Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Here on the tip of Africa we're a month-and-a-bit away from general elections. It's an exciting time. I am one of the lucky ones in this country to have voted for the first time in our miraculous and awe-inspiring first democratic elections in 1994, having just reached voting age. It was an electricity beyond compare as we joined that queue on that day, a happy, laughing bunch of students with such bright horizons. I stray though, this is about this one coming, not that one. In fact, it's not really even about this one coming. It's about something I saw.

Back to my setting the scene... So, yes, the electioneering is in full force, our lamposts are strewn with posters of politicians each in their chosen 'election-emotion' pose. You know the types - the friendly-efficient-Supermom type, the slighty-stern-morally-correct-Christian-value type, the fatherly-smarmy grin type (that one gives me the heeby-jeebies - he looks like someone my mother warned me not to take sweets from as a child). The slogans accost you on said lamposts too, over the radio, and the TV is choc-a-block full of debates and roaring people, making (many empty, I fear) promises of alleviating poverty, improving education and empowering the people.

So, I was on my way home from work last week, in that post-work kind of daze, where you see things as if you're looking at a photo album. It's not a continuous movie, rather a book filled with stills - the squirrel in the park, sitting on it's haunches watching the traffic, the old lady waiting patiently at the pedestrian crossing, the large truck with "Empower Asphalt" written on the back... What? Double-take out of reverie. Empower asphalt? I looked back to check and, true as Bob, on the side it said "Empower Asphalt". WTF?

Now this, I thought to myself, was taking it a bit far. Asphalt? We needed to look after asphalt's rights now too? Children - yes, I understand that; animals - absolutely; old people, all of the rest of us - sure. But asphalt? And my mind wandered to men made of tar picketing outside court, holding up boards saying things like "Asphalt has feelings too - Stop walking all over us" and "It's hot and dirty out there - More road cleaners for Asphalt". I even got to wondering what food one would serve at the AGM of the Ashpalt Empowerment Party (AEP)?

At that point I shook my head and looked back at the truck. It was parked happily beneath various other political posters on two lamposts, with their slogans, it's back filled with little squares of pulled up tar next to the donga they'd dug to fix some pipes. It wasn't a political slogan after all.. just a wierdly electoral company name.

I wonder if I need to get out more?

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