Crouching Tiger, Obliterated Rhino

Bloemfontein, 2025

Bloemfontein in 2025.

We all want to know what lies around the next bend, but nobody can read the future. Nobody, that is, except futurolog futuristologists futologistogist fut people who figure out likely scenarios using computer models, statistics, and industrial quantities of marijuana.

In the final chapter of my 10% TOTALLY TRUE history book, The Unauthorised History of South Africa, I tasked some futu of those people to provide a glimpse into the future of our country. And this is one of the scenarios they saw: Crouching Tiger, Obliterated Rhino.

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In 2017, South Africa’s two last remaining international investors, Vietnam’s Rhino Horns R Us and Nigerian cellphone operator, Spam-n-Phishing Inc, begin to worry that the country’s small pool of taxpayers is running out of money.

To calm their anxiety, the government decides to launch an advertising campaign to reassure them. The campaign is subcontracted to an agency owned by the wife of the Minister of Finance, who levies R1.3 billion in tax revenue to pay for it.

As a result, South Africa’s taxpayers finally do run out of money.

For a month, nobody in government gets out of bed. For their whole lives the politicians have assumed that taxpayers would always pay for everything, regardless of whether or not the politicians did their job, and the shock of running out of money – and having to go to Woolworths in person to buy their midmorning yoghurt drinks, rather than sending their bodyguards – sends many into deep slumps.

At last, South Africa’s politicians have to face the unthinkable: they will have to get real jobs like everybody else.

Some begin to type out their CVs, listing their honorary doctorates from online universities in Turkmenistan and their previous work experience as deputy assistant paper-shuffler for the ANC Youth League.

But then, a cheap knock-off email arrives via cheap knock-off iPad: China wants to buy South Africa.

In 2021, amid a week of massive celebration, South Africa becomes the twenty-fifth province of the People’s Republic of China, and is renamed the Giant Southern Crater Province in honour of the enormous strip mines that soon get to work removing all of South Africa’s topsoil.

China’s twenty-fourth Province, the Giant Tobacco Field Province, formerly known as Zimbabwe, welcomes the Crater Province to the People’s Republic and soon money is pouring into the country almost as fast as its soil, crops and fresh water are pouring out through a large suction tube linking Richards Bay with Beijing.

Many citizens become upset when famous landmarks such as Table Mountain and Bloemfontein are turned into small bits of gravel for the Beijing construction industry, and they unite in a letter-writing campaign.

200 million letters are delivered to Pretoria by a convoy of trucks. The letters are welcomed by a delighted Energy Minister, who sends the trucks directly to the new Glorious Peoples’ Aluminium Smelter in the crater formerly known as Brakpan. (According to official Chinese records, the letters take 83 seconds to burn and help smelt up to 19 grams of aluminium, which is ultimately turned into three fake Hello Kitty lapel pins.)

The Giant Crater Province enjoys a decade of extreme prosperity. In 2032, it also achieves energy independence, thanks to the enormous Happy Nations Glorious Democratic Nuclear Power Plant. This engineering marvel, built by the lowest bidder out of bits of off-cut Hello Kitty memorabilia and based on a blueprint stolen from France in 1959, generates a billion kilowatts of power once it is powered up. For thirty-nine hours it is the envy of the world. Then it explodes, mainly into the country’s remaining groundwater.

The Giant Crater Province is renamed the Giant Glowing Crater Ex-Province and is handed back to South Africans by the Chinese government, with thanks.

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If you want to read more future scenarios, or you just want to learn about First Tannie Elize Botha’s 1974 Day of the Vow mushroom quiche that sent 35 people to hospital with radiation burns, please buy the book by clicking here.

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