A victory turned Pyrrhic

2012-06-23 13:46

I stood on the corner of the City of Tshwane’s recently renamed Steve Biko and Robert Sobukwe streets last weekend.

Oh happy day, I thought, Africa is finally returning.

This is no longer a meaninglessly named corner of Esselen and Jeppe streets.

But victories are seldom quite what they seem.

See, for instance, the story from my old friend with a thing for berets and goatees.

He shared a tale involving a limping old man with a stick caught in a mugging attempt gone terribly wrong.

The old man was crossing a path on a hill en route home from running errands.

But his timing was off – a bunch of potheads were hanging around on the route, smoking and making mischief, as ruffians tend to do.

One of the boys stepped up to the old timer and demanded the contents of his wallet.

But the old man in question had been quite a street-smart lad in his day, so he wasn’t about to be taken for a wimp.

He told the young man where to get off and began to walk away defiantly.

This is where the whole thing turned uglier.

The thug swung a club at the oom who, about to hurl another insult at the boy, had his mouth open enough to take in one of the boy’s fingers.

Instinct took over and the old man clenched his teeth.

Anger mixed with fear had him pressing harder and chewing into the ruffian’s finger.

As the lad screamed and squirmed, the old man felt a surge of power.

Ah, sweet revenge, he thought, with blood on his chin and shirt.

By the time he eased his grip the thug was ready to run for dear life.

The elder then made his way home, ready to tell the tale of how he taught some thug a lesson.

His wife, overhearing what happened while she prepared a clean shirt for the hero, interjected with a show-stopper: “What? So he bled into your mouth?” she asked.

“Let’s go to the clinic now. The bugger could have been HIV positive!”

The euphoria of victory turned sour as the hero was turned victim by his own gallantry.

I imagine Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula felt rather heroic when he came up with the idea to bring booty-hoping Beyoncé to our land.

But in a country still lacking basic community sports facilities, that eureka moment might have been the result of a foolhardy dialogue – with a dashiki to match.

» Follow me on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu

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