Like many, I watched the pomp and ceremony that preceded President Zuma’s State of the Nation address last week, though much of the alleged pomp had us giggling in unseemly fashion.
It was the first time, for instance, that any of us had seen a minister of state turn up dressed as an airline pilot when there was doubt whether he could run a government department, let alone fly a plane.
As a mere male, I have always been in favour of strong women – probably because my own mother was pretty strong-minded. She had to be in a family where we were all males, including the dog and cat.
Queen Elizabeth l, Catherine the Great, Maggie Thatcher, Indira Gandhi – all were strong women who left their mark on their respective countries. On me, too. Thatcher effectively put me in my place during an impromptu press conference in London once. And the first time I travelled round India I had to hide my presence from Gandhi, who hated journalists in general, never mind white journalists from apartheid South Africa.
Question time is usually an opportunity to put a president, a minister or, this case, a mayor on the spot. Or not, as the case may be. Patricia de Lille had it easy in the Cape Town City Council yesterday when a succession of her own party members asked her to tell everyone how splendidly she was doing.
Hippiedom is alive and well in Cape Town, 50 years after flower children first bloomed in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and New York’s Greenwich Village.
My wife and I had a little experience of it the other day when we were invited to drop in on a relative’s 36th birthday party. He is a living example of the species, a post-graduate permanent student, mostly barefoot, favours sarongs without undergarments, and is the life-and-soul of gatherings such as AfrikaBurn and Rocking the Daisies.
As someone who barely passed matric maths, and only after taking extra lessons with a very patient retired teacher, I am full of sympathy for all those who discovered that their struggles with the subject were unsuccessful, according to the national results just released.
This is in spite of the questions becoming easier.