Who decided Juju was stupid?

2011-04-30 13:09

Who decided Julius Malema was stupid?

I always ask myself this question when reading glowing write-ups of the ANC Youth League leader’s performance at more formal gatherings.

And we had a lot of it last week.

Malema proved to South Africa he was “no fool”; Malema showed the world he was not a “buffoon”; Malema’s testimony in the AfriForum hate speech case was so “well-versed” and “clear”.

Almost as if we expected Malema to fall over his words (and chair) in some kind of bumbling broken-English-meets-Funigalo with no coherence, structure or logic.

My colleague reckons this assumption, that underlies the majority of analysis done about Juju, stems from his poor matric results that was leaked to the media in 2008.

Remember the GG for woodwork, the H for Maths and the E symbol for Sepedi?

Malema would be the first to admit that his matric results was not exactly something to frame and that he is much more comfortable on political platforms and in debates.

But Julius Malema would not be the first or last person in history to do bad at school and then excel somewhere else in life.

Ever heard of Thomas Edison, Richard Branson and Winston Churchill?

Edison, who invented the light bulb, had only three months of formal education. His teacher called him “addled” and his mother had to homeschool him.

Branson, the billionaire CEO of the Virgin group, dropped out of school at the age of 16.

He was diagnosed with dyslexia and had poor academic performance, but became on of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time.

Churchill, the famous British prime minister, did poorly at school “for which he was punished”.

But during and after the Second World War very little people asked about his school marks as he led the UK and its allies to victory.

I think further to his poor school marks, people think Malema is stupid because he sometimes says stupid things, and not always in the Queen’s English.

But we all say stupid things sometimes, and don’t politicians have a birthright to do that more frequently, particularly during election time?

It’s high time we drop the flawed belief that Malema is stupid, and start judging and engaging with him on the substance of his arguments, not on whether he finishes his sentences or not.

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