By Bheki Dungeni:
Monday, November 5, 2012
After much reflection and consideration on quite a number of things happening around, this notion eerily crossed my mind, and for the first time I began to ask myself questions I had never asked before. But one question that overshadowed most of them was this simple, yet so complex inquiry: Where did it all go wrong?
Also, I have to admit, I had made a pact with my ‘journalistic gods’ that I will keep away from anything ‘political’ for some time, but thanks to our ‘gifted politicians’, I was forcefully stirred out of my peaceful slumber.
If the recent events are anything to go by, I believe millions, if not billions of people all over the world have noticed that something is amiss, and whatever it is, it is not only jeopardizing unity among all, but it has left South Africa rattling along the rancid edges of what many tend to call a ‘point of no return’.
This piece does not set out to conclude on anything, but to try and find answers to this rather perplexing question. Where did it really go wrong?
Would it be for the fact that a party that has been in existence for over 100 years, and has run the country for the past 18, has fallen victim to the evil forces of profligacy? Or is it because the ideologies set down when South Africa attained her independence remained merely inscriptions within the pediments of the Freedom Charter, and did not see the light of day? How about maybe the country took a left turn, when it was supposed to turn right (Led by the one and only)?
Well, to begin with, I would love to refer you to a statement from the President of South Africa himself, which did not only leave me gob smacked, but truly dismayed. I have never been one to point a finger at the other, but after that sentiment the President put out, I felt like pointing a finger all the way to his heart. Probably poke it even, and assess if it’s still in touch with the world around it or not.
“Let us solve African problems the African way, not the white man’s way,” President Jacob Zuma was quoted saying, at the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament.
I would love to quote the rest of it, but truth be told, my heart would not allow me.
Maybe we would like you recap a bit, Mr. President, and go back a little bit, because it certainly seems it’s a lot easy for political leaders nowadays to forget things as is it for some of them to bid for a ‘four-legged’ Buffalo (Would have made sense if maybe it had two. Rare-breed).
When did it all suddenly become a question of doing it the ‘white man’s’ way or the African way? When did all the principles and tenets penned down in the Freedom Charter wash down the drain? Was it not you Mr. President who has been advocating for unity among South Africans; black, white, Coloured, Indian, Chinese or any other race?
It is truly sad, if not disheartening, that the man at such an echelon in the governing house would truly utter such words, especially when the country is grappling with multitudes of conflicts that are simultaneously boiling with each and every day. If that statement, Mr. President, is not racist, then we all didn’t get the memo. Probably we were in a different train going somewhere else, where we never got to see words like ‘racism, prejudice and segregation’. You would certainly be forgiven to think that such political views brandish nothing but conceit.
I have a suggestion, Mr. President. Why not let the ‘white man’ have what is his then? Let him have his sky-scrapper buildings that he ‘brought’ into the land, and maybe we can all finally cram up in caves, crevices, and mud-huts that we seem like we ‘truly miss’ so bad. How about giving back his suits that you always seem cooped up in every time you appear at conferences and conventions? Or your stylish ‘blue-light’ convoy that is entirely a ‘white man’s’ creation?
Let me not even mention the iPad, which you tap on and touch with ease, warmed by the beauty of civilization, technology and now the digital world. I’m sure you will do just fine counting your cows, goats, sheep and corn fields using stones and your fingers. Oh, wait, you wouldn’t even know how to count because it was the same ‘white man’ who taught you all this, and today you’re telling the people that ‘lawyers will not help you’?
My message is simple: I think it’s time people woke up from their dreams of going back into the primitive world; where animal skin, feathers, traditional beer, five or more wives and walking barefoot would be the style of the day. Let’s enjoy it as a culture and tradition, and celebrate it forever and ever if we have to. But let’s not try and undo the road to civilization, because surely by trying to bring it all back together is like trying to undo a whole two to three centuries.
You would die before even starting on such a journey, Mr. President. We have already been influenced by many different cultures. We have already taken the leap into civilization and left the ‘dark, stone-age’ days behind us. I am sorry to break it down to you, but as bad as it may seem or sound, especially to the older generation, its either we fight it (whatever it is we are fighting), or make it work for everyone else. Well, I wouldn’t take the first option, as we have already seen what fighting has done. Who would want to relive Apartheid?
Five words: Get on with the programme
Honestly, has it not crossed your mind that South Africa is probably one of the only countries in the world that is still blaming the ‘white man’? How long will it go on and when will it end?
