EKasi, where a Moegoe and his money are always parted

2015-11-26 06:00
laughing lunga adam

laughing lunga adam

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“South Africa is a land of opportunity. Seize the opportunities that come your way,”

We are often told by overweight men in ties, shiny suits and kick-and-bhoboza shoes at important functions.

Of course we have our own different ways of interpreting this call to action and this can be no more evident than in the way life is lived in the townships. Today I want to put a special focus on a particular kind of opportunists-the ones you find on street corners or just about anywhere where there is a crowd and the potential to make a quick buck, at most times even without lifting a finger for it.

These guys, I have come to notice, are often between their teenage years and mid-20s, and my only conclusion for their desperate and petty means of survival is that life must have dealt them a bit of a blow.

Even at such a young age nogal! This gang comprises of those who refuse to find employment or help out with household chores, so they choose instead to loiter around spaza shops with friends, waylaying girls coming from school and asking for spare change from passers-by.

They are tactful in their approach. I guess when you are passionate about something, you develop, especially since you are dealing with unsuspecting folk.

I have often met people who would come up and begin telling some sob story.

The nature of these tales is such that you are left with no option but to feel pity and empathy. At times, you are reduced to tears. Then the blow strikes. “Khawundifakele apha imali ye 2 wash grootman.” You try to look for an excuse, but none avails itself immediately. The bugger has pinned you into a corner and, by the time you give in, he says to himself: “Gotcha!” Then he will move on to the next victim.

These fellas are all around us. They plan it. When they rock up to you looking all hungry, thirsty and defeated, you are unaware that they have already planned every word they are going to utter to you. Clever moegoes.

They start off with something like: “Hey grootman yam, uscarsile” or “Ibikufuna i maid yakho, ide yakufumana?” If not that, then a two-day forecast of the weather. I will never forget one such individual who suddenly appeared before my eyes and made me listen for two hours to some story about him regularly sending money to his gogo in the Eastern Cape, as he was building his family a house there. That was the reason for his empty pockets, he muttered, and that he would be the talk of the town as soon as he was done with ‘the project’. Unsuspecting as I was, I warmed to the guy. By the time I left the place, I must have bought him so many rounds of drinks that there is no way he could not have leaned on lampposts on his way home.

Some of the opportunists’ modus operandi include saying that they are waiting for someone and, until the arrival of this person, you need to offer a helping hand. Or that they have some cash ‘in the bank’, but they are scared to walk to the ATM at that time of night.

There is also the emotional blackmail. Like this one guy I met at the local car wash one Sunday afternoon. He sprang up to me, told me he reads my columns and then, boom... he needed money to buy bread. I handed it to him. Then, just as he was about to walk away, he said: “Eish, ndonakalelwe nayi light bulb yam pha endlini, but ke ndizos’ke ndibone uba mandithini.” Ah, you just gotta love Visionland, for it is a fertile ground for opportunities. Oops, I mean opportunists.

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