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Jesus at Tops. Sanity is way overrated

Regular readers of this space are not in any doubt that the source of my inspiration is a brain that does not function too effectively. A mad brain. Today you will get a glimpse of just how insane I really am.

Part of the reason I am struggling to keep up with the demand for Thought Leader posts from my insatiable readers is that I am in the middle of a particularly hectic period. Not writers block. I have too many writing pots on the fire. TV scripts, columns, book chapters, suicide notes, crazy open letters for fat former cabinet ministers of defence etc. It’s a lot of thirst-inducing pressure.

So there I am walking into my corner Tops liquor outlet to replenish my brain juice stocks earlier today. There’s a woman in one of those bottle green church uniforms inside the Tops. Weird. To the teetotalers reading this, Tops is the alcoholic arm of the Spar group and is always adjacent to a Spar supermarket. There shouldn’t be anything that a good, God-fearing Christian woman in a green uniform shouldn’t be able find inside the main supermarket other than filthy, evil booze. Sure enough, she is purchasing some wine in a carton. To wash down His body? No. That’s for filthy, sinful Catholics and Anglicans. Zionist Church types don’t do alcohol at all.

Enter the insanity bit. For starters, I start singing this arbitrary Pentecostal Zulu hymn, ‘Ngizonibhevula ngamunye ngamunye’. No, not inside my head. Out loud. And no, I won’t translate what that means for whiteys and other funny types who don’t understand the president-in-waiting’s tongue. If y’all are so African, learn to read some freaking African. Or you better ask somebody, babay. That’s my contribution to nation-building for the day.

So, the next thing I’m imagining is the look on her face if her bearded pastor with a holy staff should walk past at this precise moment. No, scratch that. Her bishop with an even more impressive beard. Yes, there is a beard grading system in these churches. Or even better yet still, Jesus Himself in all His splendour and glory, shiny golden beard with lamb-like eyes and all.

What would she say? What if Jesus shakes His head and says something biblical like “Oh ye of unquenchable thirst, repent”. Would she continue checking out her shit at the till anyway with a dismissive biblical retort of her own as well: “I am She who cometh for the fruit of thine vine?” At this point, I’m laughing so badly I’m making gurgling sounds. Tears and snot are running down my face, into my mouth. People are starting to stare. Dear reader, this is the burden of living inside this brain. I know, I am diseased.

Like most people with disorders, I like to surround myself with like-minded people. People who understand. The cokeheads among you will identify. Only another cokehead will understand why you sold your 46-inch plasma for ‘just one line’. So I grabbed my bottles of whisky and escaped to the car. And then I sent a text message to The Sumo — — and Siyabonga Ntshingila — The Sumo was the first to respond. He slaves for a chocolate-manufacturing company these days. I know! This was his response. Verbatim. “Had my own giggles in the factory today as I was munching on a [brand of chocolate bar] off the line, thinking: I’m like a fat kid at a chocolate factory. Then it hit me, ‘Wait, I am!’ More howls of laughter.

I know. It’s quite bad. But I always console myself with the fact that I think sanity is vastly overrated. And everybody knows this. If everybody didn’t realise that sanity is much ado about a whole lot of nothingness, we wouldn’t all be spending so much money on the drug of our choice; caffeine, nicotine, booze, ganja, Prozac or Sting CDs. SAB-Miller wouldn’t have contributed more chins to already overfed, multi-chinned shareholders on horseback in crotch-hugging breeches in places named Kent-on-a-Whore in the Isles.

Think about it. What we call sanity is really just a statistical average, a statistical mean of what we like to call ‘normality’. By every statistical measure we know of, Albert Einstein was a certifiable madman who was fortunate enough to exist in the midst of other crazy-ass people. I don’t think that sanity is necessarily something to be proud of. I think that a significant percentage of people who are enjoying the state’s hospitality at the Sterkfontein mental health facility are people who hold answers to some seriously important questions about our universe. Perhaps they have figured out the precise mechanism of the creation of the universe without spending R70 billion on a damp squib Collider. Perhaps they have the cure for Aids, cancer, supporting Orlando Pirates and other such chronic ailments. You have to admit that the possibility exists. But because of the limitations of the minds of those of us wading ankle-deep in the shallow waters of mediocrity, we’re just not tuned in to their frequency.

A couple of years ago I drove a friend to the bus station. A man in tattered garb and a generally unkempt demeanour started addressing the crowds. He was originally from the Royal House of Venda, he said. He implored the multitudes to pray with him and wish him well in his godliness. As the security guards dragged him away, having cracked his skull for his resistance, he left us with a parting shot: “You fools! You don’t know what you have done. I am the one keeping the heavens and the earth in balance!”

