Dashiki Dialogues: Postcoital showers and freedom panties

2014-07-30 13:45

The current political dispensation was inaugurated on the back of kangas, postcoital showers and accusations of forced or violent sexual encounters.

The meaning of any age is seen in the context of the presiding leader. If he is a strict, hard worker, that energy affects the conversations of his time.

So the sordid themes that marked the entry of the leader of our nation remain in force.

You may remember the ANC Youth League conference at the University of the Free State where delegates stripped naked and sang crude songs to make their point. We may ask into which structures of governance these delegates went to carry on singing.

That said, I want to address the rise in what I loosely call the vulgar features of our popular conversation with ourselves as a country.

I’m talking of the nature of the noise of our “noisy republic”.

It should be embodied by an item in the merchandise sold by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members in downtown Joburg. It’s an item a colleague has since called “revolutionary panties” or freedom bonga.

In case you missed the social media spectacle it caused, allow me to bring you up to speed.

Last week, the streets of Joburg’s inner city were awash with rabble-rousing EFF members in their iconic red apparel.

Part of their reason for congregating there was to spread their message of militancy and fashionable mutiny, so to speak. To do this, they sought to sell their red berets, branded T-shirts and, as it now appears, lacy thongs.

The latter was captured on film and set loose across the digital world as evidence of how things have turned bizarre.

I want to argue that these revolutionary panties represent a central feature of our national discourse. It is marked by a tendency to parade in public things that ought to be handled in private. This is different from a call to discretion.

I’m talking about decorum. That invulnerable idea known by another term: decency. It has since been lost in how we deal with one another.

This might be symptomatic of a deeper issue. In a society where people feel excluded and unable to engage with those in charge, polite conversation becomes impossible. Hence the rise in lewd behaviour.

Others may say we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the pageantry of politics and pungency of things akin to prostitution are ancient bedfellows.

This dialogue invariably involves lacy panties instead of dashikis.

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