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 Dictionary.com and Eureka. I was enlightened:
Slang.
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!