wine by the glass and Indian folk like their mindrels. both these scenes I’ve described repeated themselves every time there was a bargain to be had in the area. I soon learnt the lesson: Indians. And they consider you mentally deranged if you choose not to enjoy one. and that is also quite okay. Feeling in the mood for pork chops that night. enjoy a bargain. I’d much rather have my brothers not living in my house. and that’s cool. we should all be embracing these funny little anecdotes as part of who we all are.
Or you could grind your teeth and write an angry letter to the newspaper. larney. You could do what I’m doing as I write this: giggle like a schoolgirl. 140 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . it’s no dhal oﬀ my mutton breyani. How you choose to react to fun-pokery is up to you. Whatever you do.like the rest of us.
Larney 141 .That’s No Dhal Of My Mutton Breyani.
Let the masses eat pap .
deep down in places they don’t talk about during party congresses. certainly not the way in which I’ve seen it being practised in this country. 144 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . It seems that the pattern is identical in every nation that attempts this form of governance. But a lot of ideas look great when you read about them in books. Public representatives who spend their term in oﬃce doing exactly diddly-squat is the other popular option. one instance where democracy ever worked properly. you have to have a very clear idea of where you want to take the sheep following you. All of the great ideas mentioned above would solve most of life’s problems were it not for one obstacle: human beings. Without a clear vision you’re just another weak-willed comrade stumbling along from one consultative imbizo to the next. socialism and weightloss plans come to mind. because then we could all stop being quietly diplomatic and just call a spade a spade. I have never read about. I’m all for the whole benevolent-dictatorship idea. most leaders feel the same way. what party leaders say about democracy and what they practise tends to be quite diﬀerent. or even heard of. This seems rather logical from where I’m standing. I would be really happy if everyone could just accept this deﬁnition. So democracy resides in that neat little box in my brain labelled useful only on paper. As we all know. Doesn’t mean they work out well. who then ignore all their election promises and spend their terms in oﬃce doing whatever the hell they want. And I’m of the belief that. in any case. The most accurate deﬁnition of democracy is probably “an autocratic government chosen by the people”. well-developed autocratic streak. And I’ve got to say that democracy doesn’t convince me. In order to be an eﬀective leader. People cannot be trusted with such noble ideals. together with Dr Phil’s entire collection of self-help ﬁction and Das Kapital. you need to have a strong. And that’s the best-case scenario.I ’ve never really been fully onboard with this whole democracy thing. To be a good leader. Know what I’m saying? The thing is. The pattern being that the electorate chooses public representatives. You need to have a clear personal vision. On paper. democracy really looks great. Christianity.
my commitment to democracy is decidedly ﬁckle. What I want is so stupid and moronic that I really shouldn’t even be allowed to vote. I’ve always made a gallant eﬀort to keep myself informed about issues of national importance. I needed a large beer to recover. I listen to debates on TV and on the radio. but I was discouraged by the burly bodyguard with an earpiece who was skulking around the minister. As the story above illustrates. I think grand decisions on how the nation should be governed should be left to the people who know what they’re doing. the other day I bumped into Minister Makhenkesi Stoﬁle at the airport and tried to get a rational answer to the question. 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 read politicians’ biographies to get a sense of what they truly think about important things. I read newspapers everyday. And then he mumbled something about the matter being much more complicated than meets the eye. It follows quite Let The Masses Eat Pap 145 . I have the right to decide who gets to lead this country. benevolent dictator making all the important decisions for me. according to democratic principles. Not only that. Not me. He was giving me that look I’ve seen in the eyes of bouncers outside Durban nightclubs at 4am.Nothing wrong with imbizos – except that I could possibly be one of the nitwits that are consulted at these things. “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. That’s why I’m such a Fidel fan. My exertions had left me rather parched – all from a 45-second “conversation” with a senior public representative. so I decided I’d enlightened myself suﬃciently on the machinations of our democracy and hastily moved towards the bar. There is only one conclusion: Autocracy 1 – 0 Democracy I’d much rather have an intelligent. I personally do not want to be consulted. Why. And yet. I have the morals of a pubic louse. True story.
