Friday, December 28, 2012 at 6:57 AM
It speaks volumes that South African President Jacob Zuma is even more gaffe prone than former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Zuma, for example, incited shock and mockery when he pronounced his belief that taking a shower after sex with an HIV-positive woman would reduce his risk of being infected.
The difference of course is that South African voters have been far more forgiving of Zuma’s gaffes than American voters have been of Romney’s.
It is hardly surprising therefore that Zuma now seems emboldened in this respect. Especially since he was easily re-elected just weeks ago as leader of the ANC, virtually guaranteeing him a second five-year term as president when general elections are held in 2014.
President Zuma said that owning and walking a dog, and even taking one to the vet, were not African activities, and was just copying White culture.
[He] got into a spot of bother Thursday when he suggested that owning a dog was not African and belonged to White culture…
Not able to let sleeping dogs lie, President Zuma went on to say that pet ownership was part of a worrying trend of Black Africans trying to be White.
That prompted howls of protest from South African pet owners of all hues and mottles.
(Africa Review, December 27, 2012)
Except that I inserted the “so-called” qualifier because, in this case, there is at least a factual basis for what Zuma said. Specifically, I have read enough about pre-colonial Africa to know that dogs were kept for hunting and protection, not as pets. Moreover, this remains the case (particularly with respect to protection) in many places throughout Africa and the Caribbean where, because of the apartheid conditions White colonists imposed, Blacks have had no real opportunity to copy White “culture.”
Not to mention that most Blacks of Zuma’s age harbor an indelible association between dogs and the White police who routinely used them as rabid weapons to breakup their anti-Apartheid/civil rights protests….
Alas, Zuma incites such reflexive ridicule these days that he can quote Shakespeare verbatim and his critics will find a gaffe in that to0. But anyone who takes a moment to reflect cannot deny the essential truth in what he said.
What’s more, no less a person than Queen Elizabeth II herself personifies the understandable resentment Blacks like Zuma have towards Whites who take pride in treating their dogs better than they treat their fellow (Black) human beings.
Therefore, we should not only acknowledge the cultural/humanitarian premise of Zuma’s remarks, but also appreciate why he would chide Blacks (even in his politically incorrect fashion) for aping the way Whites pamper their dogs.
I would only admonish Zuma not to be too self-righteous in his condemnation. For there seems precious little Blacks do in Africa today that was not copied from White culture. In fact, if he were not copying White culture, Zuma himself would be dressing in tribal garb (everyday) instead of donning his bespoke suits that seem tailored on Savile Row.
Scoop the poop…