Eureka! That’s a nice name for a girl, isn’t it? And a natural progression, methinks, on all these Storms and Summers gaily trotting around clutching Daddy’s cycle-gloved hand in breakfast places on a Sunday morning. If you have been hanging out under Julius Malema’s bar of soap and not paying the slightest bit of attention, I am dead keen to become a father. And should the old chromos produces a girl child, I shall call her Eureka.
Not because I don’t like the name Jane. Or because I absolutely dig the way “Eureka Hatman” scans… but because, should Eureka get lost while my gaze is disturbingly locked on making sure my bike doesn’t get nicked while having a Full House at some trendy breakfast place on a Sunday morning, and I go into an entertaining panic and shout out her name, all of the other breakfasting cyclist daddies might come running over to see what it is I’ve discovered. I always wanted to be an inventor.
Size does matter. But don’t ask a mosquito or a Jack Russell, ask a sardine.
I don’t think their lifestyle is anything near ideal. But I suppose some life-forms, such as worms, prawns and Paris Hilton, are just feeble fodder for something far larger and hungrier.
So you’re a sardine. There you are, hanging with lots of friends and making your way timidly up the east coast of South Africa, checking out the pretty coral reefs and the colourful undersides of surfboards when… wham, your best mate disappears into a gannet.
Damn. But you put it down to bad luck and swim a little faster. Kapow! Your twin sister gets taken by a tuna. Next thing, there’s a sound not dissimilar to a giant Deluxe Supa-Strength Hoover sucking in bathwater and you look around and find your entire family, including a distant cousin and a few hangers-on, have been baitballed up into a nice, juicy orb and swallowed, along with the tuna still digesting your twin sister, by a chuffing Great White.
Where’s the fun in this, you ask yourself, and hook up with a new shoal who look like they know what they’re doing and head with them for shallower waters. No sooner are you there and some big chick in a sari and smelling faintly of curry powder and assorted exotic spices is scooping you into a bucket. A cheap one from Checkers, nogal.
Not nice. If you drew one of life’s short straws and you’re not much bigger and a lot hungrier, like a Great White or even a Great Big Black… like Julius Malema. He’s always on the right side of a feeding frenzy, isn’t he?
But before I am tempted to digress any further, please pull up the closest deckchair, apply some Factor 30 and enjoy The Greatest Shoal On Earth (as provided each and every July by South Africa’s eastern seaboard)…
How cool was that? I think that even a sardine, if it would just choose to step back for a few minutes and try to be dispassionate about everything, would see the coolness in that spectacular vid. Especially as I threw the inimitable voice of David Attenborough into the mix as well. What a legend.
Right. Where are we? Oh, yes, the World Cup. Twenty-nine matches down, many more compelling dramas to come! None more so for we South Africans than tomorrow afternoon’s crunch encounter against the children of France.
Sacre bleu!Are you up to speed with what’s been going down, down, down in the French camp? And it has been very camp, more Folies de Bergere than what you would expect of a team which won the World Cup in 1998.
Let’s kick it off by watching a moerserort (helluva fight) between captain and lead dancer Patrice Evra and fitness coach and make-up artiste Robert Duverne during “training” yesterday…
Magnifique, hey? Did you see Laverne come over all Jonty Rhodes as he flung his Fifa accreditation badge out of the ground? You just have to love the French penchant for getting around a table and ironing out any creases in their fishnet stoc… I mean, their preparations for the biggest game they may face for years to come.
To sum up. captain Evra then went to sulk on the team bus, the rest of the players joined him, they got into a team huddle, had a little drizz (cry) and decided to go to play some Playstation instead of doing any training. Beautiful. After smouldering over their game consoles for a bit, the players released a statement castigating the French Football Federation for sending Nicolas Anelka, star striker and the most melancholy diva of them all, home to France after he told head coach Raymond Domenech, a man with less personality than the World Cup trophy, to (and I quote) “Go f**k yourself you son of a whore.” Nice.
So where does this leave France at this World Cup? Halfway up a drainpipe outside somebody else’s wife’s apartment in the middle of the night without their trousers on, I would venture.
And where does it leave Bafana Bafana? Needing to beat the French team, as hopping mad as a wheelbarrow full of frogs, by at least three goals in Bloemfontein tomorrow night. If they even turn up. Fine. There’s never been a better time to do the seemingly impossible, or what seemed impossible before the start of this World Cup.
