A few years ago, I wrote a poem titled ‘The synthetics are conscious’. In it, I depict various people who are subjugated by various systems that ail their worlds. A few of these ‘synthetics’ gradually begin raising questions about their respective worlds, a symptom of consciousness that makes them became enemies of the state (or status quo). They became a virus that should be swiftly extricated from society lest they infect the rest of the demographic with their “leprosy of the mind”. By all accounts, they had broken out of the system.  

Change is inevitable. One can only string people along for so long before the jig is up. The truth has this nasty habit of playing dead underwater so that the suppressor (of the people) and “submerger” (of the truth) can be comfortable enough in his mind to have thoroughly concealed the evidence of its existence, and before you know it, the MF resurfaces like a submarine (with overly dramatic incidental music playing in the background).

I live in White City, the Soweto of Soweto. Here, the ANC has been enjoying more blind loyalty than Steve Kekana. They have been winning local elections like Meryl Streep at the Oscars, even though unemployment has been rife and the rifle has been the sound that we’ve become accustomed to waking up to, and the sewerage system just flat-out refuses to keep things that need to remain underground a secret. They have been so complacent, they forgot to change the Ward Councilor. Which, either, means they have not been having council meetings among themselves where someone new can be elected, or she (the Councilor) has been asphyxiating people with chloroform in the meetings and later thanking them for having reprised her. The glutton is on her third term. 

However, no message (or as the youngins call it, “shot”) is as definitive as the streets being barricaded with huge rocks and burning tyres by unemployed people who have the whole day at their disposal to sing revolutionary songs they understand little about but render that insignificant because there is a cuss word in the chorus they can’t wait to get to, to say ‘we don’t want the ANC anymore’ (or at least the deployed). My Sister missed her bus to work yesterday because of that, the people’s frustration. One could argue that frustration does not equate consciousness, to which my rebuttal would be; true. My people are not fully conscious, they are fully constipated having being fed air so long. The local elections beckon and they will probably give power to the same person who has proven most spectacularly to be undeserving of it. That’s that blind loyalty. But, what IS happening is that there is a crack in the cycle, and the name of it is Time. 

Time has given birth to a younger demographic that enjoys the luxury of not being strung by the over-emphasized phenomenon of Nelson Mandela or the ANC’s hyperbolic “conquests”. They get their queues from the present-day realities and from aspirations that are more ambitious than the music label. These are the guys that have given the roads a new decor. These are the ‘conscious synthetics’. 

The setback, currently, is the old folk. The ones whose nostalgia is a sweet savour that counters the nauseating stench of the sewer on the semi-tarred streets. The ones who are specifically and specially transported on election day to the polls to cut the long queues and cast their ballots for Mandela, fully geared with fresh ANC regalia, blankets and all. The inverse enablers of the cow dung that has been going on in our communities for the better part of three decades. The ones who call their own kids obstreperous because they’re not falling in line. The ones to whom reality is a nonentity. The ones who are still plugged into the matrix. By all accounts, these are the docile ‘synthetics’.  

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Peculiar "Ph D" Khumalo, born and bred (and buttered) in White City, Soweto, the liveliest township in Africa in 1987. Attended Boarding School at Bophelo Impilo and Matriculated in 2007. While his erudite endeavours do not venture beyond Matric, he had long been told he had a way with words, a hype he still has a hard time believing. "Of all the pleasures of life, I relishes nothing more than a conversation over coffee" ☕