Julius Malema and potholes and eating sushi off women, these are few of South Africa’s favourite things over which to fume, and vociferously at that. If there were action to match the level (and volume and frequency) of outrage and debate, I could see millions of South Africans laying siege to the Union Buildings, toyi-toying and singing, “Watch out sushi king and croissant queen, the chattering masses are coming!” The Twitter hashtag, I imagine, would be #killbling, #echopstickyami, or something. Christiane Amanpor and Anderson Cooper would be dispatched forthwith, and the world’s eyes would be fixed on South Africa.
Except they won’t. These issues are arguably (and I am making the argument that they are) of a lesser importance relative to the other issues South Africa faces. These kinds of issues, the Mbaus and the potholes and the who’s African or not, the low-lying fruit if you will, have become the main course on the neo-counterrevolutionary* menu. Come time to digest the more complex issues, everyone’s just too stuffed to take another bite. I’m not saying that there exist issues that have no place at the table — it’s just that some are at best appetisers.
So before I belabour the food metaphor (or is a metonymy?) any further, let me lay down my quandary: I do not believe that, currently and during what history may prove to be a crucial period, the national rhetoric in South Africa is the stuff that transforms societies.
* Are you deeply concerned about the gaudiness of Kenny Kunene’s spending? Do you believe Julius Malema is South Africa’s biggest problem? Do you think the president should say how he will fix potholes in his state of the nation address? Then congratulations, you could be a neo-counterrevolutionary.