Bull or no bull, it’s a riot out there

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

CALL it progress, but there’s now a car guard out­side the Ma­hogany Ridge, a sign that even here, in our iso­lated vil­lage, we can­not es­cape the de­vel­op­ments and so­cial change sweep­ing across the broader South Africa.

The lo­cals grum­ble, of course, and mut­ter on about the in­evitabil­ity of the spike in thefts from mo­tor ve­hi­cles that is bound to come.

The more pro­gres­sive among us, how­ever, have ac­cepted his pres­ence and have even gone so far as to adopt a pro-ac­tive role in the young man’s af­fairs – we test his vig­i­lance and de­vo­tion to the self-ap­pointed task of watch­ing over our rust­ing hulks by throw­ing stones at him, usu­ally when he asks us for money.

It does rather keep him on his toes, inas­much as a per­son in a wheel­chair can be said to be on his toes. But, even so, he’s pretty ag­ile, and makes a dif­fi­cult tar­get to hit.

It could be worse, of course. He could be a del­e­gate at the World Fes­ti­val of Youth and Stu­dents in Pre­to­ria which, at the time of writ­ing, pre­sum­ably still had some way to go to­wards at­tain­ing its avowed aim of de­feat­ing im­pe­ri­al­ism.

Re­ports from Pre­to­ria have not been all that en­cour­ag­ing, but per­haps we should ac­cept Na­tional Youth Devel­op­ment Agency chair man Andile Lungisa’s ex­cuse that the bad weather was to blame for the hasty pro­gramme changes and the no-shows by high-pro­file politi­cians.

Cer­tainly he was very quick to dis­miss re­ports that some of the 30 000 del­e­gates were go­ing hun­gry by point­ing out that even though they weren’t at­tend­ing a “wine and dine fes­ti­val”, no one would be starv­ing as they strove to build a world of peace, sol­i­dar­ity and so­cial trans­for­ma­tion.

In this re­gard, it should be made clear that when stu­dents went at each oth­ers’ ton­sils with their tongues ear­lier in the week they were not for­ag­ing for half-mas­ti­cated scraps of food, but in fact kiss­ing – an ac­tiv­ity that Lungisa has en­dorsed with some good na­ture. “They are not pris­on­ers… This is not a pris­on­ers’ fes­ti­val but a youth fes­ti­val,” he said. “They will con­tinue kiss­ing each other.”

Not ev­ery­one was be­ing so friendly, though. The Is­raelis have been made to feel a lit­tle un­wel­come, and a fist­fight ap­par­ently broke out be­tween the Moroc­can and Western Sa­hara del­e­ga­tions.

Ear­lier, ANCYL pres­i­dent Julius Malema had touched on the hos­til­ity be­tween these two re­gions when he ex­plained to del­e­gates how “fear­less” Pres­i­dent Zuma, in ex­change for writ­ing off R1.1 bil­lion in Cuban debt, had been awarded the José Martí medal, the high­est hon­our Cuba can be­stow on a for­eign head of state and, at that price, cer­tainly one of the world’s most ex­pen­sive.

“Apartheid Morocco,” he said, must de­colonise Western Sa­hara. Fail­ing which, he would then urge the pres­i­dent to re­move Morocco’s em­bassies here. As the chump put it, “We can­not house (an) apartheid regime in South Africa”.

The Moroc­can del­e­ga­tion were so ter­ri­fied at this that they im­me­di­ately stopped beat­ing up the Western Sa­ha­rans and, don­ning what ap­peared to be Santa suits, sang and danced for a bit be­fore set­ting up a stand in a corner of At­teridgeville’s Lu­cas Moripe Sta­dium to sell rugs, funny slip­pers, fake leather purses and hookahs made in China. When the fes­ti­val ends on Tues­day, they will – for a small fee – help­fully load other del­e­gates’ lug­gage on to the buses. If the buses come, that is.

Else­where, the coun­try’s youths were also get­ting on with the busi­ness of at­tain­ing man­hood. At this time of the year, the thick­ets of Port Jack­son on the Cape Flats are choked with the plas­tic-sheeted hov­els used by clay­daubed ini­ti­ates as they learn to re­spect oth­ers and prac­tise ubuntu.

So far, at least 14 ini­ti­ates, in­clud­ing a 14-year-old boy, have died in the East­ern Cape af­ter be­ing cir­cum­cised by ap­par­ently un­skilled iing­cibi and amakhankatha, or tra­di­tional “sur­geons” and “nurses”. Ap­par­ently, the lo­cal ini­ti­a­tion schools have taken ad­e­quate steps to pre­vent such fa­tal­i­ties in the Western Cape. Let’s hope so.

Which brings us to that act of bar­barism in KwaZulu-Natal this af­ter­noon: the uk­we­sha, in which a fully con­scious bull is to be rit­u­ally slaugh­tered in the name of cul­ture by young men who will force it to the ground, rip out its tongue, force earth into its mouth, gouge out its eyes and mu­ti­late its gen­i­tals.

It’s out­ra­geous that, in a bid to sup­press ou­trage, the gen­eral pub­lic is barred from this atro­cious and prim­i­tive ex­hi­bi­tion – and yet it is funded by tax­pay­ers, as en­ter­tain­ment for the lazy and ir­rel­e­vant Zulu king, Good­will Zwelithini.

There’s a lot of grow­ing up needed out there. Even our car guard can tell you that.

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