Ferrie - full name Verwoerd - was a smooth, yesteryear "hippie". I don't know why anyone would name their child Verwoerd, but I've heard worse.
I met him when he came to visit a relative of his who was my neighbour and we hit it off instantly. A few days before his arrival in my neighbourhood, he had gotten married, and so he came in his wedding's "first change" attire.
We got partying and whenever there was a break in our drunken blabbering, Ferrie would turn to his new bride Fedile, (Ferrie pronounced it Ferile), flash her a loving smile and charm her: "Oh, Ferile, why I love (sic) you so?" He repeated the oh-Ferile-why-I-love-you-so mantra a gazillion times over the weekend he was there, and each time it worked. How sweet.
I am told Ferrie is no more. May the angels shower him with the same love he showed his "Ferile".
I'm reminded of mantras by an old lady I met recently in the Vaal, a devout Christian who punctuates all her sentences with "Jehova Mdali".
Those who know her well say that has been her signature phrase forever.
"Gogo, how do I get to the post office?"
She: "Jehova Mdali, just go down this street ..."
Mantras can irritate, but better that than people who don't have a clue what they are yakking about. Some years back a teacher in Orange Farm was speaking at the memorial service of a colleague.
He got so moved by his own words and gave the audience a parting shot that went something like: "Go well, my friend. The great angels, boLucifer, are waiting for you ..."
Now, anybody who has had five minutes in church or Sunday school will tell you that Lucifer is the devil.
Still on people who just gooi words not knowing what they mean, my uncle Lefi Malatsi insists he has a friend who says "des naes" (that's nice) to every single thing you tell him.
"Mahlangu has died," you'd tell him. His response: "Ag shame, des naes. What was the problem?"
And then there was Ntate Moleko, a fiery businessman and councillor from the Vaal, who decided to do without the services of an interpreter one day as he appeared in court on a land ownership related case.
Ntate Moleko had a sharp soprano voice and kept on screeching at the magistrate: "Yes my worship ... no my worship," until the magistrate, unsophisticated as he was, sternly but calmly called him to order: "Mr Moleko, call me your worship!"
I recently overheard a boy at a car wash talking about a man who was buying shoes from a white salesman.
As his foot could not get into the ill-fitting shoe, he looked up at the salesman: "Sir, these shoes are too young." To his credit, the boy who told the story did not claim he had experienced the scene himself.
Ferrie, Gogo, Ntate Moleko and the fellow in the shoe store know what they are talking about. But my uncle's friend and the teacher ... well, they are the salt of the earth.