Aren't We Being Somewhat Hypocritical in Our Attacks on Brett Murray?

Cape Times (South Africa), May 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Aren't We Being Somewhat Hypocritical in Our Attacks on Brett Murray?


Before we stone Brett Murray to death and destroy his artwork because it portrays President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed and is therefore "racist", "colonial", "vandalises the dignity of the president" and "reduces black people into things and objects", can we think about the following and then check if we are not hypocrites?

Do we now need to shred Sindiwe Magona's book Beauty's Gift to pieces because she uses her constitution-protected artistic expression to construct a character that bluntly says "the black man's penis is a deadly weapon"? The author - herself a black woman - told Drum magazine (December, 2008) she had lost trust in black men because "they've forgotten what it means to be loyal to their wives and families".

Did we question her right to her opinion? Did she not use the same colonial discourse on black men?

Are we to round up all those Jacob Zuma supporters who sang "Iwewe uMbeki iwewe" outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court in 2006. "Iwewe" is a slang word for a woman's genitals. Was Thabo Mbeki not an incumbent head of state in 2006 when he was called this? Was he not a black man when fellow black people called him "Iwewe"? Did we not "vandalise the dignity of the president"? Why did we not lose patience then? Maybe Mbeki was not a black person that "feels"? Was Mbeki not being reduced to a "thing" and an "object"?

Should we storm His Majesty Zwelithini KaBhekuzulu's palace, as we did the Goodman's Gallery? His Majesty deployed his freedom of speech to foreword approvingly a book by Alan Mountain - The rise and fall of the Zulu empire. This book finds it important to (re)construct King Shaka's character formation via, in part, a reference to his "conspicuously stumpy penis". Good Lord, let me hope the King is safe!

Are we to blow up the Congress of SA Students' (Cosas) offices? Cosas suggested the internationally-respected Emeritus Bishop Desmond Tutu should "provide us with his sexual history before he speaks as an expert on sexual behaviour" regarding Jacob Zuma. Maybe Tutu's sexual history can be subjected to public discourse, but not Zuma's.

What should we do about Thando Mgqolozana's novel A Man Who is Not a Man? Mgqolozana uses freedom of speech to reduce into words and make public the secrecy of Xhosa initiation and speaks publicly about his penis and botched circumcision. We all know this is a sacred space among Xhosa people. Is he colonised? What would have been our reaction if he was a white man?

Where were we when the SA Students Congress (Sasco) sang "u Gatsha wayelibele wukunwaya amase***e ngenkathi uMandela esejele" - loosely translated: Gatsha (a derogatory reference to Prince Buthelezi in this context) only preoccupied himself with scratching his testicles while Mandela was in prison. …

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