Monday, May 16, 2011


As my friend Tsego Raphuti and I concluded: you have not lived until you’ve been through a taxi rank. I am not the adventurous type. In fact, you wouldn’t be far off if you described me as having the heart of a chicken.

This past weekend I attended a friends 25th birthday party and the only way I could get there was by using a taxi from Pretoria to Midrand. I spent Saturday dreading this trip. Although she had given me a guideline as to how I would eventually get to Midrand, I was guaranteed a few unforeseeable incidences and I hate unpredictability. Anyways, if I gave it too much thought I would change back into my pyjamas and make a “sorry I can’t come” call.

I threw on my coat, grabbed my handbag and made one last call to confirm which side of the road I should stand on. Feeling like quite the tool, I raised my index finger to signal that I was going to town. Within minutes a taxi swept passed and stopped 500 meters later to pick me up. I quickened my step, opened the door and sat close to the front so I could ask the driver to drop me off close to taxi’s heading towards Midrand. It was too late to turn back and I say this because even as I sat in the moving taxi, the thought crossed my mind. A few minutes later all 15 passengers were being shuffled around. Three taxis’ gathered at a stop and divided us according to final destination. Such is the unpredictability that puts me on edge. Like fools we were on and off and on again (roll eyes). Non-the less, 10 minutes later I was at the main taxi rank.

Whilst everyone else knew where they were going, I didn’t. The hustle and bustle is enough to bring on an anxiety attack. Where were my Rescue tablets? Straight face, jacket buttoned, and bag under armpit I missioned as if I knew. Early life experience taught me taxi- drivers are big meanies and 15 years later, nothing had changed. How dare I ask a parked taxi driver in the middle of a conversation where to find the Midrand taxis? I regretted asking as soon as the words came out. He looked me up and down and pointed in the general direction of… nowhere. A second opinion led me to right queue.

Relief; to be sitting at the back row, next to a window watching vendors and travellers from a distance. I am pretty sure there were rats scurrying around. You have not lived until you have experienced the filth, medley of smells, activity and somewhat organised chaos at a taxi rank.  All whilst seated next to three bulky men or in between two rotund women. Bless you if your sitting in front and have the responsibility of collecting the money and distributing change to each passenger. Many a horror stories have been experienced in this enviroment. Paul Auster should consider writing his next trilogy at some of SA's popular taxi ranks.

I said a small prayer whilst something on the taxi was being fixed. It could have been the breaks- I didn’t want to know. R 17.00 later, I was in Midrand. Dear Minster of Transport (Joel Ndebele), whilst I appreciate the affordability of public transport I can’t sedate myself every time I use taxi’s. All efforts seem to be going towards the Gautrain and Rea Vaya. I look forward to the safety and reliability they promise to offer but what about the 5- 10 million South African’s that use taxi’s daily? Don’t worry I have the solutions. More garbage bins at taxi ranks, an info center, formal service training for taxi drivers, stands for vendors and most importantly, roadworthy inspections for taxi’s being held together by wire and plastic.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sins of thy Wife

Picture by: Thembinkosi Dwayisa

Let me get this right: There is a woman, old enough to be my mother, guilty of drug dealing? Sheryl Cwele (what a lovely name) has been convicted of trafficking cocaine. Add to that, she is wife to SA Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele. He is facing some heat regarding the sins of his wife but has not released a statement. Mrs Cwele was recruiting drug mules, 2 of which are serving 8- year prison sentences in Brazil. They were caught out at Soa Paolo airport with 10 kg of cocaine. Sheryl tried to claim that she had hired the ladies to act as directors and represent her companies. Alas, her story fell apart when the mules turned state witnesses. It was revealed that they hadn’t even finish high- school and were going to be paid R25 000 for two weeks of “work”. Sheryl then did what most people would do and tried to pin the illegal activities on her Nigerian co- accused Frank Nabolisa.

Nigerian meets minister’s wife, meets drug dealing- I think we have a movie plot. My national pride is bruised and this hoodlum is still attending meetings as Director of Health and Community Services at the Hibiscus Coast Municipality. She has recently been given “special leave”. My question is: what for? Is it time to reflect? Or perhaps the municipality does not want to be hasty; Sheryl might still have a place if her appeal is granted.

