What a forking year that was
We coined a word, suffered with disaster victims and said farewell to a statesman, writes Tony Jackman
of the Waterkloof air base for the landing of a chartered flight carrying 270 wedding guests.
Earlier in the year, in Manhattan, I had sauntered from the hotel to Times Square and looked up at the gaudy billboard above ABC’s Good Morning America studio. An electronic news stream tickered across and I nearly fell over when I read: “Oscar Pistorius arrested on murder charge”. Nothing could have been less likely. We watched as the incredible drama unfolded, saw images of the beautiful Reeva Steenkamp burned into TV screens everywhere, shook our heads bewildered as it sunk in: could he have done that?
In a year in which the Gupta extravagance and the Pistorius shocker had been hurled at us, we were perfectly primed to handle what came next: poo. Chucked at us from all sides. By “poo protesters” forked off with DA service delivery in the Western Cape (even as the ANC battles with service delivery in provinces it runs). And watched by Jacob Zuma from his vantage point in Nkandla, a name that has seared itself into our psyche and our history. It seemed Zuma would get away without paying anything of the R208m upgrades to his Nkandla spread in KwaZulu-Natal, not even the “fire pool” which (unlike other people’s swimming pools, generally used for swimming in) is in fact a security measure so that in the event of a fire, people can drown in the pool instead of burning alive. As for families next door ostensibly being “moved” for fear they might be a security threat, can this facility not be extended to all citizens? The headboard-banging at all hours from the newlyweds at Number 7 is affecting our sleep very badly, and we’re sick and tired of the smell of badly seasoned stew from Number 2.
But it fell to elsewhere in Africa to wipe the smiles off our faces. Uganda’s “Kill the Gays Bill” (actually the Anti-Homosexuality Bill) was passed in mid-December, making this story an early contender to become one of the big stories of the new year.
We close, of course, with thoughts of the story of 2013 that we would have done anything to have avoided, while knowing that we’re relieved his suffering is over. Madiba left us, as we long knew he would, and the world mourned with us, and we with them.
BLUNT: Mzwandile Masina
TEFLON: President Jacob Zuma
MAN FROM UNCLE: Kim Jong-un
JAILED: Bradley Manning
VEILED: Samantha Lewthwaite
SURVIVED: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
DISCLOSED: Edward Snowden