(Kinda like that De La Rey piece of non-news. turns his charm on only when it suits him. Nzimande and Mbeki. But Mandela realised there was no point in upsetting the horns-wearers. an integral aspect of Leadership 101. They are good. by the way. 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. Mbeki. A little bit of controversy a while back. if Mandela hadn’t started negotiating bilaterally with those Nat dinosaurs while he was in jail.naturally that during the recent spat between Vavi. bro! Mandela was exactly the same way. But I try very hard to disregard my meticulously assembled sliding scale of assholeness when it comes to these things. he might still be in prison today. please!” But of course Mbeki has some dictatorial qualities – which is. aﬀable and charismatic comrades. And Mbeki says and does a lot of smart things. on the other hand.”) So the big chief waved his hand and Die Stem stayed. hornswearing Blue Bulls supporters. waiting for the consultative process to get to branch level. The fact that Mbeki has dictatorial tendencies is a bit of a no-brainer to me – like duh. it was a retarded song. I wanted to write them an open letter with a one-liner: “Niggers. “Yeah. No biggie. Instead of bitching and moaning about Mbeki’s autocratic tendencies they maybe should have focused more on the speciﬁc issues that they think Mbeki had bulldozed through without consulting them. I was fully behind Mbeki. I believe. And I quite like Vavi and Nzimande. I’d have to dismiss offhand everything Mbeki said and did. Die Stem would now only be sung by boisterous. Clearly. Autocracy 2 – 0 Democracy In fact. If I had to use that scale. When those lovable comrades were going on about how Mbeki has been displaying dictatorship tendencies lately. the wisdom of judiciously 146 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . and he knew the rest of us would get over it soon enough. but fast-forward a couple of years and you’ll probably ﬁnd most people shrugging their shoulders and saying.
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. But now it’s signed and sealed for gay people. beards all a-tangle. I prefer to use my sliding scale of perceived assholeness. 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. Like I’ve said. I fought oﬀ waves of nausea and applauded. All I use to make up my mind about which ministers I think are smart and which ones are complete wastepipes are the 20-second segments I Let The Masses Eat Pap 147 . I’m always open to the notion that I’m wrong and that my opinions are uninformed and ignorant. a friend of mine even e-mailed pictures of two such individuals kissing passionately. ignored the ACDP’s call for a referendum on the matter. Two hairy-backed individuals can now look each other in the eye and lie. “Till death do us part. I rely on the ever-useful green monster as a source for my righteous indignation. It was a good decision. 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. “Should homosexuals be allowed to get married and be as miserable as the rest of us?” Indeed. (I’ve got TV to thank for those opinions. I believe that more than two thirds of the voting public of this country would feel strongly that marriage. but I honestly do not have the time to educate myself on the nuances and intricacies involved in managing the complexities of governance. domestic violence. in their all-seeing wisdom. A great decision! Autocracy rules! Autocracy 3 – 0 Democracy Perhaps I speak only for myself here.) And when the scale fails me. Hating gay people based on their sexual orientation is so limiting. marital inﬁdelity and divorce should remain the exclusive preserve of people who practise “normal” heterosexual sex.” This week.applied autocracy should not even be in question. Using this method. you read right.
If you’re white you’re likely to vote for the DA.see on the news. give Balfour R150. Maybe we should pay her R2 million a year. we choose blindly. • 1994 – ANC (both national and provincial) 148 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .) Voting for a party is a lot like me betting on number 28 at the roulette table. Or your dad owns a tractor. and yeah. Eﬀectively. I tell all my friends where my cross was made. ever get my vote as long as I live. Just like the numbers at the roulette table.” 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. Or your dad is/was a member of either the PAC or BC. Sure. Unless you’re rural and Zulu. Why? That’s like two F-students who are sharing a desk during an exam hiding answers from each other. If you’re black. the horses and political candidates we back have an uncanny ability to let us down very badly. That and articles from newspapers – and those always tend to be opinion pieces. I feel very strongly about the number 28 for my own personal reasons. Or born-again Christian. • 1992 referendum – Back then there were still people who thought I wasn’t sophisticated enough to vote.000. And so I reach my retarded opinions in front of the TV or while reading the paper at breakfast: “Hmm. Retards. Many people have tried to hoodwink me into believing that the rationale behind their vote is better than mine. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma seems to know what she’s doing. 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. Oh.000 I desire. wears safari suits and sticks a comb in his socks. thus ensuring that they would never. We make uninformed choices. you’re likely to vote ANC. And don’t get me started on this rubbish about keeping one’s vote secret. Zulu people have a phrase for this: “Sithenga ingulube isesakeni” (Buying a pig inside a sack. There is nothing of value in the thought process I employ to vote. buddy. but I have no way of knowing if the number 28 really will get me the R50. Unless you’re rural and Afrikaner. So I’ll make a start and declare my voting record since I turned 18.
