When we have got through this muddled, chaotic period in the life of our country, where the black dog of depression is running wild, I hope someone talented and imaginative will use the current sounds of our lives as inspiration to compose an amazing African symphony, with a choral finale that would serve as our own Ode to Joy, peace and unity. It must be as good as, or even better than the one that old CIS, disabled, white male, foreign composer, what’shisname, produced. 

I’m no musician or classical music aficionada, but surely there’s inspiration to be found in the sounds that punctuate our days and nights. Electrical cables unwinding from a giant spool sound like rhythmic beating drums; the high-pitched peeps of a USP battery running down during power cuts could be emulated by the violin; the steady burble of assorted generators; the short bleep that heralds the return of the light could all be woven into our own stirring new anthem.

I imagine this major New South Africa Part 2 work could be performed by a full orchestra and a 100-member choir carrying battery torches and candles in the ruins of the glass folly of a council chamber on the side of Constitution Hill, Johannesburg and of the burnt-down House of Assembly in Cape Town. In our dotage and our deckchairs, munching our cold pap and wors sarmies, recently elevated to the status of national dish, (the Great Levelling, you know) we will be whisked back into the past. 

It is likely by then we will only recall the good stuff – the camaraderie of the powerless (akin only to struggle days); the Stakhanovite-like achievements of the electrical technician and trench diggers; and, I also note with pleasure, gender-diverse work gangs who kept some of our power up and running some of the time; the unashamed, shared exaltation at the capture of another cable thief or crooked contractor; and our side-splitting laughter at the jaw-dropping lies, lunacies and promises of those we eventually vanquished at great cost to all. 

But it’s a long wait for that future. And there really doesn’t seem to be much that’s good about our present or much that is positive right now. Unless, of course, you are the Good News Guy.

Energetic local Brent Lindeque has made a successful media business out of spreading good cheer, providing positive stories, news of good deeds, homilies, inspirational messages and indomitable perkiness in the morning on a variety of different platforms in South Africa since 2015. Clever him – he identified a consumer need and went for it. 

Other news media desperate to halt the departure of audiences turned off by the relentless presentation of bad news and conflict here and elsewhere are increasingly trying to find a way to stop the slide-away by utilising constructive journalism and find other ways of presenting more positive news. 

With this in mind I have set myself the task of trying to dredge up a few positive things from recent events to offset the bad mood that is widespread in March 2023 South Africa. 

I really couldn’t find much to write home about regards the Great Cabinet Reshuffle that felt as though it had the longest gestation period in shuffle history. To my mind anything else the government does that could possibly have a good outcome is as likely to be a complete stuff up or should have been done a long time ago. The only good thing it could do would be to throw socialism and race discrimination out of the window. Dream on. 

As for the Chair of Eskom Board Mpho Makwana urging us all to celebrate when he relieves us of the more onerous power schedules (at an unknown cost to Eskom and ultimately us, and with no indication of how this was achievable) the less said the better. Talk about tone-deaf politicians.

Andre de Ruyter sticking it to government in his tell-all interview, however,  was a positive development for me, and probably very good for him. It certainly kept us riveted – but it cannot be good news that we have now had it confirmed we are all at the mercy of criminal cartels. 

There was nothing positive about the identification of our former deputy president as the kingpin politician involved in much of Eskom’s corruption. He has been able to simply step down from his official position and toddle off to spend his pension years hunting bears or sailing on whichever oligarch yachts are not yet impounded. It only adds to our misery and feeling of foolishness and being taken for a ride.

The fact that the Economic Freedom Fighters still gets treated as a political party in a democracy while its leaders and members blatantly and purposely contravene the constitution its MPs swore to uphold, and terrorise other citizens, is profoundly depressing. For them evidence of their power to foment panic is a victory in their strategy to bargain with threats for power in government.  

If you are in need of a pick me up, it’s best not to turn on a live parliamentary session. The racial invective interspersed with pure hogwash emitted in the chamber by the ruling party going for broke to hold on to power, plus the obstructionist tactics of the blustering bully brigade skilled in the disruptive ‘point of order’ tactic, will see you reaching for strong medication. If not a revolver.    

So here I am still trying to excavate some positives out of the newsworthy events of recent weeks. Perhaps there’s a gobbet of something positive from our recent ‘home invasion’.

The break-in and theft took place during load-shedding but while we were out of our house. So that is a plus. It was what we South Africans refer to as, ‘it could have been worse’. No one was hurt, not even the dogs, and the criminals only took a television. More fools them, it was an un-smart one, worth less than R2 000.  

I doubt very much if they used any money from its sale to buy food for their starving offspring. 

I did, however, drum up a few positive outcomes from this incident of criminality, apart from the important personal facts that I still have my life and most of my belongings: 

  • The police did turn up after being called by ‘security’, albeit sometime after the event;
  • The fingerprint man did turn up some days later;
  • The investigating officer arrived another day later to get a statement from the neighbour who had witnessed the criminals breaking in and had alerted our private security;
  • The police were also courteous enough to let us know they’d dropped the case because of lack of leads. 

The positive ‘takeaway’ (great business and training bingo word here) for others in all this is that there may still be some semblance of a police service – even if only in the suburbs. We should be able to build on this when we get round to overhauling policing in our New South Africa Part 2.

I also took comfort in the fact that we had an alert neighbour who went on to further help us by finding someone who could repair our front door on a Sunday. 

Another good neighbour welded some extra protection onto our gate. 

I know this is all part of the banking of favours for the future, according to the cynical people who study animal and human interactions and societal behaviour, but it does buoy one up to know that people can still simply be good to each other for no immediate reward. 

Feeling warm and fuzzy yet, a little optimistic? Coming out from under the duvet of depression and despair? No? It’s poor pickings.

To be perfectly frank, the only thing that is truly going to lift my spirits significantly is the knowledge that the African National Congress and the EFF will definitely not be able to cobble together a government that will continue to have power over us. I’m sticking around for that day.

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR.

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Paddi Clay spent 40 years in journalism, as a reporter and consultant, manager, editor and trainer in radio, print and online. She was a correspondent for foreign networks during the 80s and 90s and, more recently, a judge on the Alan Paton Book Awards. She has an MA in Digital Journalism Leadership and received the Vodacom National Columnist award in 2007. Now retired she feels she has earned the right to indulge in her hobbies of politics, history, the arts, popular culture and good food. She values curiosity, humour, and freedom of speech, opinion and choice.