honestly our day couldn’t have gone worse (of course this is not true but you get the picture…) & as a result we ended up being late for the pre-drinks for our friends birthday party. in fact not only were we late, we actually completely missed the ‘pre-drinks’ & well this was not a good thing…..
you see our friend had booked tickets for a group of us to go & watch ‘the rocky horror picture show’…. i would be lying if i said i was completely thrilled by the idea, after all, in my books there is a very fine line between the brilliance that is tim curry & well…. trash! having watched the video at least a hundred times as a kid (it was forbidden in the house which of course made it just that much more delectable) i pretty much knew every line / lyric to boot & spent my teenage years worshipping the carnage that was transsexual transylvania.
so to put it mildly i did not have high hopes for the night ahead & decided the only practical way forward was to knock back a tequila or ten at pre-drinks that way ensuring anything that followed would either be hilarious or completely forgotten….. this however was not meant to be. i all but got on my knees to beg the barman to show some mercy but it turns out they’d seen my type before & well it was not to be. in fact at this stage they were actually closing the theatre doors (mental note: i need to invest in a hipflask!). evidently the gods had decided that i would be the only person stone-cold sober trying to sit through what could only be deemed as a HORROR SHOW.
and so we shuffled along to find our seats with our already seated & quite liquored up friends (aaaarrrggghhhh). once we eventually settled into our seats & dealt with a few people complaining about the size of my husband’s & my head-dresses (you HAVE to dress up) we removed the said head-dresses & started to take in the beauty that is the ‘fugard theatre’. what a gorgeous theatre. i fell in love with it instantly. really magical & just perfectly formed. so that lightened my mood but only ever so slightly…. the thought of the impending doom of some fake drag queen trying to entertain sober me for the evening just evoked impending doom & a need for the friggin hipflask!
how WRONG could i have been!!!!
truly, & i kid you not, within 10 minutes of the show starting my spirit had lifted higher than any tequila could have taken me & well we laughed the entire way through. it was brilliant.
the acting was world-class. frank n furter was beyond brilliant & the pitch was just perfect…. saucy enough to create gasps from the audience but classy & brilliant enough to make it an extremely professional show. i actually never even caught myself once comparing them to the original cast. each actor really seemed to own their own character.
i’m not going to give too much away but let’s just say it is a MUST for everyone. you will not regret it! i for one have already booked a second viewing…. however this time i plan to be in time for the bar! 😉
My South Africa officially houses 50 million people of all colours, creeds, religions and genders. If we include the unofficial refugee population from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and Somalia it might be closer to 65 million for all we know.
My South Africa today has a thousand shades of black and the rainbow needs urgent re-inventing.
My South Africa is blessed with the gifts of communication. We have eleven official languages. No one can ever say they didn’t know what was going on. Someone will eventually say it in their language.
My South Africa has not changed its name with the birth of its democracy, but many of our roads, streets and towns need to reinvent their addresses. How long can we drive down Hendrik Verwoerd Boulevard, John Vorster Avenue or PW Botha Street without throwing up?
My South Africa is not Holland where they think they understand Afrikaans and don’t want to be reminded that Verwoerd, the Architect of Apartheid, was Dutch and not Afrikaans.
My South Africa is not the United Kingdom, because happily many of our racist youth have left our rainbow shores to create their own a De la Rey-style Blankostan Homeland in the London suburb of Richmond.
My South Africa is not Europe no matter how hard some of us try. Black people were once referred to as ‘Non-Europeans’, which ironically meant that many Australians and Californians used the toilets meant for blacks.
My South Africa is not Australia, even though so many South Africans emigrated to that far-off colony that the average IQ of both our countries went up.
My South Africa is not Russia, although most of our ANC Politburo scraped through Moscow University or Leningrad College, and hide their Stalinist bent under frothy liberal chit-chat and gesture politics.
My South Africa is not China, but there’s a new China shop opening every week on the main streets of our country towns, giving truth to the old rumour that by the end of Robert Mugabe’s 100-year reign, the Chinese will rule the world.
