Hansie Smit
Hansie Smit

An open letter to open letters

Dear Letters

You might not be aware of this but you are making one helluva comeback here in the Republic of South Africa. In this age of emails, SMSs and tweets our country is knuckling down getting back to basics sorting things out with good old fashioned letters. Fake, red, legal, formal – we do them all. Your open form is particularly popular.

Some weeks ago John Vlismas set off an open letter craze in these parts when he wrote a gem of a letter taking on Steve Hofmeyr. John is a comedian who also writes (you’ll have to see it to believe it) and Steve is a singer who’s really funny when he tries to be serious. John had a problem with Steve who had a problem with Bono who didn’t really have a problem with anything. It was classic stuff.

After the success of John’s letter our very own minister in the presidency, Trevor Manuel, sat down and penned an open letter to Jimmy Manyi, our government’s spokesperson. Trevor used to be our minister of finance but now devotes his time to writing open letters – a huge compliment to you. Trevor’s letter to Jimmy came after Jimmy made some unsavoury racist remarks in public. John’s letter to Steve also had the word racist in it a couple of times.

We love racism in this country, Letters. It’s one of our favourite pastimes. I’ve often wondered why we don’t just go ahead and make racism a sport — the other thing we can’t get enough of. Then we can get really stuck in and compete with other racist countries like the US and Australia. Then again, if racism was a sport we’ll get so hung up arguing the racial make-up of our national team we’ll lose focus and probably lose to Australia in the Racist World Cup final. And no one wants to see that. Best we just carry on being racist in our free time and write open letters about it. Or false ones.

That’s right Letters, in addition to your open form we also like to write and distribute fake letters to win friends and topple governments. It’s how we roll. Just last week our minister of international relations and co-operation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, allegedly distributed a fake letter from Nicolas Sarkozy to some very important people to get them to do the right thing in the Ivory Coast. It’s not known how they found out the letter was fake but I bet they forgot to put the date and return address in the top right corner. Not that that’s really required any more. To write a letter these days, you simply start it with “Dear so and so” and sommer post it on a blog like this one.

If you have a problem with that, put it in a letter.

Sincerely,

Hansie