This confused me somewhat. I didn’t make it in either 2001 or 2006. 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. menacing manner in which he addressed me that sharpened my self-preservation instincts and left me biting my tongue. the polling station was closed. My localgovernment voting record isn’t great. it was a choice between cutting down on the drinking time or voting. So he just continued waﬄing on about “people with counter-revolutionary tendencies who are agents of the system”. as you can see. The beer won hands down. After three hours of various people talking in circles and generating a large amount of hot air. The last time I attended one of these was at the back end of ’97. “Please answer this question. I pretty much had no information at all on the candidates in my area.• 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. I woke up two hours late and my day just ran away from me. but Let The Masses Eat Pap 149 . I meant to vote. I got a bit impatient. Mr Councillor. In the end. among other things. During the 2006 local-government election. But here’s my gripe. By the time I was ready to vote. And compared to the national polls. would you believe it? • 2004 – ANC (both national and provincial) • 2006 – Once again. A fellow with a scar running from the corner of his left eye to the corner of his mouth sprung up to answer on the councillor’s behalf and started waﬄing away – despite the fact that I had speciﬁcally said. “I don’t remember asking you a goddamned thing!” But there was something in the cold. So I decided to make my democratic contribution. So there you have it: four times out of six I voted for the ANC. what system was he going on about? I wanted to ask someone for the date just to conﬁrm that it was indeed 1997.” I wanted to cut Scarface short and bark. I stood up and addressed a question towards my councillor. local government elections are the ones where all the parties actually have a shot at swaying my thinking. Alas. the reason being that I have an irrational aversion to attending these ward public meetings. Ditto with my provincial vote to a certain extent.
I know nothing. Terror. So I turn to the media for help – but alas. And that is my story to explain why I don’t attend meetings to get to know my public representatives. can I not relieve myself in the street when I’m really pressed? Instead. aaight? Let the big-headed boys up on them posters speak for themselves. This is not about the army.” Once again. 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 . any suggestions that I don’t go to these meetings because they eat into my drinking time. 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’m a self-admitted ignoramus. This would seal or break any deal with me. or whichever other angry minister type wants to enter the fray. but it’s the only way. my view of oncoming traﬃc is obstructed by a poster with a mugshot of a big-headed person vying for my vote. it seems. Issues such as why I can’t pee in the street or drink beer at the beach. I honestly want to say. they are famously useless during local-government elections. Yet this individual is eerily silent on where he stands on local issues that directly aﬀect me. All they cover is what the excitable ministers and party bigwigs have to say.it didn’t seem prudent to upset him any further. Because the media stopped reporting on the news a while ago. I may even start legal proceedings against anyone making such unfounded allegations. Each time I drive out of my house. so please shut up!” At least with the national elections I have Mondli Makhanya and Ferial Haﬀajee to give me my opinions. Mr Bighead. with the contempt they deserve. And I will reject. Call it a hunch. God bless the media. This really should not be the way to make an election call. I’m being bombarded with a war of words between the Reverend Meshoe and the perpetually furious Terror Lekota. Just tell me why. I wish I knew where each of the candidates stands on local government issues close to my heart. I struggle to understand this. As a result of all this. “Listen. And each time I shout at the TV: “You’re not a candidate. these days every story has an angle and an opinion.
6 seconds or so that I had as I drove past them to make my decision. I can neither conﬁrm nor deny whether any of these people even had arms. Steve. The only thing I was supposed to base my vote on was the poster with the face. That is. He reminded me too much of that Steve Urkel guy from TV. And so there you have it – my options for the representative to ﬁght my street-pissing battles were the Bakers man and Ma Agnes. The IFP woman was a spitting image of Ma Agnes from Isidingo. But in 2006. but I just couldn’t rise above my pettiness. And angry ministers who live 1. In fact. the geniuses desperate for my vote were not saying anything to me. IFP committee. Someone should have had the good sense to look at the picture and say. torsos and legs. “Yo. I didn’t trust Steve Urkel to stand his ground when all those other people insisted that I couldn’t pee in the street. my man. That’s it. Hendrick. They may as well have been mutes. The ANC candidate wasn’t even in the running. All because the localgovernment election was being fought on the strength of posters. I was using the 0. Let The Masses Eat Pap 151 . I believe. ACDP committee. I tried really hard not to let this inﬂuence my decision. Well done. And then I’d be. Bad decision. In fact. I have to wonder about the committee who approved that poster. And if that is true. I thought we were all for pissing where we want. I was pretty sure he’d end up voting against street peeing during council meetings. Ain’t nothing wrong with Ma Agnes. the gist of the diﬀerent tiers of government. then it follows that he should let the man speak for himself. maybe we need to take another picture of you. in a racially mixed suburb. “Oops! Did I do that?” Then there was the DA candidate.” My only other realistic choices were the ACDP guy and the IFP woman. so I could have gone with her as well. The guy reminded me too much of HF Verwoerd.500 kilometres away.” and he’d giggle and say something stupid like.elected ward councillor is. That’s a good picture to put up on a poster. “Look. of course. Well done. as far as I can tell. like. The ACDP guy always conjured up the smell of baking cookies because he looked exactly like that Bakers man from the TV ad.
