Tag: Zuma

Thinking about drinking like an African

A few days ago, President Zuma said we should stop thinking like Africans, although I am fairly sure that he meant to say we should stop drinking like Africans. It would have made more sense. Anyway, our fearless leader is not known for making much sense. It’s why we love him.

I thought he might be onto something, though. Just because we live in Africa doesn’t mean we have to think like an African any more than we have to speak, look or taste like one. And so I spent much of the past week thinking like other nationalities.

I started off by thinking like the English. This came quite naturally to me because I think in English and it’s easier to think like a particular nationality if your thoughts are in the language of that particular group. This sounds more complex than it is. I think this is what long-suffering spin doctor Mac Maharaj was getting at when he said the president sometimes gets his words mixed up because English isn’t his home language.

The problem with thinking like the English is that almost immediately you start complaining about things. It’s raining too much. It’s not raining enough. Blasted beggars at the traffic lights. Them darkies are making an awful mess of running the country. Good help is so hard to find these days. I also found myself nipping down to the pub a lot more. When I was thinking like an African, I’d go to the bottle store. I would get into conversations with strangers and moan endlessly about the weather and how David Cameron needed to pull up his socks if he hoped to get my support next year.

Then I tried thinking like the Germans. I woke up and reorganised my cupboard. After colour-coding my socks and folding my underwear into perfect little triangles, I went off for a breakfast of schlackwurst, bratwurst, blutwurst, schwarzwurst, leberwurst and rollmops. If I were in Syria, the UN weapons inspectors would have mistaken me for a biological weapon. The trouble started when I waddled out into the city. My brain began having miniature seizures. The littering. The jaywalking. The shouting. The hooting. Mein Gott im Himmel! And all of this to a German porn soundtrack in my head.

On top of it, I was struck by an unfamiliar urge to separate my garbage. Even worse, my sense of humour was slipping away. I had to think like someone else quickly or risk going mad. When Germans go mad, they put ads in the paper asking for volunteers to cook and eat them.

This time I chose the Russians and found myself waiting for the bottle store to open. I took my vodka into a park and it wasn’t long before I was going up to people and shouting at them about those bastard Chechen rebels, the gays in government, the tyranny of babushkas and the shocking price of potatoes. At one point, I was crying because I was in love with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, the pretty one from Pussy Riot. That’s all I remember.

The next day I decided to think like an Israeli. After instructing builders to add another five metres to my boundary walls, I declared my house a sovereign state and annexed the neighbour’s back yard. His dog bit me when I tried to put up a flag. There will be retaliatory strikes when he least expects it. I stuck an ‘Occupied Territory’ sign on my bathroom door, locked myself inside and prayed for eighteen hours for the total destruction of my enemies. After that I felt guilty and tried thinking like an American.

This one suited me the most. I felt even more like one of God’s chosen people than I did when I was thinking like an Israeli. I began to find that the idea of oil – olive or engine – excited me more than it should. My voice went up several decibels and I was taken by conflicting urges to buy a gun, become a hippie, kiss a man, hurl abuse at homos, evangelise my suburb, torch a church, buy an SUV, save the environment, go to war, join a peace movement, fill up on hamburgers and go to gym.

It was all too exhausting. I felt myself drifting perilously close to stereotyping those who do not think like me. The last thing I needed was to be accused of bigotry and intellectual indolence. That’s the domain of Julius Malema and Steve Hofmeyr.

In the end, I found it easier to just go back to thinking like an African. Time to work on a new get-rich-quick scheme. But first a nap. Then something to eat. And maybe a post-snack snooze. Followed by drinks. And later, sex.

I’m feeling better already.

An open letter to the matric class of 2013

Dear adultlings,

Congratulations on making it to the end of the beginning. Twelve years of being bullied, belittled and, in several thousand cases, banged up. A South African education prepares you for real life like no other.

I wish I could give you some advice on how to get through the exams without suffering a nervous breakdown. When I hear the word ‘exams’, my sphincter snaps shut and my knees sweat. And that’s not only because the last exam I took involved my prostate.

I regard the brutally interrogative nature of exams with fear and loathing. Sit down and shut up. Don’t move. Don’t look around. Answer these questions. Now. Think very carefully before you answer. Tell us how much you know. Tell us everything. And be warned. If your answers are wrong, we will make sure you never go to university. You will never find a job. We will destroy you.

If it were up to me, kiddo, you wouldn’t be asked to simplify tan(90° + x) .sin(-x-180°). In fact, I can’t believe they are still teaching this filth in our schools. If you are 18 and interested in relationships between fixed points and angles, you’re in a whole lot of trouble and I can’t help you.

Trigonometry is the work of the devil. Sure, it can tell you the distance to a nearby star. But why do you need to know this? Are you planning on going there? Don’t you think your mother would start worrying when she last heard from you five light years ago?

The only numbers you need to know are the cellphone numbers of people who work for the government. Call them up and ask them to organise a job for you. Bribe, blackmail or threaten them. The main thing is to get your bum in the butter.

If you don’t manage to crack the Grade 12 pass mark of 30 percent, don’t despair. President Zuma has a Grade Four education and look how well he is doing.

Of course, you are going to have to find a way of getting other people to subsidise your lifestyle. You probably have the gift of the gab, right? After all, you must have spent the last decade talking in class instead of paying attention.

Start a political party. Tell people they will rot in hell if they don’t give you money. And smile a lot. If you can dance, so much the better. Make sure they watch your feet, not your hands.

The rest of you will soon have a senior certificate in your grubby little paws. This is an important piece of paper and will come in useful when you’re jobless and homeless and need something to burn to keep warm at night.

As a new cog in a very old machine, you may feel a little lost in this big, grown-up world. Don’t worry. It won’t last for long. Soon you will have lots of new friends phoning you at all hours of the day and night. Many of them will work for Sars, the municipality, traffic department, insurance companies, estate agencies and banks.

Not all of them will want your money. Some will want your vote. Others will want your soul. Try to fight off the politicians and proselytisers for as long as you can.

Also, get yourself a gun. If you find yourself being chased down the N2 by the police or hemmed in by a car full of blue-light bodyguards, the decent and patriotic thing to do is shoot yourself. This saves them the trouble of having to do it and they can get back to doing the important work we pay them to do.

So, good luck, then. I do hope you aren’t the ones to nudge my country over the edge and into the abyss.