Township folk have all the answers

THE late Martin Ntsoelengoe, aka Bra Motto, was an interesting character who could make psychoanalysts drool.

THE late Martin Ntsoelengoe, aka Bra Motto, was an interesting character who could make psychoanalysts drool.

A former prisoner on Robben Island, Bra Motto hated red meat, which he blamed for all the ills of the world.

You could limp into the newsroom sporting a black eye from a bar brawl, and Bra Motto would find a connection between that and red meat.

People with a bad temper had high cholesterol levels, which raised their blood pressure, and (yes, you guessed right) red meat was a large contributor to this.

He believed in living on fresh vegetables, and some of us wondered if in the absence of these, he did not cook grass at his home in Randfontein, where he lived alone.

Word was that he had ditched his live-in lover of many years because one day when she was preparing his food, she made the cardinal mistake of peeling his potatoes.

Years later, he would shake his head with disgust each time he was reminded of her, muttering: "That thing was not a woman. She could not cook."

All because she peeled potatoes.

If I have told this story before, I am moved to recall it by the kind of people I have bumped into lately, who, like Bra Motto, have a favourite line they ascribe to almost everything.

Take, for example, a mate of mine I took to see my uncle at a mental institution recently.

If you have never been to a mental institution, that is one place you must promise yourself to visit before you pop.

Back to my mate. He was overawed by seeing hundreds of mental patients all in one place. Some were making animal noises, others giggling like children, some crawling, others standing dead still like statues and a few blabbered away to themselves.

My mate took one look and blurted out: "Sies, people bewitch!"

On the way back home, he regaled me about his hatred for witches and said they must all be killed.

I was not surprised, though, and arguing with him would have been a waste of time. In his befuddled mind every mental illness is caused by witchcraft.

He did not say - and I did not ask him - who bewitched the white mental patients because it is generally believed that witchcraft is a "black" phenomenon.

I was not surprised because every time my mate caught any illness - from a mild cold to gout - he would explain it away as "handwork ... dintho tsa batho" (witchcraft).

Just this week, sans my mate, I took an old radio I inherited from my grandmother to a township Mr Fix-all.

I asked him what he thought could be the problem? He looked at it like an old professor looks at an easy maths quiz, and promptly pronounced: "It has killed the ICs."

Damn, every repairman in the township seems to diagnose "dead" ICs (integrated circuit) for every electronic device.

Red meat. Dintho tsa batho, dead ICs - township folk have all the answers.