And, as if Aaron and the boys needed any further motivation, here’s a little statement Julius Malema, ANC Youth League president and No. 1 fan of this blog, sent me this morning: “I urge all South Africans to get behind Bafana Bafana and blow their vuvuzelas like never before to help us get the result we need to progress to the final round. I have faced many challenges in my life and I know that the best time to kick a man in his trouser is when he is trouserless. And these French agents, who colonised a large part of Africa and who now seem to only have people from countries they colonised in the team, have nothing left in their trouser. I have enjoyed seeing the imperialist teams of England, Italy, Portugal and France struggle on African soil and they must not be allowed to colonise our World Cup and take it home. Viva to the 11 men representing the eternal struggle, Viva!”
Nice, JuJu. Very well put. I don’t know how to follow that so will play out with a nice little tune to send the “SA-positive” gees (spirit) soaring even higher…
If any country can produce a miracle, it is ours. Viva, Bafana, Viva!
After falling out of bed at Hatman Mansions at 5.45am in our sleepy village of Stanford this morning I stood – as is my habit – on The Blogorandah (my verandah), sipping last night’s cold tea, took a lungful of Marlboro and called for that bloody cat which does little else than stare at me.
But, even before Teapot had had a chance to issue forth its first miaow of the day, the haunting sound of a far-off vuvuzela caressed my ears. Yes, I said “caressed”, not “assailed”. For I am truly “SA-positive”, remember?
This lone vuvu wailed from the direction of Die Skema, the place on a hill above Stanford where the coloured Stanfordians mostly live. This vuvu-parper was getting his lungs warmed up for the midday call for South Africans to parp their support for our beautiful World Cup, now merely a matter of a couple of thousand minutes away. Can you feel it? Can your hear it? I could… from one of the creases inside the very distant Overberg!
But nothing prepared me for the outbreak of vuvu fever which resounded around our country today. This was reflected on the social media networks, where the hashtag word “vuvuzela” became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter and Facebook was awash with updates expressing joyous surprise at the level to which World Cup ecstasy was taken.
Let’s take a gander at what that looked like… and then I’ll throw in a video of Cape Town’s Long Street in vuvuzelic eruption for you to enjoy!
Twitter went vuvulistic, sending the word "vuvuzela" into the Top 10 trending topics worldwide! Paaaarp!
Facebook had a "feel-it" day with my fb friends spilling out of their skin to tell the world that South Africa was officially the noisiest country on the planet today!
How was that? Er, no, sorry, there is no known cure for “yellowshirt fever”… so let’s all just die happy! Even Julius Malema, the chastised and somewhat chastened leader of the ANC Youth League, tweeted out his support for Bafana Bafana and urged the country to unite in blowing their vuvuzelas for this World Cup. How do I know this? Well, JuJu and I, er, follow each other on Twitter, don’t we?
There you go... JuJu sings his "Kiss the Vuvuzela" song to the nation. And who, might I ask, would argue with such sound logic?
How cool is that? Amazing how Julius has calmed down since Sepp Blatter, Godfather of the Fifafia, became South Africa’s Public Enemy No 1, hey? Still, Jules, if you’re reading this – and I know you do – give me a shout anytime you want to send out another of your press releases to the good people of South Africa.
But I digress. Here’s that video I promised you. Sent over by my totally rad mates at CapeTownAlive! and filmed with the help of supercool video-sharing website Zoopy…
Nice. Now that’s what I call a country on the verge of giving the planet its craziest, most beautiful, friendliest, most human-spirited World Cup yet. How does that make you feel in your tummy? Warm and fuzzy, hey? Yes. I’m happy. Because, as your only “medically diagnosed SA-positive” blogger, that’s what I am on this earth to do… rub your tummies until they feel so warm and fuzzy. Ayoba!
* I have joined the London Guardian’s World Cup Fans Network for the duration of the World Cup football finals. It is a phenomenal concept, one which uses Twitter to bring the voices (or tweets) of fans of all 32 competing countries together on one forum for the tournament. If you would like to see what I’m saying about Bafana Bafana and the impact on South Africa of the biggest sporting event to ever be staged in our beloved country, follow my tweets by following me on Twitter! If Facebook is more your social media thang, go to my Facebook profile and request to be a friend or simply join the \”Fred Hatman\” group for updates on my latest blogposts… which are not only about the World Cup!
OK. You Hatpeople brave enough to regularly enter this blogspace know that my mission in life is to enrich yours. That’s what I do. I can’t help it. I was put on this planet to make you feel better.