To top it oﬀ. the Bakers man and Ma Agnes actually had bodies. for crying out loud! That’s like Bra Georgi from Isidingo being elected Premier of Gauteng. Maybe then I’ll realise that you have a full body and that you don’t really look like an apartheid icon. They elected The Terminator as governor of California. Verwoerd. 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. Follow the lead of the bright sparks in America. Of course. Some snot-faced reporter would ask him a question and he’d get. It makes just as much sense as voting for any of those other guys I know nothing about. “Well. “Luister. Don’t mess with Bra Georgi. my laaitie! This Gautrain business has fokol to do with you. Candidates. Maybe you could get oﬀ your ass and stand at the Spine Road intersection next to the Pavilion and shake my hand. But don’t just be a fat face on a poster. I do believe the technical phrase for how I felt about that is. I’m happy to admit that none of this is about me. Ma Agnes would deﬁnitely do a better job than 152 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . tap dance. The least they could do is be more entertaining. Perhaps instead of stuﬃng stupid pamphlets. speak to me and kiss my baby. rather than us ﬁnding you. Not that it works better elsewhere. jam-packed with political jargon I don’t want to read. Work up a sweat and amuse me. I ain’t voting. 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. screw you guys. Democracy sucks in this country. it was my duty to go out and ﬁnd these individuals on the posters. into my mailbox. to conﬁrm myself whether Urkel. you can make the eﬀort to go out and ﬁnd us. the entire cast of Isidingo could make a great provincial cabinet. you need to get a little creative about these things. get him out of here!” I’d deﬁnitely vote for Bra Georgi. I know they won’t vote for peeing in the streets. Now wouldn’t that be something. Apparently. Slu.” 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. Hell. Come on.
an unpatriotic South African. 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. who wouldn’t listen to Ma Agnes? But they would never allow celebrities in politics in this country because then we’d be entertained. And deciding who to vote for is just the half of it. I prefer happiness over exhaustion and punching my ﬁst in the air next to Scarface. And making sure companies you are a board member of get Let The Masses Eat Pap 153 . Then there’s the actual process itself – marking your cross. And our politicians are not in favour of happy people. I prefer watching Kelly Khumalo getting sweaty on stage than me sweating in the sun at Orlando Stadium. music festivals and other happy occasions on public holidays. I’m sorry. we’re supposed to go sit in the sun at Orlando Stadium and listen to sweaty. stop stabbing other kids! It’s not right. I mean. Ma Agnes is both tough and empathetic at the same time. This is a hard thing to do. Maybe that makes me a bad South African. Now you have to believe and hope that your chosen gang will do what they said they would. fat chance! Now you have to look forward to ﬁve years of people doing everything but create a better life for all.” And they would have to stop that nonsense because. the movies. And optimising car discounts. Instead. Stuﬀ like pulling the plug on World Cup stadiums. “Ngwanake. Guilty as charged. coat-hanger salesmen and general homeless people – all these “nuisances” – are driven oﬀ the streets of Cape Town. that’s it – bye bye. Getting really disagreeable and calling each other dictators is also a favourite pastime. it seems. 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. angry politicians try to bore us to death. Once you’ve chosen. And being entertained means we wouldn’t be miserable all the time. man. see you in ﬁve years. I’m going with Kelly. That’s why we are always shouted at and told not to go to braais. Stuﬀ like making sure the vagrants. Still. She would slap silly those kids with knives. and tell them. Big.that perpetually bemused Gauteng Education MEC woman.
