In a recent speech that must have given the original writers palpitations worse than my mate’s hot Durban curry, President Jacob Zuma deviated from script by announcing that Africans must solve problems “the African way, and not the white man's way”.
Frankly, I thought my eyes were deceiving me… the president of a country who is clearly quite fond of certain white man’s accoutrements and has a stronger belief in the white man’s bullet proof glass than the sangoma’s traditional guidelines on remaining free of bullet holes, is espousing African solutions; sanctioning the white man’s way.
The first issue onto which many South Africans will pounce is the broad use of the term African way – surely the good president must mean the black way, as opposed to the white way? African and white are not opposites, nor, in the minds of many of us are they even mutually exclusive.
But, dear, daft, Mr. Zuma, many extremists will be only too happy to embrace your assertion that African and white are mutually exclusive. Small bands of gun-toting, right-wing lunatics will be at the printing presses as you read this, quoting the leader of the ANC’S idiotic statements to further broaden the gap between whites and “Africans”; to justify some sort of revolution against this racism and perpetuate the white man’s way.
It will obviously come as a huge surprise to the president that there are whites who identify themselves completely as Africans, but his divisive, Malema-esque comments slowly peel away layers of those white Africans and nudge them insistently into the camp of just being white. And to my mind, that would be a very sad loss, as much to the whites, as to the Africans.
The second, and no less important issue, is to question why the president is suddenly so keen on resolving problems away from the white man’s courts. One would hope that it has nothing to do with the 783 charges of corruption, money laundering , racketeering and bribery, hibernating like an angry bear, daring any fool to wake it from its slumber.
All of this excitement excludes any new charges that in ordinary democratic society would inevitably find their way to a man who earns a disgustingly inflated salary of R3 million per year, but manages to convince government to build a house for R250 million.
For the less mathematically inclined, that should take him over 80 years to earn, and while fans of his point to Camp David and similar presidential compounds to justify the ludicrous spending, Nkandla is his private residence and will not belong to the country or its people. Camp David belongs to the president of the United States, whoever that might be at the time… not the individual. Perhaps South Africans should assert a right of ownership over the Nkandla homestead, or whatever terminology will keep Mac Maharaj’s enthusiasm for finding racism in every word at bay. In an aside, Mac might well espouse a preference for the African way too… in fact, the cynical reader could almost imagine him planting the seed that flourished so dramatically in the manure between Zuma’s ears.
So readers, what is the African way of dealing with 783 charges of bribery, money laundering, racketeering and whatever follows? Or is the chief tribally immune?