We are Jintao's Jintoos
OK, so we’re China’s bitches. We are Jintao’s Jintoos. We might as well get used to it. In five years time, the SA police will be arresting people for wearing authentic Adidas and buying genuine Apple products. Soon, the Minister of the Department for Making Poor Homeless People Believe We Actually Give a Fuck (Human Settlement for short), will be changing his name to Beijing Sexwale, and moving people out of the way to make room for the construction of big dams.
Ah, the terrible stereotypes of the Yellow Peril. Not true, of course. Fine bunch of men, the Chinese, fine bunch. And women, of course, just not in the Politburo Standing Committee.
Another terrible and invidious stereotype is the one about African governments being toadying, greedy sycophants willing to sell their ethical position, pride and autonomy on the open market to the highest bidder with the most concrete. Or that even more insulting and bigoted stereotype of government bureaucrats who deliberately stonewall applications from people they find politically undesirable, and who use the Kafkaesque machinations of their departments to deny service to people on a whim. Until they commit suicide. That just doesn’t happen.
Really, Mr/Ms Public Servant? You’re not giving the Dalai Lama a visa? Again? Last time, in 2009, the excuse was that Tibet had never really fielded a convincing soccer team, and Mr Lama’s visit would take the foreign media’s eye off the World Cup ball. Right, sports journalists are famous for their political acumen and interest in current affairs. They only watch soccer in the downtime between campaigning for women’s rights, going to Marxist reading groups, and combing their moustaches.
The excuse this time is ... well, I’m not sure actually. It appears to be the usual one from the Department of Kowtowing Foreign Devils, formerly known as Foreign Affairs—we can’t find the application, and when we did, form 93b was only filled out in quadruplicate by a lefthanded person, and anyway, we don’t work weekends. Also, we’re waiting for our paperclip consignment from China.
A clue as to the real reason might be the fact that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, President Zuma’s better half, as he’s waggishly known around the African Union, is currently in China trying to get the Chinese to give us lots of lovely money. And at this point, we have to ask—what is the price we’re willing to pay for an injection of investment into our economy? Do we really care that some guy in a funny dress can’t raise a toast to Desmond Tutu on his birthday? Is it really so bad to give in to the bullies of China, if it means more South Africans can put food on the table for their families?
Nah. Take the money and default, I say. Let’s get into a bidding war with America, China and that new Eurozone country they’re talking so much about lately. It’s not as if we’re rejecting ethics and morality entirely—we can just adopt the ones of whichever country buys us at the highest price. Sure, there might be a few sacrifices if it’s America, like having to give up polygamy and supporting Palestine. Or if it’s China, we’ll have to become a one-party state that’s big on oppression of freedom of speech, that’s run as a kleptocracy, and that treats its people as commodities in the great economy of retaining power. If it’s Eurozone, well—let’s not go there. The music is just too bad.
Who cares about Lama and Tutu, anyway. I don’t trust people who have names like Brazilian soccer players. Sure, we’ll be the laughing stock of a large part of the world, and once you’ve become someone’s bitch, well, you’re everyone’s bitch. But at least we’ll still be able to get those White Rabbit sweets.
Chris Roper is the editor of M&G online. Follow him on Twitter @chrisroperza