Ndumiso Ngcobo
Ndumiso Ngcobo

Human nature will triumph over the internet

At about 10.30 on Friday evening I returned a missed call from one of the cultureless, classless and nondescript collection of heathens I’m known to consort with from time to time. They call themselves the MOT — or Men Of Thirst. Let’s call this particular savage Xolani, for that is, after all, what his folks christened him.

Xolani is not in the habit of calling me so late, so I immediately returned his call in a mild panic. Had he been in an accident, his wide girth sprawled out in a ditch in the middle of nowhere? Had the swine flu got him? He likes pork sausages, you see.

As it turns out, the inebriated bugger had called me in order for me to settle a debate he was having with another MOT who may or may not be a regular poster on TL — Captain Obvious or some other unoriginal nom de plume — www.thoughtleader.co.za/siyabongantshingila. Apparently, these two high-calibre individuals were in the middle of a so-called debate about the exact identity of the entity that Jacob from the First Testament in the Judeo-Christian Bible had wrestled in the famous story. Did Jacob wrestle an angel or did he wrestle God himself in all his white bearded splendour and glory? Just the sort of thing normal people argue about on a Friday evening. I’ve also been down this path of intoxicated retardation with the Ntshingila fellow. He’s been known to publicly challenge God to a wrestling match when he’s consumed a certain volume of the waters of immortality. He often punctuates his drunken call for a duel with the almighty with the line, “If there is a God out there, he will strike me to death by the time morning comes”.

My point is not to brag about the calibre of friends I surround myself with. What I found fascinating is that a pair of highly intelligent individuals with conservatively (I’m confident) 250 IQ points between them would spend hours at a pub putting each others’ eardrums to the test, spitting into each others’ faces and nearly gouging each others’ eyeballs out arguing a factual point. With the internet inside their pockets.

You see, when I heard that they had developed this whole GPRS/3G nonsense, I cursed out loud. This is because I live for drunken debate. Without debate (read: senseless bickering) between friends, there’s no point to the whole exercise. You might as well have a tea party and complain about your respective spouses and sigh with resignation about how a man’s work is never done.

For me a debate between mates in a pub serves no other purpose except to spark more debate; with the debate being an end unto itself. And over the years I have honed my debating strategy to a finely tuned, sophisticated science. And my tactics lean heavily on two central pillars;

1. Questioning the general sexual morality of my opponents’ mother.
2. Making kak up on the spot.

That’s correct, my excellent record in winning debates relies heavily on hurling insults and lying through my teeth. I know no other way. I’ve said this before, but I just don’t see the point of playing the ball when the man is right there in front of you. And so, when they brought the internet to Jack Rabbits, I groaned loudly. The way I envisaged life from that point onwards was;

Me: And when Jacob Zuma arrived at Robben Island, Mandela told him …
Arb MOT: Dude, Zuma got to Robben Island before Mandela.
Me: Nonsense man. Are you sure your mom is not your dad’s first cousin?
AM (Punching at his Blackberry triumphantly): Just as I thought. JZ got there before Mandela.

Let’s agree that this type of debate would be primitiveness personified. I mean, can you imagine life in a pub where one can’t make a compelling argument that Teko Modise’s glorious career achievements outshine anything Christiano Ronaldo has ever accomplished?

I need not have worried. I completely underestimated human resourcefulness and our ability to work around obstacles. I imagine that whoever introduced condoms as a way of curbing sexually transmittable infections probably sat back contentedly and predicted the spectacular demise of gonorrhea. If they were woken up from their grave to take a sneak peek at us now as we grapple with HIV, they’d shake their head in disbelief. We find ways around that one as well — anything from ‘Would you take a shower wearing a raincoat?’ to munching on beetroot.

It’s the human way. If you think that the point of this piece is to ridicule my buddies, you would be correct. But as I wrote it, I started thinking more about this phenomenon. Human beings are, by design, an irrational species. Our humanity is not better illustrated than when we are at our most illogical. As a matter of fact; we always seem to ascend to the peak of our humanity when we fall in love, for instance. When we climb Mount Kilimanjaro for no rational reason. When we go to church/synagogue/mosque to talk to some guy who may or may not be a figment of our overactive imaginations. When we consume toxic substances for the sole purpose of dulling our senses for a few hours to escape reality.

Forsaking the Blackberry’s in our pockets and arguing about whether the Bible says Jacob wrestled an angel or God himself is what being human is all about.

But then again, maybe the drunks were just being typical drunks.

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  • Kit

    Honestly, I’m the only person I know in person who drags out the mobile phone to settle those mindwormy things, the kind that either creates pointless debate or that prevents one from sleeping at night because it’s Absolutely Imperative to know who sang that stupid song that was used in that stupid advert or what stupid movie that stupid actor in the stupid movie one’s watching made before that other stupid one about a stupid giant squid.

    People just don’t. It’s incredibly weird.

    But in the case of people commonly having these debates whilst drunk, I’d hazard a guess that failing to use these devices has something to do with self-preservation. After all, only one step away from mobile-Googling stupid movie to get stupid actor’s Wikipedia list of stupid credits is…accessing mobile-Facebook whilst – gasp – inebriated and posting dumb comments on ex’s walls. Or worst of all, the Drunken Email. This is particularly bad because the Drunken Text Message tends to go to the ex. The Drunken Email goes to the boss. Or the Important Client. Ask me how I know. Not that I’m going to answer but I like imperatives.

