News | Opinion
Did you hear about the horse in the Karoo who got Covid-19?
If you did, I apologise. It’s my fault.
There I was, travelling across South Africa with my best friend and the dog – two out of three of us were Covid-tested before departure, while one had a rabies jab – and along the way I had my usual conversations with rank strangers, because that’s how I roll, in search of news and gossip wherever I go.
In Colesberg, I discussed the merits of vaccination with a local, who then told me the mayor had recently died of Covid, apparently contracted at a funeral. They’d buried her two days before.
Dreadful, I went. This damned virus, I went, and then I got in the car and onwards we motored to Beaufort West, where we were to spend the night. At the local supermarket, I chit-chatted to the check-out lady, and saw fit to share the news from 320km up the road.
“Did you hear the mayor of Colesberg died of coronavirus?” I said. She looked at me like I was mad and shook her head, no.
“Got it at a funeral,” I added knowingly, as her frown deepened. And there the conversation abruptly ended.
I left with my bottle of purely medicinal tonic water (nothing to do with illicit gin, obviously) and mild confusion as to the reason for the sour reaction I’d received. It was only the next day that I realised what the poor woman had probably heard me say.
The thing is I was raised by parents who were sticklers for correct pronunciation (even when they got it wrong), thus the word “mayor” is not said like it looks and like it’s pronounced by most normal non-pretentious South Africans – “may-err” – but instead is pronounced the English way, like a female horse: Mare. The mare of Colesberg.
I had told the woman that a horse from Colesberg had died of Covid.
No wonder she’d looked cross: thousands are dying, including the mayor of Colesberg, MP Nombulelo “Sis Buli” Lilian Hermans, but here’s this crazy white tannie upset about a bloody horse. I wonder if she told anyone else.
If so, I had started fake news, trumpeting the first known case of human-to-horse transmission. Another first from South Africa.
World, you are welcome.
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