My South Africa is not the USA. Once the Americas inspired us with their Indian Reservation System, on which we then based our apartheid Black Homeland policies. We’ve moved on. They still have them. And now we Afrikaners can proudly claim to be an inspiration for the current American President. We once locked up our political prisoners on Robben Island without trial. Today, Barack Hussein Obama does the same thing on Cuba.
My South Africa is not Cuba, although we also have a Communist Party with plans for the future, and are waiting to give the Castros political asylum in Pretoria if Obama decides to extend Guantanamo Bay.
My South Africa is not Israel where they have built an 8m high concrete wall of separation to keep their enemies out, while we created a democracy to try and keep everyone in. But thanks Tel Aviv for the nuclear bombs, our apartheid regime needed to show some muscle against an unfriendly democratic world.
My South Africa is not blood-drenched Iraq, which has now imported all our ex-South African police to do security service. We probably have the biggest unofficial army there! You can ask for a ‘lekker dop’ and get it.
My South Africa is not Afghanistan, even though we have as many SUVs clogging our roads, not driven by tough soldiers clutching loaded machine guns, but by tipsy politicians, the nouveau noir and anorexic mothers with cellphones pressed to their ears.
My South Africa is not Zimbabwe. Yet.
My South Africa has the greatest Constitution in the world. We have a Bill of Rights. We had an unbelievable Truth Commission. We are inspired by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. And who do the rest of world have? The Kardashians.
My South Africa had the greatest incidence of HIV/Aids in the world. We lost one thousand people a day thanks to a government that did nothing for ten years. Now our Number One leads by example from the shower.
My South Africa is exciting, frightening, hot, cold, dry, wet, hilly, flat, crowded, empty, arrogant, friendly, dangerous, gentle, non-racial, racist, wealthy, poor, healthy, sick, hopeful, corrupt, unbearable and addictive.
My South Africa has not forgotten the past while looking forward to the future.
My South Africa is where no democrat has been before. It is the blueprint for hope where everything once looked hopeless. It is building a future in the faded footprint of despair.
My South Africa is a nineteen-year old teenager on the edge of adulthood with all the confusions, expectations, demands, fears and fantasies that entails.
My South Africa is my home.
Read more by Pieter-Dirk Uys:
well it has been over a month since any of us in our household have slept properly – well except for my 4-year-old who could sleep through an earthquake it seems!
it has taken me a while to come to terms with my feelings towards ‘the burglary’ but more so it has taken a lot of thought / analysing / digging deep to try to come to terms with people’s reactions towards what happened.
the day after the burglary i put on a brave face, i dropped my son off at school (important to keep everything as normal as possible for little ones) having said that my appearance was that of a rabbit caught in the headlights pulled through a bush backwards….. a few times…. so i am sure my son was onto something, but anyhow i dropped him off & decided to head off to my favourite coffee shop for a much-needed ‘feel good mocha’ to try & lift my very low, trampled spirits. truth was that i planned to race in & race out with my mocha as whilst i don’t mind the ‘pulled through a bush backwards’ look, i was still pretty shell-shocked by it all & felt the need to quarantine myself for a while. thing is our friend had apparently popped in earlier & told a few people what happened so when i walked in they eyed me out warily (perhaps expecting histrionics (wow, i didn’t even realise there was actually such a word!) & pretty much did wide berths…. one of the braver one’s approached me & announced that she was really sorry to hear about what happened & would i like to come to her birthday party that night!!!!!????? another then joined in & said well you’re lucky ‘at least no-one was hurt’ (this, i realise would soon become the mantra for most people who i spoke to!!!!) but the one that got to me the most was a friend who walked in, wrapped her arms around me & said ‘sorry to hear about the incident’, then stepped back & said ‘well, you want to live here, crime is part of living here, so you just have to deal with it’ & off she walked……
heaven’s alive man!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i promptly exited, speed walked to my car, locked the door & burst into tears. i couldn’t believe what i had just been through, it seemed incredulous. i felt like my world was about to end & here i was being told by the first 3 people i came into contact with to pretty much dry my eyes, be grateful i’m still alive & get on with it. what a terribly frightening state of affairs!
