Tsek, Tsotsi!


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Did you hear the one about the president who wouldn’t resign?


Isn’t it so typical of how things work down here: one minute it’s business as usual and you’re going to bed gatvol because President Zuma is hanging on with the tenacity of a gazonkelnut and whyfor must he resign just because eleventy zillion South Africans are up to here, and next thing it’s morning and you’ve barely bitten into your Bovril toast when you see there’s a party happening on Facebook that you didn’t even know about. And then Cyril is hugging the rabbi’s wife on Sea Point promenade and everyone’s high-fiving everyone at the Spar and the people who’ve just emigrated to Australia are feeling deeply conflicted.

Shem. I’m not going to tell them I told you so because they’re sad enough as it is. And then, the cherry on the cake, there’s the pilot refusing to fly that skelm Atul Gupta out of Lanseria airport and he’s sitting lekker sipping his Vida E, flipping through the in flight magazine wondering why it’s taking so long to take off and did they lose the keys to the plane, only the truth of the matter is he’s going nowhere but onto a poster put up by the Hawks saying Fugitive on the Run. As we speak he’s hiding in his cousin’s cupboard in Lenasia because Jacob is too busy trying to keep Duduzane out of Pollsmoor to answer him on WhatsApp. Yoh, how things can change in a day.

And yet you still have the lady at the gym putting on lotion and watching the news in the changing room at 10am finding something negative to say about South Africa. And I want to take her straightening iron out of her bag and actually just bliksem her with it because yussus, people – this is a good day for us! Can you not see how astonishingly well things have turned out? It’s better than we dared even to dream. Also, by the way, you’re at gym at 10 in the morning, and not because you’re cleaning the toilets. How about a bit of perspective for the amazingness of your life?

A classic South African moment happened a few weeks ago at that same gym when we asked one of the managers if they no longer get the paper delivered in the morning. Because it’s quite nice to distract yourself from the fact you’re drinking coffee instead of doing interval training. And he shrugged apologetically and said, ‘No, I’m afraid not. It’s the government.’ Now, the government can be blamed for many things. Many. But, hard as I’ve thought this through, the fact that there isn’t a Cape Argus for the white people to read while they eat their eggs and avo I cannot trace back to the inefficiency of the ANC. But that’s the manager’s story and he’s sticking to it.

So here’s a thought. Since things are looking pretty peachy for us right now (we even have Thuli back on neighbourhood watch), and – try as some people may – it’s quite hard to put a negative spin on recent political events in South Africa, let’s do a little personal inventory on ourselves and what really motivates the gratuitous grumbling about our country. It doesn’t take a psych degree to work out that much of what we attribute to our environment is a projection of what’s happening in our inner lives. Except honestly assessing why you’re depressed is a lot harder than posting vitriol on social media.

Let’s take a moment to reflect on the knee-jerk way many of us respond when things aren’t going our way. When someone in government does something kak, you hear about it all day. When someone in government does something good, it’s crickets and we post pics of our kids. How about we try to be more fair and a little more balanced in the way we assess what’s going on politically? Jacob Zuma’s governance was a bad time for us. Hendrik Verwoerd’s governance was worse. But we survived both – the former, due in no small part to our robust and extremely hard-working democracy.

We didn’t sit back and wait for things to change, we took to the streets and protested. Many people with placards were scorned and ridiculed for being white and entitled; they showed up anyway. There was more uniformity, more mutual respect and affection at those events than I’ve ever seen anywhere before. Nobody gave a hoot what anybody else looked like or where they came from. We were South Africans – mixed, mad, purposeful, indignant. How dare they try and steal our country from us again? How dare they let us down now after all we have been through as a nation?

Our courts, our journalists, our opposition parties, our whole judicial system worked hard and determinedly to fight the corruption and to prevent the state capture that would have been a tragic ending to a beautiful beginning. We did it. He’s gone. But we can’t rest on our laurels because there is still much to be done. It’s early days. Let’s be positive and generous in the thoughts and intentions we send out into the world. Let’s not wait for this magical government to bring the Argus to the gym. There is only so much one man can do. Now we have seen our strength and exercised our might. Let’s use it in this new era: make friends with ones who are different. Greet people in their own language. Be kind, generous, tolerant, and in your own capacity do whatever you can to make South Africa the kind of place where you want to live.

