The Nation (Nigeria)
King Montezuma’s last stand
IN South Africa this past week, what began as an ethnic call out over the legal plight of a former president snowballed into the worst political and economic crisis in the nation’s postapartheid history. Many have had to watch in horrified silence as hordes of the unemployed and economically dispossessed laid siege to the glittering monuments of western capitalism and as the cities dissolved in an orgy of looting, rioting and generalized disorder.
The end of apartheid rule has not brought relief or succour. South Africa remains a deeply divided and conflicted society. For many of its disillusioned and distressed denizens, its deprived multi-racial underclass, deeply entrenched prejudices and institutionalized political inequities remain the order of the day. Home Rule feels like a mere exchange of White monkeys for Black baboons.
The tragedy of South Africa and the possibility of state implosion raise once again the spectre of the fragility and vulnerability of the colonial model of nation-formation in Africa no matter the provenance. It is openly asserted in certain circles that Africans simply do not do nation-states. The African psyche cannot withstand the abstract rigours and impersonal rationality of western-type nationhood.
According to this school of thought, what is unfolding in South Africa is the return of the colonially repressed. South Africa, after a period of estrangement caused by Boer dominion, is finally returning to its old African roots. With the Africanization of South Africa, Isanusi, the great local witchdoctor, has reclaimed its own. It is King Montezuma’s last stand.
This may well be superficial bunkum. But before returning to the South African conundrum in greater analytical details, it is important to make a detour in order to better appreciate what is unfurling in this important corner piece of Africa. This is what we have done this morning with the publication of excerpts from an earlier fictional encounter with the great Boer racist and former president of apartheid South Africa.