The story of the Mpumalanga News bosberaad actually starts a few weeks earlier when a communique is circulated pertaining to the impending annual strategic planning session. Call it a moment of introspection - inward looking or bonding session even though as proven by former sessions the only bonding happens over rotten grapes or glucose and no sticky yicky-yicky (oohhwee!). That's cuz I think the other makhulubaas will freak out if his K9 nostrils senses purple haze contaminating the serenity of these retreats we have come to be familiar with during our outings.
Okay, the day before the beraad I have my own revelations about the hidden talents of some of the staff members. Lungile, a poet? Wow! 'Lord have mercy Father help us all'. This certifies something Kgafela oa Magogodi said a few years a go that the rate at which poets creep out of the woodwork you can spit your spittle in any direction when in Yeoville and you can be sure it will land on a poet. Now, you can do the same at the Mpumalanga News newsroom and you are likely to land it on Teddy, who is a poet, Owen who is rather an intellectual, Sam, who is supposed to be wrestling David Kau's crown, Happy, who sings so well after seven pints of an alcoholic drink and who pretends to love a team occupying position number nine on the local premier league. I think the emergence of poets from closets has got something to do with the homosexuals who have also decided to dunk their masks for make-up.
The people I mentioned earlier are not the only folks who were out on the beraad on the morning of June 15 but there was also Brian and S'bu from advertising. Now S'bu is best remembered as Bubbly, a description peddled by Bra Bongs at last year's beraad. I still don't know how he became bubbly but man he's got dimples and you heard stories about guys with dimples. Now Brian is relatively new to the crowd, which means careful navigation through the minefield. And we also had Bra Bongs and Rapula, who I'm told by many readers that they like and would like to meet (talk about a celebrity amongst us), with us. Right here you have a bunch of really mad people, except for me. Serious, I'm not funny at all.
I am the tonic in this dangerous concoction. I think I am the one who calms the storm when rain clouds gather because no matter how drunk I get I just don't dance and my language is always clean. Serious, serious, s'true. We departed quite early for our private 2600 hectare game reserve next to the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport. I am still to find out why they call it 'Kruger Mpumalanga' when the old man died so many years ago without having built an airport. And I also wonder why they gave it such a name while they plan to change it to some comrade in the near future, maybe Jacob Zuma Aiport in May 2009? My humble opinion would be for them to name the airport after this blog, picture that; KASIEKULTURE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, because we are indeed international (see Worldwide like Grafitti). And I doubt if the airport is really international in the sense of a jet flying from Algiers directly into Mpumalanga.
Okay, most of the time when I have to visit estates I am fascinated by information about their ownership and directorship which is not contained on the bottom of the letterheads. Not that I would like to buy a Black Economic Empowerment stake but to see if I can not successfully put together a Land Claim and discover that I have been leasing people land for over forty-years without them paying me rent. We got to K'Shani at around nine in the morning after struggling to find the spot because Teddy felt we were getting lost in the jungle regardless of my impeccable navigation skills. Our convoy of three cars got there and found the Owen party already resting. We went straight to work, early breakfast which was meagre and we thought we heard someone saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day which is a message that does not fly in this jungle. Obviously such nutritionist talk hasn't reached the staff at Hlatini who seem to be on a mission to force us on a low fat diet. At this minute I'm wondering if there is really a conspiracy between the fatter ones amongst our team to force us slimbeings into a solidarity diet.
Actually, like I told you this is a working outing which makes us want to have a fun outing in Beira or Bazaruto. We start our work as early as past nine and our brief is simple, we give our comments on the quality of the newspaper that we have been producing all this time. Each has to openely say how they feel about the direction of the paper. That session ends quickly and we move to other things, interrogating copy to see how best it could have been tackled. We do group presentations after that and this becomes an interesting session as journalists become defensive of their stories. I'm not going to say much since these are Caxton secrets and whatever happened in that room shall remain there and be reflected through the newspaper that's going to come out.
Let's move out and have lunch, then dessert, then drinks then we go back and get presentation from the advertising people who seem to have conspired to make theirs brief. Finally, after a long lull Brian gets to talk for some time. Interesting, the flair with which he makes his presentation and the interaction with us newshounds produces killer ideas. Once again you don't get to know what went down cuz I don't want to be dragged before a disciplinary hearing.
After that the team decides which newspapers we are going to pitch for the annual Caxton Awards which we have developed a habit of winning. Often when the delegation goes to the awards at Kyalami they have that feeling of the South African Broadcasting Corporation going into negotiations for soccer broadcasting rights with the Premier Soccer League. However this is a team effort, Bra Bongs can do it alone if he wants to but I doubt if Owen, who is musclebound will let him get away with it. I mean we can't have a Robert Mugabe in the newsroom now, can we? So, the team decides on killer copies which are going to bring us another accolade. And those are copies that even readers of the print media would have chosen. Again, I'm avoiding a disciplinary hearing and I'm not telling you which, just watch this space.
Now, we are done and it's time to have raw unprotected fun. Fun for journalists is beer, which does not rain but pours. It's that absent sticky yicky-yicky that my colleagues ask me about. Damn, we could have been on Airforce One if I didn't forget the haze. I didn't forget it I just thought there might be K9 and global warming activists who might picket 12 Stinkhout Crescent and demand Uncle Buks contribute towards cleaning the tons of carbondioxide in the stratosphere because the mad hounds of his pound have released 00000,003 mgs of hash fumes into the air.
