South Africans are a resilient bunch. Within a heartbeat of something making headlines you can expect the wisecracks to start flowing. I suspect that it’s a defence mechanism, a way of dealing with trauma, writes Lance Fredericks.
THE ESKOM CEO, whom I shall not name, but one of many that have come and gone through the revolving door, stands at the podium with his hands raised reassuringly – Fun fact, incredibly by August 2019 there had been 10 Eskom CEOs in 10 years.
Anyway, the caption at the bottom of the picture of the power utility CEO reads: “We don’t always supply you with electricity …” followed by “But when we do, please don’t use it!”
South Africans pull no punches when it comes to humour in dark times. Pardon the intentional pun. So even when things get ugly in SA, jokes and memes start crawling out of the woodwork and all over our social media platforms.
One Eskom dig that made me snigger was the statement: “The ‘E’ in South Africa stands for Electricity”.
However, some people, probably frustrated, just got mean. Not ugly mean, just funny mean …
Picture our country’s president on the phone, and Uncle Cyril says, “Hello? Help desk? I am having problems running my country.”
The voice on the other end of the line responds in typical IT desk fashion, “Have you tried switching it off and on again?”
To which Mr Prez replies, “Yes, twice a day!”
It gets worse. Apparently Satan met up with Gatiep when he visited Cape Town recently and asked, “Do you know who I am?”
“Nay,” says Gatiep. “Giemy a hint.”
Satan replies, “I am the prince of darkness!”
To which Gatiep replies, “O! So jy’s mos die CEO van Eskom!”
But it’s not just Eskom that gets ripped in South Africa. The other day I heard that with petrol up to R20 per litre, it’s cheaper these days to buy cocaine and rather run everywhere instead.
Yep, South Africans are a resilient bunch. Within a heartbeat of something making headlines you can expect the wisecracks to start flowing. I suspect that it’s a defence mechanism, a way of dealing with trauma.
And we need that sense of humour because the current state of affairs is traumatic. The general secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), Zwelinzima Vavi recently said that as far as he can see, the continued load shedding by Eskom is deliberate, with the sinister aim of privatising the energy entity.
Vavi slammed the ongoing rampant mismanagement of the country’s power grid, saying that no economy could survive constant load shedding. He said that more and more businesses were at risk of closing down, meaning that more and more jobs were at risk as a direct result.
He lamented the fact that the power cuts were happening during a time when pupils were preparing for their final exams, adding that the dark streets meant that criminals could operate with more freedom.
I also heard that many homes have had to become automated because of this state of affairs. A friend of mine said that he has a system that seems to be working perfectly. He tells me that all the candles in his house begin burning spontaneously whenever they hear the words, “Ag f**!”
I mean think about it, one day archaeologists are probably going to dig up the ruins of our civilization and come to the conclusion that before South Africans discovered candles, they used to use electricity.
Honestly, I would tell more dry Eskom jokes but, like the power utility, I just don’t have the energy.
Speaking of dry jokes … I sincerely hope that the rumours floating around social media about another protracted water shutdown in Kimberley next week is one of those jokes.
It’s really beyond belief that in SA nothing seems to stay fixed, nothing is maintained and no one seems to care or get into trouble for it.
It’s really tragic slapstick at its best.