Sunday, February 25, 2007

Nice South Africans

Dave reminds us thus things are not all hunky dory in paradise at the moment. But whenever I think about where we've come from I am placated. This 1986 (hell that is more than 20 years ago now!) Spitting Image song - "I have never met a nice South African", certainly is ,as this reviewer points out in his solid analysis, :

"more than a little out of date now, as both Apartheid in South Africa and Spitting Image in the UK have bitten the dust. Still, it is quite revelatory of a certain period in the 1980s , and as such is worthy of a little analysis."

Even the most hardened of Aussie cricket supporters would be hard-pressed to admit that they haven't met, or couldn't imagine meeting, a nice South African somewhere along the line. (and by that I mean someone other than the only decent South African Spitting Image said we had in the 80's, Breyten Breytenbach.)

If that appealed you might well enjoy The Chicken Song, the A-side of the single that the the above song backed.

AND NOW FOR SOME SERIOUS ADVICE FROM ME. Please read this piece by Breyten Breytenbach.

Nothing of the above can blur the questions we ought to ask ourselves within Africa in order to release a creative and transformative imagination. I know we think that to admit to our horrors - of our making, our responsibility - is traitorous since it may well reinforce racist type-casting. It will betray the struggle, it is often averred. Also, self-assessment will deprive us of the comfort of being victims of history, of colonialism, of racism, of capitalism, of socialism, of our own innocence and inherent goodness...

We need to start from the terrible and bitter recriminations which recognize that we have by now descended from liberatory euphoria to the heart of darkness. We need to admit that the nation-state concept as existing in Africa at present, accommodating rapacious local elites and corrupt and cynical foreign companies only, is not viable. The democracy which has spread over us, even when sweetened by the poison of elections, is killing us. We need to admit that foreign development aid is not helping us. We know that Africa has to refounded on radical new premises, informed by genuine autonomy and independence - and this is neither the task nor the responsibility of the world out there. We know we need a revolution in ethics, in commitment to the needs of the continent, in paring back our inflated rhetoric and our demagogic posturing.

And a parting comment from Leonard Fleming's short story, "The Man Who Went Away"(1929), in an old 2003 post of mine.

Strange how anybody living in a land of great spaces, great distances, great mountains, could become so narrow minded, shutting one's eyes to the good and the best and only seeing the worst. Perhaps it was the fault of the politicians, so many of them took only the narrow outlook, saw only the worst instead of the best, that must react upon the community :it must sub-consciously affect a people.

Well, no more narrow outlook for him: he had seen the world now, had lived under other conditions in other lands; he knew that he was jolly well off where he was now and that the country would continue to develop and progress as it had from the beginning. There would, of course, be checks and setbacks and disappointments from time to time, but in the long run it would grow and expand, as all healthy babies grow and expand.


Dave said...

Heard of the song before, but never actually seen or listened to it. Got to have a sense of humour about it, it is pretty funny.

ATW said...

Mighty funny, I think. Leo de Caprio probably watched it to get his eksent roight for Blood Diamond.