Ngud: A Tribute

noun. a quart, 750ml bottle, beer bottle.

It is the year 2000. Most of us nescient folk have just scarcely made it into the New Year following an intensive year-long apocalypse scare campaign by resident mongers and even government agents who proved too inexperienced by spreading such drivel. Then known as Y2K, this impending demise of the globe had even my intrepid grandmother’s stomach in knots as she grew more concerned about the looming Armageddon. Her regular utterances around her having outlived her allocated time and it being her time to move on to the Pearly Gates had become a risible scarcity. We’d began hearing more of how she valued life, the taste of acerbic red grape juice and the like. I was not too familiar with the concept of idelakufa except in Rocky and Delta Force Movies when antagonists had clearly met their demise and acceded. As such, I valued living. It did not help either that I had just discovered true love. Castle Lager, whose acquaintance I made at a neighbour’s after-tears, had really arrived in my life, not the garbage youngsters sip on these days.

Because the saucy minx from TUT had chewed and spat me out thus leaving me broken in all sorts of significant places, I’d sat in Bra Lim’s yard that weekend, sobbing, as his after-tears prepared to get underway. I was sombrely consumed by the wasted time I lost mingling with that warlord bearing overly ambitious soleus muscles when I could have gotten to know other womenfolk better. Similar to the two before her, Mantwa was a few years older than I was. I was fond of mature misses in my earlier years you see. I am the reason the renaissance noun ‘Ben 10’ made it into the Urban Dictionary; and I’m not ashamed to lay claim to the etymologization of this noun. When Oom Dan, Bra Lim’s permanently inebriated uncle noticed the very tearful state I was in, he approached with intentions to console me, of course assuming I was mourning his beloved nephew. Little did he know that I was in turmoil with the self. I had my own problems.

As he sat down next to me with two distinctly sweaty Castle Lager nguds in his hands, you know the type before SAB Miller engaged woke bottle designers who know how to play around with bottle colours? Ones that were purposely designed to look like Sta-Nancy the shebeen queen from Gomora? I’m talking about the type of nguds that required the back of a 5 Star Okapi to disengage from their bottle caps, not the nonsensical twist-caps we see roaming our streets these days. Neighbourhood boys can’t even use the sordid twist-caps as wheels for their wire mobiles. As he heaved all the way down onto the chair he let go of a slight cough, rough and screaming hospital, often heard from BB smoking types. “Tshwara so mfanaka” he said passing onto me one of the nguds. It should be known that up until this point, I had never kissed fermented beverages in my life, save for Mantwa’s foul lips; and as such was not familiar on a personal level with the state of drunkenness. I was pretty certain Oom Dan would have plenty to say what with him living permanently with the condition. He did not have to tell me how and when to disengage the cap, my sorrows guided the tour. Yeyi, ibhiya imnandi bafets don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

As I poured my heart out to the drunken master, Mandoza’s Nkalakatha exploded from the speakers, a dedication to Bra Lim from his assemblage of golden oldies. The after-tears was in full swing. I am generally a reticent cynic with a mild case of OCD but I fancied myself Mandoza himself half way into the ngud. I had the swag, the government voice and his only signature dance move, the pelvic swing. I reconsidered my suicidal state as I danced the afternoon away in Oom Dan’s company, with newly discovered prospects of a career alongside the Chomees and Ushers of this world. Look, I’m not going to sit here and lie about my then state of mind, but it is solid truth that Nkalakatha saved my life, well after Castle Lager had laid the ground work. So as we pay tribute to one of the greatest products of Kwaito this week, let Nkalakatha take you where you were the first time you heard it. I am already there, minus the drama of course. Mrs Botsoso and I will be pelvis swinging till late next Monday, ngud in hand. I have of course graduated since my Castle Lager days.