Saturday, June 23, 2012

Paralympians prove Humour is the best medicine.

The jovial Hassiem
Dear Headmasters everywhere,
          Sorry, this is actually aimed at everybody, particularly the headmaster of St John’s College in Johannesburg (see Hitler moustache joke gets boy Jewish treatment), as well as all those people who are unable to recognise the humorous side of life.
          In other words people who take jokes dangerously seriously.
         I was touched, not in the head as you might automatically assume, but emotionally by what I read in The Times about the attitude that members of South Africa’s Paralympics team have to life.
          Achmat Hassiem, one of the 62 athletes who will be jetting off to London soon, believes he can swim faster now than before. Before what you will obviously be asking?
          Well it was nothing serious. He relived to journalist David Isaacson the incident that happened six years ago that still doesn’t keep him out of the sea.         
          He was doing life-saving drill off Cape Town’s Muizenberg beach when he saw it. It was heading for his brother. Life saving was what he was there for so he caused a distraction by frantically splashing around. It worked.
          The 4.7m Great White shark lost interest in his brother and came straight at him like a torpedo. Before he knew what was happening it had his right leg in its huge jaws.
          He was dragged underwater for some 70m. I couldn’t hold my breath any more but I decided not to go down without a fight, he said.
          He kicked it with his left leg. I felt a ripping then there was a smack sound and I broke free.
          Minutes later his brother rescue him in a rubber duck as the Great White returned to finish its meal.
          He lost his leg below the knee but he had saved his brother from possibly an even worse fate.
          But in this case the shark did him a favour. My times are much faster than when I had two legs, he revealed.  I suppose when you have a Great White after you it does tend to make you set new records.
          And just so that Achmat doesn’t forget what happened he has the jaws of a 
shark drawn on his prosthetic leg. 
          It’s fun. It’s a bit of humour, he called it. It’s a fashion statement at the games.Who has the best leg, the best arm, the best wheelchair?
Pistorius & Radebe celebrating
          Samkelo Radebe, who is in the same 4x100 relay team as blade runner Oscar Pistorious that set a world record earlier this year, also jokes about his disability.
          I wanted to see if I could be like Superman and carry a load. I did; hey, so I lost a couple of hands.
          At aged nine his game with an 11 000 volt electric cable cost him both arms below the elbows.       
        If these two can joke about their afflictions and laugh them off after what has happened to them it should be a lesson to all of us that humour is the best medicine.
          Yours sincerely,
          Jon, who got his Laughter Doctorate at the University of Giggle and who thanks his lucky stars that he hasn’t got anything missing, except perhaps for a few brain cells, although that’s not as obvious as half a leg or both hands.

Buy my book 'Where have all the children gone?' on  It's a thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of Afrikaner/ English prejudice. 


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