In the days following EWN’s publication of the “Congress of Clowns” cartoon, the words “racial undertones” and “latent racism” have been thrown around almost as much as the phrase “20 years of democracy.” Even though apartheid is a major part of our history, does the ANC have to pull the race card every time that it is publicly called to task?
In his article, ANC: Congress of Clowns, Rhofiwa Maneta highlights how in a statement delivered by ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa, the party called the cartoon “blatantly racist” and a reinforcement of “the view that some sections of the media misuse freedom of expression to undermine gains made thus far.” According to Kodwa, the ANC believes the media needs to counterbalance its freedom with responsibility and a greater regard for the public. SASCO president Ntuthuko Makhombothi later said in a statement; “we find the cartoon highly offensive and extremely distasteful. We are saddened by the fact that in the twentieth year of celebrating our freedom, our people are still victims of blatant racism.” Live SA’s own Rofhiwa continues, arguing that until we realise that racism isn’t limited to calling someone the k-word, such latent acts of racism will always go unpunished. Echoing Rofhiwa’s point, Makhombothi continues to say that “It seeks to affirm the stereotype that black governments cannot govern.”
According to Rofhiwa (and probably a large number of the people offended by Congress Of Clowns) the cartoon infers that black people don’t possess the autonomy to think for themselves. Furthermore that they constantly have to be monitored by a white authoritarian figure to guide them into making the right decision. “Let’s not pussyfoot around the matter: the ANC is a black party. Its electorate is largely made up of black people”……”it’s not so much a matter of ‘individual interpretation’” he says. With that said, let us start with the claim that “the ANC is a black party.” Historically, that may be debatable but particularly since ’94, the ANC has been all about South Africans living in a multiracial and fair society. Though its electorate is predominantly black, that isn’t 100% so. Why then is it that when a cartoon mocks the ANC or government, black people are the only ones allowed to take offence?
Considering the ANC’s Madiba-inspired multi-racialism ideals, why did they label the cartoon racist and not offensive?
If they appoint a large number of black ministers and MP’s, (making them targets for criticism) why is the cartoon so racist?
Whenever the media calls the ANC to task, why is the ANC’s focus for ‘common enemy’ propaganda aimed at the “white elite”? Is it because this allows them to turn an “us vs. them” issue into a “black vs. white” issue?
Racism still exists, even though the idea of pure racialism has long been proven to be a BS concept. Still, it gives birth to latent racism and it is up to the (progressive, non-racial) masses to teach racists where their fault lies, not to assign blame. To state the obvious, because of apartheid, slavery and colonialism, the face of racism is white. That isn’t black peoples’ fault, but crying “racism” for every little issue is. It takes the seriousness away from the real racial issues that affect many people in our society today. Which leads me to my point; has the race card become the ace up the ANC’s sleeve? Like the magician who requires you to be distracted so he can pull off his trick and call it magic, has the ANC come to rely on racism and the threat of apartheid to distract the masses from their fuck-ups?
Yes, there is no doubt about the fact that the EWN cartoon was beyond wrong for calling voters out and insulting them on top of it. At the height of 20 years of democracy, we should all be able to accept it when other’s exercise their democratic right. But we should also learn to distinguish between latent racism, overt racism and no racism at all. Contrary to popular belief, life isn’t always as much of a black and white issue as our history was.
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