Not knowing Left from Right

Brendan Seery

Brendan Seery

The smell of dope mixed with that of dust as 17 pairs of feet shuffled on to what used to pass for a soccer field in that part of the world.

The smell of dope mixed with that of dust as 17 pairs of feet – some bare, some in worn-out takkies – shuffled on to what used to pass for a soccer field in that part of the world.

(For security reasons, as decreed by Comrade General Wing Commander Che, we cannot disclose any information which would be of use to the reactionary boers.)

“Left face!” screamed Comrade Sergeant Major AK47.

Ten pairs of feet complied; the other seven went the other way.

AK47 was livid.

“Comrades! We cannot call ourselves Leftist revolutionaries if we do not know the difference between Left and Right!”

As the bedraggled group got into the correct place, Comrade General Wing Commander Che marched up, came to a juddering halt, which caused one of the tinsel epaulettes to tumble off his shoulder and a tin star to fall off the medal bar on his chest, revealing the “security” badge underneath.

Che hastily corrected his dress, pulled himself to attention – liberating a button on his shirt, which had been fighting a losing battle against his bulging stomach.

“Comrades! Fighters! The revolutionary ANC Youth League formation welcomes you to this passing out parade after the military training weekend.”

Murmurs went through the ranks.

“Tsek!” rose from the group.

Che’s eyes bulged with anger.

“Comrades! Who is the spy in our ranks?”

A hand rose from the second row.

“Comrades! We are also democrats, so you may express your opinion freely. What is your question, Comrade Boot Lace?”

Shouldering his wooden rifle, Boot Lace asked: “Why do we not get the best names, Comrade?”

Another voice piped up: “Yes! Why can we not have the good military names?”

Che swallowed: “Thank you, Comrade Toilet Paper. You cannot have a revolutionary name until you have been tested in battle!”

Comrade Tea Bag shouted: “Why were we not given real guns, like you promised in the advert?”

Comrade Tooth Brush joined in: “And why did we not learn any guerrilla tactics?”

“Comrades, there was not enough money to get the guns or the bullets. We said everybody must bring R400…” said Che.

“But we did! What happened to the money?” shouted Comrade Till Slip.

Che took a deep breath: “Comrades, it is a guerrilla tactic to contribute money to the leadership. This means we are able to swim like fish in the capitalist sea!”

He looked at them. “Do you think Range Rovers grow on trees, Comrades?”

Comrade Toyota Tazz piped up: “We failed science at school, so how do we know?”

Che pulled out a map from his uniform.

“Comrades, now you have been trained, you will move to capture the enemy bastion at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria! To make an impact, you will do it on a Saturday, when it is full of Boers! And you do not need real guns, because you have the revolution on your side!”

There was silence.

“Are there any questions?” asked Comrade Che.

A hand went up.

“Yes, Comrade Teaspoon?”

“Are you f***ing mad?”

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