Bheki Mashile's Letter from Umjindi

On the light side

The life of a newspaper (or in this case) magazine columnist is not an easy one, particularly for one’s state of mind. Herein lies the problem: there is absolutely nothing that slips by us. Our minds have been programmed to comment on everything we come across, observe, hear, see, watch etc whether we want to or not. We become very keen observers and analysts, sometimes too keen.

Unfortunately all too often we find ourselves being compelled to comment on serious issues, like the recent Roundup herbicide threat I wrote about in Noseweek’s last edition (nose245). But hey, every once in a while one is drawn to comment on something that makes this columnist thing enjoyable. So here are a couple of fun observations I recently made that I must share with you.

Let’s begin with our free TV station, I was miffed, gatvol, peed-off that it had stopped airing the likes of Forensic Files and Unusual Suspects. Oh, wait a minute, they did not stop airing them altogether, they relegated these true crime stories to ridiculous  early morning insominiac hours. But hey, thank goodness they have since been brought back to a reasonable 10pm time slot on Tuesday.

But before then I was yelling, screaming, shouting out like a lunatic and asking why can’t at least run these interesting crime stories in the time slots in which they air trailer park trash entertainment. You know, the rubbish that is Couples Court with the Cutlers, Impact (the wrestling) Paternity Court and Judge Judy. (Okay, leave the Jud she’s a hoot).

And at one point I end my mad-man-talking-alone rant at by saying, “The next thing we know these idiots will bring us Jerry Springer the king of trailer park trash tv”.

A few days later announces the upcoming airing of Judge Jerry, oh yeah, like I said, we columnists are keen observers. Okay, the Jerry rubbish is on Extra. So what? Well, my keen observation was spot on.

Here is another gem: in February for the almost the entire month, at least  for weeks, our little town of Barberton and its surrounds was rocked by service delivery protests. And we all know how these things play out.

First, the protesters take to the streets and highlight reasonably legitimate gripes – followed, of course, by the customary looting and disturbance of all activity, schooling, traffic flows etc.

Now, I guess they feel they have done a pretty good job in destabilising Umjindi township as well as the town centre, so they decide they’re now going to disrupt the surrounding rural areas.
Alas, I wake up in my usual jolly good mood, look out the window, and what do I see? There are five protesters putting up a roadblock right in front of my gate.

I am like “What the f***k?

I think for a bit, and I decide to call the taxi associations.

So the taxi guys show up and pull a Trojan horse manoeuvre, hiding inside the taxi, and pop out when the idiot protesters move closer.

Service delivery protetsts

Man, oh man, I thought I was seeing the 1980s all over again when the apartheid police did the same thing in Cape Town. That scene made international news.

Suffice it to say I have a new-found respect for taxi drivers; you do not mess with their livelihood. It’s a good thing those kids ran like cheetahs  because, as God is my witness, if one of them would have been caught, the taxi lads would have killed them and I would be writing about murder at my farm gate.

Oh, by the way, four police vehicles showed up right behind the taxi and the taxi guys said they we will handle this. The police stood there dumbstruck, not knowing what to do.

Once again a word to the wise: don’t mess with taxi drivers.

Like I said, we journos are very perceptive. I saw this coming and like an idiot I stood there in front of my gate watching all this go down. It was only later, after it was all said and done, that I realised I could have been killed. I mean, what if one of the taxi guys had a gun and came out shooting? Your favourite columnist could have taken a stray bullet – like happens so often in Cape Town.

Yes we are keen observers, but sometimes we are stupid for the story.. Argh! Such is the life of journos, so I implore readers to appreciate what we do because, in the words of Canadian rocker Brian Adams, What we do, we do it all for you.

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Submitted by : Old man on 2020-03-30 10:55:08
Just keep doing it for us, please.


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