Reflecting on the s'khothane in all of us

2014-02-04 06:15

I am fascinated by the S’khothane movement. The face off over who has the most expensive Cavella and CMB shoes, the tearing and burning of CMB shirts, the spilling of custard and the washing of hands over a R900 bottle of whisky.

Yes, there is a historical significance that draws the movement parallel to those of the Sophiatown days where the obsession over fashion and style dominated the combats with Alexandria, and probably even more recently the youthful Kwaito movement at the dawn of our democracy. But none of these can be concluded to be of such comparative extremism.

When 3rd degree first broadcasted this group, I was flabbergasted. Where and how did this movement come about? But I was not justified to be surprised by the actions of these young men and women. And they fascinate me because they as a sample best display how we as individuals are so caught up in material needs over the national imperative, advancing our desires principally over the collective.

Sadly to a certain extent I see myself in them. I see many South African classes and races that resemble them, in the conversations that they have, in the way they carry themselves; in the low attention that they pay in advancing the national interest; in the way they disengage themselves from the causality of problems that this country has.

You even see S’khothanes’ in national sports players, alas Bafana Coach Phillip Trousier in 1998 exemplifying the demise of national patriotism in citing that Doctor Khumalo would care more to be devastated by his broken down BMW than he would if Bafana lost a match. We might not be wearing the same clothes and spilling custard. But we are no different to the character of the S’khothane. The results of a system set to recognise and promote individualism and the man’s desire for social attachment above all else.

You cannot blame the S’khothanes’ for what they do. You can never fully blame a 16 year old’s ill-disciplined child's attitude on him. You apportion the majority of such blame on his parents’ capabilities to instil values and discipline in him. As a society we need to reflect as to whether we are doing enough to instil the values that will define our society.

This is where I tend to be very critical of the role that our middle class has played in this country during post-apartheid South Africa. Too few societies can claim that they were ignited by the strength of the indigent. It was all middle class effort. Mau Zedong was born to a wealthy farmer and led the uprising against the Japanese. Fidel Castro humour sly was also the son of a wealthy farmer. Lincoln, a self-educated lawyer, and Mandela himself an educated lawyer running the first black law firm in Johannesburg. All middle class, decisive patriots.

If we are adamant that we are doing enough as the middle class. If we continue to think that by just paying taxes we have signed off on our social responsibility, then the image of society as it currently prevails should call us to reflect that we are not. The unguided actions of people that strike for the lack of service delivery and burn schools and libraries as a response will come to be the bane of our existence.

We might not pay much due diligence to their actions right now. We might just put a few comments of disgust when we see them looting spaza shops and burning schools. We might mock S'khothanes for using their parents hard earned money to buy a bottle of courvoisier. But if we do not direct our insights of their actions directly towards them, then let us not be surprised when someone smart enough to see the opportunity to lead these masses tells them that the villains of their oppression are the towers in Sandton and Bank City.

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