Dog debate taken too far

2013-01-06 10:00

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President Jacob Zuma’s comments on African culture have generated quite a lot of excitement and fury.

Let’s take the recent ones about how caring for dogs and straightening hair is unAfrican.

It is a fact that apartheid instilled in our fellow white brothers and sisters a feeling of being superior.

They also valued a black man’s life less highly than a dog’s.

As presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj explained, such teachings by the system of apartheid created a situation in which it was normal for white men, mostly farmers, to be sitting with their dog on the front seat of the bakkie while a black worker, who provided a service to the farmer and his family, sat on the back of the open bakkie.

This is still, in fact, practised in rural areas.

I suppose what Zuma was criticising was the love of dogs over fellow human beings.

That being the case, I do not see anything wrong with his assertions.

We are aware it is currently standard practice for white people to put their dogs on medical aids, while leaving their domestic workers and gardeners to fend for themselves.

The statement by the president is not “do not love dogs” as the media have distorted and sensationalised it.

It’s rather that loving dogs more than you love your fellow human beings is improper – the more so because it is based on the pigmentation of skin.

In relation to African women straightening their hair and bleaching their skins to look white, in Steve Biko’s I Write What I Like, he refers to the same phenomenon as “black hate”.

His view is that global racism has implanted an inferiority complex into the minds of black people. Black women then hate their dark skin and short hair.

They burn their skin and straighten their hair to look more like white women.

Zuma asserted that they are forgetting they will never be white and there is nothing superior or pure about being white, just as there is nothing inferior or impure about being black.

It is a violent and systematically induced mental toxicity.

This melodrama about what the president said is way out of context. In our rush to create an artificial reconciliation and the Rainbow Nation, we deliberately decided not to talk frankly about the past.

This led to the present circumstance where we have hollow grounds on which to base living together.

Keeping quiet about the past benefited the previously advantaged more, while a handful among the previously disadvantaged were rewarded at the expense of the rest.

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