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Ian Martin

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Frikkie And Plug Put The Statues To Work

“Did you see how that dude nearly ran us over with his trolley?” said Frikkie.

“I did,” replied Plug. “He probably thought we were arrogant white trash trying to push in front of him.”

They were making their way to the Business Lounge prior to catching a flight to OR Tambo.

“I didn’t like his body language,” said Frikkie. “He was driving that thing like it was a taxi.”

“Cool it,” said Plug. “That man is a potential customer. From the look on his face he would happily pay for the kind of experience we are going to be offering”

In the lounge they got themselves coffee and settled down to wait in comfort.

“It’s a good name,” said Frikkie. “Payback Park. First Apartheid Parks, and now Payback Parks. I’m sure they will love the concept.”

‘They’ were the President and the Minister of Arts and Culture. Frikkie and Plug had an appointment to see them at the Union Buildings the following day.

“Of course they will love it,” said Plug. “They will also love the generous percentage we’re offering. And the CEO position.”

“I think he will give it to that nephew of his,” said Frikkie.

“Which one is that?” asked Plug. “He must have more than a thousand nephews by now.”  “The one with brain damage,” said Frikkie. “You know, the one who crashed his car into the wall at Caesars Palace?”

“Oh, that one,” said Plug. “Now, while we are waiting,” he went on, “I think we should go over our presentation.

“It will help to pass the time, too,” said Frikkie. So we are going to tell them this will be a smart political move, and will help defuse the growing anger at lack of transformation?”

“Yes,” said Plug. “By removing all the old statues that glorify the historical narrative as told by the white oppressors they will demonstrate to the electorate whose side they are on. Then, by assembling these statues, at taxpayers’ expense, and allowing the public to symbolically express their feelings of outrage at the crimes perpetrated against black people, they will further improve their chances of retaining support at the next election.”

“Sounds good,” said Frikkie. “Anything to con the masses and buy time and get gloriously rich. And then we will go into detail about how a Payback Park allows black people to take revenge on us whites without actually cutting our throats and throwing us into the sea.”

“I’m sure the President and his pals would be quite happy to see us thrown into the sea with our throats cut and minus our balls,” said Plug. “But then who would run the economy, the private hospitals and the private schools? These guys are now so used to living the privileged white lifestyle there’s no way they will get rid of us any time soon.”

“Then I suppose we will go into detail about the Payback Park itself?” said Frikkie.

“Yes,” said Plug. “But not too much detail. The President has a busy schedule and is only interested in concepts and kickbacks, and will be happy to leave the logistics to us, I’m sure.”

“Alright, so we’ll keep it brief,” said Frikkie. “We will just tell them it’s a theme park where people can come and view the old colonial and apartheid statues and pay to throw bags of shit at them.”

“Well, maybe not quite so brief,” said Plug. “We can explain that human waste has become the ammunition of choice when attacking symbols of oppression, as well as for expressing anger at the dehumanising conditions under which the majority is forced to live. By buying a bag of excrement and hurling it at a statue they will vent their frustration and be less inclined to go on the rampage throwing rocks and burning tyres.”

“So we will sell them the shit pre-packaged? Cool.”

“Yes,” said Plug. “In sealed plastic bags designed to burst open on impact. And I was thinking it might be a more satisfying experience to throw the bag from a height. We could have something like the movable boarding stairs we will be mounting shortly. You know what I mean?”

“Yes,” said Frikkie. “But hey, I’ve got a better idea! Or an additional idea. Remember how I used to crap from the highest trees in your garden when we were kids? How about getting something like one of the trucks those useless bastards at Eskom have for working on the power lines? You could be positioned directly over the statue and you could squat down and shat through a hole in the floor of the cage onto the statue’s head. That would be hell of a satisfying.”

“Genius!” shouted Plug, causing a lot of passengers to look in their direction. “The floor could be made of glass or clear Perspex, so you could see the result. With that extensible boom you would have any number of choices.”

“Like right on top, or from a dizzy height, or anywhere in between? Said Frikkie. “And from this platform you could also piss on a statue. You know what a gas that would be? I almost wish I was black myself.”

A woman was addressing them on the flight announcement system. She was telling them that if they wanted to fly to Joburg any time soon, now would be their perfect opportunity to board their plane ahead of the economy class rabble.

On the flight north they had a gin and tonic and then shared a bottle of Chardonnay over lunch, all the while developing their presentation.

“Of course,” said Plug, “all our staff will be white. It will be an especially gratifying experience for the visitors to see white people hosing, mopping and sweeping, and then disposing of all that muck.”

“And apart from the statues,” said Frikkie, “what else can we offer our customers? How about foot washing?”

“Good one,” said Plug. “Yes, to have a white man kneeling on the ground washing your feet in a basin of warm soapy water, and then drying them with a nice soft towel, would do wonders for the ego of someone from a township who has always been treated by whites as not quite human. And we could also have a couple of clowns dressed up like De la Rey and Terre Blanche riding horses and falling off every now and then. Good slapstick stuff.”

“What about music and sex, like in the Apartheid Parks?” suggested

 

Frikkie. “We could play freedom songs, like ‘Kill The Boer’ and ‘Umshini Wam’, and shit like that.”

“Yes,” said Plug. “And recordings of speeches by Struggle stalwarts and Black Consciousness icons. As for sex, it’s a lucrative sideline. I’m sure we could provide employment for a team of whiter than white girls.”

“How about this for a great experience?” said Frikkie. “Our visitor strolls around checking out all the monuments, watches other visitors flinging shit at the statues, sings along with a favourite song, listens to the ‘I am an African’ speech, gets lifted up to piss on King George V, buys a takeaway and washes it down with a couple of beers, and then, finally, steps into a cubicle, drops his trousers, and gets a topless blond to do him a 5-minute favour. I tell you, that dude would be walking tall as he leaves the Payback Park.”

 

 

The next day, when they left the Union Buildings after their meeting with the President and his Minister, Plug and Frikkie looked mighty pleased with themselves. They had delivered their presentation so persuasively the Minister had clapped his hands in glee, and the President had grinned broadly and said, “Heh, heh, heh!” With hardly any haggling, terms were agreed on and they were ceded control of all the old statues in the country.

They assembled the hapless relics on an expanse of open ground in Soweto, ringed about by razor wire and electric fencing. The site was landscaped and beautified, paved roads provided access for the mobile stairs and Eskom trucks, and there were several strategically placed vending machines supplying bags of genuine Portaloo poo.

At the Grand Opening the guest of honour was the President himself. He made a speech about how the Struggle stalwarts had fought for the dream of one day being able to visit a Payback Park to express their contempt for the colonialists and the apartheid racists. Then he ascended the red-carpeted stairs, took out his length of hose, and sprayed the head of Cecil John Rhodes, who was pointing to the hinterland and telling white people that Africa was theirs for the taking.

Half an hour after the President’s limo had departed, Julius arrived to a hero’s welcome. In a booming voice he told the crowd they should be throwing more than shit, and promised more than statues to throw at after the next election. He stepped onto the man lift; the boom was extended and elevated until the platform hovered a metre above a sculpture. It was President Paul Kruger, and he looked apprehensive, even though he was wearing a top hat and a raincoat.

Julius waved to the throng and then disappeared from view. A few moments later a stream of loose stools hit the hat with pinpoint accuracy. As the excrement slid from the hat’s brim, the crowd cheered and jeered, and Oom Paul was seen to close his eyes tight shut, not wishing to be witness to his own worst nightmare.

Frikkie and Plug’s next move was to have latex moulds made of all the statues, and replicas were cast for the Payback Parks being set up throughout the country. And an app was developed to enable visitors to point their phones and listen to some historical context and become informed as to why the bronze figure in front of them deserved to be walloped with a bag of shit. For this innovation a generous subsidy was granted by the Department of Education.

The Parks became wildly popular, and Plug and Frikkie began to commission new works of more contemporary personalities, which proved an even bigger draw card. Then the Trojan horse arrived.

A truck pulled up at the Soweto site, a shrouded monument was hoisted off, and the truck departed. Staff members cut the straps, removed the wraps, and reeled back in horrified amazement. Standing before them, three times larger than life, was the unmistakable figure of the State President!

The Supervisor hurried to the office and an urgent call was made. Frikkie was in Church performing a fake miracle, but Plug was available. He told them to immediately cover His Excellency’s likeness and arrange to get him off site, pronto.

Too late. The first missile had been fired, the news spread like a rogue virus, and the people came running from all directions. In no time the President was drenched in stinking ordure. Two Eskom trucks positioned themselves, and while a woman shat on the shiny pate, a man was hosing the President’s spectacles for him to see clearly how highly the people thought of him.

“What a fucking waste!” said Frikkie.

“What a missed opportunity!” said Plug.

They were watching the slow, hearse-like departure of the truck bearing the President on the long journey to the only place he would be safe. His country residence.

 

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