Monday, 5 April 2010

Getting all serious and stuff

Every now and then I like to have a little rant about our local politics. I have a tendency to drone on a bit, and I don't expect you all to wade through my irate little ramblings. So, in no particular order, here's a summary of what I'm trying to say. I won't take it personally if you don't read the rest...

1. Some white people are racist.
2. Some black people are racist.
3. Apartheid was wrong. In so many ways. 
4. Racism and intolerance is tearing South Africa apart. 
5. Julius Malema is a dumb-ass, putting it mildly.
6. Eugene Terre'Blanche was a dumb-ass. Again, that's putting it mildly. 
7. The AWB scares me.
8. The murder of Terre'Blanche has fueled the fire.

Still with me? Hmmm... sucker for punishment, hey? Okay, well here goes:

Since the 'end' of South Africa's apartheid era in 1994, the country has undergone immense changes. With such a heavy past,  we have no shortage of political drama. Like most governments, South Africa has its fair share of buffoons, liars and zealots that receive more media attention than they really deserve. (For the most part, they're harmless. All bark and no bite. Nothing more than hot air.) In a nutshell, optimists will tell you this is truly a  wonderful rainbow nation. Pessimists will tell you the country has gone to the dogs. Whereas realists, like myself, will tell you that with changes have come good and bad. We're a work in progress. 

The ruling party, the ANC, has made a lot of promises it is yet to live up to. That said, they're not awful. I'm the first to admit I don't particularly support the president, Jacob Zuma. I find his morals questionable, and his ethics rather low in standard. But since he became president last year, he's pretty much kept his nose clean on a political level. The president of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), however, hasn't. Julius Malema has made headlines on almost a daily basis for quite a while now. He has an amazing ability to shoot his mouth off, displaying a level of ignorance and arrogance second to none. Ironically, he has a huge following and enjoys support not only from the ANCYL, but also the elders within the ruling party. Julius Malema may be neanderthal, but he certainly knows how to captivate an audience. Sadly, the audience he appeals to is young and restless. Incited by the legacy of their forefathers, they're fooled into believing they need to fight a war already won, often resorting to threats of violence in their protests.  I prefer not to comment on him, because I feel he acts the way he does mostly for attention. I think he is an immature little attention whore.Anyway. In amidst all his sexual insults and blatant racism, lately he's been popularising an old apartheid song that's pretty much about killing the boer (farmer). There's been a huge outlash from opposing parties about this, calling it hate speech and the likes. Malema defends his right to free speech (fair enough), insisting the song is from the apartheid era and an important part of the struggle which led them to where they are today. The matter has since been taken to court and he's been told to quit singing the song. Either way, though, the damage has been done. 

The other side of the coin. Back in the bad old days of apartheid, it was commonly believed that every white South African was  a racist. A stereotype similar to the fallacy that all Germans were nazis. Well, for the record, not all white saffies believed in apartheid, and a lot of us were very happy when the NP was finally kicked out in 1994. That said, to every ying there's a yang and so South Africa was, and still, unfortunate enough to have a right wing white supremacist group that, frankly, is an embarrassment to most white South Africans. They call themselves the AWB - Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging. Loosely translated, it means 'Afrikaner Resistance Movement'. Their emblem strongly resembles the nazi swastiki and bluntly put, they don't like black people. For them, apartheid worked and so when the institution began to crumble, they assembled themselves and tried to keep it alive. They're based on stoic, outdated principles - strongly nationalist and full of drama. They haven't quite embraced the 21st Century. 

Their leader, Eugene Terre'Blanche is a rather unsavoury character. Unlike Malema, he's elderly (and white) but that's pretty much where the difference ends. He too has been known to stir up frenzies, and he has staunch followers that, like Malema's, will follow him blindly. Ultimately, he gives white South Africans a bad rep and is a good example of why this country is struggling to heal from the wounds of the apartheid era.

So on the one hand you have the young Malema calling the youth to arms and singing songs about killing the boer, and at the other end of the spectrum you have the AWB warning everyone about the Swart Gevaar and the impending Operation Uhuru. A virtual ping-pong match that rivals a sequel to Dumb and Dumber. 

And now, Terre'Blanche has been murdered - allegedly by two black guys. 

Talk about fueling the fire! Apparently he was killed over a wage dispute. He came to a horrible and violent end, one I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy but more than that, his murder has brought about a climax of racial tensions that have been simmering for a while now. The AWB are already talking of avenging their beloved leader's death. Ironically, Terre'Blanche's murder has made him a martyr for his cause. It would've been better for everyone if he had been left alone to die of natural causes. I don't mean to come across as harsh, but he's spent his life protesting that black people are sub-human and dangerous. Meeting his end hacked to death with pangas at the hand of his 'enemy' has most likely cemented his credibility in the eyes of his followers as well as a few who were on the fence. Unsurprisingly, the AWB are blaming Malema for inciting his murder with his hate speech. Can't really blame them for saying that, though I'm willing to bet the two guys who (allegedly) killed Terre'Blanche weren't remotely motivated by Malema's sing-song, but rather the fact that Terre'Blanche didn't pay them what they wanted. 

Now it's wait and see. What worries me is these small sort of groups are somewhat militant. The last thing this country needs is for this to get out of hand, which I suspect it is about to do. It breaks my heart. South Africa is so full of potential, but as long as racial hatred still exists, I don't see how we can move in the right direction. This isn't a Disney film, but seriously, we're in the classic motion of one step forward, two steps back. It's times like these that I suspect we're going nowhere slowly.

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