David Moseley

All eyes on us

2013-03-12 09:21

David Moseley

First, let’s not hide behind “oh what a beautiful country we are” nonsense. We’re a vile, violent, nasty, corrupt, dangerous, inconsiderate country right now – maybe more so than we’ve ever been in the past, or maybe not.

From Marikana to Anene to police brutality, the eyes of the world have never gazed upon post-apartheid South Africa with such shock and contempt, and perhaps also excitement. We have not covered ourselves in glory in the last year. We have looked a shoddy excuse for a Rainbow Nation. We are one petrol-price hike away from becoming Africa’s latest basket case. The failed state label beckons.

That’s certainly the impression I get from the international media coverage we’ve received lately. Maybe I’m imaging things, or maybe the mess we’re supposedly in is finally getting to me, but I get a very real sense that the world is waiting for us to implode, waiting for the tinderbox to finally go off in a spectacular display of “typical” African violence.

Take the Oscar Pistorius case as an example. This is a situation where a man has allegedly murdered his girlfriend. But the reaction, locally and internationally, has evolved into an outpouring of deeply philosophical musings on the nature of violence in South Africa, the disparities between black and white, and the macho attitudes of men in the country. Almost every opinion on the case has been shrouded in an “is this the end of the rainbow” cloud.

I find it fascinating that the world is so fascinated with us. If you read or watch any foreign media, you’d swear the country was on the brink of becoming the next Syria. Almost every report on South Africa, perhaps not post-Marikana, but certainly post-Oscar, is tinged with a kind of “this is it, this place is about to go into full meltdown”. Essentially, we’re a nation on the edge.

I certainly can’t disagree with that train of thought – we’re hardly at our peak. We may be teetering on the brink – but not because Oscar shot someone. Perhaps higher food prices will send us finally into the full blown civil war that the world has been craving since apartheid ended, perchance a lack of jobs will do it, or maybe the SABC’s new casino drama will just be so dire that people will run into the streets and start stripping the meat off their neighbours. Who can say really.

But what I find odd, and again, maybe I’m just losing it, is the barely hidden glee to be found in international reports on the sad demise of the Rainbow Nation. It’s almost as if we’ve pulled off this great coup, fooling the world into believing that peace and harmony in an African country could be a reality, pissing off the western world with our naivety and enthusiasm at the same time.

Witness also the failing health of the 94-year-old Nelson Mandela. When he was admitted to hospital a while back, the media was charging around Gauteng like a Laurel and Hardy chase scene trying to find him, not because they care, but so they could be the first to say “Nelson’s dead”.

Trust me, when the great man finally does go, the obituaries will quickly be followed with “what now for South Africa” stories, with almost all predicting some kind of calamity for the rest of us.

What do you think – do we receive unwarranted international attention, does it feel like the world wants us to fail? Or have I just been watching too many conspiracy dramas on DStv?

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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