My elderly high school maths teacher would’ve branded them something he reserved for me: “You fool, you idiot, you ass!” I’m referring to the halfwits who decided to change place names as if it’s the most important element in the lives of those who were relegated as non-entities.
I bet you a pound to a pinch of a politician’s puny braincell they hadn’t consulted with the ones they claim to represent. Were there any public meetings held to hear whether their plan had any merit, and whether it would improve the lives of those residing in dire communities? Would it have meant they would at last be recognised as a nation?
Had the do-gooders done so, the questions from the floor would’ve killed the plan stone dead.
“How would the name change benefit us?”
“Easy one,” laughs the chairman, “It would immediately get your pride back”.
“Well, for starters, the welcome sign on entering your town will fill you with pride”.
“That’s if we can afford transport to get to town. Three quarters of the folk are out of work, so they’ll probably never see the sign”.
The chairman coughs nervously, and changes the subject.
“Tourists visiting our town will see the sign boards all along the way, and guides will tell of your rich history. You’ll be on the map. And think of the lolly they’ll bring into the town”.
“Tourists? What tourists? We’re still in lockdown, so no international visitors. But during the normal years, the city had plenty of tourists, but we’ve never smelt any of the mali they spent here”.
The questions from the floor came thick and fast, not allowing the chairman a word in. “Where are the promised houses?” “We’re still without running water”. “And still no electricity – we’re using stoves running on paraffin we can’t afford”. “Toilets? We’re even running out of long drops”. Schooling is still under trees”. “Roads are so bad even donkey carts can’t cope with the potholes”. “Our hospitals are too far to get to, and when we do arrive, there aren’t enough staff and beds to cope”.
The chairman and his cronies would’ve belatedly come to realise the name change meant zilch to a struggling community, first under apartheid and now under the ANC.
My math teacher would’ve had a field day.
And hey! At least I’ve met my match.
*The opinions expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily of the publisher, Group Editors.