FICTION: The Election Parade - Part One

By Drum Digital
15 March 2017

RUMOURS of an election whispered along the streets like the faint wind running before an approaching storm. Soon, good money was to be made by putting up posters. Overnight, the faded streets of Rosettenville acquired a colourful coating of posters, on all available poles, legal or not – robots, lampposts and street signs

By Thomas Szendrei

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It was amazing how the street people suddenly acquired a host of kindly uncles and aunts, all beaming at us. The most prominent of these was a gent with crinkled eyes in his fleshy face, and a woman who looked like a mother hen, rather than a politician. The two of them looked as if they hadn’t missed a hot breakfast in a long time. Maybe that’s why they both looked so happy, I thought, as I trudged on my daily mission of finding my next meal.

Then came darker mutterings along the streets, that even more money was to be had by taking down posters. Apparently, Beggar Boy led this activity in the middle of the night and forgot which posters to remove. He attacked any and all posters with great shouts of “Woza! Woza!”, until the cops chased him to his hidey-hole in a stormwater pipe, where he spent the night.

The following morning a cavalcade rolled down Verona with great razzmatazz. A large open-top sedan led the way with hooter blaring, and headlights on full beam, its bonnet draped in party colours. A guy in the back swished a flag from side to side. It was followed by a line of Quantum taxis and large four-by-fours, with arms and flags sticking out of every window.

The procession got even more interesting when the float with the dancing girls showed up. It was a long flat-bed trailer with a DJ at its front end, belting out hip-hop and rap from two giant speakers. Girls in tight yellow tops and skimpy green shorts were shivering and gyrating to the rhythm. Guys from the Black Boots gang were enthusiastically following the trailer on both sides of the street and cheered mightily when the girls did high kicks. They waved their arms, whistled and shouted invitations to the girls. That was about all they could do, seeing that the float was escorted by the Soweto Angels biker club. Those guys on their big gleaming machines, dressed in black leathers and dark-visored helmets with red flames painted on the sides, certainly commanded respect.

The tail end of the procession was brought up by a bakkie with a guy leaning on the roll bar and spraying loud and distorted words from a megaphone: “Come along, come along everyone . . . Come to Moses Kotane Square . . . Gifts for all . . . Food parcels . . .”

They should’ve dispensed with the whole procession and just sent that guy in. Never had I seen such a concerted drive by foot traffic, heading for Moses Kotane Square.

LIKE water squirting from a thousand holes, the people of Rosettenville appeared from everywhere, mothers and fathers, nieces and cousins, to join the growing throng behind the bakkie. I swear, I even saw some hospital cases on crutches hobbling along in double-quick time. I stuck with the masses. On a day like that, cops were bound to be all over the place, so I hid in the crowd.

By the time the multitude had reached the Main Street intersection and swept around the corner toward Moses Kotane Square, it covered the road edge to edge.

An old greybeard was wheezing along beside me as he tried to keep up.

He looked at me with anxious eyes, saying, “Au, my son. Where’s that place the man said?”

“Right outside Centro Centre, Mkhulu.”

“Why didn’t the man say so? Au, I hope they keep something for pensioners. The government never gives enough.”

By the time I got to Centro, I'd lost him. I hoped he’d get his parcel from the government.

The square filled up quickly and the crowd pressed up against the stage at its far end. It was aflutter with flags and festooned with posters of smiling faces. A man in a red velvet jacket and long pointy shoes grabbed a microphone that sent his voice pulsating high and low. He was soon followed by a praise singer in skins and a leopard-skin headband whose high-pitched screeching got the people clapping in time with his leaps and stamping.

To be continued . . .

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