Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Day of reconciliation

What have you done for reconciliation today? I sat through the speeches of JZ aka Umsholozi and our new, acting President. Then I finished it off with Mr Bones 2 at the mall.

I liked the speech of our new acting President. It’s a pity he was just acting. It almost looked real.

The rally of ANC was interesting. Donned on their new yellow and red t-shirts, they outdone themselves, even with a military parade of sorts, nogal. When I noticed the rally, on SABC for the first time, I wasn’t sure whether it was a parody of a Mugabe rally, with the rag-tag camouflaged battalion marching, what seemed like, in circles. These guys looked a bit in their middle-years, some evidently over-weight and often out of step; some wearing comrade styled berets, others walking ‘kaalkop’. Talking about their step, the swaying of the arms from side to side and the ‘roll’ that I recognise from my teenage years, as we try to be ‘skollie’, was, of course what made me think of the ‘veterans’ nextdoor. Seriously though, these guys purportly, symbolised the heroic armed forces of the liberation movements, and this rally was a demonstration, no, a celebration, of the ANC’s history, more specifically that of the Umkhonto weSizwe, what JZ called, the ‘people’s army’. He would often refer to Chris Hani, who was decorated, as a disciplined combatant, a soldier, etc, who, strange as it might sound, actually fought for peace. There was no ‘Umshini Wam’ anymore, no waiving of replica AK47’s, but I wondered whether maybe he did not missed the point of today, our president in waiting. It seemed to me (and this is rather subjective, I concur) this rally was subtly, yet more sinister, a playing with the more militant tradition within the history of the Alliance. With the references, often to the ANC, as the ‘congress of the people’ and its fusion with armed resistance and militancy, I wondered, where are we going with this. In vain, I hoped for the commitment to reconciliation and the non-racial and non-violence traditions, within the liberation movement.

I then only saw glimpses of the other Congress of the People rally, according to the Supreme Court, the real Congress of the People, after which it was a very disappointing Mr Bones 2. Disappointing for me. But then, I suppose the fact that the Cine was almost full and that our people, around me, of all shapes and shades were laughing themselves to a standstill, while stuffing ourselves with popcorn and colddrinks, should say something about our people. After all, its power to the people. Maybe the official reconciliation and the acting has run its course and we want some funny stories about our fumbling with each other. Maybe we simply want to look at ourselves, as we take ourselves so serious, and realise that sometimes we also need to enjoy the funny, in our efforts to be important and rich and so spiritual. If anything, Bones becomes the parody of white-ness in Africa, of Africa-ness in South Africa, of the ridiculousness of our serious-ness with officiality. Reconciliation does not take place at the rallies, at the formal speeches and fire-offerings. Reconciliation takes place, where we get to know each other behind the religious rituals, beyond the skin colour, language and the trappings of wealth and where we discover real people, who simply want to love, laugh and live. This sounds maybe a bit simplistic and superficial- but then, I hope and pray for a reconciliation that is simply real, where I have space to love, laugh and love. I simply ‘want to study war no more’.
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