David Bullard, a popular columnist of the South African weekly newspaper, Sunday Times, has once again stoked the embers of what has been smouldering: the race issue. A witty, controversial writer, he has had the audacity to call Jacob Zuma, the president of the ruling ANC, "stupid". Zuma sued. The matter is still pending in the courts. Bullard has often portrayed the ANC itself as deficient, without censure.
His column, "Out to Lunch", has railed against the stereotype of corruption, crime and "black incompetence". But he has overlooked "white collar crime"--an industry itself dominated by white South Africans.
The British-born Bullard has lamented deterioration in services (often trumpeted in white circles), and articulated the threat of emigration. He whines ceaselessly on prejudicial statements and a perceived failure of governance. In all this, he found a huge following among those who shared his views. But he incurred the displeasure of those from a different background.
He himself was a victim of crime when robbers attacked his family at home. He was shot but survived to tell the tale. Needless to say the perpetrators were black.
Over time, his columns became more focused on race, firing back at critics who considered him to be racist. He declared himself immune to racism and wrote some more controversial columns suggesting among other things a three-month moratorium on anti-racism during which all South Africans could legally be as beastly to one another as they want.
In another column, he came up with the idea of race tourism, where racists are flown in from abroad to practise their sport. It seemed he was grappling with racial correctness versus racial defiance.
His followers pointed out that he only wrote tongue in cheek. That it was all satire. But why the satire increasingly fed a right-wing opinion was the question.
In all this controversy, the column was being supervised by a black editor, Mondli Makanya, an adherent of the fine principles of freedom of the press in a democratic country.
This April, however, the editor declared he had had enough and fired him! What ired Mondli was Bullard's deeply offensive column titled "Uncolonised Africa Wouldn't Know What It Was Missing". In this piece, Bullard reflects the views of white supremacists and in a nutshell reiterates the opinion that were it not for the "evil white man", Africans in 2008 would have been stewing in a primitive state.
Apart from suggesting that all the mineral wealth underneath the African soil would have been useless to Africans were it not for the white man finding value for them, he wrote: "The dreaded internet doesn't exist in South Africa and cellphone companies have laughed off any hope of interesting the inhabitants in talking expensively into a piece of black plastic."
What seemed to have angered many readers was when he emphasised the "retarded nature" of Africa. In their idyllic setting, he wrote, "every so often a child goes missing from the village, eaten either by a hungry lion or a crocodile. The family mourns for a week or so and then have another one".
He continued: "Praying to the ancestors is no use because they are just as clueless." Then "because they have never been exposed to the sinful ways of the West, the various tribes of South Africa live healthy and peaceful lives, only occasionally indulging in a little bit of ethnic cleansing."
Bullard would always say he was not racist. That he has got black friends--a familiar defence. But racism in its various forms, most of it subliminal, often emerges in inadvertently. With Bullard, it was a no-holds-barred situation in which under the guise of satire and controversy, he espouses white supremacist thought spewed out over generations. That Africa should be grateful for colonialism.
Interviewed on radio, he defended himself vigorously. …