The middle finger

The middle finger

THE middle finger is one of the most powerful and offensive gestures in the world. It shows utter disgust.
But many people don’t know how to do it with class and vim.
Here is a crash course: extend the arm, turn the palm towards you, extend the middle finger upwards while folding the thump and the other three fingers. Now jerk up the hand while twisting your face or saying something vulgar. And that is how you pull the middle finger.

Warning: remember to keep a safe distance between the target of your gesture and you.
We rarely see people pulling a middle finger on others so you can imagine Muckraker’s horror when she saw more than a 1 600 middle fingers directed at one man.
The man was Tlohang Sekhamane and the event was the Democratic Congress’ elective conference more than a week ago.

The middle fingers were coming from the delegates. Sekhamane was lying on the floor. The defeat to Mothibeli Mokhothu had dazed him until he crumbled under his weight.
Some of his supporters had unbuttoned his shirt so he could get some fresh air. Others were fanning him with papers and T-shirts while he breathed slowly.
But the middle fingers kept raining on him.

All in all there were 1 681 middle fingers. Some people call them votes for Mokhothu but Muckraker prefers to call them middle fingers for Sekhamane.
With only 84 votes to show for his efforts before the conference, the defeat was so crushing that Sekhamane could not bear it. He simply fainted.

It is not yet known if his fainting was a result of the magnitude of the defeat or the embarrassment that came with it.
What is clear is that no man can suffer such a humiliating defeat and remain standing.
So he laid there, arms and legs flung all over.
Some said he was faking it to avoid facing the middle fingers but Muckraker was sure that the man had been knocked out cold. When he eventually regained consciousness Sekhamane asked for a bottle of water and a bucket of makoenya.

He munched the flour balls aggressively as tears flowed down his ashen cheeks. Muckraker’s heart bled.
Here was a seasoned politician who was sure that he had the numbers to win the race but had only managed 84 votes out of 2 000.
In that sad moment Muckraker recalled the interview Sekhamane had with a local weekly a few days before the conference.

“I believe I am eligible and can be the next leader of the DC because I am qualified and am born a leader,” he said.
He said he had the leadership skills and vision for not only the party but also the country.
Then he proceeded to rattle out his history as government secretary, minister and a loyal cadre of the congress movement. He could have stopped there but he refused to tame his mouth.

“A poor person should not be elected because there is likelihood that they could embezzle party monies. If one doesn’t have money to run their campaign they should just sit down and let those who have it run the show,” he said.
Now here he was: dazzled by defeat in an election he thought he had the money to win.

Sometimes it has nothing to do with what you have but what you do as a person. The defeat shows that Sekhamane is damaged goods. Remember how people shunned polony during the listeriosis outbreak?
That is how the DC delegates treated Sekhamane at the conference.

The politricks surrounding the ABC elective conference have dragged a reluctant Muckraker down the memory lane.
It’s not a pleasant recollection.
One miserable Christmas, Muckraker was hiding from the scorching Mafube sun under her granny’s peach tree when a vile uncle pulled into the yard in his jalopy. He stopped near the gate and opened the four doors wide to let out the booming sound of Keketso Makhula.

“U se lle ngoan’eso, hoba tsohle li tla loka (Don’t cry my brother for all will be alright),” Makhula sang.
Muckraker knew the moron of an uncle was playing the song to mock rather than comforting her.
He knew Muckraker’s family could not afford the festivities. He was ‘rich’ and we were poor.
“Don’t just sit there. Stand up and dance,” he ordered snidely.

And so Muckraker danced until her petite body was drenched in sweat and her thin bones aching. He repeated the song three times, each time insisting that Muckraker remains on the dance floor.
“Don’t rest if you want the Christmas goodies, little girl,” he would say as he re-winded the song with a cruel grin sparkling on his face.

It must have been on the sixth repeat of the song that he pulled a pink lollipop from his pocket, peeled it slowly before throwing it into Muckraker’s calloused palms.
The sweetness had barely got to the gut when he ordered Muckraker to the dance floor again. And just as Muckraker was about to faint with exhaustion the uncle drove off.
The man is now broke to the bone, having squandered his fortune on his throat and the silly member of the male anatomy.

When Muckraker drove her dotcom into his yard last Christmas it was Makhula’s song playing on the shrieking radio.
U se lle ngoan’eso, hoba tsohle li tla loka”.
His memory swallowed by age and poverty, the uncle could not remember the song and why Muckraker was playing it on this day. There was no point in reminding him of his terrible deeds of the past.
The lesson: mock not the miserable for everyone is within misery’s reach.

Muckraker remembered that moment as she watched Professor Mahao romp to an emphatic victory at the ABC elective conference.
After a battle in which some misdirected judge seemed to have stock, the professor walloped his opponent by a wide margin. The noisy Maliehe was so far that you would think he was crawling in the race.
The other Maliehe looked like he was limping to the finishing line.
Dr Majoro tried but found the going tough.

Now remember these are the same people who were playing Makhula’s song when the executive committee was getting up to monkey tricks to hobble Mahao.
U se lle ngoan’eso, hoba tsohle li tla loka,” they said as Mahao wrestled with the committee before a High Court that sounded nobbled.

But in life we must learn to mean our words because they sometimes come true even when we don’t intend them to.
And in this case things have just turned out fine for Mahao, just as they did for Muckraker.
Mahao should now be magnanimous in victory and avoid singing the same song to his opponents.

Yet no matter how he wants to celebrate his victory the fact remains that the ABC emerges from this conference a fractured party reeling from intense factionalism.
Uncle Tom as the leader should shoulder the heavier load of the blame. He has presided over the most troubled era in the party.

No wonder why even after the people have spoken he cannot play them another Makhula song: “Selemo sena se secha se ke se be monate ho batho, e s’eka pula e ka na, e s’e ka khotso e ate (May this new year be good to all people, may it rain, let there be peace).”

Trouble lies ahead. The irony in this is that Uncle Tom will now have to work closely with Mahao, the man he recently said could not properly wipe his loin cloth.
Muckraker wonders how it feels to sit in a meeting next to a person whose hygiene you doubt. The joke is on Uncle Tom for he spoke too soon.

 

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