Phansi Ayobaness, phansi

2009-11-14 13:08

FERIAL Haffajee (City Press, November 8) ­bemoans the rotten ­impulses that have crept into our body politic.

Dismayed at how corruption and bribery have become the norm by our ­civil servants and so inform day-to-day practices in our civil society, she wonders how we got it so wrong.

Interestingly, in the main body of your newspaper, two reporters seem to feast on a tragic joust that weighs up the different sides of Julius Malema. Early in the week, we became spectators to the madness unfolding at Eskom.

For some of us, who grew up during the worst years, each day it becomes clear that we are losing our grip on the country.

When did we get to this point? I dare say that the climate we are experiencing right now can be traced back to the moment we lost the ball. When we supposedly ushered in a new era in Polokwane, with the triumphant march of song and the vocabulary of angry fists punching aimlessly, we accepted and articulated a different vision for this country.

The new vision was to be the changing of the guard of the ANC. When the party pursued a recall of its own president, it became clear that this was a crusade of people too impatient to wait their turn, if not greedy and itching to get their hands on the loot.

The crusade of the new ANC has accelerated us to the point where the brazen youth league can howl louder than the wind on matters they do not even understand.

The genealogy of this line of thinking can be traced back to the long night in Polokwane. We all witnessed the new way of doing things, of challenging authority, of speaking against logic and insisting on the ­mechanics of song and dance just to be heard.

Perhaps there is a word for it – ayobaness. That has been the spirit that characterised – although some might say, caricatured – the face and phase of this new ANC.

When one reads of the new crusade against this grain, it becomes apparent that if one does not flow with this impulse, one would be tempted to instead romanticise the past and what it had to offer.

And certainly, let us be clear, even under President Thabo Mbeki there were problems. The difference then was that there was always a sense that matters could be thoroughly engaged. Now, complex issues are solved by simplistic if not hollow reasoning. Examples of these would be the shoot-to-kill and nationalisation pronouncements. I say we go back to the ­basics and ask ourselves what sort of leadership we want for our country.

We must resist the simplistic idea of clamouring behind race, and instead choose the race which will yield a marathon of ideas that will texture and advance debate.

In short, we must resist the ayobaness leadership and ask what remains after the song and dance. Do we want to be remembered as the land that had it all but threw it all away?

Wa Mamatu is the playwright of Mbeki and other Nitemares

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