This is the time for a game drive which you might as well guess prouduces real characters when they are trying to sightsee fuelled by alcohol, nicotine, testestorone and hormones. We are driven around by a man we settle for calling 'Baba' because in the mood that we are in we don't want to know his name otherwise Sam might end up cracking jokes about his name and causing him to abandon us in the jungle. Actually it must have been Owen who started this 'Baba' thing in his quest to know isiSwati. Our driver is so serene we drive around in peace, seeing nyala, impala, kudu, giraffe, warthog, rhinocerous, guinea fowls, bufallo, zebra and some of those that we don't know but which look like members of our party.
Oops, we also see what they call a 'waterbird'. There is nothing called a waterbird but it becomes an interesting point of conversation when the bunch has to investigate the accent of the brothers from the northern side of this continent. It becomes a 'wartah-bed', like the guys in Nigerian films pronounce. These guys are actually getting drunk hey, especially Teddy who jumps from the tour van and jumps up and down like a homemade yo-yo.
Another really pissed dude is Sam, he seizes every opportunity to dance like a new-rollercoaster. Lungile, well, she's smiling a lot like she's had a serious overdose of happy pills, otherwise known as ecstasy tablets. S'bu, poor man's got flu which actually needs uncle Jack to incinerate but the brother is on some Amarula tip which should be clogging his chest more, I guess. Brian is on his Uncle Jack journey and it looks like they are hugging each other well. And Brian's got bling which reminds me of Nas saying 'Afrikans pick diamonds out of dark caves/ now we wear them on our necks/ just so we can light up the stage'. I'm certain the Brian Remix would go like 'De Beer picks diamonds out of dark caves/ now I wear them on my ears/ so that I can light up the...???'. What?
Happy is quite funny now hey, remember what I said about her and music? Bra Bongs, well, he's the boss and am careful what I write about him, but he looks sloshed as well which is how he looks half the time. Rapula, who decided he was going to resemble those hardcore 1960s DRUM journos look is on some Doc Bikitsha tip, wardrobe and all, and I guess if there we nips of VO brandy he would have one in his jacket and take fish sips between frowns. Funny cuz Uncle Jack and Fish Eagle are not that burning as they date your tonsils.
Owen, what more can I say, he's the reason why we are all speaking English on this drive. He is able to colonise the whole four-by-four, except for our driver. Maybe it's time we protested and forced him to learn, seriously so isiSwati. Now me, I told you I'm the tonic, hey. I think I'm composed and taking my pictures while getting nicely sloshed. We been hugging this alcohol poison since half past three and now it's around 18h00 but ain't nobody puked, self-urinated or did something funny except for a few drunken comments from most of the folks.
We drive back to camp where the fun continues, unabated this time because we are not thinking wild animals messing with our karma. There's music now from S'bus well-wired wheels. He comes from the ghetto and you know how ghetto people do. There's campfire now and lots of different brands of alcohol in cooler boxes. Enough alcohol to drown a crowd and cause a riot. We talk about the last man standing winning all the poison which Bra Bongs claims he will be. We then discuss many things, moving between serious to funny to serious again. These are moments for Bongs to have one on ones with the staff and for the staff to have the same with each other.
Night creeps and music sets the theme. From house (Lungile) to kwasakwaka (Owen) to the blues (Bongs) to hip-hop (S'bu) to kwaito (Rapula) to Afro-pop (Happy) to everything (me and the others) It's Akon and Snoop Dogg. Okay, Snoop, the original doggystyle pimp wants to buy paint and paint the White House black, open it as a brothel and allow 'bitches and whores to sell pussy' uninterrupted. Yes, if the pussy don't sell it will be revealing an important historical fact about Mona Lisa being a man. Well, the pimp is back on his Blue Carpet. Actually it's Owen who tells me about the song and it's Lungile who raps the lyrics like she was some Lady of Rage.
After dinner, which is actually chicken and kebabs prepared on open flame and all that stuff you don't recognise when sloshed a few go watch Generations and we come back and some leave because they are sloshed, like Teddy and his Bartholomew Diaz pants, followed by S'bu who pitches back with his Vasco da Gama pants. This suddenly looks like a 1652 fashion parade at St Helena. Around this time our nominated Last Man Standing Bra Bongs is gone. We are left with the chicks and Sam who is so pissed he reveals some boudoir secrets, yes some real hardcore paperback secrets. We talk about circumcision (why men need to lose that foreskin), pap smear (why the pussy needs servicing as well), anal sex (why it's becoming a hype), masturbation (why men have two palms to replace the two virgins they are not going to get), oral sex (how possible can it be done with the intrusive foreskin), sex (yes), sex (yess), sex (yesss), sex (yessss), and sex (yesssssssss), my new book Taste of My Vomit (R149) which is actually out.
Soon it's 00h01 and it's Owen't birthday, exactly on June 16, and we can't sing because we are not vocalists. Yeah, he shares a birthday with the late Tupac Shakur. Let me tell you something some of you never knew about reincarnation. They say when a person dies another one is immediately born. Hector Petersen died on the 16th of June 1976, and Owen was born. How about that? He needs to find out the exact time of his birth and that of Hector's death then claim some privileges.
Morning comes and we have to go. Next time you are in Nelspruit and you want to meet a mad bunch; just find No:12 Stinkhout Crescent. Watch this space for a video of the outing. Til next time, Au Revior