To help you rise above the drudgery of your daily lives in South Africa, a country painted by London tabloid newspapers as being more barren of pleasure than the Siberian hamlet of Hellonearthagrad, a South African nation on the brink of civil war and facing certain episodes of earthquake, volcanic eruption, drought, floods, terrorist attacks, general pestilence and regular outbreaks of typhoid, scurvy and the particularly nasty Malemaria. All of this during the four weeks of the World Cup.
Oh, and yellow fever… which a medical expert at Groote Schuur Hospital tells me has no cure and involves millions of free radicals moving around the body of South Africa wearing yellow jerseys, blowing vuvuzelas and doing the Diski Dance. In which case I’m already infected and about to die and go to heaven. Boo-hoo.
But, of course, I have digressed. Where was I? Oh, yes, I was about to lift you out of your British tabloid-blighted lives and put an “SA-positive” smile on your dial.
No problemo, babies. Fix yourselves a drink to suit the time of day (it may just be your personal time for Happy Hour?), flop back into your Laziman recliner, light something (I’m not encouraging you to break any laws, OK?) and try not to touch yourself while you watch this beautiful scenario unfold… (I suggest you click on “Full Screen” at top right to soak it all up in full Sensaround)
Wow. How was that for you. You feel like lighting up now, don’t you? Because the earth moved for you didn’t it? That’s cool. I felt like that too.
This 360 degree virtual tour malarkey was produced by John Gore and his very clever camera which is certainly a step up from the Kodak Instamatic I point at cute kids and puppies. Lekker, hey? And that was just Cape Town Stadium which, as my Cape Town readers are fond of pointing out, I didn’t like nearly as much as the stunning Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durbs or Soccer City in Jozi.
Never mind. No city can have the world’s most photographed mountain AND the best stadium. And, as soon as my mate John has got his 360 degree angles working around Moses Mabhida and Soccer City, I’ll take you on a tour of those too.
Because, as I keep saying, I only exist to give you good reason to want to keep on living in the most sublime country in the world. The one that is about to stage the most beautiful World Cup the planet has ever seen. In roughly 192 hours from now. Ye Gods, I’m spilling out of my skin here at that thought!
I am fed up to the back teeth with the “SA-negatives”, both South African and foreign, who seem to be willing our soon-to-be-phenomenal World Cup – and our beloved nation – to fail.
Did they even bother to witness the scenes of beautiful “ubuntu” which played out between the predominantly white Bulls and Stormers supporters and the almost entirely black locals of Soweto when the two South African rugby franchises contested the Super 14 final at the Orlando Stadium in the famous township on Saturday?
The genius who first suggested that the Bulls’ Super 14 semi-final and then the final of the southern hemisphere’s rugby tournament be played in the heart of overwhelmingly soccer-mad Soweto should be awarded the Order of the Totally Like Solid Gold Makarapa by President Jacob Zuma. And two VIP tickets so he can wear it to the World Cup final. His was the biggest chuffing brainwave since Einstein invented that E equals whatever formula thing it was that the old mad-haired fogey came up with.
The rugby-in-Soweto bright spark’s suggestion led to, on the eve of the most human-spirited World Cup this planet will ever witness, the most beautiful nation-building exercise our beloved country has seen since Madiba wore Francois Pienaar’s jersey and lifted the rugby World Cup trophy at Ellis Park 15 years ago.
In celebration of these momentous events, Mark Berger, who goes around showing people how to shift from convincing themselves the world will end tomorrow to believing they too can make it a far better place in which to live, has sent me a very soul-stirring and heartwarming article… which follows this introduction.
Read… and be inspired. If you’re not inspired, then bugger off to Perth (if you’re not already there and boring everybody to death with your tales of doom)… I’ve personally had quite enough of you lot. Bloody agents!
The Story of the Pessimist, the Optimist and the Realist.
Did you hear the one about the optimist who accidentally fell from the roof of a 100-storey building? Someone down on the 50th floor saw him falling past an open window saying: “So Far So Good!”
