The day after Lame-Duck Day

2018-02-11 05:53
Mondli Makhanya

Mondli Makhanya

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In case you missed it, Thursday marked International Scotch Day, the day that the world’s most sober-minded people celebrate the golden waters. It marks the birthday of Alexander Walker, the father of you know who.

Yesterday was Teddy Day. Don’t ask me why, but it’s apparently a day on which you are supposed to be nice to teddy bears and also be nice to someone by getting them one. Earlier in the week, there was Create a Vacuum Day, whose origins historians cannot agree on. Some say it was coined by scientists who were creating a vacuum in a laboratory, while others say it was the brainchild of a vacuuming housewife either frustrated with her chores, or chuffed with the powers of the vacuum cleaner.

Last Saturday was Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day. Celebrated on the first Saturday of February, the day arose because of a mother giving her young children something to look forward to. It grew into a tradition in the family, then in the community and then beyond and beyond. Other significant events of this month are Getting Dizzy Week, which ends on February 14 and International Flirting Week, which begins today.

Then of course, there is Lame-Duck Day, which always falls on February 6, which was on Tuesday. This mainly American occasion commemorates a 1930s passing of an amendment of the US Constitution, which set January 20 as the fixed date for the inauguration of the president. This reduced the length of a lame-duck presidency, that powerless period between the November election day and the incoming president’s assumption of office.

Today the day is used to honour any officeholder who is powerless and in his or her job – in government, business or any other sector.

In the US many people take this day very seriously. Parents play history and Constitution quizzes with their children, with particular emphasis on the amendments. Some throw lame-duck parties for people they know, or suspect, will soon be jobless. There are those who just resort to mocking lame ducks, a very unkind thing to do.

This Tuesday, most South Africans – unaware that it was officially Lame-Duck Day – were preparing to throw a massive party for a beloved son who was about to be jobless.

Dogs were given earphones to muffle the sound of the fireworks, pigs were being marinated for spit braais in the unlikeliest of neighbourhoods.

Organisers of AA meetings stocked up on non-alcoholic beer so their members could feel included in the festivities. In Benoni, where nothing ever happens, something happened. What it was we are not quite sure. But it did happen. Rumour is that the people of that town woke up, made up their beds and waited for the big occasion. As you can imagine the act of waking up is a really big deal there.

But then it transpired that the said individual had negotiated to extend his lame-duck days by just a little bit. So South Africans had to wait a little bit longer, but they will still be able to have belated lame-duck celebrations.

This lowly newspaperman recommends that those celebrations go beyond fireworks and popping bottles. They should include quiz games that pay tribute to the beloved son. The clever people among us should invent number puzzles that will immortalise his mathematical genius. The more adventurous can come up with board games for large families that will allow scores of people to play at once. Still on the theme of large broods, those who work on physical games could introduce swimming pool games for polygamous families.

On a more sombre note, we should look beyond Lame-Duck Day and examine our own roles – by omission or commission – in the horror story that was the past decade. We should stare into the mirror and have conversations with the person looking back about whether we are guilty of allowing it in the first place and allowing it to continue.

Once we have answered the how, we should seek answers from ourselves as to why we did it. For many it will be because they found the guy funny and harmless. The truth is that many South Africans could tolerate his misdemeanours as long as he dished out the hilarities and made a general fool of himself.

Until, that was, we realised he was not committing misdemeanours, but stealing on a grand scale and destroying the foundations of our good republic.

Still, there are others who didn’t see anything wrong with a little pilfering here and there. Corruption happens, even in Europe and America, was the refrain. That was until they saw that the pilfering, which is described in the dictionary as small-scale theft, mutated into a brazen heist while they were whistling.

There is then another group that tolerated what was going on because of political and historical loyalties. Those in this group woke up the day they realised that the man was threatening the life of their political home and thus their own livelihoods and careers.

How we answer these questions will determine how we relate to the incoming order. A dangerous impression is being created that the incoming leadership collective is a choir of cherubim and seraphim with only godly intentions.

So, when we sober up after the belated Lame-Duck Day parties, let us be aware that this is only the beginning.

Read more on:    us  |  corruption

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