Diplomatic hiccups and crazy minority groups are funny in their own way

Amid our problems in Africa, from time to time, like all people, we get some light relief from different quarters.

First it is a head of state calling a diplomat from a neighbouring country a ‘street woman’ as Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe did to Lindiwe Zulu in July. Zulu is a South African presidential advisor on international affairs.

Then just last week, South Africa’s own president, Jacob Zuma chastised South Africans by telling them to ‘stop thinking like Africans.’ Zuma was reminding them that a road in South Africa’s richest city of Johannesburg is not like a ‘road in Malawi’.

Although these events and many others caused temporary diplomatic hiccups, they were funny in their own way.

These statesmen later apologised for their utterances, but from where I sit, they were Freudian slips and deep down Mugabe and Zuma meant what they said.

The problem with politics is that a politician is always in a lose-lose situation. Half the time they are accused of lying to the public to get votes and the other half, they are chastised for telling the truth as they see it.

Take for instance that no politician in Africa has ever been heard accusing a west African country of being a bunch of crooks, well not in public anyway. This is despite the many known scams and tricks that have been committed all over the world by citizens of this populous country.

Of course it would be wrong for our politicians to do so, because it would be an unfair generalisation, and it would also be highly undiplomatic. In fact, in Africa as in many countries, it would be called xenophobia.

In return, politicians from Zimbabwe and Nigeria – two countries that boast some of the most educated Africans you will find – will never stand on any podium and accuse South Africa of being a country of dimwits.

Although our literacy and numeracy scores make for good comedy scripts sometimes, such an accusation would be wrong because some people among us, like our former president Thabo Mbeki, had a master’s degree.

And so it was with light relief this week that when a South African joke running for 10 years came to an end, a fringe group of white rightwing saboteurs convicted of high treason were given jail terms of between five and 30 years.

How is this a joke, you may ask. Wait for it.

Known as the Boeremag (loosely translated it means Boer Force), this is just a group of lunatics who in the late 1990s set out on what they believed was a violent overthrow of the black government with the aim of chasing all non-Caucasian citizens of South Africa out of the country.

Let me break it down for you. So here is a group of no more than 5000 people tops, scattered across the length and breadth of South Africa, some of whom do not even have a decent job or a proper address, who thought that they could drive nearly 46 million South Africans to the sea in favour of about six million white people.

These fellows, who set about detonating hand-made explosives in black residential areas, also had a plan to assassinate former president and world icon Nelson Mandela.

Before I am accused of trivialising a serious crime, let me explain myself. So these lunatics with smelly armpits, most probably drunk on some cheap liquor, had this grand plan of taking on millions of people and succeeding – undetected.

Pardon me for being rather slow or stupid, but in their minds, did these Boeremag fellows expect all of us to roll over and die as they drove us out of our country? What sort of marijuana did they smoke to believe such nonsense?

And even before every black man and his grandmother would have picked up their shovels and bricks to resist this move, did the Boeremag really think they would defeat the army of almost 50,000 soldiers in the defence force? Ahem, I don’t think so.

Once they had driven all 46 million of us out, what was the plan then exactly? Shut all borders and trade with whom? In what currency?

It is one thing to accuse South Africans of having low IQs, but definitely another to think of them as idiots that will be intimidated by 5000 men in khaki shorts, chest hairs and long socks.

Pity the judge who presided over this marathon trial did not see the joke, and rightfully so. He condemned them to jail, where sadly for them, they will have to share cells with the same black people they wanted out of South Africa.

You can accuse the Boeremag of everything you like, including being sick in the head, but one thing is clear, they are not politicians.

How else would you explain such honesty, albeit with a good measure of stupidity to boot.


First published in Dubbo Weekender http://www.dubbophotonews.com.au/index.php/opinion-analysis