News / Opinion
“Dozens of women, some wearing their dressing gowns, men and even children strolled into a butcher’s cold store in Soweto, coming out balancing heavy boxes of frozen meat on their shoulders or heads. Police showed up three hours later, and fired rubber bullets.”
Two little sentences a foreign press agency sent into the big wide world – and I hang my head in shame: not because of the stealing under the guise of protest, not because kids are roped into it or even the police being, surprise, surprise, late.
It is that the whole world now knows: us Seffrican women love our gowns too much. Nothing like pink brush-nylon teddies to keep a woman warm while she’s stealing meat. I know. I’m part of the gown-brigade, just not when looting meat.
Living not in Sandton, I meet that brigade often in my local family store while hunting down some cheap meat. Just a glance over my chakalaka boerewors’ price tag tells me she is next to me: the sloffie slippers a dead giveaway. Because don’t forget our slippers.
We may have shed our zipup gowns for the shopping spree, but a girl needs some comfort while on her feet. It’s never the Cinderella-kind either, always a little bit run-down – like our area.
But now the whole world has also had a peep at those slippers. Not that they understand it.
I see the Aussie expats posting about us going up in flames; becoming “Rhodesia” – gimme a break, you lost-in-time Rhodie, you chicken-runner you – and I understand that my overseas friends worry when they hear I hear close gunshots around me. But I tell them not to worry.
Yes, “they” march with pangas down our main street and yes, they sweep through my suburb, but our households don’t sell meat and have no ATMs in the lounge so they just hunt on until they find some spaza. And yes, I’m hiding safely in my gown.
That is what the world doesn’t understand about us. We will survive this, as we have done before, because we may hide in brush-nylon, but we’re also made of Teflon, not only Jacob Zuma.
Been there, done that and wearing the gown…