On Saturday I witnessed an historic event – two South African rugby teams playing in a Super 14 final at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto. It was amazing to see the stadium full of cheering rugby fans, the cacophony of droning vuvuzelas, the colourful makarapas and President Zuma pitching up to greet the players before kick-off. For an optimist like me, this was a significant event, one which brought back powerful emotional memories of Rugby World Cup 1995. (Although back then my team won the game…)
A Bulls rugby fan attempts an opskop during a township gumboot dancing competition with a traditional dancer outside Orlando Stadium on Saturday. Mooi, man! Pic: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images
Of course the pessimists will say it was a non-event, a sham, nothing more than a shortlived publicity stunt for political gain. The realists will say it was only a rugby game; South Africa has much more pressing (and depressing) issues to overcome.
Henry Ford once said: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t – you are right.” I think the same applies to belief in the future success of our country – if you think we can or you think we can’t – you are right! It depends upon whether you are a pessimist, optimist or realist.
Right now, the pessimists are having a field day regarding South Africa. Like Karoo sheep they will bleat about Crime, Corruption, Malema, Zuma, The Erosion of Land Rights, Senseless Farm Murders, the Crumbling Justice System, Poor Service Delivery, Nationalisation of Mines, Unemployment and Cadre Deployment et al.
And they are absolutely RIGHT! Every one of these issues is evidence of their being right. We face massive challenges, challenges which the pessimists believe we as a nation will not be able to overcome. They insist that our country, like the optimist who fell off the building, is falling rapidly towards a major disaster. In their opinion it’s only a matter of time before the mango really hits the fan. They repeatedly tell the optimists to get out of denial and start facing the grim reality of what, in their opinion, is the inevitable decline of another African economy. Just look at the evidence from up north they say, from Mad Bob to Gaddafi and in between, to see where we are going to end up.
SARU president Oregan Hoskins sings the national anthem stukkend while President zuma looks on the verge of a good blub over the nationbuilding significance of what's going down in Soweto on Saturday Pic: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images
The optimists, on the other hand, have to range far and wide (just like Karoo sheep) to find meagre pickings of hope. After some reflection they might mention our Rapidly Improving Infrastructure, Major Intersections Being Rebuilt, Awesome New Airports, The Gautrain, Bus Rapid Transit System, Tax Collection Efficiency, Our Stable Currency, Declining Inflation, Solid Banking System and Our Free Press. Not to mention that we are about to host the biggest sporting event in the world right now. They will ask if you have noticed the side mirror socks and SA flags on so many cars, showing a growing groundswell of support for Bafana Bafana to play their hearts out and make ALL OF US proud.
The optimists may also remind you to take a good look at the overall state of our economy today, compared to 1994, as evidence of how far we have come as a nation.
And THEY too, are absolutely RIGHT. Every one of these points is a real reason to believe, a reason to feel positive that we as a nation can survive, thrive and succeed. Each one of these are real achievements, concrete evidence that we can get things done and make significant progress, despite our many challenges.
And what of the realists? They will most likely take another perspective, a look at the bigger picture and ask three vital questions:
How is South Africa REALLY doing?
How is the REST OF THE WORLD doing in comparison?
What sort of shape is our whole PLANET in right now?
Some answers they may give us would be:
How are we really doing? Realistically, we are doing OK, with lots to be proud of and lots to be concerned about, in equal measure. It really comes down to a question of what you choose to focus on. More importantly, it comes down to what each of us is actually doing to make things better. Worrying achieves nothing; it simply creates stress, fear and negativity. Waiting for a political solution is a waste of valuable time. Taking action to make a difference breeds real change, positivity and optimism.
How is the rest of the world doing? Thailand just had 88 deaths due to political infighting in Bangkok.Europe is facing a major Euro currency crisis. Greece and Spain (and probably more to come) are in deep financial trouble. So deep that France is threatening to pull out of the Eurozone. Britain has lost faith in their politicians. Every sixth child in Germany is on welfare. Volcanic ash is causing regular mayhem over parts of Europe. A friend recently returned from a two-week driving holiday in Italy. He tells me that they have numerous, massive potholes which make ours seem tiny by comparison. The USA is facing its biggest oil spill disaster ever. They also found a large, (malfunctioning) car bomb in Times Square on May 1. And they still owe around US $400 trillion to somebody – the world’s largest budget deficit. Australia faces issues like refugee boats, teen pregnancy and major drug abuse among their youth. A recent survey found that the Aussie population feels that their government is interfering way too much in all aspects of their lives. Sounds familiar?
What about our planet? Right now, she is struggling with a net population growth of some 200 000 new humans per day – that’s an extra one million every five days. We are literally swarming like ants and the impact is showing. So we are seeing global warming, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and other planetary disruptions. Some even say that the melting ice caps could affect the delicate weight balance and cause our earth to shift on her axis – then we will see some major SHI(F)T happen – in our lifetime!