all i can say is that thank heavens one of my oldest & dearest friends who lives in cape town but is from the uk happened to have heard what had happened & called me immediately knowing that i would not be in a great way. he was perfect. he just knew all the right things to say & well slowly i started to breath again. i just found it so over-whelming the way people reacted to what had happened. how almost dismissive they were of it… (one of the moms at my child’s school even implied that quite clearly we didn’t have enough security…. she shut-up very quickly when i let her know we have an alarm, beams & burglar bars on all our windows!!!!) my friend just slowly calmed me down. finally here was someone who like me had lived ‘another life’, who totally got the idea that actually there is another ‘way’ to live out there. sure we can come back to the old adage that south african’s love to throw at you… ‘there is crime everywhere’…. yes, there is, but not violent crime, not crime where there is a very good chance that you could be raped & killed, sure we weren’t but as the head seargent said to us, my friend was very lucky not to have been injured & had we have had guns in our house there is a good chance we would have been shot (this from the head seargent – not me!!!!). he added that if someone is planning to break in to a house they will definitely be armed.
i decided to pop over to my neighbours on either side just to let them know what happened & to see if they heard / saw anything…. what i got was a total freak out! so my one neighbour after getting over the shock that our house was burgled (she didn’t hear a thing) then proceeded to tell me that 3 years ago she was attacked by 4 coloured men armed with ‘big guns’ at 10.30am in the morning. they caught her unawares in the shower (!!!!), tied her up & held her hostage for 3 hours whilst they cleared the house out….. but once again how ‘lucky’ she was they didn’t harm her except for the binds cutting into her ankles & wrists….. by the way my neighbour must be in her seventies!!!! i actually physically felt myself getting ready to pass out on her doorstep….. wtf????? then onto our other neighbour who proceeded to enlighten me on their 3 robberies… one actually apparently orchestrated by their then maid & gardener!!!!! all in a days work then!?
thing is, as i started talking about the burglary so i realised people saw it as an opportunity to ‘share’ their experiences… almost like some kind of therapy…. just i am probably the LAST person you want to be sharing this shit with…. what i need to keep repeating is that the size of the areas i am talking about are tiny & when you hear the statistics of what has happened in any given month crime wise it really is beyond frightening.
still, i hear the ‘naysayers’ waxing lyrical about how there isn’t really crime here….. perhaps my ‘negative energy’ brought it on myself blah blah blah, crime happens everywhere blah blah blah, you were just ‘unlucky’ blah, blah, blah….. one of my colleagues is on the board for tbk (tamboerskloof neighbourhood watch), upon hearing my story he proceeded to tell me about a man who had 4 guys jump over the back of his property in leeukloof drive (arguably the best street in tamboerskloof) the perpetrators (actually far too good a word to use for them – more like low-life fucking scumbags) proceeded to play russian roulette with him & when he was too lucky in the game they beat him to a pulp & left him for dead….. he has been hospitalised & is selling his house…. yes, yes, my friends, this happened last month in our neighbourhood….. walking distance from our house…. tell me all you ‘this happens all over the world’….. where the fuck have you heard this happening?????? most people i know wouldn’t be able to invent this shit up!! but the scariest part of it all….. try google the incident…. you get nothing….. a big fat NOTHING!!!! in fact even the tbk newsletter only listed it as a ‘serious burglary’….
thing is…. if you give yourself time & you listen to enough stories & you give it enough thought you actually realise that people might come across as being dismissive but in actual fact they are right in a sense…. they have to be right….. it’s the only way they can go on living here…. truthfully i’m willing to put money down that there is, if only a small bit in every one of them, that knows what i say is true…. but for whatever reason they HAVE to choose to ignore it. not everyone can just pack up & leave, some don’t even have that option, many have all their friends & family here who they cannot leave, others have never lived elsewhere so don’t understand the idea of being truly free & feeling safe, so this is all they know & that’s fine with them. i have learnt over time to respect that. each to their own. and let’s face it…. there is no doubt that you can live extremely well in this country…. i mean i am now up to 2 maids & dream about a night nurse!!!!! where else in the world will i be able to live like this….. truthfully…. NOWHERE…. but there you have it….. those that know me, know i was born to be a princess & here i have it at my fingertips….. yet there is something far more precious to me than all of this & that’s freedom.
