“DAMN them all,” said my friend, Mdu. Remember him, the social climber who sometimes goes under the name SC — social creeper? He wants to be an Afristocrat but he did not pay his dues for long enough and therefore is only on the peripheries of the African royal court. Despite his peripheral position, however, he is a useful window into that world which a nobody like me would never have.
He was swearing because he had not been invited to the premier event of the year, the launch of the president’s autobiography. I had been invited and he felt I was muscling in on his turf. I assured him that I had merely been invited because I was expected to write about it. He didn’t buy my assertion.Infact, he resented all the Afristocracy holding invitations.
“They don’t even deserve to be in that category of society. They were drinking scotch in London when we were facing Casspirs with our bare hands and stones,” he seethed.
My other friend, Mondles the Fondles, looked at him with incredulity and reminded him that Cyril Ramaphosa had never drunk any scotch in any London and is still slap bang in the centre of the Afristocratic court. “He is a trout fisherman,” spat SC, his nostrils flaring as he breathed heavily.
I, too, was surprised at this behaviour, for SC had just been boasting to us that he had been invited to Tokyo Sexwale’s Christmas party. He was relating a tale about the number of bodyguards which that Afristocrat has. “Those guys are mean looking,” he explained to me, telling me that he had spent the entire night trying to avoid people who had things growing out of their ears and kept on muttering into some unseen ear somewhere. Fondles explained to him that those earpieces are two-way radios the bodyguards carry.
“Is that what those were?” asked SC. “I thought they were telling me not to dare touch the bottle of scotch on the mantelpiece. I was going to share it with you guys,” he said.
SC sat down in the chair of the dingy bar we were in, took a slug of neat brandy and shook his head. “I need something to keep me strong as I deal with this,” he said as he glared at me. “Anyway, who cares? These people lead a shallow life at the expense of our people.” He rubbed his forehead and added: “I get more of a kick from hanging out with you than I do with those parasites who told me to boycott school while they sent their children to schools in Swaziland.”
Fondles gave him a broad smile, reminding him that he only hangs out with us when the Afristocrats don’t want to be with him.
“Ja, broer, you have to admire them. Not only have they got a ticket out of the ghetto but they have commandeered the jet as well.”
We sat in the dark and decided that it would be worthwhile to explore ways of getting a foot into this royal circle since we all felt that we had paid our dues.
“We can play hopscotch,” said Fondles who has explored the affirmative action game and knows it in and out. “There are a lot of corporations out there who want a good looking black boy like you to add variety to their offices.”
SC smiled when he heard Fondles calling him handsome, until he remembered his homophobia: “Don’t start getting ideas with me now, bra.”
“We can go into exile,” said I, contributing to this brainstorming session. They both rolled their eyes and recited in unison: “Ja, Ja Einstein.” They always say that to me. I know that Einstein was a very intelligent man but for some strange reason I don’t think that they believe my IQ level is that high. I don’t know why I don’t believe it; call it African intuition.
I tried to explain to them that with our DET accents we are not going to have much luck playing the hopscotch game. We should be able to say we spent so many years in London and talk about Soho in the same way we talk about Hillbrow, I argued. That way, I told them, we will be able to become techno natives with our cell phones hanging from our wrists, a bleeper attached to our hips – – and a drum on standby in the car outside just in case these two failed us. They did not buy my argument so I started pouting and listened to them talk.
Fondles said we could invest in a couple of Nigerian shirts, grow dreadlocks and use SC’s social climbing skills to ingratiate ourselves with these people.
“Yes I could call our mother, the queen, bras,” said SC. “Diamonds and planes, you mean,” asked Fondles and SC decided that it was a bad idea.
I decided that our plight was not going to be solved if I kept on pouting as my two good friends had run out of ideas. Seeing that Nelson Mandela has quite a big family and quite a number of the Afristocrats claim to be linked to him in some obscure family tree, it should be easy for us to say that we are his great grandchildren’s cousins 13 times removed. That way Fondles could finally get his badly written biography about being a comrade published and we could invite the professional launch attendees in town, including the staffers from the various foreign missions.
“Yeah, just imagine all those Nigerian shirts worn in our honour, broer?” I enthused. “We might even get some guilt tripping whitey to lend us his obscenely affluent house for the party.
“We can start an NGO,” said Fondles excitedly.
I got the message that my contribution was being dismissed and I started pouting again.
“Look at it this way — that way we can get funding from the RDP and that way we can get Felicia Mabuza-Suttle to come and talk at our functions and we might even be called to come and be panellists on one of her programmes titled, `Black Men who can jump’.”
Then I got a bright idea; one which I was certain they were going to like. “How about selling a TV talk show to the SABC and calling it People of the South-West,” I said. “We can invite everybody to be guests and anyone who accepts an invitation will be fawned upon and we will remind them about meeting them in some silly place in London. They will not remember and they will be too polite to tell the truth.”
“Einstein!!” they shouted at me.