A study conducted by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Drug Control Programme concluded that South Africans consume well over 5 billion litres of alcohol per year.  Alcohol continues to remain the most commonly abused drug in South Africa, followed by cannabis and Mandrax. In addition, according to the South African Institute of International Affairs there are up to 500 000 cocaine users in the country and there are up to 300 international crime syndicates, involved in drug trafficking, operating in SA borders. The point is, Sheryl is just one delinquent. This might be an opportunity for SA government to divert its focus on drug trafficking and consumption. When was the last time you saw an anti- drug ad or campaign?

Monday, May 9, 2011

As Seen on TV

Here is a fact: infomercials are popular. I'm not sure why. My guess is too much disposable time and income. According to BizCommunity 63% of TV shoppers buy from 30-minute infomercials while 30% of buyers fall for the "And that's not all" inducement for an additional nail clipper or hair band. Here are some of my favourite infomercial products which are flying off the shelves:

PediPaw: this product promises to not crack, splinter or break your pets nails. Fluffy and Snoopy can have a pedicure right in the comfort of their own home. SMH (shaking my head)- light bulb moment for all of you who didn't know what that meant, thank me later.

Twista: Initially it was just the food processor but now there's the Twista Chop 'n Go and Twista Chopper Plus. I watched this infomercial from beginning to end. Isabel Jones and that bald American chef did a good job of selling it. It chops, dices, slices and then sits on your shelf collecting dust for even longer.

Snuggie: This is one of those products I would avoid buying purely because I know I'll love it. It's a blanket with sleeves. How ridiculous? How comfortable.

Kim Kardashian- Fit into your jeans by Friday: It comes with 3 DVD's to sculpt and define your body. However, when it comes to exercise tapes, I am confident that no one will ever outdo Billy Banks Tae Bo videos. I believed everybody in the infomercial, they changed the meaning of "double time".

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Kate Middleclass

Q: I'd like to see a post on the Royal Wedding...your thoughts, your views? Is it worth the commotion? - @WowMlu (The Deacon's Gigilo)

A: I’m really stuck on the fact that Kate has been repeatedly referred to as a “commoner”. In its proper use, the term means that she does not come from nobility. But in another sense, it likens her to every Jess, Catherine and Phakamani. There is nothing common about Kate’s parents who are self- made millionaires. There is nothing ordinary about being raised in a quaint village called Bucklebury and certainly there is nothing average about attending the University of St Andrews, the 87th top university in the world! This simply highlights the disparities between African and UK societies.  In that sense, I wish I was a British commoner.

America's Most Wanted

Oh great! Another opportunity for the U.S. to assault the rest of the world with their patriotism and paranoia. President Barack Obama proudly announced that the US had successfully killed Osama Bin Laden. In his speech he said:

“Last week I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action and authorised an operation to get Osama Bin Laden and bring him to justice. Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in   Abbottabad Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No American’s were harmed [- my favourite part!]. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama Bin Laden and took custody of his body…Justice has been done”.

Obama instantly lost his charm and for the first time looked more like Bush’s replacement than a man with a dream for all of humanity. Strange how the murder of an ailing Dr. Evil will most likely earn him another term in office. Bush must be seething with jealousy. America’s triumph has been imposed on the rest of the world as an international triumph. This is regardless of the fact that we will still be inappropriately patted down at airports and I might have a third pair of blunt scissors or tweezers confiscated.

I was ready to sympathise with Americans until I saw the images. They were no different to a New Years Eve street bash- American’s hysterically chanting and cheering. Buffoonery. For a moment I thought I was watching highlights from the royal wedding. As Mona Eltahawy writes in the Guardian, there was "No dignity at ground zero". This marks a second phase of opportunities to define the face of terrorism as misguided Muslims ‘living amongst us’. Carefully selected images and videos of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda have resurfaced against images of wholesome, democratic, American, saviours of the world.

A more humble reaction from the U.S. would have changed the tone of this blog post. My fear is: now that the common enemy has been eliminated, who is next on America's Most Wanted list? Who will the “hollering hoards of hicks and hill- billies” (T. Walker, 2011) pick as their next project ? On that note, I think each African Head of State should take the opportunity to congratulate the U.S. and perhaps add that there is no reason to view Sub- Saharan Africa as the next hub for ‘imminent threats’. God bless America.

Ps. I can't stop laughing at this: