Tomorrow, President Thabo Mbeki will be delivering his State of the Nation Address in Cape Town. Obviously, for a president with a soft spot for poetry he will be charming everyone with his long address. We thought it will be interesting if he can consider the following letter of demands in the preparation of his speech and maybe address the complainants directly, who are scattered in different provinces far from the pomp of Cape Town.
Five years ago, as it had become a ritual to hustlers like myself, I pilgrimed to Jozi. Reason? To try to grasp the attention of some fat cats with phat chequebooks, get them liking what I think and give me a commissioning brief. As usual, I booked into a sleazy hotel which was primarily a boudoir but a shrine to me. Every time I visited that hotel, which was proof enough that some things never change, immediately after I had familiarized myself with the smell of burning rubber which was strong when walking down the corridor, I bowed down and begged my Father, the One who cared'
"God bless the hustler and pave way for me. Show light to all my ghetto brothers and sisters whose chances of knocking cash this year equal finding water on the desert. God, help them navigate their path of salvation and find employment. Give them clean drinking water, food and a reason not to thug, Amen".
So, you can say I loved all hustlers, like the brother I met at The Bridge selling newspapers. Kaffir was so humble I fancied tipping his black as mine hustling ass, but can you believe that kaffir couldn't take my crisp R10 note as a tip? I thought that maybe he couldn't take something coming from someone who looked like him, black, or perhaps poor. I also thought about how as a youth in the seventies, especially in 1976 every politician would have liked to know his name and what his aspirations were. But hey, it was 2002 and it seemed that nobody cared since nobody wanted him to sacrifice his life in a war against UNITA far away from home.
Young kaffirs is all alone these days and it takes guts and skills to stay real when hunger is your only friend. When the contrast between Sandton and Alexandra is so obvious that the only time you learn that grass and water have an aromatic smell is when you are in Sandton City while back in the ghetto, water smells like shit and tall grass is where you were conceived.
The youth is a species on the verge of extinction unless someone gives it reason to survive. Don't we fill the prisons, the morgues, the hospital casualty wards, front pages of Daily Sun and drug rehabilitation centres simply because the only friend that cared to comfort me when everybody else abandoned me was my spliff and a pint of Romanoff? You say I'm menace to society and arrange me a group session? Why do they treat the symptom and not the cause? The cause is unemployment and the pain of looking my family in the eyes everyday while they reminisce about the thousands they spent on me at the expense of my siblings. Why do I smoke weed and cuss a lot? Why do I sip Romanoff and not Jack Daniels? Because the Russians who supported our liberation struggle when we were still the in-thing in 1976 made their vodkas so cheap that when the chimurenga was finally declared over we the youth must find solace in their spirits.
Mr. President, I and my peers are lost, please give us reason to cast our votes for your successor in two years time when we will be needed again. We do support your challenge that we should focus on creating our own jobs instead of running around with CVs that are not worth the paper they are printed on. Five years ago we supported your call to volunteer, but at some stage we should also have seen some incentives coming our way. Even volunteers get hungry, remember that. Don't feed us with rhetoric that we are the future if we can't be a part of today, irrespective of the fact that we were very much a part of yesterday.
Some of us don't even have aspirations of tomorrow when we can have today, please, give us today.
Where I'm coming from young men who have just come of age usually pack their bags every January, pitch for Jo'burg to find employment and that ever elusive piece of gold. Who can believe that after all these years they still believe that there is a pot of gold at Gold Reef City or somewhere at Carlton Centre? When they catch the Mainline train and City to City bus in packs like soldiers returning to the border they have all these visions of bliss and decadence as usually portrayed in Tourism manuals marketing Johannesburg as the next Valhalla.
It might sound naive, but the plus is that they are hustling. They realise that there is a war out there and they are pitching for a front-line trench, irrespective of how stupid their tactics are. Politicians and trade unions are not creating an environment conducive to massive foreign investment. Banks refuse to fund business proposals by black youth. I can't for the life of me understand why they can't open a mere bank account for the youth.
The youth have heard stories about June 16, 1976 and Umkhonto WeSizwe. They've been told about the Joe Slovo and the June 16 Detachments. Their new war is for personal enrichment and it has nothing to do with MK and any politician that claims to be out to enrich them. It's their war and they are the soldiers. Why is there nothing to learn from MK and other conspiracy forces, you may ask?
Okay, because MK remains a mythical army that only existed in the mindset of the top African National Congress leadership and the die-hard rank and file. Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) will go down in history as two men and a fax machine who hated settlers with a passion. Azanian National Liberation Army (AZANLA) is best remembered as a bunch of student activists who managed to get their hands on an assortment of Eastern Bloc fatigues and wore them proudly during political marches.
They only existed in people's wildest hallucinations. Their tactical, war-readiness and combat preparedness were never tested on the battlefield. They are just relic rag-tag armies which the closest one could get to them was through their nicely choreographed party produced propaganda videos of bad visual quality which's main objective was to hype the supremacy of a group of men and women who most have never fired a single shot in combat. The first time most of them fired shots was when they were told that Nelson Mandela was going to be released and some in 2002 when they heard that Jonas Savimbi had caught fifteen slugs. Execution-style, for God's sake.
This might sound funny, bad and downright insulting to our former liberation movements but it won't be making any funny sense when civil disobedience and unrest of Argentinean proportions engulfs this country, because today we all full of humour, cracking smiles and shit, but one of these days we gonna go crazy because the fat cats at Government Avenue seem not to care.
The new war does not require the influence or a set up similar to that which shook at the face of the enemy, which's legacy is still in question. No need for collective coward mentality and empty promise-making similar to that of long term jail-birds. We've got nothing to learn from politicians who seem to have forgotten who the real liberators of this country are.
That's why I love all you guys who are selling newspapers, taking photos at Joubert Park and anywhere else, hawking, making music, running side-walk barber shops, distributing pamphlets, the young fishermen in the coastal front-line, DJs, and all you boys and girls waking up every morning and bravely facing a new day with hope that it will bring with it blessings. Keep on perusing Junk/Job Mail, forget the stupid suggestion by COSATU and friends of a R100 handout every month to every one of us. If that kaffir at The Bridge couldn't take my R10, how could we have brought ourselves to collectively queuing for ten times that much? We don't need handouts and welfare dependence but a meal ticket. Growing up in the '80's, wasted on benzine and glue we all had visions of living in luxury, how we ended up like these, caged and hopeless, beats me to this day.
PS. To the politicians; While we try hard not to appear as self-appointed judges of your behaviour we however can not sit back and encourage you to destroy yourselves the same way we watched you create yourself and rise out of the dark smoke of burning tyres in our dusty streets to the level you're at right now. We're not about to let your reckless rebellion from what we once collectively believed in pass off as political license or expression because we can't see what is it that you are trying to express. We can't find any social or political statement in your unguided madness pertaining to everything from the issuing of retrovirals to unemployment. Five years ago Finance Minister Trevor Manuel spoke about solidarity, we embrace it but it seems you guys and the business sector are not aboard with us.

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