And as I write all of this, I can hear the pessimists bleating again: SO WHAT Mark, two wrongs don’t make a right, get with the programme, who cares about the rest of the world when our country is going to the dogs?
Rugby fans, who usually just sing "Ole, Ole" like they're at a bullfight or something give the old vuvuzelas, the noise-making instrument of choice for black soccer fans, a good paaaarp at the Super 14 final Pic: Lee Warren / Gallo Images
Listen ouens, I am only going to say this only once: The world is your oyster and you can choose to go and live anywhere you like. The choices are vast. The truth is that WHEREVER YOU GO, YOU TAKE YOURSELF WITH YOU! You will still wake up every day and have to look in the mirror at your optimistic, pessimistic or realistic face. And if you have reason to complain about SA, you will most likely find as many reasons to complain about your new country, your neighbours, politicians, the weather, rising prices, bureaucracy, traffic, systems, language and food. Granted you will probably feel safer and more secure regarding violent crime, but will you feel HAPPY? Happiness comes from within and everywhere you go you will still face challenges. Different challenges maybe, but no less difficult to overcome.
And what of feeling secure? Helen Keller said: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
I am somewhat concerned about the future of our planet. I do not always feel 100% safe in my country right now. But I am 100% happy and confident it will improve. My life has always been a daring adventure. And, most importantly, I am doing something positive to make a difference instead of sitting around waiting for the world to change. Every month, I work with hundreds of my countrymen to improve their attitudes, productivity, optimism, efficiency, profitability, motivation and team work. At the workplace, I see people of all colours, religions and creeds, male and female, old and young, integrating and working together to make things better. I see the shift happening amongst leaders, staff and their customers. On Saturday, in Soweto, I saw that shift begin to happen socially, outside the workplace, in the townships, which is where the real work still needs to be done. I saw the birth of hope.
On selected weekends, I assist groups of brave individuals to take a profound journey deep inside and discover what distorted beliefs are running their lives. I witness “strangers” sharing their true feelings with other “strangers” and thereby becoming friends. I see people dropping their masks and prejudices, being completely authentic with others and thereby undergoing profound transformation, like caterpillars becoming butterflies. I see hope being restored and deep human bonds being formed, regardless of race or age or religious belief. I see the light begin to shine from within, as we strip away the darkness of depression, fear, self loathing and negative conditioning. I see extreme pessimists make a complete pendulum swing through realism to optimism. It is the most rewarding work I have ever done in my life.
Some oke gives us horns to show that, in fact, Bulls fans have been wearing an Afrikaner variation of the makarapa for some time now Pic: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images
All of the above gives me joy and makes my life meaningful. It gives me reason to believe, because I SEE IT HAPPEN. I do not read the newspapers, because they mostly tell me what is going wrong. I remain focused on what is REALLY GOING ON, and find that there is much to be optimistic about. I realise that it is up to each individual to first change themselves and then help others do the same, if we are to have a safer, kinder, more conscious and compassionate world.
Woodrow Wilson said: “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.”
Our own Johnny Clegg sang: “It’s a CRUEL, CRAZY, BEAUTIFUL world.”
I believe the world appears to be Cruel to the Pessimists, Crazy to the Realists and Beautiful to the Optimists.
Which one are you?
* Mark Berger is the CEO of Mark Berger Training, a Cape Town based organisation specialising in Unlocking Human Potential. He has been a professional speaker since 1996 and is currently president of the Cape Town Chapter of the Professional Speakers Association of SA. He has become well known for his uniquely pro-South African newsletters and a blog which mysteriously manages to travel electronically all over the known world. To read some examples of these newsletters visit his website.
There’s only one person I dig less than a foreigner criticising South Africa. Actually, let’s start again. there are only two people I dig less than a foreigner criticising my country and those are a South African expat living overseas whingeing about South Africa and a South African living here in the most amazing country in the entire chuffing world but banging on about how bad things are and wishing he was in Perth. Or London. Or Vancouver. Or Chernobyl. Or anywhere in the world but in South Africa.
What is this all about? I, the first person in South Africa (even before President Jacob Zuma) to be medically diagnosed as “SA-positive”, cannot get my head around it. That might well be because I’m phenomenally stupid. Fair dos.
