Boesak, parsley and a parktown prawn

South African highway

‘We’re going!’—mom bellows from the other side of the house.

I lightning myself out of bed. Throw on my uniform (luckily, it’s summer—no tie), lurch for my school bag (praying I packed accurately the night before), will an apple into my hand – Wingardium Leviosa – as I dash past the kitchen, dining room and a thousand family photo-faces looking at me reproachfully, and hurl myself into the front seat of the car.

Made it.

‘Hells Bells Andrea, do you have to slam the ruddy door like that?’

‘Sorry mom. I didn’t do it on purpose.’

‘Crabs, man!’

Mom races the blue Matiz out of the driveway like we’re late for the Royal Wedding.

It’s just school. And we’re not late. I flick the radio on to drown out mom’s frenzy, pull down the sunshield so I can use the small mirror to organise my hair. Hair done. Now, time to dig out my timetable so that I’ll know if I’ve forgotten any books before I get to school; then I’ll know how much ducking and diving I’ll have to do ante facto.

The voice of the news reader is interrupted by the slurping sound of mom sucking down the last of the green parsley from her tea—a concoction of hot water and the curly version of the aforementioned herb (to detox the gut) that she drinks every morning on the way to school from a mug balanced in the compartment between the gears and the handbrake…

something something – sluuurrrp – something…‘Allan Boesak’ yadda yadda – chew, chew, gulp, swallow – ‘…guilty of fraud.’

I turn the radio up.

Allan Boesak, liberation theologian, chairman of the Western Cape region of the African National Congress (ANC) and director of the Foundation for Peace and Justice, was found guilty of fraud by Judge John Foxcroft in the Cape Supreme Court.  He was accused of embezzling about R1.3 million, donated by the Danish Investment group Danchurch Aid, the Coca Cola Foundation and the singer Paul Simon for development projects of the Foundation for Peace and Justice in the Western Cape. Mr Boesak siphoned the money into a private trust fund…

‘Move out the way—are you on a Sunday drive? Jeepers!’

I grab onto my seat as mom revs and skids right to overtake the Sunday driver.

The newsreader drones on:

After a 600-page report by a Johannesburg law firm was previously quashed by a three-page report produced by the ANC’s own legal advisor, Mr Mandela proclaimed Mr Boesak innocent of all charges. The opposition and media, including pro-ANC newspapers, battered the government inciting a public furore. Mr Boesak denied all allegations, blaming his team and citing racism and yet upon further examination by the justice system…

‘Ag, get real, man’—mom interjecting.

Boesak has been sentenced to six years in prison,’ says the radio, approvingly.

‘He’s had his chips.’

‘Who’s had his chips?’

‘Crabs, man! Boesak!’

‘Oh. Who’s Boesak?’

‘…although he’ll probably be out in a year.’


Maybe mom will forget I asked who Boesak is. Definitely don’t want to incite an anti-government rampage at 7:20 in the morning, thanks.

‘Boesak stole money—’

‘—Mom! Mommm! There’s a prawn!’

‘My eye. What prawn? You’re joking.’

Christopher is not joking. There is, indeed, a Parktown Prawn vaulting around the car.

My brothers are already standing in the back seat—giant boys, small car; it would have been funny if I, myself, had not been clambering onto the dashboard to avoid the prickly horror of a creature.

‘You clots, sit down! We’re on the highway!’

We don’t care.

There’s no way we’re sitting down. Mom swerves into the emergency lane, screeches to a holt and all four of us clamber out of the car doors.

‘Hells BLOODY Bells! What is that blinking thing doing in the car?’

We stand there. On the side of the highway. Cars whizzing past—a few curious faces staring but not stopping. None of us make an attempt to shepherd the prawn out of the car. Looks like it could be a long day…

…until finally the prawn sees the light and makes a break for it. We clamber back into the car before the scoundrel realises its mistake. Doors shut. Windows closed.

‘Yukkel Stukkel!’

Mom pulls back onto the highway and we proceed to school.


Author & Storyteller: Andrea Zanin

Andrea is a writer, wife, mother and dreamer; also the author of this website. She moved to London in 2006 to earn £s, travel, see bands and buy 24-up Dr Martens—which she did, and then ended up staying. Andrea lives in North London with her husband (also a Saffa) and five children. She loves this grand old city but misses her home and wishes her children could say “lekker” (like a South African) and knew what a “khoki” is.

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