The mad ad­ven­tures of a man who does not ex­ist

Paddy Harper

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His Majesty:

Zulu Blonde:

Tues­day. The Croc and I are sweat­ing buck­ets. Again. This time around, it’s not be­cause we’re wait­ing for the Com­man­der in Chief. Or His Majesty.

We’re on a common or gar­den mis­sion in Zu­l­u­land to make new en­e­mies. The heat is scorch­ing. The air is parched. There’s hardly any oxy­gen and the ef­fects of the drought in the area – and another wastrel week­end – aren’t help­ing. By about 3pm, we’ve had enough and head for some shade.

We take cover at the George Ho­tel in Eshowe. The George has lots of shade. And the Zulu Blonde, a pretty damned fine beer brewed on site, is a great an­ti­dote to the Zu­l­u­land heat all by it­self. We hit the ve­randa. The shade is so cool it tastes like a long, cold glass of wa­ter. It’s ban­gin’.

Richard Chen­nells, the man be­hind the Zulu Blonde, is lurk­ing on a couch, duck­ing the heat. Next to him is Peter Eng­blom. Eng­blom’s a mad bas­tard, a master forger and artist of dis­tinc­tion who lives and works at The George when he’s not hav­ing ad­ven­tures and mak­ing art in Goa, In­dia.

Eng­blom has trans­formed the ho­tel. Ev­ery pos­si­ble space is oc­cu­pied with his Pho­to­shop art, which tells the tale of the trav­els of his al­ter ego, the leg­endary Dr Mpunzi Shezi.

Shezi is the in­ven­tor of rocket mail, among other things, and a ma­hogany and brass vi­bra­tor with pound­ing and ro­tary move­ment with which the ladies of the Eshowe dis­trict had their “hys­te­ria” treated. Like I say, Eng­blom’s a mad bas­tard. One thing leads to another and we end up in Eng­blom’s stu­dio un­der the bar at the back of The George. The space is as mad as its oc­cu­pant. There are boxes of rub­ber stamps, match­box cov­ers, post­cards and of­fi­cial doc­u­ments with which Eng­blom au­then­ti­cates the de­tail of Shezi’s fan­tasy world. There are piles of old doors and win­dows with which Eng­blom frames his work.

Eng­blom’s on song. He’s re­gal­ing us with tales of Dr Shezi, who’s on his way back to Goa with Eng­blom next week. The Croc’s in stitches.

Eng­blom’s also pre­par­ing five pieces from his lat­est Shezi range, Zooloo Vin­daloo, for an ex­hi­bi­tion in Re­union. Eng­blom’s rum­mag­ing through the boxes, se­lect­ing Pondicherry stamps, post­cards and the like to es­tab­lish the links be­tween the for­mer French colony and Dr Shezi, the in­ven­tor of rocket pow­der.

In min­utes, Eng­blom’s worked his magic, cre­at­ing com­pletely con­vinc­ing ev­i­dence of some­thing that never was.

The in­cred­i­ble ad­ven­tures of a nonex­is­tent man are tak­ing place right be­fore our eyes.

Com­man­der in Chief:

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma

King Good­will Zwelithini

A beer brewed in Eshowe, KwaZu­luNatal

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