Saturday, May 19, 2012

Should the ANC Sue Artist Ayanda Mabulu for Portraying Zuma's Penis as Injured? And yes it is Zuma's penis that is depicted!

 UPDATE: (May 22, 2012 at 11:35pm)

It turns out that I was right in the first place and Ayanda Mabulu's painting (Better Poor Than a Rich Puppet) below does in fact portray Zuma with his penis in a crutch.  This fact was just brought to my attention by Ayesha who wrote:
It IS JZ in Ayanda's painting. See interview with artist here: and
Thank you ever so kindly Ayesha for the correction and restoring my faith in my initial thinking/reaction.  I owe you big time :0)

Worldart says that Ayanda Mubulu portrayed Zuma's penis in a crutch as "a metaphor for the perception that Zuma's sexual escapades are out of control; the crutch implying he needs help to overcome the issue."

I will leave the incorrect Update below intact (but crossed out) to show the uncertainty that has accompanied the interpretation of Mubulu's painting and depiction of Zuma.

But as it stands now my original post was right after all (thanks again Ayesha!)

As of this writing this post has garnered 4796 reads/hits and my intention to question the timing and context of the ANC's tirade against Murray stands even stronger now.

Why has the ANC selectively decided to go after Murray when other artists like Mabulu have depicted his penis (way back in 2010 too)?

Does the ANC see a tangible policy (even perhaps constitutional) difference between a white and black African artist depicting Zuma's penis in a painting?

On the question of respect and Tutu as an African elder it instructive to note what Mabulu said according to Worldart:
"Mabulu also explained that Bishop Tutu's tied up penis refers to a process during the Xhosa male initiation ritual where the penis is covered to speed up the removal of the foreskin. Traditionally a sign of strength and power in his culture, the penis here is portrayed as weakened, incapacitated and 'colonised' by Western values – in pain just like during initiation.

Asked whether he intended to offend, Mabulu said that he was merely painting his perception of the roles that the state and the church play in a poverty stricken environment. He added that if it offended anyone, it was probably necessary for them to look at reasons why they felt this way. Asked whether painting a political and church leader naked was disrespectful, he said these figures are disrespectful of him and his people: they can't expect respect if they don't respect the people they lead."
I think his thinking here just about sinks anything the ANC may want to argue on Thursday.

 UPDATE: (May 21, 2012)

I have misinterpreted Ayanda Mabulu's painting below. The person depicted is not Zuma as I thought but Oupa Gqozo. This error was brought to my attention by Karen Mckee who commented:
 "While I agree with your sentiment, the Ayanda Mabulu picture in question "Better poor than a rich puppet" does not refer to Zuma at all. The person in the portrait with his penis in a crutch is actually Brigadier Oupa Gqozo from Bisho who Ayanda tends to depict as a dog with a human face. Just so you know..."
Thank you kindly Karen.  It is important to straighten out what Mabulu was capturing in his portrait even though the overarching principle of freedom of expression remains the same.  Nonetheless, I apologize for my mistake.

I have left the original post below except for crossing out my mistaken assertions.

By now you probably have heard all about the ANC's attempt to stifle artist Brett Murray's controversial portrait of President Jacob Zuma entitled "Spear of the Nation" currently being exhibited at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.

 Here it is up close:

 According to a news report the ANC's lawyers have "launched an urgent court application to try and stop the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg and the City Press newspaper from displaying a painting of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed."

If you wondering why all the fuss about such a portrait in a supposedly free and democratic country maybe you can join me for a quick walk here and wonder a little more.

Why is the ANC making such a fuss about Murray's portrait yet if memory serves me almost nothing was said about Ayanda Mabulu's 2010 exhibition entitled "Un-Mute My Tongue"?

Could it be that in Mabulu's painting Zuma's penis is not totally exposed but mostly obscured by being injured/handicapped in plaster with a crutch?

See for yourself:

"Better PoorThan a Rich Puppet"

I say all of this with tongue in cheek of course. The point is that Murray is hardly alone in focusing on Zuma and his penis in a work of art.