A few days later Hurricane Katrina hit the US. I couldn’t help but wonder if this had anything to do with the man from the bus station. Perhaps the earth and the moon had been misaligned while they dragged him away. It is possible. But then again, maybe he was a madman who had watched too many episodes of the soapie, ‘Muvhango’.

But if it is not possible that this was the man responsible for the alignment of the stars, then it is also impossible that a locust-munching, generally unkempt man is the one who baptized a carpenter’s son who was also the son of God. Or something like that. But don’t worry about the details.

Just ask the 3 billion or so earth inhabitants who believe the story. The story about the locust-muncher and the carpenter’s son, I mean. If that duo appeared at Park Station today, we’d definitely bust their skulls open and send them to Sterkfontein.

After all, everybody knows that His spirit lives inside a short, pious man in a shiny robe at the Vatican.

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  • 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. Themba Themba 9 October 2008

    That was down right hilarious.

    “That’s for filthy, sinful Catholics and Anglicans” I do take offence at what you say to Catholics there.

  2. Magister Mundi sum Magister Mundi sum 9 October 2008

    As a Whitey, I can empathise with your comment about the soapie “muvhango”… i try to watch it, but cannot make head or tail out of it!! Maybe it does induce madness!!

  3. The Bobster The Bobster 9 October 2008

    Mmmm. Amusing. Although your posting reeks of the stuff you smoke, too openly ridicule the religious people is tantamount to a declaration of war as the sanctity of their belief is ultra-sensitive.
    They prefer a more scientific approach to criticism of their beliefs so that they can counter with weird philosophies that have passed the litmus test over the eons, thereby keeping atheistic musings high up in the mountains and away from the masses. Richard Dawkins writings are an example.
    Your right though. They would probably end up in Sterkfontein or knowing our robust SA culture, the nearest Cemetery.

  4. Sam Sam 9 October 2008

    Oh man, just great, just great.

  5. Dudu Dudu 9 October 2008

    Hooo!you are very funny.Keep up the good work.It is true,laugther is indeed a good medicine,i was feeling horrible before i read yor stuff,now i am feeling much better.

  6. Mike Atkins Mike Atkins 9 October 2008

    This tension between rationality, truth and meaning… Hmm.

    Core Christianity requires “faith” that goes beyond the purely rational (that which tends to focus of what can be observed with the senses, and reasoned out – with our finite minds). BUT, it does not demand an abandoning of rationality. There is a sufficient foundation of supporting evidences to make this faith rationally justifiable (if sometimes somewhat challenging).

    If one accepts that the purely rational and observable does not cover all of reality, that does not mean that one must open the door to all forms of (unfounded) kookiness.

    Of course it is (logically) possible that there is a reality beyond the merely physical, and that this reality can interact with the physical one.

    If one accepts this notion, then one can weigh up (otherwise untestable) claims that rely on this truth on their merits.

  7. Ndu, just make me crave some bitter mfethu. now i have to conjure up some client who i have to have an emergy lunch with.

    speaking of a coterie of crazy-asses to protect your insanity, my parents do not understand why i spend so much time with my brother. he’s seven years younger than me. But he’s the only one who understands Brain-Cell Deficit after a night of heavy drinking. he understands why it takes me 3 hours to comprehend his joke. I can watch the Scary Movies with him all over again. South Central, South Park, and The Simpsons are the Soul Food we consume.

    Ahh, what would the world be without insanity. Look at JZ, the only reason he’s famous is because of the insanity we see in him. i’d share a single-malt of 3 anyday with the man.

  8. siyabonga ntshingila siyabonga ntshingila 9 October 2008

    Great, now I can’t get that song out of my head.My grandfather woudl have straight murdered for singing that, and mind you he had no time for self-righteous Christianity-his own wife aside.


  9. Lyndall Beddy Lyndall Beddy 9 October 2008

    They say that people train as psychologists because they have problems of their own to try to understand.

    I was told that Xhosa’s sangomas have first to have heard voices or have been schitzophrenic/Bi-polar, before they are eligible for training.

    So what is ugezo or insane anyhow?


    Sorry – but any human who believes that condomns may not be used during sex, because God created sex only for producing children, depite there being no biblical reference for such belief – is
    bouncing off the walls in my book!

  10. greg greg 9 October 2008

    Assuredly, you r veery normal. I always think these creative ideas. They started when I stopped smoking pot.

  11. greg greg 9 October 2008

    I retract that statement. Actually, you r rite.

