The Duke and Duchess, along with the little tot, visited the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
The Duke and Duchess, along with the little tot, visited the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

British couple and their kid a balm for the week

By Kevin Ritchie Time of article published Sep 28, 2019

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So, this week the news cycle changed entirely. After weeks of navel-gazing, increasing existential angst and concomitant rending of hair about the president, the New Dawn, the False Dawn and the fight back, climate change, media cabals and whether or not Jérôme Garcès robbed the Boks last Saturday, Mzansi - in the words of the millennials - “lost its shit” over the arrival of a British couple and their kid.

Try as they might, the more bilious hacks on social media couldn’t really dampen the general ardour, although they did their desperate best, retweeting clips from ostensibly authentic news outlets now posting “news” stories about the duchess of Sussex’s choice in wedge heels. You could hear the gnashing of teeth in the comments field.

A local radio station came close, repetitively headlining its reports about Harry and Meghan going into the Murder Capital of South Africa, which would have had many wondering which one out of 20 possible places that come to mind - from the Cape Flats to Orange Farm, or even Roodepan in Kimberley on a bad Friday night - instead of simply saying they were going to Nyanga in Cape Town.

It’s something you might have expected from the British media ratpack that invariably scrums around anything or anyone royal, but as Britain’s Daily Mail helpfully pointed out, thanks to a British Airways strike an entire jumbo jet of media was left stranded for 21 hours at Heathrow.

The junior royals have made all the right noises - and for a country that prides itself on egalitarianism, decolonising universities and literally emptying buckets of crap on statues of imperialists, there have been more than enough other South Africans throwing out their knees and their backs trying to curtsey and “highnessing” as if to the manor born - despite the Sussexes resolutely trying to be as normal as possible - going from “Your Majesty” to “Jou mase kin” in the space of a District6 samoosa. The royals’ blue-light convoys too seem to be a fraction the size of that of the average provincial MEC.

Meghan stayed in Cape Town this week, while Harry shot off on a whistle-stop tour that included Botswana, Malawi and Angola, not just ticking the charity boxes of the chattering classes like poaching, but also following in his mother’s pioneering footsteps, highlighting the media unsexy scourge that landmines continue to pose to so many innocents especially in Africa.

The couple will reunite in Joburg next week. Thankfully the Sussexes’ minders managed to ensure neither of them will be going to Cullinan outside Pretoria, where two of the biggest sparklers on his gran’s crown and mace came from - so hopefully the ADHD that usually inflames the commentariat will let that one slip to the high commission’s relief.

And then they will be off.

They gave us a great global boost literally only a week ago after the world was writing us off for the umpteenth time. In the immortal words of Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane, they protected us from ourselves.

Can we get them back in six months’ time?

* Ritchie is a journalist and former newspaper editor.

The Saturday Star

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