Analysis of South African politics has often been overshadowed and reduced to the politics of personality cults, sex, drugs and power-politicking. Analysis has often lacked the luster of critical analysis and proper context. Far too often, political analysts have pursued ‘sound-bite’ analysis that ‘sells’ to capture the imaginations and the fears of the day.
Take for example current analysis on Juju and Visagie. Often analysis has been informed by the dialectical hate-love relationship and on the basis of their crude and unorthodox personas. Little analysis about them has been done in context, having applied normative thinking to explain what is wrong with current social reality against shared norms.
We must remember that both Julius and Visagie are not aliens of South African society alas they are products and by-products of a fractured society. They represent and are perfect embodiments of all that is still ill and ugly in South African society. That is why they continue to enjoy popular support in their respective constituencies. They mirror their struggles and project these into mainstream society.
They are products of a fractured and disenfranchised society. They are agents and victims of systematic exclusion that continues to produce and reproduce philosophies of racial prejudice and racial hatred. Both feel betrayed by the outcomes of the revolutionary program of the African National Congress.
We can’t wish them away. They are apart of us. They are us. We are them. They perfectly embody and remind us of the defects of post-modern South Africa.
Take Malema for example. The ugly truth is that Malema perfectly embodies the sentiments of “the average black man” perfectly fed up with the unrepentant attitudes of white people who still have a chip of white superiority on their shoulders, thinking they’re still King in an African man’s home. He represents the bona fide sentiments of the average black man tired of being the face and life of poverty, unemployment, poor quality education, no property ownership. Malema represents the struggle of the average black man to own himself, to defend his freedoms and to reclaim his citizenship. Malema represents the common perspective of the average black man who continues to elevate racial purity above shared and common humanity, believing he too deserves to win first prize in the lottery of life. His motives are noble. His tactics, however, remain questionable.
Visagie, on the other hand, represents all that is ill and backward about Afrikaans tradition. He embodies the sordid sentiments of the “average Afrikaans man” perfectly fed up with the unrepentant attitudes of black people who have a chip of black pride on their shoulders, thinking he is King in his own home. He represents the bona fide sentiments of the average Afrikaner man yearning to be the face and life of yester-year racial privileges. Visagie represents the struggle of the average Afrikaner man to own others, to subjugate hard-earned freedoms and to reclaim citizenship as the colonial master of. Visagie represents the common perspective of the average Afrikaner who continues to elevate racial purity above shared and common humanity, believing in the inherent right to win first prize in the lottery of life. His motives remain noble unto his own. His tactics questionable, only most of the times.
Neither of them have internalized the democratic and humanitarian ideals espoused by this great humanitarian whose life’s struggle and personal philosophy can be summarized in his very own words; “During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Neither is willing to live for principle for its own sake. Both are driven by sectarian interests for their own sake. Both are willing to die for these.
South Africa is still to internalize the democratic and humanitarian ideals of the new South Africa. What we have are sentimental attachments to notions of reconciliation, racial unity and nation-building. South Africa is still to own it in real and concrete terms.
Both parties must make the necessary compromises in the interest of the majority poor. How much of ourselves are we willing to lose so future generations are assured of a shared identity?? How much are we willing to give??
Or is the black man on his own (Steve Biko)??