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Is SA led by folk who live in the past, present or future?

President Cyril Ramaphosa's new cabinet will give us a clue

26 May 2019 - 00:12 By and ndumiso ngcobo

Being a newspaper columnist in this country does not have any perks, unless you regularly write about cars, resorts or restaurants. Unlike Cassper Nyovest, Kaizer Chiefs players or DJ Fresh, columnists are not offered access to Lamborghinis, free trips to Ibiza or random fellatio on any given Saturday evening.
But it's not all doom and gloom, because when I ask people in my social circle stupid, pseudo psycho-philosophical questions about the meaning of life, no-one has me committed to Weskoppies. Everyone just assumes that I'm formulating some idea I intend to write about. Most of the time they're wrong.
The other day, around a braai, I asked my companions which decade they live in. Some people live in the past, some live in the present and others live in the future, I argued.
To illustrate my point, I cited the example of a mutual friend, Mavura. I pointed out that this fellow's entire paradigm is firmly entrenched in the 1980s. We went to high school together in that decade, and if one needs a reminder of any event from then, Mavura is your man.
I recently needed some music from the '80s for my drive-time show and Mavura was able to rattle off almost 20 mgqashiyo, mbaqanga and bubble gum artists in less than 10 seconds. To this day, this is the music he is likely to have in his car as he drives around. People could be engaged in that old debate about who is the better player, Messi or Ronaldo, and Mavura will make it about '80s stars "Ace" Mnini, "Ace" Ntsoelengoe and Jomo Sono.
After I put it like that, people started to identify the era they're stuck in.
Another friend of ours, Nomo, is completely stuck in the future. He has a firm grasp of historical events, but his entire paradigm is rooted in future scenarios, technologies, human dwellings. If you want to see his eyes light up, start a conversation about the InSight Mars Lander and what it means for the future of humans populating the Red Planet.
He obsesses over the future so much that he has totally infected his 12-year-old son, Donda. The young man is so invested in the future, he has developed a dismissive disdain for the inanities of the present. Greetings, small talk and other polite social requirements are but distractions as he hurtles forward at 300,000,000 metres per second.
The last time I saw the young Padawan, I asked him if he misses his old school, just to make conversation. I have never seen such a lack of interest in past events in the face of a child. In this regard, he is not too dissimilar to my 14-year-old second-born, Vumezitha, whose head is also in the futuristic clouds. I guess this explains why they get along so famously.
I'm wired firmly to the past. I obsess over 19th-century Southern Africa, with a specific emphasis on Zululand, the then Basutoland, Bechuanaland and the Gaza Empire.
I cannot keep up with which sides Jeff Radebe, Blade Nzimande and Fikile Mbalula have been on since the Polokwane conference of 2007; however, I have an impressive grasp of all the mid 19th- century Mfecane battles from Gqokli Hill to Hlathikhulu to Ndodakusuka and all the movements of the principal characters of that era from the great Queen Manthatisi of the baTlokwa to King Matiwane of the Hlubis or Zwangendaba of the Ngonis and their foray to Tanganyika. I seem to assimilate these stories by sheer osmosis.
And I'm no different to other people. My mother is stuck in the 1950s and '60s. Not much time lapses before she's talking about Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Nat King Cole, the Kennedys and Marilyn Monroe.
Our erstwhile president Thabo Mbeki's mind is firmly in the noughties of this century. We all know it's only a matter of time before he publishes his memoirs to "correct misconceptions about certain mutters of national importance" that occurred during his presidency. That bus will not be late.
Would you say this country is led by folk who are invested in the past, the future or the present? I think we're pretty clear where Madame Zille is located, if her obsession with "correcting" the vilification of those well-meaning passengers on the Dromedaris, the Reijger and the Goede Hoop is anything to go by. Apparently they were just here to improve our sewerage systems and bring other cutting-edge technologies, such as running taps.
As I type this, the new president of the republic has not been sworn in and has not announced the new cabinet. It should be interesting to see whether we're looking back, forward or stagnating over the next five years.
That said, all I'm interested in is locating a time machine that can take me back to July 1879 so I can warn King Cetshwayo about Lord Chelmsford's tactics during the latter's invasion of oNdini palace...

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