In the last two years, human beings have gone from a few video calls a month to a few video calls a day. As recently as 2017 if you worked in a progressive entity and you were very busy, importantly titled or just the female responsible for taking minutes; video calls or webinars as they were quaintly called back then, were already becoming a more regular thing. Although some people still lost no time in telling you they preferred to fly-in to meetings and engage with each other face-to-face. Now a mere few years and one heavily depreciated Kia later, everyone and their car salesman is video calling everyone else. It’s normal that links for funerals, weddings and bar mitzvahs arrive in your Whatsapp.
Everyone (well almost everyone) has rapidly and seamlessly adopted the habit of live-streaming everything they do. What might have in the past involved actual human contact is now just a click, adjust webcam, check sound and voila! We’re connected across time and space and through an airborne global Coronavirus pandemic. And if you’re really special, you’re busy with your first in-person gathering of over five-hundred people in two-years. There’s tears of joy in your eyes and if you’re at a concert, the crowd is busy shouting over the ill-meaning-pretend-do-gooder; baying for some Coldplay. Odes to life before travel was curtailed appear on all feeds, mostly rehashed pictures from that time before the pandemic ‘when we were in Corfu.’ The early (re)adopters have all been to the destination of the season; Croatia — and back again — no, it’s not a Hobbit’s tale this time. It’s hot out there and everyone just seems to want life to go back to normal.
And in the midst of all this, here in the holy land — we have an election coming up in a couple of weeks and if the election posters are to be believed, people are gatvol. They’re also allegedly tired of politics. Others claim to get things done and yet others whole political beings are just about being a minority. Not unlike their cousins, whose whole personality is about carbs-on-carbs, or some other colonial invented cuisine habit that is now the ground zero of their being. On Twitter, others mould their whole personalities around the trope that there needs to be a credible opposition in the holy land — the modern response to the swart gevaar their Ooms created and their tannies kept voting into office for over forty years. Then there’s the bunch who do not see colour — and I can’t wait for the cure for that problem. What do they do at traffic lights? How do they dress up each day? You mean this colour blind bunch can never enjoy a seven colours Sunday lunch? Shem, we must be more kind to the colour blind.
And staying in the holy land and Twitter, there was that hashtag that popped up when some tough old roosters took a minister hostage — supposedly because they were not getting their due of the spoils. But it was not the minister that was taken hostage, it was all of us in the holy land that were and remain hostage to the uber patriarchy so well used by our colonisers and now localised and adapted to self-misrule. Because I’m willing to bet offshore currency that there’s no way the bunch of overwrought patriarchs would have taken such actions if the minister was one of the manne. Maybe I’m wrong and they too are gatvol of whatever it is that they’re gatvol of.
And can you blame them? People of all kinds (but mostly the working, if underemployed; taxpaying, if underpaying and definitely the unarmed) have been clear what they’re gatvol of and it does not take a whole Office of the Cupcake (and the phalanx of staff that such an esteemed entity employs) to know. I mean you just need to spend a few hours on Twitter and you’ll be fully informed of what people in the holy land are gatvol of — in fact the actual work to see and hear what the mense of the holy land are properly gatvol of is the work of minutes — it’s the distractions on the app that will eat up the hours — and don’t even try to do this on a Thursday because, oh nevermind.
But because the staff in the Office of the Cupcake and the multiplicity of adjunct units, departments and institutes are all so busy in virtual meetings about 4IR; let me set out here some of main gripes and wishes and hopes and aspirations and dreams and fears and other things that people in the holy land have, want and are properly gatvol of.
So, let’s start with that perennial middle class dream of potable water on tap and electricity that does not cost as much as installing your own off-grid system. Staying with what only rich, old, racist White people in Seapoint could possibly want; people want the streets swept; fully functional and staffed public hospitals; the garbage collected; teachers that bother go to school everyday; libraries that are open and stocked with books; parks and other public facilities maintained; jobs that are slightly more than slave labour. Oh and just from me — also a highly privileged human; I’d like the roadside verges tidied and the yellow and white route markers painted; on a rolling maintenance basis and not in fits and starts of crony tender corruption. Asseblief en dankie.
The tannies in Sea Point want the nice folks being paid millions of ronts a year as civil servants, to go to the office and to do their work. They want schools in the Eastern Cape and in that far-flung outpost of Limpopo to have actual toilets for the little kiddies to take a dump in. Thing is — and we know this will come as a shock — there are more than 1500 pit latrines in schools in the Eastern Cape province alone. It does not take a whole SETA and it’s billion rand a year budget to tell you that a few thousand pit latrines; in an exceedingly rich country like the holy land is, in the year of our Lord 2021 AD nogal; is to say the least, ‘n bietjie kak.
If the holy land was a school project, the pit latrines in primary and other schools would be a fail. On Twitter it would be an epic fail, But we’re not there, we’re all very busy on Zoom — trying to fit the depth, breath and sheer complexity of the human experience into a phone screen and expecting it to have no actual effects on the brain or our long term wellbeing — remember when doctors promoted cigarettes? But I digress.
Rich, old and definitely only racist white South Africans want the daily reports about billions lost to corruption, mismanagement and incompetence to end. They might want the actual corruption itself to end but I dare not assume that. They are gatvol of asking to see the Man-nay-ger because whenever they do get to see him; he’s so shocked and also so well-spoken and charming, they forget they were complaining and the little kiddies that might fall into a pit latrine and die there, just do. And then it takes years of fighting about this shitshow until it becomes a distant memory and a quotable court case that law students will study like it’s an unrecognisable fairy-tale happening in a land far away and a very long time ago. And they too will get lost in the heavy legal opinions — made by people whose children never have to use a pit-latrine and the young lawyers will one day also start going on about about rights and duties and what is affordable and what the ‘best Constitution in the world’ says about budgets and the progressive realisation of rights.
Five years later and another court decided that the kid who fell into the pit latrine was worth 350k each to his parents and 200k each to his siblings and the newspaper headline said the family will get a bar for their troubles. And the political heads who are paid a salary that is multiples of the amount the court awarded; civil servants who get driven around in vehicles costing more than the total award; all paid from taxpayer money responded to the court order saying: “The department will go through the judgment in detail and provide a comprehensive response in due course.” In the words of our previous colonisers, what a gobshite.
I might be going out on a limb here — I’ve not seen this on Twitter but I’d hazard a guess that the family of Michael Komape might be gatvol about that? In fact the continuing existence of pit latrines might be the textbook case study for what the old, rich, white, racist people in the holy land are gatvol of? But don’t take my word for it, maybe go ask the parents of Omari Monono. Or just send them a Zoom link, I’m sure they’re up to a chat while on the shitter.
Kiddie Poo is a personal blog, with nothing even remotely fictionalised. The local government election candidates and campaigners on the other hand are the stuff of nightmares that are likely to make pit latrines look like a fairytale.
© Jesh Baker, 2021