freedom for me & most importantly freedom for my kids
freedom to live in safety
freedom to live without fear
and sure, i have no doubt our paths will be crossed with some sort of ‘crime’ in the future…. but crime that we can learn from, not crime that we risk paying the ultimate price for
so for us…. we have handed our notice in & are now moving into a security complex with biometrics & 24 hour guards whilst we count the days…..
ROBERT MUGABE BLASTS ‘COWARD’ NELSON MANDELA
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe blasted Nelson Mandela as a “coward” and “idiot” during a rally today to celebrate Mugabe’s record seventh term in office following his victory in the country’s disputed elections last week.
after hearing our account of the recent ‘events’ at our household & sharing our complete amazement at the size of window the burglar managed to get through to our neighbourhood watch team at TBK – they sent us this picture…….
so it happened…. our house was burgled….. well to be exact the part of our house that my husband’s best friend lives in was burgled – cut through the security bars, removed the window putty & the pane of glass, managed to squeeze through a space that made one think ‘david copperfield’ & well our friend woke up to a black figure in his bedroom at 4am…..
in the mean time being a new mum i am so tuned into any noise that happens during the night….. so it was no surprise that i sat bolt upright in bed the minute i heard what sounded like (in my head at least) a fox being attacked by a dog with a cat thrown in for good measure. my only experience or recollection of such primal screams was when we first moved to live on battersea park after having lived in chelsea for 12 years…. we called the police the first night as we were convinced that a woman was definitely being attacked in the area – the troop of police that arrived searched high & low, found nothing & whilst standing on our doorstep giving us an update we heard the godawful spine chilling screeches again…. it was to our embarrassment we were informed that it was a fox…..
so back to the story at hand…. i was sure it was a fox this time. i hurtled out of bed, ran through the house to the front where the screams were just getting louder & louder only to realise in the very few seconds it took me to get there (with my husband hot on my trail) that this wasn’t a fox but our friend downstairs evoking a guttural earth shattering scream that just didn’t seem real but most definitely was.
truth be told… you always wonder what you’d do in a situation like this…. hit the panic buttons, call the police, call the security guys etc… etc… but thing is… it is actually so terrifying, so out of your ‘normal’ way of thinking, you actually have no idea what you’ll do until you find yourself in this situation.
the blood curdling screaming continued (all of this mounting up to probably a couple of minutes but of course seemed like forever in the moment). i instinctively ran for our balcony door knowing that by opening it i would set the alarm off (trying to find a panic button in the dark just wasn’t even a notion) & i proceeded to shout his name over & over again at the top of my lungs from our balcony.
in the meantime my husband had armed himself with a cricket bat & was heading out the front door when i almost blew a gasket & screamed for him to stay inside as we had absolutely no idea of what was going on down there & well there was absolutely NO WAY i was going to watch my husband head off into the unknown when we live in a country like south africa where value for life is pretty much non-existant. and well, there lies the saddest reality of it all….. we are so fucking scared in this country that even if you hear someone’s alarm going off or someone screaming nobody does anything….. and really how can one blame them…?
so there we were, helpless upstairs with only our imaginations to keep us company…… a very dangerous & scary space to be in.
thank heavens city bowl (our security company who i honestly can’t praise enough) arrived within 2 minutes of the alarm going off & SAPS (south african police) arrived not too long afterwards. at this point we were in contact by phone with our friend & thank heavens he was not hurt but understandably completely rattled and could barely talk from all his shouting. he was telling us not to come down as he had no idea how many intruders there were or if they were still on our property – we should wait for the police & the security to clear the area. as it turns out they had crossed over into our neighbours garden.