And the masses would be sure to get a little bit of gravy with their pap. And if you’re dumb enough to think that choosing another street gang to represent you over the current lot is going to make a diﬀerence. I blame democracy. 154 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . think again. if they let Ma Agnes run this country alone for ten uninterrupted years. It’s akin to being asked how you’d like to be killed – by decapitation or a bullet to the head? Personally. Meanwhile. This is what happens in the ﬁve years. Rather than this bickering lot we’ve voted for. they let the masses eat pap – as before. we’d get something done.all the government contracts. As well as not spending the money allocated to your department. The options we have are not real options at all.
Let The Masses Eat Pap 155 .
My criminal life .
I know. A stone’s throw away in KwaMashu. Which is mostly because they were rotten shots. I think most people have just witnessed a change in the nature of the crime. I can’t give you the current crime statistics in Umhlanga. you see. but I imagine they are up a few hundred per cent from a decade or two ago. I saw my ﬁrst corpse when I was ﬁve years old. I never got used to it. I grew up in a township. Hunting communists was signiﬁcantly higher on the list. hacked or bludgeoned with a weapon every single Friday in my neighbourhood. crime has been a part of my life. I was mugged at knife-point on a train between the Reunion and Isipingo stations in the south of Durban. It was just a normal part of my life growing up – a right royal tragedy. And that’s not a ﬁgure of speech. That was 30 years ago. It just seems that the crime has spread itself more evenly across the country. I had shots ﬁred at me from almost point-blank range at my father’s house in an attempted hijacking of his car. Years ago. The good news is they didn’t leave with the car. More recently and disturbingly. nothing much has changed. My grandmother used to work in Umhlanga Rocks. Ever since I can remember. To be honest. But 20 years ago our boys in blue weren’t particularly concerned with inane endeavours such as ﬁghting actual crime. 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. Pretty much every weekend I walked to the shops and saw drops of blood on the pavement.outh Africa has a crime problem. But by the time I was about ten. which was a generally crime-free part of the world back in the day. I have to concede that my friends and I had been desensitised to a degree. 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. So they discharged their ﬁrearms in my general direction to expedite my arrival there. S 158 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . From where I’m standing today. I’ve been a victim of a long list of crimes in my time. I literally mean that someone was stabbed. Violent crime is impossible to get used to.
Durban. (Long story involving being kicked out of a Pinetown ﬂat due to an unruly ﬂatmate’s My Criminal Life 159 . So please. this all makes me highly qualiﬁed to speak rather authoritatively on crime. hardcore-jazz CDs that few people would appreciate. About R30. we all think we’re qualiﬁed.000 worth of those were obscure. 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. you best believe life would be about to get real uncomfortable for criminals. Egotistical notions such as a lasting legacy would not hamper my presidency. If the South African public was ever foolish enough to vote me into the Union Buildings. It seems that our police oﬃcers spend a disproportionate amount of time arresting drunken university students on our beaches. I know. (Yes. if you’ve come across a copy of Miles Davis’s Tutu with the initials NN on it. and raping dicks guillotined. If you’re not clear on it just yet. contact me. In the South African context.) And I have some pretty strong views on the subject. Breathalysing alcoholics on Victoria Embankment is right up there – while paedophiles brutalise threemonth-old babies just down the road. I’d institute laws that would make the Taliban look like a bunch of limp-wristed pinko-liberals. west of 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. 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. I lived for three months in a nonstarter of a township called KwaNdengezi in the greater Pinetown area. Stealing hands would deﬁnitely be chopped oﬀ. my wife and I were relieved of about R40. 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.000 worth of CDs in Morningside. And not too long ago.
for all they knew. 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 merely shrugged and wondered how many times it happens in less prominent cases. 160 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . Upon investigation we discovered that it was a police van. They beeped their horn twice. at least the rooster crowed three times. Recently. I made a discreet phone call to the supposedly long arm of the law to come rescue our goods and possibly our lives. a few hundred metres from the police station. I want to see this. I want to see what they’ll do. 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.” They beeped the horn again – and then the police van started pulling oﬀ slowly… These days.) A burglar entered the house while I was still up being regaled by the comedic “genius” of one Sinbad. “Wait. Twice! And then. I was getting up to answer to the hoot of the law when a housemate grabbed me by the arm. they left us in the hands of housebreaking. 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. whenever I hear those terrible stories of vigilantism and mob justice. 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. Even when St Peter’s faith wavered (bless that gentle. possibly murderous scum. dreaming of beating up hard-working Zimbabwean illegal immigrants in Westdene. I guess they hated the fact that they were working an actual crime scene.shenanigans – God rest his soul. They were probably standing there around that house with a faraway look in their eyes. I tend to sympathise because I understand how it comes about. They have no idea whether the bad guys are still here and holding us hostage at gunpoint or not. oh.” I didn’t think it was worth mentioning the fact that I lived. So I locked myself in the bedroom and listened to the sounds of housebreaking scum transporting my things up and down the passage. bearded Catholic man).
