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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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The market of rascals



THE Market’s management is either high on something illegal or just reckless.
They could also be either proudly incompetent or simply daft.
Muckraker suspects they are high, reckless, incompetent and daft.
That is a heavy burden to carry but self-inflicted and deserved.

Their job is to feed tummies and quench thirsts but they believe they are capable of many jobs. In addition to cooking chickin, they fancy themselves to be detectives, expert witnesses, rape experts, psychologists, communication gurus, criminologists, prosecutors, CCTV analysts and many other things they conjure up in their small minds.
That much is lavishly clear from their crude statement reacting to a woman who alleges she was raped in their toilet last week.
Instead of just acknowledging the alleged incident, The Market was sweating to testify, analyse evidence, scrutinise footage and play judge.
They tell us the alleged victim arrived at the restaurant “heavily intoxicated” as if they had measured the alcohol content in her blood.
They say she had left an “unpaid bill” at another restaurant as if they were the Small Claims Court.
They claim CCTV footage shows the victim coming out of the toilets holding hands with her alleged attacker as if they are certain that the handholding was consensual and not one dragging the other. Make no mistake about the sinister motive behind those salacious details sprinkled all over the statement.
They were gathering wood for a pyre to burn the woman and her allegations.
Their demented reasoning is something like this: she could not have been raped because she was intoxicated, absconded her bill down the street and was holding hands with the alleged attacker. None of those things have been proven and they might be just shameless lies told by uncouth characters.
The point, accepted by everyone else except some nincompoops, is that The Market should not have mentioned anything about a bill or intoxication. They are not just trivialising her serious allegations but also calling her a drunk who dodges bills and lies about being raped.
They do this by telling what they believe to be a cogent tale to illustrate that her story is incredible.
Muckraker read that clumsy statement several times and each time she was further disgusted by both the writer and The Market as a business.
They say the gentleman from another restaurant who is “well known to The Market staff” claimed that the woman had left an unpaid bill. That is not some random anecdote but an attempt to justify why they allowed him into the bar after they had closed.
It could also be a flimsy attempt at saying the man could not have violated the woman because he is “well known” to them.
As soon as the narration started Muckraker knew The Market was on an evil path.
And boy, did they march with vigour.
They say while the two were discussing the unpaid bill, the victim “indicated that she needed the bathroom”. Then comes the killer line in the statement: “Moments later, the said gentleman also walked to the bathroom, where after a while they both emerged holding hands”.
The public is invited to conclude that the discussion about the unpaid bill was resolved in the toilet and the two “emerged holding hands”.
In other words, whatever was said or happened in the toilet was so mutual that a debt was settled and hands were held.
The victim blaming and bashing could have ended there but The Market was just getting started.
After social media clobbered them for their callous and inept statement, The Market came back with a second one pretending to be correcting the first one.
This time they tried to sanitise the first statement by weeding out the offensive parts but avoided withdrawing the first statement and sincerely apologising to the woman.
They forget that people will never unlearn what they learned from the first statement and are most likely to read the second statement as an update rather than a correction.
But just like that, The Market thinks they have dodged the bullet so they can go back to their cooking and notorious upselling.
Their message to women is stinging: “It’s your funeral if you run away from a bill and get raped in our toilets. We will protect ourselves and the suspects at all costs. For good measure, we will tell the public you enjoyed free drinks and got so drunk that you made allegations of rape against our friend who was only trying to get you to pay”.
Muckraker will not speculate on what happened but can say, without fear or favour, that The Market’s management are unmitigated and unrepentant rascals. Only a business managed by accredited scoundrels reacts with such brazen thuggery to allegations of rape on its premises. Muckraker didn’t say CHE accredits scoundrels but that the mischief exhibited by The Market is of such high quality that it deserves a certification of sorts and at a higher level. It’s Level 8 stuff.
Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuuu


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The Market of nonsense



You are wrong if you think The Market’s statement about the alleged rape in their toilets is just terrible public relations or some error of judgment.
The statement reflects society’s attitude towards rape victims and women in general. That much is clear in the statement’s tone.