And, in this portrait Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is fully exposed yet you heard hardly a peep from the good Arch about his dignity being degraded (it's a work of art stupid and intended to be provocative).

This morning it occurred to me that if David came back as an ANC member he could perhaps sue Michaelangelo for his world famous sculpture in 1504 that rendered his penis cast in stone forever.

I expect though that many comrades who are pissed may point out that Michaelangelo was a master of his craft and rendered a very becoming image of David.

But who is to say that Murray has not done the same?

Nonetheless, it seems only 'fair' that the ANC sue Ayanda Mabulu for depicting President Zuma's penis too.

I need some Tylenol.


Murray Image Credit
Mabulu Image Credit


Tony said...

Then again, many would argue that Jacob is lucky that its not just a giant penis labelled Jacob Zuma.


Ridwan said...

I absolutely agree with you Tony.

The Anc are going to have a hard time convincing any court/judge that Murray's portrait has detracted from Zuma's personal dignity.

6 wives, girlfriends, 20 kids, a rape trial - he is doing it all on his own without much help from anyone else.

I read that at his most recent wedding just weeks ago he told his bride in public she would not be the last.

The man overtly portrays his sexual politics for the world to see - Murray and others are just making comments/judgments inside of a supposed democracy.

Peace boet,

Anonymous said...

Let’s say we put the portrait of Eugene T ,rapping his black workers and we see what will the white Afrikaans people view it; as art or just silliness…….maybe they wouldn’t care who knows,,,,,,,Zama’s portrait ,regardless of who, who and,so,so from where, where who have done such art…..this is Africa ….in Africa culture is respected…

Ridwan said...

I am not sure what you mean by "culture" in Africa because it is too broad a comment to be taken seriously in any context.

Africa is a continent made up of many many peoples and there is not just one "culture".

To ascribe one culture to Africans is to essentialize the continent's complexity and in effect to reduce Africans into the mistaken notion that those who support an artist right to freedom of expression are not acting in accordance with what it means to be an African.

It is a tired argument. About as tired as the nonsense coming out of Luthuli House that Murray is racist - the knee-jerk insinuation being that he is white and Zuma black therefore it must be racist.

So what then of Ayanda Mabulu? Is his art un-African and racist too?

The point here is about freedom and democracy and not essentialized notions of what is and what is not African culture (and furthermore who is and who is not African).

If there was such a portrait as you describe and an artist intended it to provoke engagement I would support its right to exist.

Much the same way as I have supported Zapiro's right to depict the Prophet Mohamed (and I am Muslim to boot).

But I also accept your right to express your view and thank you for taking time to comment here - it is in the end all about the democratic right to free speech.


Karen McKee said...

While I agree with your sentiment, the Ayanda Mabulu picture in question "Better poor than a rich puppet" does not refer to Zuma at all. The person in the portrait with his penis in a crutch is actually Brigadier Oupa Gqozo from Bisho who Ayanda tends to depict as a dog with a human face. Just so you know...

Ridwan said...

Thank you kindly Karen for correcting my error.

I am going to put your comment on the post.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the views expressed by Ridwan, I just feel that we have to stop making everything about race. Its that type of behaviour that will continually divide us as a nation. I am a young black male and I just feel that Brett Murray is no racist, yes the picture is in bad taste, but if you look closely at all the events that have lead prior to the painting, its safe to say that is how Murray portrays Zuma. I mean had anyone else drew a picture of Zuma, the portrait would have been very similar to that of Murray's, because of how our President is perceived. So let's looks at why the painting came about before we make this about race and don't get me wrong, Zuma is entitled to do as he wants, he is his own man at the end of the day!!! #Just my thoughts


Lwethu M said...

