Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Victor Dlamini

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Are we a bunch of malcontents?

There are days when you have to wonder if South Africans are addicted to complaining. They complain so often, about the most serious things, but also about the pettiest. First thing in the morning when you are brave enough to try a little Talk Radio, someone is already complaining. The next caller will try to outdo the first caller with their own tale of why something sucks so much. As if not to be outdone, the animated host will throw in her own experience from hell and before you know it, morning radio is like a convention of malcontents.

So you switch to the CD player, and lo and behold the lyrics are catchy, but when you listen closely, the Cape Town musician is complaining. And you wonder why on earth the lyricist would spoil such a great tune with such sour words, then you think maybe you are not qualified to judge musicians. Still you tap to the irresistible rhythm even as you shake your head. So you decide to go for a breakfast, and as you wait for a table you pick up the daily newspaper, and by chance you turn to the Letters to the Editor. What do you know, but these letters have to be written by the unhappiest lot under the sun.

So you decide that you’ll take it easy the rest of the day and not read any media or listen to the radio, but it’s easier said than done and as you head home in the evening you instinctively switch your radio on. It’s nearly midnight but the callers are still firmly on the complaining bandwagon. When they are not ranting about the Springbok Coach, they are bitterly complaing about how expensive books are, or about how corrupt our officials are, or how dirty the streets are nowadays, or how everything is just so bloody expensive. They never run out of things to complain about, and even when one brave voice does try to stick in a little praise for outstanding service somewhere, they quickly shoot him down. So the whingeing wins the day and those who want to shout that they are having a great day, no, a great week, maybe even a great year eventually succumb to the fashion of the day and they too join in on the act and they too become habitual whingers.

And the biggest act in town carries on as they complain, complain and complain till you wonder if they will ever know happiness if it hit them in their hearts. Because, because, who knows? Perhaps they are secretly happiest when they are tell themselves that they are unhappy. So maybe, just maybe, we are a bunch of malcontents and there’s nothing we can do about it but play out this dull drama of those that believe that true happiness comes but once to these shores. Like when there’s a Rugby World Cup, the FIFA World Cup, or when Bono and his U2 outfit jet into town ready to improve the world in their Louis Vittons and glistening designer jeans. Black of course.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    November 1st, 2010 @16:34 #

    "Malcontent" is such a lovely word. I like to indulge in a good whine now and again, but generally I am a bit of a Pollyanna. So I was relieved to discover there's medical proof that being consciously grateful for the good stuff is good for your physical and mental health.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    November 2nd, 2010 @13:33 #

    Lloyd 'Cool Baby' Cole and the Commotions, Mr Malcontent:


Please register or log in to comment

» View comments as a forum thread and add tags in BOOK Chat