#CulturePop: This our year of users and abusers

Cuban Revolution icon Fidel Castro (right) died last week and will be remembered for highlighting the great gap between the rich and the poor. (AFP)

Cuban Revolution icon Fidel Castro (right) died last week and will be remembered for highlighting the great gap between the rich and the poor. (AFP)

Can you smell that? It’s a Facebook timeline near you. Drenched in the migraine and blindness-inducing odour of Doom insecticide. Or at least it was the scent of last week thanks to a guy in his twenties who ordained himself a prophet and proceeded to douche his congregants with the insect spray in order to confer healing.

“Prophet” Lethabo Rabalago added his name to the list of saviour types who continue to mislead their followers after he persuaded his congregation that they are cockroaches and that another extremely harmful exercise will provide solutions and answers to all of their problems. 

From eating snakes and grass and pretending it’s chocolate to taking poison to the senses, the cycle of scamming and being scammed in religious industries has become decidedly cut-throat.

Another moment that will probably turn us into non-believers and searchers of a hidden camera crew around the corner was the announcement of the national minimum wage set at R3 500 per month, or R20 per hour. 

This figure was deemed valuable by the panel of experts and although it appears grossly insufficient, they argue that it works in favour of many poor people who are already earning less than this. 

But the middle-class shock stems from the notion that this kind of figure ought to alleviate poverty when, to my naked eye, it appears to hurt employment and entrench inequalities in a laggard economy. Or is everything just too expensive?

Perhaps we need more days like Black Friday, as flawed as it is. It is disillusioning when one remembers that the “rock-bottom” low pricing here reveals the exorbitant profit margins of regular pricing and that retailers probably make huge profits either way. 

Also, the history of selling black people as slaves at the same “rock-bottom” prices and then reliving this troubling memory in a modern day money-making ritual is disturbing. I felt guilty taking advantage of this particular sale. Being a consumer has become a moral trap and the gift that keeps on giving all in one package deal.

Making a profit off another’s pain and suffering seems to be trending. Gareth Cliff caused a furore when he shared some of the details of his forthcoming book, Cliffhanger

In the book, he confesses to spiking the drink of former colleague and fellow Idols SA judge Mara Louw, an incident that led to her slurring on live television, ending her tenure as a judge on the reality show.

“It’s not what it looks like,” Cliff surrenders. He says he loved Mara. He even drove her home on that night and made sure she got into her house safely. 

“She was like our mama on the show.” That is the story he wishes the media would tell. Not the one where he laced a woman’s drink. A “mama” he claims to love. Is anyone else’s hand itching towards Doom like mine is here?

Meanwhile there’s been an update on United States celebrities behaving badly. First in line always is Kanye West. Following another erratic rant on stage at one the first shows of his Saint Pablo Tour, Kanye was hospitalised for exhaustion and the tour has been cancelled. I can’t help but think we’re finding ways to excuse a lack of manners with this guy.

Your favourite US rapper living in South Africa has finally been given his marching orders. We sadly have had to wash our hands of Yasiin Bey. 

The musician formally known as Mos Def left our house an “undesirable person” after failing to abide by South African immigration laws. What he’s learnt from the whole ordeal is that there is no such thing as a world passport and also to put some respect on us, at least.

Brad Pitt is being called a child abuser following a historic divorce with Angelina Jolie. Abuse allegations emerged soon after the announcement was made. He was said to have been physically and verbally abusive to his son, Maddox, aboard a plane. 

While the FBI dropped the charges, Jolie is still suing him for sole custody of their six children. With so many people’s foundations shook by the end of Brangelina, couldn’t they at least keep it tidy?

Life does go on after Brad and Angelina’s woes sadly. But it stopped for Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro. 

Having established a communist state and dodged countless assassination attempts by the US, he is remembered for highlighting the great gap between the rich and the poor. He caused unspeakable suffering and inspired revolution. Let his name never be erased from the history books. 

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