maybe it isn’t.1. So I’d really love to see the Procedure To Apprehend Housebreaking Murderous Scum. but I doubt that it reads as follows: 3. This might all seem unfair on our law enforcement fellows. 3. confectionery items and coﬀee.) 3.1 Standard operational procedure when apprehending housebreaking murderous scum 3. Society is in danger from some people with open beer cans.1. 3. If not.1. proceed to the house in which the occupants might be in the process of being gang-raped.9 Now head for the nearest beach. 3. Hopefully there is one.5 Approach the house carefully just to be certain that the felons have. I’ve been assured that our guys are more than adequately trained.1. surround the Durban University Of Technology Steve Biko campus and beat the living crap out of partying students. (The bad guys might still be there.From what I’ve heard from a variety of minister types in grey suits and parliamentary Committees On This-That-And-The-Other. Maybe it is. 3.6 Park the police vehicle outside the gate with engine running just in case the housebreaking scum are still there.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. You are now in the clear.1 Wait 90 minutes to ensure dangerous felons have suﬃcient time to secure the house in question. 184.108.40.206 Make a detour to an ex-girlfriend’s ﬂat and point a loaded ﬁrearm at her head and threaten to end her life.1.1.8 Beep your horn a second time and then start pulling oﬀ. There might be horny husbands looking to take the edge oﬀ on Point Road with prostitutes.7 Beep your horn once. I stand to be corrected. indeed. Keep revving the engine to avoid stalling. remember.) 3. 3. left. (You never know.4 As an afterthought. I’m 35 years old and I have never been helped by a member of My Criminal Life 161 .1.
162 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . What had these lawless citizens done to deserve being removed from society for the night? They drank cider in public. passed out on a Strand Road pavement in the Cape Town CBD. They may even give him a few klaps if he shows any drunken resistance. I’ve had this question thrown at me: “What would you like us to do?” I don’t know. Not one member of that august organisation in blue uniform came to have a look at the bullet holes in the walls and the ﬂoor. If members of the police services ﬁnd Gatiep pissed out of his mind. in any case. murderous scum? Two beeps and oﬀ we go. guys dusting for prints and taking statements – something! When I went to the police station after I was shot at inside my parents’ house. 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. And that was the last time the matter was ever discussed. You know. they don’t hoot at him twice and then move on. Kicking 18-year-old female university students in the butt. 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. Not even to stand around and look important. I’ll tell you where I have seen them.our police services – not directly. It may be my cynical mind at work again. North Beach. The worst Gatiep can threaten them with is the odour of his piss-stained pants. Did I mention these were 18year-old female students? Considering the consistent. They carry out their duties with extraordinary zeal and fervour. let alone when I’ve gone there to report a crime. But for housebreaking. shoving them into the back of a van. 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. If anything. Durban. the guy took my statement in three instalments. though. each about 45 minutes apart. I have never received courteous service from them – not even when I’ve merely wanted them to certify a copy of my ID book. visible presence of members of our security agencies wherever the public is congregated for purposes of pleasure. I think it’s safe to say that this is their chosen area of focus. At one stage he decided to take a tea break.