I agree with anonymous!!! To Ridwan - as broad as the term "African culture" is - respect of your elders and the relation therefore is just as common between the different traditions. The problem here is that this "artwork" comes at a time when white South Africa has been showing its blatant disrespect and disregard of blacks as equal humans in this country. It comes at a time when racial slurs are ever so prevalent from white South Africans - I find this media - art form as just a new way , a camouflaged way that the former oppressor continues to oppress and ridicule blacks in SA. No - where has Eugene Terreblanche been depicted in any art form to depict the sodomy, Why not a painting with Verwoerd exposed as he SCREWED this country for generations!!! Why not an "artwork" depicting De Klerk as raping justice as he still hasn't served any despite his relentless pursuit to stand by apartheid and the so -called " good" it served.

KayT said...

If no one told that the painting is of Zuma, I wouldn't have known that it is him. However I did think that it was Zuma in Ayandas' painting. Again i was wrong. If I were the ANC I would be less concerned about the picture and more concerned with the fact that people see the president of our country as something that could be referred to as a disgrace!!!
But again, I could be wrong. ;-)

Ridwan said...

Thank you for your comment Lwethu M.

I am, however, still not convinced that there is a thread of similarity or any basis to claim that there is such a thing as "African culture" (the same would be true if we talked about Asian culture, for example).

The continent is just to complex and it defies reason to assume that Africans by mere geographical relationship share cultural traditions that make it unique and, therefore, distinct.

If anything we share a common colonial history and post-colonial trajectory. But even here as Fanon and others have indicated the problem is that post-colonial rule is hardly indigenous in its thinking and certainly not in its appetite for western fetishisms.

The ANC government exemplifies this point (even their slogans are imported).

I think that it is problematic to conflate Murray's painting with all white/non-African South Africans.

It is problematic because it assumes a deterministic racial biology that is as fictional as the nonsense that all black men have large penises.

The simple truth is that we cannot critique racism using racist assumptions.

Moreover, the matter of whether whites disregard blacks/others is not really central to the reality that the law makes us all equal in South Africa.

The issue at hand is whether Murray has a right as an equal citizen to express his art in terms of section 16 of our constitution.

I believe he does and for this reason I would support any other artist of any stripe/background who would want to depict De Klerk, Verwoed, and others in similar terms (as you suggest).

The issue is about freedom and democracy.

That said it is another matter to describe the racial stalemate that is post-apartheid South Africa.

Your assessment of the race problems that persist is a relevant observation.

However, in my thinking the ANC is primarily to be blamed for the Frankenstein state we negotiated with the apartheid regime.

In direct terms: they sold out.

There was no revolution in thinking but rather a wholesale systematic sell-out of the radical politics that drove 1976.

If Sobukwe and Biko were here today they would hardly be too concerned with pointing to the present societal symptoms (racial intolerance) when the substance of our decay lies with the government that came out of Codesa.

And it is here where Murray must also be allowed his right to comment whether we agree with his art/politics.

In these terms I find it a waste of time worrying about what racist whites think as individuals about this era when we have a government created and sustained by the old order doing bad all on their own.

Thanks once again for taking time to comment here.

Peace to you,

KayT said...

Lwethu! Disrespect & disregard!!!!???? The actions of our current government is screwing this country to HELL!!! BEE is putting unqualified people in positions that they DO NOT deserve and because of that the economy is suffering. And soon South Africa will be known as the new Zimbabwe. So called "Blacks" ridicule themselves. GET OVER IT!!!! It's been 18 YEARS!!! Verwoerd, Terblanche & De Klerk were NOT always right but now the ANC is NOT right either. So is the cycle just going to continue? Is no one going to learn from past mistakes?

Personally, I've never understood art. But I do get angry when racism is thrown into the mix. The paintings are distasteful, but then tell the artist he has no talent. Don't blame a government of 18 years ago. I apologies if I have insulted anyone. Just stated my opinion while I still have the right to freedom of speech.

Ridwan said...

KayT thank you for your comment.

I was convinced that Ayanda Mabulu's portrait depicted Zuma much the same way that I saw Zuma in Murray's painting.

Despite being wrong about Mabulu, the principle of free expression stands.

