Kalahari manners

… or maybe Kalahari manners isn’t the right phrase, because I’ll be talking about the lack of manners – especially when it comes to my extended crazies.

Usually when my mom and dad get into an argument the term “Kalahari manners” comes up (my dad grew up in the Kalahari). According to my mom, you can take the man out of the Kalahari, but you can’t take the Kalahari out of the man. He’s such a character.

Some context

What does ‘Kalahari manners’ mean exactly? I have a story to illustrate it, but first, some background. When my dad and I were at my uncle’s funeral a few years ago we were on the family farm and I got to catch up with some of my estranged family members. They are a lot older than me and we got talking about some of the mischiefs the family got up to back in the day. My cousin told me the following story about my uncle (Retief – who passed away) and another uncle (Ben – his brother, obviously).

My dad and his siblings (all seven of them) grew up on a farm in the middle of the Kalahari in the sixties and seventies. They didn’t have television, they barely had electricity, so you can imagine that if you wanted entertainment, you’d have to go looking for it yourself. And surely mischief ensued …

Many moons ago

So, the story is, one holiday all the kids were at home. Retief and Ben were either in the army or at university and they were both smokers. Apparently, that’s something that runs in the family. I haven’t picked up the habit yet. I can’t afford addiction.

As the days went by, the two of them noticed that someone was stealing their cigarettes. Not too many, but enough to be noticed. They decided that this was nonsense – one of the other siblings was probably stealing it because they were too stingy to buy their own. Retief and Ben reckoned there was an easy way to find out who the culprit was. Did they go around asking family members if it was them? Probably not. They went with the first and most violent idea they could think of.

The big bang

They took two cigarettes, hollowed them out and carefully placed a cracker inside each. They filled them up with just enough tobacco so that the cigarette didn’t look suspicious and left the smokes packet somewhere where the thief would find it.

According to the story, they didn’t have to wait long before they heard a loud bang coming from the bathroom. They went to investigate, and who did they find wide-eyed on the loo? My grandmother.

I don’t smoke, but I imagine that the first puff is pure bliss. I can only compare it to my first sip of coffee in the mornings. However, I have never had a cup of coffee blow up in my face, so I wouldn’t know how it felt when that thing went bang in grandma’s unsuspecting face. It was probably a good thing she was on the loo because I would have shat myself.

Grandma was a badass

Let me just say, if anyone deserved a smoke it was that woman. She practically raised seven children on her own because my grandfather was always busy on the farm or in town on business, so she didn’t have help from him and they couldn’t afford other help. Poor grandma, she was tired and just wanted some solace in the tobacco stick, and then her kids had to go and do that.

I never knew her, but from what I heard she was very prim and proper and smoking just did not suit a lady of that time. I don’t know if she punished the two trouble-makers but knowing my family, my grandfather probably laughed his ass off when he heard the story. This is what I mean by Kalahari manners.

Meh, Kalahari manners sound fun.


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Kalahari manners