MYTHBUSTING: SOUTH AFRICA
For more than 70 years, Germans have been forced to admit that their ancestors were douche bags. It is even illegal to deny that the holocaust was perpetrated by their immediate ancestors. This makes Germany unique among nations; every other country in the world believes that in one form or another, they are special.
Take the USA as an example. The nut jobs that stormed the Capitol Building in January are convinced that they are somehow completing the work of the “revolutionaries” that took on the British Empire in its war of independence starting with the Boston Tea Party in 1773 which led to the American War of Independence. Every interview with the MAGA-cap-wearing, SUV-driving, conspiracy-theorist-obsessed, Trump supporters, explained how they were somehow completing this “revolution” of their forefathers. This is despite the obvious fact that in 1776, the population if the USA was only 2.5 million people and the bulk of their forefathers only came to the USA long thereafter. At this stage most of the forefathers of these “modern day revolutionaries” were still living in Europe for another 100 years.
I have started to think about the myths that permeate South Africa as well as the havoc that these myths create.
Here are some of the most damaging South African myths:
Myth 1: The struggle
Of all the factors that brought the National Party to the negotiating table, a few bombs in the Wimpy Bars were pretty low down on the list of concerns. Economic sanctions were starting to bite and the hard work done by the Nordic nations to keep South Africa in the naughty corner caused the most pain. Disinvestment was not fun. The social and sporting isolation was the cherry on the cake. Not playing international sport or watching British television was harder to overcome than the chance of losing a leg at a pub. All the Pep Store camouflage will never make our MKVMA soldiers the soldiers that they wish they were.
Myth 2: Civil war averted
South Africa has had some tense moments. Sharpeville, Soweto, Boipatong, the Chris Hani assassination; all of these events caused deep concern, but following none of these events, was there a massing of troops on both sides. All of these events just hastened the end of apartheid and the birth of the New South Africa. Much like an old bar fly will regale you with tall tales of bar fights, any old man whose best times are behind him will tend to embellish his stories from the old days. This is a man thing, that makes us feel young again for a moment and should never be taken seriously. This country never seriously came close to armed conflict, so we should all just dump this idea.
Myth 3: Global moral superiority
For a brief while, in the post 1994 days, with Nelson Mandela as President, South Africa enjoyed global moral superiority. All countries in the world hailed our accomplishment in carving out a new country from the ashes of the past. Nelson Mandela played this hand brilliantly by having all countries think that he was on their side, regardless of the ideological divide. This came crashing down when in 1995 when the Nigerian government decided to execute political activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa. The ANC was caught between standing up for what was right and pissing off a brother African state; they chose to buckle. This situation was rapidly followed by the madness of Robert Mugabe and Thabo Mbeki’s policy of “silent diplomacy” and hand-holding of a tyrant. As the 21st Century dawned our brief moment of moral superiority was over. We now choose rogue states like Venezuela and Cuba, while scolding the very countries that were so instrumental in ending apartheid.
Myth 4: The ANC is a communist organisation
If the Zondo Commission has taught us anything, it is that the ANC and its members are extremely fond of money. It is highly unlikely that our comrades would ever want to live in an egalitarian society where we all wear grey and drive Ladas. The ANC does not have the discipline to run a communist country and can’t build a power plant let alone build an economy. The closest this party comes to be being communist is to call each other “comrade”.
Myth 5: Ubuntu – I am because you are
There is the toxic belief that the country has a spirit of ubuntu – I am because you are. This is the same country in which its own government officials steal money meant to deal with the largest pandemic in a century. This is the same country where the police shoot protesting students. This is the same country that kills foreigners because they have the temerity to work harder. This is the ultimate myth that needs busting.
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State of the Nation 2021