There were many South Africans this week who might have been excused for poring over the ANC’s upcoming elections walkabout schedules and then emptying their fridges in preparation for a visit from secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Last week in Cape Town, he managed to shift the needle on the narrative from “it’s our time to eat” to “there’s no food” before promptly dipping into his pocket to bring out R400 for the overjoyed granny in the house.
It was an unintended metaphor for a post-state capture South Africa and a shameless act of arrogance that might land him in hot water with the electoral court.
Magashule, still smarting from the revelations in PL Myburgh’s runaway bestseller, Gangster State, didn’t get it. He did nothing wrong, he said, before promptly taking one foot out of his mouth and replacing it with another to urge that people “don’t vote for whites” at another campaign stop.
This being South Africa, though, he couldn’t hog the headlines for too long.
On Monday night, Kurt Darren had a “hold my beer moment” and mangled the anthem in front of a bunch of drunk students at the Varsity Cup rugby final.
Then, in an act of similar hubris, he phoned a radio station to whine that he’d only messed up one line, only to put the phone down when Eusebius McKaiser tried to question him a bit further. What was Darren expecting from the master debater, even phoning him in the first place? McKaiser’s questions were spot on: Darren had taken a paid gig to sing the anthem, he cocked it up and couldn’t see what he’d done wrong.
As South Africans, we love a good heartfelt apology; we’ll forgive anything if it’s done properly, but not when it’s qualified. Ask Hansie Cronje.
The problem with Darren’s flater was that he just doesn’t get it, unlike singer Ard Matthews eight years ago.
This week’s anthem debacle prompted another round of that well loved national past time of “whataboutism”, as in “what about the EFF? They sit down for the singing of the English and Afrikaans bits”. Yes, they do. Many of us might not like it, but they do it on purpose and they own the consequences, legitimating their act of disrespect by making it a protest.
As for Darren, he’s just lumped himself in with those stereotypical whiteys who resolutely refuse to get it. It’s not about telling people to get over it; all South Africans can sing the English - and most the Afrikaans - verses of the anthems. Not everyone can sing the Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho lines though - which isn’t just unfair, it comes across as arrogant and presumptuous.
The fact that he was paid to sing the anthem, just makes it worse - and his excuse that he sometimes flubs the lines to his own compositions should have his promoters anxiously checking his upcoming bookings.
Kaptein, this was the wrong time to span the seile, you’ve ended up coming across as tone deaf.
Keep on like this and you might end up with an empty fridge soon too. Do better.
* Ritchie is a journalist and former newspaper editor
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.