“This thing with Mr Gordhan is simply mind boggling,” Vetfaan says as he puts down the newspaper. “Every time the government wants to bugger up the already-dead economy, they trump up some charges against the Minister of Finance. He now has to appear in court on short notice, while the case against the president – many years old – is being studiously ignored. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Servaas shrugs. “What’s new, Vetfaan? What with quotas in sports, black economic empowerment and the burning down of universities, corruption and crime, the country is bleeding to death, anyway. Professionals have fled the country, the academics are following. Our president, the father of the nation, is too afraid to say anything about student protests and when he does, he simply says it’s a problem.”
“That’s why the Acrid Empire always fails, you guys. It’s a matter of time.” Gertruida has an enigmatic twist of her lips – is it a smile? “And if you don’t understand nature, you’ll never grasp the fact that the government is teetering about, waiting for the inevitable knockout..”
“Okay, I’ll tell you…”
In the beginning, the immature Acrid individuals roam about independently, making no impact on the environment. The days are lazy, with plenty to eat and time to explore. It’s a great time, with no threat offered and no threat lurking.
Of course, with so much time on their hands, they multiply – what else? More and more individuals result in more and more and more individuals. Darwin stated that the fittest survive at their peril – once a critical mass has developed, it’d destroy the species. Too many lions, for instance, will hunt out the food supply in no time, simply because their strength is their skill in hunting. Result? The hunter has nothing left to hunt; end of the hunter… Ergo: the very same strength which promises survival, also ensures demise.
The Acrid’s strength – and thus their weakness – is their ability to destruct. They do not respect the environment, do not attempt to maintain civil order, abhor any form of discipline and will never be interested in education. Their destructive behaviour overrrides everything and forces their neighbours to flee or starve to death. They neither understand the need for justice, nor do they care about moral values.
For some queer reason, it is wrong to criticise them – one will be called a bigot or scolded for selfishness. The liberal line of thought is that they were here first and therefore have the right to live as they’ve always done. The conservatives, on the other hand, point to the fact that, where Acrids have been, nothing remains intact. It’s a debate that will never be settled: the Acrids are here to stay.
Lasly, Acrid society is not known to contribute to the environment in any way. Their homes are temporary; once they have destroyed everything around them, they move on to seek new places to attack.
But in the end – at last – Acrids are instrumental in their own destruction, simply because there is nothing left for them to devour. They’ve stripped the land clean of everything, crippled the economy and caused untold hardship for those unfortunate enough to have crossed their path. Their ever-increasing numbers make it impossible to sustain their way of life because they have become too numerous, their opportunities too scarce and they end up as hungry (and as dead) as those they have deprived of the most basic rights nature affords all.
Gertruida sits back with a frown. “And so, my friends, Acrid’s strength is Acrid’s weakness. Destruction begets destruction, leading to demise. It’s a law of nature.”
Servaas gapes at her. “Sheesh, Gertruida! That’s terrible! What are you talking about?”
“Our society,” Vetfaan says as he orders another beer. “You know Gertruida loves talking in riddles. I bet Acrid is an acronym for something.” He scowls for a moment, then brightens. “What about Aggressive Cultural, Religious, and Industrial Destruction?”
“Oh, you guys!” Gertruida throws up her hands in despair. “Not at all! How can you even think like that? I’m talking about Acrids. Real ones.”
“And what, pray, might that be?”
“The little insects Hermann August Krauss named back in the late 1800’s, you dummies. They belong to the family of Orthoptera and you see them every day. Acrididae are grasshoppers or locusts, Servaas. And I only used them to illustrate a point.
“Students go to varsity to become more skilled. If they learn destruction, they’ll destroy – because that’s what they believe is the purpose of studying. They’ll become skilled destroyers and more and more will join until there are no universities left to teach morals and ethics and discipline.
“The same thing is happening in some parts of our government. Remember, there are none as blind as those who refuse to see.
“Of course, the curriculum and instinct of destruction become a national oxymoron – the destroyers will, in the end, have nothing left to do. They are destroying their very future, just like the Acrids do.”
“You saying that our society is infested by grasshoppers?” Boggel, who always tries to be moderate and even politically correct, shakes his head. “That smacks of racism, Gertruida.”
“I. Was. Talking. About. Locusts.” Gertruida, clearly irritated, glares at the little barman. “A natural phenomenon, Boggel. A law of nature. Race has – for goodness sakes! – nothing to do with it!”