    I think South Africans we r traumatised, just my observation. The normal ones r those who’d make sense of their madness and/or release this madness with humor. I hope I do not make sense.

  12. Craig Craig 9 October 2008

    Yeah – and Bush’s package is proping up the economy. These are images nobody needs…

  13. Art Art 9 October 2008

    More on the suicide notes plz. You continuously prove my hypothesis that sanity is a phenomenon created by a bunch of hopefuls, we all have different degrees of madness.

  14. Siboniso Siboniso 9 October 2008

    ” Perhaps they have the cure for Aids, cancer, supporting Orlando Pirates and other such chronic ailments ”
    Sanity is way overrated !!!!!!!!

  15. James Tobias James Tobias 10 October 2008

    Loved it – although I must ask for translation on a couple of the phrases.

    “whiteys and other funny types…..”

    lol – a chugger fax pas?

    …..”who don’t understand the president-in-waiting’s tongue. If y’all are so African, learn to read some freaking African.”

    Do you mean English phrases like “kill” or the “Springbok emblem being akin to the swastika” which arent meant to be taken literally?

    or genuine lost in translation isuues.

    Great work

  16. Lisa Lisa 10 October 2008

    This one wasn’t for me. Maybe I should have smoked something. Or drank something. Or whatever, to have been able to appreciate it. Don’t do that anymore.

  17. Billy C Billy C 10 October 2008

    Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 averred that in order to get off active service in the US flying corps you had to be crazy. To be diagnosed crazy you had to be certified as such by a shrink.
    One had to be crazy to fight in a war So if anyone made an appointment with the shrink thinkling they were going crazy they were demonstrably more sane than all the people fighting the war.

    If you apply this piece of circular logic to Ndumiso’s sorry tale, it serves to confirm that, as he thinks he’s crazy – he is ipso facto as sane as I am. Or am I?

  18. James Tobias James Tobias 10 October 2008

    Try a sense of humour.

  19. Stevland Stevland 10 October 2008

    ha ha ha ha…..Ndumiso… are the Sumo (said in my best Dr Evil voice) Perhaps you should call him up and tell him…..”Sumo, I am your fazzer” –

    About the post…..farkin hilarious!!

  20. Sam Dlamini Sam Dlamini 14 October 2008

    Oh, Ndumiso, you never disappoint. You never did tell what the poor woman said or did. Now I know why the man’s been singing this… and here I was thinking he preparing (in a strange way) me for a LURV FEST to come (every pun intended).

    Great post, as always.

  21. Hloni Hloni 20 October 2008

    ‘Ngizonibhevula ngamunye ngamunye’ said the pastor.

    hahaha when was the last time I heard that!!

    Ndumiso you are funny man

  22. Khanyi Khanyi 21 October 2008

    I had my share of giggles when this church lady wearing the green and yellow ZCC uniform tried her best to hide a pregnancy test she was buying at Dischem. What made it more hilarious was the cashier who burst out ‘Mama letha le pregnancy test ngiyi scan(ne)’I swear the church lady turned purple! Black people also blush!!!

  23. LadY LadY 27 October 2008

    ha ha ha dude youve gotta be the most god unfearing of all who try to play it safe

  24. Bouga Bouga 6 November 2008

    Ndumiso you need “Isiguqo” perfomed by one of those Bearded priests.

    This is more than funny.

  25. Jade Jade 16 November 2008

    Yaaa hey…intresting opinions bout religion and sanity, misguided but nontheless intresting.

  26. Carlos   Mbeki Carlos Mbeki 25 November 2008

    “You fools! You don’t know what you have done. I am the one keeping the heavens and the earth in balance!””

    hahah…this is really funny….what happened to u now Silwane? u r not posting anymore and by the way your book is a wonderful read brother

  27. Sly Sly 28 November 2008

    Geez, can we get something fresh now, been too long man!

  28. Johan Swarts Johan Swarts 9 December 2008

    Ja, man, I agree with Sly. Give us a new flash of Ncobo brilliance.

  29. LadY LadY 18 December 2008

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz already!!!why the long silence? we growing beards, on long faces here!

  30. Lehlohonolo Phadima Lehlohonolo Phadima 23 December 2008

    Ndum..Ndum… please do something, thoughtleader without you is soo dry and frankly borring…the same toppies rant on about the same thing over and over again – so please, i’m sure with the copious alcohol you’ve downed this festive-thingamaseason you must have seen something to come with guns-blazing!

  31. Jacques Jacques 27 December 2008

    Interesting. And valid to a degree. Problem is we haven’t discovered the cure for mass sanity yet.

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