From lah­nee to the cheap seats on Daddy’s day

CityPress - - Voices - Paddy Harper voices@city­press.co.za

Thurs­day. The queue of pun­ters snaking back and forth across the mu­nic­i­pal sports field as they wait to get through the se­cu­rity check­point and into the Free­dom Day cel­e­bra­tions at Man­guzi, KwaZulu-Na­tal, re­sem­bles those on vot­ing day 23 years ago.

On April 27 1994, I was like a lah­nee. Those days, I was part of the Cosatu elec­tion team, so we ar­rived at Oh­lange High School in Inanda, north of Dur­ban, at the tail end of Madiba’s con­voy. We had po­lice guards and the lot. These vot­ers were wav­ing and scream­ing as if Mlu, Bald Thabo and me were im­por­tant. There was no work for us to do there, but there was no way we were gonna be any­where else. We even got to vote there. Like I say, lah­nees.

Back to Free­dom Day 2017. To­day, I’m no lah­nee. To­day, I’m find­ing out how the other half lives. I’m stuck in the queue for the cheap seats – the po­lit­i­cal Ex­tra Strongs. I’ve missed the ac­cred­i­ta­tion dead­line cour­tesy of the grid­lock on the road between Jozini and Man­guzi caused by the mass of hu­man­ity that’s de­scended on the far­thest-flung part of KwaZulu-Na­tal to hear Daddy – that’s Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to you – de­liver his Free­dom Day speech. The cat with my cre­den­tials is in­side and I can’t get through to him. There are 10 000 peo­ple post­ing self­ies on Face­book.

I won­der why Daddy chose Man­guzi. The place is spit­ting dis­tance from Mozam­bique and not ex­actly easy to get to. Maybe be­cause it was eas­ier to fill the sta­dium as there’s not much else to do around here? And it’s eas­ier to keep the boo bri­gade out. There’s also no need for State Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter David Mahlobo to bring the sig­nal jam­mer along. There is no sig­nal.

Back to the queue. It’s not mov­ing. I’m get­ting hun­gry. I ask a com­rade to keep my space. I head off to a flea mar­ket set up across the field. Five min­utes and R10 later, I have two skew­ers of chicken giz­zards. They’re crunchy, juicy and caramelised with spices. I’m guz­zling away as I strain to hear as Daddy starts talk­ing.

My phone rings. It’s the cat with my cre­den­tials. He’s at the check­point. I give one skewer to a mar­shal and run for the main en­trance.

Two min­utes later, I’m of­fi­cial. I’m a lah­nee again. I breeze past the dudes in suits who had bounced my arse. They’re all smiles.

I en­ter the main tent. There’s a wall of black suits. Daddy’s on the plat­form, speak­ing about rapid eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @Pad­dyHarper1

Two min­utes later, I’m a lah­nee again. I breeze past the dudes in suits who had bounced my arse

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