Pay it back or die, by Rihanna

FIFTH COLUMN

A silence descended on the annual meeting of the Commission of Gender Equality in Imaginary City. Linda Abrahams, speaker for the day, had just finished her presentation.

“So, is it Riana?” ventured chairperson Truda Gouws, after a while.

“No, Rihanna,” replied Abrahams. “There’s an ‘h’ in the middle.”

“Oh I see,” said Gouws. “And she used to work for the white woman?”

“It would appear so,” said Abrahams.

“It’s a lot like Madam & Eve,” cried Vuya Cibane. The members sensed a link with South Africa and perked up.

“Yes, it’s similar to Madam & Eve, but that’s not why I chose the video,” said Abrahams, hitting her stride. “The reason I showed it is to emphasise how young women today are standing up for what they believe,” she said. “They’re taking action.”

“And the man killed at the end, he’s the accountant?” asked Gouws.

“Maybe we should watch it again,” said Cibane, but some of the older members objected.

“So Rihanna killed the accountant?” asked Gouws, trying to get ­proceedings back on track.

“That’s right, she took action,” said Abrahams.

“My husband owes me money,” called Marge Hicks from the back. “Should I kill him?”

“No, just tell him,” said Abrahams.

“Tell him I’m going to kill him?” asked Hicks.

“No, just tell him he owes you money and that you want it back.”

“That man Zuma owes us money!” bellowed Cass Naidoo.

“You mean our president?” asked Abrahams.

“Yes, for his homestead. His Nkaaandla,” said Naidoo.

“I believe that matter has been resolved by Parliament,” said Abrahams. “Zuma can do as he sees fit,” she added with patriotic flair.

“And what about that man Montana?” asked Cibane, now finding her voice. “Buying toy trains with our taxes. And that man Mtimkulu? Taking a job with no qualification.”

“And that man Joemat-Petterson. The atomic one?” asked Naidoo. “Giving our money to the Russians.”

“Tina Joemat-Pettersson is a woman,” Abrahams said, trying to restore calm.

“Well, bitch better have my money!” came Naidoo’s reply, lifting the commission to its feet. The meeting took a turn. Members hoisted themselves on to tables and broke into song, invigorated as never before. “Bitch better have my money!” the chant went up.

Gouws, hesitant at first, joined in and led an impromptu toyi-toyi – not the commission’s first – that tested the wooden floors of the town hall.

Abrahams had lost control of the room, and she knew as much. As a civil servant, her training didn’t cover a gender-based uprising in the community centre of the town.

Her gut, however, told her it was against protocol. She had to call it in, but didn’t. As a civil servant, she was underpaid and overworked.

“Bitch better have my money!” she screamed. “Bitch better have my money!”

Hansie Smit is a freelance journalist

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