I come not to praise ET but to bury him.Stephen Farah
Synchronicity is really difficult to illustrate. Much like a dream, the images that have real meaning and are evocative for the dreamer, frequently fail to have a similar impact on anyone else who gets to hear the dream.
C. G. Jung coined the term synchronicity to describe events which are meaningfully, but not causally, related. Certain synchronicities occur, which are so bizarre, that even those less so inclined, sit up and take notice. These ones become part of popular folklore.
There are numerous examples of these. One I heard about not long ago, involved the story of Richard Parker. In 1838 Edgar Allan Poe published The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket; In which a cabin boy by the name of Richard Parker is eaten by his desperately hungry shipmates whilst adrift at sea.
Forty years later uncannily similar events surrounded the cannibalistic eating of an actual Richard Parker adrift at sea with desperately hungry shipmates!
There are quite a few other examples of this in the arts, stories that somehow prefigured events occurring in the world. Another example is the book originally titled Futility (later changed to the Wreck of the Titan- for obvious reasons) which was published in 1898 and was the story of the Titanic disaster written before the actual Titanic disaster which occurred fourteen years later in 1912.
So these are fairly obvious and easy to relate to examples of synchronicities, but there are a myriad of synchronicities occurring all the time, some less obvious than others. At the time of the 9/11 Twin Towers disaster, there were many strange coincidences around the event which were reported by conspiracy theorists, and I drew some strange parallels myself between the incident and the biblical Tower of Babel story.
Osama and Obama
Out of all of these my favourite has to be: at the time of the 9/11 incident in 2003 a dark skinned man named Osama was the American public enemy number one. A few years later in 2009, another dark skinned man named Obama became not only president but the appointed saviour of America. Now is it just me or does that not strike you as somewhat bizarre ?
The synchronicities that happen to us personally are the most difficult to communicate the significance of. I think you all know what Im talking about because we all experience them.
Nevertheless, with that qualification formally in place, I would like to share a meaningful synchronicity that occurred for me recently and concerns the current headlines in South Africa.
Julius Malema and the Comedy Road Show
The comedy show known as Julius Malema was, like most South Africans, something I was aware of, but I paid little attention to it, not having much interest in politics beyond the essential. This Malema business came hot on the heels of the recent scare of having Jacob Zuma elected president after the storm of accusations levelled against him from rape to corruption.
Nevertheless Mr. Zuma is now in office and actually seems to me like quite a nice guy, whilst possibly not as groomed or academically qualified as Mr. Mbeki, he seems more accessible and his statements of public policy seem quite sensible, better in many areas than our former president. The next scandal of course was Mr. Zuma philandering, but this was of little personal concern, it was his political agenda that for me is more significant than his personal life. My understanding is he is acting within the constraints and customs of his culture, or so I believe, and as such I am happy for him.
I mean, for Gods sake, all Im trying to do is raise my family and get on with my life! I dont have the time or inclination to deal with all this political bullshit. I (when I say I, you would not be mistaken in reading my wife, remember her, the strict one ) have decided that we are not going anywhere. We are not going to do a runner along with the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions by now (?) of South Africans who have left this beautiful country.
I do not want to live as an ex-patriot displaced in another land. That sounds like shit to me. To live my life in another country, to learn their customs, to have to swallow their collective shadow, to deal with their political and social bullshit- I mean that would be the limit, I can barely take ours. That just sounds kak to me.
I love South Africa; I love Johannesburg, the city that my father and I grew up in; and God help me I love the South African people black and white alike.
Then they killed ET.
ET, the AWB and Avi
Now dont get me wrong Ive got no particular affinity to ET, either the man or the alien. I laughed as hard as anyone when he fell of his horse, or when we heard about his holey white onderbroek (underpants) as he had sex with Jamie Allen on the desk of some office. Im no Dutchman, even if my mother was Afrikaans.
I have to concede that I was partial to his speeches because like the great fascists before him he tapped into an archetype which is emotive and impressive to witness. But I would probably be more inclined to the PAC than the AWB. Long story why, I wont go into it here.
However a week or so before ETs brutal murder I had Brenda and Avi over for a braai. By the way Brenda is the one who told me the Richard Parker story. And around the fire as we braaied the meat, Avi joined Michael and I for a chat.
Michael and I being social mavericks didnt think to invite him; but Avi, being a student of animal behaviour, told us that the women were giving him the look. He didnt mean by this the look that Anja (my strict wife) refers to, which is the look a man gives a woman when he wants to communicate something carnal in nature to her. I dont know much about this look, except that Anja tells me I cant do it and that it is very seductive when done properly. I saw the look used once, co -incidentally by a Parker, and it was impressive .
