MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

Sipho Maga
Comments: 13
Article views: 1698
Latest Badges:

View all Sipho Maga's badges.

Zuma On Decolonizing Minds: Why he is off the mark

14 January 2013, 12:02

The question of the threatened African identity again surfaced into the spotlight two weeks ago as President Jacob Zuma condemned the ownership of pets, among other things, dismissing them as ‘unAfrican.’

In his self-alleged attempt at "decolonizing the African mind’’, he ignited national outrage calling upon black people to stop attempting to be white, even revealing that, unbeknownst to them, they will never be white.

While I am in awe of his good intentions, if they are, I have to express disappointment at the president’s lack of understanding of the very African culture and identity he thinks he is standing up for, for downplaying the complexity of the concept of the African identity, shoving a setback into the goal of real psychological decolonization, for the embarrassing hypocrisy and for undermining social cohesion with his racially divisive obsession, cheaply used a political tool to keep previously oppressed indebted in emotional hostage.

Now that the mission to decolonize African minds is starting with simple negation and subtraction of cultural practices that are assumed to be un African by authorities of the time, I wonder how much of the president’s lavish lifestyle comprised of expensive western possessions would he be willing to hand over should he seriously go on a pursuit of Africanhood. Calling upon to masses to quit straightening of hair is one thing but the giving up of pets and all things western could see the president’s entire golden estate go to the dogs (yes I mentioned the D word).

If I had his wealth, and was part of a leading party that has the luxury to blow over R 100 million in Manguang in ostentatious displays of wealth in a country where nearly half live beneath the bread line, I might have the arrogance to throw around misguided lectures of what it means to be African.

From my understanding, what angers people the most is that the president who enjoys the highest glories of capitalism, owns more western possessions than most  people living in  the west has the audacity to stand up and tell people that their ownership of pets is not African enough in his super African view. The contradictions and hypocrisy behind much of what he dare says when he does say anything is nothing new, but this takes the cake. But for me the main concern lies in how his conception of the African identity indicates his lack of understanding of the concept itself.

Do African minds, whatever that means, need to be decolonized? Perhaps. Does decolonizing of minds constitute examining cultural practices individually such as ownership of pets and deciding whether they are African or not? A soul that so attempts to undertake this mission will soon discover that the term African is far more complex than the oversimplified version the president presented last week. The concept of culture itself is problematic, such that those who talk of culture as if it were more than an imagined entity need to revisit these oversimplified conceptions.

So then, should we go on a pursuit of the African identity, where do we begin? Let us begin at the ownership of pets as un African. The domestication of animals is intrinsic to the African culture and central to rituals involved in ancestral communion. So first of all, nothing is more African than the ownership of pets. A dog was name dropped so let us discuss the cultural significance of the dog within the African culture.

Like most domesticated animals, in various local cultures it is believed that dogs, once part of the family play a central role within the well-being and safety of the family, and are at times in co hoots with the ancestral communities themselves, such that when a dog is lost a family acknowledges this as a sign of a bad omen. Evidence of the spiritual relevance of dogs is through their symbolic significance in traditional dream analysis. Could this mean the ancestors have themselves betrayed the African essence, in assimilating dogs within their framework of safeguarding peace and well-being within their offspring (Now that the big revelation of their un Africanness has been made by the powers that be).

For Zuma this is a yes, since he asserts dogs are not African. But we will reject this assumption and assume the possibilities that dogs are either African, or the cultural framework complete with the ancestral universe have adopted dogs into the African identity.

Many will assert that the pursuit of the African identity means going “back to the roots”. Roots being the metaphor for the original. However, often this trip doesn't seem to go much further than a few centuries ago. This journey seems to stop by hut houses, African clothing like Amabeshu, Africanmeals, values and norms, religious beliefs and monarchies. Such highly sophisticated cultural elements that do not seem to be from any time further than a few centuries ago.

I have still to hear anything said about who we were in the 10thcentury. Or the 5th? The 3rd? How about two thousand years ago? This journey never gets pursued for shall we undertake, we might soon have to face some harsh questions that challenge the notion of African hood as we so often think we know. We might for example have to confess, possibly that such thing as hut houses, domestication of cattle, ancestral rituals and so forth are quite recent additions into the African framework. In no way are they part of the ‘root’.

The move from caves to hut houses, to the domestication of animals, religious and spiritual practices to organised monarchies indicates that the African identity has not only long been changing long before colonization, but also that the concept of culture, even the African culture, has been shifting and assimilating new practices long before colonization. It continues to undergo these inevitable changes as it should.

Whose job is it to dish out a guide of what changes are acceptable and those that are not. Is it a president who is able to stand up and declare such things as homosexuality as un African, without intellectually engaging with the with the concept? And we the citizens are supposed to sit and watch our leader continuously casts darkness on social cohesion and national progress in desperate attempts at shifting attention from the real issues that confront the country under his administration? We are being played!

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
The Problem With Munghana Lonene ...

South Africa is very known for its ability to advance its indigenous languages, thus ensuring that no ethnic group is isolated. Read more...

0 comments 401 views
Submitted by
Kdoggy dog
Malema : Future leader of destruc...

When Juju spoke against Nelson Mandela about the way that he sold out the "revolution", the nation was disgusted. Read more...

0 comments 792 views
Submitted by
Eric de Castro
Cleaning up the hood

In order to get things done in this godforsaken country of ours, you sometimes have to break the law. Read more...

0 comments 65 views
Submitted by
Ginny Stone
HIV AIDS - in a nutshell!

By the time you sit your kids down for that chat about the birds and the bees, they’ve already been there, done that and in some cases, are wearing the t-shirt. And they haven’t got a clue. Nor do you! Read more...

0 comments 149 views
Submitted by
John Stoltz
Deploy ex ministers to municipali...

Dear Mr Zuma, in any long standing democracy, ex ministers are deployed with success! Read more...

0 comments 482 views
Submitted by
Trudy Mhluli
R 936 million later

The Auditor General, Kimi Makwetu, yesterday in his annual audit report disclosed revealed, and substantiated that close to R 1 billion (that is one thousand million rand) that was spent by government and for that matter the ANC in the financial year 2014/15 can be considered as irregular, unlawful, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Read more...

0 comments 720 views


E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

Interactive Advertising Bureau
© 2015 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.