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The real Africa

26 March 2012, 12:02

I was sitting in my container/office after lunch on Saturday when I read Sargon’s post about SA’s dithering bureaucracy - amongst other things - and it really got me thinking. Just knew right then what he was on about and that his post deserved a response.

I’ve been of late taking life, and SA, much too seriously– this obvious from the fact that my rabidly anti-ANC letters just aren’t getting enough comments with nobody getting really riled up.

Perhaps I’m over-sensitive, or something, with most South Africans obviously not that worried about it at all even though they spend a lot of time complaining - so why should I be?

Anyway, the thought did cross my mind that maybe I’ve been too concerned about SA, considering I’m basically living up here in darkest Africa, and that maybe I should rather concentrate on what I’ve got going here, as opposed to what the (m)asses in SA don’t have.

Firstly, I’ve got no hassles with traffic, and that’s a biggie, as the roads are so bad that the locals just stay off them. Thus it’s just me and my 4x4, trucks, buses, taxis and that’s about it. The 4x4 handles even giant potholes in its stride and as long as I stay out of the way of the interlinks, I’m cruising.

Then there’s the fact that I’ve got cold beer wherever Igo. Seriously, I could drink cold beer from morning till night and absolutely nobody would care. I don’t because between 6am and 6pm I’m working and then drinking water but the fact remains that I could, if I wanted too.

Everywhere I go, be it home, the local café, the airport, Wimpy, Shoprite, even the local car wash or open-air market, there’s cold beer available, 24/7. What a pleasure.

No pollution whatsoever. We’re building - actually renovating and expanding -a mine close to a really small town and there’s not an industry within about 50 klicks of the place so there’s no pollution - nothing, nada,zilch.

The sky is blue, full of beautiful white clouds, plenty of rain to cool it down and wash the place clean, and my aircon goes 24/7.Another absolute pleasure when I think about it.

I knock off mid-afternoon on a Saturday, take a slow drive to the café, buy a couple of six-packs, maybe smokes if I need, head forthe house and wind down. I Have a couple of cold ones, light the fire, defrost the rump steak and wors, catch a cold shower and then I’m ready for the weekend.

Rugby comes on at 5 - go Bulls, go – and then it’s time to braai the meat, maybe make a green salad – wife would be proud of me – eat,maybe watch a movie and then hit the sack. Aircon’s on, room’s cool, I’m at peace with the world and a whole another day tomorrow to chill, drink more beer, see some buddies, maybe have another braai, whatever.

I might have to nip through to Shoprite in the morning toget some more rump steak, maybe a carton of smokes, cornflakes and some goodies but no big deal – 30 klicks on a passable road, just watch the pot holes.

Takes me maybe 20 minutes, including the obligatory stop at the roadblock to hand a cold beer to my buddy with his AK. We smile at one another, chat maybe if he’s not busy and I carry on whilst he continues waving trucks through, now with cold beer in hand and AK hanging over his shoulder. No problem, have plenty of cold ones with me for backup if he’s got a buddy with him.

It’s a good life up here, it really is, and we’re not even disliked, well not actively anyway. We make the money, we spend it in town and the locals are thriving. We buy their beer, their onions, tomatoes,potatoes, bananas, pineapples, charcoal, sim cards and airtime and they smile at us because we’re operating - they and us.

I get home in the afternoons and Beauty has polished my spare boots, washed and ironed yesterday’s clothes, washed the dishes and cleaned the entire house. There’s a full bag of charcoal, a box of firelighters– have diesel in the Colt should they run out – the braai is clean, there’s cold beer and meat in the deep freeze, the garden’s neat and tidy and there are veggies growing in the veggie patch.

This all in service costs me a grand SA a month, most of it subsidized by the company. I give Beauty an extra 200 SA a month, and leftovers when there are, and she makes sure that the house runs like a well-oiled machine.  She phones me when the lights have gone out during the day, or the water, on the cell phone I bought her because hers packed up, to tell me that she’s switched off the fridge,deep freeze and microwave so that they don’t blow with the power surge when it comes back. She tells me what she needs for the house and I buy it – we operate.

Maybe more S Africans should try this. Let Juju and the cowboys - or is that the Ninjas – have South Africa for a while. Give the whole place for them, mines, farms, houses, motor cars, the whole damn lot, pack it in and come up here.

They’ll only need a couple of years to completely trash the place and then we can all go back again and rebuild it. Will be serious work but we’ll be guaranteed employment for the rest of our lives, they’ll probably be paying in US by then and there will be lots of cheap labour.

Most S Africans have no idea what living in Africa is really like. They think they’re taking strain because things don’t work as they used to, because they’re not used to having lights go out, water stop running,trains not work, pot holes in the roads and they think the place is buggered.

It is, in many ways, and will probably – no, make that definitely – get worse before it gets better but compared to the rest of the continent they’re living the life people in Africa can only dream about, the one they see on TV.

These people are poor, really poor, and they have no illusions about where they stand and where they’re going. They’re nevertheless content, peaceful and keep themselves busy – mostly staying alive – but they have no anger towards others better off.

You see they’re aware that most must work for the country to survive, that they may be struggling so that their leaders can live well butat the end of the day they also realise that we’re not all equal and that this is their lot.

That is the secret of democracy: Some are better off and always will be, regardless of how the have-nots, or the unions, or the ANC feel about it.

S Africans have still to learn this and it’s going to be a long, hard lesson for most.

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