Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Drunk driver about to plunge SA down cliff

 A brilliant article in the Sowetan by Prince Mashele


Before they reached this near-fatal point, the passengers had been arguing noisily about their drunken driver.
Some tried to convince others that, drunk as he was, the driver could still be trusted. The argument was that the claim that drunken people cannot drive is a ploy by teetotallers who want to monopolise cars.
When it all started, many of the passengers who believed that a drunken driver is a danger to road users did not have the courage to express their feelings. They feared being shouted down by the other side, the rowdy crowed that looked forward to a joyful ride with their drunken friend.
As the car kept on swerving and swerving, nearly hitting an embankment, a tree and bridge, some among the passengers decided to speak out. They told the other fellows that the driver would eventually crash the car, and that they would all die.
A few among those who had been praising the drunken driver began to change their minds, and apologised to their fellow passengers for trying to have society believe that a drunken man can be a reliable driver.
Humans being what they are, even in the face of grave danger silly arguments never stop. And so, passengers in the swerving South African car continued to argue. By the grace of the Lord, the inevitable kept being postponed.
It got to a point where almost all in the car realised that those who had been warning about the dangers of a drunken driver were in fact right. But some still could not bring themselves to say: "Yes, you were right."
Arguments could still be heard from dodgy voices who, even when the car was about to overturn, tried to make others believe the accident was due not to the driver, but to counter-revolutionary gales and treacherous potholes.
As for the driver: he was smiling and half-asleep, drooling from the side of his mouth. Not even the rough bumps could awaken him.
The smile seemed to suggest that the drunk driver was dreaming of himself as the best driver in the world, fully in charge and in control. In his dreams, everything was fine.
The longer the car continued down this fateful road, the more petrified the passengers became. Some among them entertained the idea of jumping from the backseat to grab the steering wheel themselves. But others advised that such an action would be even more dangerous.
Almost all the passengers knew that even though it is dangerous for passengers to try and take over an out-of-control car, the drunken driver posed just as serious a danger.
The feeling was one of hopelessness, fatalism. There was no chance of rescue - neither from passengers nor the idiot at the wheel.
To be trapped in such a mental space is truly painful. The gift of consciousness that the good Lord bestowed upon us humans always makes us want to exercise control.
The reason why billions of us in the world go to church is because the idea of roasting in hell without the possibility of escape does not give us mental peace. Even in the afterlife we want to have control.
A heaven paved with gold, a paradise whose rivers are full of milk instead of dirty brown water, is where most of us want to end up after death - a place where we will have control.
A car driven by a drunken driver that is swerving from one side of the road to the other is unsettling precisely because it makes passengers feel that they have lost control, the thing we humans don't want to lose - in life and beyond.
This is why most South Africans today feel deep anguish. Our country is like a car driven by a smiling drunken driver, a buffoon who cannot comprehend the damage caused by his actions.
Each day brings a new scandal. It never ends. The most disturbing thing is that nobody knows where we are going, or how it will all end. That the end will be nasty we can all sense. Zimbabwe - who knows?
We have now entered the ugliest phase of African politics, the stage where the big man in power unleashes law enforcement agencies to torment political enemies.
Typically in Africa, an opposition politician - or some other "enemy" - would be arrested while the president is travelling abroad on some official business. This is meant to dupe stupid citizens into believing that the big man is not part of the dirty plot.
The question all patriotic South Africans must answer is: How do we save our country? Or, will we just roll down the cliff?

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