The revolution is not being televised, to paraphrase Gill Scott-Heron. It is fomenting at Joseph Khafula’s corner, where he is selling amaloose and skopas.
His erudite and empty-nested customer, Mr Mfene, talks to him when he comes to buy vegetables.
“What are they saying, Kawza?” Mfene asks.
“Ah, Hlathikhulu! It’s this social distancing ka Ramaphosa,” Khafula says. His almost toothless mouth blowing whistles.
“Mothers are not working, children have no money, the skopas are not moving. How are things at the firms?”
“We don’t know, Kawza...”
“I hear the firms are just demolishing ... Ayadiliza strong,” Khafula interjects.
“He he! When you drive in town you see factories with big ‘To Let’ signs,” Mfene says.
“Ah! Mr Mfene, this country is finished,” Khafula says, as he waves his left hand as if to swat a fly. His palms are pitch-black from counting coins all day.
“Why do you say that?”
“Mr Mfene, what do you expect from a country that is run by unbooked people? They left school during first break, just like me; next thing, they are in Parliament.
“Nywe, nywe, nywe ... They could hardly debate in school, but they think they can debate in Parliament.”
“Things will be fine. God will take care of us,” assures Mfene.
“Mr Mfene, you are booked, you know better than me. Do you think God is going to come here to write the economic policy?”
“He will help Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.”
“You see now, Mr Mfene, you expect minister Nsangwini to write economic policy? He plants his own dagga and shows it on Twitter. When is he ever sober? How are the banks overseas going to take him seriously? Okay, right, let’s say the finance minister of Swizaland phones him... It’s after lunch… He is in the toilet… He does not answer. What is the finance minister of Swizaland going to think? He is going to think that he is finished.”
“He will just call him back,” Mfene says.
“Ah! Mr Mfene, nobody takes us seriously. Even you know, Mr Mfene, that they think we are all baboons.”
“And baboons are very clever…”
“Right,” Khafula jumps in again, “they live together, clean one another, play together, teach their children about life. They have no SA Democratic Teachers’ Union that leaves them stranded and with no education.”
“But our Constitution gives them the right to organise,” Mfene says.
“From bad to worse. Now you are telling me about the Constitution.”
“We have top judges and top lawyers, there,” Mfene argues.
“The pass-one-pass-all lawyers and judges who didn’t even pass Latin? How can you practice Roman-Dutch law, but can’t speak Latin? They legalised dagga. Now kids are dying from nyaope. They fine someone for calling the president by your surname. They ban my surname. Now I must go around calling myself Mr Kay. This South Africa ayinangqondo. It has no head,” Khafula says as he raps on his skull with his finger.
“Kawza, you can’t say that. Our president is respected around the world,” pleads Mfene.
“That one! You can say what you want, Zuma has closed him. Umvalile.”
“Iya! First there was that sickness of pigs, listiria? Then the polony business died. Next thing, corona. Zuma bewitched him.”
“I thought the witchdoctors in Limpopo were stronger than those in Natal,” Mfene chuckles.
“It’s not true, Mr Mfene. There are some strong ones in Ngwavuma. Zuma used to operate there when he was underground. That is why the apartheid police never captured him.
“They say, mos, that the Special Branch would corner him and he would just turn into a white cat, and you know white people love their cats. So they would cuddle him and let him go,” Khafula says.
“And s’true, Kawza. Why was Msholozi never captured?” concedes Mfene.
“Medicine,” Khafula replies.
“Maybe that’s what the country needs,” Mfene ponders.
Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency