Jun 15, 2012
Reflections on The Spear sagaBack
Africa|Defence|Safety|Africa|South Africa|University Of Cape Town|Gcina Malindi|Jacob Zuma|Muzi Sikhakhane|Power
© Reuse this
The irony is that, in the days leading up to the UCT dialogue and on the plane on my way there, I was a bundle of nerves. In my anxiety, I kept on shuttling between the wish that the debate would be as sweet and melodious as a Mozart adagio and hoping that it would be as atonal as the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen. As my taxi entered the peaceful grounds of the university campus, a sense of calm descended on me. As I entered what at first I feared would be a bull ring, I had no doubt in my mind that the complex truth about The Spear would come to the fore if we allowed ourselves to be seized by the harmony of atonal music. What follows is a combination of what I did say and what I wish I had said.
The safety of the space allowed me to explore The Spear in terms of complexity and conflict. The theme of conflict is not only about the warring parties which stood against one other in defence or against the portrait. It is also about the fact that some of us experienced intense internal conflict. I, as a matter of biological fact, am a descendant of the Afrikaner, BaSotho, the Khoisan, amaXhosa and amaZulu. I am black and African, and I am not a woman. Some of the conflict was caused by the fact that I kept wondering what I would have thought of The Spear had I been born a woman. Also, as far as the internal conflict is concerned, it did not help that the two lawyers who went to court to argue for the President, Gcina Malindi and Muzi Sikhakhane, are my friends.
A fellow panellist argued that works of art do not have a voice that is their own. I agree. I hold two views in this regard.
First, our interpretation of art is partly an attempt to create artists in our own image. That is why we ask questions such as: What is the role of the artist in (our conception of) society and doesn’t the artist have certain responsibilities? In fact, to the extent that this furore is about free- dom of expression, it occurred to me that, in the homes of this country, children are taught, indoctrinated or threatened into accepting limits to their freedom of expression and later in life, especially if the ‘wrong’ political party or leader ascends to power, are expected to be vigorous in claiming this freedom.
Second, what lends meaning to a work of art is a multiplicity of factors, such as gender, race, class, culture, misappropriation of culture, religion, political orientation, collective and historical memory, sexual orientation and historical context. It is for this reason that a work of art such as The Spear will, unavoidably, attract a multipli- city of meanings. But it would be problematic to pretend that all meanings are accorded the same status, given our history, current political reality and political opportunism. As unpalatable as this may sound to some, because we were rudely interrupted by colonialism, apartheid and Christianity, the numerical minority has become the cultural majority and its ways of seeing and being, as well as its world view, are privileged over those of others.
In addition, the cultural majority tries to impose its social, cultural, political, intellectual and economic Darwinism on the rest of society. But, in some respects, voluntarily and through a process of assimilation and cooption, I am one of those black people about whom it can be safely said that they are part of the cultural majority. That said, the fact that I am part of the cultural majority does not, in any substantive or substantial way, change the racial content of the cultural majority and the cultural minority.
But this kind of analysis must not blind us to another reality – the fact that power in South Africa does not reside only in the State and the ruling party. It resides in a multiplicity of points, such as business, civil society, academia and the media, and the manner in which it is exercised is partly responsible for our partial-sightedness.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Aubrey Matshiqi News
Article contains comments
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move road...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
The board of UD Trucks Southern Africa (UDTSA) has announced the resignation of MD Jacques Carelse. Long-time UD employee, corporate planning and marketing GM, Rory Schulz, has been appointed as acting MD while the process started to appoint a new MD. The Japanese...
There is a need to start planning another pumped storage scheme in South Africa. Much work has already been done at a site in the Limpopo province and the project was very close to being put out to tender at one stage. In 2008/9 the National Energy Regulator of South...
The Coega Development Corporation (CDC) is preparing to leverage its strategic coastal position to develop the Eastern Cape economy through proposed aquaculture development zones (ADZs), with a proposed R2-billion project aiming to contribute $278-million to the...
Completion of the ongoing construction of the 102 km Zomba–Jali–Phalombe–Chitakale road, in southern Malawi, has been extended from June to December 15 because of persistent rains and difficulties in paying the contractor. The project is being undertaken by Kuwait's...
The Malawi government has awarded South African firm Fischer Consortium the contract to upgrade the Malawi Road Traffic Information System. The Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services at Malawi's Ministry of Transport and Public Works says Fischer...
Next ArticleCriminalisation of the State