I think we are in danger of sliding into oblivion if the ANC and/or the state (or any other party) is allowed to limit free speech.

Hate speech is entirely different but even then the guiding issue is whether the hate is intended to harm over mere critique/opinion.

My thinking is that Zuma should limit himself to the matter of ethical and sound governance.

Even President Mbeki was better at ignoring the noise of critique which is part of political life in a democracy.

Like you say - it is what the voting public thinks that matters in politics.

And in these terms it is no small minority of South Africans who see Zuma's conduct, inclusive of his patriarchal sexual politics, as problematic.

I can hardly wait to hear what the court has to say today.

Thanks for your input KayT.

Peace to you.

Holi said...

Ridwan, are you saying that because we have the "freedom of expression" clause in the Constitution-everyone can say, write,draw,broadcast etc. anything about anyone and anything- all in the name of "freedom of expression"?! Might as well tell everyone to stop trying to tolerate and accept each other's "complex African cultures" and just express what you like and dont like about everyone different from you and yah, so be it?! I am not taking this picture on a racist tip-BUT just from a kid with a mother and a father who's looking at the picture of another person's Dad with his genetilia hanging out. No matter what religion or "culture" you are from IN SOUTH AFRICA-Respect of other people is a universal principle. We cant go around disrespecting other people in the name of art and freedom of expression-like what would we endup as though?!!! plz go to and read an article from Mabler on this picture-and yuo might understand why some people are so pissed off about it.

Ridwan said...

Thanks for your comment Holi.

I do understand why some people are "pissed off" as you say.

But The Spear is is not an issue of culture or respect/disrespect.

It is about the constitutional right to express what you think without stoking explicit hatred like Enoch Mthembu has just done with his assertion that Murray be stoned to death.

In terms of the constitution anyone has the right to respond in kind to Murray - there may be those who wish to portray Zuma as an angel or sitting with Jesus around the last supper table.

Others would be offended by such a depiction too and the response would be the same - we aspire to be a free state nation where ideas are not censored.

The vandalism and defacement of The Spear is unacceptable in a free society even where a large contingent of people view the painting as an affront to whatever sensibility.

I am not even saying that I think what Murray did was particularly clever or even thought provoking.

What worries me is that an erosion of section 16 would mean that the creep toward censorship will solidify to the point where even talking here against the state/political actors will be deemed to be a matter of "disrespect".

Freedom of speech is a hallmark of a democracy and it is the price we pay to live in a society where varying opinions must be 'tolerated' and protected.

Does not mean you should like it - but that is not the point?

In a democracy you have the right to rail against what you find offensive/insensitive/vulgar - you just don't have the right to censor what you don't like.

That, in effect, is the real principle of tolerance and the "respect" for the law.

I appreciate you taking time to engage here.


Andy said...

Hi there Ridwan, since this issue has been the talk of the town I really thought the portrait was an excellent piece of art until I saw the part of Mr Zuma's privates, personally I don't think it's racist at all but rather insulting(especially since he is the head of state). Had Mr Murray got permission from Mr Zuma to paint such a portrait maybe it would have been more acceptable. I'm all for ''freedom of speech and expression'' but I think one's right of freedom of speech and expression shouldn't in anyway hamper one's freedom of dignity in society. Mr Zuma has had questionable deeds in his life and career but that does not give anyone a right to hurt his feelings in anyway. That's just my humble uneducated opinion. Thanks.

Tinus Steyn said...

Look we ll now art is art and you can say anything these days just off the hell of it,but when a ANC leader sang a song of killing other people he was accounted for and there is no difference between painting and singing it?

Tinus Steyn said...

One question?

What is the differance between Zuzu where he sang a song of killing some people and the artist painting uncensored stuff off the president of South Africa? Nothing because it is freedom of speech?

Ok so what happened to Zuzu-jip he got corrected...he wont admit it but he was punished for saying(painting) something he shouldn't.

Tertius said...

