The Ndundulu Invasion – Chapter 19 – The Times They Are Changing

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mantzariscoverThey saluted each other with the third high five in a space of two minutes as they celebrated another victory.
“Who would think that we would have a chance for the league, Prof?”, enthused Gapon.
“This Krol guy is not bad. I never thought I’d say that after the first two months pre-season”, retorted Bongi,” the team is shaping up.”
“Yeah, right , last time we won the league with Gordon Igesund we didn’t play, but what’s more important boss , good ball or victory, victory I say. Happy People can move around with their heads high instead of shedding  tears for another defeat, right?”
“Partly right, bru , now we as a team have the reputation of combining the most intelligent and skillful game with victory, the Buccaneers are like this , quality and victory , in that order.”
“No, bru, I want the league, quality I leave to Thanda Royal Zulu, I want the Cup, bru, like 1980 when we thrashed Swallows in the Mainstay Cup. I want a victory, bru, our trophy cabinet is empty and Irvin Khosa is pocketing  millions from the  World Cup commission. Now I want the team to win trophies, because today’s laaities cannot play like Jomo, Big Boy Kholoane, Jazzman Dlamini, and Yster Khomane with Banks in the goals. Who are these Modise guys and Monief Josephs and Lucky?  I forgot City Late Lichaba, this was a team my bru, I remember Jomo’s second goal, right?”
“Ah, the one with the bicycle kick, who the hell is this Christiano Ronaldo guy, boss, Jomo is the man, right?”
“Right my bru, but let me tell you something, this team was the best we had, ever, and I remember when Jomo hit that penalty to give us victory, Umlazi erupted my bru. It was like Diwali, first time I saw darkies throwing rockets in the sky, my dog even had a heart attack, so much for our first and only MAINSTAY CUP. There was no money for Black and Green Labels, my bru, so we stuck with Mainstay, like char ous, it was hot stuff, right?
“You’re telling me, very hot, bru.”
“But it went well with Lexington, right?”
“Very well bru, but now I want to take up something with you, right?”
“What, Prof?”
“I want to take exception with your earlier statement that the 1980 side was the best in the history of the team.”
Gapon turned around and it was obvious that his attention moved from the scotch to the man opposite him.

