Migrating to the First World: An Ode to Chester Missing

Mbabane, Swaziland | 26 November 2014
Bill Snaddon

The digital age is upon us.
I, for one, am happy about this – and not just because I have trouble telling the time on analogue clocks.
The whole ‘big hand’ and ‘little hand’ thing throws me off. My older brother thinks I might have a learning disability. Unfortunately for him he’s shorter and weaker than me.
When we were growing up he would give me a hard time about this so-called disability. (Which I have since diagnosed as a mild form of dyslexia.) Of course I knew he was joking around, but it bugged me.
Mum would tell me to “cool off” and “stop being so sensitive”. Just ignore him, she would say.
Easier said than done, mum.
You could see dad, on the other hand, quietly wanting me to take up the battle against my older brother. Dad’s always believed in healthy competition.
So, in retaliation, after my brother would go into another taunting tirade, I would simply pin him down and sit on his chest while delivering a painful nipple cripple. That usually shut him up.
Then, a few days later, off he would go again, looking up at the ticking hands on the clock, asking me what the time was and waiting for my bumbling answer.
So, yes, I welcome all things digital into this rapidly changing and exciting world.
Particularly the migration from analogue to digital television; otherwise known as the Great Migration Across the Border into the Land of Vision 2022 and Digitalisation, where everything is clear and we have countless quality channels to choose from. That’s the theory, anyway.
International agreements say that on 17 June 2015 analogue televisions (those old chunky ones which many of us still have) will no longer work, unless a digital-converter box is connected to it.
Think of it like an extreme makeover for your TV – same old curves just with a new layer of make up.
I don’t know why that made me think of politicians, but I was encouraged to hear the words of senior figures in the ICT ministry telling us that Swaziland is on track for the Great Migration into Planet Digital.
By June 17 we will all have crispy, clean screens beaming back at us.
This is great news; not that there’s anything wrong with Swazi TV, but a makeover is always welcome.
Senior officials have also mentioned the possibility of new television channels with new locally produced content.
All I will say is that I am looking forward to the Swazi version of Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola, which airs on South Africa’s independent TV station eNCA.
Perhaps, just as an idea, as part of the Great Migration, the ministry of ICT could foot the bill for making it easier for Swazi TV subscribers to receive stations on cable provider DStv?
It only seems fair after watching SA Idols Vincent Bones become the next big pop star in that big and noisy neighbour.
I know the local Swazi funny men (and women) are out there and waiting for their moment to jump into the late-night news slot. I truly can’t wait for the day when a Swazi news host pokes fun at the leader for stealing money.
I say this only because this is what’s happening next door in the Republic of South Africa, where president Jacob Zuma seems proficient at getting rewarded for (allegedly) chowing public money.
One of the characters in Loyiso Gola’s satirical news show, a puppet by the name of Chester Missing, also writes a column in SA’s Sunday newspaper City Press.
The great thing about Chester Missing is that he uses a mostly respectful form of ridicule to expose the hypocritical heart that beats in most leaders’ chest.
For instance, in his most recent column in City Press, when discussing the current democratic vitality in South Africa, the puppet-cum-writer Chester Missing says: “Instead of fixing our problems, we are arresting people who ask questions.”
Chester, the puppet, the comedian, has a way of turning a vague analogue situation into a clear and understandable digital moment. Long may he continue.

This column was originally published in the Times of Swaziland on 26 November 2014.

Migrating to the First World

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