Lynn Dike

What does gatvol mean?

2007-09-05 14:09

Lynn Dike

So I was reading this article about how most Canadians are not quite Canadian enough to pass a Canadian citizenship test. Yes, apparently around 60% of born and bred Canadians would fail the assessment if they had to write it.

But 70% of those applying for citizenship sail through the test no problem, such is their enthusiasm to be Canadian.

Citizenship tests are becoming more popular these days, with the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada using them to weed out the undesirables.

Trading one country for another seems more like a really terrifying episode of The Weakest Link, than an immigrant application process.

For those hoping to pass the UK test, there is even a dummies guide, which seems appropriate for the misguided souls who believe living with that weather is a fine idea.

"Life in the UK: A Journey to Citizenship" is a study guide, written by the Home Office, the very people who set the citizenship test.

Reminds of me of those lecturers at university who would prescribe their own books to make a quick buck.

Essential reading

The handbook is essential reading for those hoping to pass the citizenship test, and explores vital issues like what to do if you spill someone's pint in the local pub (seriously, I'm not making this up).

Apparently "run like hell" is not the right answer to this question. The UK citizenship test features corkers like "How many people in the UK own their own home?" Talk about a moving target. Err, five million four hundred and eighteen thousand and thirty-seven. No wait, thirty-eight. Hang on, thirty-nine. And if they really don't like the look of you, they ask you to name them.

Even Australia has tabled a new Citizenship Testing Bill, which, if passed, will require most applicants for citizenship to have successfully completed a citizenship test before applying.

So one hundred years ago all you needed to get into Australia was a dedicated life of a crime and they'd ship you off for free, but now they make you write a test just to get in. Irony abounds.

Apparently they are going to include questions such as "What is the opening line of Advance Australia Fair?" For those of you hoping to emigrate, the answer is "Australians let us all rejoice".

Funny, I always thought the first line of the Australian national anthem was "Prepare for humiliation South African bastards, we're going to crush you in this match and make you cry".

I was thinking about what questions I would ask on a South African citizenship exam. It's important to throw in a few testers to make sure to get the cream of the immigrant crop.

General knowledge

General knowledge things like "What was the name of the South African frog that set a world record by jumping 13 feet and 5.5 inches in a frog derby?" The answer: Santjie. This would serve the double purpose of eliminating uncouth yokels who don't know what a frog derby is.

Then there should be questions posed around the issue of "African time", an essential part of life in South Africa. For example; "How long should you be prepared to wait should a South African tell you he'll meet you 'just now'"? The answer: Forever - "just now" refers to a time frame somewhere between "instantly" and "never".

It is also imperative to address the intellectual and reasoning skills of potential citizens. A good question here could be "How many people can you fit into a minibus taxi?" The answer: Multiply the number of bald tires by the quantity of concealed weapons in the taxi, divide by the amount of unpaid speeding fines that the driver has accumulated and add ten for every passenger fervently praying for their life. It generally works out around 47 occupants per taxi.

Language questions

As communication is a vital part of getting to know folks, there should also be a few language questions. Like "How many of the gazillion official languages can you speak?" and "Explain what the terms kwaito, totsi, gatvol and bedonnered mean?"

Of course, should you be blessed with some kind of sporting talent, all immigration requirements fall away instantly. The ability to form a complete sentence is simply not important, let alone the skill to pass a citizenship test. "Come in, make yourself at home, and go win us a trophy."

Send your comments to Lynn.

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