The statement says the alleged victim was “heavily intoxicated” but the truth is that its author was drunk from both something illegal and prejudice.
Even someone who had drunk all the beer, ciders, cocktails, whisky, gin and brandy in The Market would not come up with such a statement. This is top-notch BS rehearsed over years and expertly mastered. The Makhadzi dance to the alleged victim’s trauma.
But there is more to show their contempt for the alleged victim.
The one-page statement mentions the alleged victim’s name five times. Five!
It has 11 sentences and mentions the victim’s name in five of them.
It is unethical to mention rape victims by name but The Market did it anyway because they probably wanted to remind everyone that she is “that woman”.
You can bet your last January kobo that some dunderheads will justify naming her on the basis that she had already identified herself by posting the incident on social media. Nonsense!
The Market had no right to identify her by name in their statement.
They didn’t seek her consent. And even if they did, it’s still unethical.
To see that mentioning her name five times was not an innocent mistake you have to check how many times the statement mentions her alleged attacker‘s name. Zero!
This is despite that the alleged victim had revealed his name, or at least part of it, on social media. They call him “a staff member of one of the establishments at Maseru” and a “gentleman”.
They don’t even say the man is from one of the establishments at Maseru Mall because that would instantly narrow the list and expose him.
So they resort to saying “Maseru” as if Maseru City is synonymous with Maseru Mall. The idea was to keep his identity as vague as possible. Even if the alleged victim had not mentioned his name The Market knew him because the statement says he is “well known to The Market staff”.
There is a method to the madness here. The Market was at pains to protect the alleged attacker while loudly shouting the victim’s name. Ideally, neither the victim nor the suspect should have been mentioned by name. She is a victim of rape and the suspect was yet to appear in court.
Those with an eye for detail might have also noticed that The Market unashamedly tries to pretend to have suddenly discovered the woman’s rape allegations on her Facebook page. She reported to their staff soon after the alleged incident.
Muckraker will end this depressing story with one more observation.
The Market’s statement mentions “toilets” as if they have many toilets.
The reality is that it’s one toilet for men and women. The main entrance is the same and so is the washing area.
On busy nights you can use either of the cubicles. Muckraker has seen men budging into the women’s cubicle and vice-versa. “Hona le motho!” is a common scream in that toilet.
Muckraker has bumped into men with open zips and women pulling up their pants in the washing area. Women fixing their bras bump heads with men tucking in their shirts.
Whoever designed that toilet has a brain the size of the punctuation mark at the end of this sentence.
There are no words for those who thought it fit to be used by their patrons.
Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuuu


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Is Kabi a real lekoloane?



Is Kabi a real lekoloane? That is not a trick question so don’t bother scratching your stressed head.
Even the goats in Matatiele, where he is alleged to have been initiated, know he is not a real lekoloane.
They know what he did last December and are as disgusted as the other makoloane who rightly feel he has cheated his way to the title.

The Matatiele goats know that other initiates had to spend at least five weeks at the initiation school to earn the honour of being called a lekoloane.
The leadership of the national initiation committee says claiming to be a lekoloane after just 72 hours at an initiation school is “unacceptable”.
Muckraker will call it fraud until Kabi proves otherwise.
Muckraker is not saying this to humiliate Kabi. He is a good fella but the stubborn reality is that he didn’t complete the course and therefore has no business pretending to be qualified.
It’s not as if Kabi entered the school with credits from another school. There was no transfer letter.
If there is a letter he should name his former principal.
He cannot claim to have attended initiation classes through Zoom and then went to complete the course with some practicals for 72 hours. He didn’t do distance learning because initiation schools are not UNISA.
There is no crash course in initiation school. That he qualified for mature entry doesn’t mean he could just sneak into the school hours before graduation and then claim to be a certified lekoloane.
The issue is not whether Kabi believes he is a real lekoloane because that doesn’t matter. Being in a plane doesn’t make you a pilot even if you scream to be regarded as one.
Muckraker has visited NUL’s law school but cannot claim to be a lawyer. She has joined the wires on her phone charger but is no electrician.
The real Makoloane are furious because he has cheated his way to their title and wants to be treated as their equal. They are right. Yet what Kabi has done is more serious than stealing a title. He has corrupted the institution of initiation.
He had no excuse for pulling the 72-hour trick at the initiation school.
Parliament was closed, they had dismally failed to topple Uncle Sam and his party is dead. He cannot claim he was busy running the ABC because Feselady and her hubby are still in charge.
For the past week, Muckraker has been wondering why Kabi could deliberately inflict such dishonour on himself.
The answer is that Kabi is entitled like other politicians. He wants to have the best for his minimum effort.
They want to earn the best perks but still claim to be the people’s humble servants. They want the people to vote for them for merely being present or promising something.
When held to the highest standards they point to the incompetence of other politicians.
Their favourite refrain is “at least….”
Kabi desperately wanted to be a lekoloane but was not prepared to put in the work.
The second part of the answer is that Kabi, like other politicians, thought he could get away with it. It’s an attitude informed by the general contempt politicians have for those they believe are beneath them.
It’s just that he has underestimated the resolve of other initiates to protect their institution from fraudsters and imposters.
Now he will be remembered as a political leader who was caught, pants down, masquerading as a lekoloane. The national initiation committee has said he is not wanted near an initiation school and if he is seen in the vicinity he will be forced to repeat the course.
Muckraker thinks “repeat” is not the right word. He will be starting from Grade 1, doing the ‘a, e, i, o, u’ of initiation school.
Kabi is worse than a high school dropout because dropouts don’t show up for graduation.
He is worse than those who insist on using the honorary doctorate title because, at least, that title is given voluntarily. There is nothing called an honourary lekoloane. You are either or not.
Those who cheat in exams are way better than him because, at least, they would have attended classes and qualified for exams but are just too daft. Kabi didn’t attend classes or take the exam.
He just arrived when others were rehearsing their graduation songs, got himself smeared with ochre and proudly walked to the podium to be capped.
Kabi is welcome to call himself a lekoloane but he will be a lekoloane in his head and not to anyone else.
He might as well have spent the 72 hours plotting to topple Uncle Sam because he will never be a lekoloane even if he smears himself with a Maqalika of ochre and recites initiation songs a million times.
A man who is not initiated is called a leqai but what do we call one who tries to cheat their way to initiation?
Let’s call him a kabi. And that is a real title because it is earned. Finally, oh finally, Kabi has invented something useful. Hooray!
Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuuu


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