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Koos Kombuis

Curiosity did WHAT to the cat?

2012-08-08 12:27
The other morning, as I was driving through the rush hour traffic, I heard someone phoning in to the Gareth Cliff programme to report that it's snowing in Brakpan.

That was amazing news, though of course I'm not sure ('scuse the pun) whether it's true. Either it's really snowing as far north as Brakpan, or this is just one of those nasty Brakpan jokes doing the rounds on the Internet these days.

Why target Brakpan? I wonder. I have just returned from Brakpan last week, and believe me, there's nothing wrong with Brakpan. Contrary to what you hear on the web, most people living in Brakpan still have all their teeth. In fact, during the wonderful twelve hours I spent in Brakpan (though, admittedly, I hardly ever ventured outside the casino), I did not once see anyone remotely resembling Vernon Koekemoer.

I go on record for saying this: all the Brakpanners I met were perfectly normal, perfectly friendly people.

I think the origin of urban legends like the recent spate of Brakpan jokes lies in the deeply-held subliminal belief that local is NOT lekker. In spite of the wonderful achievements of South Africans lately, in spite of all those gold medals we won at the Olympic Games, many South Africans are still secretly ashamed of their own country and their own culture.

I mean, really! It's about time we held our heads up high. Ons is mos okei! Is ons nie?

Just look at the role we have played, for instance, in the successful landing of that new space thingey on the surface of Mars. Yes! Like a cat falling from a table, it landed right on its feet – or on its wheels – without tipping over.

Curiosity didn't kill the bloody cat, after all! Not all missions to Mars had been equally successful, but this one is going hunky dory, and all because of, among other things, the wonderful contribution made by one of our own people, the legendary Dr Japie van Zyl, who, if what I hear is true, is now third-in-command at Nasa!

People who have tuned in to the Afrikaans TV news might have been surprised to hear interviews with Nasa being conducted in die Moedertaal. This is because we have our own man in there! The first time I saw this guy being interviewed, my wife exclaimed: "Look, there's Japie!"

"Japie whom?" I asked grammatically.

"Japie from Namibia, man!" It turns out my wife, who grew up in Namibia, has all the inside info on this wonderful scientist.

"Almal ken vir Japie!" (Everyone knows Japie!)

Well, I don't know about you, but seeing Japie's face on the TV every night makes me feel mighty proud, not only of being a South African, but also of being Afrikaans. And hearing Japie gooi the Taal kind of makes up for the fact that, to this day, André Rieu, who apparently has Afrikaans roots too, bluntly refuses to admit it or to speak my language.

It also makes up for the sad fact that Charlize Theron (who actually hails from a town near Brakpan) hardly ever says a word in her home tongue, but opts for English with an American accent.

Ag hemel, bokkie, jy's ‘n wonderlike aktrise, ek weet, maar ek wens jy was meer soos Japie!
(Ag heavens, bokkie, you're a wonderful actress, I know, but I wish you were more like Japie!)

Japie makes me proud! Hearing that a guy called Japie has helped land this Curiosity thing safely is a bit like hearing the Vernon Koekemoer has joined the Obama cabinet. It makes one realise that everything is possible! Even snow in Brakpan!

Proudly South African, ek sê! Gee die hond wind! 

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