As I hear on radio, watch on television and read in the news the tragic events unfolding in South Africa, an assertion by a colleague, a Kenyan, a black African, James Shikwati of the famous Inter Region Economic Network, dominates my mind. On several occasions and in my presence, Shikwati has asserted that the former South African President, the Nobel Laureate, Nelson Mandela (RIP), was a Trojan Horse.
James Shikwati @ David Ausserhofer, Robert Bosch Academy
“Metaphorically, a “Trojan horse” has come to mean any trick or stratagem that causes a target to invite a foe into a securely protected bastion or place.”Wikipedia
Indeed, the tone with which global-western media is reporting the tragic events in South-Africa, particularly so during these past couple of weeks, lends justification to Shikwati’s assertion. With celebratory headlines, for example, to the effect that the jailing of former South African president Jacob Zuma is a victory, global-western media seems tone deaf to the realities on the ground.
Within the specific historical context of South Africa, accusing a post-apartied black South African president of corruption isn’t enough. It isn’t enough in the context of the anger and the disappointment of black South Africans of how white South African apartied leaders got away with committing atrocities that are equal in depth and in volume to those that were committed by the criminals who were tried at the Nuremberg trials.
Within the specific historical context of South Africa, therefore, it is culturally incompetent and it is ill advised to demand that a post-apartied black South African president, a 79-year-old, whose ancestry is of the largest first nation of South Africa, should serve a 15 months sentence in prison.
Pieter Willen Botha for apartied president of South African @ Wikipedia
Moreover, by comparison, there is precedent. For refusing to testify in an inquiry that implicated him, a white former apartied South African president, Pieter Willen Botha, when he refused to testify to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was constituted by President Mandela, was handed a suspended sentence.
Why the seeming different handling of former president Zuma’s case? Moreover, as early as 2009, significant South African Leaders, such as Julius Selio Malema, had already warned that former president Zuma was too old to go to jail. Malema is quoted as having said:
Julius Selio Malema the leader of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters political party
“”Jail time for an old person like that [referring Zuma] is not suitable. What kind of society have we become to jail such old people?” Malema asked.”News24
Yes, of what use has the jailing of former South African president Zuma achieved? Well, if it was intended to provoke black-on-black violence, it has achieved that. What a victory for those who faced the wrath of united black South Africans who, united, fought against the apartied regimes. Steve Biko is surely turning restless in his grave.
The concessions that the first post-apartied black South African president, Mandela, made, in the name of peace and reconciliation, are what make him and those concessions a Trojan horse, some argue. This is because, through those concessions, a smoke screen was provided for side-stepping the necessary reckoning on tough issues that are legacy of South African apartied regimes.
Until that reckoning is genuinely done, some argue, accusing former black South African presidents of corruption and jailing them for contempt of court can only be construed as fostering pseudo democracy that serves racist tendencies that justified aprtied.
It would appear that the bubble has burst. Time is neigh to do the reckoning.