Stuck in time

I once read science-fiction story in which the reader eventually discovered that, by a series of events including a sex-change and a lot of time-travel, the principal character was his own mother and father.

His life was a loop in time, not a line with a beginning and an end like yours and mine. The thought of that story comes to me sometimes like a nightmare. Does anyone live such a good life that they would like to repeat it for ever? But there are people in this world who are stuck in a similar time-warp, living the same story over and over again. The newspaper pictures of Boers parading on horseback and waving the rifles their great-grandfathers used against the British in 1900 showed us one such example. But those people are fairly harmless. They might ride through Orania waving their 1888 Smith & Wessons, but I don’t see much chance of them doing the same in Tshwane (what they used to call Pretoria). If they looked like a threat to anyone, Zuma could stop them on his own with his mshini. If the SA government really wanted to make them treat their workers better, a trade union official escorted by half-a-dozen armed police should be enough to lick them into line. They are no threat to anyone but themselves, so they can be left in their time-warp until they ask to be let out of it. But there are a few more dangerous victims of this disease.

That Saturday when Julius Malema, SA’s answer to Joseph Chinotimba, spent six hours with a thousand-odd of our youth who were bussed in to shout slogans out of the 1970s, I felt there was something more dangerous here. Still, the rest of Mbare went on with life that day as if the volleyball stadium was only hosting one of its usual Evangelical crusades (but a more quiet one than usual). They are probably right. Publicity only encourages the Malemas and Chinotimbas of this world. Refusing it to them is an act they can feel and nobody else is likely to notice. If only they had their own Orania where they could play their games, none of us would need to bother with them at all.

Yet, I’m not forgetting there are others, who forever repeat the slogans of 1978 or 1963 or 1896 and maybe the slogans they like to think they’d have shouted during the Mafecane. They can still make life unpleasant for us. But perhaps they only have that power as long as we give it to them? What would happen if we ignored their parades and celebrations? What if we all switched off the radio or TV when that mixture of bile and propaganda they call news starts? What could they do if we ignore them when they shout at us? If enough of us agree on it, we would be telling the cops when they overstep their authority, and telling the Green Bombers and other uniformed and non-uniformed thugs they have no authority at all – and getting away with it.

Post published in: Opinions

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