WOW! What a Shock! What a Day!

Someone said I’m an attention seeker.  Ouch!  If I was an attention seeker I don’t imagine this being the kind of attention I’d seek.  This isn’t good attention.  If this was good attention I’d be feeling as delicious as black forest gateaux.  I feel mortified and ashamed.

Why would anyone want to make news out of anything I have to say?  Who am I?  What does it matter what I say or think?  I’m not an opinion maker.  My shame is born of a sense of having been caught doing something I shouldn’t and being exposed.   Like being caught with my hand in the cookie jar, and being brought out in front of the whole school to have it announced in my shamed presence that Tselane stole cookies from the cookie jar.  I expressed my opinion.  So what? As the saying goes, opinions are like butts, everybody has one.  So beyond the entertaining diversion of chatting on facebook, I don’t know why anyone would care about mine.

I’m not ashamed of my thoughts?  How can I be?  They’re my thoughts.  They’re different from some other people’s thoughts, inevitably, and they should be.  How is it possible that someone else’s disapproval, the disapproval of a stranger, can make one ashamed of one’s own thoughts?  I own my thoughts.  No one can change the experiences that shaped a person to think the way they think.  At least not without extensive psycho work, and I don’t think that I’m mad.

I’ve been asked by journalists if I want to ‘set the record straight’.  Is there a point? No!  The hole is not yet so deep that I can’t find my way out of it.  There is no lid on the coffin.  Let me not carve one.

One gentleman said I’m siding with a painting over my President.  No!  What do you mean?  Where does anyone come up with such a concept? It’s impossible.

The painting, The Spear, is audacious.  I get the outrage.  I understand from whence it comes.  I don’t share it.  I am objective about the painting.  The artist must have known there would be loud mutterings and furious fists of rage beating at the heavens, but imagining his head.   This was a well thought out, intelligently considered piece of conceptual political commentary on the job the president is doing.  Does it not, then, make sense that at some time in the not too distant future the response to the commentary is also intelligently considered? Calm down! It’s a painting.

People are angry and insulted, yes, but where does that anger lead?  So far, to violence. Is that intelligent?  It’s too stupid for speech.  The courts may find in favour of the presidency and then, what?  Then precedent is set for a Stalinist crackdown on freedom of expression and then we must be very afraid.

Art isn’t about offending anyone’s culture.  That isn’t the point.  The statement the artist is making is the point.  I haven’t seen the artist addressing the point.  What is the painting saying? And why in this way?  Does anyone else look forward to hearing that explained?  Is what the artist says valid, in our estimation?  Will we fly into renewed, even augmented rage if we don’t like what the artist says?  Will we talk of necklacing and beating up and other ludicrousness that I’ve seen on the social network?  Is it impossible for there to be an exchange of ideas?  Must everyone attack the thinker instead of engaging with the thought?

What I wrote was ill advised, but not without thought.  It was part of the conclusion to a process of thought.  It was to create discussion. It wasn’t a conclusion in itself.  Discussion sometimes results in changing one’s thinking.  I’m open to ways of thinking and the ideas of others.  I think.  There was, however, no intelligible discussion on this painting on fb.  No one wanted to discuss the painting.  They were all stuck in their infuriation at the penis of the president being on display, as though it was a photograph of his penis rather than an abstraction.

I was told I’d outed myself as a Zuma hater.  What?  I made a comment.  It wasn’t an outpouring of hatred.  When did I say that I hate the president?  It’s preposterous.  Is objectivity banned?  Is one not allowed to be outside of the collective hysteria and vitriol?  I hate no one.  I’m not emotional about the issue.

I was asked if I regret my comment.  I’d like not to regret it, but that headline ‘Tambo’s daughter tells Zuma ‘get over it’; I swear I screamed out loud when I saw that.  Who did I piss of so much that they would want to do that to me?  So yes, I regret every written word, not because I think my thinking is erroneous. I stand by my thinking.  But because it has led to this cataclysmic headline, which misrepresents and misunderstands and makes me come across as so unbelievably arrogant; beyond arrogant, and I am not.

