Zuma’s “we can’t think like Africans in Africa” comment unfortunate, cries Tilo ngwana Rashaka.
I have noted media reports about presidential spokes person, Mac Maharaj, apologizing to the people of Malawi after “I have received numerous calls from Malawians being angry and after long discussions, they come around and say, yes, let’s not make a mountain of a molehill,” Maharaj was quoted as saying.
Maharaj went further to say “Let me apologize for that and withdraw it.”
I understand Maharaj is President Zuma’s official spokesperson but when will Zuma start taking responsibilities for his mistakes instead of relying on his spin-doctor to fix up his messes?
Following Maharaj apology on radio, ordinary South Africans have taken to social media to express their views. “why doesn’t zoomer (sic) apologize ?”
“The Spin Doctor does it again”
“to be frank there’s nothing worth apologising for, or rather anything wrong with the statement he said”
“When Mbeki spoke, all I ever needed was a dictionary to understand.. When #Zuma speaks, I need Mac Maharaj, popcorn and a sense of humour”
“as expected, poor Mac has to get his hands dirty by trying to do damage control after the bull messed up.”
When I first learnt of Zuma’s recent infamous comment “we can’t think like Africans”, it took me exactly 10 hours to get to understand the underlying message behind that.
It was after I read an opinion piece in the Mail & Guardian, “President Zuma, think like an African – it helps” by Takura Zhangazha that helped me understand.
One thing that contributed to my absolute confusion was, why would President Zuma say we should not think like Africans in Africa while we, South Africans, are in Africa? I though maybe he was referring to a comment made by former colonial masters or officials in Western countries who consider Africa and other developing continents as “the other”.
But little did I know that it was Zuma’s self made, and I would like to say ‘independent’ remark. Even now I’m still taken aback by such comment. I still fail to understand why Mr President would choose to echo colonial sentiments in post colonial Africa to fellow Africans.
Yes, Jo’burg may be developed better than majority of metropolitan cities in the continent but the fact remains, Jo’burg is still in Africa and it’s GDP is a mass contribution by South Africans and Africans at large and even by people outside the continent.
I understand being African is no longer a matter of pigmentation and geographic location anymore but attitude, culture and believe. If Zuma thinks people of Gauteng cannot be seen as Africans by virtue of their city’s developed standard, that’s his own subjective view and should remain as such as it does not reflect the views of the majority. In fact, it’s an insult to people who go to bed in an empty stomach and some don’t have a place to sleep and yet they are in better Jo’burg.
So, to suggest that Jo’burg is developed therefore cannot be seen as some shabby African cities is both reckless and misleading comment.
Is Zuma trying to label South Africans as “better blacks and whites” than the people of Malawi? If that’s what he’s doing, something that I personally belief he’s actively agitating for, then he’s making a substantial contribution towards neo-colonialism or colonialism of a special type in 2013 where Africans were seen as primitive, underdeveloped, barbaric, ugly, brainless, lazy, and all sorts of negative things.
In his comment, Zuma is also othering Rusternburg, Polokwane and other cities in South Africa; again, he’s suggesting that Jo’burg is more advanced than the said cities, of which he’s not lying. But that line, with a strong emphasis of “WE CAN’T” makes me wonder and question Zuma’s commitment to develop other towns in South Africa.
I think it was supposed to be Jacob Zuma on Power FM apologizing to the people of South Africa, Malawi and the continent at large, the same way it was him at Wits University making comments about malawi, GENERALLY!