Dianne was simply exercising her right to give her personal opinion about her experience. As she did when she exercised her right to join her South African boyfriend here in Cape Town. Her eyes, unlike those of many whining South Africans, were opened to the beauty of our beloved country. Not just the physical beauty of the landscape but the beauty of our fascinatingly diverse peoples, their friendliness, their openness, their warmth, their vitality.
The view from Dianne Russell's Cape Town apartment... what a lucky Canadian!
But clearly she had not chatted to that weird group of South Africans – mostly, in the words of that nincompoop Julius Malema, of a “white tendency” – who live frozen in fear behind their electric fences and only come out by day to make large amounts of money and to go to braais held by their similarly-minded friends.
There they will wolf down humungous amounts of steak and boerewors, sluk on brandy-and-Coke and Castle Lager and whinge incessantly about how terrible crime and corruption is, how this country has gone to the dogs and, maggies, have you checked how bad the potholes are on the road to the office? These South Africans stand around the braai rooted in their collective consciousness and abject fear, moaning and wishing they could go to live in a “civilised country”.
They mourn “the good old days” (read the apartheid era) when most of the national resources were handed to them (a small percentage of the population) on a plate and the vast majority of South Africans had to get by on the scraps thrown to them. Now that our new democracy is founded on sharing everything equally among everybody (and the government is struggling to do that and make ends meet), these “SA-negative” people dream of supping on the “milk and honey” which apparently abounds in other countries.
Yeah, yeah. Pull the other one. When are these previously over-privileged South Africans going to grow up? Get real, mense. Have you even travelled abroad to grasp at the reality of living in stultifyingly over-regulated, overly politically correct and plain boring countries such as the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand? Please do. and make it a one-way ticket. You’re holding us back, bru. And your negativity is draining the beautiful energy the rest of us are putting out.
And some of you had the ignorance to write into this blog to bash away at the positivity Dianne Russell, a Canadian, feels about South Africa. Your anger was tangible, so much so that a rather confused Canadian blogger has brought it to the attention of Canada. How dare a foreigner move to our country and have the audacity to tell us how wonderful it all is? Who does she think she is? A South African? Ja, if she were South African she would share our pain at the moerse potholes our double cabs disappear into on a daily basis. And to be truly South African like us, she must give up her Canadian passport, hand in her Canadian dollars, stop being a “party girl” and sitting around sipping cocktails outside Caprice in Camps Bay and come to stand around our braai in Hierdieplekisblerriekakfontein and endlessly bemoan the increasing girth of Julius Malema and potholes.
Eish! But there is hope for these people. Remember Brandon Huntley, that sad South African okey who claimed political asylum in Canada after telling some gullible immigration officials there that he had been mugged, assaulted, sodomised and even sworn at at least five times a day while living in Mowbray, Cape Town. You do? Well, there you go. I’m sure there are quite a few countries that will give you full citizenship on the grounds that those potholes are getting so bloody big that you can’t get your double cab around them on your way to work. Then you can freeze happily ever after and leave us to somehow struggle on in the brilliant sunshine of our South African lives.
And I tell you what. Before you go, I’ll let you in on something personal. Back in the day (yes, under apartheid rule), when I was mos a laaitie – and before PW Botha’s military taught me how to shoot a R1 rifle at the commie terrorists on “the border” and before Home Affairs confiscated my passport because I refused to work as a spy for them in London and before they tapped my phone when I joined the Anti-Apartheid Movement there and before they detained me and interrogated me at Jan Smuts Airport when I next came back to South Africa to visit my parents… yes, before all of that – I used to play soccer barefoot with my friends, white and black – on a golden field near a river running through Pietermaritzburg. Late into the night and by the light of nearby houses.
And the next day, we would go down to that river and feel our chests thump as we whooshed down that foofie-slide that Uncle George had fixed high on a tree. And then, slightly bruised and bleeding, we would slosh around in the river, worried about bumping into the much-feared legavaan (Varanus abigularis or Monitor Lizard) that apparently could break a child’s leg with a swish of its tail.
A Legavaan... this mythical river beast could apparently break our legs with one swish of its tail
Then we would collect tadpoles in the river to take home to watch grow into frogs, stopping only to munch mulberries off a number of trees and grab a few leaves to feed the shoeboxes of hungry silkworms about to go through their cocoon-moth-egg-silkworm cycle. And once, when the river came down in flood, the boy next-door and I borrowed my mom’s zinc bath (used to bath the dogs) and sailed merrily down the river. We ended up about eight kilometres away, on the other side of Maritzburg, and I had to borrow five cents to phone my mom and ask her to come in the car to pick us up as we couldn’t carry the zinc bath all the way back.
