Every week, Daily Maverick brings you some of the less expected happenings from South Africa and further afield. This week: there’s something in the weather.
I don’t want to alarm the President, but earlier this week, a woman was arrested for breaking down the door of a church, claiming Jesus was chasing her. She was stark naked and had apparently charged all the way through a nearby forest in her altogether, so it sounds pretty legit. Ironically for Jesus, though, she was charged with disturbing a worship service.
Over in Cape Town, it wasn’t unlike the end times, either, with Daily Maverick sports writer Antoinette Muller waking up on Wednesday morning to find an uprooted tree outside her home had collapsed on top of two neighbourhood cars (yikes). Roofs were being torn off; windows smashed in; entire shacks were blown away. I can’t imagine the sensation of watching your whole house being carried off in front of you. It’s something Dorothy and Toto never adequately explained.
Just saying. #GuptaLeaks. Fire and brimstone. Coincidence? Your move, Mr President. If I were you, I’d get stepping.
On that note, though, you’d think we’d have been hard-pressed to find anything more surreal than said GuptaLeaks this week. Yet amidst trying to figure out our head of state being inexplicably beholden to a family that seems perfectly ordinary besides unimaginable wealth and chutzpah, we find ourselves facing news of fresh attempts to raise the dead (again, as though the living aren’t trouble enough), and the building of a temple to worship a deformed calf said to resemble Lord Vishnu. Oh, and a bear that broke into a home to play the piano. (I’m not making that up.)
Whether or not the Zuptas are about to get sucked into a rapture, one thing I’m sure of: South Africa will outlast them. “Ja,” a family member wearily texted me last weekend. “The Comrades is the only thing in South Africa the Guptas aren’t running.”
I’m starting to realise South Africans are made of sterner stuff than the rest of the world – we fight longer, we laugh harder. I knew this for certain when I was watching one of those strange survival-type reality shows on Animal Planet where some average Joe breaks his pelvis while out hiking, but somehow survives after he climbs up a mountain using only his one unbroken limb, builds a helicopter out of chewing gum and flies home with one hand, eating nothing but flies. Anyway, this episode I watched was about a South African chap whose boat capsized in crocodile infested waters. Being surrounded by a bevy of – as far as I could see – rather hapless Brits who couldn’t swim and hadn’t brought along any sunscreen, he emerged victorious from a fight with a hippo, swam across the Zambezi, beating tremendously powerful currents, wrestled a seven-metre crocodile, got sunstroke, passed out under a tree from exhaustion, got ravaged by fire ants, and faced off against multiple land predators overnight, befriending a giant buffalo bull along the way. His friends described him drily as “a bit of a legend”.
I think of that chap often – when a South African friend in London related, recently, how a bedraggled youth attempted to mug her at the Tube station and her first response was, “I’m South African, buddy. Don’t even think about it.” Or when the story of Theunis Wessels went viral this week. Theunis, a South African living in Alberta, was snapped by his wife mowing the lawn with a tornado behind him. “I was keeping an eye on it,” was his simple explanation.
“I literally took the picture to show my mum and dad in South Africa, ‘Look there’s a tornado,’ and now everyone is like, ‘Why is your husband mowing the lawn?” his wife, Cecilia Wessels, said later.
Ja-nee. South Africans don’t have rooibos in their veins.
Cape Town, obviously, demonstrates this a little differently. Twenty-four hours before the storm hit, everyone was racing to the shops to buy emergency kits in case their (sparkling) water supply was cut off, there were no lighters or matcha, or Woolies ran out of Banting snacks. It didn’t take long, though, for the kvetching to start.
“This is soooooo not a storm.”
“This is what we used to call winter! Ha, ha, ha.”
“I used to do the gardening in this.”
Only Cape Town could do it: be too cool for its own storm. Nogals while shacks are blowing away and half the province is burning down next door. I hate to tell you this, guys, but the meteorologists can’t all be wrong.
Also, let’s be honest. Despite (before the drought) being one of the rainiest winter spots in the country, Cape Town has always had the alarming propensity to lose its mind the second a drop of water falls out of the sky. I don’t know how it happens, but it usually goes something like this, according to something I call the Rain/Brain Scale:
2.Capetonian loses ability to leave house.
3.Capetonian, if forced to leave house, loses ability to drive.
4.Capetonian, if forced to leave house and forced to drive, loses ability to acknowledge inability to use brain while driving.
5.Zombie apocalypse on Cape Town roads.
So maybe I should be more understanding, since according to the R/BS we are approaching level five, ergo Capetonians can no longer help themselves.
And Mr President, you should be very afraid. DM
Marelise van der Merwe and Daily Maverick grew up together, so her past life increasingly resembles a speck in the rearview mirror. She vaguely recalls writing, editing, teaching and researching, before joining the Daily Maverick team as Production Editor. She spent a few years keeping vampire hours in order to bring you each shiny new edition (you're welcome) before venturing into the daylight to write features. She still blinks in the sunlight.
"Take a chance, won't you? Knock down the fences which divide. Tear apart the walls that imprison you. Reach out. Freedom lies just on the other side." ~ Thurgood Marshall