Ostentatious cripples...

2012-01-13 14:31

Walking the streets of Mangaung in step to the ANC centenary

celebrations last week, I found myself slipping into nostalgic recollections of

my childhood heroes.

You see, during the 1990s I was a wild child thrust into the

tumultuous energy of a changing world. Freedom was a tasty word while kwaito and

hip-hop coloured our mood in the hood. Jazz was still the music of our fathers

back then.

As impressionable teenagers looking to shape ourselves a meaningful

experience of the times, we looked for proud, “unreconstructed” black men to

admire and imitate. I’m talking about uncles who knew what time of day it was,

the no-nonsense-with-a-fist-in-the-air types that made racists nervous. These

superheroes stood the moral test and their love for the people was

unquestionable. Mythologised as they may have been, we admired their heroics.

Think about the gallant memory of Bantu Biko and Onkgopotse Tiro martyrdom. Even

the energetic and intellectual focus of Thabo Mbeki and the rebelliousness of

Peter Mokaba, all of them wrapped in the radiant glare of Mandela’s dream.

I remembered these teenage venerations as the ANC marked its four

hundred seasons of struggle and liberation. Only this time they were much more

tempered by the reality of fading dreams of economic freedom and a cancerous

corruption in government. My heroes seem to have been upstaged by bling-bling

vandals and other ogres out to capture the national imagination with all sorts

of frills and thrills.

Our judicial capital was teeming with these types too last week.

So I plunged into the revelry with a gathered mass of partying

people at Mahungra Car Wash, including Juju and his ilk. Big cars, flags and

expensive booze everywhere. Skimpy skirts, pot bellies and loud laughter

permeated the air along with the music.

Then I saw this creature of a man, a large bloated figure leaning

against an SUV with a bottle of whiskey in his hand. His greasy skin was glowing

in the dark as he hurled jubilant jive into the air. He became my tragicomic

semiotic of the times.

Ghanaian writer Ayi Kwei Armah’s ostentatious cripples came

to mind as I considered ideas and spectacles of a vulgar existence. Looking at

it through the eyes of a younger more innocent self, I knew we needed a politics

of redemption in honour of rested martyrs of our freedom movement.

History teaches us that it took collaboration from some of our

ostentatious cripples for the strange ones to enslave and colonise

us. It will take the same lot to steal our dreams of doing better as a nation.

Evil thrives when good men and women do nothing about it, dressed in borrowed

dashikis waiting to have a tough dialogue with the future.

» I’m on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com 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.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
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 24.com 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.