I was talking to a good friend of mine on the weekend about a number of things as the conversation wound down I said with a sigh: “oh well that’s life” !
He turned to look at me clutching his ice cold Hansa that I was admittedly eyeing out and said: “No”
“No, it’s not life, I’ve been alive for 24 years and it’s not life.”
When someone breaks into our house and only steals the entire contents but no one is hurt they are not lucky and it is not part of life. As South Africans we have become accustomed to certain very harsh realities about life here. One of them is that no matter how high your fences are or how high-tech your alarm system is there is a very real chance that at any point your house could get broken into. So often family members are either beaten or raped or murdered for no real reason, so we call the people who were tied up and harassed ‘lucky’ because they were not killed in the process.
When I was growing up I thought being lucky was finding a Smartie I had dropped a month ago on the floor of my mom’s car, then as I grew older it became getting lucky which involved a older boy from K.E.S and the St John’s Valentines social. Now if I’m lucky I can have my possessions taken from me without being killed.
It’s not life we are not lucky and just plain nonsense.
By calling ourselves lucky not to be raped and shot are we not enabling in a sense? I can foresee the hate mail flooding in already; but are we not in a sense making it okay and normalising the problem. Is it ingrained in our thinking because we have been exposed to it for so long? If violent crime…or crime in general happened less in South Africa would it be dealt with more harshly would it be frowned upon more?
When Whitney Houston is on the front cover of the newspaper and shoved in the dark corners where no one really bothers to look are the stories of the kidnappings, rapes, robberies and murders; surely we have a problem?
Although being Whitney Houston is the greatest crime of all…some may argue.
On a daily basis I am lambasted with the dim-witted bright red headlines of South Africa’s leading Newspaper: The Daily Sun.
Headlines have included the likes of: ‘Gogo dies after Zombie sex!’, ‘SMS from the Devil!!’ and ‘Brandy for his burning bum!’ the ridiculousness off the story usually gauged by the amount of exclamation marks behind it.
!!- Yoh yoh
!!!- Yoh yoh yoh, I can’t believe!!!!
These outlandish headlines accompanied with their even more nonsensical articles are the most read pieces of literature in South Africa. The Daily Sun sells over 500 000 copies a day in Gauteng, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga and Northwest Province, and targets working class citizens, who as far as I’m aware are the economic core of South Africa.
Forgive me for being a bit nostalgic but hasn’t this been done before? Let me take you back a few years to 1953…a little thing called the Bantu Education Act was passed. Bantu Education did not however involve very much education and was geared at controlling the masses. An uneducated majority was one the Apartheid government could control…something that was proven wrong as we all know.
So the Daily Sun the country’s most read ‘news’paper does not inform the masses but rather directs their attention to fairytales. A country must be easier to run when its people are more concerned about Zombies rising from the dead than the corrupt officials that are laughing all the way to the bank…or to the MacDonald’s drive through in your Maserati if you are Khulubuse Zuma.
The Daily Sun isn’t the only culprit of creating a nation of zombies (now THAT would be a headline!!!). The SABC makes a Great White near Clifton beach look like Flipper the friendly dolphin. With a continuous streaming of 7de Laan, Generations and Isidingo who has time to think about the actual problems facing South Africa.
“I will have a medium Quarter Pounder meal with a coke please,” I said in a rehearsed tone to the woman standing behind me at the counter, already dreading the way I would feel after guzzling my meal down. MacDonald’s is the heroin of the fast food world; you want it even though you know how it will make you feel and could very possibly lead to your arm having to be amputated due to gangrene (enter Jarred Leto in Requiem for a Dream…it wasn’t heroine people it was a Big Mac that did that to him).
Weighing up the consequences of my actions I walked with my tray of steaming food and attempted to find a table to no avail. Clearly I wasn’t the only poor soul trying to get my fix. Eventually I found a table where an elderly man blasting old jazz standards from a radio was sitting; he very graciously made space for me, perhaps an understanding amongst fellow addicts perhaps.
We made the usual small talk:
“ How are you?”
“What do you do?”
“How about this weather ey?”
“Where are you from?” I enquired admittedly only half interested.
“From Limpopo,” he replied, “I’m here because my granddaughter, she want to go to university here, she’s very clever, she teach herself matric because the teachers there, they don’t teach. Her parents they die of AIDS so I raise her, maybe one day she become a doctor and fix AIDS, make it better for South Africa.”
As he said this he wiped his mouth, smiled at me and got up from the table while pointing to his radio and said: “I love music.”
All it takes is a simple encounter with a simple man to bring you back down to the harsh realities we tend not to face in South Africa every day.