Bu no ja returning to Avi, this was not the look he was referring to but rather the look that the woman inside gave him from which he was able to deduce that they were questioning his manhood as a result of his sitting inside with the woman when the men were outside braaing. He took the hint and joined us.
Where have all the Icons gone?
Anyway, Michael told Avi about something I posted on my Facebook wall concerning Julius Malemas singing of Dubul iBhunu (Kill the Boer)at political rallies. This was a statement by Ben Geldenhuys, the national secretary of the Verkenners Beweging (scouts movement) who said he would wait for Julius Malema at Fort Schankscop at 12.00 noon on the 19th of March. And that if Malema was so keen to shoot a Boer he should come and shoot Geldenhuys rather than inciting violence against elderly farmers.
I posted this on FB with a stock image of a Boer on a horse, which wasnt actually Geldenhuys, but I was using journalistic licence . Anyway it illustrated the story rather nicely. So we were discussing this and Avi said that this incident was not insignificant. How these kinds of iconic incidents had a profound effect on the collective psyche. And he gave as an example the two incidents around the AWB which had significantly corrupted any credibility they may have previously had.
Specifically he cited the incident of Eugene Terreblanche falling off his horse at a public rally and the public shooting of the unfortunate AWB members who attempted a spontaneous armed intervention into what was then Bophuthatswana. The image of these AWB members being executed by armed members of the Bophuthatswana defence force is still etched into my memory.
So as we all know by now a week or so later ET is hacked to death by farm workers on his farm in Ventersdorp. Now this struck me as a most unfortunate synchronicity following so hot on the heels of the furore around the singing of Dubul iBhunu, the court case around this that the ANC were fighting, Malemas hate speech and the symbolic act of passive resistance by Ben Geldenhuys.
F***k just when I thought things were getting back to normal.
Anyway, what can we do? We have be philosophical and all that kak and get on with it. I mean we blacks and whites, blacks and blacks, whites and whites have been killing each other in this beautiful country for centuries. Its a proud tradition. The earth is stained red with our blood in Africa, why the hell would we stop now?
Bliss for only R270 (about $40)
So I did what we white people do to make ourselves feel better in South Africa. I went to Hyde Park Shopping Centre. I thought it unlikely, not impossible, but unlikely that anyone would hack me to death there. I went to a well known hairdressing salon run by my countrymen, on my dads not my moms side.
Ah finally I thought, bliss. I can just relax and enjoy the hedonistic pleasures of a R270 mens haircut. The washing went well along with the head massage and the piped ambient music. The real joy though, was when I sat down to have my hair cut by Lola. Lola is, contrary to what her name might suggest, a young Afrikaans girl. A girl who speaks the taal (Afrikaans) rather better than the English, but who has real flair in her dress sense, in proud south African tradition her top was low cut and her young Afrikaans bosoms were bursting out of their flimsy restraints.
Yes, I thought as Lola massaged me with her lithe body and cut my already short hair shorter, there are some compensations, this is the life…and so on.
That was until Lola asked, So what do you think about the politious situation?
The politious thing , you know they killed that AVB guy?
Oh yes you mean Eugene Terreblanche?
Yes, you know we get a lot of journalist coming to the salon?
Ja they told us that this situations with the AVB guy is more than it seems.
Ja, what did they tell you?
That it was a conspiratorious murder. That it was too much of a coincidence that Juluses Malamu was in Zimbabwe at the time of the killing. That the boy that killed the AVB guy was only 16 years old but he spoke like a lawyer.
No you kidding me, did they really say that?, I asked, sitting up.
Do you have kids? Lola asked nonchalantly.
How can you bring kids up in a country like this? This twenty year old bimbo asked me, before telling me a long list of personal incidents where she had been the victim or potential victim of a crime. No doubt having no idea how difficult a question this was for any white South African parent.
After that, the conversation fell into background noise as I seriously considered this news. The allure of the hedonistic setting lost much of its appeal as I asked myself what this meant. A conspiracy, was it possible that there was more afoot here than I knew of?
This seemed not only possible but quite probable; I mean what the hell do I know about whats going on. I make it a rule to go nowhere near the newspapers and never watch TV.
