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LETTER FROM THE DM168 EDITOR

‘Kantgate’ – hilarious South Africans keep us on the ‘regte kant’ of history

‘Kantgate’ – hilarious South Africans keep us on the ‘regte kant’ of history
Meme from X. | Ripley Singh is wearing this season's most coveted T-Shirt. (Photo: Sukasha Singh) | Meme from Facebook.

The one thing that stands out for me about ‘Kantgate' is how we South Africans, with our complex language and cultural differences, can find each other in humour and general silliness.

Dear DM168 reader,

White kant. Wyd kant. Wye kant. Kanti.

Every South African social media comedian and their cousins twice removed have come out of the woodwork to reveal the cornucopia of words in our multilingual country that sound like the “C-word” that rhymes with runt, an English insult to a perfectly innocent part of the female anatomy that England flanker Tom Curry alleged Springbok Bongi Mbonambi called him.

Even our prehistoric fish has been hauled out of the museum to add to the debate … with memes, like this one shared by our writer Marianne Thamm, saying: “Het jy geweet die bekende vis die Coelacanth (Silly-kant) wat aan die Suid-Afrikaanse kus bevind word, is genoem na die Engelse rugbyspeler Tom Curry?” Abbreviated translation: Did you know the Coelacanth (Silly-kant) is named after English rugby player Tom Curry?

We have Melusi Tshabalala posting on his #EverydayZulu Facebook page:

“Today’s Zulu is kanti. Kanti is pretty versatile and can be used in various contexts. It is ‘after all, then, in fact, whereas, so, actually, but’. It can also be a stand-alone question and so much more. In this context, I use it as ‘it turns out’ and ‘but it turns out’.

“Kanti, the whole Mbonambi $%nt saga is a guerrilla marketing campaign for Hendrik Hancke’s Ontkant!. My publishers had better come up with similarly clever stunts to market my new book, which will be published next year.

“My fellow kant(ri)men and kant(ri)women, kanti, what is going on daai kant? Why kant the Brits just accept their loss, and kanter off into the distance? Kanti, what’s wrong with them? Is the Archbishop of Kanterbury, the predikant, also whining? I kant take this. They must just share a kantaloupe, and accept they were beaten by an antelope. They must dekanter their tears into a jug, and drink them.

“I just kant. Can you? No, you also kant. As a kantri, we kant. We kant. Kant. Kant. Kant.

“You thought this post was about the word ‘kanti’. Kanti, it was just an excuse for me to write kant over and over, wit kant.”

And then there’s the hilarious TikTok comedienne SamiHallsays, who says in a very South African eksent: “In sport, we like to keep our kant clean … and I am on the Springboks’ kant.

Our multilingualism includes the King’s English, the language of our erstwhile coloniser that produced that pesky word. It appears in the Oxford dictionary, referring both to female genitalia and to an unpleasant or stupid person.

What does any part of our female genitalia have to do with a lack of intelligence? It suggests some rather Freudian hang-up with female sexuality and, let’s face it, it also speaks of a disdain for women.

As someone who is part of more than half of the planet’s inhabitants born with the genitalia used to refer to unpleasant or stupid people, I’d like to reclaim our anatomical innocence and proudly state that all of us humans embarked on our path to life via beautiful white, black, tan, pink and beige “c*nts”.

So, let’s stop making what, in essence, made us an insult. Ever. “Kant” and “kanti”, on the other hand, is fair game for everyone, as we South Africans have so delightfully shown.

The one thing that stands out for me about “Kantgate” is how we South Africans, with our complex language and cultural differences, can find each other in humour and general silliness. This ability to laugh at ourselves, despite all the kak in our land, might just be our saving grace.

We may not always behave like the rainbow nation Archbishop Tutu dreamt of, especially when our politicians fan the flames of race-baiting and hatred to hide their deficiencies and crookery, but we sure as hell are a nation of multilingual African pranksters, misfits, survivors, lovers, innovators and, like the Boks, bittereinders who just do not give up even when all the odds are stacked against us.

I really believe our secret sauce, our blatjang, lies in our meeting and mixture of many cultures and languages, our survival and resilience, our ability to make peace and reconcile after wars, migrations, colonisation, apartheid and, more recently, State Capture.

It’s a mal kind of magic that makes our hearts warm. It gives me hope that we can find each other not just by wearing our Springbok T-shirts, but by standing up and coming together to make the whole of Team South Africa work for everyone who lives here.

Which brings me to a story in this week’s paper by Estelle Ellis, our intrepid correspondent from the land of Siya Kolisi in the Eastern Cape. It’s a story about a woman who, like Kolisi, did not give up. A municipal official took issue with her for submitting a petition complaining about the lack of service delivery. Her persistence and determination, and refusal to stay quiet, led to the Public Protector demanding that the premier, several members of the executive committee, several municipalities and the police report to her on what they are doing to fix the many problems highlighted by residents.

Our lead story by senior political writer Queenin Masuabi is about the resurgence of a man who is loved and loathed in equal portions – none other than Jacob Zuma, also a bittereinder, but not in a good way. Read the story to find out how the ANC in KZN wants to use its Zuma weapon to win hearts and minds in next year’s election. I kid you not.

Don’t miss our sports editor Craig Ray’s preview of the big game tomorrow night, as well as wall-to-wall analyses of the All Blacks and Boks that will make you the most informed fan.

Kanti, hou op die regte kant, mense. Go Bokke!

PS – I look forward to reading what you have to say. Write to me at [email protected]

Yours in defence of truth and our crazy kantry,

Heather

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

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