It was a beautiful childhood. Until I became gradually aware of the racist policies of the government of the day. I owe a great debt to my country. South Africa owes me nothing. I love South Africa.
No more so than when I see, around where I am blessed to live, children of all tones of skin kicking a football around on the village green. And getting very animated when they spot the seal that has taken up residence in the river that runs through Stanford. These children won’t grow up to be told to shoot rifles in a crazy war, they won’t be asked to spy for a crazy government and it is highly unlikely that they will be stopped at OR Tambo Airport and interrogated about why they belong to an organisation that campaigns against a racist South Africa.
That, my friends, is why I believe that we live in a far better South Africa. A South Africa that is not without great challenges, for sure, but a South Africa in which I choose to live and die in. So, when you are around that braai this sunny weekend and the dop (liquor) is going down fast and freely – and perhaps you are watching the Bulls play Super 14 rugby in Soweto, nogal – please try to get your potholes drama into some perspective.
And, even better, perhaps you might want to clamber out of your huge pothole of fear, leave Dianne Russell alone, put on a Bafana Bafana jersey, get hold of a vuvuzela and join the rest of us “SA-positive” people in celebrating our uniquely wondrous country and the sensational World Cup we are about to host. Feel it. We SA-positives are here!
I was just about to write another blogpost raving and salivating and drooling SA-positively around the chops about the World Cup when I got a call on my red telephone, er, make that the iPhone with the Julius Malema Hotline app.
Yes, it was his reasonably new but fast-ageing public relations apparatchik Hugh Mangazi. “Fred,” he said, “drop everything, Julius wants you to put out another press release.”
“But,” said I, “he’s off the front pages. Everything’s gone quiet. He’s even been quiet. As far as I know, he hasn’t even given his neighbour in Sandton a bollocking about playing his Handel’s Messiah too loudly.”
“Yes, but he’s just found out that Time magazine put him on their list of Top 100 Morons of 2010 and he’s foaming at the mouth. He’s just kicked in his 100″ Plasma flatscreen and that’s the third one this month. Please, you must publish something for me to calm him down. Remember, he’s promised to give you one of his solid gold Rolexes once you’ve published 100 press releases!”
“Oh OK, Hugh, send it over bru,” I said, resigning myself to further abuse on facebook from members of groups called Vierkleur and I Bet I Can Find 1,000,000 People Who Want Julius Malema Deported To Venuezuela To Become The Face For Ay Caramba’s New Baby Nappy Radio Advertising Campaign.
Here you go…
Oops, wrong pic!
From the desk of Hugh Mangazi, official public relations office for Mr Julius Malema, President of the ANC Youth League – May 5, 2010.
“I, Julius Sello Malema, wish to make it very clear, if you haven’t been paying attention, that I’ve been very quiet for 13 days now. Because of the troublemaking by media agents for those with an imperialist agenda, I’ve had to face the indignity of being the subject of a disciplinary hearing conducted by my own party, the same party which I will one day lead into a brave new future.
But, at present, i have nothing to say on this matter. Except for ‘You bastards, I know where you live!’
What I wish to address today is the slur on my good name by another imperialist media organisation, namely Time Magazine. My staff brought it to my attention this morning, as I breakfasted, that this American elitist establishment organ had put me on some reactionary list of the most uninfluential people in the world for 2010!
Uninfluential! These agents know nothing. What have they got in their trouser? If they had any courage and came to speak to my people across this land, they would find out how influential I am! How the majority of South Africans aspire to be me! How they hang on to my words of inspiration! How everybody wants to touch me when I go out!
These bastards with their “only white is right” tendency sit in their big buildings in New York and make judgement on my character without even knowing the power that I have! I feel I must respond to the rubbish that they wrote about me…
Julius Malema President of South Africa’s African National Congress Youth League
Malema is just like Joe Biden — if instead of innocuous, silly slip-ups, Biden delivered violent, racist, misogynist rants. It got so bad, he’s been censured by his party and convicted of hate speech. So he just said violent things about the party.
Misognynist?! I must say right here and now that I do not approve of sexual deviancy. I will be suing them for saying this! And who is this Joe Biden anyway? Then I discover the sort of people that have been put alongside my name on this disgraceful list. They might be Morons but I wish to state that I am not a Moron. I have no affiliation to any religion. Morons might, like me, fancy a bit of polygamy but this is where the similarity ends. I will be suing Time for this too. Bloody agents!
I see H1N1 is on the list. They think they’re really funny, these people, putting a Star Wars robot on the same list as me. And a muppet called Grover! And the American president’s dog is put on my list! I won’t have a dog touching me on my list!
I have already got Malema, Malema and Malema, my legal firm, on to this. Time Magazine will pay for reducing the President of the African National Congress Youth League to a laughing stock. And then I can buy the new Lamborghini. Yay!”
* Time Magazine’s full list of the 100 Least Influential People of 2010 may be viewed by clicking on this link. Good night!
The South African government has moved speedily to rubbish a report by a British tabloid newspaper that ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema was linked to the volcanic eruption in Iceland, leading to a humungous cloud of ash which has grounded almost all the world’s aeroplanes.
The Daily Star, which has already reported – scurrilously and erroneously it must be hastily added – that there is likely to be a “major earthquake” in South Africa during the staging of the 2010 World Cup, splashed over its front page this morning that Malema had been deployed by the South African government to provide the spark for the volcanic eruption in order to ensure that Bafana Bafana, 1,000,000/1 outsiders to even draw a match, lifts the World Cup trophy.
“ANC firebrand tries to blowtorch SA to WC2010 glory” screamed the Daily Star’s page one lead headline. The tabloid rag, widely considered to be the finest exponent of a laughable British gutter press, went on to describe to its readers how the bellicose Malema was “as nutty as squirrels poo” and more than fiery enough to have ignited the volcano in Eyjafjallajokull, which erupted to spectacular effect last week.
But this “SA-positive” blog can, due to its hotline to Mr Malema, a close connection of ours, exclusively reveal that the South African government has shot down these absurd allegations.
A load of hot air... the South African government has rubblished claims by a British tabloid that Julius Malema was behind the volcanic eruption at Eyjafjallajokull
“Julius is certainly not as nutty as squirrels poo and it is very mischievous of the Daily Star to suggest he is so,” said Ms Lolly Lavalampeka, spokesperson for the Department of Pyrotechnics, Teutonic Plate Shifts, Volcanic Eruptions, Malevolent Malematics and Other Unnatural Disasters. “He is far nuttier than that.
“OK, so it is true that we did meet with the Department of Sport to discuss devious ways in which our national soccer team could win the World Cup on home soil,” continued Ms Lavalampeka, seemingly unwittingly implicating South Africa in the volcanic eruption which has led to one helluva aviatic disruption. “And one of our brightest young sparks brainstormed that if we could get all flights to our country grounded, then none of the hotshot teams would be able to come to play here and Bafana Bafana would be awarded the World Cup by default.”
“The Department of Sport guys seemed to warm to the idea so all stakeholders looked at the possibility of getting a large and very angry volcano in the northern hemisphere to erupt and spew hot ash into the atmosphere, thereby stopping all flights to South Africa for the World Cup. We were considering using all of the explosives and armaments stashed away by the old apartheid regime inside hollow mountains and down disused mineshafts for this purpose.
“But when the words ‘large, very angry, erupt, spew and fouling the atmosphere” came into our conversation, we had a collective epiphany and decided to approach young Julius to do the job. But we were delayed because, as somebody pointed out, he was busy erupting and spewing and generally larging it up in a very angry way in Zimbabwe at the time. I must say that we had wondered why it was so quiet in South Africa,” added Ms Lavalampeka.
“Then we were unfortunately and unexpectedly forced to cancel ‘Operation Malematic Eruption’,” lamented Lavalampeka. “Why?” asked this blog.
“Well, one of the roleplayers in our task team happened to catch the seven o’clock news on SABC3 and heard President Zuma say that he won’t rest in his efforts to stamp out eruption within the ruling party. We took this to mean that he was trying to get Julius to shut up and so we decided it was in the national interest to drop the whole idea.
“But then, much to our surprise, the volcano at wherever that place is in Iceland went and blew up anyway. So there’s still a chance that the black cloud over Europe has a silver lining for Bafana Bafana. But we would like to categorically state that neither us or Mr Julius Malema had anything to do with it whatsoever,” exclaimed Ms Lavalampeka.
There. That’s all cleared up then. Unlike the volcanic ash cloud. But this very convincing denial by our government does, however, beg the very big question… where and how does the Daily Star get its bizarre stories?