Total Coleslaw

South African President with His Wife

In 1977, P.W. Botha and his cabinet gathered in the Leopard Lounge in parliament’s democracy-proof bomb shelter for an emergency all-night meeting to discuss two important matters of state.

The first item on the agenda was the death of Elvis Presley, and whether either the ANC or the Soviet Union were responsible. The second issue was handlebar moustaches: were they ‘kak sexy’, as Pik Botha claimed, or were they ‘fokken porno’ as the clean-shaven P.W. Botha believed?

At 3.30 a.m., while Pik Botha showed the last of his slides of Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck and implored the hardliners to see the ‘innate hawtness of the noble biker tash’, Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan excused himself.

He had become peckish, and, as a clean-shaven member of cabinet, he had grown tired of Pik’s endless rhetoric about the Village People, Freddy Mercury and all the other macho stars who wore moustaches. He hurried across the road to a Total garage and bought a coleslaw.

Suddenly his walkie-talkie crackled: P.W. wanted to know where he had gone and what he was doing at that exact moment. Malan radioed back that he was ‘facing a Total coleslaw’.

Back in the bunker, Botha reportedly went white, then orange, then blue. For a moment his cabinet feared that he would turn black and they would be forced to send him to the nie-blankes scullery down the hall. But Botha recovered and then began screaming, ‘Magnus says we’re facing a total onslaught!’

Malan’s coleslaw marks a dramatic turning point in the history of South Africa. From that night onwards the South African military machine went into high gear. By the late 1970s the country was even developing its own nuclear weapons.

The details of this programme remain wrapped in secrecy, but as far as we know, First Tannie Elize Botha was placed in charge of developing the bombs.

At an initial brainstorming meeting, it turned out that nobody in the government knew anything about nuclear bombs, other than that they produced a ‘mushroom cloud’. Botha and Malan were sceptical: how could a cloud of mushrooms be so dangerous?

But then Pik Botha reminded them of their 1974 Day of the Vow brunch at which Elize’s mushroom quiche had sent thirty-five people to hospital with radiation burns, internal bleeding and hair loss. Clearly she was the right woman for the job.

By 1986, South Africa had managed to produce up to six bombs capable of unleashing a cloud of Denny mushrooms over a radius of at least fifty metres.


If you want to know what happened next, buy the book. It’s called ‘The Unauthorised History of South Africa and it’s kak sexy. Click here for the Kindle from Amazon. Or go to Exclusive Books at the Waterfront. They’ve got actual copies. I know, because I’ve just moved them off the ‘South African Non-Fiction’ shelf and put them on the display table in front, in the ‘Bestsellers’ pile, and in the ‘Fokken Porno’ section.


Published by Tom Eaton

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

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