I like to initiate discussion on facebook.  It’s one of my things.  When a good one gets going it’s usually fun and informative.  People who are complete strangers to one another debate, and ideas are exchanged.  It’s an interesting diversion.  Sometimes it descends into name-calling and insults flying, which is entertaining to watch.  Mostly it’s intelligent people who are rational, quick witted and prescient.

This discussion on The Spear descended into name-calling.  I was called a coconut, a spoilt brat, a sell out, an attention seeker, and a Brit out of touch with African culture, an agent of the extreme right wing; to name but a few of the more polite ones.  People said that they’d lost all respect for me.  They were disappointed in me.  Why all this?  Because I think the presidency taking an artist to court is petty?  I do think so.  And what after court?  This comes hot on the heels of the secrecy bill debacle.  Are we now to face conceptual censorship as well?  Is this when the thought police enter?

I respect the President.  I bow in patriotic homage and gratitude to the Office of the Presidency.  It is peopled with honourable men and women who devoted their lives to the achievement of our freedom.  How do I not hold that in the highest esteem?  They fought for our constitution, which is premised on the long held ideals of The Freedom Charter, and therein it is enshrined that I have the right to freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of speech.  Our president, Jacob Zuma suffered Robben Island and exile.  He gave his entire life to the achievement our freedom.  How could it be that he would deny any one of us the right to make use of the very freedoms he fought to give us?  It doesn’t make sense.

Who was it that said, “I may not like what you say, but I’ll fight for your right to say it”?  I think it was Voltaire.

My intention of having a stimulating discussion on a slow Sunday about the merits of the painting, The Spear, coupled with my reaction to the news that JZ felt insulted by the painting, has led to me being executed at thought point by a very large number South Africans.

I wish that I had kept my thoughts to myself.  Had I known the result of my tweet would be this, naturally I would never have tweeted.


About Tselane Tambo

I share myself in these desultory ramblings. It’s my thoughts and memories; some anecdotes and opinions. It’s an accidental autobiography. When you’ve meandered through these pages you’ll be within reach of a little piece of me. Thank you for dropping by.
This entry was posted in Nocturnal Ramblings of a Mind Unplugged. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to WOW! What a Shock! What a Day!

  1. Micky says:

    I think your post was honest and that is all that counts, why should you lie to yourself or anyone else about how you feel about this situation? It does not mean you do not still love your country, party, people etc, self-criticism and criticism of society is necessary and good! Don’t ever stop what you are doing, you are admirable in your strength and honesty.

  2. Your apology is accepted

      • Brian Strydom says:

        Anyone who’ll read wat u wrote has to understand that u’ve commented on the article like any citizen not because u hate anyone. Is this we call democracy? As south african sorry abt all insults received from ppl, your apology should be accepted. The way I see this issue which means you do not have to be differ to the majority, u hv to think like the ppl insulted u bcos your dad ws the politician. Bt stay strong, no one should change you sister.

  3. Riosallia Gwabeni says:

    Yho cc I feel 4u, this is hot & focus shifted 2b mo on u nw than the painting. Take heart baby, take heart, (hugs)

  4. toni_gon says:

    You have every right to comment on any event around you, don’t let the haters get to you.

  5. Leanne says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have expressed similar sentiments . I share your views and many others do, too. Democracy in action. Xxx

  6. juices says:

    You are really forgiven Miss T but please do not play the victim card now. No South African is accussing you of thought crime. You picked your gun and now stick to it. The truth is you failed to respond to a comment made in the previous blog that this was some money-making scheme for a talentless coset racist from Cape Town( and boy he can only be from that city) through a meritricious piece of art. This racist must crawl back to the woodwork. The truth is the new SA is a bubble that can burst anytime. And with scant regard for cultural sensibilities from racist parading as artist like this we can be reminded of Saartjie Baartmaan they portrayed as a barbarian.

    • I’m not apologising for what I said, I’m regretting that I said it. Is that the same thing? I can’t cope with all this racist talk. I don’t believe it’s about being racist. I think that word is an easy out for those who don’t understand the content of the art. It’s interesting that there is so much seething anger about JZ’s scholong, but none about the poverty, undemployment, homelessness and etc that he is failing to address. The passion should be placed on healing the nation. His schlong, is not healing the nation.

