In an ideal world, public figures are invincible. But in a world that’s more accurately summed up in a meme: “Famous people are normal people that are tragic and problematic in front of everyone.”
The respectability of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille is dying by her own hand — or rather her tweeting thumbs. If AKA isn’t trying to turn the internet into his own personal shrine it’s Riky Rick trolling us with alternative facts. The rapper reportedly owes R12-million to record label Mabala Noise and is in no position to terminate his contract as previously stated last week.
Then again, we’re learning that headlines are not to be trusted. Which news agency worth its salt calls Esther Mahlangu, artist and heritage gem, a “chicken feather painter”?
Last week ended with the news of the death of veteran actor and comedian Joe Mafela, for whom tributes have poured in from his peers and from South Africans who remember him as S’dumo from the comedy series ’Sgudi ’Snaysi.
Heist a Lamborghini laugh
A fortnight ago, we were rocked by the news of an armed robbery at OR Tambo International Airport. A crime syndicate made away with no less than R200-million in foreign currency. An investigation led to the arrest of five men.
Social media and The Times went to town with a picture of a man posing next to a white Lamborghini. The man was suspected of being one of the robbers and, before anything was verified, was dragged as the world’s dumbest criminal for purchasing a flashy car instead of something like land. It turns out the Lambo was allegedly bought years ago by Thando Sonqishe, who is a suspect in the airport robbery.
But here’s what’s laughable; it wasn’t Sonqishe in the photo but a police investigator who looks like he’s having a swell time being snapped next to the flashy car.
And the winners take all
There were a few surprises at the South African Film and Television awards held last weekend. Although a good and diverse number of talent were recognised, there was the sense that some prominent people were snubbed and that some favourite categories were left out in favour of work that seemed somewhat dated. This is my biased opinion.
Having said that, there were numerous highlights. Warren Masemola took home a Golden Horn for best supporting actor for his role in the TV drama Heist, which also bagged best directing (Rolie Nikiwe), best actor (Jerry Mofokeng) and best TV drama.
Best TV presenter went to Thembisa Mdoda and best talk show host went to her sister Anele for Real Talk with Anele. The Lifetime Achievement award recipient was Lydia Mo-kgokoloshi, who is remembered for her work in old-school telenovela Bophelo ke Semphekgo as the merciless Mma Nkosheng.
Zille’s stuck in the 1800s
The more black people are poked by comments such as those in Helen Zille’s tweet, the more we must remember Toni Morrison in 1975: “The function, the very serious function, of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.”
When Zille, in a fool’s paradise, was so sure she was asserting some sort of intellectual high ground by tweeting praise for colonialism, she wasn’t counting on being called out for being racist.
She tweeted: “For those claiming legacy of colonialism was only negative, think of our independent judiciary, transport infrastructure, piped water etc.” Her second tweet said: “Would we have had a transition into specialised healthcare and medication without colonial influence? Just be honest, please.”
But all she did was say out loud what many of her supporters think in the comfort of their anonymity.
Her racist sentiments and subsequent nonapology are not surprising to Twitter users, whom she calls the offenderati. Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane and spokesperson Phumzile van Damme can’t explain her tweets away or undo the damage that has the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters calling for Zille to lose her position as premier.
The art of murder
The possibility that artist Zwelethu Mthethwa’s work may rise in value because he murdered a sex worker will glorify violence against women or absolve him because of his fame as an artist. Four years after the murder, Mthethwa was last week found guilty of murdering Nokuphila Kumalo, 23. Hopefully his sentencing on March 29 will send a message of where the courts and society stand on such a crime.