Times SELECT 14 March 2019
Columnist Jonathan Jansen

How and why does a clumsy 19-year-old who rides her bike into a rugby post become an instant celebrity?
Ever since Vernon Koekemoer (actually, Cassie Booyse) became an internet sensation in 2008, the question of overnight celebrity has fascinated me; Koekemoer was the muscular man dressed in short-and-torn clothes, standing alone at a rave party in Boksburg, and whose image went on to produce some of the most memorable online memes of that time.
Now more than a decade later there’s the accident-prone Marelize Horn, who circles her bike on a rugby field and hits a rugby pole. What happens next breaks the internet.
In a voice of sheer exasperation, her mother utters the unforgettable words, “My f*k Marelize”, and the recorded video fires up the internet.
A South African in Italy obviously set up a number of businesspeople to participate in his hilarious scheme, telling us – the viewers – of his online video and that he is searching for Italians who might speak Afrikaans.
In each shop Andrew Tunstall enters he asks the Italian whether he speaks the language, and the person replies in heavily accented Afrikaans: “My f*k Marelize.”
Marelize, in the meantime, was brought down from her Namibian home to last weekend’s Cape Town Cycle Tour to fire the starting pistol, thankfully in the right direction. All good fun.
I have a theory about why this ridiculous video went viral – the mother’s reaction. It was a guttural expression of sheer exasperation, “My f*k Marelize” (MFM).
We have for a while now all had our MFM moments and it was as if Mrs Horn said it for all of us.
It was raw, real, spontaneous and authentic. “Good grief Melissa” would never cut it; it is too English polite and far too reserved. Here in one of our own languages and devoid of any pretence is an earthy release of frustration that resonated deeply with an exasperated public.
In other words, we have for a while now all had our MFM moments and it was as if Mrs Horn said it for all of us.
This clumsy government could not plan our long-term electricity needs, and every time the lights went out all of us in our hearts said something like MFM.
Then the suited and, as some would allege, corrupt deputy president had the audacity to say in parliament that “the shortage of electricity is a sign of growth”, and you could almost hear longsuffering citizens express their own version of MFM.
You dutifully pay your TV licence and now you hear the state broadcaster might not meet its payroll obligations this month. And to beggar belief, we have just been told in a new report that state intelligence might have been using their resources under the former president to spy on imagined enemies, from the affable Thuli Madonsela, the former public protector, to innocuous journalist-turned-academic Anton Harber of Wits University. MFM!
My education version of such utter exasperation is the relentless showboating of the nakedly ambitious MEC for education in Gauteng.
What a good idea, actually, to open access to privileged schools to all our pupils. Except the MEC is misleading the public.
The man has made several breathtaking announcements, usefully just before the elections, that he has removed the feeder-zone policy that requires the families of pupils to apply to the school nearest to their home. A pupil can now apply to any school in Gauteng regardless of where they live.
What a good idea, actually, to open access to privileged schools to all our pupils. Except the MEC is misleading the public.
To begin with, there are at least eight policy instruments a school governing body wields that keep the racial and class privileges of the elite schools from Cape Town to Johannesburg perfectly intact.
In fact, many schools in our studies no longer need a zoning policy because the sticker price (sometimes in excess of R100,000 a child per annum) is sufficient to scare off a parent from Orange Farm or Khayelitsha before they even consider applying.
The elite public and private schools would take anyone who can pay tens of thousands of rands in school fees; there is in the estimation of the school a correspondence between the ability to pay such high fees and the “quality” of the pupil the school seeks to enroll.
And that is just the fees structure of the school, quite apart from academic readiness tests (yes, they happen despite the fact that tests for admission are not allowed), sibling and sometimes also heritage policies, and then something much more insidious and that is what my research team calls “social selection” – the many invisible ways elite schools choose pupils from desirable families.
In short, what the MEC is promising is a load of nonsense.
And by the way, even if every one of the former privileged schools replaced the middle-class and wealthy children with poor and working-class children, the vast majority of our schools would still be dysfunctional and disadvantaged.
What can one say? My f*k Lesufi!

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