So the ANC is foaming at the mouth because a White artists dared to paint a potrait of the President with his shlong hanging out - taking the manner in which JZ behaves - it is no wonder that people see him in this way!We live in a democracy, with a diverse culture and the ANC must realise that they cannot throw a tantrum every time they do not agree with something.Why no outcry when Mabulu'painting was "discovered"
Complex African culture cannot be selective in what is acceptable at certain times and what is not when it does not suit politicians - this borders on plain stupidity!

Ridwan said...

Hi there Andy:

Thanks kindly for adding your voice here. I think there are a lot of folks who agree with you.

You are right that all of us should consider the consequences of what we do and what it may mean for others in our expression of free speech.

But I still think that the right to free speech should be protected against any censorship.


Hi Tinus:

I am still confused by how the ANC sought to protect the struggle song in question as a matter of free speech and yet the Murray case very differently.

This is, however, exactly the problem: the politicization of the right to free speech is a dangerous and slippery slope.

Thanks you for taking time to comment here.

Hi Tertius:

I absolutely agree with you that we cannot be selective when applying the constitutional right to free speech.

The only limit is where speech is used to incite violence through hatred.

A friend of mine showed me several tweets today where folks are calling for Murray to be stoned or killed.

This is illegal and unacceptable and there should be a law enforcement effort to track those folks down: such commentary is definitely hate speech.

It will be interesting to see how the ANC proves that The Spear is hate speech.

I don't see it but then again the court will be in session on Thursday.

Thanks for your comment.


Ayesha said...

It IS JZ in Ayanda's painting. See interview with artist here:

Ridwan said...

Ayesha I cannot thank you enough for the information you have provided.

You have restored the integrity of the original post and now it all makes sense again.

Thankfully Mabulu has explained what he intended with the depiction of Zuma and there can be no question about whether it is Zuma or not.

Excellent. I feel somewhat vindicated for thinking it was Zuma in the first place.

Thanks Ayesha!


Karen McKee said...

Tday it is my turn to apologise- it seems I was misinformed about the true identity of the owner of the penis in the crutch in Mr Mabulu's painting. I heartily apologise and have now learnt not to obtain my art reviews from a certain local publication any longer. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

Attack is the best form of defence.

I personally think that the hullabaloo is all smoke an mirrors.

Last week the DA showed the ANC leadership up for being weak and allowing a trade union, that represents a minority of South African citizens may I add, to dictate policy and programs approved by Parliament.

The exhibitions timing was just convenient to deflect attention from the uncomfortable questions being raised about the Youth Wage Subsidy.

Unfortunately the trend of the right of the individual superseding the right of the collective (read 250 000 odd unemployed youth and their households that would benefit from the Youth Wage Subsidy) rears it's ugly head again...

Ridwan said...

Hi Karen McKee:

You relayed information here out of good faith and I appreciate your contribution.

Your apology is not necessary but greatly appreciated.

It just shows that interpreting art should be a matter of careful engagement and not the knee-jerk reaction that the ANC and others have layered over Murray.

Mabulu has answered many of the objections raised by the ANC.

It will be interesting to see what happens on Thursday especially now with the precedent of Mabulu's depiction.

Best wishes Karen.


Ridwan said...

"Attack is the best form of defence.

I personally think that the hullabaloo is all smoke an mirrors."

Whatever the the source of misguided thinking and action on this issue the ANC has proved themselves to be 'creeping' towards a greater patriarchal based conservatism and that is a scary thing.

I am also worried that they are not being held responsible for fomenting the fallout - the destruction of the painting and the death threats: both of which are illegal and hardly what you expect from a movement/party that is supposedly bent on reconciling our nation.

Thanks for your comment.


Anonymous said...

In my personal opinion,reason why Brett's painting is making such a stir is that it was done by a white person,hence nothing was said abut Ayanda's.

Anonymous said...

What confuses me is that the "new" picture of our esteemed Leader is said to be "racist", how does that make any sense. If you look at the picuture painted by Ayanda, right infront is a "Pig" with the old South African flag on its ASS.

