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Cadres have it good

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Our dreams seldom went higher than farming or being a train driver, and possibly a windmill mechanic for the technically inclined

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I was told by a teacher friend that she asked her class of 10 year olds what they hoped to be when they grew up.

There were the usual collection of future doctors and engineers, but one little lad topped the list by announcing: “When I’m big I want to be a cadre.”

“That’s interesting,” said the teacher, “and what do cadres do?”

“They get paid lots and lots of money and drive big Mercedes cars,” the future cadre replied.

“Who pays them all that money?” the teacher asked.

“The gummint pays them.”

“What do they have to do to get paid?”

“Nothing. They just get paid lots of money to buy big cars.”

Imagine that. Only 10 years old and already he has worked out how the entire South African political system operates. We were nowhere near as politically sophisticated when I was at school.

Our dreams seldom went higher than farming or being a train driver, and possibly a windmill mechanic for the technically inclined.

The only exception I can remember was a child called Robert, who wanted to be a chicken sexer.

Robert lived on a poultry farm near Highlands in the Eastern Cape, where his father was the chicken sexer and was obviously held in high regard by his son. I’ve often wondered whether he achieved his dream.

Chicken sexing is a highly specialised profession, apparently halfway between science and magic.

I suppose it’s all done electronically these days.

When I left school I got a job as a milk recorder, which involved the use of several corrosive acids and some odd-smelling anti-coagulant chemicals being swirled round in a hand-operated centrifuge.

I mentioned this to a dairy farming friend recently and he chuckled patronisingly.

“It’s all done by computer these days,” he said. “It’s more accurate that the old Gerber-and-Babcock test and it doesn’t smell as bad.”

I felt slightly cheated to think of all the training I did at the Department of Agriculture in Queenstown now being as obsolete as a wind-up gramophone or a pair of trousers with fly buttons.

Maybe that child in the classroom had a good point.

I really don’t see any chance of cadres being replaced by computers.

Not in my lifetime, anyway.

I haven’t read of any of the great international electronics companies designing a computer capable of doing absolutely nothing as expensively as possible. I wonder whether they ever managed to design an electronic chicken sexer.

If any of the Tavern readers are chicken farmers, please drop me a line sometime and let me know.

Last Laugh

A farmer bought a new rooster which turned out to be a sex maniac.

He tore about the yard mating with every chicken in sight and then turned his attention to the ducks, turkeys and geese.

Eventually the farmer found him lying on his back in the dust, with a couple of vultures circling overhead.

“Ja, old chap,” the farmer muttered, “I’m not surprised your heart packed up, seeing the rate you were going.”

The rooster opened one eye, looked up at the vultures and whispered, “get lost”. “You’re scaring them away.”