Are you a snollygoster?

Snollygoster. What a delightful new word I’ve learnt! A ‘snollygoster’ is someone, especially a politician, who is guided by a desire for personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles, according to the dictionary. And that is what the DA’s Peter van Dalen called Minister Tina Joemat Pettersson in parliament.

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Granted, he had to retract the remark, but I think it was sharp and on the mark. Tina must have been livid!

The word gives me the giggles and I say it over and over again. I like the way it rolls off my Free State English-speaking tongue.

All jokes aside, though, I believe all politicians are snollygosters to a certain extent. Let’s take the lot responsible for land reform, for instance. They will take any decision whatsoever to appease their voters, regardless of the hard economic truths and realities. Like Max du Preez said at the recent Grain SA congress “all politicians lie before an election.”

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Boet, what a week of learning I had! One should never under-estimate the wisdom of a farmer. Not only did I learn about snollygosters, I’ve also learnt about stalwart Japie Grobler’s business philosophy.

Speaking at the congress he said one knows one has sealed a good deal when both participants are a little bit ‘de donner in’ afterwards – a little bit angry. It makes sense – if one party is extremely satisfied, it means the other is probably not so happy. But if both feel the same, it’s another story.

It made me think of my oupa Bertus Steenkamp’s wise words. He said an employee who lets his workers go hungry is an abomination – a farmer should always plough with oxen of the same size and the oxen must start trekking simultaneously. If you don’t, one of them is bound to lag behind or get hurt.

And so it is in life… some of us are snollygostering ahead, others are a little bit ‘de donner in’, while others are trekking forward in unison. And Grain SA is a microcosm of SA society. You’ll always get the steadfast lot who work together towards the future as well as those who are ‘annoyed’. This bunch are, as a matter of fact, vital to stimulate new thoughts and ideas.

Baas Louw Steytler, you need the wisdom of Solomon to manage them all!

Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.