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Another year in the pursuit of misery

It’s that time of the year again when most people are in a resolute mood about all the things they’re going to change in the next twelve months. Needless to say, they won’t achieve anything. Nothing substantial in any case.

The fatties won’t put down the supersized Double McGrease Deluxe Whopper Meals with extra onion rings long enough to type “gym” on their Garmins. The boozers will cut down three daily pints only to make up the “shortfall” in one weekend sitting as Premier football action resumes and the Proteas continue sticking their big toes in opposition’s orifices. The big spenders will buy one shoe less per month but discover a passion for belts. Hamas will regroup, stockpile more rockets and continue hurling them over the wall. Israel’s response will be akin to detonating a grenade to swat a mosquito. Obama, Brown and Gwede will issue strongly-worded statements of condemnation.

Our politicians will make promises, put Don Juan de Marcio to shame as they seduce and cajole. They will dance for us with the fervour of Michael Jackson in the Thriller video, especially in this electoral year. Of course they won’t grow an ounce of principle overnight and those with the keys to the safe will have cookie crumbs on their paws as usual. The bunch on the fringes will bark furiously, howl at the moon and froth at the mouth in-between Botox treatments. As for the masses, they will continue on their dry bread diet, while sniffing the air vents at their local KFC for some flavour.

As for me, I’ll plod along on the same path of mediocrity. I will write another book or two. Maybe a movie script or two. I will update this blog only erratically. There will be few moments of inspired genius amidst the usual meaningless beer-inspired babble. For weeks on end I will disappear off the face of the earth and wander the wilderness like Caine from Kung Fu, mumbling to myself like John the Baptist. A few dozen Silwane Files hardcore fans will get withdrawal symptoms and send suicidal emails. I will respond with the customary “Just do it” one-liner.

My point? I know why people make New Year’s resolutions. Because the default human condition is misery. We’re not comfortable unless we’re unsatisfied. That’s what prompts Warren Buffet to get up in the morning. Because he believes he can do more. That’s what we humans do. We reach a summit, enjoy it for a while and start looking for higher summits. It is at the core of the “grass is greener” syndrome. At the core of it is the whole “pursuit of misery” phenomenon. That’s why we start out the year with resolutions. New Years’ resolutions are essentially a list containing the sources of one’s misery throughout the year. You could gain two promotions at work, double your salary, purchase your dream home and an Audi roadster. But you’ll still be miserable because your body fat percentage is 7%. That’s just who we are. Here’s my resolution:

This year I’m going to do what I’m going to do.

Yes, the line from the Oracle from The Matrix. It’s taken me this long to truly figure out what people have been telling me for years. Crisis is the only trigger for bringing about change in humans. Until my liver has swollen up to the size of a Texan steak, I won’t put the beers down. Until Vereeniging becomes a coastal town and Cape Town is a submarine paradise, we won’t stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with our 4 000 CC double cabs. Until they need a crane to remove you from your house, you won’t put the pork bangers down. It is what it is. This year, I plan to not pursue misery. I will be happy. Join me.

Have a Happy New Year.

[email protected]


  • Once upon a time, Ndumiso Ngcobo used to be an intelligent, relevant man with a respectable (read: boring-as-crap) job which funded his extensive beer habit. One day he woke up and discovered that he had lost his mind, quit his well-paying job, penned a collection of hallucinations. A bunch of racist white guys published the collection just to make him look more ridiculous and called it 'Some of my best friends are white'. (Two Dogs, ISBN 978-1-92013-718-2). Nowadays he spends his days wandering the earth like Kwai Chang Caine, munching locusts, mumbling to himself like John the Baptist and searching for the meaning of life at the bottom of beer mugs. The racist publishers have reared their ugly heads again and dangled money in his face to pen yet another collection of hallucinations entitled 'Is It Coz 'm Black'. He will take cash, major credit cards and will perform a strip tease for contributions to his beer fund.


  1. Bonga Bonga 8 January 2009

    you’re right Mr Ngcobo. My new years resolution is: To not make new years resoltuions. And I have successfully achieved it for the past 3 years. Happy New years to you too and may you do what you’re going to do with all the joy and not caring in the world.

  2. Bonginkosi Bonginkosi 8 January 2009


    You are back!! Have a good year, brother.

  3. siyabonga ntshingila siyabonga ntshingila 8 January 2009

    It is back.Happy New Year Silwane.

    Personally, I like my misery me.A beer laced with heavy emotion is just so much more than nearly frozen malted barley.

    So i resolve to drink less this year, for it will make all the ‘extra’ ones that much sweeter

  4. Zama Zama 8 January 2009

    You’re a phenom; I really enjoyed that, as tired as the topic itself is. Much like the “happy new year” greetings that have plagued me since I got back to work. But I do believe I am a hardcore Silwane fan. Thanks for the laughs; LOVE the Hellen Zille line.

  5. Themba Phakathi Themba Phakathi 8 January 2009

    I was at Menlynn yesterday and couldn’t find your new book. That was sad. I thought Exclusive Books or CNA will have it there, they said I must come back in February or make a reservation. I hope they have it at OR Tambo airport so I can buy it as I fly to East London tomorrow for the Manifesto launch.

    Anyway, good to have you back.

    My New Year resolution is to ensure that you vote ANC. If it means I have to bribe you with beer to do that, so be it. If it means I have to conspire with Cruella to do that so be it. Like it or not you are going to vote ANC.

