Mhambi has been redeployed.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sit dit af sit dit af

Sit dit af (Afrikaans: Switch it off) was a song by Johannes Kerkorrel, lambasting PW Botha's pervasive and pugnacious face on the South African TV during the 80's.

Met sy vinger in die lug
Gaan hy my lewe net ontwrig...

With his finger in the air
He will disturb my life...

...sang Johannes...

Mhambi has been musing about the reactions to the death of PW Botha this week, the UK Guardian's Dan van der Vat for instance called him "The jibbering, trembling Great Crocodile, exposed at last as one of the worst tyrants of a bloodsoaked century".

But Mhambi wonders whether Dries van Heerden from the South African Mail and Guardian might be more correct: "The hindsight of history will treat Botha much kinder than the quick appraisals following his death this week."

I will let you into a little secret: Mhambi remembers defending Botha's reforms in his high school history classes in the early 80's. Most of my classmates did not care a hoot and those that did thought he was becoming a dangerous liberal.

It's only later when I heard Johannes's and the likes of Koos Kombuis's songs, and the brave weekly's Vrye Weekblad and Weekly Mail exposed police death squads - that I came to really dispise PW.

Mhambi was late yes, but not the latest. In 1998 Mhambi worked at the Truth and Reconciliation Commision (TRC). All of Mhambi's colleagues were black lawyers between the ages of 26 and 35. And on a bright sunny day in Cape Town PW Botha was due to apear before the commission, and all the talk was of Die Groot Krokodil and his crimes. My colleagues confessed that they never new how bad PW was untill then!?! They never knew they said. Genugtig!!, Mhambi thought to himself. That's weird! What does that say about South African society?

Now Mhambi wonders, was Botha in fact a kind of Ariel Sharon figure, a war monger with the necesarry stature and strongman legitamacy to take his people out of the wilderness, but then got tripped up by ill health before he could do so? Na, Mhambi thinks, in the end PW had no idea how to get us out of the mess we were in. (Maybe we still don't, but thats for another day.)

Strange then that PW Botha's legacy is still up for grabs, and not written in stone: PW was a BAD BAD BAD boy - sela!

And to a great extent the fact that its not cut and dried is his old enemies fault: How well the ANC governs South Africa now will determine how we see PW in the future.

Nostalgia, o nee!

What about the Afrikaners who Botha claimed he was trying to protect? How should they feel? It's easy for Afrikaners, their language and culture under servere pressure and crime rampant, not to look back nostagically to PW Botha.

But one of the biggest calamities visited upon them was by PW himself. PW shot his people in the foot. The removal of our Afrikaans coloured brothers and sisters from District Six in Cape Town have been part of the critical blows to Afrikanerdom. Only time will tell if Afrikaners can recover from this brutal stupidity.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: