Have you ever been to the North West?
It’s a beautiful bit of South Africa, isn’t? The game farms, the mielie and sunflower fieldx, the gentle hills. I like it there. There’s something very weird that I noticed there: the farmers are really, really fat. Not in that disgusting, globule-of-goo way of Khulubuse Zuma, but in a more firm, rotund way. They look like someone poked a vetkoek with two toothpicks, and wrapped it in a two-tone shirt and boots. But they are still startlingly huge.
I soon learned why: by God those ous can eat. My folks had friends among the farming folk of the North West, who would invite us to stay with them when we were in the area. I’ve sat through many a meal, and it was always lamb chops, chicken sosaties, pap, stews, melktert, mashed pumpkins, sweet potatoes, boerewors roll and more koeksisters than you could put up an elephant’s arse.
All the food is fatty, rich and delicious.
Also, there seemed to be a direct correlation between the size of the farmer’s boep to the size of his wealth. Seriously. Those with small farms, and even smaller bank balances tended to have a more reasonable girth. The millionaires among the boere were the sort who are asked to buy two seats on planes. It was astonishing stuff.
I’ve seen a similar thing among Zulu men. The wealthier you are (I should mention that I’m speaking about way-back-when), the more cattle you had, the more wives and body fat you had. Umnumzane kumelwe abe nomkhaba (a gentleman has to have a gigantic belly), we were told as children. A thin man was thought to either be poor, or hen-pecked.
The president’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma is a prime example of this. From security guard, to dodgy taxi boss, to even dodgier mine boss – his weight has exploded upwards recently. Nouveau riche, and all that. The connection isn’t very subtle – in large parts of South Africa, the way we choose to display wealth is by being overweight. Body fat is our bling.
Kenny Kunene shows his supposed wealth off by pouring expensive champagne into the exhaust of a motorcycle in a nightclub, and eating sushi off a semi-naked woman. Most of the wealthy just choose to stuff their faces full of food.
It’s one of the few things I honestly dislike about South Africa.
Which wouldn’t be particularly alarming, except that South Africa has an obesity epidemic. According to a survey by GlaxoSmithKline, up to 61% of South Africans are overweight, obese or morbidly obese. Have a gurn at these statistics, published by the Guardian, taken from the survey:
As we already know, Cape Town is worst hit by the obesity and unhealthy-living scourge. Now, be it far from me to be a common scold on the issue, I really think such things are a matter of choice. And I am certainly doing my bit to add (lol) to these grim statistics.
But think a bit about the nature of choice. You can’t knowingly make a choice you’re unaware of. And a lot of South Africans don’t seem to be aware that there is another way of thinking about weight. Being fat needn’t be the chosen sign of wealth. I think it is sad that the healthy lifestyle sold by the Virgin Actives of this world is aimed at trendy people. It alienates a lot of South Africans, who feel that healthy living is a middle class luxury, or for the sort of pissy, unhappy people who serve water instead of wine at dinner parties.
Look at countries like Japan – why can’t we have more fit and wealthy people to aspire to? Less Khulubuse and more Tony Stark, please.
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