Monday, December 9, 2013

Nelson Mandela's Legacy : A 7 Year Old's View


It was a warm and humid Thursday evening and we had just left a beautiful prayer evening ready to embark on our individual journeys home. Standing around our vehicles and saying our goodbyes, someone had turned their ignition on and the sound of a breaking news radio report came booming across the driveway.

It was the voice of our President, Jacob Zuma, informing us that the father of the nation and the most loved and respected man in the history of our beloved country had passed on.
The time was 11:07pm.
You could hear a pin drop.
We knew that Madiba had not been well, and we as a nation were preparing ourselves for this day. Yet nobody anticipated the shock and despair we would feel when the day finally arrived. We later learnt that Madiba had passed on peacefully in his sleep at 8:50pm that night.

We went to pay our respects at Madiba's Houghton home on Saturday night and the mood was simply electric yet somber. 
How is this possible you ask?
Imagine an intersection in a leafy suburb bursting with throngs of people, South Africans and foreigners alike, the young and the old, black and white and every other color of the rainbow, lighting candles in one corner, laying wreaths in another, writing eulogy notes on scraps of paper, saying silent prayers, singing struggle songs and dancing, all while rejoicing the life that was Nelson Rohlihlahla Mandela.

The worlds media were there in droves. I imagine they still are, as they have been since the day Madiba first went into hospital almost a year ago.
Through all the dancing and singing and clicking of cameras, I heard a tiny whimper next to me and looked down to see my 7 year old daughter Sabreen in tears.
I kneeled down before her thinking she was afraid of everything happening around her. Kids at this age are easily scared of crowds and boisterous activity. I assumed she needed me to hold her hand and assure her of her safety.
I whispered and asked her why she was crying.

She replied through soft tears and an even softer voice, "The best President we've ever had has died Dad!"
My own tears seemed to defy my steely composure and soon flowed freely.
Nelson Mandela was a man she had never met and had at best only ever heard about. 
Remember that from 2010 he had reclused himself from public life as his health deteriorated. She would have been 4 years old at the time. There was no context for Sabreen to place Madiba's greatness. She hadn't seen nor lived through his Presidency.
Yet the outpouring of love and admiration and respect on the night that she was witnessing left her in no doubt that this was no ordinary man. 

Such is the legacy of Madiba.
Many have written and spoken about the effect he has had on their lives, and he has touched so many lives.
Until that night I hadn't realized how astounding an effect he had on the youngest amongst us.
We will forever be grateful for having lived during your era, and for the sacrifices you have made so that we could call ourselves free. For me personally, I shall be eternally grateful each time I look at my daughters, knowing that they enjoy the lives and rights and privileges they do because of you Madiba.

Hamba kahle Tata.

This was the photo my wife Shakera took outside Madiba's home on Saturday night.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

e-Tolls And Other Biblical Plagues


So e-tolls are finally a reality on Gauteng roads and the mass hysteria that greeted the initial announcement of governments latest plan to fleece taxpayers has fizzled down to little more than a poodle pissing on a giant oak tree.

All the barking and growling we did as a society and all the threats of civil disobedience seemed to fade into oblivion the day the tolling system went live. I followed with keen interest the social media platforms in the weeks leading up to the Go Live date, 03 December 2013.
People were commenting on online forums, writing in to newspapers, tweeting, blogging, calling in to radio stations, sticking protest stickers on their vehicles all in an effort to show their dissatisfaction at governments decision to go ahead with tolling against public opinion.
I imagined this being the start of our very own Egyptian Spring.
The kind of massive uprising that would galvanize a nation and make us more militant and unwavering in our steadfastness and belief in a cause.

Cue my surprise or lack thereof when we collectively, as a nation, held each other's hands and did what we have become so efficient at doing: we choked.
We choked like we do on the cricket field (and the haters can form a straight line to kiss my arse while singing the national anthem and calling me unpatriotic)
We choked like we do on the soccer field (haters can refer to my suggestion above or reply with stats and facts of our brilliant on-field performances in the beautiful game over the last 50 years)
We choked because we've become so complacent in all aspects of our lives.