will they ever catch the perpetrator (s)… no, obviously not! it took 3 days for the ‘fingerprint’ guy to arrive to take fingerprints…. i mean do me a favour!!!!???? it took 3 cops to try & figure out how to work the camera to take a picture of the broken window…
but beyond all of this i think the thing that stands out the most to me is that our friend was shouting with the most incredibly harrowing voice, i actually had to ask him later how he managed to get that level of noise to come out of him – it truly was unlike anything i had ever heard before…. then i was on our balcony screaming his name over & over again & well those of you who know me know that i am not known to be ‘soft of voice’…. our alarm was set off 3 times (people walking through the various beams) & yet when i called on our neighbours the following morning not one of them heard a thing!!!!????
a friend of mine actually hit the nail on the head when i relaid the story to him along with my utter amazement that no-one else heard the hectic pandemonium that was taking place in our house….. they’ve tuned out of it, he said…. there are so many alarms going off on any given night…. they have simply just tuned out of it (a thought actually repeated by my one neighbour when later in the day she said that now that she had time to think about it she ‘might have heard an alarm going off’……
and to think just weeks before i had been lulled into such a sense of peace & wellbeing that i actually found myself questioning myself whether i would actually want to leave this ‘wonderful life’ of mine if it weren’t for my family all being in the states….. evidently the universe felt a strong need to remind me why we have made the choices we have made.
and as for the ‘wonderful life’….. well, it sure as hell ain’t that wonderful now!
Dear South Africa,
Please get the fuck out of the way.
Wait, that probably came out wrong. Let us explain.
As you may have noted, we’re back! It’s been four long months since the Oscar Pistorious bail hearing thing, and just as we were forgetting just how crappy the Internet connections are in Johannestoria, the Mandela story breaks.
We feel that it is vital locals understand just how big a deal this is for us. In the real world—far away from your sleepy backwater—news works on a 24-hour cycle. That single shot of a hospital with people occasionally going into and out of the front door, while a reporter describes exactly what is happening—at length and in detail? That’s our bread and butter. It’s what we do.
And you need to get out of the way while we do it.
It’s nothing personal. In fact, we couldn’t do this successfully without you. In many cases, our footage is made more compelling by your presence. Specifically, we are fond of small black children praying and/or singing in unison. Equally telegenic are the Aryan ubermensch blonde kids also praying/singing, who help underscore the theme that Mandela united people of all races under a Rainbow umbrella.
Also very important, thematically speaking, are Mandela’s successors. We very much like the idea that your ex-president was “one of a kind”, and that despite his best efforts, the current batch of idiots prove that he was an exceptional presence, sui generis, and we don’t have to worry about someone else like him coming along in Africa ever again. We enjoy your leaders’ bumbling ways, their daft non-sequiturs, the glint of their Beijing-bought Breitlings. That “Vote ANC” truck parked outside the hospital? If that doesn’t speak to moral degeneration of the first order, what does? In other words, this story would lack a tragic arc without Jacob Zuma. May he keep on keeping on.
Then there’s the Mandela’s family. Really, where would we derive our soap operatic undertones if it weren’t for the infighting and the blinged-up brashness of that clan? We love subtly implying that a saint sired a generation of professional shoppers and no-goodnicks. In our biz, we call that “irony”. Makes for great copy.
In fact, we love everything about the country that doesn’t live up to Mandela’s legacy. We will take every opportunity to mention how everything you do flies in the face of everything Mandela would’ve wanted from his people—how you’re basically a nation of under-achieving screw-ups. All of this is fantastic, we thank you profusely for your individual and collective contributions to this essential storyline, and urge you to keep squandering your potential.
But like we said, we’re busy.
We need to be fed, constantly and without respite, big juicy mouthfuls of new information regarding every aspect of the story. Each piece of data, no matter how seemingly trivial or inane, is to us the rich, fatty gravy that we will slather over this one essential fact: the father of your nation is gravely ill, and we’re banking—literally, banking—on his not making it. The geraniums in the hospital planter, beating the chill of winter? Metaphor. Again—no detail too small.
Indeed, you need to brace yourselves. We’re about to engage in the single greatest orgy of industrial-grade mourning porn the world has ever known. Your little country will forever be honoured as the site that made the Princess Diana thing look like a restrained wake for a loathed spinster who perished alone on a desert island. Oh man, this is going to be big.
