Georgina Guedes

Doggone it! I'm white.

2012-12-27 14:47

Georgina Guedes

I have a dog; I am white. Until yesterday, the conjunction implied by the semicolon would have probably been "and", but now, according to my president, it's more like "because".

Yesterday President Zuma said in a speech in KwaZulu-Natal that spending money on buying a dog, taking it to the vet and for walks is not the African way, which is to focus on family. He said that black people who try to adopt the habits of other cultures would lose dignity and ubuntu and respect and love for their fellow human beings.

He went on to say that people who loved dogs more than people as "having a lack of humanity".

The argument itself is pretty silly. I love my dog, but not more than my family. Having a dog doesn't make it impossible to love your husband, mother or kids. In fact, I'd say that our dog augments our family unit, provides lessons in consideration and gentleness for our children, and gets us all out of the house for a nightly walk in the park, where we meet other dog-walking families.

The ridiculousness of the notion of dog owners' loss of humanity aside, what really gets me about Zuma's argument is this "it's not our culture" drum he's banging. Someone should establish a commission that decides on the point in the past at which culture should be frozen in stasis so that no one progresses or develops beyond that point.

Points to consider would have to include:
•    Driving a Mercedes Benz
•    Democracy
•    The use of condoms
•    "Just leaving a woman when she is ready"
•    Miniskirts
•    Houses in Houghton

I think that the commission would be hard pressed to find a common thread to justify the times that tradition and culture are disregarded and those when they are determinedly clung to, other than the whim of the president.

Don't get me wrong; I'm all for the celebration of heritage and culture, but I believe that every culture and race should keep an open mind, and where opportunity for progress or improvement is presented, it should be embraced or at the very least considered. And actually, people should be able to do whatever the hell they want, as long as they’re not trampling on the rights of others.

If some white supremacist, pro-Apartheid, neo-Nazi freak had stood up and said that black people shouldn’t own dogs because it's not their culture, the people of South Africa would be up in arms. As a barometer, the people on Twitter (black and white) seem to think that Zuma's spouting nonsense.

So, if you're black and you want to own a dog, go ahead, I certainly won't judge you (not that it's up to me). And if you don’t, that’s fine too.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer, editor and trainer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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