Of sangomas and prophets

Of sangomas and prophets

MUCKRAKER has never understood the concept behind Valentine’s Day. All she knows is that it’s some pagan holiday sustained by capitalists who hate seeing your wallet or pocket bulging with cash.

She also knows that it drives some sisters crazy when no man remembers them on this day. You can bet your last penny that some sisters are going to have a miserable week when no flowers or presents come their way. They will spend days moping as if they have lost something valuable.
They will be green with envy as fellow sisters gloat about their treats.

But Muckraker thinks their misery is self-inflicted. There is no need to whimper relentlessly over such trivial matters. And there is a solution to the lack of a gift from a husband, husband or secret admirer.

The answer lies not in receiving a present but in creating the impression that you have received one. Simply walk into a shop, pick an expensive chocolate and get it wrapped nicely.

Then in a different handwriting write a message you would imagine the lover would have written for you.
Roses are red and you are blah, blah, blah and blah. Then find a person you trust to deliver it to the office sometime around midday. Tell the messenger to make sure he knocks on every door at the office when looking for you.

\The colleague must see that he is holding a present for you. When the present eventually gets to you act surprised and open your mouth wide with excitement as you peel off the wrapper.
“Oh, Thabo is so sweet!”

Pretend to dial Thabo’s number on the phone and say “Moratuoa ke bone present ea hao. Kea leboha hle”.
Roll those eyes and start munching the chocolate. If they are flowers then place them right next to your keyboard. Problem solved: you have your present and the sisters are sweating with jealousy.

If you really want to knock them out you can ask for permission from the boss to leave early. As you walk out of the office make sure you tell your imaginary Thabo on the other end of the line that you will be there in 20 minutes.

That’s how you deal with bragging sisters. You design an elaborate scheme that leaves them reeling and roiling. Show them that you too can get treats on this day. It matters not you will be catching a taxi to your malaeneng when you walk out of the office.
Whether you cry in your sleep that day is neither here nor there. What matters is that you have manufactured your little happiness for a few hours.

There was pandemonium in cabinet a few weeks ago after speculation that Uncle Tom was planning to reshuffle personnel in his Cabinet. Some ministers had running tummies while others complained of pounding headaches.
It was such a sorry spectacle watching the usually haughty comrades quaking in their boots.

It was, in a way, refreshing to see that these suited men and outfitted women are mere mortals capable of trembling with fear.
Some ministers who had gone on voicemail since their appointment suddenly found their voices and began waffling so they could gather some last-minute relevance.

Some called on their doctors and psychologists for check-ups. Spouses and nyatsis took off days to nurse their depressed better halves who knew they faced real prospects of being jobless.

There is something gloomy about watching bearded men and breasted women shivering, not because their lives are in danger but for fear of being shoved off the feeding trough.

The other day Muckraker met a minister walking along Kingsway without his usual entourage of bodyguards, drivers and the good-for-nothing groupies who usually cling to his seam.

The young man was deep in thought as if he was pondering the possibility of going back to supplement his atrocious Matric results. Always sympathetic to men who climb so high up the ladder without substance, Muckraker asked the minister why he looked so miserable.
“I am just practising Ausi, just practising,” he said.

Muckraker did not get to ask him what he was practising because some zealots who always start their conversation with powerful people with “Mohlomphehi” instantly mobbed him.  They wanted jobs from a man uncertain of earning his salary next month. Minutes later Muckraker realised that she would have come across as mischievous, if not silly, had she asked what the minister was practising.

The answer was as clear as a goat’s behind. It’s right there in your face like the poverty that screams louder than a siren in this country.
Like our corruption, the reason for the minister’s rare excursion into the streets was there for all to see. The man wanted to acclimatise to the streets.
He wanted to know how it feels to be pounding the streets of Maseru in the sweltering sun without state-sponsored aides.

His mission was to reconnect with the streets and the people he had come to disdain, just in case Thabane was thinking of off-loading him. Luckily, the man was spared of the kick.

At least he understood that practice makes perfect and there is no point in pretending that all was well.
As pathetic as the minister might have looked we have to give him credit for, at least, steeling himself for the shock he thought was coming his way.
Some of his colleagues were not so brave.

A day before the reshuffle Muckraker walked into a minister’s office to be greeted by a thick cloud of choking smoke.
The minister was kneeling in a corner while chanting in some weird language.
He said he was thanking his ancestors for keeping him alive. The polluting ritual had nothing to do with the impending reshuffle, he said as if he was talking to his five-year-old granddaughter.

Muckraker nodded to assure the minister that she understood that he was under pressure to lie or that it was probably not him but some spirit speaking. Indeed, the past weeks have been bizarre for cabinet ministers.
A friend tells Muckraker that he bumped into one of the ministers shopping for some muti in the Bus Stop area. He was wearing a blanket, gumboots and a wool hat for disguise.

But Muckraker said he immediately noticed the minister.
“He is too ugly to be missed even among donkeys,” the friend said.

Another friend reported seeing a deputy minister at a popular sangoma’s place in Teyateyaneng. He had waited until dark, parked his car in the little CBD and then walked to the shaman’s place.

Still another mate whispered that she had seen a minister at a local prophet’s church last Sunday.
Muckraker’s friend swears by his mother, planted on an anthill in Qaqathu, that he saw the minister speaking in tongues.
All these ministers had one thing in common: they all wanted some outside force – nefarious or pure – to confuse Uncle Tom when he makes the reshuffle.

The logic was that as Uncle Tom went through the list of ministers he would be gripped by some mystical force that would cause him to mix up names. He would then pardon their sins.

And judging by what happened in the reshuffle it seems the tongues, sangomas and phehla worked just fine for most of the ministers. The reshuffle turned out to be a damp squib.

Nothing much changed except the movement of personnel from this corner to that corner. Looking at the changes in portfolios it is tough to decipher what logic was used to decide who goes where and why.

It’s tempting to suspect that Uncle Tom simply threw the names into a mokorotlo hat, closed his eyes and them dipped his hand into it. Then he would pull out three names at a time and place them on a table.

Then he would do a mini miny moe more to decide whether a minister is reshuffled, fired or retained in their position. If that is what happened then the Minister of Works and Minister of Health were just unlucky.

But then if you understand politics, especially in this government, you would know that the reshuffle was not as random as it looks.
In the weeks preceding the reshuffle there were people who kept hammering the same message into Uncle Tom’s head.

There was fierce lobbying and backstabbing that shocked even Uncle Tom himself. Names were dragged in the mud and conspiracies peddled. In the end it boiled down to whose name kept cropping up and whose reputation was filthy dirty a few minutes before the reshuffle.

It went down to the wire. Those who thought they had done a decent job of badmouthing others a few days before the reshuffle found themselves on the back foot a few minutes before changes were announced.

Yet we will be naïve to think that snitching, gossiping and backstabbing were the only things at place. You must know where power lies in this government if you want to be safe or get things done.

You must know who to tell things if you want to make things happen. Power is franchised in this government.
There is only one person who holds all the aces. Keep looking in the government structures if you want to be sent from pillar to post.
Just talk to the yellow bone, damn it!

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