The White Tribe of Africa
As I went to my lunch appointment with an old friend, Michael Van Rensburg, an Afrikaner now living on a boat in London, I was in a dwaal (slightly confused). As Michael and I chatted, he told me about the displaced white tribe of Africa. How he goes to the South African bars in London, with names like Aardvark and watches these angry young Afrikaners get vrot dronk (slightly inebriated).
As Michael spoke I hardly noticed the unusual fact that during the space of the lunch I met three of my former clients from my days as a Personal Trainer at the Sandton Biokinetic Centre; a training facility on the other side of town and a time in my life which ended five or six years ago.
Whats wrong, Michael asked eventually, used to seeing me distracted and animated by the gorgeous South African woman invariably present when one lunched at Hyde Park, rather than glum and pensive as I clearly was today.
It broke my heart to tell him. Here in front of me was the verraaier (betrayer) in the flesh. He was somewhat wounded from his travels to that far off land, the home of the Queen and all that, but none the less here was the very individual that represented everything I stood against. He had f**ked off and left the country of his birth.
And he was telling me how he felt displaced, a nomad, and how he longed for home. (He was only in SA on a short visit). How England was kak and the NHS was on the verge of bankruptcy. Lekker (this is good) I thought, serves you fokken right for doing a runner.
But the incredible irony is he was telling me how cool South Africa is.
Ja, Michael said, the people in Wakkerstroom, where he was visiting a friend, hardly reacted to the Terreblanche thing. Another farm murder, nothing more nothing less. A couple years ago I think this could have been the stuff of revolutionary talk, especially in a place like Wakkerstroom.
I cant believe how much good will there is in this country. Where ever I look, I see construction. England is on the verge of bankruptcy, theyve been ripping the world off for so long, but now theres no more money to steal.
Ja Michael, listen I got to tell you whats worrying me, I said eventually, and proceeded to tell him about the apocryphal tale I had heard from Lola the hairdresser.
Ja that is worrying if its true, Michael conceded, well I tell you what, lets just keep an eye on the exchange rate. That will tell you in a heartbeat if there is something really sinister going on.
You know what?! I said in a moment of clarity, I have a very good friend of mine, coincidently someone I used to train in the old days at Sandton Biokinetic Centre (the same place that I became real friends with Michael, who had also been a client of mine at the time), Patrick Conroy. He is head of the News at ETV. I swear to God Im going to call him. If anyone knows whats going on it will be him. I havent spoken to him for years, but Im sure Ill be able to get hold of him.
Considering the topic closed Michael moved on. He told me his plan was to preach to the Afrikaners, having concluded that he himself is as Afrikaans as Biltong (beef jerky, just tastes better). What are you going to preach I asked? I am going to tell them they belong here in Africa.
Are you planning to come back then? I asked.
No, Ill do it from London; God knows there are enough Afrikaners there.
A Fortuitous Co-Incidence
After we said our goodbyes, I walked out of Woolworths on my way to the Seattle Coffee Company to go and do a bit of writing.
Hey Stephen! I heard a voice call out. Turning to see who it was, up walked Patrick Conroy with his hand extended!
Patrick, howzit man! I cant believe Ive just bumped into you like this. I swear to God I was talking about you a minute ago!
Patrick laughed, Good to see you. How you doing?
Ja okay…listen Patrick I want to ask you something. You know this whole Eugene Terreblanche thing. Can you tell me whats really going on? I mean between us, off the record. I know about Malema being in Zim when the murder happened, is there something more to this thing?
You mean is there some kind of a conspiracy?
Yes, I answered anxiously.
No theres no conspiracy, Patrick laughed, seeing how worried I was. Its an unfortunate coincidence happening at the time of the Kill the Boer issue, but its no conspiracy. There no political gain in killing Terreblanche. He wasnt a force to be reckoned with; his time had already passed long ago.
Wow I cant tell you how happy I am to hear you say that, I said beaming at this serendipitous synchronicity.
And that is a wrap as they say, thats my story.
What does all this mean, you ask?
I really dont know what it means in any big politious sense, my brothers and sisters.
What I can tell you is what it meant for me.
It meant another day of being in South Africa and believing that ultimately things will turn out okay.
That this land of my birth where my forefathers spilt their blood, where my father and his friends fought for a new dispensation during the apartheid years, where we braai on a Sunday and where the most beautiful woman on the planet reside, this land where the earth is stained blood red, where God created Eden, where my children were born and where my heart is, would be my home for at least at little while longer.
Or thats what I prayed for anyway and that what neither Eugene Terreblanche nor Julius Malema, despite their admittedly impressive efforts have been able to rob me of. Not yet anyway.
God Bless South Africa.