  • Themba Tantrum

    Nice piece…we need more light hearted writings on TL to save us from the endless, numbing political bs that constantly goes on..thank you.

  • http://www.youtube.com/elections2009 Siphiwo Siphiwo

    it’s called gen-x & gen-y

    it’s an era of google, wikipedia, youtube, twitter & facebook.


  • http://www.spoken.co.za Themba Phakathi

    But you still don’t say whether Jacob wrestled God or an angel?

  • http://mandrake.amagama.com Mandrake

    I have a friend i constantly duel with. At our best we make the Aurora Borealis seem like a smoke machine in a club. He now has a nice posh MD job and has one of those Nokia E71’s. If he thinks i’m bullshitting him in the slightest(all the time), i see him squinting and trying to speed-type on those miniature keys with his plough-like hands.

    Takes the fun out of the whole exercise. Might as well decline your wife’s persistence at going out with the boys, and drink at home with your uncle. A man’s weekend cannot conclude without ritual intelligence-dimishing conversations over copious amounts of alcohol.

  • http://mandrake.amagama.com Mandrake

    Themba, Jacob wrestled God silly. remember the scene where G-d is puffing on his pipe and poking away at his HP for his last edition of Umrabulo?

    Or was that his “I am an African” edition of the holy scriptures? Damn, i forget…need more beer

  • http://kwerekwere.blogspot.com mundundu

    i don’t pop open the mobile in those situations — i wait until i get home, because internet from a fixed line is 1/8th the price of mobile internet. [they don’t tell you this when they’re trying to sell you 3G. hmph.]

    furthermore, to avoid such temptation, i purposely avoid having such a phone to do such things. it’s also less of a shock if/when some skollie steals it.

    also, having a crappy phone is a good enough stick to wave at my son — if his grades aren’t up to scratch, his phone-with-everything gets yanked, and he gets my vodafone 125.

  • siyabonga ntshingila

    Are you stirring up for a re-enactment of that fateful night in the desert with a good writer as God and yourself as uJakobe?


  • pete ess

    What you have so eloquently spelt out above is why we invented gods. Insulting okes’ mothers’ lineage had to be trumped.

  • Bouga

    I would imagine the argument meant that they stayed drinking for hours in the hope of settling the argument before one of them passed out, enlightned fellows your friends you should keep them around if for anything for your future blogs something tells me that Ntshingila fellow is great fun, when he is not challenging the “All Mighty”.

  • sarahH

    So if Thabo is either God or an Angel, then who is Jacob, because he won, against all odds??? (And I’m writing this while completely sober, not a drop of communion wine passed these lips because I’ve given up those three drops administered while on my knees at the altar). Just contemplating the issues of power and perception and getting into your mad frame!

    You rock Mr Ndumiso

  • James Cairns

    So then the thing is for some clever sausage to come up with a discreet 3G jamming device that can be wielded from one’s pocket immediately prior to unleashing some gross distortion of ‘the facts’. All challenges can then be brushed off with extreme prejudice.

  • http://www.youtube.com/elections2009 Siphiwo Siphiwo


    “Or was that his “I am an African” edition of the holy scriptures? Damn, i forget…need more beer”

    eish! wena mandrake. i initially didnt know this god; thanx now i’m fully informed.


  • http://207506923ukzn.ac.za Thabani

    Nice one Mr Mapholoba, as usual though…Keep walking!!!

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/grantwalliser Grant Walliser

    I think Jacob may have been a MOT and staggered in late one night only to be confronted by a mad Mrs Jacob with a hefty broom in one meaty hand and a plough shear in the other. Needing to come up with a decent excuse and banking on the primitive nature of the thinking of their time, desperate Jacob made up a whopper in which he wrestled something biblical, deliberately leaving the details sketchy hence the more recent MOT debate. His choice of excuse catapaulted him to fame and got him a coveted slot in the pages of the bestseller of the last few millenia. Talk about chaos theory in action.

  • http://mandrake.amagama.com Mandrake

    Siya, i’ll have my camp-chair propped next to my cooler box in yonder desert on this fateful day.

    Maybe i’ll take the Atheist stance and taunt God to prove himself real…say demand him to keep my cooler full for eternity and guarantee my immortality.

    Or i’ll just sit back and get plastered, probably die from a premature heart-attack brought on by excessive laugher.

    Or maybe i’ll ask God why he has such a round mid-section and quote some arb non-existant piece from the Undead Sea Scrolls.

  • http://mandrake.amagama.com Mandrake

    Siphiwo…then you’re just got a “Revelation”.

    I think thats the next incantation of Umrabulo…don’t quote me on that though.

  • Beaver

    My girlfriend finds it absolutely weird that whenever we have to hire movies at the video shop I always whip out my phone and log onto IMDB for quick reviews. That’s how handy the internet has gotten.

  • The Dark Lord.

    Awesomeness is synonymous with your friends.

    I think the invention of these devices has been a blessing. Just the other day someone at work was quoting “facts” during an argument. It was a very short argument.

    As you were.

  • jay

    ……….. “250 IQ points between them” – – – or should that have read between the three of us?

    Seeing as how you surely must come close to 150 yourself, this does not leave all that much left over for the other two to share between them – does it? :-)

  • James Tobias

    I miss SA men company – the inate arguing around the braai and bar.
    I recall one young lad pulling out his cell to prove a point and silencing a raucous East Rand pub in a nano second. Needless to say he put it away in a hurry.

  • Bob

    Brilliant piece.