I decided that politeness was going to be my modus operandi. So on Monday morning when I arrived at the Gupta Compound to start a picket, I walked over to the guards stationed outside.
There were six of them in the main driveway, with others standing guard around the perimeter.
Around 15 in total, wearing bullet proof vests and bearing arms.
The only people in the area were dog walkers, joggers, paper recyclers and the mielie lady.
And me. Wearing shorts, carrying a placard, water and my phone. Not an overly threatening sight.
‘Hi there,’ I said. ‘Just wanted to let you know that I’m going to be standing outside this house for a while. A few people may join in. It’s a kind of anti-corruption protest. Thought I should give you the heads up.’
I didn’t have to give them a heads up. The pavements are public property. But I am always polite.
The guy I was talking to was not so polite.
‘Take your *((&*^*&() banner and your *(^(&*((v and get the **&^(*(* out of here,’ he yelled at me.
I wasn’t being rude.
I genuinely couldn’t hear what he was saying.
He yelled again. ‘I’m calling the *(&(*& police now, we’re going to have you arrested, thrown into **&^, %*%%% jail, do ^^%& to you.’
‘I’m sorry,’ I said again. ‘Do what? I honestly cannot hear what you’re saying.’
I wasn’t trying to be funny. I just couldn’t understand him.
And that is the problem with protesting at a certain age.
Unlike having sex which just gets better as you get older, protesting does not.
It’s okay with sex if your hearing isn’t perfect. I mean, it does help if you can hear the guy say ‘Yes, do this, like that, should I keep going, god you’ve great tits…’
But it’s not the end of the world if you miss it.
With sex, muscular men all dominant and dressed in black can be a turn on.
Men looking down over you can be sexy.
Men staring into your eyes, photographing you, watching your every move can be fantastic.
But it’s not so nice at a protest.
It’s intimidating as fuck.
I waited, unsure what to do, heart beating fast, most definitely not from passion.
And then a fellow protestor arrived.
And by the end of the day we were about twelve. Some men, mostly women. And we stood our ground. We faced the huge security men, bearing our placards asking the Gupta family to ‘Please Leave’, stating that South Africa is not for sale.
We looked the security guards in the eye. Even while they photographed us. And our cars. And threatened us. And our friends.
We stood our ground.
Hopefully we got a point across.
Hopefully we’ll carry on. Hopefully we can all beat the bullies.
Hopefull I can just get back to writing about sex.