The ubiquitous sign in bold lettering PENIS ENLARGEMENT is plastered on almost every stop sign, wall and bus shelter especially in the decrepit ramshackle areas. What image does this conjure up in the minds of foreigners about South African males? In less bold lettering beneath the prominent words will be a whole plethora of ailments and desires which this magic potion or muti, in the local Zulu parlance, can remedy.
The list will include items such as finding a job, retrieving a lover from the arms of another man to finding another wife. Of course the whities or mulungus sneer and roll their eyes at such quackery but in certain segments of black society, these concoctions clearly have credence and an allure otherwise these flyers would not be as prolific.
Main picture: Perhaps in the case the muti will be effective because all it is “designed” to do is to enlarge and not to find a girlfriend
Instead of dismissive wave of the hand, I accepted the proffered pamphlet through a crack at the top of the window while parked at the traffic light on the Marlboro Offramp from the M1 Highway. As the dishevelled tramp pushed the piece of paper through the window, I could smell it before I could even read its list of ludicrous claims. Upon closer inspection apart from a copious list of disparate items that one muti could solve, there is always only a cell phone number with no prices.
Before the car would be impregnated with the reek of the paper, presumably dagga – cannabis or weed to Americans – I turfed it out. Fortunately none of the other drivers cloistered in their own BMWs and Mercedes recognised me. Many were probably shaking their heads in disbelief and wondering whether I might believe that the penis enlargement actually worked.
Of course all of this could be classified as middle class white prejudice against another culture.
But is it?
Surely all cultures bear the same antipathy towards the purveyors of snake oil treatments? Would not common sense prevail when the claim is that the muti can be the lucky charm to the Lotto jackpot.
On a slightly divergent note, a Sick Note from a sangoma – a witch doctor – clearly stated that his client, our employee, had been booked off work for two weeks due to headaches. The exalted sangoma’s diagnosis of this ailment arose because Mr Dlamini was “thinking too much.”
This is one of the joys of a multi-cultural society.