Helen gets an andile in the bathabile, loses a fikile. Mmusi!
A brief A to Z of South African politics
A long, hot, rancorous summer has come to an end.
The rotten heart of a corrupt cabal has been exposed. Desperate men have denied and lied and lashed out, only to be deposed. The old order has crumbled.
And that was just the Australian cricket team.
Unfortunately, it’s just going to get worse. The noise and rancour, I mean: it goes without saying that the Australian cricket team is just going to get worse.
There’s a storm coming: of rhetoric, of agitation and anger, of grandstanding. And of words. Hundreds and thousands and perhaps millions of words.
Yes, there’s a general election in the offing, and the first gusts of the impending word-storm are already sending autumn leaves swirling around our feet.The words that are going to be flung at us in the coming months will be chosen carefully: to obscure and confuse, sometimes to enrage, usually to flatter and seduce.
Fortunately, the good thing about words is that, if you look at them in just the right light, all of them become transparent.
And so, in the interests of transparency and naming things as they are, here is a brief A to Z of South African politics …
Andile: a tiny but surprisingly shrill parasite commonly found attached to the buttocks of rich men. Its greatest gift is being to throw its voice like a ventriloquist so that it bounces off journalists in the area and makes it sound as if it is much larger than it really is.
Bathabile: an upwelling of gassy fog, causing a persistent gloom on the horizon that clouds, obscures or partially delays a New Dawn.Commander-In-Chief: an opportunist who co-opts an unearned title in order to look like a man of action. If he repeats said title enough the press will soon start parroting it as if he is, in fact, Commander-In-Chief and therefore, by implication, president of the country.
Democratic Alliance: a particularly unpleasant relationship between an employer and an employee, whereby an employer is generally satisfied with the way his employee runs his house and manages his accounts but will publicly roll his eyes whenever his employee is mentioned.
Economic Freedom Fighters: supporters of a new economic and political theory of “economic freedom”, or, in practical terms, freedom from economics. The ultimate goal – decoupling from capitalism and the capitalist world – will be a revolutionary achievement and will be celebrated by the 73 people who still live in the country.Fikile: the euphoric self-righteousness and a sense of god-like power you feel when blocking someone who has disagreed with you on Twitter.
Gigaba: a lingering odour. “Cyril had gone to a lot of trouble, providing tea and cakes, but an unmistakable gigaba got in the way of conversation and soon she made her apologies and left.”
Helen: any shouty, ill-tempered, tone-deaf relative who has to be hidden away when you are trying to impress new neighbours, a first date or prospective house buyers. Has been touted as one possible explanation for “Democratic Alliance” syndrome.Isi: an Nguni prefix meaning “Embarrassed progressive white people unable to speak”. For example: “isiZulu? No? OK, how about isiXhosa? Really? Shame. OK, let’s just do it in English.”
June: the scheduled arrival of widespread panic in the Cape Town offices of the DA. (See “Rain”.)
King: refers to citizen who believes (and has convinced a small number of people) that, because of who his parents were, he deserves to be handed enormous amounts of free money by taxpayers in return for regularly whining about not being given enough free money.
Land debate: a synonym for “urgent electioneering”, “opportunistic short-term promises” and “messianic proclamations”. It’s former meaning – a logical discussion about restorative justice and redress, led by academic and other experts – has fallen out of favour in recent years.Mmusi: an expression of lukewarm agreement heavily tinged with healthy doubt. “Hey, do you want to come for an evening swim with me over in Shark Bay? I’m sure this open wound on my leg won’t be problem.” “Mmmmusi?”
Niehaus: a small wooden shed where the praise-singers of Medieval lords were historically housed.
OR Tambo International Airport, International Terminal: a place the Oppenheimers don’t need to go any more, thanks to the ANC making good on its promise of a “A Better Life For All”. Note: the Oppenheimers’ private luxury terminal should not be confused with Schabir Shaik’s private luxury terminal illness, which is a whole other thing.
Press freedom: a phrase used a great deal, after urgent consultation with PR agencies, by people who have been photographed shoving journalists, jamming signals out of parliament, and proposing media tribunals.Quietly: How Jacob Zuma is not going to go.
Rain: a watery substance that will decide whether the DA retains Cape Town or loses it to a coalition of thirsty malcontents.
Steve: An albino subspecies of Andile, although, instead of attaching to a single wealthy host, it prefers to prey on a large number of smaller, poorer, more anxious hosts.
Twitter: a technology specifically designed to inject ignorance and rage into public debates while surgically removing insight, critical thought and facts. Loved by politicians as it allows them to speak directly to their voters while convincing themselves that 1,000 likes on a Tweet directly translates into 10 million votes. (See also “EFF”.)
Unity: a state of extreme factionalism and chaos inside a political party. Unity is achieved shortly before parties fragment into splinter groups.Verwoerd: a legendary asshole that still has major roads and at least one high school named after it. Because some people like to hang onto their history but other people must “just get over it”.
White people: Some of us are trying. Some of us are very trying.
X-rated: any film, apparently, that touches masculinity on its studio.
Youth: a wildly intoxicating drug abused by politicians, for whom an adolescent who can vote is cocaine dissolved in Johnnie Blue, twice distilled inside the Ark of the Covenant before being poured into the Holy Grail. If you’re younger than 25, prepare to be promised the earth. If you’re older than 50, get ready for crickets.
Zuma: an overplayed joke; a feeling of sudden, extreme tiredness.