To illustrate his excellent point. We were unrepentant. 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. this didn’t discourage our hell-bound asses from our carrot-looting ways. He pontiﬁcated that. 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. We merely nodded. Yes. “Shit is shit” was his rallying. the cut-and-dried lines that deﬁne right and wrong have become signiﬁcantly more blurry. grey rules my life these days. continued digging up the carrot patch and waited for Judgment Day. he used to liken sin to excrement. decaying mind. we had a Bible-bashing teacher named Mr Gatsheni who drilled into our impressionable heads the absoluteness of sin. 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. with narrow edges of black and white on either side. Of course. Sis’ Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and your moral-regeneration crusade. I did it. It was all me – and the devil did not make me do it. His whole point being that excrement stinks just the same irrespective of the amount. When I was in junior school. Except for the few hypocritical hours I spend at Holy Mass each year. But in my limited. there is now a broad band of grey. Forgive me. He had an unwavering faith and no-one doubted the appropriateness of his self-appointed role as the Almighty’s spokesman. snotfaced little devils. sin-busting cry. As I’ve grown older. 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. the magnitude of the sin is irrelevant: sin is sin. it’s because I am. we did not have counter-arguments against such inﬁnite wisdom. Where there used to be black and white on the canvas of morality. If a tenyear-old street kid stole R10 from you.If it sounds like I’m suggesting that the cops ease up on the “petty” crimes and concentrate on the more serious crimes. would you diligently ensure that he was My Criminal Life 163 . At age ten. We merely shrugged our shoulders. killing a baby to sell its body parts is on a somewhat diﬀerent plane to inhaling a herb that brings me closer to Jah.
going to suﬀer the indignity of having to call mommy dearest to bring him R200 for the admission-of-guilt ﬁne. Tshepo. the Wits University student who is caught with a cannabis blunt outside a club in Norwood is. at worst. There is some good work being 164 Some Of My Best Friends Are White .sent to a correctional facility? Let’s ask that diﬀerently. 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. give the whole Esplanade-prostitute-donnering scene over to the car guards as well. I do not believe that the area of focus for our crack squad of highly trained. Hell. apprehending vagrants and students drinking beer. and the eagerness with which they pursue gangsters who bring death and mayhem to our streets every day. eﬃcient Durban Metro Police oﬃcers should be the removal of hiccuping hobos drinking cheap brandy from paper bags on Addington Beach. I’m being overly silly about all this. What’s the point of them standing in the sun the whole day at the Pavilion. We could remove all the car guards from our shopping-mall parking lots. So I propose that the police oﬃcers should focus on major crimes. in practical terms it boils down to economics. giving parking lessons to housewives? And the car guards already have uniforms – which. But let’s not go oﬀ the deep end here. is an integral part of law enforcement. such as drunk-and-disorderly behaviour. of course. as we all know. If you have a ten-year-old son and he pinches R10 from your wallet to go get himself a Magnum ice cream. I think oﬃcers trained in world-class detective methods are a bit of overkill for the beach. give them pepper spray and make them patrol the 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. Lebo. and being grounded for three months. who is caught with a blunt in Alexandra. 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 law enforcement of more minor oﬀences should be given over to another force – car guards.
tight-ﬁtting polyester pants rather enjoy the petty-crime scene. I have a confession to make.” “Shit. We couldn’t aﬀord R5-a-shot brandy at Shunter’s Pub at The Workshop Mall. 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. So I’m personally going with Rudy Giuliani. 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. Fair enough. I know next to nothing about criminology. I’d also probably go with locking up students in Norwood over that whole cash-intransit scene. It’s not hard to understand why. Not too many gunﬁre exchanges in Norwood. Don’t move. 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. and 18-year-old Lebo pointing a 9mm pistol at my head on the corner of Bowling and Catherine two years later.” 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. I imagine – that the boys in blue. I’ve only got R75. Unfortunately. There should be a cash-in-transit van in the vicinity – just grabbing my AK and I’ll be back in a jiﬀy. 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. 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. If I were a cop. so that ain’t going to work over here. But it’s hard not to get the sense – as most of us do at times.done by our police force. with his focuson-the-nuisances approach that seems to have rescued New York City from its crime-riddled lows in the ’80s. New York is not South Africa. At times like these it’s always handy to blame someone for the situation we ﬁnd ourselves in. After all. so a few friends and I decided we were going to consume some brandy in paper tumblers in the park outside. what sharp law-enforcement mind could My Criminal Life 165 .
