His spear continually divides the nation

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South Africans were greeted with yet another Jacob Zuma ‘rede of Nkandla’ on Wednesday (26 December 2012). IOL reported “Spending money on buying a dog, taking it to the vet and for walks belonged to white culture and was not the African way, which was to focus on the family, President Jacob Zuma said in a speech in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday. There was a new generation of young Africans who were trying to adopt other lifestyles and even trying to look like others, he said. “Even if you apply any kind of lotion and straighten your hair you will never be white,” Zuma said. Instead, a person lost dignity and ubuntu, and was also likely to lose respect and love for his fellow human beings. He said black people should stop adopting the habits of other cultures. Zuma described people who loved dogs more than people as “having a lack of humanity”.” [0]

In response to the predictable outrage from South Africans of all race groups who love dogs, Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj explained that Zuma “wanted to enable the previously oppressed African majority to appreciate and love who they are and uphold their own culture”. [1]

“The essential message from the President was the need to decolonise the African mind post-liberation to enable the previously oppressed African majority to appreciate and love who they are and uphold their own culture. They should not feel pressured to be assimilated into the minority cultures, he said. He underlined the need to begin promoting the culture of the majority, African culture, within the diversity of South African society, as part of building a new society following the attainment of political freedom.” [2]

Encoded in the political rhetoric of restoring African dignity and promoting traditional African culture (code for support of South Africa’s traditional Leadership and conservative morality), the President appears obviously to be appealing not for the assimilation of common constitutional ideals and values, but for the separation of cultures and the dominance of traditional African culture over “minority cultures”.

“You have more rights because you’re a majority; you have less rights because you’re a minority. That’s how democracy works.” Jacob Zuma – Parliament (September 2012) [3]

That’s how Ubuntu works in Nkandla; some are simply traditionally more equal than others. As President of the Republic however, the traditional values of patriarchal dominance demonstrated by Zuma on several occasions in the past against women, homosexuals and lesbians, appear to be discordant with his Oath of Office to promote all that will advance the Republic and oppose all that may harm it, protect and promote the rights of all South Africans, do justice to all and devote himself to the well-being of the Republic and all of its people. [4]

Is the President of the ANC mobilising our entire multi-cultural nation towards a common vision that includes or excludes diversity of opinion and thought on what is South African culture?

Nelson Mandela. Photo: Alf Kumalo

Jacob Zuma’s deeply conservative and racially polarized political rhetoric contradicts not only the letter and spirit of the Constitution, but divides the nation. In this brave new country, we ARE all equal. Women and men, same sex couples and heterosexuals, Witches and Christians, humans and other animals – all ‘equally equal’ under the very same law of the land on which the President swore his oath of office.

In 2013 I toast to the “minority” values so despised by Contralesa and Traditional Leaders like Zuma in South Africa; to equality, freedom and dignity for all citizens (black and white, conservative and liberal, lovers of people and dogs) equally, in spite of our President!

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“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Nelson Mandela

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References:

[0] Pet dogs not for blacks – Zuma
http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/pet-dogs-not-for-blacks-zuma-1.1445123#.UNwQb-RJMlQ

[1]  Zuma comments cause canine chaos
http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/zuma-comments-cause-canine-chaos-1.1445475#.UNxfNuTqmz4
and
Zuma’s dog comments meant to ‘decolonise the African mind’
http://mg.co.za/article/2012-12-27-zumas-dog-comments-meant-to-decolonise-the-african-mind

[2] President’s remarks on promoting Ubuntu
http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/pebble.asp?relid=7499

[3] “You have more rights because you’re a majority; you have less rights because you’re a minority. That’s how democracy works.” Jacob Zuma – Parliament – In support of excluding a smaller union from Lonmin wage negotiations. (September 2012)

[4] Oath of Office: The President – Schedule 2 of the South African Constitution
http://www.acts.co.za/constitution/schedule_2_oaths_and_solemn_affirmations.htm

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1 Response

  1. Jan 9, 2013

    […] His spear continually divides the nation January 8, 2013 | Author DAMON LEFF. Encoded in the political rhetoric of restoring African dignity and promoting traditional African culture (code for support of South Africa’s traditional Leadership and conservative morality), the President appears obviously to be appealing not for the assimilation of common constitutional ideals and values, but for the separation of cultures and the dominance of traditional African culture over “minority cultures”. That’s how Ubuntu works in Nkandla; some are simply traditionally more equal than others. Read the rest of this entry »   […]

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