You’ll walk into them on the streets of the world. Some might even be friends of yours. But they are out there. Everywhere. And they lie each and every day. You ask them a question. And they lie. Lie through their teeth. Oh, they’ll tell you it’s the truth. And you’ll believe them. Because it sounds so convincing. But I know their little secret. And I am telling.
Make no mistake. This isn’t about politics. This isn’t about race. This isn’t about the old South Africa or the new South Africa. It’s not about the flag. The anthem. Or even Madiba. This is something much more fundamental than that. It goes to the core of who we are. All of us. It’s what makes us South African. Oh, we will tell you it’s about being so proud of being South African. How we are one. Or not. How great we are. How unique we are. But that’s not it. Not even close.
Ask them what do they miss. What do they miss from South Africa. What do they really miss about home. No wait. That’s too wide and open. Too many things for them to lie about. Be a bit more specific. Here’s a few questions you can ask and the answers they will give you. I’ll give you the real answer behind the answer. Our little dirty secret.
Ask them what do they miss about South African sport. You’ll get a few answers. The men will narrow their eyes and go into a trance. The memories. You can see the memories in their expression. A little smile will develop. Maybe even a little chuckle. And then they’ll say, “Cricket”.
But it isn’t cricket. That’s just a game lasting five days and still no result guaranteed. Baseball minus the Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens steroid specials. Real men swing the willow. At Newlands. But that’s not it. That’s not what they miss. Not really.
They miss the boerewors rolls fresh of the skottel. Sitting under the Oaks and the boys having a boerie braai. The smell and smoke hanging thick in the air. You can hardly see the guys playing out on the field. But who cares. You don’t watch them in any case. It’s not as if Gary Kisten will all of a sudden become Kuiper and start hitting the ball all over the park. No. Gary is a boerie man and knows that the best way to get it right is take your time and stick to the basics. Oh, you might get some fancy dude with chipolatas or pure beef sausages. But that’s as unorthodox as Gogga bowling – like a frog in a blender. No. what they miss isn’t the cricket. What they miss is a boerie with Mrs Ball’s chutney. That’s what they really miss.
They might say they miss, “Rugby“. And they’ll say it with a deep voice and fire in their eyes. They’ll straighten up and tell you that rugby is a man’s game. A real man’s game. Not this American football made for wusses – part wimp and part pussy. With the pads and the protective gear. Haha. Silly boys. Can’t handle the punishment hey? No. That’s not what they really miss though. Not even a nice day at Newlands with the boytjies. Not even close.
What they really want is biltong and vodka injected oranges. Biltong. That nice prime beef dried to perfection with a bit of spicing. Just a little. And you slice it with your pocketknife. Into thin little slices while watching the manne play with the oval ball in the park. Jumping up and pointing your piece of biltong at the stupid ref who always favours the other side. The ref. Always on the side of the Blou Bulle – and us Province guys always suffer. But the biltong will only last for the first half. Because the second half needs something stronger. Some nice juicy cold vodka injected oranges. Lots of vodka. And you go through your bag of oranges as quickly as possible. Because the last few is meant for the ref. They make nice projectiles to chuck at the dude in yellow out there. Only problem is that by the time you decide to start chucking the oranges you struggle to focus on the dude on the field. And it’s much easier to hit the guy in light blue jersey just a few rows in front of you. The Blou Bulle dude. It makes a nice little splashing sound as it hits him just behind his bak ore. A scuffle ensue…
Or maybe the guy will say he really misses watching soccer. Most likely Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates. Yes, being an Amakhosi or The Happy People supporter is like having piles in South Africa. Every second asshole has got one. The mighty ones taking on one another. Families divided. But play they must. Of course it has to be at the FNB. 80,000 packed shoulder to shoulder on plastic bucket seats. But no. That’s not where they sit and watch. They are in the townships. All over the country. Back in Khayamandi in my hometown. The fires are burning and the televisions and radios blaring – all tuned in on the soccer. The big game. But that’s not really what they miss.
No. What they miss is the Castle Lager. Back in the shebeen with the boys. Drinking a quart. It slides down your throat. The nectar of God. The gift from Charles Glass. Man. Genius. Castle Lager. Not the wimpy water they call Bud over in the US. Or XXXX in Australia. No. Real beer. Real lager. Somewhat dry. Somewhat bitter. Never sweet. Aaah. Castle Lager. That’s what they miss.
