The weekly pop sack: Triggered in good times and bad

Sometimes the internet gives us somewhat good news. Somewhat, because of the growing phenomenon of fake news. The internet was #blessed with images of Trevor Noah’s new $10-million Manhattan digs soon after he announced he’d be coming home for a show later this year. The penthouse, on the 17th and 18th floors of a lofty skyscraper, is monumental #goals. The comedian, which the United States media fondly calls a South African native, is doing an impressive job for our country’s image while away, unlike some people we know here at home.

Sassa: Blame it on the media
Expecting a grant from the government has become confusing. The South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) said last week that it had no solid plans in place to pay those social grants due on April 1. The service is provided by Cash Payment Services (CPS). A Constitutional Court ruling two years ago found the contract between Sassa and CPS to be invalid but extended it by 36 months while Sassa and the social development department sought an alternative way to pay the grants. Sassa stalled and has now run out of excuses.

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is not about to take this L. She spoke out, more like argued it out, with journalists at a briefing on the issue. She also got a round of applause for showing up —late — and admitting to nothing.

It got uncomfortable when journalist Karyn Maughan demanded answers. Why had her department flouted a court order to end the business relationship with CPS? Also, what was behind the sudden resignation of director general Zane Dangor?

Up against a wall, all the minister could do was insist she had things under control and that grants would be paid out to beneficiaries on April  1.

She also resented being made out to be a lame duck but social development department spokesperson Lumka Oliphant paced around her, warding off bad vibes like a good bouncer. According to the minister, the crisis is but a figment of the media’s wild imagination.

Oliphant still doesn’t care
Oliphant continues to answer to nobody. It isn’t clear whether Dlamini is blessed or cursed to have her in her corner but — allegations of alcoholism and maladministration be damned — the spokesperson will defend the minister tooth and nail, come rain or shine.

Radio 702 invited Oliphant to talk about the Sassa crisis. Anyone could have warned host Xolani Gwala that the spokesperson wasn’t the easiest of customers, based solely on her recent stint on Facebook.

Oliphant decided she was going to respond in isiNtu, speaking in isiZulu, whether Xolani and his non-Sintu-speaking listeners liked it or not.

When Gwala asked her to speak in English she refused to back down, which vexed him and placed the spotlight on the wrong topic — the use of
languages other that English. He could just have got on with it, if you ask me.

Oliphant wasn’t doing anything unheard of, unless callers are banned from speaking isiXhosa or isiZulu on the radio station.

Is this the case?

Inxeba — The Wound
Some have called director John Trengrove’s upcoming film Inxeba — The Wound a product of the ongoing appropriation of the stories of black people for a buck.

Having seen only the trailer of the film about same-sex desire in an initiation setting, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, some say the sacred parts of Xhosa culture need not be shown in such a way to facilitate the conversation around masculinity and homosexuality.

Some have gone so far as to send threats to Nakhane, one of the lead actors.

There’s a fixation on defending the secrecy that underpins the sacred rite of passage, but being irked appears to have more to do with handing over power in a bid to tell a story.

If members of the culture and attendees of the value system tell the story (the film is largely based on Thando Mgqolozana’s book A Man Who Is Not a Man), why shouldn’t they be allowed to do that? The nervousness around the mere trailer is telling.

Wa Thiong’o and decolonisation
Last week, renowned Kenyan post-colonial theorist, writer and academic Ngugi wa Thiong’o reconscientised a willful audience on the important project of freeing Africa of colonial mindsets. He recommended more agency in liberating our languages by not only speaking them but also practising and engaging their worldviews, for our languages are at the centre of decolonisation.

There was some tension at his Cape Town talk, at the Baxter Concert Hall. Moments before he was about to speak, a young woman walked up and spoke in a mix of English and isi-Xhosa about the importance of having the conversation about decolonisation in spaces that are not tainted.

When the woman asked Wa Thiong’o to “please ask the oppressors to leave’’, convenor Professor Xolela Mangcu got up to decline the request as disrespectful.

Wa Thiong’o said he “likes those with whom he disagrees to be in the room” when he speaks.

The audience was unsure whether he meant the young woman and her supporters or “the oppressors”. 

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Kuntha Ndimande
Guest Author

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