Dashiki Dialogues: Dirty dashikis do a dance of deflection

2014-02-12 10:00

Our country is often like a burning bus charging down a steep slope with broken brakes while we, the passengers, respond by arguing about which song to sing along to.

In many cases, when the nation is impassioned about an issue, we find something trivial to deflect our attention from that issue.

It’s something akin to what self-confessed neocolonialist RW Johnson did in a recent radio interview following an article in which he stated: “One notes how African, coloured and Indian parents are eager that their children should attend formerly white schools?–?it is seen as a guarantee of quality?–?and also how, for the same reason, they do not want the whites to abandon the school to them: the ideal is to be racially diverse and keep the whites involved.”

Basically, he was charging that black people associate white presence with excellence. He was then asked by Eusebius McKaiser if he had peer-reviewed evidence for his racially offensive claim or if it was a hypothesis he came up with his friends while drinking brandy and Coke.

Johnson responded by asking if McKaiser had any peer-reviewed evidence that he and his friends drink brandy and Coke.

Now that’s something special.

This kind of diversionary self-deception does not only afflict people like Johnson. It tends to bewitch us at a larger, more collective level.

Take the very worrying information that emerged from the DA-Agang fiasco, for example. As it turned out, a mystery international donor was behind last week’s ill-fated DA-Agang merger. News reports in The New Age quoted Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele as saying:

“A donor pushed the DA and Agang together.”

Then we saw the DA’s Mmusi Maimane step into the fray to rubbish the reports.

This was contradicted by DA leader Helen Zille who, when questioned about the donor, told Talk Radio 702 host John Robbie to ask Ramphele.

But when she was pressed further about the donor, Zille said: “Yes I?do?know who the donor is?…?don’t think it’s my job to tell anyone.”

The ANC took advantage of the mess to announce its worries about the revelations. But that may well be a case of a pot accusing the kettle of being charred.

My worry lies in how foreigners with money can affect such drastic movements in our domestic politics. It’s an attack on our nation’s sovereignty.

But instead of a dialogue about this threat to our constitutional republic, we go on about how Ramphele’s dashiki got into Steve Biko’s bedroom.

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