E.T. in the saddle: Poetry and commotion

And shortly before being mounted, he opened his bowels, sending a stream of urine and shit across the Potchefstroom street.

A new South Africa united in laughter as onlookers, black and white, stepped quickly aside to avoid Attila’s spillage.

But then Oom Eugene walked out and the crowd mobbed the grandfatherly extremist, hoping to catch a glimpse or maybe even touch ‘Morena [saviour]’, as he likes to be called.

Things looked shaky for an instant as Oom Eugene got into the saddle. The collective held its breath, with some hoping he would not fall off his horse — and others praying that he would.

But the oom soon righted Attila and was off on his parade through the town, where an honour guard of toyi-toying black people sang freedom songs while nervously avoiding Attila’s hooves.

At the hall booked for his press conference, Terre’Blanche, like a dominee on a pulpit, addressed the huddled masses of local and foreign correspondents and a scattering of Afrikanerweerstandsbeweging (AWB) supporters.

‘I like English … it is the most powerful language in the world,’ Oom Eugene told the confused crowd before launching into poetry: ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud / That floats on high o’er vales and hills, / When all at once I saw a crowd, / A host, of golden daffodils; / Beside the lake, beneath the trees, / Fluttering and dancing in the breeze’.

He must have, for a moment, felt like the poet Wordsworth described, one who ‘could not but be gay / In such a jocund company’. After all, having been for three years the ‘only white man in a prison cell’, he was back among his own.

The AWB is a little soft these days — once intimidating in camouflage gear and balaklavas, Terre’Blanche’s standard-bearers went into battle on Friday in polyester shorts and long, beige socks rising from veldskoen-clad feet, watched over by only a handful of the Ystergaard dressed like Stallion security guards.

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