Today is Africa Day (May 24), an occasion of high Tartuffery, stuffed dashikis and the usual self-importance.

But rather than do the obvious and sound off about terrible ironies in the light of current events — an unsophisticated tack that has, like the poor Somali shopkeeper up the road, been done to death — I thought we’d muddle through the column with seemingly random thoughts, the odd insult and maybe a few questions until we reached a conclusion of sorts. Ready?

Anyone listening to the SABC this week would have heard the buffoonish cackle, “Africa Day — because Africa belongs to all of us.”

Which is true. Particularly if you’re an international petro-chemical company or mining house. God help the African who grazes his cattle on land rich in minerals or oil. Because Africa certainly doesn’t belong to him.

And it certainly doesn’t belong to the Zimbodians.

Did you know that, at an emergency meeting last month in response to the Zimbabwean crisis, civil society organisations declared today Stand Up For Zimbabwe Day?

It was their response to the Mugabe regime’s campaign of murder and terror — a campaign that appears to enjoy Pretoria’s approval.

Anyway, we have been invited to observe at least one minute of silence at noon today to show our solidarity with the very people we are hounding out of the country.

But moving on.

Yesterday SAFM ’s AM Live interviewed Musa Xulu, convener of the African Renaissance Conference.

The conference is part of the 10th African Renaissance Festival, which takes place in Durban today and tomorrow and the highlight of which is a concert today featuring Johnny Clegg.

What I found interesting was Xulu’s description of Clegg (as if such a thing were necessary), not as an African, but as a “person who has embraced African culture”.

It’s a small thing, and perhaps I’m making too much of it, but how can we ever begin to tackle xenophobia if, even at such a basic level of communication, our language is so concerned with this “otherness” of others?

There are many questions that we need to ask ourselves. Why does Aziz Pahad squeak? Who is responsible for Winnie Madikizela- Mandela’s millinery? And why can’t she pass a few old hats on to Frankenmanto, whose wigs seem to have been startled into open revolt?

But other questions are perhaps a little more pertinent: why do the ubuntu- crazed mobs chant Umshini Wam, the love song of Dancin’ Jacob Zuma, our next president, as they hound foreigners?

Speaking of which, can Kangaman really be that much worse than Thabo Mbeki? The call for special xenophobia courts — desperation, or what?

Does this stuff scare you as much as it does me?

Isn’t it depressing that Afro-pessimists are all so Colonel Blimpish? And why are they so boring? And why can’t there be such a thing as Afro-Buddhism? Show me a gorgeous Afro-Buddhist and I’ll happily let her rub my tummy. For luck, even.

But can Afro-Buddhism help people like the Freedom Front Plus’s Pieter Mulder? Last weekend, in Brussels, his party was welcomed into the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples’ Organisation — a move that the FF+, with no trace of irony, lists as one of its greatest achievements to date. As Mulder put it, “(UNPO) is an organisation that fights for the right of the world’s silent voices.”

Which may or may not be a good thing. But there are times when we, in fact, welcome a little silence.

And not necessarily just for the battered Zimbos.

From: The Times

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