Racist, sexist, violent-peddling, Malema hate-talk dangerous for the future
By Mphutlane wa Bofelo
Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 10:47am
The tendency to project the racist, sexist, violent-peddling and hate-talk of Julius Malema as just a normal expression of the fervor, overzealousness and recklessness of youth is a deliberate attempt to take focus away from sober, critical, vigilant, intellectual, innovative and creative voices and faces among the youth.
Unfortunately the glorification of thoughtless action and the “diss-missing” of theory and marginalization of analytical minds have had dire and ghastly consequences for the country. The problems that the country has with regard to the violent nature of crime, apathetically low levels of respect of life, lack of appreciation of the self and indifference to parental guidance could be traced to the era in our history when we lionized youths who acted without first getting theoretical clarity of the situation facing them and weighing critically the strategic and tactical choices available to them.
Even at that time, there were voices among youths that appealed for action rooted in the clarity of vision regarding the future. But the media and academia chose to give prominence to youth outfits that availed them the opportunity of covering dramatic incidents of empty classrooms, principals running for their lives, children making their mothers and fathers drink Jik and eat Sunlight soap, youngsters administering justice with petrol-fire and kerosene. To the media and academia the clamor of “liberation first, education after” was catchier than the erudite call of “Educate to Liberate”. Indefinite school boycotts made more spectacle sense than cautious, restrained calculation of how much damage a boycott inflicted on the system and how much loss it incurred on the students.
Now that the problems accrued from the culture of more toi-toi and less think-think continue to bedevil our school system, none of the adults are willing to own the role they played in taking the struggle from the streets into the classrooms as opposed to the Black Consciousness-inspired youths of 1976 who took the struggle out of the classrooms into the streets, and towards the system. Today, we can only give prominence to Malema and ilk and marginalize young people with critical, creative, innovative minds at our own peril. Once the culture of violence, disrespect for life, intolerance for dissent and disdain of theory and analysis, and dismissing of thinking and reflecting has sets in, it will take centuries to do away with. It’s therefore regretful to notice the governing party and sections of academia and the media tacitly promoting the Malemarization of youth politics and public discourse in general.
In the mid-eighties when youths where at the centre of rebelling against the regime and regiments of apartheid-capitalism, there were tragically also excesses and extremes in the manner in which young people – at the behest of the adults and with the involvement of many of their elders in political parties - went about the project of rendering South Africa ungovernable and apartheid-capitalism untenable. There were ghastly instances of blood-thirsty necklacing, witch-hunting of sell-outs and indiscriminate killing of people with dissenting political opinions.
In this ghostly climate of intolerance of dissent, in some quarters there was an official vilification of theory and analysis at the expense of glorifying action and deifying recklessness as being gallant. People and organizations who engaged in critical and thoughtful thinking on strategy and tactics, practiced caution with regard to the tactics of academic and consumer boycott and strike-action, and spoke against the “necklace” where branded as agents of the system. This led to bloody scenes of internecine violence between 1983 and 1999. The apartheid regime also took advantage of this and fermented more violence through police brutality, vigilante groups, and the so-called third force in the 90’s as well as various sly ways of setting anti-apartheid groups against each other. The gangsters where also infiltrated and used by the agents of the system to escalate violence and proliferate lethal drugs such as mandrax, cocaine and heroine in the townships.
The situation worsened in the late between the 80’s and the early 90’s. We saw scenes of the youths operating in the street committees, defense units and the so-called people’s courts, mediating with the whip and “necklace” in domestic and neighborhood conflicts. The street committee members would go on house-to-house raids, forcefully taking young people, including young girls to go on street-patrols. There were then many reports of acts of sexual abuse and rape of young girls being taken to certain hide-outs and camps and being raped. As a result of fear of the comrades and cynicism towards the apartheid police these cases were never reported. There was no chance of these instances being dealt with by the people’s courts because members thereof were culprits in some instances. Some neighbors, including businesses people started abusing the street committees, defense units to settle old scores and pursue personal agendas. This was aided by the corruptible nature of members of these outfits who often took bribery and ended up as being some kind of hired assassins or hired lynch mobs in some instances.
The rot had set it. Suddenly lawlessness and disorder became the norm in schools, the culture of teaching and learning declined, the schools became the dens of drugs and alcohol and sex, gang-rape spilled from the schools into the streets, and fire-arms became toys. The gangsters became the coolest cats and heroes of the townships. Car-hijackings, house-breaking and heists became sport for young people growing in South Africa. People started talking of the degeneration of morals amongst the youth. The media and academia coined the term “lost generation” to refer to the youth of this generation. None of the old people who celebrated the recklessness of the young lion are now owning up to the role they played in elevating thoughtless\ reckless, theory-less action thereby inculcating the culture of disrespect for reasoning and fostering the culture of acting without thinking, which spawned the comrade-tsotsis, the jackrallers, the trigger-happy, gun-totting gangsters, and the adventurously kleptomaniac men and women who govern our lives today.
Generalizing about the youths and collectively referring to them as “the lost generation”, became a convenient way of running from the fact that the system and our political parties, civil society organization, the media and academia, has failed the youth. A proper term would be the generation in search of role models. A generation that has seen struggle firebrand becoming business brands, guerrillas becoming corporate gorillas, comrades becoming tenderpreneurs, respected leaders being culprits and suspects in corruption scandals. Children have seen fathers raping babies and their mothers being clobbered to death by their own fathers. Young people have seen and heard of priests from all religions being involved in rapes, child-molestation, pyramid scandals, and various corrupt dealings.
Nelson Mandela, shortly after he was released from prison, by F.W de Klerk, sings a struggle song about “Killing Whites”; and prior to receiving a Nobel Peace Prize award for his alleged commitment to “reconciliation” with whites.
Many of the corrupt government officials, captains of crime syndicates, drug-lords and mafia-bosses of today, are the very same comrades of the street committees, defense units, people’s courts, and guerilla armies of yesterday. The long and short of it is that glorifying mediocrity, recklessness, violence and idiocy today is investing in the doom and damnation of the future. Marginalizing the many imaginative, creative, innovative and critical, intelligent minds and voices in South Africa\ Azania at the expense of giving too much platform to the theatrical, comical and farcical Malema’s is a serious act of injustice against the youth and prosterity.
Mphutlane Wa Bofelo is a writer, activist, life-skills facilitator and performance poet who has been published in several journals, websites and anthologies and has performed at various events.
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