The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
By Donwald Pressly*
If the ANC-supporting Cape Times is anything to go by, the ruling party is using the race card to shore up its support in the upcoming local government elections. Today it carries a front-page headline ‘Govt K…rs, black f-king c..s’. It is a inflammatory headline which would embarrass former editors like Tony Heard, John Scott, Alide Dasnois, Tyrone August and, hopefully, even Moegsien Williams.
One knows that newspapers of this ilk, like to use the populist ticket to sell their products, but today’s headline stoops to new depths. The Times – which happens to be owned by a rival group, Times Media Group – used a much less provocative– headline: “Racist rant on Facebook condemned”. This visible display of restraint in our highly charged South Africa, is the better part of valour, surely?
Anyway, the story is a recount of the latest racist outpourings of two South African youths, one white, one black. Of course the Cape Times leads with the white racist, Matthew Theunissen who posted a horrible Facebook remark – in response to Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula’s imposition of onerous requirements on sporting codes. “So no more sporting events for South Africa… I’ve never been more proud than to say our government are a bunch of K…S… yes, I said it so go and f… yourselves you black f…ing c…s,” wrote Theunnissen.
Then there is the horrible tale – used down-story under that inflammatory headline by the Cape Times – of the Rhodes scholar to Oxford University who refused to tip a (white) waitress at the Obz Cafe in Observatory, Cape Town. The black racist student and current Rhodes scholar to Oxford University, Ntokozo Qwabe who proudly wrote on his Facebook page that he had refused to tip a white waitress, Ashleigh Schultz, writing instead on the receipt: “We will give tip when you return the land.” He boasted: “Lol now unable to stop smiling because something so black, wonderful LIT just happened.” Qwabe also wrote that credit was due to his Rhodes Must Fall comrade, Wandile Dlamini, who is also like Qwabe a Rhodes Must Fall activist, whom he described as a “radical non-binary trans black activist”. Whatever that means. Qwabe led the (unsuccessful) campaign to rid Oriel College, Oxford of the Cecil John Rhodes statue.
The website, www.goodthingsguy.com, reports that already R100 000 has been raised for Schulz – who happens to have a mother suffering from cancer whom she supports. The story, which has been given a positive spin, is carried under the headline: ‘Rhodes must fall leader refuses to tip waitress because of race. South Africa responds by collecting money to tip her!’
One positive South African, Charmaine Rowlands wrote: ‘I cannot believe an educated person – educated with a “white racist” grant (a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford) by the way – could stoop this low. Please tell Ashleigh we, that is all South Africans who do not tolerate racism, stand with her and others who do an honest day’s work for next to nothing.’ Rowlands’ remarks captures the good spirit of many South Africans – hopefully the vast majority – who don’t tolerate racism, whether it comes from a white or black person.
The ANC has meanwhile rejected the Qwabe post. Yonela Diko, ANC spokesman, said: “Ntokoza Qwabe’s behavior is as much borderline criminal behavior as it is helplessly foolish.” The party however, has done little to condemn the tricks, some of them violent, of the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, with which Qwabe is closely associated. But the ANC has gone to great lengths to link the opposition DA to Penny Sparrow, who made horrid racist remarks about blacks on beaches.
Indeed, while these racist stories must be told (and reported) – because it is a reflection of the deep divides that do exist – it must be remembered that they are also not the whole story.
The www.goodthingsguy.com website and all those people who donated funds to the waitress are a show of strength for the good. It points the way to us how we collectively can help make this country a positive, non-racist place to live. The raising of R100 000 – and no doubt going up by the minute – for Schultz is a display of an outpouring of love that helps overcome the country’s embedded racial antagonisms.
- Donwald Pressly, Editor of Cape Messenger.