The other “state of the nation”

#187. Attend the Flux Trend Review, which I did yesterday at the University of Johannesburg Theatre – a little spot of [architectural] light on an otherwise mostly foreboding campus (that was besides for the delicious food from the hospitality and tourism students – 10 out of 10 for the home-made biscuits). Ferial Haffajee, editor of City Press gave the opening talk, a state of the nation address that included lots of ripe bananas, a great soundtrack and even a soccerball giveaway (definitely a 2010 event trend). Maybe JZ should try that.

She started by asking whether anyone had ever zapped a blue light convoy and urged the audience to try it if their answer was no. Blue light convoys (much in the news) are the symbol of a banana republic she said, of the leader as owner rather than as representative of the country. I am with her on this one.

She raised some other interesting points – that the ANC has demonstrated no intrinsic commitment to the independence of key institutions, that as a country we should compare ourselves against developing country giants like Brazil, India and China rather than making ourselves feel better by comparing ourselves to our neighbours, and that we are a nation of protestors – often noisy, sometimes too clumsy.

She put two scenarios out there for 2014. The first had Julius Malema whooping it up at Taboo in Sandton about to be appointed the country’s deputy president amid rising numbers of unemployed youth, a culture of tenderpreneurship and a dire lack of services. Malema ironically with his Lamborghinis and Johnnie Walker as the king of the underclasses.

The second had Kgalema Motlanthe – “who can’t dance and has not even one wife” as the president we would need right then after our current President had been voted out of office following a sex scandal in 2012 that had revealed him as a lame duck. “The triumph of pragmatism over ideology”.

“We can go either way”, she said, “and it’s up to you and me”.
Haffajee sees the President’s latest conquest as the line in the sand. The point at which the nation talked back so much — we had gotten used to polygamy but cheating on your three wives with one of your friend’s daughters is not Okay — that it forced censure from inside the ANC and an apology from the President.

“This was leadership exerted from the bottom, not the top”, a crucial ingredient in “shaping the country of your imagination”.

So get imaginative and embrace the culture of the zap. (Zapiro must be enjoying this). Who knows the best thing you could do for this democracy may be to raise your middle finger and let it count for something.

Next up: Nando’s brilliant Marketing Manager Sylvester Chauke on taking a stand against the bland. Watch this space

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