Please don’t touch the goat

goat_chickensLadies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the official Nkandla tour!

Where we prove that you have nowhere left to hide and we have nothing to fear … Er, wait, let me just put on my reading glasses … Oh. Right. Where we prove we have nothing to hide and you have nothing to fear!

Just one request before we start: the chickens are extremely sensitive to flash photography so we must ask you not to take any pictures, especially not if you work for a newspaper. But don’t worry because you’ll all be getting photos of your tour, taken by a military satellite that doesn’t officially exist. So if you’ll all look up right now, let’s give Yuri a big Nkandla hello! Hi Yuri! Yay! Yuri’s in an office in eastern Siberia but I know he can feel the love all the way over there.

Also, we’ll be sending you home with this beautiful colour print of Msholozi riding a Chinese dragon through the sky over the ruins of Wall Street. Special thanks to Chen Fu’s Photographic Joy of Little Beijing, Chinatown, New China City, Midrand, for supplying us with these.

Okay! So if you’ll kindly form a queue on the right we’ll get started. Sorry, ma’am, on the right. Yes, I know you prefer the left but we’ve all moved relentlessly right over the years, so if you have a problem with that you can write to your local ANC branch and they’ll forward your letter to the relevant shredder. Lovely! And off we go!

We are now passing through the main gates and — little boy, please don’t touch the fence, it’s got 90 000 volts running through it as part of our new Mmusi-B-Gone security system. Unfortunately Eskom isn’t producing quite enough electricity to make us 100% Madonsela-proof but we’re hopeful that if everyone keeps turning off their geysers we can reach our goal of zero accountability by late 2017.

If you look to your right you’ll see the famous West Wing of the president’s home, named, of course, for the chickens that live here. So there we have the West Wing, and just next to it is the Middle Breast, then the East Wing, and if we look down there’s the South Drumsticks and the Far South Pope’s Nose. Moving on.

…ignore that inflatable crocodile and that businessman floating face down…

Over to your left you can just see the corner of the helipad. This is a very important security feature for when the insurrection comes and the president needs to be evacuated to Russia. Oh, wait, sorry, I think I misread that … Ah, yes, here it is. For when the influenza comes and the president needs to be vaccinated in a rush. Obviously.

Oh look, everybody. The famous fire pool! Now, you’ve probably read all kinds of imperialist propaganda about how this is actually a swimming pool but I want you to ignore that inflatable crocodile and that businessman floating face down holding an empty bottle of Johnny Blue in his unconscious fingers, and I want you to understand that this is actually a vital safety feature. Why, just last night some of the copies of the constitution that were being used as kindling on the braai started burning out of control and we dumped them in the fire pool and pssh! End of problem.

And we’re moving on — Sir, please don’t touch the goat, it’s a national key point. By the way, for our Chinese guests, I’d just like to point out that almost everything you’re seeing today is for sale. Or perhaps we can interest you in a small northern province? And don’t worry about the local inhabitants, South Africans are very accommodating. God knows they’ve been accommodating this accommodation for years now. That’s just a little bit of humour to keep things light. Moving on.

What’s that, little girl? Why did none of our other leaders spend hundreds of millions on enormous, decadent, fuck-you-taxpayers homes? Not even the apartheid presidents? Well, I think they lacked imagination. I’m sorry but if you’re BJ Vorster and you don’t have a pleasure palace featuring a vast portrait of Anneline Kriel made out of cowry shells glued onto an ornamental rugby field, then you’re clearly not a visionary thinker.

And why didn’t Tata Madiba and Comrade Mbeki have Nkandla-sized homes? Gosh, I’m not sure. I suspect Tata spent most of his spare cash on shirts, and as for Mbeki, you must remember how expensive dial-up internet was in the 1990s, and what with all those Webcrawler searches for beetroot and conspiracies, he probably spent about R250-million a year on his phone bill. So …

Oh look, we’ve reached the end of the tour, so if you’ll — yes, Madam, I know we didn’t go inside but that’s the whole point of an Nkandla tour. Oh dear, you didn’t think you were actually going to see anything, did you? Shem.


First published in The Times and Rand Daily Mail.

Published by Tom Eaton

Tom Eaton is a columnist, satirist, screenwriter and sometime-novelist.

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