Also if you look at the painting by Ayanda, he is not only depicting JZ, but a heard of SA ICONS.

How do you argue this point to a judge that only his character is being questioned here?

Keressa said...

Its actually sad on all accounts that as South Africans with all our Laws and Rights we cannot appreciate one others concept and views of life. Is that not a right. the President is contradicting himself his attitde and manner prior to Presidency was about Freedom of expression and Rights. Is his rights not the reason he is not in prison?
Personal opinion!!!!!!
But what is sad that after so many years of a democratic country we still resort to racism!!!!!! will it ever end, or will that the reason and excuse whenever things dont go our way.

Anonymous said...

KayT I guess the BEE is the same as what is happening in the private sector where whites are employed without qualifications and experienced. I've worked with lots of what people who were employed on the basis that they'll learn, and at the end puting more pressure on me to teach them basics. Why whites feels that a black man needs to be educated to be able to do a task assigned to him and a white man doesn't because he's capable of learning quickly. Lastly, your statement "So callled blacks" show that you racists.

Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts on the Advocate breaking down in tears!!!!! during the hearing.

Nosi, Grahamstown said...

Confusion: Please could you clarify for me if the man depicted with his penis in a crutch is or isnt Zuma? I just read an article in and I am now confused.

Ridwan said...

I read about the advocate breaking down and I understand that television coverage of the incident has been prohibited by the high court.

I am not entirely sure what to make of it but at one level it smacks of orchestrated drama.

Now I know some folks will say that the case has dredged up sad memories and ill feelings and I should be more sympathetic.


I can understand that sentiment to an extent but the matter is also about professionalism and dealing with the issues at hand.

This case is not about the apartheid past even though it unavoidably conjures up such images and other related issues.

In legal terms, this case is about section 16 of the South African constitution.

A cut and dry matter that already looks 'ugly' for the ANC after one judge commented it would be difficult to ban the painting and that the issue of personal dignity is a matter pertaining to "persons" and not the president's office.

So, the skeptic in me says this was probably about grandstanding - and it seems to have been successful with the case now on indefinite hold (postponement).

In the meantime debates will get uglier and the principles that should have been confirmed today will be more clouded than ever.

In a more reasonable world I would have expected the court to throw out this application and even declare it a nuisance and misreading of the constitution.

I am hoping that at least when the court reconvenes this ugly episode will be set aside in the interest of freedom of speech for all South Africans.

If not - my opinion of the rule of law in post-apartheid South Africa will be dealt another serious blow.


Ridwan said...

Hi Nosi:

Some of the confusion here goes back to the post above.

I initially thought it was Zuma but then a reader (Karen) had found some discussion elsewhere that said it was not Zuma.

So I retracted my assertion.

But then Ayesha posted a comment here informing us that Mabulu in fact says the portrait includes Zuma with his penis in a crutch.

So, I can now confirm that given Mabulu's own words are on record at Worldart the man with his penis in a crutch is intended to be President Zuma.

Hope this clarifies it all for you.

Thanks for looking in.


Anonymous said...

The artist himself said that he was depicting Zuma and his disrespect for the nation.

mesmerised said...

Is it your opinion that JZ's advocate bit off more than he could chew, was brought to this realization by the judge and emotions then kicked in. I doubt the behaviour was petulent or was it?

Anonymous said...

@ LWETHU M... it amazes me that you fail to see the bland hypocrisy for you own comment. Have white South Africans not just spent the last 3 years listeneing to this presiedent, amongst numerous others in the ruling junta, sing songs that talk of killing others...and this all done in the name of a cultural heritage. Goodness knows what saw of heritage that is that takes pleasure from the singing of the killing of others. But white people must just put up and shut up in your opinion. I fthere is an increase in vitriol from white people see it as a direct result of the mocking call for blacks to kill white people. Take off your blinkers...whether you like it or not, Africa is a part of a global community...and South Africa is a a reflection of many of those cultures coming together. Traditional "African culture" is not and never will be the singular culture in South Africa. Fortunately an increasingly educated young South Africans of all races don't even aspire to that anymore. They seek modernity and opportunity

Ridwan said...

