The Citizen (Gauteng)

SA delirious over #ImStaying


Aren’t we all just basking in this rare spell of fabulosity in which South Africa currently finds itself. Apart from that gang of bank robbers sniping from the sidelines, we’re so joyful and loved-up that I barely recognise us.

I even joined that wholesome on-line echo chamber called #ImStaying. It wasn’t easy for me to overlook the missing apostrophe, but I reckoned that if almost a million people can pretend to ignore the horror that surrounds us, the least I can do is turn a blind eye to a minor grammatica­l atrocity.

There is something oddly cultlike about this Facebook group. Of course I’m not suggesting founder Jarette Petzer is up there with Jim Jones or Charles Manson – although it must be said that he was previously an estate agent.

Petzer posted a video thanking supporters and in the background you can hear the three things that encapsulat­e everything that’s wrong with SA – police sirens, hooting taxis and hadedas.

Anyway. I am wary of any movement with more than two rules. #ImStaying has 10.

There are over 70 team leaders, administra­tors, moderators and censors. The followers are known as #Stayers. They even have their own “secret” sign – cross your fingers and tap your heart.

Heavy on the proselytis­ing, it’s underpinne­d by a strong confession­al element. Not so much in the mea culpa department, though. But plenty of happy, shiny people posting about the good things they’ve done or have had done to themselves. The flock responds quickly with praise and “God bless you” becomes a regular refrain. Swearing, threatenin­g people and talking about politics or religion is banned. Pity. These are the things South Africans excel at.

As a twice-divorced journalist, I am not accustomed to people agreeing on anything. It makes me uneasy.

Joining #ImStaying is a bit like being inside a fortified city full of rainbows and unicorns and friendly folk hugging one another, while, just out of sight, hordes of grim-faced barbarians gather silently at the gates.

Reading post after post about South Africans committing random acts of decency, one is quickly lulled into a false sense of security. After a while, it’s hard to believe that anyone out there is getting stabbed, shot, robbed or even just plain disrespect­ed.

You have the censors to thank for that. Christo explained why some posts get declined in terms of Rule 6, which concerns religious views.

“Though the post might be of the most beautiful intent, certain key words might induce unwanted commenting ...”

South Africans are easily triggered and verbal carnage must be avoided at all costs. There is quite enough unwanted commenting in this country as it is.

Explaining Rule 3 – no hate speech or bullying – Gopala said SA was a “melting pot of goodness” and urged #Stayers to “contribute sweetly”. Words inappropri­ate to the “goodness of our wonderful people” could lead to blacklisti­ng. I threw up a little in my mouth.

Here are some posts that never made the cut.

#ImStaying because I got stopped at a roadblock and even though I was very drunk the cop was kind enough to give me the choice of being breathalys­ed or paying a spot fine. Also, I don’t have enough money for a holiday in Amanzimtot­i, never mind emigrate.

#ImStaying because when I came out of the pub last night I saw three black men walking towards me. I made the sign of the cross but they thought I was making the sign of Orlando Pirates so they hugged me and shook my hand instead of killing me. Also, all my relatives still live here so I can’t get a family-stream permanent residence visa.

#ImStaying because my daughter bought some groceries for a homeless man and he didn’t show enough gratitude which made her upset and also because they said at the embassy that manicurist isn’t a skilled occupation which is stupid because it is working on the body like a doctor but for nails.

#ImStaying because I had a dream that in June next year Siya Kolisi will take me for his second wife and also because when

I went to the American embassy for a green card they thought I was looking for a job and chased me away so they can sommer f*koff.

#ImStaying because I love the summer thundersto­rms on the Highveld and also my parents are old and need looking after. I don’t even like them and I pray every night that God will take them before I am too old to emigrate.

#ImStaying because while I was waiting for the Springboks at Port Elizabeth airport, my daughter said she couldn’t see and this black woman with braids picked her up and put her on her shoulders and didn’t try to run away with her even though my daughter has perfectly good organs that could be used for muti. And also because my applicatio­n for a 489 visa was rejected thanks to a stupid criminal record for shopliftin­g even though I told the lady that in this country you get rewarded for stealing and here you are punishing me and my child will now probably have her kidneys stolen because of your stupid rules.

#ImStaying becorz I kudden pars the ITLES test or woteva that thing is even tho I writted the test ate times and I donut even no why Inglish are so importint to live in a kuntry what only speeks Ostraylyin.

#ImStaying because I was driving home from visiting my mother and before I could go through the tollgate this black man got out of his car and came to my window. Obviously I thought he wanted to rob me and eat my baby so I locked the doors and screamed for help but nobody was around. The man shouted that he wanted to borrow R10 for the toll. I opened the window a crack and gave him R20. I am thrilled to be alive. It just goes to show that not all black people are the same. But you know, Australia is also full of things that can hurt you.

#ImStaying because the darkies have forgiven us for apartheid and also because I get zero points for being over 55 and anyway I don’t want to live in a country that doesn’t want you just because your back is going and your bum is a bit flabby.

#ImStaying because I live in the most beautiful city in the world (Cape Town) and I love waking up to the sound of seagulls, the crashing of waves and people shouting “Jou ma se p***”. Nowhere else will you find such diversity. We are a wonderful example of how poor and rich can live happily side by side. Well, the poor are on the far side, but you know what I mean. Anyway, I have already lost enough money applying for the Skilled Migrant whatwhat. Go Bokke!

#ImStaying because we can’t imagine living without Beauty. She came into our lives 10 years ago and is irreplacea­ble. I don’t know where I would be without her. Probably sitting at home raising little George, Paulie and the other one. The girl. We could never leave our Beauty behind. We could never take her with us, either. It would be cheaper to find someone else. Maybe a Filipino girl. But we haven’t heard back from the embassy so #ImStaying. For now.

Reading post after post one is quickly lulled into a false sense of security

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