Civil society and anti-corruption: the adventures of Cyril and Antoinette

Mbabane, Swaziland | 19 March 2014
Bill Snaddon

I was reading the newspaper the other day and stumbled across two articles that caught my eye. One was about civil society, the other about anti-corruption. The articles were not related.

What struck me about each article was that both “civil society” and “anti-corruption” were almost being described as people. I may have been reading it wrong, but in the article on civil society it seemed like civil society was being referred to as a person, the same for anti-corruption. For example, a sentence might say, “Civil Society said they were’t happy with the food at the workshop”, or, “Anti-Corruption said they don’t like being investigated for corruption”.

I was sitting with a friend so I got him to have a read. “Yep,” he said, “it’s as if they’re people.”

Now my friend is not always so reliable, but I trusted his judgment on this one. So, naturally, we set about trying to figure out what civil society’s and anti-corruption’s names would be if they were actually people.

With a full pot of coffee we began our brainstorming.

We decided that we couldn’t give them regular or common names, like John Smith or Bongani Dlamini. Civil Society and Anti-Corruption needed grand names, elegant names, evoking an era of European decadence and renaissance.

And John Smith and Bongani Dlamini wouldn’t work, anyway, because they don’t sound like Civil Society or Anti-Corruption. We needed names that at least rhymed or sounded like their namesakes.

After a rollicking discussion, fuelled by a caffeine high, we finally settled on our selections.

It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to unveil the new names for Civil Society and Anti-Corruption.

Civil Society will now be known as Cyril d’Society, in line with the most cultured and refined Italian aristocrat. And Anti-Corruption will hereafter be referred to Antoinette Le’Corruptscheonie, in honour of the beautiful and regal French queens of the 18th Century.

After we had given ourselves a pat on the back, as a reward for our imaginative feat, it dawned on us that we’d stumbled across the ingredients for a satirical TV show. We were inspired by the success of The Samaritans, a TV show that pokes fun at NGO workers in Kenya, particularly the funny language and jargon used in the sector.

This is how we get rich and famous, we thought. If they can do it then so can we. We have created two characters. I mean, well, the characters are based on Swazi institutions and named after fictional people from Europe’s grand past. So, yes, we still have a lot of work to do. But we have an idea and a start. We even have a title for the show: The Adventures of Cyril d’Society and Antoinette Le’Corruptscheonie. But this is still a working title. If anyone is still reading this column you could write to the newspaper with your own title for a Swazi TV show. It can be about anything. Perhaps the Times of Swaziland could offer the winner a few blankets?

But, seriously, it seems that Swaziland is ripe for a homegrown TV show. There are budding filmmakers and writers out there. Get writing and get filming — even if you’re filming on your phone — and let the entertainment begin. Very good films and TV shows have been made on very small budgets, so don’t let the (lack of) funding get you down. And, because me and my buddy are generous types, you can always steal The Adventures of Cyril and Antoinette. We’d be honoured.

This column was originally published in the Times of Swaziland on March 19 2014

#14_The Adventures of Cyril and Antoinette_19 Mar 2014

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