The Emperor is Naked
-A video and written respense to Professor Ndebele’s article in the City Press June 17-
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Prof. Ndebele’s piece in the City Press and as is my democratic right as a proud South African, I felt I wanted to engage his opinions. It is also wonderful to see what and how the transgenerational differences, learnings and experiences reflect in how we view the spear painting and the countries response to it.
Just to be frank, my opinion on the painting is that ‘the spear’ was disappointing. Disappointing because of the following reasons. Yes, South Africa has seen some dramatic changes, we have had some social eruptions, we are all not completely happy with where we are, as we should not be. Until we achieve our goal of building an all embracing, vibrant ‘rainbow nation’, a new global dream. Until we become the poster for the future of a humane, caring, global society, we will have to work together to build it.
‘The spear’, was an artistic expression. The artist, whomever he/she is, had feelings that some South Africans do feel towards our President. This is normal, we cannot all agree with the President, his personal choices, but what we all must accept is that he is the leader of the party that won the elections in a free and fair setting. We should get used to the practice of respecting our leadership, and if we feel we cannot, on a fundamental level and believe they should be removed, there are channels we can follow to accomplish such. Unless we wish to do that, we must at least show him respect. If we cannot respect the system, the new way of living, the era of ubuntu we are building, it will crumble. None of us want that.
Respect does not mean reserving our opinions about social programs, about his service delivery goals. The president of the country works for us. Through debate, let us engage and rather review his performance and that of the ANC. Politics is not a beauty pageant where our President must win Miss Congeniality, Mr Likeable or even Senor. Morality. It is wonderful when we can connect with our leadership and relate to them, but I feel what must be paramount is their service delivery agenda and what they are doing to meet it.
I wrote a piece called the emperor. There, on a macro level, I question the system of global capitalism and global political trends. On a micro level, more specific personal issues such as privacy and the governments protection of my ‘space’ are raised. I wrote this prior to the ‘open plan’ toilets first built by the DA in Cape Town were publicized, but it is quite fitting and apt in describing that particularly distasteful situation. Cape Town is the last bastion of hope for -and I’ll say it- the kicking but dying horse of apartheid and racial privilege. That provence needs transformation, we will all be the better for it. I love Cape Town, Long street, I was at UCT for one fantastic year. There are pockets of humanity (students at UCT, the spaces they occupy), and wonderful colorful communities of Cape Town, of all races and shades. They all know this is true and agree with me.
That said, the challenge of the emperor is not unique to South Africa, its is universal.
I will be compiling a video blog that will be posted this week where I will discuss Prof. Ndebele’s position and the points he makes on a more specific level, but overall, these are my heartfelt sentiments.
We live in a new South Africa. We all knew that in order to avoid an almost inevitable hostile violent takeover by the masses, the relinquishing of power by the old guard and national reconciliation was the next best step. Lets not pretend that somehow power was balanced, the odds were in favor of the masses and a very different South African/ Azanian future was looming. People made grave compromises, and we are grateful to them because they gave us the greatest opportunity of all, to build our South Africa.
We agreed to the pacts made in CODESA, ofcourse only those that we have been made aware of. We voted for a nation with a culture of multiculturalism and a strong national identity, hence or former slogan, ‘Alive with Possibility’.
We have a very traumatic history, all of us. It will take time for us to truely transform but I believe we have been moving painstakingly towards our goal and this is no time for us to give up, DO NOT THROW IN THE TOWEL. Let us continue engaging in debate. So far we have been amicable and candid about our individual South African stories shaped by our experiences.
I love my South Africa in its entirety. ‘The Spear’, even though I do dislike the painting and do think the same message could have been creatively tackled in a more effective and constructive manner, it did make us sit up and engage each other. The extension to the painting done by the two gentlemen at the Goodman gallery also energised me and I am keen to engage my fellow South Africans on how we can move forward and be the beacon of hope the world and humanity so desperately need us to be. Working together we CAN do more!