Have Grudges, Will Travel

A Holiday Guide For The Bitter White South African Man

Words: Ian McNaught-Davis | Illustrations: Kelly Poole

Are you a Bitter White South African Man? Do you like the idea of not going to work and being somewhere nice instead? Well, you’re in luck – this country has nine provinces to be wretchedly sour in, so pack your grudges and hit the road!

Being a Bitter White South African Man isn’t as simple as having a green passport, a deficiency in melanin, an array of resentments, and male genitalia below your boep. It’s a lifestyle that must be cultivated like the vines in the Boland, nourished like the mielies on the banks of the Orange River and maintained like Petrus is supposed to do with the roses.

The Bitter White South African Man (henceforth referred to as a BWSAM) is the strong and silent type. He knows that to achieve bitterness, one must marinade in disapproval like a kudu rump in a puddle of Jimmy’s Sauce. He knows better than to say anything offensive to someone – unless it’s online, of course. Then, you should exercise your right to free speech fully, and merrily mutilate people’s emotional states with unbridled enthusiasm.

The BWSAM shouldn’t be confused with the Gatvol White South African Man, who has by this stage already left the country. Because the cost of living in the GWSAM’s new country is so high, his idea of a relaxing holiday is circulating smug emails about incidences of South Africa’s maladministration before Derek Watts has had a chance to sniff them out.

The BWSAM has instead chosen to stay and enjoy the best of both worlds: the freedom to explore one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, along with the orgasmic delight of complaining about its rampant mismanagement.

So, if your holidays are good but they could be bitter, follow these tips for maximum loathing:

Mode of transport

Get a big vehicle, because a bitter man need not be an insignificant one. If a man’s home is his castle, his executive 4x4 is his cathedral. Behold how your glass-half-empty ramblings echo throughout the cavernous recesses of the air-conditioned interior.

Get something that devours as much fuel as a Gupta jet. Don’t worry about belching fumes into the environment because the government will turn your fair country into a Mad Max-esque wasteland before vitriolic sunbeams ever do. And when that does happen, you’ll need a heavy-duty vehicle to traverse the post-apocalyptic wilderness to your friends’ golf estates. Not to rescue them, but rather to remind them that you told them so.

Don’t be tempted to take the bakkie off the tar. Remember, your car is for lamenting but not off-roading. Because then it’s going to get muddy and Petrus is going to demand extra for cleaning it.

The Journey

It really doesn’t matter where you’re going, so long as the road is peppered with potholes. Hit a few of these little monuments to incompetence along the way to share this resentment with your family. Mutter after each dip. It doesn’t matter what words you mutter (that’s the beauty of muttering – it’s deliberately incoherent). Don’t mumble any of your good material because potholes outnumber potential outbursts.

Your indecipherable burst of syllables will no doubt have your wife and laaities rolling their eyes knowingly. Are they rolling their eyes at you? Possibly. Does it matter? No. Because a family that rolls eyes together, thrives together.


Ask yourself the following questions when choosing a place to stay:

1) Is this a lekker place to feel kak?

The problem with South Africa’s diverse landscape is that it’s sometimes difficult to feel absolutely dejected. Luckily, the BWSAM has learned to adapt. With his ratel-like ways, he knows how to forage for the sweet honey of displeasure and to share it with others, generously smearing them with the syrupy nectar of disgruntlement.

No matter how inspiring the surroundings are for others, he can fall back on his despondency training – whether visualising passing another kidney stone or imagining that his son is “a gay”. And just like that – voila! – you haven’t been this the moer in since those bloody communists at Naspers took the comments section at News24 away.

2) Does it have a dishwasher?

Jassis, a long weekend without the char is bad enough. But then again, you could always get your son to do the washing up, even though you shouldn’t encourage him to take part in too many domestic activities. Especially after he announced he was “a gay” in front of all the okes at the Keg & Putter. Sure, it only happened in a dream but you never know, hey. 

3) Does it have a TV?

Most people want to get away from the news when they’re on holiday. Well, most people are bloody fools. News broadcasts are fantastic opportunities to bathe in a blissful tide of calamities. Sometimes, good news stories have been known slip through. Usually they involve the birth of something that looks like a quagga. Ignore these.

4) Does it have cell phone signal?

With 3G you can stay up to date with open letters to politicians and rugby coaches. There are few things that the BWSAM likes more than a good old open letter. One good thing about having such a kak postal service is that they won’t get sent to the right addresses, and more people will have to write open letters.


Use an indoor braai. This prevents the serenity of nature from distracting your audience and you’ll have better acoustics for your sighs to be amplified. Savour the grave reverberation as you slam your tongs against the grid while composing eulogies for the country.

Bring chicken so you can make your salad joke. No problem if it gets burnt – it will make a good metaphor for the forthcoming combustion of our collective hopes and dreams.

A lightly-braaied banana with pieces of melted chocolate inside makes for a delightful treat. It’s also a good opportunity to say, “Better get used to this when we become a bloody banana republic, hey, my boy?” to your son. Clang those tongs against something.

If your son still isn’t nodding and saying “Ja, well, no, fine,” don’t take it personally. You may have not bred with a BWSAW. There’s still time to be the bicarbonate of soda that eradicates the mildew of positivity on the biltong of his perspective. Remind him of how Sihle is opening the batting for the U/13A team now. And you know your son is better. You saw his cover drive over the pool off one of Aunty Sharon’s faster deliveries.

Fun activities

Besides being a miry swamp of despair, South Africa provides a smorgasbord of good times. These include hiking, diving, swimming, tanning, abseiling, heavy petting, trail running, cycling, fishing and many others.

Do none of these. Go to a bar and get vlakvark-faced drunk. Engage in constructive discourse with like-minded BWSAMs, because bitterness doesn’t survive in a vacuum. Regale each other with theories that stop just shy of wrist-slitting. This isn’t as easy or as fun as it sounds, mind you. Other patrons might be all stomach and no prejudice. It just shows you what conscription would have fixed.

Start tirades subtly. You’re not online, remember. Mutter something about choosing players on merit while pointing at the picture on the wall of Joel Stransky’s dropkick in the 95 World Cup Final. This is a safe bet because Chester Williams is concealed by the posts in that specific shot.

Packing Up

Leaving a holiday – and parting with 80 bucks for Agnes to sweep the house after you – is never easy. But neither is being a BWSAM who must pack his car while consumed with introspection. What legacy will you leave for your son? Will he grow up to be bitter enough? What if we run out of Bitter South African White Men to grumble with? What then? What horrendous picture of our future will you paint when people ask you how you are doing?

Ag, cheer up, man. You’ve got a pothole-riddled drive home to look forward to. Ja, well, no, fine.