The Politics of Politics

By Simon Howell

 

 Call me a pessimist, but I really do not think this country is ready to hold the 2010 World Cup. Funnily enough, this thought occurred to me while waiting for a plane that was two hours late, at PE airport. During this forced wait I bought an overpriced newspaper, within which there were three articles on the problems of “getting ready” for the Cup – one of which particularly made me angry. While the author, article and paper shall remain nameless, I do want to focus on the contents of said article.

Essentially, the author’s aim was to give a number of reasons why the World Cup would be a good thing for South Africa. Among the reasons was the standard fare of economic development, getting South Africa “on the map”, and job creation. But then it all went downhill as the article started relying on the “Proudly South African” and “Local is Lekker” discourse which has begun to saturate the South African market.

I am not against regional or national development, far from it in fact. And I am all too aware that this type of development needs to be situated within a specific discourse which aims to develop local markets. However, I cannot help but ask the simple question of whether local is really lekker for nearly half of the population that live below the poverty line.

Forget, for the moment, that the Proudly South African brand often justifies price increases for products that are no better than those which are not “local” (after all, or so the logic goes, things that are produced locally

 

 

 

 

must

be better, apparently). How, in all that is holy and local, do people continue to feel an allegiance to an economic development that disenfranchises so many people? Yes, things are better than they were under apartheid, but is that really the yard stick by which we should be measuring ourselves? It seems to me that South Africa has got its priorities wrong.

 

There is a fine line between nationalism and ignorance. Yes, local

 

 

 

could

be lekker, but not when nearly half the population probably cannot afford, nor care, where their staple food stuffs come from. Perhaps the best way to make local lekker, rather than just sticking these labels on food stuffs, is to ensure that everyone has running water, shelter, and dignity (I would add electricity, but even the most optimistic of South Africans may begin to doubt themselves here).
Moreover, being proudly South African should be substantive rather than just procedural. Sticking labels on products is all well and good, but what really matters is the very people that make such labels possible. And until

 

 

 

 

they are proudly South African, and until they can actually believe that local really is lekker, this country will continue to be split in two, not by race, but by class (although, rather obviously, the two have a lot to do with one another).

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One Response to The Politics of Politics

  1. Godfather says:

    Great Post!

    Godfather (theslowbleed.com).

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