While reading Sunday's paper today, it takes me days to read the behemoth that is the Sunday Times, I came across the below piece by Ndumiso Ngcobo. It is nothing but the truth, one I agreed with from the first word to the last. Read it and do feedback on your thoughts and opinions. I hope he doesn't mind me blogging it.
There are varying degrees of great unwashedness - all awful
I am not the most physically attractive specimen of manhood anybody is likely to ever meet. For the record, I used to be. But that was about 20kg ago, which is a story for another day. The fact that I do not pay too much attention to my appearance is not helping matters either. On the day that the photograph above was taken, I was being interviewed by this newspaper's own Gillian Anstey for a profile they were doing.
In the piece she wrote, she called me a "frumpy dresser". Truth be told, I was rather flattered by this characterisation. You see, people in the arts, academia and politics often associate sub-par grooming with great intellectual prowess. I personally blame Albert Einstein, who popularised the dog's-breakfast look back in the 1920s.
This thought hit me last week when I ran into award-winning R&B singer Ishmael of Jozi, Skeem and Prophets of Da City fame. Each time I see Ishmael, I get an almost uncontrollable urge to tackle him to the ground, dunk him in a scalding hot bath containing a Dettol/Jeyes Fluid concoction, attack him with a scrubbing brush and then douse him with a flea powder. Oh, I'm pretty certain that the young man cleanses himself. After all, he did snap up US songbird Puff Johnson. I bet she "don't do skunk". It's just that Ishmael insists on that whole "look at me, I'm dirty and talented" image.
Music producer, club deejay and radio jock DJ Oscar (popularly known as Oskido) has taken the slovenly look a few notches up. A friend of mine was so moved by Oskido's scruffiness upon meeting him that she sent me a text message: "I don't think anybody would raise an eyebrow if a tiger leapt out of Oskido's hair." This is when it occurred to me that Panjo the tiger could have disappeared into Oskido's hair the whole time he went missing. Oskido would certainly never notice a tiger in his hair.
There are different types of unwashed among us. The first is the arty-fartsy Oskido variant of scruffiness made popular by Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Meatloaf. Then there's that greasy sloppiness favoured by Hispanics and Latinos such as Antonio Banderas. The Manchester City player-brawler Carlos Tevez, notoriously known as "The Animal", is a prime example. Tevez looks like a rodent-consuming extra from the 1980s TV series V. When my kids won't eat their broccoli, I threaten them with Tevez.
Not that the Reverend Al Sharpton is any less greasy either, hey. I bet you could operate a mid-sized palm-oil refinery in downtown Kuala Lumpur for six weeks from the Rev's oil slick. And if you drained grease off the cast of a standard Bollywood movie - six months.
And then there's the political-intellectual grubby look for which we have Karl Marx to thank. So far, Marx's own dishevelled look has ruined the appearance of at least nine generations of politicians from Fidel, Nujoma, Savimbi and, tragically, our own Thabo Mbeki. Come now, we all remember those disturbing pictures from the Groote Schuur deliberations in 1990. Mbeki looked like an Indonesian tom cat 10 minutes after the 2004 tsunami, what with nasal hair scraping his tobacco pipe and all. Suffice to say, Mbeki's shadow at the time, one Gedleyihlekisa Zuma was looking just as tatty until sanity prevailed, circa 2000. Sadly, just before the Terrible Twins discovered that Gillette is their best friend, they passed on the baton of intellectual sloppiness to über bureaucrat Joel Netshitenzhe. I saw him the other day. He looks like someone who lost his pair of scissors back in 1978. But, oh, to have been a fly on the wall when that image consultant confronted Mbeki.
"Oh my great three-term president, the people are restless ... It's your beard."
"I am an African and an intellectual from Mapungubwe. I have never met anyone who died of whiskers."
Look, I'm not an advocate of the Kgalema Motlanthe, porn star, manicured-by-a-horticulturist look. That's absurd. But I have a recurring nightmare involving a horror-movie scene. The main character whispers: "I see unkempt people. They're everywhere. They walk around like regular people. They don't know that they're disgusting."
PG: Man to man, generation to generation.