Guest Column

From lahnee to the cheap seats on Daddy’s day

2017-04-30 05:58
Paddy Harper

Paddy Harper

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Paddy Harper

Thursday. The queue of punters snaking back and forth across the municipal sports field as they wait to get through the security checkpoint and into the Freedom Day celebrations at Manguzi, KwaZulu-Natal, resembles those on voting day 23 years ago.

On April 27 1994, I was like a lahnee. Those days, I was part of the Cosatu election team, so we arrived at Ohlange High School in Inanda, north of Durban, at the tail end of Madiba’s convoy. We had police guards and the lot. These voters were waving and screaming as if Mlu, Bald Thabo and me were important. There was no work for us to do there, but there was no way we were gonna be anywhere else. We even got to vote there. Like I say,
lahnees.

Back to Freedom Day 2017. Today, I’m no lahnee. Today, I’m finding out how the other half lives. I’m stuck in the queue for the cheap seats – the political Extra Strongs. I’ve missed the accreditation deadline courtesy of the gridlock on the road between Jozini and Manguzi caused by the mass of humanity that’s descended on the farthest-flung part of KwaZulu-Natal to hear Daddy – that’s President Jacob Zuma to you – deliver his Freedom Day speech. The cat with my credentials is inside and I can’t get through to him. There are 10 000 people posting selfies on Facebook.

I wonder why Daddy chose Manguzi. The place is spitting distance from Mozambique and not exactly easy to get to. Maybe because it was easier to fill the stadium as there’s not much else to do around here? And it’s easier to keep the boo brigade out. There’s also no need for State Security Minister David Mahlobo to bring the signal jammer along. There is no signal.

Back to the queue. It’s not moving. I’m getting hungry. I ask a comrade to keep my space. I head off to a flea market set up across the field. Five minutes and R10 later, I have two skewers of chicken gizzards. They’re crunchy, juicy and caramelised with spices. I’m guzzling away as I strain to hear as Daddy starts talking.

My phone rings. It’s the cat with my credentials. He’s at the checkpoint. I give one skewer to a marshal and run for the main entrance.

Two minutes later, I’m official. I’m a lahnee again. I breeze past the dudes in suits who had bounced my arse. They’re all smiles.

I enter the main tent. There’s a wall of black suits. Daddy’s on the platform, speaking about rapid economic transformation.

Follow me on Twitter @PaddyHarper1

Read more on:    jacob zuma
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