OUT TO LUNCH
Every family has an embarrassing relative. It might be a cousin who can’t hold his drink or a grandmother who starts rabbiting on about how wonderfully clean the Johannesburg streets were under apartheid rule and calls the domestic staff ‘the natives’.
Or it might be the uncle who, when The Rolling Stone’s ‘Satisfaction’ comes on at his niece’s 21st birthday at the Johannesburg Country Club, takes to the dance floor and gives his impression of Mick Jagger (in this case, Mr Jagger wearing a dinner jacket).
Many years have passed since then and my beautiful niece who is now a doctor clocking up all sorts of academic successes has forgiven me and just become engaged to be married which is another good excuse for a Mick Jagger impersonation.
Many of her medically qualified friends have decided there is no future in SA, particularly under a communist inspired NHI disaster, and have emigrated but she, bless her, is hanging in for a bit longer.
One of the problems with growing older is that you think that there is no hope for the younger generation. My late father thought precisely the same with me and wondered if I would ever be able to afford a house (his first family home cost him £450 and a house in Surrey on the site of King Henry VIII’s former hunting lodge where I grew up in 1966 cost £10000).
As it turned out things worked out pretty well and we all survived so I doubt there is much point in worrying too much about the younger generation because they too will survive and, despite the odds, prosper.
This may not be true of the country alas and our own version of a hugely embarrassing family member is President Frogboiler. Last week he managed to avoid the usual COVID quarantine regulations applicable to lesser mortals and get into the USA to wave the begging bowl around at the United Nations in New York. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___
This all happened at the opening of the so called high level meeting on the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action which many will remember turned into an anti Semitic demonstration of hatred worthy of the Nazis. So much so that thirty four countries reportedly boycotted the gabfest last Wednesday at the UN, among them the USA, UK, Australia, Austria, Canada, Greece, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
That meant that there weren’t too many credible delegates left to listen to Pres Frogboiler’s rather pathetic, if predictable, pleas for reparations for the historic victims of slavery.
As we all know these are desperate times and desperate times call for desperate measures. Not only is the ANC bankrupt, unable to pay its own staff or their medical aid and owing the Receiver of Revenue a mind bogglingly vast amount of money it has deducted from salaries but simply not bothered to pay over in tax for its own employees but it has also done a pretty thorough job of bankrupting the country and reducing us to junk status beggars on the world’s stage.
So it should come as no surprise to see our billionaire President up there holding a bit of tatty cardboard with the scrawled words “Sufring and hungry. Pleeze give money or job. God Bless”.
All we need do now is wait to see whether the folks at the UN can summon up enough generosity to drop a few dollars into the begging bowl. My guess is that this won’t go terribly well. If Pres Frogboiler had turned up for once with a positive plan to create jobs in his own country, to get rid of his corrupt and creepy cabinet ministers and to light the blue touch paper of economic revival then the delegates of the thirty four or so countries that opted to enjoy another cappuccino rather than attend might have bothered to show their support.
But this was the same old story of yet another African state starting out promisingly then quickly becoming a corrupt kleptocracy. Sure enough, when the money starts running out it’s time to lay a guilt trip on the rest of the world by claiming all sorts of historical disadvantages (which certainly existed) and offering to forgive and forget on receipt of a large amount of moolah.
To be honest, you can’t blame them for trying. When you’ve destroyed a once vibrant economy and you’re fresh out of good ideas then begging is an obvious last resort. But wouldn’t it be wonderful for our national pride if, for once, our head of state could turn up at one of these global gabfests for the world’s decision makers and offer something positive instead of always being the beggar at the feast.
As far as reparations for historic slavery are concerned I would put the chances of anything being EFT’d to the ANC bank account as zero. The problem is that, although I belong to a race of former colonialist slave owners, my lot were also slaves once under a cruel feudal system.
So before I ungrudgingly pay up I have to trace my history back and find out who owes me reparation for past injustices. Then, once I’ve landed my claim then I’m pretty certain the chap I’m claiming from will have to delve deeper into his family history to find out who he should be claiming from and so on and so forth.
Most of the human race gave up on this sort of nonsense ages ago and simply decided to get on with rebuilding their post slavery lives and fortunes in a free world. To do this of course you need a political and economic system that encourages excellence, doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator and finds nothing repugnant in its citizens prospering through ingenuity and hard work.
And this, sadly, is where we sharply part company with not only the capitalist western world but even the capitalist/communist Chinese world which, despite the many imperfections of both, offers a far better prospect for citizens than an empty begging bowl at the United Nations.
I was delighted at the response to last week’s column and would like to thank all those who took the trouble to add a comment, either for or against. A thought struck me after writing the column. We now live in a world which seems keen to introduce the concept of hate crimes to protect the vulnerable in society.
This is almost entirely due to the existence of our highly toxic social media where bigoted and hateful comments can be posted and reposted any number of times.
Using derogatory terms on a public platform to refer to people whose lifestyle choices or ethnicity you disapprove of, particularly if they are designed to whip up hatred against that particular group and encourage violence, deserves to be classed as a crime and punished as such.
Which is why I find it odd that the hateful media attacks on those who make a ‘lifestyle choice’ not to have a COVID vaccine continue to be allowed. Or are the un-vaxxed the new queers?