  6. Llewellyn Kriel Llewellyn Kriel 8 January 2009

    What an exceptional piece of writing, mon petit noir beer chugger. Reading your blogs is always worth the wait – especially when I share your sentiments with such unqualified zeal.

    You will blog when you blog. That is the way things are. I will read when I read. Been that way since the Big Bang. But in blind stoic irrational defiance of the laws of physics, metaphysics and the Matrix, I will enjoy them every time.

    Have a tumultuously tremendous 2009, Dumi, and may Misterrrr Smith never find you!

  7. Natalie Natalie 8 January 2009

    Good to have you back…!

    I almost checked myself in to rehab the Silwane Files withdrawal symptoms where so bad.

  8. Pitso Tsibolane Pitso Tsibolane 8 January 2009

    I know only one man who can write a great article about a boring topic, you are happening dude! I loved it. and please keep doing what you are doing!

  9. Jade Jade 8 January 2009

    Bought your book yesterday and have just about finished it. Can’t wait to pick up your new 1.
    I was lmao for most of the pages.

  10. Sipho Lukhele Sipho Lukhele 9 January 2009

    Happy new year Mr. Ngcobo. Maybe I am crazy, but I still believe in resolutions. It might be due to the fact that I make sure that I achieve them. Unlike Themba, I won’t tell you to vote for the COPE hating party, but you need to vote!

  11. The Sumo The Sumo 9 January 2009

    Nice One Ngcobo,

    I don’t think I have ever made a New Years Resolution. This explains the extra lard I carry around with me and my constant under-achiever status.

    But this year is different; the beer and the smoking stays, but in all other aspects of my life, I resolove to be less like myself.

    Nice One – stop taking shots at those of us who cannot resist a nice porkie though.

  12. Dawn Dawn 9 January 2009

    Great to have you back! We can only hope the beers provoke you into blogging (about anything or nothing, we love it all!)

  13. lyndall beddy lyndall beddy 9 January 2009


    I noted your comment on Bilal’s blog. If you are going to check out Israel/Palestine – please see my comments on the historical background on Mondli’s idiotic column in The Times, which will probably disappear tomorrow.

  14. lyndall beddy lyndall beddy 9 January 2009


    My historical background is a few paprgraphs,but it is the history everyone ignores and suppresses and therefore VIP

  15. Lindelwa Lindelwa 9 January 2009

    nice read, as usual.

  16. David Sasaki David Sasaki 10 January 2009

    Glad to see you’re back blogging. Was hoping to meet you on the SA Bloggers’ tour. Take care.

  17. Neo T Neo T 11 January 2009

    You have a new book out and i don’t know about it?! How, why?, explain yourself Mr. Ngcobo.
    I hope it’s available on Amazon.

  18. Rod MacKenzie Rod MacKenzie 12 January 2009

    Not entirely agreed – this fatty lost seven notches on his belt since the last resolution, mind you that was after the Chinese new year festivities where our apartment on the 22nd floor with all the night-long fireworks felt like an episode from Battlestar Galactica. Oh I forget, it had nothing to do with a new year resolution, I just did it.

  19. Ricardo Goagoseb Ricardo Goagoseb 12 January 2009

    Great piece Silwane

    We hope the are gonna keep coming!!!!!!

  20. Mag Mag 12 January 2009

    I see your IQ continues to gain strength like the petrol price, great piece. Which is this second book of yours that they speak of, I have only read, “Some of my Best Friends are White”, which of cause I thought should have been titled “Some of my Best Friends are of Color”. Its always easier to comment on something that u didn’t write. Keep them coming

  21. Katse Katse 14 January 2009

    “Israel’s response will be akin to detonating a grenade to swat a mosquito. Obama, Brown and Gwede will issue strongly-worded statements of condemnation”.

    Isn’t this insanity at its hardest core? will there ever be a ceasefire, even after Ban Kee Moon shouted out loud and clear? Let’s hear from Obama’s inaugural speech on the 20th, who knows? Maybe his new year’s resolution will be to stop the grenade bombardment on the mosquito.

    My resolution for 2009 is to vote for the ANC, I never voted in 99; but this time around I will, just to keep the Mzantsi’s nose above water level to ensure it doesn’t drown due to COPING factors.

  22. James Tobias James Tobias 15 January 2009

    Personally this is a change year for me.
    Love the cynicsm – great writing.

    did I hear new book??

  23. Mandrake Mandrake 15 January 2009


    Before the great doors close for BEE, and i ask myself why i’m black and broke (with private schooling) in 2009, i will try my best to hop on to the gravy train. in the event its try i will buy ten packets of good old Bisto soup and make my own gravy.

    If this doesn’t happen i’ll blame apartheid and carry on consuming premium SABMiller products.

  24. Mandrake Mandrake 15 January 2009


    blah blah blah…in the event its Dry i will buy ten packets of good old Bisto soup and make my own gravy.

  25. Leila Anderson Leila Anderson 15 January 2009

    Refreshing to read your writing. I was looking for some research material on polygamy for a script I’m writing and stumbled upon an old Zuma entry. And I kept reading…

  26. Phillipa Lipinsky Phillipa Lipinsky 16 January 2009

    My new year’s resolutions always work. It helps to make realistic resolutions, not drastic ones- that way you can stick to them.

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