Terminology, my dear Watson

The past week the media and commentators had been abuzz about the ‘blackface’ incident.  I read that the Human Rights Commission has now, on his own accord, decided to monitor the disciplinary proceedings. 

No pressure on the disciplinary committee, though.

Let’s contrast this with another incident that happened many years ago.  It’s really so old hat one should have forgotten about it long ago, but there is something in the difference in responses that does tickle me.  And I do not think that, fundamentally, the then prevailing sentiments have since changed. 

Rember the name Andrew Babeile?

It’s a not so good story that, judging from recent reports [http://www.citypress.co.za/news/ex-prisoner-regrets-fulfilling-promise-mandela/], might have turned out all right in the end.

The story is more or less as follows:  In the late nineties the then 16 year old Andrew Babeile led a group of youths from Huhudi township to the Afrikaans school in Vryburg, insisting on being admitted.  Not everyone in Vryburg was thrilled by the idea, but after intervention by the government, Andrew and friends were admitted.

It turned out not to be an excessively happy affair, with Andrew eventually being the only student from Huhudi who remained in the school.  It was most probably not Andrew’s fault, but he was not the most popular boy in the school.  In (apparently one of many) altercations between himself and one of the other schoolboys, he stabbed another boy with a pair of scissors. 

For this he was sentenced to jail.   

Promptly an educational trust was set up in Andrew Babeile’s name.  Nelson Mandela visited Andrew in jail, and contributed R20 000 towards this trust.  In fairness to Madiba, he also visited the victim of the stabbing in a consilliatory move to bring down temperatures in Vryburg.  I accept Madiba’s good intentions in this regard, and do not for one moment believe that his contribution was intended as a stamp of approval for Andrew’s misdemeanour. 

Andrew’s release from jail was seized upon by political opportunists.  To them I don’t quite extend my faith in Madiba’s good intentions.  In the run-up to Andrew’s release, the people from his township were urged to remain calm.  It is unclear why, because they were pretty calm as it was.  On the day of his release, a huge do was arranged for Andrew, with the ANCYL involved, as well as Malusi Gigaba. 

The then ANC MP Dennis Bloem coming out in support of Babeile and complaining about his too severe parole conditions.  The ANCYL approached the then Minister of Justice to consider a presidential pardon for Andrew.

Now, it is obvious where I’m heading with this.  So let me not state the obvious. 

Instead, I would like to meander on the reason for the differences in approach.   I might have found some guidance in the following.  A wise man suggested that I look for the answer in the principle of hegemony.  As I have not heard of the word before, I Googled it:

“In contemporary society, the exemplar hegemonic organisations are churches and the mass communications media that continually transmit data and information to the public. As such, the ideologic content of the data and information are determined by the vocabulary with which the messages are presented….   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hegemony

I would assume that the political rulers of the day would also form part of the hegemonic organisations.  And what I understand from the above is that those in power (also the power to influence people, not only political power) basically determines the content of definitions. 

They determine which actions constitute socially unacceptable behaviour, and which not. 

Which actions constitute racism, and which not.

And of course, they may be right.  Or maybe not.

Jaco Wium 2014/08/11 08:01:01 PM
Nice touch at the end! It's interesting how every finger-wagging, moralising judge in this country ignores the presence of their black friend in the second image that's doing the rounds (the picture where they pose with their birthday-friend). Yes, on the left hand side stands their black friend, clearly not wailing in indignation. Kind of ruins the idea that it was all a big racist event. Then again, why would every rabid political opportunist want to face the actual facts of the matter? Ruining the lives of two defenceless persons helps them to sleep so much better at night.
Mark Windsor 2014/08/11 08:01:25 PM
I don't know if you know, but the purpose of cadre deployment, clearly stated by the ANC, is the creation of a hegemony in all spheres of society. This is the open, clearly-stated goal behind this "non-negotiable" practice. What surprises me is that this seems surprising to people. We had the opportunity to read the policy documents years ago.
Joseph Shange 2014/08/12 03:10:45 AM
I do see a ever decreasing white population between the ages of 20 - 40, the middle class whites that can afford to leave SA have done so to a large degree. SA will just have rich and poor whites in about 20 years from now. Honestly if I was white with kids I would also be moving overseas.
non-believer 2014/08/12 08:32:13 AM
excellent article, the moronic critics don't realise how they actually are embarrassing themselves. The future for SA will be that of Zimbabwe, mark my words.