It is sad when a party loses talented people. It is sadder when one has worked for decades to build a party to see it teetering on the brink of a major setback.
Mostly sunny. Mild.
Julius Malema, leader of the EFF, addresses the media ahead of the State of the Nation Adress (Picture: Gallo Images)
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No, it is not the same thing. Vicki
Momberg, the racist who was sentenced to two years in prison, and Julius Malema, leader of the EFF, are not the same at all.
The fact that Malema taunts whites and
practices race politics to attain notoriety is awful and unimpressive. But it's
not the same. Not by a long shot.
This is why: history and context.
As much as white South Africans might claim
to be offended by Malema, the truth is that we are most likely angrier and more
frustrated than we are hurt. Whites have never been the focus of racial
oppression in South Africa. We have never been demonised, told we are less than
and precluded from public places because of our race. We have never been told
that we are not people who you should be sharing classrooms with, or movies, or
park benches, or toilets.
We have never been emasculated in front of
our children. We have never seen our grandfather being called "Boy".
The concept is not unique to South Africa.
In August 2017 two Chinese citizens were arrested in Germany for performing the
so called "Hitler salute". The gesture, along with all other Nazi party
actions and symbols are banned in the country and is considered to be a
criminal offense should one display such.
Denial of the holocaust also falls within
the law as the country's steadfast commitment to ensuring that it never returns
to its dangerous past.
Jews too are incredibly sensitive to this
painful part of their history and, in fact, to all other moments in history
where the threat of annihilation was real. Over the next few days, Jews around
the world will be celebrating Passover – the festival of freedom that recounts
the story of how the Israelites went from being slaves in Egypt to becoming a
nation. Although this might have occurred many thousands of years prior, it is
customary to still eat "bitter herbs" in order to recount the painful
nature of the experience. The observant also dip eggs into salted water that is
symbolic of the tears shed during the period of slavery.
Each year Jews gather at an evening called "The
Seder," which literally means "Order" so as to speak of the
experience, to recount the details and to bring history to life. And each year
the next generation of children are educated about the past.
Painful memories last. They last both for
individuals and in the collective memory of a specific society. And although
these need to be spoken about, discussed and remembered, it needs to be done in
a safe and controlled setting. It needs to be done where there is order and
South Africa is just a blink away from
liberation. The memories don't only reside with the generations past, but with
many who lived in the country prior to 1994. What makes matters worse is that
the ANC has not effectively addressed the vital and urgent issues that are part
and parcel of that history, making the relevance of the apartheid era just as
relevant today as it was then.
Vicki Momberg may or may not have
considered all this. But she clearly knew what she was doing when she hurled
abuse at the policemen trying to help her. She was unrepentant and arrogant and
failed to even rethink her behaviour. She deserves the punishment that has been
awarded and the case should serve as a reminder to others.
Julius Malema too may or may not have
considered how divisive and dangerous his behaviour is. People will get hurt
following his racial antagonism. And when they do, he will need to own it.
Words are powerful. And if anyone knows that it is Malema. The good thing is
that now Momberg knows it too.
- Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and Tightrope and the afternoon drive show presenter on Chai FM.Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.
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