  7. wisey says:

    Okay Tselane, I wish that we were as close as we were a few years ago, back in my Stellenbosch days, during the long nights while I was studying, obscure subjects of genetics and microbiology and the likes, we connected, we use to talk a lot, you told me things I’ve didn’t know, your made me think in a different way! It was good, and I hope that as I say this, you will receive it as you use to then, when we were quite close : You did nothing wrote, you voiced out your opinion, art is art, you owe no one an explanation, you cannot argue with narrow minded people who fool themselves into believing that they’re open-minded, some South Africans are so dangerously conservative, stereotyped and volatile that it is nauseating! And unfortunately us open minded, mind liberated individuals must be subjected to their name calling and the likes, you know this, this isn’t knew, when your refuse to go with the flow you’re automatically targeted and unfortunately in your case politically target and your daddy ( God bless his soul ) is inevitably dragged into it! So my dearest friend, you did nothing wrong, you owe no one an explanation, now come down, pop open a bottle of Merlot and listen to the “flower duet” I know it’s one of your favourite opera pieces and just breathe in! Much love and hugs Wisey (“,)

  8. wisey says:

    Charlie don’t get me wrong, I am by no means attempting to spike yet another uncontrollable fire of argument, by why does she need to apologise, to who, for what? And who must accept that apology, I really fail to comprehend the gist of this whole “apology accepted” thing!

  9. Sandra says:

    Dear one, why should you be apologizing for misinterpretation of your thoughts and even regretting writing it? By feeling this way, are you not contraditing what Zuma himself fought for? Freedom to express oneself. Or ist it that being the President exempts him from criticism? Well, in this case he should keep his amores away from the public. On the other hand, he should feel honored for drawing attention to his manhood. It seems to me that the artist was fascinated by it with no intention to offend anyone. Brush it off and enjoy being you…please never refrain yourself from being you.

  10. What content really? Is the artist content healing the nation itself? Is controversy generated by some lousy closet racist from Cape Town( let me use that word again just to rub it in ) healing the nation? Only someone who was not in the coal face when apartheid was at its height could trivialise the race issue. If you deny racism then you are living in a bubble. And by the way, all the social ills you mention like homelessness and unemployment are a by-product of a still racialised system that will take years to change because of anti-transformation white South Africans, not your favourite “schlong” of Jacob Zuma. Ask Mandela or Thabo Mbeki about that. I won”t be surprised if you would dispute this. You seem to insinuate that Jacob Zuma’s “schlong” is the source of all our problems. I do not believe you. You have the right to hate the man, albeit, you want us to believe otherwise but you cannot deny him the right to human dignity. Well, you and the Goodman gallery can do that but SA constitution does not agree with you. We are all equal in our constitution. Ours is not a constitution that gives artist a preferential treatment because they are mammals as the next South African citizen. They are not like Caezar’s wife. Nor is their art sacrosanct.

  11. Tselane, apologising and expressing regret is the same. I know you are smarter than that dear

  12. angybee says:

    Tselane the only reason it made headlines is because you are a Tambo. This might be unfair to you but it’s all in the name.

  13. I’m clever. One may regret what happened, without apologising for what one did. In other words one regrets ones action because the consequence was uncomfortable, but one isn’t sorry for having spoken. Are you smart enough to get that? LOL!

  14. @angybee, I agree with you. There are many people who made sensible and smart statements on facebook and those statements were overlooked because those people who made them are not known. Being a Tambo daughter puts you in the limelight especially if say something that will humiliate and degrade fellow Africans. I mean how do you tell an old man like Mr JZ to get over that painting whilst there is an outcry from many quoters of the country. Someone must get a hiding and spanking for showing disrespect to the elders

  15. Monique says:

    Brilliantly said…

    and the quote was from Descartes.

  16. @Tselane, I would appreciate it if you addressed me as Charles or Mr. Baloyi. WIth due respect

  17. `hhahahahaha! OK Charlie. LOOOOL!

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