Recasting Zuma’s Reflective Comments

2013-01-02 06:52

I have to agree albeit not with the manner in which it was stated, with some of President Jacob Zuma’s statements. I also tend to concur with his encapsulate affirmation about “decolonising the African mind”.

Although the President’s comments provoked and stimulated a wide range of remarks, it got me to think and ponder. My understanding of what President Zuma said was that the time has come for a change in mindset and to challenge stereotypes.

I too wonder why many indigenous African women spend a fortune on accessories like hair wigs, other fake hair attachments including skin whitening creams and often suffer skin damage.

Furthermore, in some community’s large amounts of money is spent on weight loss tablets and shakes, especially by women, simply because the advertising industry, magazines, and movies promote the idea that being thin, tall and light skinned and eyed are the ultimate beauty credentials.

Similarly, why do people have an irrational bias and rigorously discriminate against anyone who wears a beard? Why are males dressed only in suits and clean shaven regarded as having qualities of refinement? Why is eating with a fork and knife regarded as clean and eating with fingers as dirty. What makes a woman in a pair of jeans librated and a veiled woman oppressed?

In order to co-exist and live peacefully side by side as neighbours we need to effectively dialogue in order to understand and accommodate all cultures, race groups, religions and creeds.

To illustrate my point I would like to quote an extract from a speech given by Paulo Freire, a Brazilian educationist, whose writings really inspires me.

“I will tell you a very interesting example of the bureaucratization of the mind. Years ago I was in Los Angeles in the airport, as I was preparing to leave for New York. It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and I went to the restaurant and ordered fried eggs, orange juice, English muffin, and a coffee. “I am sorry, but it is not time for breakfast”, the young woman very politely said to me.

“But look,” I said, “I love fried eggs, English muffin, orange juice and coffee. If I can’t have breakfast at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I would like to ask a favour of you. Please go to the boss and say to him that there is here a Brazilian professor who loves eggs. My question to him is whether there is in the American constitution anything which prevents us from eating eggs at 3 p.m. If there is no such thing, then I insist I want to eat fried eggs. It is simple. You cannot deny me my eggs only because it is no longer time for breakfast. Please do that.”

And she went, and in 5 minutes she came back smiling. She said that the boss said nothing in the US constitution which says that you can’t have fried eggs at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

Fortunately, the young woman and the boss were not totally bureaucratized. This is for me a beautiful example of the human perspective. The example [demonstrates] that even if/when there are structures of society which work to bureaucratize the minds, there is always the possibility for us to be saved.

I only needed to ask the question. The young woman and the boss were touched by the challenge of the question. Maybe they realized that there is no such an item in the constitution, and at that moment they became again human beings and not machines. It is for me a fantastic example.

My friends please don’t allow yourselves to fall into the trap of bureaucratization of the mind. React against it so that you to may continue to be human- Paulo Freire.

Regretfully, socialization, ignorance and jaundiced views would always control an individuals’ outlook to others just as darkness or night brings about uncertainty and fear of the unknown. We all need to change our lenses and see others also as fellow human beings who want to live a life of dignity, equality and free of labels and oppression.

Life is not just about following every norm, standards or the dominant culture. It is also about unlearning, relearn and unlearn. Why should an individual or community adopt the dominant culture or way of life and lose their own identity, culture and value systems.

Mamphela Ramphele in her book “Conversations with my Sons and Daughters” speaks about there being a need for all South Africans to define themselves through shared values, culture, identity, language and “unity in diversity”.

In conclusion, one of the hallmarks of any civilization is to have mutual respect and courtesy for our diverse cultures, traditions and religions.


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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