Media reports claimed this week that Makashule Gana of
Democratic Alliance Student Organisation said the party’s poster
with the message “In OUR future you wouldn’t look twice (to what?)” was meant
to create a debate about race – and they did.
Gana reportedly said this, arguing that to say the posters
were extreme – as had been alleged by Theunis Botha of the Christian Democratic
Party who said they were “shocking” and promoting “sexual immorality” – was
unfair. Botha told Times Live on
Tuesday that there were “many ways in which the DA could have projected its
image as a non-racial party, rather than using a poster clearly promoting
Gana, however, differed, saying “to say the poster is sexual
is taking it to extreme”. He said the posters were saying a lot, instead. “They
[the two people on the picture] are embracing each other, and it shows in this
country that we can find an opportunity to embrace each other”. He did not know
why “there (were) negative comments about it [the poster]” as “it is a work of
art that depicts a future that we [DA] would want to build”.
The Ads would, unfortunately, make you want to love South
Africans even more, if you never did. Even social networks were buzzing, with
many accusing the party of claiming to be non-racist when it in fact is.
Although the views were diverse across racial line – but one could get a sense
that many black people were angrier than whites as, to them, DA was far from
being the non-racial opposition party it claimed to be.
DA may not have achieved one of the objectives it intended
to (of portraying itself as a non-racial party) but it managed to get South
Africans debating the thorny and controversial race issue, and at the same time
exposing our racist tendencies. To Sarah Britten the
posters meant we would find them unusual or offensive, thereby implying we
are “excessively aware of race” which would then require our re-education “in
the principles of non-racialism by the DA” (my emphasis).
I agree with Britten when she, like Gana did through the
that the time has come for South Africans to open up the race debate because we
have been “sitting on it for years and acted as if it does not matter”. Britten
admitted that we need to ask ourselves questions, almost similar to those
former Mail & Guardian journo Mmanaledi Mataboge, currently working to the
controversial City Press had addressed in an open letter
to her white colleagues in 2009.
These questions would include whether we – as black and
white South Africans – have ever discussed our race relations or we just “jumped
to reconciliation” and that for as long as we do that (jumping around our race
relations and not discuss it), “come 2020 we will still be jumping up and down
because we will not have a stand on race relations”.