Drunken masters

21

Scrutator has never been in the business of playing “mother” to people or being a moral prefect for others but today, just for this once, she has to break with the norm.
That’s because she has had it to the back teeth with the culture of drunkenness that has become so pervasive and prevalent in this country.
We have become a nation of unmitigated drunks.
It’s as if, as a nation, we get high for a living.
Many a time Scrutator has witnessed bearded men and breasted women staggering blindly home on a Monday morning, a liquor bottle in hand.
Some have literally puked their tongues out because their tummies couldn’t stomach the amount of intoxication they have been subjected to for hours on end.
This is probably the only country in the world where people start drinking by 8am on Wednesday.
Shebeens, bottle stores and bars in our villages just can’t quench our insatiable thirst for the merry waters.
Even before the sun has mopped up the morning dew in our villages some people would have made a beeline to the nearest dingy bar.
There they will sit “downing” one after the other while discussing silly nothings like how best to deal with a hangover after a night of senseless binge.
What time do we work in this country?
Just when do we get time to do anything other than getting smashed and dancing to that loud but shallow music from across the border?
You know you have crossed the border into Lesotho when the first person you miss with your car is some drunken bumpkin standing right in the middle of the road counting stars on a clear summer day.
This is probably the only country in the world where people queue outside bars before they open.
There are people in our midst who have turned getting inebriated into a lifelong vocation.
Some of them have had so much beer they can’t tell the difference between having a hangover and being drunk.
Scrutator will be the first to admit that there is nothing wrong with unwinding over a few beers after a hectic day in the office.
In fact she does it with friends once in a while.
It’s perfectly normal.
The problem however is that most people in this country have taken this “unwinding” business to the extreme.
They drink before they work.
And when they run out of money they steal from innocent people whose only crime happens to be the fact that they know that in order to drink you must work for the money first.
Because the adults in this country have a passion for “unwinding” the youth too have joined the shindig and they are just unstoppable as they march to their demise.
That is precisely why you find 13-year-olds wrestling with beer bottles bigger than their heads in village bars.
It’s because the adults are too smashed to stop the young ones from getting drunk.
Their fathers and mothers have their heads sunk deep in mugs of Qhoma-u-cheche they spank delinquents out of their hands.
If only they could be sober for one day they would realise that they have flipped our moral values on their heads.

It would have been better if all we did was drink and keep our mischievous instruments where they belong.
But no, we like to “down” the beer and whip out those instruments randomly.
We throw caution to the wind and play lotto with our lives.
And as if that is not enough we think it’s funny when we save money on condoms so we can have one more beer. Phew!!
Once drunk we start playing with our knives and illegal guns like they are toys.
We slit each other’s throats and bellies. And when those primitive weapons fail to do the job properly we use guns to blow heads off.
If you think Scrutator is exaggerating about the madness that happens in our bars then visit Queen II hospital’s casualty section any Saturday night.
There you will see men walking into the hospital clutching their innards in their hands.
In fact Scrutator’s doctor friends tell her that beer-related violence is the reason they are always overworked on Saturdays.

Because drunkenness has become a national sport this
country can’t pull itself out of the throes of mediocrity.
Scrutator has walked into government offices to be received by a civil servant who is either nursing a babalasi or is already drunk.
Such people are not hard to find. Their eyes will be crimson red and even by early morning they look tired already.
Sometimes they take an early “tea break” to do justice to a mountain of “papa”.
In the meantime the customers, the very people who pay their salaries, will be standing in those long queues until their legs are numb.
There are many drunks in the private sector but it’s only that Scrutator doesn’t think they are worth mentioning because, if the truth be told, there is no private sector to talk about in this country.
We only have NGOs, three banks, two telecoms companies, sweatshops and lots of car washes.
Perhaps our love for beer is the other reason why we can’t start our own companies.

For a long time Scrutator has wondered why the government doesn’t just stop this culture of drunkenness in its tracks.
Why doesn’t the government shut down these dingy bars that flout their licence conditions as if this country doesn’t have a police force?
Why not raise the tax on beer and get people back to work?
Scrutator regrets to admit that she was a nincompoop to even entertain the idea of the government doing anything about this national crisis.
You see, the government likes it when the people are always drunk because, that way, they will never talk about the real bread and butter issues.
People “under the influence” don’t demand decent jobs and better services. They are too drunk to fight.
In fact, Scrutator believes that the ruling Lesotho Congress for Divisions (LCD) does not need to worry much about campaigning for the next general elections because most of the voters will be too drunk to make a correct choice.
The continued supply of beer in this country will be the LCD’s potent weapon at the polls.
If this country’s inept opposition parties want to win the next polls then they must promise that they will keep the price of beer low and ban the breathalyzer.
The LCD has already achieved wonders using that policy. In the past 13 years more liquior licences have been awarded, more shebeens have operated with impunity and the beer prices have remained largely stable.

While you are guzzling the merry waters like there is no tomorrow tenderpreneurs and unscrupulous civil servants have been rigging tenders with zest.
Jobs in the government are being parcelled to aunts, nephews, nieces and aunts.
Soon some senior government chefs will be dolling out jobs even to dogs, cats and goats from their villages.
While you had your head stuck in that hopose mug corruption in government was growing wings and nepotism was getting “pregnant”, ready to give this country more offsprings.
The reason is because most of the people in this country are too high to notice these monkeyshines.
By the time they decide to get sober this country would have been plundered to its knees. There will be nothing to talk about because it could have gone to the dogs.
Ke ana ka ’m`e oa ka.
Ache!

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Lesotho’s widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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