Nelson Mandela died. Then he died again… and again… and again in the media (before and after his desmise).
There were accusations of death-thirsty media and lying government. There were debates over what constituted death. If there were any truth to radical rumours and urban legends of a black uprising and white genocide upon Mandela’s exit from our world and future, then South Africa was given armour by the debacle for South African’s had being desensitised to the the true moment of his death.
Stadiums and funerals filled, pretending to represent a whole country in grief…after all, that was surely the only correct response to the passing of the greatest man since Martin Luther King… or was it? A few, some with a morning beer in a bar, watched the television parade of ego-hogging celebrities and the awkward marching of coffin-laden, military leaders… but the majority carried on with their lives as if nothing had happened.
What this represents is bigger and more immediate than the presence of Bono the Hypocrite or Barack Obama the Greatest Weapons Supplier to the World. This is the shameful hearts and heads of South Africa. This is our shame at what we’ve become; liars, fools and cowards, complaining and avaricious, a nation destined to keep failing if we continue to war with each other.
The insincerity of Nelson Mandela tributes made a mockery of the spirit of the man. And South Africa, covetously, stole his spirit and branded it, like a famous takkie, as its own.
I lacked words during this mess that is ourselves but the author, Richard Poplak was full of them, demanding that i share them with you. And the Snordster was at hand with a powerful video narrative. Listen, read, share…
Fog Donkey: The Only Honest Man in a Stadium of Fools
I knew that it would not be long before the industrial mourning machine delivered its ruling metaphor, its Neo, its Christ-figure. It took no time at all before we tumbled down the Cartesian rabbit hole, before we found ourselves in a netherworld governed by topsy-turvy nonsense verse, wherein the man flapping his hands meaninglessly was the only man making any sense at all.
Let’s back up a moment. Thousands of mourners filed into FNB Stadium on Tuesday morning, and they had a very simple role to play—that of background colour. As they arrived, the media asked them the usual groaners—Why are you here? What did Madiba mean to you? How far did you travel to get to the stadium?—and they gave the stock answers—Because I loved Madiba. He was bigger than Jesus. I walked 12000km from Paris over the past three days. These paradoxically smiling, tear-stained faces were meant to provide the backdrop to the proceedings, singing happy songs, singing sad songs, and offering doses of curative African “spirit” for television viewers in Milwaukee and Swansea and Perth.
They had their shot, these good people, and they blew it…