Sat Oct 22 07:29:00 CAT 2016

Inhaling smoke, gulping brews - all for matric

By unknown | Oct 29, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

"MATRIEK is nie matras nie." I'm sure you've heard that one, whatever it means.

"MATRIEK is nie matras nie." I'm sure you've heard that one, whatever it means.

Many of us who went through this dreadful rite of passage, albeit with bruised elbows, still have nightmares of having to take an exam in a matter of hours and knowing zilch about the subject.

Not much has changed apparently. A history teacher I know tells me that he asked his matric class who was the president of the United States before Barack Obama took over.

The first pupil answered with confidence: "Nelson Mandela".

As the teacher shook his head in disbelief, another chirped in to "correct" the mistake: "It was Thabo Mbeki!"

It makes one remember a geography teacher who asked his class why it rains a lot in some places and not at all in others. A hyper-religious fellow raised his hand confidently and answered: "It rains because people pray."

Sweet, but quite scary from one who is just days from writing his final matric exams.

It's as bad as the pupil who, when asked where Jan van Riebeeck landed when he came to South Africa, answered brazenly: " Bethlehema ya Judia ."

At this time every year some of us remind you that this is the season when parents dole out shocking amounts of money to "work" their children in preparation for the exams.

The belief is that if the pupil inhales smoke from a smouldering wild herb or swallows a dollop of some tongue-scalding concoction, the answers will magically enter the head.

Those of us who point out that incisions on the body and inhaling and/or drinking anything (even a tortoise's bone marrow) is never going to make you suddenly understand the theory of Pythagoras, are dismissed as being unAfrican.

Even the overly religious lose the plot at this time. But don't they always?

People carry Bibles to soccer games and team captains claim they will win games because "God is on our side"... As if He prefers them over their opponents.

Regular readers of this column know my stand on this, which I repeat here: When God's children play (even a cup final) He will, like the good parent He is, never take sides. Amen.

My churchy upbringing is obviously showing by now.

In every church I know, matric pupils are lined up to receive special prayers before the final exam.

It's not for me to question the personal deal between God and His children, but I do not see any amount of praying, singing, genuflecting and even tithing, turning a tabula rasa into a font of knowledge in one fell swoop.

We deceive these little rapscallions when we tell them "everything is possible through prayer".

I pray very hard to lick the piano like Oscar Peterson or blow the horn like Charlie Parker. Seems like I will need more than prayer - a miracle perhaps.

There is hope though (for matrics). The line should be amended to: "Everything you work hard for is possible through prayer."

Even passing matric.


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