🔒 WORLDVIEW: A Zuptoid cold shower. Zulu-media turns against King of Nkandla. Hope Springs.

My Biznews colleague Chris Bateman occasionally revisits his rural KZN roots by catching up with Zulu-language media. A fluent speaker and reader of Nguni languages, he offers us an excellent counter-balance to mainstream media assumptions of the way SA’s biggest population group reads recent developments.

What he shares today is a cold shower for the Zuptoids.

Chris writes: “I spent a part of Sunday listening to Ukhozi FM podcasts and reading the Bayede newspaper. This is something I do from time to time to check out my belief that we live predominantly in cultural and linguistic echo chambers that entrench our perceptions of ‘’the other”.
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Apartheid or legalised racial separation would, of course, be much to blame, I reasoned.

So, there I was, an ‘’Umlungu’’, eavesdropping on Zulu media that reach a massive audience (one fifth of South Africans speak pure Zulu at home, never mind the Swazi’s, S’Ndebele’s and Xhosa’s in the mutually-intelligible Nguni family) – to hear what they’re talking about.

Also, a popular discourse feeding perceptions among so-called ‘’progressive’’ whites is that President Zuma and his Zuptoids are, perhaps even with Bell Pottinger PR advice, brazenly abusing and controlling the Nguni-speaking media.

Ukhozi FM reaches into the most remote rural areas of KwaZulu Natal (and elsewhere), where traditional pro-Zuma support thrives. It’s a winner all the way. Even the Bayede newspaper has its origins as a mouthpiece for the Zulu Monarchy.

But today, Bayede and Ukhozi FM’s Hlaziya Ipolitiki program are as vibrant, critical and varied in their political coverage as Biznews, the Sowetan or the Daily Maverick.

Free speech rules. I heard one political analyst climbing into the ANC, the Economic Freedom Front – in fact all the so-called black parties, his thesis being that minority parties, (read white or Indian) tend to be far more truthful and less hypocritical.

He cited Julius Malema morphing from a man who vowed to defend Zuma with his life to being one of his fiercest critics. He questioned the ANC’s real motives for its assault on the banks.

Imagine my surprise when he urged listeners to go out and buy Amaphepha wama’Bunu (the newspapers of the Boer, ie. whites) and listen to English and Afrikaans-speaking broadcasts to broaden their minds.

His baseline argument was that too many Zulus accept the traditional ways of obedience to a leader – and are confused as all hell by audience-tailored, cynical political messaging. “Did we really die and struggle for this?” he challenged his listeners, alluding to State Capture and capitalist cronyism. A cry to escape the captivity of the echo-chamber, of apartheid conditioning.

I can’t help but wonder which side of the racial ‘’divide’’ it’s easier to break out from, given that most black South Africans have a workable knowledge of English (and Afrikaans), and most white South Africans don’t speak a black language.

One thing is certain though, democracy is thriving in the Fourth Estate, in spite of the government’s and its allies worst intentions, as evidenced by the Gupta-owned ANN7 Television and the government-bankrolled Independent Newspapers. Now those are the real echo-chambers.”

Not easy to follow that. Except, perhaps, by repeating our oft stated phrase that Hope Springs.