Boom, crack … ho hum – the military meatheads have landed
It's hard to see the point of the stick-waving, buttock-showing display of masculinity on Muizenberg beach
Tuesday night’s shoot-em-up in False Bay was worthy of a speech by Winston Churchill. “We shall fight on the beaches,” he might have growled at the SANDF, “we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight near the changing cubicles there by the Super-Tjoob, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets near Tiger’s Milk, although parking can be an issue. We shall never surrender, because, if we’re honest, we’re fighting imaginary and invisible enemies, although if you include terrified wildlife, traumatised pets and pissed-off locals, we could probably claim this as a genuine win.”
If you don’t live in Muizenberg and haven’t spent the past week cradling your dog in one arm as you throw half-bricks at the jet fighters blasting around overhead, you might not know that Thursday is Armed Forces Day.
I am not entirely sure what the point of such a day is (my eyes have a habit of rolling back in their sockets whenever they encounter meat-headed, knuckle-dragging, cock-measuring nationalism dressed up as patriotism) but I gather it is something about “bringing the SANDF to the people”.
It’s why, for example, Die Burger ran a heartwarming photo on its front page on Monday of an eight-year-old being taught the correct way to hold a machine gun. I assume there have been other community outreach projects around Cape Town, such as workshops teaching toddlers to disarm landmines.
The public has also been able to poke around some of the navy’s ships, including its submarine, the SAS Eskom. (I don’t know its real name but this one seems appropriate given that it only works some of the time, and even when it works it’s deep, deep underwater.)
The manoeuvres in False Bay, however, have been much less popular, with many residents wondering how patriotism and national security are being enhanced by shelling the crap out of the local sea life.
The answer, if course, is that rupturing the eardrums of every living thing in that water is the whole point.
Peacetime displays of military muscle are not nuanced. At their most crude – and this is pretty crude – they are simply an acting-out of ape-man masculinity; a shrieking, whooping, stick-waving, rock-throwing, buttock-showing, dust-pounding display for the benefit of any rival buttock-showers who might be watching.
Unfortunately, the past few years have taught us that such displays don't actually deter invasions.
After all, you can have all the Saab fighters and Rooivalk helicopters in the world, but what’s the point if a family from Utar Pradesh can land at Waterkloof and take over the country without firing a shot?