Tag Archives: Jacob Zuma

Beware the boy who cries ‘Zulufication’

This post originally appeared on M&G Thoughtleader.

In Aesop’s fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf, a shepherd boy alone on a hillside tending to sheep called on people in a nearby village to help him chase away a wolf that was attacking his flock. There was no wolf of course. He was just doing what bored shepherd boys are tempted to do for kicks when bored. When the villagers arrived, pitchforks at the ready, the boy yelled, “Psyche, y’all just got punk’d!” Or something like that. Continue reading

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On how black anger and white obliviousness are used to foreground race in post-apartheid South Africa

My essay on how black anger, white obliviousness and the expedience of politics have foregrounded race in public dialogue in South Africa has just been published on Mampoer Shorts. It’s a 10,000-word “short”, so snazzy book-like cover aside, you should be able to read it in under two hours. It builds on an opinion piece I wrote earlier this year for the Daily Maverick at the height of debacle over Brett Murray’s ‘The Spear’. Read it, give me your thoughts, and if I haven’t died of shame from the self-promotion I’ll be engaging in during the coming weeks, consider me immortal. Also, in that instance, let me know if you’d like to be involved in a follow-on project I’ll be doing along the same theme next year. But for now, here’s an excerpt. The full essay is available on Mampoer for $2.99. Continue reading

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Zuma’s ‘clever blacks’: Lost in media translation

Considering the Babel of languages spoken in South Africa and how each developed verbal cues and connotations in state-sanctioned isolation, I think we’d all do well to ask, before assuming, if we’ve understood what the other is saying. This goes doubly so in instances when we think the other person has said something preposterously outrageous, as is the case with the ‘clever blacks’ comment City Press attributed to president Jacob Zuma.

Addressing the House of Traditional Leaders, Zuma said, “Some Africans who become too clever take a position (where) they become the most eloquent in criticising themselves about their own traditions and everything.” He went on to urge the House to play a role in helping Africans remember their roots.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of what Zuma said in this sentence, but City Press pounced on this, running the story as their Sunday lead under the headline “Zuma scolds ‘clever’ blacks”. The Sunday lead is usually reserved for the most scandalous, most riveting, most newsworthy story. Puzzling then that this fairly innocuous comment would receive such prominence in a speech riddled with other more shocking comments, particularly the double-speak on the unconstitutional Traditional Courts Bill. Continue reading

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