Mbaks was rude, funny and right

2014-01-27 10:00

Bafana Bafana is like the drunk uncle we simply can’t disown. It has often been said that they score their best goals in adverts. In real life, they are a letdown.

But no matter what they do to spoil our mood, they are our only national team. We can’t borrow one from somewhere else. We curse them, we love them, we hate them and we support them because, through it all, we believe in them.

It’s a tension Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula showed in his recent “attack” on the team after they did not make it through the first round of the African Nations Championship.

This week, Mbalula split the nation in two. The first group agreed with what he said about Bafana and the second disagreed with the manner in which he said it. But in all the varying views that followed his controversial press conference, nobody was against the underlying sentiment he was trying to convey?– ?things need to change in South African soccer.

The person talking at that press conference was a man of passion. We saw a minister spitting fire. Put aside, for a moment, everything he said and what you saw was a minister who cares about something. He cares about the state of soccer in South Africa to the point of getting carried away.

He let emotion take over.

That is not a bad thing. It is easier to curb a minister’s choice of words than it is to instil in them a fiery spirit and zeal for their portfolio. This is the fiery spirit Mbalula displayed. He was offensive. He was rude. He was funny. And most importantly, he was right.

Speaking to Danny Jordaan about shaking things up and encouraging him not to be half-hearted in reforming structures in the SA Football Association, Mbalula said: “If you are going to be in the kitchen, you will find me in the toilet.”

Very few people understood the reference, very few people cared. It was hilarious. The room erupted in a roar of laughter. Everybody listening was hanging on to every word he was saying.

In South Africa, we have very few opportunities to hear politicians speak passionately. When it happens, it usually causes fissures in thought and opinion.

But it’s a refreshing escape from the scripted and rehearsed responses we get occasionally. He was offensive. He was rude. He was funny. And most importantly, he was right.

As a comedian, one of my jobs is to hide truth in humour. Sometimes it is offensive. Mbalula was funny at the expense of stand-in goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs.

Mbalula’s truth was that things need to change. One of the most important jokes any South African has ever told was Trevor Noah’s black-accent routine. In the joke, he talks about how we swoon over French people mispronouncing words like ‘management’. We admire the French accent without correcting it.

But when a black person does the same and mispronounces the same word as “manayjment”, we laugh and feel the need to correct it.

Everybody loves this joke perhaps because there is truth hidden in the laughter. And sadly, we quickly forget about what he was actually trying to say.

Mbalula said some flowery things, some closer to the truth than others. But in the midst of the emotion, let us not forget what he was actually trying to say: things need to change.

Yes, he was offensive. Yes, he was rude. Yes, he was funny. And yes, he was right.

»?Nkonzo is a stand-up comedian

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