The Riddle – Sunday Flash



“A chicken-and-a-half weighs a pound-and-a-half, plus half the weight of a chicken-and-a-half, how much does a chicken weigh?”

Gertruida has a million of these little riddles to spruce up the conversation when they get tired of telling the old jokes over and over again. Servaas finds it especially irritating because they are so convoluted; like the one about the man held prison by the two guards. His prison door opens – and the corridor facing him has two ends: freedom or the gallows. He has to find out which way to go, and may ask only one question. His two guards alternate, and the prisoner does not know which one is at the door. The one can only tell lies, the other only speak the truth. Sooo…what does he ask to know which way to run?

“Come on, now, Gertruida, lets talk about the drought. Or even politics. This is way too hard.” Servaas snorts and orders a fresh beer. “What does it matter what a chicken weighs, anyway?”

“You miss the point, Servaas. We have to learn to think again. People in Upington simply Google anything they don’t know on their computers. In Cape Town, they have even smaller devices, they call ‘Pads’.  Those things are so clever, people have stopped thinking for themselves.”

“Yes, that may be true. But that one you asked…. Can a man legally marry his widow’s sister…that was a low blow. Of course he can’t. But we didn’t figure it out, either.”

“Yeah, and what about that other one you sprang on us: Brothers and sisters I have none, but that man’s father, is my father’s son? That was wicked.”

Boggel serves another round. “Come on now, chaps, concentrate. Gertruida is right, everybody has stopped thinking for themselves. We get fed nonsense every day, so we end up thinking nonsense. I can tell you this: If we had a country full of thinking people, we would have had a better place to live in.”

“You may be right, Boggel. But how do we fix 50 million people? It’s impossible…”

“No, it isn’t. They have to learn to ask the right questions, that’s all. The answers might be difficult, but once you understand the question, you find out it’s not so hard at all.”

Gertruida sits back with a secret smile. Now, if she could only find a way to get a few other heads thinking…

Vetfaan gets up to go. “The answer is two. A chicken weighs two pounds. That’s a little less than the weight of a human brain. Now let me ask you one: somebody gets involved with Nkandla, the Arms Deal and showers to prevent AIDS. How does he become president of a country?”

“It’s simple. People have stopped thinking, like I said. Garbage in, garbage out. It’s elementary, my dear Vetfaan…”


4 thoughts on “The Riddle – Sunday Flash

  1. Herman of

    Your 2 pound chicken bothers me. My sum doesn’t work out. And the idea that people stopped thinking concerning politics also doesn’t work out in my opinion. I think some other basis of reasoning lies behind keeping on to vote for losers. I think one part of South Africa’s population reasons that the stronger a leader or political party is, the more they are able to do things right and rectify mistakes of the past. Vote them into power, and then toye-toye to tell them what they have to rectify! The bigger the mansion, the better he is equipped to do things right. Threaten him of losing his power or position or mansion or limousine, and he will become lame and only think of how to steal what he wants!

      1. Herman of

        Thanks for the explanation. it solved another problem I struggled with:
        They say that hair, like noses and ears keep on growing. If the root of a hair strikes grey matter, that hair turns grey. If it strikes a blank, that hair falls out!
        Now I at least know that this story is not true, for I am not bald, but grey!

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