BOORISH, BROODING and obsessively racist, Labour Department director-general Jimmy Manyi is in a class of his own. He seems to carry the application of black consciousness, not in the contemporary “African” couture of, say, Jacob Zuma – of the unashamedly atavistic “village self” – but in a geographically indeterminate identity. He is, it seems, the African-American fusion of roots pride and personal aspiration. Un-African to those who found the Mbeki-esk sublimation of a truly national identity into a disconnected post-apartheid Africanism.
Surely the alacrity with which he lambasted newly elected BUSA chief Futhi Mtoba as a lackey of white business seems more like a throwback to the irresolute psychology of black impotence than pride? For if by pride we mean the re-edification of a nation based on virtue (rather than race) then Manyi’s prickly black ego must tell us something about his own dislocated insecurity. It’s what Mbeki’s praise singer, Ronald Suresh Roberts, once called an “elective affinity” when asked why a Harvard-trained lawyer adopted this country as his battleground for a race war. By which he meant an identity adrift.