This has been quite a week in South Africa.  The whole country has been hoisted into polarized pinion by a satirical caricature of the presidential chi Zi Wang.

After the ruling party’s fascist response to that painting, which it is agreed is a political commentary and (some say) a fitting elucidation on the sexual relentlessness of the Pres JZ,  a view that many people hold seems to have been quashed in the quest to bestow other interpretations on the painting and make it about our apartheid history and an offense to every black man and other things about which I’m unconvinced.  But then art, in it’s wordlessness allows for any interpretation.  I don’t need to be convinced.

The interpretation that I see is that the artist thinks the president is a dick, and the real art is that, by manipulating and bullying, intimidating, and sending a mob to tyrannize an artist and gallery owner the president has concurred.  The painting has had its point illustrated.  The artist is vindicated.  Isn’t art wonderful?  Well enough about The Spear.  What a ridiculous moment in the centenary year of the ANC.

I’m so happy to be home.  I love travelling alone.  It’s one of my things.  I always have a good time by myself.  I’m not averse to travelling with friends.  That’s a different kind of fun.  But, yes, I like my own company.  I flew Emirates because SAA for some reason always has delays and there is nothing worse, I think, than having to stay in some nasty hotel room because the flight is delayed for too many hours.   The business and first classjimmy-dean-pancake-sausage people get a hotel that you can enjoy sitting in for a few hours.  They’re offered stars.  Economy passengers get some sub standard tip that was never awarded a star and where they serve powdered eggs.  At the hotel we stayed at in North Carolina breakfast came wrapped in plastic.  It was a sausage wrapped in pancake on a stick.  I didn’t venture.  Even if my taste buds and digestive system coped, it looked like a toxicity festival.

The last time I was subjected to an SAA delay I was coming home for a bit of a honeymoon in Durban.  No, I didn’t suddenly get married, but you know.  ‘Dirty weekend?’  That sounds sordid.  It wasn’t sordid.  The flight was delayed for seventeen hours.  I said ‘No’!  I told them that I didn’t have seventeen hours to be delayed.

“Well what do you want me to do?”, the woman at the check-in desk at JFK demanded.  She wasn’t yelling, but she was strident.  She was stressed.  I thought to myself, “I’ve got this”.

“You’re not South African are you?” I said.  “In South Africa we make a plan.  I want you to make a plan.”

She tried to argue further, but I wasn’t having it.  I had planned a gorgeous weekend with my man as the curtain raiser to my visit home and I was not going to lose all my reservations because our national airline can’t get a plane to take off on time.   I stood my ground.  They transferred me to Emirates.  I’ve mostly been doing Emirates since the seventeen hour delay.  It’s the long way home, but the planes take off when they say they will so you can make plans.  That’s all you want really, isn’t it.  Also the seats up at the back in economy are much more spacious on Emirates.  On SAA they pack ‘em in.  It’s not a comfortable flight.  To be delayed is intolerable, but to be delayed and then uncomfortable is way beyond intolerable.

My friend said that I was too confrontational.  What could she possibly mean? I’m a lamb, albeit a lamb who’s not afraid of a bit of a confrontation.  Those who didn’t confront sat in a nasty hotel near the airport for seventeen hours and ate powdered egg.

They were so sweet to me at the Emirates desk at JFK.  My hand luggage was too heavy.  How do you travel light?  I’ve never managed it.  I’m my Mother’s daughter when it comes to that.  She also couldn’t pack light.  Anyway, they let me check it in.  I already had the allowance of two bags checked in, but the sweet woman at the check-in desk said “Oh just check it in, I won’t charge you’.

When I arrived at O R Tambo International I couldn’t find my ride so I went to the official taxi desk and asked about prices to Sandton.  He told me “it depends on the metre”.   Oh come on, really?  We agreed on R400.  The guy who agreed walked with me to tell the driver.  They had a little argument and then we got into the car.  The driver turned to me and yelled at me “Why did you agree with him.  I’m the driver.  You must talk to me about the price”.  “Is R400 alright?”  I asked.  “Yes, it costs R400” he yelled.  So then, our problem is?  I chuckled to myself.  Only in South Africa!


About Tselane Tambo

I share myself in these desultory ramblings. It’s my thoughts and memories; some anecdotes and opinions. It’s an accidental autobiography. When you’ve meandered through these pages you’ll be within reach of a little piece of me. Thank you for dropping by.
This entry was posted in Nocturnal Ramblings of a Mind Unplugged. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Speared

  1. Down here in Durban they staged a march from Curries Fountain to the City Hall last Saturday about that painting. I am personally acquainted with one of the chief organisers and could not fathom how we could mobilise 15 000 people in 3 days to attend a march against an artist and a gallery 600km away when we can’t do the same for something as necessary as proper water and sanitation in Clermont – a stone’s throw outside Durban. I had breakfast with my daughter at the Royal Hotel opposite the City Hall, waiting in great anticipation to see how many people actually participated, but everything was apparently delayed.. so we scurried home after changing our library books.

  2. Last time I flew SAA was business class, there were no movies on the flight out – to London – they said it was a technical problem on my side of the plane. Nothing could be done about it. I listened to music and read. On the way home: no movies, no lights on my side. I couldn’t even read. Technical problem they said. I thought, you know what, if you can’t afford to pay technicians, I can’t afford to fly with you – it’s cheaper anyhow (much) with Air France or Emirates. I now fly either Air France/Lufthansa or Emirates, life is happier – fab champagne on Air France, and a brilliant airport at Schipol – and great service and a marvelous duty free at Dubai. That’s the trouble with bad service, people accept it once, but more often they say … just a minute…

  3. Kgalema Eugene says:

    I love SA!

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