But that’s then. For the meantime, we need you to behave yourselves. We’re going to be pushy, and we make no apologies for it. This is the news—and news, after all, is the concrete foundation of democracy, a principle Mandela was willing to die for long before he was dying.
Note the solemn tone of our television reports. Ken the funereal passages published in our great papers. At times, the scramble for information may seem like a pursuit entirely free of dignity. But remember that watching a sausage get made can be a grisly process.
We would like to respect the fact that you’re going through a period of great sadness and protracted grieving. But we all need to be grown-ups about this.
So, we ask again, and this time with feeling:
Please. Get the fuck out of the way. DM
Photo: Policeman walk past media trucks outside a Pretoria hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
by Richard Poplak
- 1. Mandela’s birth name – Rolihlahla – is an isiXhosa name that means “pulling the branch of the tree”. Colloquially it also means “troublemaker”. His English name, Nelson, was given to him by a missionary schoolteacher.
- 2. He was expelled from the University of Fort Hare after joining a student protest. He later completed his degree through Unisa, which he followed up with a law degree from Wits University.
- 3. He fled the Eastern Cape for Johannesburg after Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the leader of the Tembu people, tried to set up an arranged marriage for him. After arriving in the city, he found work as a night watchman at a mine.
- 4. He lived in Alexandra township at first but later moved in with close friend Walter Sisulu and Sisulu’s mother in Orlando, Soweto.
- 5. Mandela’s first wife, Evelyn Mase, was a nurse and Sisulu’s cousin. She was the breadwinner in the family and supported Mandela while he studied law at Wits University and became further involved in politics. They had four children together and divorced in 1958.
- 6. He was not only the first commander in chief of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, but was also, together with Oliver Tambo, co-founder of the country’s first black law firm, Mandela & Tambo, which defended people affected by apartheid laws.
- 7. In 1962, he left the country to garner support for the armed struggle. During this time he received guerilla training in Morocco and Ethiopia.
- 8. The circumstances surrounding his arrest at a police roadblock outside of Howick later that year remain unclear but it is believed that an American CIA agent tipped off the police about his whereabouts. He was convicted of sabotage and attempting to violently overthrow the government.
- 9. During his time in prison, Mandela was restricted to a 2m x 2.5m cell, with nothing but a bedroll on the floor and a bucket for sanitation in it. He was consigned to hard labour in a lime quarry for much of that time and was, at first, only allowed one visitor and one letter every six months.
- 10. The apartheid government offered to release Mandela on no less than six occasions but he rejected them each time. On one such occasion Mandela released a statement saying: “I cherish my own freedom dearly, but I care even more for your freedom … What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people [the ANC] remains banned?”
- 11. Mandela wrote a memoir during the 70s, copies of which were wrapped in plastic containers and buried in a vegetable garden which he kept at prison. It was hoped that fellow prisoner Mac Maharaj, who was due for release, would be able to smuggle it out. But the containers were discovered when prison authorities began building a wall through the garden. As punishment, Mandela’s study privileges were revoked.
- 12. After he was separated from his second wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, he asked struggle stalwart Amina Cachalia, with whom he had a long relationship, to marry him but she turned him down. On his 80th birthday, Mandela married Graça Machel, the widow of Mozambique’s former president Samora Machel.
- 13. The ANC was labelled a terrorist organisation by the apartheid government and was recognised as such by countries including the US and Britain. It was only in 2008 that the United States finally removed Mandela and other ANC members from its terror list.
- 14. The United Nations declared his birthday, July 18, Nelson Mandela International Day. This was the first time the UN dedicated a particular day to a person.
- 15. Hundreds of awards and honours have been bestowed on Mandela. Among others, he is an honorary citizen of Canada, an honorary member of the British Labour Party, and an honorary member of Manchester United. He also had a nuclear particle (the ‘Mandela particle’), a prehistoric woodpecker (Australopicus nelsonmandelai) and an orchid (Paravanda Nelson Mandela) named after him.