Hi mesmerised:

I don't think it was petulant if by that it is meant that Zuma's Advocate Gcina Malindi acted childish and threw a tantrum.

I do however see that the outcome of the breakdown has been a stalling of the process and given the weakness of the overall case this is in the favour of the ANC.

I also think we need to move the discussion somewhat further and recognize how much this case is strengthening Zuma's position in the course toward a second term.

It is not unreasonable to think that though Zuma may be offended by the painting the case that has been made is influencing political sentiments toward Zuma.

I am saying that Zuma has manipulated the case to strengthen his position inside the ANC and among ANC supporters.

This is dangerous territory particularly in the manner that the issue has been racialized.

It makes me wonder if the ANC can ever mount a political campaign without dredging up racialized strawmen/women.

Already some fools like Enoch Mthembu of the Shembe Church have called for stoning Murray to death.

To which the ANC has said nothing though the Johannesburg High Court has granted an interdict to force him to retract his hateful words.

Mthembu is not alone in issuing death threats.

And now Blade Nzimande is calling for a boycott of City Press - all of this speaks to a creeping move toward authoritarian censorship and folks should be worried.

Is Blade not a minister and therefore should he not be more circumspect about advocating boycotts?

Dunno. But I think so.

Anuway, in the terms above I can see reason to believe that the advocate what playing an orchestrated game.


Arlette Franks said...

On the recurring theme of 'Africans respect their elders, culturally', can anyone explain to me then why (many) Africans kill many of) the elderly as 'accused witches' ... ? This is a well-known phenomenon in South Africa.... Is this African culture? That one someone gets too elderly, and maybe a bit senile, that they are then witches and must be killed?

Nic the Jew said...

I am a young white male, was not old enough during apartheid to know that what was happening was wrong. I did not willingly partake in any racist activities as I was too young. I now find myself being blamed and called a racist because of the mistakes that other, more closed minded people have made, people who I am in no way associated with.

I personally think that black South Africans are amoungst friendliest and charming people in the world.

The problem is that Black South Africans (remember, I am not a racist) are angry and the logical thing is to blame the people initially resposible. I myself have a lot of anger and hatered for the apartheid government. The only problem is that 18 years have passed and that government is not in power anymore. Are we as white people to blame because the new government has failed their followers? I find that to be very unfair, no matter which way you look at it. Also I feel that there is this perception that the white man's focus is to inhibit the black man' growth in society. I think take a look at who is running the country and who promised the world but did not deliver.

With regards to this painting and the uproar associated with it. I believe that there are so many more pressing issues that we as South Africans face, be us Black, White, Indian or Asian. Think of our education and Health Care systems, aren't those more important issues than a white guy paining our presidents penis?

Blame the past as much as you can but it will never help your future.

We have to come to terms with the fact that we ALL come from a very horrid and dark past. If we cannot learn to accept what has happened in the past we will not be able to create a better future for all of us.


Tired of being blammed.

Ridwan said...

Hi Nic:

Thank you kindly for taking time to express your thinking here.

It is important for the nation to have these discussions and to ask the questions you pose.

There is no advance in blame as Robert Sobukwe said when he was asked if he hates white people.

He went on to say that he did not hate white people but he abhorred the apartheid system.

There is a lot of sense in that thinking even today when more than 45 years have passed since he made the comments in an interview with an Australian journalist.

We are stuck in a race centered quagmire because the system still privileges race as an ordering system.

Instead of deconstructing race the post era has repositioned its relevance even to the extent that it is common to essentialize what it means to be and African (who can forget the "who is an African?" debate of recent times)

That debate was reinvigorated by the assumption that the ANC can define what is an African/African culture in the Murray furore.

They can't and should spend more time recognizing the false consciousness (as Marx would say) that underscores their thinking on the matter.