But it’s not just sport. Ask them about the people. Ask them about their home. Ask them about the sea. And the mountain. And summer. And winter. Their family. They’ll just tell you more lies.
Oh, they miss the smell of the sea. The smell of the Indian Ocean or the Atlantic when they wake up. The rolling of the waves. The golden beaches of Durban. Or the white sands of Cape Town. But it’s all bull. They don’t really like the sticky, salty water. Or the sand always getting in your clothes – places where you really don’t want them to be. That’s not what they miss.
They miss the fish. Especially snoek. The debates that go on about the best way to braai a snoek – with some appelkoos jam or just a bit of lemon juice and butter. But always brushes regularly. And slice it open and braai the skin side first. Oh, the taste and smell of snoek on the braai. And then the snoek sammies the next day. That’s what they miss. Not the sea and the waves and the smells. It’s the snoek.
And it’s not the people. The smiling faces and loud talking. The fun-in-the-sun people. The moaning and the bitching. The languages and accents. The stories and jokes. The Rainbow Nation. A bit of everything. Land of plenty. Land of diversity. Land of people. Real people. And the bear hugs and waving in the streets. The firm handshakes and kisses hello. The greeting of people you don’t know but see on the streets. The wit and jokes. No. That’s not what they miss.
They miss the Simbachips and Coke and Sparletta flavours. You can find it in any store. Our streets food. Not made on the streets. Just made for the streets. Simba with the variety to match our people. Simba. Mmmm. Simba flavours. Chakalaka. Chutney. Smoked Beef. Mexican Chilli. Salt and Vinegar. And don’t forget the Nik Naks. Mmm. Simba. It Roarrswith flavour. So true. And they want their Coke made with cane sugar. Real coke. And Iron Brew. And Sparletta Sparberry and Creme Soda and Pine-Nut. The flavours of our nation. Something for everyone. And don’t forget the Stoney. Never forget the Stoney. That’s what they miss.
And it’s not the mountains they miss. Our beautiful Table Mountain. They’ll tell you they miss the mountain. Our mother mountain. And the tablecloth that goes with that. The little cloud hanging over the mountain. Ready for us to admire and stare at. The long walks on the slopes of the mountain. Walking along her beautiful curves and drinking from her stream. The picknicks on the slopes. But that’s not what we miss. No. Not at all.
What we miss is eating our Marmite sammies when we sit at our picnics. Nice thick slices of homemade bread with a thick layer of Flora or Rama. And an even thicker layer of Marmite. Good gooey Marmite. The real black gold. And not that stuff the Aussies use – Vegemite. That’s for vegetables. We want our Marmite to go with our picnic. Maybe one with Pecks– but that is really for a toastie breakfast or late night snack. And we want our Safari dried fruits when we walk the slopes. But not just any Safari dried fruits. No. It must be the squares. The sugar covered squares. I like the red ones. That’s what we really miss.
And we’ll tell you it’s all about our family. How we miss our family. Our family in our homes. Our blood. And our sisters and brothers. Mothers and fathers. And cousins and nephews. And neighbours and friends. Our family. The big family. The loud family. Getting together and sharing stories. Kids running around and climbing trees. And the laughing and hugging. An ou boethere and naai man there. The voices of our family. The love of our family. Bah! That’s not what we miss. No.
What we miss is the fire burning and the tjops on the braai. Not the family. They will eat our tjops. We’ll give them the putu and the potjie. Because we can make lots of that. Lots and lots. But the tjops. Those dear, dear tjops. With a splash of Marina braai salt. That we can’t share. Too valuable. It was made with love just for our arteries.
And we want our bobotie in winter and cheap ice-lollies in summer. And our Top Deck and Flake when we watch television. Our beskuit with crap coffee. Our koe(k)sisters with tea. Our LiquiFruit juice with breakfast. Next to our vetkoeke. Or pannekoeke.
See the lies we tell? We act all respectable. We make as if we are so sharp. With our cute, foreign accents. But we are shallow people. For us home is all about our food.
We are easy to seduce. Show us a piece of biltong and we will sell our souls. Give us a boerie and we’ll be loyal to the end. Promise us a packet of Simba and we are yours forever. But be warned. Never threaten our food. Take away our braai and the world will burn. Threaten our snoek and you will drown in your own pain. Dip our biskuit and we will unleash hell.
We are shallow people. We live for our food. And survive on the memories of smells and taste. We love our food. More than we love life itself. We are silly, silly people. Food makes us who we are. And we love our food.
And everything that goes with it.
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