I would like you to click this link. Don’t worry, it’s not porn. I post this in response to an apparent serious question Nomsa Dube recently posed: what causes lightning?. Dube has the charming job title of “KwaZulu-Natal MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs”. And yes she seriously did ask the question to which I have given a sarcastic reply. Here is a quotation: “We will do an investigation and talk to the department of science and technology on what is the cause of the lightning.”
The cause of lightning. Yes. Because, you understand, we have electricity, sent people to the moon, interact with consoles using hand gestures, augment reality – but hell if we know what causes lightning. I thought we were satisfied with Thor’s anger, the clash of angels’ wings, or ancestors banging metal shields of woe.
What are “traditional affairs” that she oversees? Well, see, I can ask that question and get a reasonable answer. What I don’t need to do is ask someone to create a department of traditional affairs in order to answer that question; I do not need to re-invent the wheel to get a sense of a “round”, of “movement”. She wants in investigation into lightning as if it happens nowhere else on this planet. Talk about nationalism.
Says Dube: “Scientists from the department could perhaps help us and come up with instruments that could help community members protect themselves against lightning.”
Er, does she mean one of these?
Or one of these?
Perhaps a little faith will help?
More stupid from Dube: “The department has dealt with floods and fires, but lightning was new to us.”
Lightning is… NEW?
Perhaps what she means is the department dealing with lightning – but if you deal with fires and floods, why not lightning, too? Why is this “new” for any reason?
It appears the main reason is a number of people were killed after their rondavel was struck by lightning, in KZN. I’ll ignore the fact they came from church and so should you, dear reader. Said a survivor: “It started raining yesterday around 3pm, we were all from church, then there was lightning which struck the house and there was a fire. I ran out of the house and later noticed that my family was still inside, I went back and carried them out.”
Whilst it is obviously devastating to the remaining members of the family and friends, what is perplexing is the MEC’s response. As well as saying scientists can help protect against lightning attacks (which they’ve already done, see above pictures), she says they must investigate what causes lightning. I am going to err on the side of miscommunication – perhaps bad reporting – and say this is probably what she meant.
Yet my cynicism can’t help see it as a distinct possibility that, indeed, a South African MEC does not know what the cause of lightning is. If so, somebody please introduce her to Google.