Grandfather's skills may not be a match for cheeky modern flies

24 January 2020 - 11:33
By AND Kwanele Ndlovu
There is brazen  new breed of flies tormenting the writer./123RF
There is brazen new breed of flies tormenting the writer./123RF

At my grandfather's home (kwaMhlongo) back in the 1990s, flypaper formed part of the decor. Hung slightly off centre, it commanded more prominence than the six-globe chandelier.

This was a trend with most of our households across the country. I wouldn't be surprised if the market sold as many fly traps as loaves of bread every day.

Like a true patriarch and protector of his family, Mkhulu Mhlongo actively aided in the eradication of the little winged insects.

He believed that his body count far exceeded the dried up carcasses trapped on the sticky flypaper.

According to him, his precision was further enhanced by the fact that he was left-handed. So, while the fly was humming a choral tune and marvelling at yet another target to infect next... it would not see the power-slap coming from the left.

Mhlongo kept a colourful fly swatter on the armrest of his designated sofa in the lounge at all times.

The swatter would get torn over years of slapping walls and all sorts of hard surfaces - and all the torn parts were patched with copper wire. On some days he would walk around the house like a kung fu master, holding the swatter behind him, tracking that annoying fly chorus and serving deadly strokes.

Actually, I believe given a chance, that man would have made a formidable tennis player!

He had cattle and other farm animals and kept fresh milk from his best cow and a brew of creamy maas in the house. Logically, his home was a haven for flies.

What, then, do you say about township folks who also had to contend with green flies in their houses? You would think that perhaps the neglected sewer infrastructure and the government of the time just not bothering to collect waste was what bred the flies.

However, there were other theories back then. There was always the possibility of the government having spread the flies as a form of biological warfare - as my uncle and most of his revolutionary peers claimed.

Either way, the gross infestation was a gift from the apartheid government. My uncle's theory was strengthened by the fact there were less flies at the dawn of democracy. He noted how ama 2000s did not even know what a fly trap was, had never seen flypaper nor been instructed to clean a fly swatter.

They only studied flies in natural science at school and ran at the sight of one.

I had always resisted the urge to believe that the flies were sent by the boers.

Fast-forward to the fourth quarter of last year. I cannot remember the day or the hour but I came home to find a choir of flies singing praises for a piece of bread. I thought it strange but I had not prepared for what was about to hit us.

Ever since, there are suddenly flies everywhere! They do not even seem to care for human presence like those of the past.

These ones are lazy and basically just stare at me when I try to scare them off surfaces. I spray insecticide to try kill them, but it just seems to tire them from flying.

The little monsters land on the floor and start strolling across the room while they recuperate. I have even seen some taking a nap on the kitchen counter, just nje.

Then they look at me like I am disturbing their peace. Sometimes I fear they will fight me. I wonder what my uncle would say now?

Most of our fancy estate developments were vacant land not so long ago, and all insects were living their best lives until we forced them out. No?