Monday, March 22, 2010

When being an Afro-pessimist is too optimistic

I love this cheecky chap! Go Bullard...

Richmark Sentinel

I’ve frequently been accused by limp wristed white liberals of being an “Afropessimist” when I am really just an “Afrorealist”. Living in South Africa I find it helpful to live by the credo “expect the worst and hope for the best”. That way I won’t often be disappointed. Whether one is an Afropessimist or an Afrorealist is irrelevant; they are two sides of the same coin and you will inevitably be accused of racism if you openly subscribe to either.

This is because both suggest (none too subliminally) that black people aren’t too good at running countries. In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with skin colour because white people are just as bad at running countries; look at the mess Gordon Brown has made of England. But when one is talking about Africa it’s demographically inevitable that one will be talking about black politicians. And it’s just as inevitable that white critics will be accused of racism which is why most of them prefer to keep their heads below the parapets and say nothing. That approach has never worked for me and not even being very publicly sacked by the Sunday Times for writing a “racist” (translation: horribly honest) article has stopped me sounding off about the state of the nation.

Paradoxically it has done my career a lot of good because audiences will pay good money to listen to a speaker they know will speak honestly. Similarly, writing for uncensored websites like the Richmark Sentinel is much more satisfying than writing for a newspaper that is partly controlled by Luthuli House. Sunday Times columnist manqué, Fred Khumalo, summed up the attitude of the print media earlier this year in The Media magazine when he expressed the opinion that it was disgusting that I had been given various platforms to express my views. Fred and Co are not enthusiastic supporters of freedom of speech when they don’t much like the skin colour of the person expressing those views.

Expecting the worst and hoping for the best isn’t an ideal recipe for living life but it is a pretty good survival mechanism for living in South Africa. The latest copy of Fast Facts from the South African Institute of Race Relations has a leading article written by John Kane-Berman ( on “The fate of the nation”. It makes grim reading as does the article by Prof Jonathan Jansen “A country in crisis” on the second page.

What Kane-Berman suggests is that we are heading for failed nation status unless we take urgent action. Jansen is equally pessimistic but suggests that the situation is not totally hopeless because ordinary, decent people can build a better culture. I wish I could agree with him but I can’t see how this can happen. Ordinary, decent people are also frightened people and are too terrified to make their voices heard. If they’re white they will be denounced as racists, if black as coconuts or they will be accused of being enemies of democracy and not fully embracing the new South Africa. Who, apart from a few thick skinned columnists, wants to put with that sort of crap?

However, the facts of the matter are that the country is rapidly going the same way as Zimbabwe. You wouldn’t know it if you purely looked at economic statistics and this is where many people turn to draw some solace. You would have thought, for example, that the antics of Malema and Zuma would have been bad for the rand but there it is trading strongly against the pound and the euro. So much so that our exports are suffering and our hopes of attracting huge crowds to the World Cup might also be shattered because of the strong currency. Once the world’s foremost gold producer, we now rank number four. However, economies can collapse very quickly as we saw in the stock market meltdown of 2008. Ireland, once known as the Celtic tiger for its vibrant economy, is now an indebted disaster zone.

Eventually, there will be no more public money to steal, no more dodgy deals to be done and that day may not be too far off. When that happens South Africa will descend into a state of utter chaos. Those who have plundered public funds over the years will be guarded by Neanderthal thugs who will have been VIP protection unit members in the days when South Africa still had a sort of government. The sight of food trucks on the road distributing groceries to branches of Pick n Pay, Woollies and Checkers will be a thing of the past. They will have all been hijacked at some point by hungry citizens and so there’s no food distribution.

Most shops stand empty because the food is directed straight to the homes of the elite. The country’s hospitals are in a state of disarray with poor facilities and too few staff. The most talented doctors will have left the country and there’s no money left to attract new staff. The elite will fly to Europe for treatment or attend a handful of clinics maintained for the exclusive use of the party officials. Limp wristed white liberals will rue the day they were so gullible and will finally come to realise that the acronym for the party that promised so much but delivered so little makes up the word ANarChy. Having expected the worst all along I won’t be too surprised.

4 Opinion(s):

Anonymous said...

Bullard at his best. I am also a Afrorealist and that's why I left.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. He articulates what many of us saw/see coming.

Viking said...

Very good!

Anonymous said...

Bullard is an opportunist of the worst kind.
I´m not sure exactly what he was up to during the Nationalist party´s reign, but it´s a fair bet he was helping to tear down white power structures. Now that the chickens are coming home to roost, be conveniently swops sides and pretends to be the all knowing and wise, I told you so, sage.
What an arsewipe.