Column | Who is John and why does he have the keys to the South African gate?

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It took me a while to get and understand why John has the keys to the gate: Photo: MISHA JORDAAN
It took me a while to get and understand why John has the keys to the gate: Photo: MISHA JORDAAN

Recently I had one of those days. Those no social media, just buckle-down-and-work-only days.

And before you know it it's 6 o'clock and you haven't checked social media once.

You have no idea if the #loveliveshere lovers are still together or if the Twitter joke has made it to Facebook.

So after a very hard day, I logged onto Facebook and within minutes I was lost. Who on earth was John and why was his gate trending?

Everyone on my timeline was talking about John, istoko, the gate and an Avanza – and I couldn't find the source. 

So I hopped into one of my many WhatsApp groups and asked "Who is John? What did I miss?"

After a few minutes of "how could you not know John"? And “where have you been hiding all day?”, I was finally brought into the IN crowd when someone sent me the link and explained what had social media in a tizz.

The video is of a group of gorgeous women dancing to a new banger, John Vul’gate, and having a great time. It looks like December, Easter and Spring day all rolled into one.

The title of the song is inspired by a scene from Tsotsi, which I also learnt when I still didn’t understand why this gate was trending.

After watching the video (and the 800 other variations in the challenge, including the church ladies), I realised one thing about South Africans: we create our own fun wherever.

This year has been hard. In fact, it's been a nightmare and many of us have lost jobs, lost family members and had dreams deferred because of something so out of our control it's hard to find someone to blame. 

Week after week South Africans have been home (except for the rule breakers and their after parties) hoping that soon we might return to a semblance of normalcy, whatever it may look like post pandemic.

But so far, it’s just hard. 

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But South Africans never let anything stand in the way of a good laugh, or a good time, even if it's for a short while. 

A lot has happened this year, from Covid, to millions losing their jobs, to countless children and women being raped and murdered, gang wars, the Senekal tragedy and drama, and many more.

All these things should have had us feeling defeated and on our knees because of the heaviness of the burden. 

But this is South Africa and there is always a dance at the end of a rainbow.

Case in point, we are now in search of John and the key to the locked gate. 

It's that kind of resilience that makes it so easy for me to love this country, even when I hate what is happening in it. 

Even on the days when the Sunday papers are full of looting and crime. 

When we hear stories of plagiarism from the province of legends or tales of irregular qualifications being awarded to leaders.

When we see pictures of burning police vans in the middle of a protest.

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Or when we sigh in exasperation when we read that the great Agrizzi spent one night in the bachelor flat that is a jail cell before going off to a hospital. 

We know these things are happening, we know just how serious they are, but we don’t let them consume us.

In this country, all I have to do to smile is go on social media. Someone, somewhere will find a way to make the wounds hurt just a little less. 

We fall, we get up, brush ourselves off and on to the next challenge we march.

This is why I know we'll get through this time.

And when we have come through to the other side, bruised, mqhuqhwasi (ashy) from the dust and wondering where to start the healing process, there will be another Jerusalema, another John, another Vula bhut.

Because we are a nation that thrives, even in the hardest of times.

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