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Come Again?: Quotes from the Famous, the Infamous and the Ordinary

Come Again?: Quotes from the Famous, the Infamous and the Ordinary

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Come Again?: Quotes from the Famous, the Infamous and the Ordinary

133 pagine
1 ora
Nov 4, 2011


How do you get a snapshot of a nation? What’s made us cry, laugh and nearly tear out our hair in frustration in the past year? The news comes thick, fast and more ridiculous every day and it’s all too easy to forget the headlines that had us nearly crash our cars just a few months ago. And it’s even easier to have missed that truly outrageous quote on the inside letters page. This collection of more than 450 quotes tells a story of South Africa right now, in an extensive collection from the anonymous to the contemptuous (“What did YOU do in the war, Jimmy?”). It documents the hopes, fears and funnies of our nation captured through Twitter, Facebook, and good old-fashioned reporting. Put your feet up and get ready to sigh, “Only in South Africa”.
Nov 4, 2011

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Come Again? - Andrew Donaldson


Onwards to Mangaung

How do I live in this strange place?

Bernoldus Niemand, the alter ego of the late South African songwriter and musician James Phillips, from Reggae vibes is cool, a track on his 1984 album,

Wie is Bernoldus Niemand?

Now there’s something to dwell on – how indeed are we supposed to live here? When James Phillips first posed the question, the country was in the iron grip of PW Botha’s state of emergency, a time of repression and brutality as the popular revolt against apartheid gained momentum. The quote was later used as an epigraph by Rian Malan in his 1990 memoir, My Traitor’s Heart. That extraordinary trawl through his conscience was fittingly subtitled Blood and Bad Dreams: A South African Exile Explores the Madness in His Country, His Tribe and Himself.

And now the question has been posed again – by Samantha Vice, a philosopher at Grahamstown’s Rhodes University – in a journal article early in 2011. She was referring specifically to the role of whites in South Africa, but after seventeen years of democracy with a relatively stable society and a tiny bit of economic growth, it is a valid question for everyone in South Africa; the place, as Alice would have put it, just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.

In her first set of interviews with journalists shortly after her appointment as Minister of International Relations and Cooperation – a clunky-sounding title for the portfolio the rest of the world refers to as foreign affairs, but nevertheless wholly in keeping with the fanciful officialese so beloved of the present government – Maite Nkoana-Mashabane boldly declared that, in her new job, she was aiming to ensure that ordinary people in South Africa knew about foreign policy.

Never did she imagine exactly how that dream would come true! As the political powerhouse of the continent, South Africa again assumed a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council at the United Nations (UN) in January 2011 and took extra care not to repeat the errors it had made when it had previously occupied that position in 2007 and 2008, during Thabo Mbeki’s presidency.

But alas and alack, this time it was due for a rougher ride than ever before, thanks to the so-called Arab Spring, and the results of its decisions on the council would return to make an awful ruckus here at home. Of course, political expediency gets the prize for bringing foreign policy home to the ordinary masses. When South Africa voted its support for a Libyan no-fly zone, it somehow seemed unaware that this would result in the missiles and bombs raining down on totalitarian Tripoli and Colonel Muammar Gad­dafi’s military machine – perfect ammunition, you may say, for the detractors of President Jacob Zuma.

Leading the charge was the familiar mouth almighty, African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema, who accused Zuma of siding with the Western imperialists to attack fellow Africans. This is not quite how it happened, of course, but young Malema understands full well the concept of KISS – Keep It Simple and Stupid – because that’s the way the rank and file like it (and, in this case, they really did). Suddenly the president was being assailed from all sides as a result of South Africa’s Security Council vote.

And if they didn’t like the vote at home, they certainly didn’t like it elsewhere on the continent. Although African leaders would publicly lend their voices to the clamour insisting that Gaddafi should step down, they whispered among themselves that Zuma, as one of their own, had gone a little too far in siding with the French and the British, the chief advocates for the UN’s no-fly-zone resolution. Poor Zuma. He also had the devil’s time of it trying to explain why South Africa had not followed the example of its new chums in the global village – China, Russia and India – and merely abstained from voting.

It’s not the only thing, of course, but that vote is definitely going to count against him in the run-up to the all-important 2012 Mangaung conference, where the African National Congress (ANC) rank and file – or rather their handlers – will judge Zuma’s performance as president and perhaps find him a little wanting in the big chief department. Who knows? Maybe the president and his coterie of stumblebums will come to associate Mangaung with the same shock and awe and fear and loathing that Mbeki and his bunch came to know at Polokwane. Or maybe not. Anything can happen in South African politics, and it usually does.

Nevertheless, 2011 certainly offered Zuma’s detractors within the party an embarrassment of riches when it came to selecting a weapon with which to lay into their target. Spoilt for choice, their only difficulty perhaps lay in deciding which weapon to choose.

This was supposed to be the Year of the Job, where South Africans would see government raise its head from the sand (where the slogan Only the private sector creates jobs echoes) and take responsibility for the high level of unemployment. The official figure is 25.7%. This means 4.5 million people are out of work, and this figure does not include those who are so despondent they have given up on even looking for work. And what’s the unofficial figure? According to a Fin24 report in May, this was around 36.5%, with some provinces like Mpumalanga showing that 42.5% of the labour force was without jobs. Economists were darkly noting that at the worst point of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the unemployment figure in the United States hit 25% – and then only for a few months.

But we are optimists, and the Year of the Job began on a promising note – with R9 billion set aside for job creation. No-one dared to utter the phrase decent jobs, the sort of thing associated with permanent employment – certainly not the unions, who were bitch-slapped about the place last year for their constant demands and lack of loyalty to the national democratic revolution. Decent jobs came to represent what the ANC really thought of its workerist alliance partner, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) – painfully little. So COSATU, not having the political clout itself to break away from the tripartite alliance and go it alone, threw a vloermoer (tan­trum) and promptly went on strike. Instead of creating jobs, the country haemorrhaged work. Enter the solution to all our problems – nationalisation.

True, the issue of nationalisation has long been a popular item on the Youth League’s agenda, but this year, as if battered into submission by the constant barrage of sloganeering by the revolting yoof, the powers that be at Luthuli House, the party’s ruling elite, began to debate the issue. Big mining company CEOs entered the fray and wrote carefully worded opinion pieces to newspapers like Business Day, which were pored over and dissected by all stakeholders in the industry. Well, all except one, of course. Young Malema is more of a Metro

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