Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Confucius say: Do not close eyes

IOL: October 30 2007 at 07:47AM

When I heard that a Chinese bank had invested R36-billion in Standard Bank, my heart swelled with pride. They had chosen my bank. Not one of the others. Mine.

I shouted and laughed and turn-ed up the music and danced with the cat. Then I began drinking hard and fast so I could reach the place that one must be in if one is to properly celebrate an occasion of great importance.

I was less than three beers short of the place when the repellent fruit of my loins walked in. Right away, he started sobbing like a girl. He said that when he saw me laughing and dancing he thought something terrible had happened to his mother.

Reassuring him that Brenda was out foraging for victuals, I invited him to join me in a toast. I tossed him a beer and he caught it awkwardly against the side of his head.

To cheer him up, I showed him how to open a beer with his teeth. It's a rite of passage for all boy-children. Spitting out bits of enamel, Clive asked what we were celebrating. I struck a noble pose and raised my bottle. "To China!" I shouted. The brat reacted as if I had rammed a cattle prod down his trousers.

Of course. I had forgotten. Something went terribly wrong during the early years of Clive's education. Instead of growing up to hate black people, he turned on the Chinese. None of his therapists have been able to explain how this happened.

I encouraged him to calm down through the judicious application of an inverted Indian deathlock, but, slippery with spilled beer, he wriggled from my grasp and took the moral high ground.

"China is taking over your bank and you're happy because why?"

I told him the benefits will be manifold. "For a start," I said, "with so much extra money, there will be no more bogus fees and trumped-up charges."

Clive snorted and called me an idealistic fool. I let it slide because modern parenting requires that verbal and physical abuse works both ways. Grabbing a piece of paper and a pen, he drew a picture of a dragon with a gaping mouth about to swallow what looked like a ping-pong ball.

"That's the earth," said Clive, giving me a withering look. "Funny you should say ping-pong. Want to know who the world table tennis champion is? Wang Liqin, that's who."

Spittle flying from his angry teenage mouth, he shouted: "Don't you see? First ping-pong, then the world!"

I was speechless, mainly because I had never heard the runt string so much as a coherent sentence together.

"They invented rockets and cannons and matches and gunpowder! Can't you see what's happening?"

I sucked on my beer and nodded wisely. "Yes," I said, "but they also invented stirfried broccoli with oyster sauce. That's damn good stuff."

Clive said I should read Sun Tzu's The Art Of War.

The closest I have come to reading anything by a Chinese writer is the menu at Tong Lok in Kloof Street and I intend keeping it that way.

"What about the gulags?" wailed Clive.

"Chicken, beef, gulags, I don't care. If it comes with noodles, I'll eat it."

He broke another tooth trying to open a beer. "Here. Take mine," I said, giving him my empty bottle.

"Don't you see, father? There are 1.3 billion Chinese. All they want to do is get their hands on Africa's natural resources. Buying into the bank is their way of..."

"Nonsense!" I shouted. "You watch. By Friday, that surly cow at my branch is going to cash my cheque with a smile and tell me there are no fees. She will say 'Thank you and enjoy your day'."

"No, she won't," said Clive. "But if she did, she'd say it in Mandarin."

The kid may have a point. It's common knowledge that Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was recently summoned to Beijing. Not long after she got back, it was announced that Mandarin would be introduced at high schools around the country.

She also said that people of Chinese origin born in South Africa should regard themselves as Africans. Since we whiteys are having a devil of a job convincing the government that we are Africans, it might be easier for us to apply to the Department of Home Affairs to be reclassified as Chinese.

The Hon Dep Pres said agreements had been reached in several areas, including agriculture.

This is wonderful news, even if it means having to fly to Shanghai to sink my choppers into a couple of meaty Durban mangoes and maybe a paw-paw.

She also said South African farmers were already in China teaching the peasants how to cultivate apples. Oh, please.

When anthropologists uncovered the remains of Peking Man near Zhoukoudian, they found he had died half a million years ago while cooking some sort of duck casserole in an early version of the convection oven. Now we're teaching them to grow apples?

Are they teaching us how to harvest the organs of political dissidents?

Let's trade. One fresh Falun Gong liver for two Granny Smiths.

How much for Tokyo Sexwale's kidneys?

It's all starting to make sense. Ten years ago, the British gave Hong Kong back. The British don't return anything unless they are threatened with physical or financial retribution.

After meeting with the Dalai Lama the other day, American President George Bush said he was disappointed not to have been given "one of them free Tibet gizmos that everyone's talkin' about".

You think that's worrying? Check this out. China's boy-heavy birth rate means that by 2020 there will be 40 million frustrated bachelors on the streets. They can't all become monks.

What you can expect, then, is the stealthy appearance of inscrutably inspired, motivated and involved gay bank tellers at a branch near you. Welcome to the world's biggest Chinese takeaway.

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika???????????

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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