Tragicomedy of black people choking back on having more fun

Somewhere in the Good Book - and don't ask me where - there is a suggestion that the road to everlasting joy is narrow and peppered with thorns.

Somewhere in the Good Book - and don't ask me where - there is a suggestion that the road to everlasting joy is narrow and peppered with thorns.

The implication is that the highway to hell is smooth, wide and fun. That, in all probability, explains why many of us were brought up to be suspicious of straight forward nizer-nizer.

When my father was a child, boys had to get up long before sunrise, obviously to milk the cows and take them out grazing.

We don't have cows now, and when one is not working, there is hardly any logic in depriving oneself of hours of slumber long after the sun has risen. But because it is fun, many African homesteads prohibit it and consider it an absolute disgrace. Fun must be wrong.

Take Sharpeville - a township with a palpable soul and thousands of brilliant, brave and simply wonderful people. Let's start here: at the main entrance to the township there is a beautiful lake surrounded by lush greenery - a perfect setting for weekend family outings and picnics.

But - wait for this - someone way back spread the yarn that there is a snake in the water with magical powers, and anyone who ventures into the water will be "choked". Everybody seems to know about the snake and nobody is taking chances. So a beautiful facility is going to waste, used very scarcely by white folks who go there to fish on occasion.

A couple of years ago, when I was involved in a boat cruise business on the Vaal River, I had a hilarious experience with a black man who was evidently determined to take precautions before riding the boat.

Minutes before take-off, he removed his wrist watch, bangles and a chain around his neck, handed them to a person who was not going on the cruise.

"I don't take chances," he intoned.

"This thing [the snake in the water] has gas. It does not want these things . it can choke me."

I did not ask, but if I had, I am sure he would have told me of incidents where people had actually been "choked" by the snake.

No one argued with him, or looked surprised. Quite funny, I thought, but funny tragedy. Why, I keep thinking, do our people immerse themselves in pathetically fantastic hooey like that, and swear by it?

Okay, I suppose every black person is allowed their own little superstition here and there. Like the mind-boggling belief, punted by an old mate of mine on the radio this week, that blacks are able to manufacture lightning bolts. Wow!

I want to keep my friends, so I won't interrogate that, save to say if that were so, tell the Germans, Chinese and Japanese to shuddup. We are world leaders in science. Perhaps we should consider exporting some of our knowledge and show the world that if we can go abracadabra and lightning strikes, what's so big about going to the moon?

If only we could have more fun .