Our idea of standing up for a cause and fighting the good fight is hitting 'Like' on a Facebook post that calls for activism, or adding our name to petitions, or tossing a few coins into a collection can.
A sleeping sloth hoping and waiting for a bug to land on its tongue has more determination and dedication than we do as a society.
The shoelace of the guy who applies Vaseline to an amateur lightweight boxer has more fight in it than we do.
The fly hovering around the anus of a donkey's carcass about to be ravaged by a vulture has more courage than we do.
I think you get the point.

"So what brave show of activism have you accomplished?" I hear you ask.

Well let's just say that I'm in the process of acquiring a few plasma-cutters and industrial angle grinders, some steel cables and hooks, a helicopter, and a rather large dustbin bag of good quality Durban weed.

Inbox me if you're keen on having a brilliant time while farting in the face of tyranny and state-sponsored corruption.
I guarantee that you'll wake up the next day being a hero with not the faintest idea why.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Sooffah Comedy Couch Session

(You just might be "tolled" to get out) :-) 
Our last show for the year.
Sublime comedy, the hottest vibe and the coolest crowd! Sooffah Comedy Couch, Our line- up includes, Jzaun Dreyer, Lihle Lindzy Msimang, Ian Campbell, Graham Ian Shirley, Fareed Kaloo, Thapelo King Flat Mametja, and yours truly Hosts.
When: 29 November, 19:00 
Where: Roodepoort Theatre, 100 Christiaan de wet Road, Florida Park 
How: R80 
Inbox me for tickets.
Friday nights comedy session reminded me once again why I love Stand Up so much. Our host for the evening, Nadiem Solomon, had asked me almost a year ago to join them at the Sooffah Comedy Couch sessions and I always put the idea on the back-burner.
Within two minutes of being up on stage, I realized that this kind of adrenalin rush should never be postponed. Like a visit to your proctologist, it's the kind of opportunity you should put right up there on the top of your list of things to do.

Speaking of lists and what belongs right up on top of them, the line-up of comedians that Nadiem puts together and the talent he nurtures is truly inspiring. I remember the first time I was catapulted onto the stage. I blogged about it here.
It didn't take long to learn that the bigger the headline act, the bigger the ego and the more pompous they became. It was a refreshing change to work with professionals who know and understand their history and purpose and really make a concerted effort to help new comedians.
Marc Lottering is one such professional.
I was privileged and honored to share a stage with him earlier this year and blogged about it here (at this point my damn links stopped working on Blogger!) 

Then along came Nadiem Solomon and his comedy incubator, the Sooffah Comedy Couch.
The audience is amazingly hungry for laughs, and they clearly appreciate the young talent presented to them. The atmosphere is conducive to comedy with the air alive with excitement and a fantastic energy through the theatre.
At first I thought it was the extra hot Nandos I had snorted earlier, but the evenings buzz was a definite combination of audience excitement and comedians nerves.

What I really appreciated was the time Nadiem takes to warm the audience up before the comedians start their sets. You only really appreciate this when you're standing backstage waiting to come on and you already hear the crowd laughing and rolling in their seats.
Big crowds are nerve-wrecking.
Random audiences like I experienced at Parker's are honestly a lucky packet. You could get an entire group of suits out on a corporate evening on one night, followed by a bunch of teenagers out on a jol on the next. Your material needs to adapt to each group, and changing material on the night is a daunting task. Taking nothing away from Parker's, it really is a tough crowd.

What makes Sooffah Comedy Couch different is that the audience almost feels personal. Like you're performing in front of your friends or family, and you can tell that they WANT you to do well.

Here's wishing Nadiem and his amazing venture all the very best. I sense great talent maturing and developing at this venue.

Friday nights line-up included a smorgasbord of talent covering every genre and topic.
Lihle Lindzy Msimang
Jzuan Dreyer
Graham Shirley
Ian Campbell 
Thapelo King Flat Mametja
Myself and of course our host, Nadiem Solomon.

Lihle Lindzy Msimang is an absolute powerhouse and I reckon you will see her name in lights very soon! The 5 minutes with her backstage before my set was probably worth a years comedy workshops!

So here's to more laughs and awesome comedy and definitely more squeaky-bum moments just before getting up on stage. There is nothing that compares to that kind of raw adrenalin rush. Bungee jumping is fantastic, but there's no chance of bombing in front of a live audience when you're dangling from a rope in mid-air.