“You are saying?
“I’m saying that the team that won the 1973 League, the Life Cup, the BP Top 8 and the Champion of Champions Trophies was the best team ever in the history of the Buccaneers.”
“Are you doing this to annoy me, boss?”
“No, I just make a historical correction, for the record as we say.”
“For the record, boss, and now to repeat what I have said several times during our conversations, our friendship goes back to school days. I say that you have the bad habit, that I must add it started at Standard 1, which is, that you think you are the best thing that happened to humanity since the invention of nyama (meat). I say something that is the historical truth, you have to contradict it, why? Because you are full of yourself, you have a Ph.D. in Anthropology, right, now let me tell you something for the record, Nkosinathi Gapon Khumalo dropped from school, but he completed a one year Diploma in Marxist Philosophy at one of the most revered institutions in the history of Higher Learning, Lemonosov University in Moscow. Now Gapon Khumalo can say to you that your argument is shallow because you make a fundamental mistake, a mistake that is the common thread of all bourgeois science. You confuse quality with quantity, the general and the specific, and content and essence. What I’m saying, correctly, is that the team of 1980 did not win four trophies, but one, but the one trophy was won against the best team of the time Moroka Swallows Big 11. You compare this historic win with the 1973 trophy when we beat Mangaung United, Pretoria Bantu Callies and Real Kathlehong City 6-0.The quality of the 1980 triumph is thus significantly different, this is the point, and another thing, real friends do not try to score cheap points with friends who took them out of their financial shit.”
“Boss, I think it’s not Gapon who talks now, but the amounts of the expensive dope that does the talking. Now in the 1973 team I remind you that there were players like Shakes Mashaba, Blessing Ngidi, Jomo and Rhee Skosana, Shafles Makopane, Percy Moloi. Let me remind you that in that year we crushed Moroka Swallows, we did not just beat them, we destroyed Lamont Golden Arrows 4-0 in Durban and I remind you the brace that Blessing Ngidi scored  to destroy the Amakosikazi (Kaiser Chiefs). And for the record, let me tell you that we lost to Mangaung United, one of our few defeats. Let me remind you that we won the Top 8 against Chiefs and crushed Mamelodi Manchester City 9-1 to win the last trophy available. This is history, boss, and quality and quantity cannot change it, clean sweep, and four trophies in 8 months, this is the reality.”
“Bru, the reality is that you think you know it all, you throw names and score sheets to impress me, it’s like telling me that Christiano Ronaldo is better than Lionel Messi because Manchester wins more than Barcelona, when the reality, as you put it, is that Messi is better than Ronaldo. You confuse yourself, but you cannot confuse me, because dialectics teaches  us that there is a great difference between quality and quantity, this is the bottom line.”
“The bottom line is, Gapon, that you are thoroughly confused and contradict yourself. Earlier you said that a victory is a victory irrespective the way you play and now you throw around stupid dialectics learnt in Lemonosov, as for your contribution to my financial well being is about time you stop it. You pay me to do a job, I’m trying, and I will achieve it, that’s the bottom line, for once you must admit that I’m right.”
“You’re not right, and you make me angry, because I can’t take this superiority complex towards me anymore.”
“There is no superiority complex, boss, it’s a superior knowledge of history, that’s all.”
“You see, you’ve done it again, you must stop it, because you annoy me.”
“Tough shit, Gapon.”
“What did you say?”
“Tough shit.”
“Is that your attitude?”
“Tough shit, I said.”
“Take it back, boss.”
“Take back what?”
“Apologise, NOW.”
“Apologise for what.”
“For calling me shit.”
“I never called you shit, I just said you’re talking shit, this is the qualitative difference, didn’t they teach you that at Lemonosov?”
“You see, you’re doing it again.”
“Doing what?”
“Denigrating me, patronizing me, that’s what you do all the time.”
“It’s all in your mind, Gapon. But now you’re on it what must I say about a University that don’t teach you about Father Gapon?”
“Are you insinuating something, boss? What Gapon has to do with our talk here?”
“It’s dialectics, boss, you throw all these words at me, quality, quantity, essence, content. It’s not me who argues, it’s you that is making sweeping statements that are untrue , I just correct them with facts, that’s the difference.”
“There is no difference, I say and I know it’s true that the 1980 team was qualitatively and quantitatively better than the 1973 team.”
“But that goes against history, the reality, the facts, and the truth.”
“Truth is subjective, boss, and truth is always revolutionary as Comrade Vladimir Ulianov Lenin has told us time and again.”
“Truth is also based on objective reality, boss, and the objective reality is that in 1980 we won four major trophies, while in 1973 one. We put four trophies in the cabinet not one. To top it all, your argument is flawed and your sense of history is not existent, because in your ignorance you forget the Class of 1995, when Jerry Skhosana danced like a ghost and scored, to win us the African Champions League trophy, the only South African team to do so. Must I remind you the giants of the era, Mark Fish, Williams Okpara, John Moeti, Marc Bachelor, Gavin Lane, Linda Buthelezi, and Brendan Silent? Yah and I can tell you something Jerry “Thunder Legs” Skhosana is right, all these players today are sissies, real sissies, and they must wake up, right?”
“You see, what’s the use of arguing with you? I argue dialectically, you throw numbers and names at me, and nicknames to impress me.”
“What’s wrong with this? Karl Marx used mathematical calculations to prove his theory of value, am I correct?”

Gapon looked puzzled, just for a moment.
“So you think you have an answer for everything, right?”
“Wrong, YOU think you have an answer for everything and you are stubborn.”
“Bongi, I think I had enough of this. This is the wrong attitude. I organize you a job, I buy you the dopes, and you borrow my cigarettes and my lighter. At least Sbu was better than you in many ways, he gave us a cigarette and sold us the light, you are different, bru, you are hustling, you got nothing, you cannot pay your rent with your salary and when your saviour, because this is who I am, your saviour, makes true historical statements and teaches you the true dialectics of history, you denigrate, scorn him, spit on the graves of his ancestors. You see my bru the difference between the amaZulu people like me and people like you is that we carry the mountains on our shoulders, because we drink water from the fountain of wisdom bestowed upon us by our ancestors. King Shaka and his warriors conquered the fire to reach the sun of freedom, untainted by the whiteness of the snow in the Drakensberg.”

