A chasm of misunderstanding, plus five talking points from Vrye Weekblad

Here’s what’s hot in the latest edition of the Afrikaans digital weekly

18 February 2022 - 06:28 By TIMESLIVE
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EFF leader Julius Malema. File image.
EFF leader Julius Malema. File image.
Image: Alon Skuy

There is always something almost alarming about a black person having to explain himself politically in a court of law. The post-traumatic stress of white vs black in the court of justice hits a raw nerve. 

This week I grappled with the hate speech case against EFF leader Julius Malema in the darkest hours of the night. The longer the night stretched, the more I realised white South Africans’ morbid fixation on, and sometimes racist nastiness towards, the EFF not only gives Malema political oxygen but also the right of existence to the idea he and his party represent. Sometimes Malema is wrong, but sometimes he is right.

Malema’s defense against adv Mark Oppenheimer’s claims that he incites violence against farmers is straightforward: White people came as settlers and their political identity is conditional. If you can’t identify with Africa, how can you be a South African? 

If you consider the lyrics of  “Kill the Boer” as incitement to murder farmers, you misunderstand the concept of “Boer” in the context of the liberation struggle. 

Few white South Africans do not have reservations about the EFF leader. It is often nothing more than prejudice and fear, but some of the criticism is valid. There is enough evidence that Malema is often opportunistic and racist. He has little respect for the liberal democratic architecture of the constitution and breaks the law when it suits him. Some of his friends are thugs who belong behind bars and he uses their friendship to maintain a lifestyle that can’t be justified by his salary. His party is as corrupt as every conversation at a Waterkloof braai suggests. 

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But Malema’s charting of the typical white character represented by AfriForum’s case is also devastatingly correct and true. It’s an identity that will only recognise and understand black people as herdsmen, security guards, cashiers and underlings. Malema paints a striking picture of the narrative that gave rise to AfriForum’s charge against him: It is the legacy of a fabricated identity that stalks the night and negotiates with the wives and children of white men with a panga held high.

Malema argues that there is a certain context to liberation songs. The violence of the apartheid state is and was the context of what restless South Africans sing or sang. The more subtle yet authoritarian or even fascist statutory order that dehumanised — and still dehumanises — becomes a justification for the atrocities in the symbolism of the music. 

There is another relevant analogy. If the Bible is read out of context, God gives commands that justify genocide, kill children and anoint women as slaves. But it was 3,000 years ago. We know the cruel symbolic rituals linked to God can only have narrative or anthropological interpretations. No God of love would justify such atrocities. Sometimes context is important and often it is the only space in which understanding can grow.

Read the full article, and more news, analysis and interviews in this Friday's edition of Vrye Weekblad. 

Must-read articles in this week’s Vrye Weekblad

>> Browse the full February 18 edition

FREE TO READ – A SAD AFFAIR | Twelve years ago, after a major (and very expensive) overhaul, the department of home affairs was running smoothly. Now it is completely broken down again. 

THE WEEK IN POLITICS | The education poor black children receive is a crime against humanity, writes Max du Preez. 

CRISIS IN UKRAINE | Would World War III really break out if Russia invaded Ukraine? Perhaps not, but it wouldn't be the first time that a conflict like this ends up being a protracted and bloody affair.

WATCH OUT FOR GRETA! | How long should your legs be for a Norton Commando? And we predict an unexpected ending for SA at the T20 World Cup. 

PINCHING MORE THAN CENTS | We all know that one person who refuses to ever spend a cent. Where does this come from? It could even be due to traumatically strict potty training. 

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