My fore­fa­thers are mum about the fu­ture of my so-called life

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - ARTS -

IN times of great mis­for­tune and un­cer­tainty, it is an African tra­di­tion to con­sult your an­ces­tors and ask them to show you the way for­ward.

In the time of Zuma, we have had mis­for­tune in spades. These are also times of great un­cer­tainty. This is a good thing. If you’re com­pla­cent in your job or com­fort­able in your mar­riage, you need to up­set that ap­ple cart and get with the times.

For­get cer­tainty. It will stab you in the back as soon as sleep with you. Trust me. I speak as some­one who knows these things. I have sur­vived one di­vorce and am gath­er­ing my coins and gird­ing my loins for an­other.

That’s on a per­sonal level. Pro­fes­sion­ally, I con­tinue suck­ing on the tat­tered rem­nants of a on­ce­promis­ing ca­reer in the me­dia.

To be fair to my­self, though, I should point out the printed me­dia be­gan de­rail­ing about the same time as I did, thanks to dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion and po­lit­i­cal­i­sa­tion.

Change is in the air. Cli­mate change. Regime change. Don’t be left be­hind. It’s a new year. Shed your old life and start anew.

Sure, it might end in a home­less shel­ter. But it might not. Come on, come and gam­ble with me, the odds are bet­ter than any­thing you’ll find at the Sun­coast Casino.

So, the chal­lenge for me, apart from catch­ing the waiter’s eye, is to find my an­ces­tors. Maybe de­fine them, first. I think it ex­cludes par­ents. You can’t go from mother to an­ces­tor in the blink of an eye. Even grand­par­ents might be push­ing it.

If you’ve met them, they aren’t proper an­ces­tors. From where I’m sit­ting, and I use the word sit­ting loosely, an­ces­tors are peo­ple who died be­fore you could get the chance to thank them for their con­tri­bu­tion to­wards mak­ing you the ge­netic mir­a­cle you are today. By “thank” I ob­vi­ously mean “stran­gle”.

I’ve al­ways been a bit sub­nor­mal when it comes to grasp­ing fam­ily re­la­tion­ships. Any­thing be­yond un­cle and my eyes glaze over, my mouth falls open and my heart rate plum­mets.

If some­one tries to ex­plain how my aunt’s brother’s cousin is re­lated to me, I am clin­i­cally dead be­fore they can fin­ish.

When I think of my an­ces­tors, I think Cro-Magnon. Not so much up­per class as lower Pa­le­olithic. I imag­ine them in skins but only be­cause I can’t bear to imag­ine them naked. Per­haps I’m go­ing too far back.

As a white South African, I have no tra­di­tions other than those in­volv­ing the den­i­gra­tion and ex­ploita­tion of black peo­ple.

Sadly, those days are over and now there are no tra­di­tions I can call my own. Braai­ing, per­haps.

Even then, there are dark­ies who will claim they were cook­ing meat over open fires long be­fore white peo­ple were in­vented. It’s out­ra­geous.

Look, I’m quite happy to rat­tle the bones and com­mu­ni­cate with my an­ces­tors if it means get­ting an in­di­ca­tion of what I should do with what re­mains of my so-called life.

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the liv­ing doesn’t seem to help much at all. Might as well try the dead.

The prob­lem is I can’t af­ford to get to the graves of my an­ces­tors. It would mean go­ing to Italy, Eng­land, Aus­tralia and the Nether­lands for a start. Those are just the ones I know about.

Euro­peans spread their seed like wild­fire in the early days. I’m sur­prised I didn’t turn out Catholic.

I’m a bit ashamed to say that

I just googled Where Do White Peo­ple Come From? What a mis­take. I was dragged from Ge­n­e­sis to rev­o­lu­tions, from Aus­traloids to Cau­ca­soids, from the Semites to the Hamites, from the Third Re­ich to the Fourth Ex­tinc­tion.

I could go on, but it’s too de­press­ing. It turns out that white peo­ple are lit­tle more than a con­cept.

Any­way. That’s enough about white peo­ple. In a few hun­dred years ev­ery­one will be brown.

Or dead.

I can’t do a global tour of my an­ces­tors’ graves, but I do need some di­rec­tion, so I’m go­ing down to the bot­tom of my gar­den.

There are bones there. Chicken and mut­ton, mainly. They must know a thing or two with the ben­e­fit of hind­sight. Watch your back.

Don’t trust hu­mans. Keep your head down. That sort of thing.

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