Selling promises

Dec 05 2012 08:50
Adriaan Bester

THE TOUGH choice of announcing a preferred leader by provinces of the ruling party ahead of their Mangaung conference is not as simple as one may think on the sideline.

Selecting perceived values and principles that align with your own, and seemingly oppose that of the other side, requires careful consideration. Give the provincial leaders time to come to terms with the responsibility a nation of over 50 million place on them, a group of about 4 000 fellow, yet equal citizens.

While the menu is being prepared for the various future possibilities of the political palette, now may be a good time to think for a moment of the way we let others shape us.

With her story of being a restaurant waitress a mere five years ago, and now raising millions of ‘monsters’ to their feet on every corner of the globe, Lady Gaga got her Cape Town audience to stay to the end – and two more encore songs. A miracle in many ways.

You may be unfamiliar with the Cape tendency to leave early at shows, matches or other events. It could be to avoid traffic. It may also be to stop on the way home for a last-minute surf, or to be in time for the late news bulletin. It remains a mystery to me. Whatever the reason, it is one of those annoying little things that people love to do – and then love to talk about. I digress.

Announcing that she is not a 'creature of your government, South Africa' and then declares philosophically that ‘I am you,’ the Lady with 32 million Twitter followers managed to shake over 50 000 people into zombie-like believers. For a moment, some started planning their outfits for her inauguration and visualised a garden party at Nkandla.

Her short sentences, filled with promises to make our lives simpler – and by all accounts more fashionable – seemed to resonate well. The crowd seemed exhausted from a year of justifying why they love living in Cape Town, tired of explaining if they are black or white, and unsure if Obama is the answer.

Can you blame them? The year of 2012: marred by the misery of miners, a mansion in a mountain, misogynists who mutilate, Malema and mothballed textbooks in a warehouse. (Click here to vote for your newsmaker of the year)

The promise of a shift in consciousness that can reset the minds of earthlings at the end of 2012 is perfectly timed. The mirror we hold up at the end of any year, perhaps a bit more achievable for some.

I know I need a long, hard stare at one of our beautiful scenic spots. A mountain (a world wonder or otherwise). A crushing wave. My dog Ben, or a productive golden mine heap. Passersby at my new favourite coffee spot in Khayelitsha. Any of the above.

I need to be reminded that my view cannot only be formed by those who appear to destroy it, even if only in my mind.

When the Lady arrived on stage with our bright rainbow flag knotted into one of her many outfits, I got worried that I did not feel the usual rise and tingle of pride I get when I see it in unfamiliar spots.

That usual feeling when I stop and stare and salute my fellow, yet equal citizens, for the privilege of sharing this soil. It was lost for a moment.

My walk home afterwards gave me perspective on what drives my patriotic joys.

The view of the Cape Town Stadium over my shoulder became the symbol for how I suspect we treat ourselves. While it offers us joy, global acclaim and new breath to a previously dark side of the city, it continues to fight for a reason to exist. We build ourselves up spectacularly, and then use everything possible to chop it down.

Surely the way forward is upwards, not downwards or sideways.

If we can build stadiums, we can negotiate better lives for farm workers. If we can build mansions in the misty hills of KwaZulu Natal, we deserve a careful consideration of who gets to stay in it. 

Adriaan is keeping a firm eye on Twitter as @aiBester as he awaits early signs of a raised earthly conscious in about two weeks.


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adriaan bester  |  lady gaga  |  mangaung 2012



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