Professor Neville Alexander spends a lot of time making this point and warning us that we will not solve racism until race is made irrelevant (we should not just be dissuaded just because it seems unreasonable to subvert the artificial concept of race).

The furor in the Murray case is as Justice Malala pointed out last Sunday in an article - it is as he said a matter of Zuma playing victim for political purposes.

I have made that same argument here and it is not surprising to me that Zuma's candidacy for a second term has improved so much.

In closing I want also to say that you are not alone in your frustration.

Many black and brown and other young folks continue to raise their voices for an alternative reality (and not just in South Africa).

I grew up under apartheid and carry its scars deep but believe that Sobukwe was prophetic in telling us to drop the political blame game.

This is of course not to say that folks should not be cognizant of the excesses of the past and its skewed hold on the present.

We all carry the burden to change our condition.

Peace to you,

Anonymous said...

Sorry in advance for my long comment

@Ridwan, I believe speaking up against racism is the first step in reaching that alternate! Take a read...

• Argument for a cohesive African or at least South African Black viewpoint/culture/philosophy

Question: Does there exist a different way of thinking that is common to certain groups and can it be drawn that agreement on/similarities in how we interpret and use symbolic representations in society could be attributed to differences in culture/philosophy.

1. If the there are two groups and the majority of the members of the first group (for argument’s sake lets call them the Blues) believe that the painting has a racially derogatory meaning and this group just happens to be comprised of the most part of Africans.
2. On the other hand you have a second groups (we will call them the Blues) that believes that the painting is harmless and it can be said that mostly members of this group also do not seem to understand the hurt or anger felt by the Blues and this group is made up predominantly of White/non African Blacks – and I think there might be a number who believe that this has been the trend.
3. If at all its possible to distinguish between the Reds and the Blues by classifying them by their tendency to agree on the interpretation of or giving meaning to the symbolism contained in this painting. Is it not possible that this difference could be due to their differing cultural beliefs and assumptions or strongly held beliefs?
4. If so is this not in itself an indication that there is a common way of perceiving the world, interpreting it, giving meaning to symbols, of communication, interaction, organisation of society and dare I say a different philosophy/culture /ideology existing between the two groups?

• Argument against Biological Determinism

Question: When the ANC as a group or any other African Blacks/Non-African Blacks, refer to behaviour as racist and primarily attribute this behaviour/actions to Whites/non-African Blacks, does this naturally imply they believe that whites/non-African Blacks are genetically/biologically predisposed towards being racist.

• I believe that the following questions can possibly present a different view.
1. To what can the lack of understanding by the Reds be attributed? Is it due to a perception that the Reds’ view is superior and the only view that matters? That the Blues’ views and values are infantile, irrational etc. as judged by or according to the Reds’ superior standards?
2. On a more practical level, our ignorance about each other; how each group feels, thinks, acts and believes an indication of intolerance amongst South Africans? And quite possibly fuelling the view that not all South Africans are not working equally hard at promoting cohesion and reconciliation?
3. Is this perceived intolerance attributed to biology or a history of racism or an ideology that promotes superiority of one culture over another – are people really racist just because they are white and do people believe this? That of course being the only condition, I believe, for assuming that there exists a racial biological determinism. And interestingly enough, biological determinism is the same argument some racists use for believing that Blacks are inferior – that they just were made so!

Mbali Thabethe said...

First of all let us leave politics out of this for a second. These paintings are disrespectfull whether there are that of Zuma, ET, who ever the person might be. I'm pretty sure that all culture teaches respect for other people. I am christian and my bible teaches me to respect people, Ephesians 6:1-4, Proverbs 1:8-9 naming just a few, I trust the Quran teaches about respect as well and all other religios. Without respect nothing can come right. Just imagine if this was your father being disgraced like that? As for the race issue, South Africa went through traumatic times during apartheid both blacks and whites. They should have been a program where people can go for therapy to overcome the anger, hurt and trauma they went through. So basicaly the race issue will nover be resolved. May God deliver His people from such anger.