Sello S Alcock
Sello S Alcock

On the affirmation of Sim Tshabalala and beef!

The appointment last week of Soweto-born Simpiwe Tshabalala as the chief executive of Standard Bank’s local operations is a fabulous move indeed. I have personally always admired Tshabalala and even more so after reading a piece about him yesterday. It turns out Tshabalala went to a Catholic school called Marist Brothers and has his hard-working parents to thank for that.

I was touched by the way he acknowledged his parents as being the main driving force behind his success. It was also interesting to note the influence his teachers had in what I would imagine was an affirmation of his potential for greatness.

Tshabalala, ladies and gentlemen, is a living example of what happens when teachers recognise that their role in society is of paramount importance. What distinguishes good teachers from great ones is the ability to nurture young talent and give much-needed confidence to students when doubt inevitably seeps in. Clearly Tshabalala’s teachers were, at least as far as he is concerned, of the great type. Enough said. Congratulations, Mshengu, and remember that financial services still remain one of the most important tools for the transformation of South African society.

Oh, another note: I was surprised while reading a story yesterday to find the use of the word “beef” in a news story to indicate what I assumed was a disagreement or fight of some sort by a group of politicians with another of their now former comrades. My first thought on the use of the word in a news piece was that perhaps a mistake had been made somewhere along the line.

However, looking closely at the context it seemed like the word was used in the same way as it would be used to describe what exists between rival rappers on different coasts of the United States.

To tell you the truth, my first instinct was to retreat to the snobbery of the formal and proper use of the English language. I found myself uttering “hmmmm” and then lifting my nose a little bit higher into the air. That was before I figured: “Come on, S’chalo [my street-credibility-laced nickname], some of your own friends call you ‘Selebidogg’, so what is the fuss here, my man?”

I still had the feeling I was missing something, so I glanced back to the masthead on the front page of the paper. It was indeed the same paper I am accustomed to reading every Sunday!

I thought maybe a revolution was passing me by, so I consulted Wikipedia. This is what it said: “Beef is the culinary name for meat from bovines, especially domestic cattle.” He banna! (Or, goodness gracious me, in English).

I decided to also consult and Eureka. I was enlightened:
a. a complaint.
b. an argument or dispute.

I was amazed and thought to myself: imagine what the act of including such a cool and hip word in the “serious” newspaper vocabulary could mean for future newspaper intros:

“President Thabo Mbeki, in a totally dope move, today said that the beef between him and his AK-47-wielding nemesis JZ is now officially over. Mbeki was speaking after the two politicians broke bread and spilled some Hennessy for some of their fallen comrades in the struggle.”

He banna!

  • Lehlohonolo


    He banna – lol, that’s neo-journalism i suppose. You’re just being pedantic…but the way, it definitaly comes with the poverty of content, if you think of the Sunday papers we now read.

    the next thing the reporter would be writing; all JZ wanned to know, was like, what’s up with these NPA dudes always on his back about this corruption sh*t.

  • Liberal

    Sello you are just totally awesome. Loved your blog my brother. Keep up the good work. Oh and the thing about great teachers being one of the reasons of successs, it is true and I wish that school children would see that and their parents would start appreciating them rather than blaming their shocking parenting skills on them. I know some very awful parents and if any of them are reading this, please take note of what is being said and be kind to teachers.

    Great work once again, Sell’s

  • http://Havenone Brenda

    I am 78 years old and the word beef – meaning dispute between people has been in use as long as I can remember.

  • Vapour

    You speak of Simpiwe Tshabalala as if he is a hero? But whose hero is he. Perhaps he epitomises the road that hard work and the best education brings. Does that then mean that everyone else who does not have access to education yet makes the best of the short stick that is their lives is any less of a hero? As CEO what qualities do you think he will bring to Standard bank. Will he lower over all wages and employ more people or will he keep the status quo and simply ensure that his billionaire shareholders (and himself) just make more billions? So I ask again whose hero is Simpiwe Tshabalala?

  • Ndabenhle Mabhena

    I must say amhlophe to Simphiwe , I surely believe he deserves that appointment.I also think that his parents aptly named him Simphiwe for the right reason.Bamphiwa yinkosi ngempela.

  • Phakamisa Ndzamela

    Chief do you have “beef”? Is there “beef” between the Mail&Guardian and the Sunday Times? Or should i ask is there beef between Ms MM and Mr SSA alias Mr SS. The word “beef” in the Sunday Times was quite weird though.Maybe it’s got to do with me being stuck in the past. Well talk about moving with the times.

  • Odette

    JZ and Mbeki battled at Polokwane and JZ was lank chuffed when Mbeki was told to just step off. Now we see JZ bustin’ a groove every time a camera is pointed his way.

  • Rory Short

    Sello is absolutely right about the important role that teachers play in society. If they are good, as Sello points out, through the effect that they have on their pupils they uplift not only the pupils but the whole of society. If they are are mediocre they degrade their pupils and consequently the whole of society.

    In a sense we can say, whilst we as a nation are still struggling with the awful consequences of decades of ‘lack lustre’ education, and educators, under Bantu Education, H F Verwoerd and his Apartheid policies triumphed.

    This is a continuing tragedy which sadly still exists 14 years after the start of our democracy. Somehow government does not seem able to get its act together in its efforts to rectify education.

    It is interesting to note that Sim is the product of Marist Brothers, a private school.

    I think part of our solution to the education problem is that the State should
    1. Issue every child with an education voucher
    2. Allow the vouchers to be redeemed, as school fees, at any State accredited school of the parents’ choice
    3. Devote its considerable energies to its ‘schools’ accreditation process’
    4. Do everything possible to encourage the establishment of private schools
    5. Shift as fast as it can to only supplying schools in areas where private citizens, for whatever reason, do not seem to want to create them.

  • Dawn

    It’s amazing how in my youth, newspapers used to be part of the reading material prescribed by parents and teachers, to help enhance your writing and thinking skills. You could never slip off to bed without being asked if you’ve read the paper.

    Today, I cringe at the quality of the articles, and every weekend I have to ask myself why I still buy newspapers. I think I stand to make a lot of money if I offer my copy editing skills to some of the publications we used the respect as the real mccoy.

    It’s not that I’m not open to a fresh and youthful approach to articles, but SPELLING, GRAMMAR and FACTS need not be compromised.

  • Xolani

    I could not agree with you more Dawn. Articles need to be concise, comprehensive and factual. If people want to use “beef” then they should establish magazines which will promote their interests. However I do believe that innovation plays an integral role in the advancement and development of a newspaper. I would have loved a break down preferably in point form of this Sowetan hero as far as his life, background etcetera. Editing plays a crucial role in the credibility and weight that an article can contain and influences validity in the argument(s) or main ideas communicated. Thank you for a light hearted article, I hope you will view my concerns as constructive criticism.

  • Richard Mungwara

    Congra! to Simpiwe. It is very important for kid in poor areas to note that anything is possible nomatter where you come from. Parents should invest in eduction for their children. Society should respect teachers and pay them more. As for new words in our vocabulary, learning is a life long processe.