Again, thanks to our forever-opinionated Comrade Blade Nzimande, the barrel of the gun has suddenly shifted to the media now. He claims South African media is ‘unfair and unbalanced’. ‘Unfair and Unbalanced’ in what way, I ask myself.
Like I said, it certainly seems easy to forget for many politicians in the country. It seems it is easy to remember animal skins and ‘spears’ from the 1800s, but pledges set down merely 18 years ago vanished with the blink of an eye.
Was it not the same media that was at the forefront of atrocities back in the day when the country was fighting apartheid? Was it not the same media that chased after riots, marches and uprisings in townships, to show the world the plight of the people? Soweto and Sharpeville, anyone?
How about the same media that afforded people like Nelson Mandela a platform to share their views and hopes for South Africa with the world? Who filmed him and followed him around? It surely wasn’t CNN, BBC or Sky News, was it? If you know the history of media houses in South Africa, you would certainly know that most of them haven’t changed much. Some of the media houses and companies that covered the uprisings during apartheid days are still the same that are in existence today. What’s new?
Probably what Nzimande means is media houses should only cover events where the ANC is about to hand over keys to 50 new RDP house owners in the communities, sidelining the millions that are squeezed into townships and shacks, and have been waiting for houses for years now. Maybe what he is suggesting is that media houses should get VIP seats at their dinner tables, and leave thousands of mine workers striking, marching and slaughtering each other around the country in the name of ‘better salaries’? Probably what he means is that media houses should come ‘dance’ and dine with the ruling party at their galas and conventions, and neglect protesters burning down libraries, streets lights, infrastructure and stoning cars in Khayelitsha because they demand better housing, better services, water and electricity.
Well, I got news for you, because the same media that you invited to the ANC 100 years centenary celebrations will be the same media that will stretch its arms to cover the millions of rands in tax money that the party is channeling into its coffers day in day out. It will stretch its arms to dig up allegations and reports about arms deals, corruption, money laundering and ‘tenderpreneurship’ in the country.
If it has ample space in its hands, it will be the same media that will be the first to know that the Presidents nephew’s car was hijacked while his bodyguard was waiting for some KFC somewhere in the land, while workers at ‘his mine’ go without salaries for months. How about being the same media to capture sterling HD pictures of ‘Rolex’ watches precariously dangling on the wrists political demagogues claiming to be at the realm of the ‘poor’.
It will be the same media that will be the first to catch a glimpse of thousands of books and stationery dumped somewhere in Limpopo, while students suffer at schools and go for months without them. How about being the first to know that the man at the top of the governing house is getting married for the umpteenth time, thanks to the ‘middle-class’ tax-paying citizens of South Africa ‘cordially sponsoring’ the weddings?
There is no need to sugar-coat things here, or is there a need to compile reports in favour of one against the other. That, my dear comrades in the political spheres, would be tantamount to unethical, ‘unfair and unbalanced’ reporting, as Nzimande put it. It would certainly be uncalled for, especially when political heads have proved to everyone that their chosen path is theirs and theirs only. Should it go unchallenged? I don’t think so.
Well, thanks to the media, the country now knows that the President wanted, and still is probably going to use more than R200m taxpayers money for the ‘upgrading’ of his ‘homestead’.
Thanks to the media, the country now knows that government officials get charged of different crimes but never face the dock, as cases get ‘miraculously’ dropped, and to some extent, courts peculiarly burn down somewhere in Polokwane.
Oh yes, thanks to the media, the country now knows that police were involved in the bombing of a correctional services vehicle, killing people and wounding more than a dozen, because they wanted to help criminals escape.
Without the media, this country would be in the dark. But, most importantly, it wouldn’t be in the dark as it would be without the ‘white man’s’ technology. (Let’s be honest, a mere fire wouldn’t light up Johannesburg the way its glistening lights at night do today).
With that said, I am certainly looking forward to another long vacation from politics, and go back to enjoy the beauty of the world without ‘politics’ breathing down my neck, and hopefully I will wake up on the other side of Mangaung. Honestly, It seems it has become one big circus where, if Julius Malema is not swindling tenders and money somewhere, Mr. President is busy trying to convince the world that everything is okay and there is absolutely nothing to worry about. For now, all I can say is let’s brace ourselves people, and simply hope nobody is going to dance themselves out of their ‘red’ neckties come December.