if we’re so keen on foreign cut-and-paste jobs. could we not rather follow the UK’s lead? (What a suggestion from a darkie!) The ﬁrst time I visited England. That’s a good example of a stupid law that we should target and eradicate (to be replaced with a regulated system). 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. Now. The ﬁrst time I tried drinking in public in England was in Greenwich Village. Well done. with a laptop.see through this ingenious paper-tumbler ploy? Fifteen minutes later we were literally cast among the sodomites in the notorious CR Swart holding cells. 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. I realised that 166 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . 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. Please understand that I’m not blaming anyone but me for that episode. But the law is the law – however dumb. I was certain it was a trap and I was being set up. And when I ﬁnally realised just how paranoid I was being. I was convinced someone had unplugged my mind from the matrix – or something similar. Eventually I let my mind be free and I gave it a go. I had learnt my lesson as a 17-year-old student in CR Swart jail and I refused to consume any alcohol in public. one of those guys in black with funny hats. There is never any excuse to break the law. my mind refused to accept this for a long time. sat down and hid my beer underneath it in between sips. 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. I was on the Underground one afternoon and there was a guy in a black suit. bought some Stella on tap and walked outside with it. Of course. Finally I saw a bench. Everywhere I went people were guzzling down long cans of Stella while out walking their dogs. the Brits! But just like those born inside the matrix. And we have lots of stupid laws. I kept on looking around for a copper with a whistle – you know. sipping on some Jack Daniel’s. I went to a pub on the banks of River Thames.
law-abiding citizens would think hard about this new situation and say to themselves. You’ve just punished an individual of limited intellect for not having the presence of mind to look after himself. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve never been convinced that the zeal in giving out tickets had anything to with saving lives – but the roadworks are adequately funded. you haven’t made the world a safer place. 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. Something tells me that decent. I’d much rather you saved a senior citizen who was being hacked to death in her home in those 20 minutes.” But I could be wrong – I’m wrong about things all the time. That’s my vote for where the Minister Of Safety My Criminal Life 167 . I’m merely pointing out that by spending 20 minutes giving that retard a ticket. The most diligently enforced laws are traﬃc laws. 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. “Hey. of course. and who ﬁght and urinate in public. (What’s that? Cynical. 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. Especially in my home province of KZN. even though the carnage on the roads continues unabated. I’m going to try that belligerent. 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. street-pissing thing from now on. there is always the riﬀraﬀ who get drunk and belligerent. law-abiding citizens would be split into two groups. in their inﬁnite wisdom. One thing I’m certain wouldn’t happen is that peaceful. I’m not advocating the foolishness of driving without a seatbelt.those few moments walking with my beer in hand in public had made me feel strangely free. 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. by the way). But that bunch already exists and is doing exactly that now with the law in place. I wonder what our great leaders. Of course.
And Security should be focusing his energy. They don’t have to spend all their energy clamping down on the guy whose meter has expired. Charles. Hey. tell your boys to start cracking down on those bad guys waving guns at peaceful. 168 Some Of My Best Friends Are White . please. beer-drinking guys like me. Or worse. So maybe you don’t care what I think. 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. I have a criminal past. But then again.
My Criminal Life 169 .
. bad drivers. with no regard for political correctness or sacred cows of any size. ISBN 9781920137250 Is It Coz I’m Black? . 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. traditional weddings. government incompetence and angry-white-male syndrome.ALSO BY TWO DOGS. Included among his targets this time around are his coloured cousins. The result is another collection of laser-sharp commentary.. shape or form – South African satire at its best. personal-security paranoia. xenophobia.
Hermanus. corruption. bank fees. Fresh topics include Afrikaans music. gas braais... acerbic and deeply satirical A-to-Z frothy that cuts to the quick. Julius Malema. sparing nothing and no-one that aﬀects our lives. Facebook. 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. the Vodacom meerkat. Paris Hilton. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. 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 .ALSO BY TWO DOGS. cataloguing the never-ending kakness of our times. Telkom. Portaloos. quotas. Robert Mugabe. 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. personalised plates. Car guards. Kevin Pietersen. crime. Eskom.
John Wardall and Tim Richman A pro-SA take on life in our ﬁve top emigration destinations – Australia.co. the US and Canada – from ﬁve South African journalists who’ve been there and done that.. Rick Crosier.ALSO BY TWO DOGS. The updated edition includes recent author interviews and a new preface. Why I’ll Never Live In Oz Again By Andrew Donaldson. New Zealand. the UK.za .twodogs. Josef Talotta.. “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.
“A hilarious collection of ballsy. Some Of My Best Friends Are White takes an enlightened look at this Rainbow Nation of ours. he says everything you ever thought but never quite had the brains to put together in a cohesive. Lekker. Venturing without skaam across the colour barrier – through turbulent townships. in-your-face writing… Ndumiso Ngcobo is PJ O’Rourke with too much melanin and minus the jingoistic tendencies. 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.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. my bhuti. funny argument” – Kgomotso Matsunyane South African Nonﬁction .
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