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Sunday Times Books LIVE

Angelina Sithebe

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Job Search

She contemplated her own future. Top on her mind was job hunting. She had leafed through the thousands of jobs in the papers. She read about the skills shortage in the country with unemployment rates that reflect society. While 6% for whites less than some European countries, it is immeasurable for black people, around 50% or more. With those odds, she counted on her skills. But there was never any reply.

She went to friends, who were an unexpected source of no help at all. If people offer their lips to be kissed by her, Dolly did expect that they could bother to listen to her. When she broached the subject of work, they always said, “We’ll talk, call me…” while they pat her patronisingly on the shoulder and callously offered gossip about their best friends’ sacred secrets. Life is on the terms of those inside the gilded door and Dolly was still salivating at the tantalising prospects that were brandied but had not yet materialised. She would sell portions of her soul to join their exclusive blissful lives of decadent extravagance as a woman of leisure and drive around in big cars, live in a mansion with two maids and gardeners. And get exhausted from shopping for eye creams and obscure prawns straight after chasing mistresses and standing guard over health issues of the delicate kind.

During the old days in her job search, her male relatives would have gone to an induna – the king’s overseer, lower their heads, on their knees, bearing a gift of a goat, or chicken and plead then wait for him to offer what he felt she was worth. In the modern times, Dolly didn’t know what to do when the humble resume doesn’t generate any responses. She supposed things hadn’t changed that much. The king was still feted by the minions who have the power to select who gets a plot of land for ploughing. Who receives the spoils of war. The only way Dolly could find a job was to lick shoes of the powerful in the cloak and dagger incestuous world of big, shinny, special edition German cars, BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) mega business deals and high-powered political delegations making unimaginable piles of money. Only if she knew how.

So far it had been discouraging. Being targeted meant the only source of employment she could find would be consulting here and there with those who’ve been targeted themselves, who would understand the rules of the game and the excruciating pain of being targeted. Though they tended to be extremely paranoid and she might not want to be associated with them in any case. The only source of employment left was working for thieves – those who’ve been actually caught with their arms in the till. Or fraudsters, a sprinkling of renowned sex pests and IT nerds who’ve become gangsters or fugitives. Those most promising were the unsuccessful BEE paper millionaires who arrived at the right gravy train station with right tickets, who belong to the required clan with the dialect of the day, the right struggle credentials and vote correctly but they just don’t seem to cut it. They have a long list of failed deals for one reason or another. All they can show for their hard work are the rounded tummies and heavy thighs from all those networking dinners and freebees. They chase deals by hovering around the airport first class lounges to greet travelling government ministers and their entourages.

Others for consideration were aged equal opportunity and affirmative action throwbacks, who were the only game in town back in the 1980’s when 70% of the black population was excluded from economic participation in the urban areas through the apartheid Group Areas Act. That was before the savvy, suave and solvent moguls in mining, cell phone technology and venture capitalism of the new millennium hit town armed with billions. Back then these businessmen watched ‘Dallas’ and thought JR was real and they continue to emulate his speech and manner of dress. Thus their spouses still often display heavy gilded costumes with shoulder pads and those awful big hair beehive hairdos. To save face at being obsolete in their own lifetime, the thousandaires (virtual billionaires) while away time chasing balls and deals around all the holes of the golf courses in the country. While seducing amateur gold diggers who still believe a big car and a pretentious twang equals wealth, until the naïve girls discover a mogul’s driver passing himself off as a mogul and are from then onwards suspicious of any man in a huge car.

Amongst the hurdles Dolly faced when dealing with these genderless characters was that they were never available in the daylight for mere mortals. They professed to sleep three hours a night as they pile money, “Easy to make money,” in the remaining twenty hours. These nocturnal creatures do their best work in the cover of the night. Self-proclaimed multitasking individuals, they are experts at everything by delegating to others what they cannot themselves perform as they are almost totally dysfunctional in all faculties. Their impending dementia a stark reality, they try to mask it wit h arrogance, which they call self-confidence and what common sense calls bad manners.

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An excerpt from the “Target Life” series.

 

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