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Seun wa Moutse
 
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The day Freedom betrayed his twin

11 June 2014, 09:08


This is the story of a deadly rivalry between a set of twins – Freedom and Democracy.

Afrikaners call such rivalries a ‘broedertwis’. While Freedom and Democracy are of the same parent, they are not identical twins.

They were both to their mother, Modernity, during the transition from feudalism to the Enlightenment after the 16th century.

Freedom developed faster, although she was shackled in Africa and the Americas for a very long time. Democracy was the later developer, coming of age only in the 18th century.

And so in the House of Modernity, Freedom stood for vibrancy and Democracy stood for steadiness. When people saw them together they called them Liberal Democracy – liberal being freedoms middle name.

Freedom’s most defining quality was her beauty and ‘charisma’. German sociologist Max Weber noted that freedom inspired millions of people around the world to march under her charismatic banner but had no skills to manage the household of Modernity.

This was not surprising given that Freedom was raised breaking rules and defying authority.

Democracy was, however, more deliberative and always sought to cool Freedom’s passions, by putting in place certain laws and institutions by which they would abide. Weber described Democracy as the more rational twin.

When Nelson Mandela was the leader of South Africa, he thought he should ask Freedom and Democracy for their views regarding a subpoena by rugby strongman Louis Luyt, who resisted transformation of the largely white team.

“How dare this muzungu [white man] say you ‘did not apply your mind; He is saying you don’t have brains Mr. President,’ Freedom said. Then, with a degree of finality he said: ‘you’re not going there [court] Mr. President.

Mandela then turned to Democracy for his view.

Democracy began by citing a number of countries that had followed the rule of law and compared them with those that had fallen under the rule of the ‘Big Man’.

In the long run the former were always more successful; and the latter ended in disaster, especially in Africa.

‘There he goes with American propaganda’ interrupted Freedom. “This is Africa. Africa for the Africans.

Mandela waited for Freedom to finish, and asked Democracy to continue where he had left off.

Democracy started by citing the book by American academic, High Heclo Thinking Institutionally.  To think institutionally is to understand there is something estimable and decisive beyond me, and my immediate personal inclinations. In approaching a major choice, the question in not, how can I get what I want.

‘It is the duty laden question that asks, what expectation and conduct are appropriate to my position and the choices I might make? What is it larger than myself into which I am drawn?’

After both had finished, Mandela reflected on how those accustomed to bringing down institutions a defying laws were all of a sudden confronted with the challenged of building institutions and the rule of law.

This is what Mandela said to the twin: ‘Suddenly in April 1994 the same fire-eaters who had mastered the art of resistance, and who had worked relentlessly for the total destruction of white supremacy, without any previous training and experience in governance, were entrusted with the awesome task of governing the most advanced and wealthy country on the African continent.’

As he stood up to leave for the courthouse he described the transition that freedom fighters had to make from ungovernability: ‘now the former ‘terrorist’ had the task of uniting South Africa ….’ And build confidence in the institutions of the society.

He said it was his ‘duty laden task’ to obey those institutions for the sake of posterity.

Freedom was muffed, to put it mildly, and marched out in a huff. He went straight to their oldest brother, Tradition, to tell him about Freedom’s disloyalty.

Freedom asked if Tradition would do the honourable thing and do the dead – in return for a contract or government job.

Now Tradition is an interesting kind of fellow. History has taught him to be both resistant and pliable. That is how his people had adapted to the vicissitudes of time.  But he also felt unappreciated in the House of Modernity.

Tradition could not resist wily Freedom’s offer. Not only could he have a contract or a job in government, but Freedom told him that the two of them could take over the entire government.

Democracy and his institutions was the only thing that stood in their way. Life could be really good if they put their minds to it.

‘How about a house in their village for about R 200 million to get the ball rolling’ asked Freedom with his characteristic giggle?

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