Walking with the taxi men, plus 5 highlights from ‘Vrye Weekblad’

Here’s what’s hot in the latest edition of the Afrikaans digital weekly

24 June 2022 - 06:35
Having seen what went on in July 2021, taxi associations were among those who stood up and said 'no' to the looting and violence. File photo.
Image: Eugene Coetzee Having seen what went on in July 2021, taxi associations were among those who stood up and said 'no' to the looting and violence. File photo.

Taxi bosses’ unexpected heroism in the 2021 unrest didn’t surprise me because I got to know their human, diverse and humorous side during six years of training, writes Jana Slippers in this week’s edition of Vrye Weekblad

We crisscrossed the country to present modules on the economy, business and financial management and communication skills. At the end of my last session last year I was convinced I had learned more from them about communication than they had learned from me, she writes.

Right from the start, I asked them to tell me more about themselves and their world. I did the same and we developed respect, esteem and empathy for each other over the years. I often heard white people don’t really greet people, and those who do only show their teeth while their eyes don’t play along. Since then I greet easily and happily, with my eyes. 

I was very pleased when one man said my family reminded him of former US president Barack Obama’s, until he explained it’s because there is no son to carry on the family name. I don’t think I convinced him this was not a reason to feel sorry for me (or my husband). 

I learned they were enterprising, divergent entrepreneurs and business people. Few of them are involved only in the taxi industry. I heard how passionate they were about the industry and professionalising it. 

Training is important. At one prize-giving ceremony, a speaker emphasised that some people only get two certificates in their lifetime — a birth certificate and a death certificate. 

I learned there were predictable experiences in different provinces. The Gauteng groups were diverse and talks were characterised by openness and inclusivity. Many were probably enthusiastic about former president Thabo Mbeki. 

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In the Free State, the group could be expected to be disciplined — prompt and edified. Initially, admiration for former premier Ace Magashule was obvious. Those voices have become silent.

I could look forward to the group’s unique Afrikaans in the Western Cape, even if proceedings were less disciplined than in the Free State. Here former president Nelson Mandela would be admired. 

KwaZulu Natal was a new experience. This is former president Jacob Zuma world, although I could clearly detect growing support for EFF leader Julius Malema in eThekwini.

I heard their frustration about routes and licences. Also about their dissatisfaction with every Tom, Dick and Harry who gets a severance package and puts a taxi on the road. The despondency with a government that doesn’t support or appreciate them. And if you’re a taxi boss, someone will always come knocking with a begging bowl — they know you have money. It’s not easy out there. 

Must-read articles in this week’s Vrye Weekblad

>> Browse the full June 24 edition

TIME TO TRUST DEMOCRACY | The long and short of the Phala Phala saga is that the law was broken.

THE WEEK IN POLITICS | Max du Preez looks at advocate Dali Mpofu’s Mini-Mes, Western Cape judge president John Hlophe’s destruction, and tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s thick middle finger.

INVISIBLE WOMEN | In a culture where women’s desirability to the opposite sex starts declining when they hit 18 (it’s true, it has been researched) and men’s only at 50, every woman will have to recalibrate her identity at some stage in her life, writes Anneliese Burgess.

FEET OF CLAY | It should have been President Cyril Ramaphosa’s great triumph: the glorious win over the state capturers, the final end to the scandalous Zuma era. But that wasn’t how the Zondo Commission turned out for him.

THE CRYING BRIDES | May brides get married in the right season and may her father live out his life with a song in his heart; andante cantabile, like a farmer whose harvests have been shipped, writes Dominique Botha.