I was hoping to post a few pictures of life in the military base but the internet here is particularly slow so that will have to wait. Instead I want to give you a contrast between life at a South African military base in Sudan and the life of the new elite back home.
Life in the military base is better than I expected. I have my own room and my own office, the food is edible and I have time to read and surf the Net. The water shortages are a bit of a pain but I’m getting used to having to queue for showers and to structure my day accordingly. At least the water is lukewarm after the cold water shock treatment of the mobilisation camp.
After roll call (where we get the usual lecture about how when we put on this uniform we are submitting to military discipline), I get to spend most of the day in my office where, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to read for several hours.
First up is the online news. Over tea, cornflakes and powdered milk (not all together you understand) I check the headlines. Three of the most viewed stories on IOL (Independent Online) today are:
1. Giant pothole swallows car in Germany
2. Mount Merapi engulfs Indonesia
3. Party number two for Kenny
Now I’m sorry about the poor people in Indonesia but what grabs my attention is the story about Kenny. Is this portaloo Kenny? How does an Aussie mockumentary star make it onto number five of the most viewed stories on IOL?
I quickly scan the story. No, it’s a Joburg businessman who celebrated his 40th birthday in style by having his guests eat sushi off the stomachs of bikini-clad models. Said Kenny Kunene:
“I even had models lying down on tables so my guests could nibble sushi served on their stomachs. It was the best sushi I have ever had in my life. I couldn’t ask for more … It happens everywhere behind closed doors. I chose to do it in the public. Because I am from Africa does not mean I am rural. We are living in the 21st century and this happens in Europe and all over the world. I’m really glad I did it, because it was so much of fun.”
Ah, what is Black Economic Empowerment for, after all, if not for the new elite to enjoy their sushi from the belly-buttons of whomever they choose?
In reply to a trade-union leader who criticised the R700,000 party and called Kunene a pig, the tycoon shot back:
“I have absolutely no problem with people speaking their minds, but Vavi is the biggest hypocrite I have ever met. Just because I am a black man, Vavi has decided to have a go at me, because he believes I got my money from doing crooked things. …[…] It’s an insult to me … […] Vavi hates to see young black men succeed and it makes me sick to my stomach. He also called me a pig, which is uncalled for.”
I hope it was just Vavi’s comment that made him sick to his stomach and not eating raw fish off the raw tummies of young models. Here in the base our eating habits are far too tame by comparison. Every day is pretty much the same. Pap and vleis (maize-meal porridge and meat) which we eat off white plastic plates in the mess. If we’re lucky there’ll be chicken or beef stew with yellow rice and vegetables. A far cry from bikini sushi you would agree. And of course there’s no Dom Perignon to wash it down either. Diluted Oris some mealtimes and at others just water.
Perhaps next time I’m eating my pretty-good-in-the-circumstances-but-still-rather-depressing-fare in the mess, I’ll raise a plastic beaker of diluted Oros to those Joburg tycoons and their sushi-scoffing tummy tuck habits. I was thinking it’s probably a good thing he didn’t try and eat his California rolls off L’s tummy because I think the turtle (aka Baby F) would give them a good kick and he would be scrabbling around on the floor like, well, like the cigar-toting pig that he is.
What would George Orwell say? Incidentally, while we’re still on the news, did you see the Halloween picture of the Obamas with Dracula and Frankenstein? I thought at first that they’d resurrected Michael Jackson but now that I look properly, Frankenstein and Michael Jackson are completely different. Both a little pale and freakish perhaps but I think that Jacko would probably have scared the kids a little more. (Sorry, that was bitchy. Put it down to 44 days of
captivity I mean deployment.)
At least we don’t have to eat our daily rations off the tummies of the new recruits. That would have me running for the water-restricted facilities double quick march!