They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, except at Mediclinic in Stellenbosch. There, a picture is worth something else.

In a press release circulating on social media early this week, the healthcare company invited “all photographers, both hobbyists and professionals”, to take pictures of its new Stellenbosch facility, focusing on themes such as “Vineyards”, “Majestic Mountains” and something called “Dusted Moss”, which sounds like what stock brokers used to snort off the dashboards of Lamborghinis in the 1980s.

“A curated panel will select the best images, which will be printed and displayed at the newly built Mediclinic Stellenbosch,” read the invitation, adding that framing would be done “according to Mediclinic interior décor/design standards”.

So far, so good. You took a scenic picture of their hospital and, if Mediclinic liked it, they would blow it up and use it as décor at their fantastically expensive and swanky hospital. And what would you get in return from the multibillon-dollar megacorporation? Credit. Not actual credit, like at a casino or a bank. Just your name under the photo. The giveaway in all of this was in the title of the press release, which read, “A picture speaks a thousand words”. The butchery of the idiom wasn’t accidental: if they’d got it right and said “A picture is worth a thousand words”, the idea of worth would have been floated into people’s heads, and Mediclinic can’t have that. No, not when what they were actually saying was, “A picture is worth fokkol because we’re not going to pay you a cent for yours, even though some of you are professionals who make your living doing this, and even though we’d usually cough up an enormous amount of cash for this kind of décor”. Of course, no self-respec...

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