Right now our house is a building site because we are lucky enough to be able to afford to renovate. There’s a Zulu and a porta loo on our stoep and it’s noisy as hell all day. What the builders don’t know is that we hear almost everything they say. They speak mostly Kaaps. It’s hot as hades up there in the roof and they’re covered in dust and grime. They work really, really hard. Also, they tease each other and laugh a lot. Sometimes I stop and just listen. What they say I can’t even begin to translate into English, but it’s fricking hilarious. The banging drives me mad but the banter makes my day. And I guess that’s a bit of a metaphor for South Africa. Cheers to that, and to us, and to watching SONA this evening with pride instead of dismay. It’s been an extraordinary few days.

46 thoughts on “Tsek, Tsotsi!

  1. There’s no newspaper because Branson sold the gyms to Christo Wiese. And we all know how broke he is what with Steinhoff.

  2. GooseBUMPS Susan Heyden! Outstanding piece of writing. Totally hilarious and also so true. Can’t wait to share! PS porter loo or porta loo?


    Lauren Trappler

  3. Susan, you have just improved my already wonderful mood by a few more notches! Thank you for writing so fantastically!

  4. Amen. Let us all think and send positive thoughts out. Stop concentrating on the negative and focus on the positive. Start trying to live as a united nation and celebrate and accept our differences instead of focussing on them negatively. Here’s to a better future for all South Africans. As things stand we can only go onward and upwards from here on.

  5. SUsan your blogs are sensational. I have been a fan for many years and they just keep getting better.
    Thanks for making my day and transporting me to a feeling of goodwill and hilarity.
    Stunning interpretation of the facts – bravo !

  6. Thank you! Wonderful. Brilliant.

    On Fri, 16 Feb 2018 at 12:07, The Disco Pants Blog wrote:

    > susanhayden posted: ” Isn’t it so typical of how things work down here > that one minute it’s business as usual and you’re going to bed gatvol > because President Zuma is hanging on with the tenacity of a gazonkelnut and > whyfor must he resign just because eleventy millio” >

  7. I absolutely love your blog. You write so cathartically and with such enthusiasm! I was literally in pieces reading this. Please keep writing. You are so right – water or not this is a new era for South Africa. Cheers, Kelly

  8. Fabulous ! When you mentioned the builders and the Porta Potty and the heat and the dust I thought you’d been so caught up in the fun of the moment you’d say they’d now be allowed inside instead 😉

  9. Susan, what an absolute gift you have!
    You clearly are a watcher of people, something that is a favourite pass time for me too.
    The way you have captured your story breaks down the barriers of race, creed, culture and religion at all levels, leaving everyone open to pure and wonderful observation. Not to mention your humour!
    Can I buy you a dairy berry smoothie at the gym to have a chat (we won’t need The Argus!).
    Keep up this wonderful literacy gift that you have, it is authentic and so very South African.

  10. Loved this blog (as well as all your other ones!) and your call for optimism and sharing good neighbourliness and fellow citizenship. We are indeed a great rainbow nation with a more hopeful and bright future again.

  11. So well said Ms DiscoPants, you say what I’m thinking better than I could say it. Hoping that the ‘government’ will allow you once again to enjoy the Argus at the gym while not-gymming.

  12. A wonderful way of putting what happened into words! People should really embrace the moment and start breaking down the walls that were put up around us by this sad period.

  13. Fabulous Susan, you have us all laughing and nodding our heads at all the sense you’re talking. I love that you wanted to bliksem with the hair straighteners – such a great word! I’ve shared with all my friends.

  14. Susan jy klink nie soos ‘n Hayden nie!
    Despite me not specializing in hair or maybe because of that I enjoyed the the straitening iron moment. Even on the other side of the boerewors gordyn we celebrated the fact that he zumed out of society.

  15. Great post !! It is so much easier to be negative than positive and yet this is such positive news..finally!! South Africa has been through such hideous times…both Zuma and Vervoerd were equally as awful, both eras filled with racism and hatred fueled by the leaders ….I fervently hope that we as a country are finally on the way up to become the rainbow nation Madiba wanted us to be. I am watching and waiting with hope !

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