What a fork­ing year that was

We coined a word, suf­fered with dis­as­ter vic­tims and said farewell to a states­man, writes Tony Jack­man

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - ISSUES -

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

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