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Just another day in the theatre of the absurd

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And now for something completely different.

Monty Python couldn’t have scripted a week in the life of a South African any better. If the unrelenting heat wave wasn’t bad enough and if Eskom’s implementation of Stage 6 power cuts didn’t already have half the country suffering increased stressed from load shedding anxiety disorder (LAD), news of a tiger being absent without leave (AWOL) on the streets of Johannesburg pushed us to the brink of insanity.

For a short while, the demand for Xanor (a common treatment for anxiety and panic disorders) at Dis-Chem outstripped that of Ozempic (a diabetic treatment that’s in high demand after it was found to work wonders on weight loss) – no small matter.

Honestly, we live in a real-life Holy Flying Circus.

Sheba, the Walkerville tiger escaped on Saturday evening in search of her holy grail, after the fence to her enclosure was cut. At the time of writing, she hadn’t been apprehended, but had apparently returned home for a brief visit in the early hours of Tuesday morning before heading out once again. No-one, it turns out, had thought to mend the enclosure, which adds more questions to an already long list.

Surely it would be prudent to mend the fence for when they recapture her? And why would anyone in Walkerville have thought it a good idea to keep a tiger as a pet?

Sheba had already attacked a dog (no, it’s not my dog), and a person, who instead of being grateful for being shown the meaning of life, has already launched a court action against Sheba’s owner. Apparently, it wasn’t just a flesh wound.

It’s in weeks like this that I pity the people of New Zealand. Not because they’re able to use all that electricity to their New Zealand hearts’ desires or because they have a functioning and responsible government, but because of the sheer boredom of living in a place where nothing happens. Where everything works. And where day after mind-numbing day, month after month, season on season, and year on year, it remains the same.

As a news hound, I find it hard to imagine what they talk about on the media streets of Christchurch. What memes do they share with each other and what bonds them? Certainly, they don’t speak of Sheba, mark themselves safe from the “Joburg lion”, or suffer from the crippling anxiety exacerbated by the lights remaining on when Eskom se Push says they should be off.

They don’t have seals attacking bathers (they might), nor past presidents prosecuting current ones, or state capture, or potholes. They did have a prime minister who cycled to hospital to give birth, which she would be unlikely to have done if Sheba was around.

The past week in South Africa wasn’t for sissies. It was as surreal as it was maddening. It was hot and dark. And there was danger on the street.

We don’t know when load shedding will ease, and we don’t know how the tiger story will end. What we do know is that there’s unlikely ever to be a dull, ordinary, usual, boring day in this theatre of the absurd.

  • Sheba the tiger has since been found and euthanised.
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  1. Laura Segal

    January 19, 2023 at 11:41 am

    I totally agree. This morning one of the Ladies walking through the park to her place of work was chased by a man. Her screams could have been heard in Pretoria. I have been living here 25 years and this is now a new thing. The Park is not safe.

  2. Lois

    January 19, 2023 at 8:39 pm

    You cannot open a tortoise but you can own a tiger..go figure

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