Gapon stopped to take a breath, while sipping his double more relaxed. Bongi looked at him without touching his beer. He shook his head puzzled.
“I see they gave you some lectures in poetics at Lemonosov too, my bru, or you have studied Thabo Mbeki’s State of Addresses since 1999 very carefully, but I forgot, Karl Marx also wrote poems in his youth. Now in your middle age you also indulge in poetry, which possibly you’ll tell me is an extension of dialectics.”

Gapon did not reply, at least immediately. He filled his half full tall glass with whisky and lit a mild cigarette.
“Look at the surroundings, boss. I pay for a four star hotel, I pay for everything, you have produced nothing for me and to top it all you play God. I’ll tell you something I should have the courage to tell you in Standard 2. You are scum, Mfundisi, you and your crowd are the scum of the Earth, you know why? Because you think your fart smells like Ester Lauder Superiere, the most expensive French perfume .No,  man, I can tell you now, your fart stinks, because you have no money to buy proper nyama, you buy nyama from CHICAGO MEATS in Grey Street, then you come and you pretend you are masters, you look down at people who are better than you, your envy is as deep as the Umfolozi River, boss.”

Bongi felt the heat. His employer’s eyes looked calm, but he was aware that Gapon was a careful director; he could hide his true feelings and intentions, especially his aggressive streak. He remembered him as a hard hitting teenage gang leader and powerful, intimidating center back who was not afraid to concede a penalty when needed. In fact no referee worth his salt would dare give a penalty against Gapon, there were no rules for the UMLAZI DESTROYERS, his team.

Nevertheless things were different now, and Bongi felt obliged to take a chance.
“The Umfolozi River has no water after the drought, boss”, he responded with a crisp voice.
Bongi miraculously escaped the flying half empty bottle of the Johny Walker Green because of his reflective instincts, but it was impossible to avoid the powerful hit on his face. It was a combination of rage and intimate accuracy. He felt the blood flowing to the immaculately fake Persian carpet like the Zambezi after a heavy rainfall. His only alternative was to play dead. He did.

Gapon sat down on his chair. He moved towards Bongi and felt his heart beat. After ensuring that no permanent damage was inflicted on his old school mate he looked for the whisky bottle. He knew that such an expensive bottle would have survived. He was right. He picked it up and poured a double. He filled it with water and ice cubes and switched on the TV. He played around with the remote for half an hour and looked at his watch. “Time to move on” he murmured to himself “mission accomplished, at least for tonight”.

He packed up the bottle in his bag, finished the remainder in his glass, took out a pen and paper and wrote a small note. He put it in his right pocket and walked out on his toes, mindful of his friend’s sleep.

Bongi woke up in the morning and the first thing he did he checked his face and his teeth. All there. A sight of relief. The second thing he did he checked in the mirror. The blood was dry. Thirdly, he checked his watch, 11.30. Lastly he looked around the room. No sign of Gapon. In the end he checked around the hotel room for something unusual, ensuring everything was in order, following closely Clause 112 Subsections c to e of the Intelligence Manual. Nothing.

He showered for half an hour, had a painful shave and tried to patch up the damage by applying some VAZELINE. He inspected the room once more before he picked up his laptop. No visible damage only the stale smell of the light cigarette and very expensive Scotch. He opened the mini bar packed up the remaining Peronis in a Checkers plastic bag and walked out the door. It was mid-day, breakfast was over.

He walked towards his car. He picked up the message from his wind-screen. “When did Bernard Shoes Hartze play Prof? 1973 or 1980? Just for the record”.

He smiled. Thinking of Gapon in Quatro’s solitary confinement barracks appealed to him more and more as fun, but not games.

Next chapter: Chapter 20

©  Evan Mantzaris – The Ndundulu Invasion – Rozenberg Quarterly 2013 – ISBN 978 90 361 0201 8

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