I have been struggling to approach anything resembling work these last weeks, so I took the daughter, M, on a specialist shopping expedition. As it turned out, the perspex store was more fun than pragmatic, with fun mirrors to multi-coloured thingies. What I liked most was the set of post-Apartheid presidents on the wall. Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki were both official portraits in old-fashioned, official frames. But current SA President Jacob Zuma was a much cooler sketch, with a grin that was only matched by my daughter’s one in the fun mirror.
That has got me thinking, do the powerful view the rest of us through some kind of mirror that makes it all seem fun? Could that explain their grins, no matter what is happening out there in the real world?
In keeping with the Zulu theme sparked by Cde JZ, M and I drove east through downtown, passing some places I perhaps should not be near with my darling daughter. Nonetheless, we got to the rather fabulous Mai Mai market on the eastern outskirts of downtown Jozi. Mai Mai is a market that caters for all things Zulu, from herbal medicines, religious paraphernalia, spirit mediums, dowry chests and coffins to car-tyre Zulu sandals. I love visiting Mai Mai, there is always something cool to buy or look at.
M and I were there to collect sandals I had ordered from a craftsman, and we were not disappointed. I had gone for the traditional straps, but had asked for the fake tiger skin inner. What is interesting is the sudden modernisation, the bow to fashion that the sandals have recently started to reflect. Nike swooshes and Adidas stripes adorn car tyre sandals, and feminine isicathulo have adopted a certain Bollywood bling. Needless to say, those are the sandals M chose for herself. Near us, a young boy in school uniform was choosing a pair of tiger skin (plastic print, don’t panic, Mabs) decorated sandals. His father approved.
As we were leaving, hand in hand, our new sandals dangling from our free hands, I eventually turned at an insistent “Hey Chief! Chief! Hey chief!”
A youngish man was calling out to me from across the parking lot, having just alighted from a rather flash new Benz. “Where did you get those shoes, Chief?”
Back home, as Mabs and I displayed our new footwear, “What do you think?” I asked my dear wife, who despairs of my dress sense.
“Sadly,” she deadpanned, “they suit you.”