“The biggest problem,” Gertruida said, “is politics. We demand that different opinions be settled by the majority. Since when did the majority understand that their leaders are only after power? They’re not there to grant freedom and everlasting joy; they’re there because they want something from the masses. They create an illusion and sell it to the ignorant.”
“For once I disagree with you.” Vetfaan draws himself up to his six-foot-two. “It’s money. Money buys power. Power buys politics. That’s all it’s all about. Whoever controls the purse strings, is in charge. Look at Ramaphosa: he must be the richest guy in the ANC. I tell you: he’s going to be the presidential candidate in 2014. Zuma is on his way out. His wives won’t tolerate all those late meetings any more – he’s got to do his homework, and have showers afterwards as well. Come on Kleinpiet: you’re a man with experience. If you had to sleep with half-a-dozen wives every night and shower after each one – you’ll still be scrubbing away at six in the morning, won’t you?”
“Unless he’s a quickie.” Precilla has her naughty smile. “Then he can doze off at four.”
“No. You’re all wrong. World-wide the problem is race. If you’ve got a certain amount of pigment in your skin, you’re classified as white or brown or black or yellow or red…”
“You sound like Joseph’s amazing coloured coat, Servaas.” Sammie gives an apologetic shrug. “All those colours in one single coat. Nobody would want to wear it.”
Servaas ignores the taunt. “I don’t care for coats. What worries me is the issue of race. It seems as if people still classify opinions on grounds of race, rather than politics. If you’re black, you support the ANC and corruption, murder and crime. If you’re white, you suffer oppression and murder. And let me tell you: that is wrong. Whites commit crime, too. Blacks want fair government. We’re so obsessed with skin colour, we completely miss the point.”
“Okay, then be brave: throw in religion. All Moslems aren’t mad about strapping bombs under their vests and all Christians aren’t saints. Yet we use religion to polarize society. That’s wrong, too.” Boggel pours so Cactus into the empty glasses. “We’re determined to find problems with each other. It can’t be good for us.”
“But there has to be some middle ground. Males and females. Disabled and able-bodied. Left and right. Socialism and democracy. The list is endless.”
Oudoom sighs. This is what he’s been preaching about for so many years. We are all equal – and none more so than others. “I’ll tell you what my wish is for 2013: that we’ll stop labelling people according to any identifiable characteristic. People are people – full stop. Each individual has the same right to employment, empowerment or education – regardless of his origin. You can’t get onto the stage and tell the rest you are more worthy than others, simply because your great-grandfather was so-and-so. You have to earn the right to play a piano or pave the road or farm your sheep. First prove your worth, then get the job – that’s what I say. That way, nobody gets preferential treatment.”
“Har.” Gertruida snorts as she thinks of something. “It is accepted that the original Adam and Eve – or at least the origin of mankind – comes from the Western Cape. According to ancestral rights, the rest of the world belongs to us. We were there first, therefore they owe us. I can see this going to that court in Den Haag. America will have to pay compensation to Zuma and company. Maybe we can tax Europe, like they do with carbon emissions. Because our ancestors owned those lands, they must pay us now. It could be a tidy sum.”
Boggel holds up his hands to stop the stupidity. “No. The only non-negotiable things are your religion and your culture. Those are characteristics you choose, not those you inherit like a congenital abnormality. Nobody can take that away from you. You think you’re white? Or black? Go do your DNA. I read the other day we’re all a bit mixed up. There is nobody with pure Adam and pure Eve genes any more. Heaven help us all if DNA becomes cheap enough so that everybody can do it. Can you imagine what it’ll do to Black Economic Empowerment? Mister White will prove that Mister Black has the wrong genes to be purely black – and vice versa. It’ll make a mockery of our current legislation. Then they’ll have to say you must be more than 50% pure or something. It’ll be a farce.”
Gertruida closes her eyes. She doesn’t even want to think about it. If a university states that it’s students must represent the demographics in the country, each student will have to be tested. The sum of those tests will determine whether the institution is 80% black or not. And what about sports quotas? And if you have 10 or 50% black genes, does that make you black enough?
“I’ll tell you what they’ll do: they’ll start a new state department to determine your race. Fortunately, they have the example of the National party. Pretty soon they’ll employ inspectors to see if you’re more black or more white. We’ll go back to the future, just like the movie.”
Boggel rings the bell to signal the last round.
“2013 is here, ladies and gentlemen. We’re not going to change the world by talking about it. Praying might help, but that’s all.”
“Amen,” Oudoom says. For once he doesn’t believe it. People will go on being prejudiced and bigoted and self-righteous. Maybe one day sanity will prevail and make people see each other as individual equals. Until then, egotistical megalomaniacs will rule the masses, telling them they’re acting in the best interest of everybody.
The sad thing is people want to believe their leaders want to improve their futures.
Reality? The politicians polarize society. Divide and rule, remember? Who tells the Moslem to carry a bomb? Who wants rhino horn to be exported? Who’s making money out of drugs? Who controls the fiscal cliff in America?
Maybe we can start seeing these things in 2013.
But it won’t change much. Not now.