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Must we create another monster?

So, the years of stirring are finally paying off. After spending aeons pissing off the members of the Mail & Guardian Forum, Sentletse Diakanyo has spread his wings and succeeded in knotting the knickers of half the known world.

How else to explain how one blog entry can elicit responses, not only from other Thought Leader contributors, but the always brilliantly funny and erudite Chris Roper and the Daily Maverick. Sipho Hlongwane, the author of the Maverick piece, was interviewed on 702 yesterday, so Sentletse’s influence is reaching even further into the heartland of the chattering classes.

I’ve never met Sentletse in person, but I knew his alter ego for years. MoAferika, as he was known, was a regular contributor on the Mail & Guardian Forum, and a persistent one, re-registering after multiple bannings for outrageous racist comments. Mo claimed that he drove a brown Peugeot 405 and lived in Diepsloot, where he was something of a Casanova. Offline, I befriended Mo, discovered his real identity, and exchanged cellphone numbers. At one point when we were exchanging SMSs (we kept missing each other) he was trying to sell his house at the Hartbeespoort Dam. Very north of the Shooter Curtain it has to be said.

Mo was a shit stirrer of note, and I always assumed that the opinions he expressed were tongue in cheek. He really was very funny back then. Now, it turns out, he actually does think that way. I’m disappointed, because he seemed to be a nice guy. I’m all for the expression of a range of opinions, but in the end it got too much, so I unfriended him on Facebook and blocked him on Twitter.

The marketing opportunity for Sentletse is clear. If he is clever, he will leverage the frenzied response to his kak arguments and position himself as a serious commentator whose opinion on the issues of the day should be sought as a matter of course. If he’s angling to become the new Christine Qunta, here’s his chance. Perhaps our ecosystem of public discourse requires a new figure to spout spurious pseudo-intellectual verbiage of the Afro-fascist kind. The right has Dan Roodt and Steve Hofmeyr, so we clearly need some balance. Julius Malema, he’s too easy to dismiss: 20% for woodwork and all that. Sentletse, on the other hand, has a whole range of apparently credible sources at his busy fingertips. I fully expect The New Age to recruit him as a columnist.

But I worry about all of the attention Sentletse’s getting, because the more coverage the media gives him, the more power he will accumulate — power he would otherwise not have. Look at Julius Malema: he might have a support base, but his opinions (and therefore his power) were amplified by the media to a degree that was out of kilter with the significance of JuJu’s actual newsworthiness.

Yes, it’s important to acknowledge a range of views, and it’s important that they be aired so that they can be challenged. But let’s be honest here: is Sentletse actually worthy of being quoted in the serious media, the Mail & Guardians and 702s of this world? He’s not an academic or a politician, and there’s no clear platform from which he speaks. What exactly is the source of his authority? I don’t see it. He’s just a blogger and (let’s face it) blogging is not the same as appearing on the opinion page of the Sunday papers.

All this media coverage is serving less to promote debate and more to create a potential monster. Knowing Mo, he is chuckling throatily right now, enjoying every minute of it.

Will we ever learn?

Author

  • During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.

77 Comments

  1. MLH MLH 8 January 2011

    Bully for you, Akanyang Merementsi, that was worth the read!

  2. Molemo Molemo 9 January 2011

    Mr Marius: you are not an African race. As stated in your own words, you developed elsewhere into what you look like today. And THAT IS NOT AFRICAN. You became pink elsewhere. Africans HAVE African skin.

    Do not confuse the issue of race with the issue of citizenship. We are all Africna citizens, but we are not all part of the African RACE.

    Just a few decades ago you were happy to be called Europeans – NOW WHERE’S YOUR PROBLEM STEMMING FROM?

  3. Nguni Nguni 9 January 2011

    @ Ntebaleng
    So according to Sotho tradition Obama IS an African.. This explains the general confusion felt in Africa regarding his identity, they don’t understand why he’s not inviting them all over to the USA to live off social security.
    @ Kholekile Tshunungwa
    Most blacks are reeling under the effects of almost 20 years of service non-delivery under the ANC, apartheid is a distant memory of days gone by when things still worked.. They care little about defining ‘who is an African?’ or whether we needed new stadiums all over the country or new submarines for that matter.

  4. gemini gemini 9 January 2011

    “African”. What does it mean? How much has a South African got in common with someone from Mali, Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt etc. I have always been amused when travelling overseas and I a say I come from SA and someone says “I have a friend in Kenya…….” Usually I write off such people as geographically ignorant. Why not the same for people who want to use this meaningless “African” identifier.

  5. OneFlew OneFlew 9 January 2011

    Of course Sarah is trying to raise the drawbridge of privilege and exclusivity as a means of shutting Diakanyo up while retaining her voice. Is he academically qualified? Is he a columnist in the Sunday papers?

    And of course this attempt, like all snobbery, will rankle. Of course it will additionally remind Diakanyo of historical attempts at preserving privilege. (Let’s call this one the qualified franchise redux…) Because it is, of course, in essence the same thing: you shouldn’t speak because you aren’t good enough to be listened to. Unlike, say, me.

    And of course such an attack is purely ad hominem. Now the ‘kak’ arguments may indeed be difficult to engage with. But all arguments on such normative matters, however rationalised, can be viewed as ‘kak’.

    And they do express a very simple essence. Which is that words and concepts mean exactly what we want them to mean. And many, possibly most, people in SA prefer the word “African” to refer to people like Sentletse rather than to people like Sarah. And many, possibly most, people in SA have no interest in continuing to take lectures from people like Sarah on this subject.

  6. Ntebaleng Ntebaleng 10 January 2011

    @Gail

    You miss the point – when you want a certain breed you always look for a perfect male for that – there are things in the world that do not change – partenity is one – you are duped by equal right and thinks all runs in that line – Gail we are all animals and leanage is partenal not martenal – note i’m not discounting the womens contribution but identity of all species is partenal not martenal

  7. Mzwandile Mzwandile 10 January 2011

    Must we create another monster? Sarah who are ”We” and how many monsters have ”we” created and please gives me a logical explanation of how are monsters created? You further state that ”I’m disappointed, because he seemed to be a nice guy” What is a nice guy to you? nice opinions? Meanwhile you went out of your way to befriend him even though you say at the time as MoAferika he made outrageous racist comments. How do you come to the conclusion that the more coverage the media gives a person, the more power one accumulates? power over what? Sarah can you please give a list and criteria of people who are actually worthy of being quoted in the serious media. Dear Sarah, since I am not an academic and politician please tell me the clear platform I should speak from especially for expressing ”kak arguments”. For the record Sarah you piece is just as kak and I suspect you are also tapping on some kind of marketing opportunity given the number responses you have received and still hope to receive. You conclude your piece with ”Will we ever learn?” Who are ”we”?, please speak for yourself. Lastly, please give perspective to issues raised by others rather than tell us how you personally feel about others. [email protected]

  8. Ntebaleng Ntebaleng 10 January 2011

    @Gail

    This is not about blacks – this is about all races or can i say all species – you need a particular seed to have a particular plant – you need a particular male to have partular breed – if i breed cattle and i want a particular breed i would go and look for a particular bull – so get it in you madam partenity determines breed – if you are European lady and i have a child with you as an African male your children will certainly be African even if the can have blue eyes and blond hair like yours – a woman has no identity – women assume identity form their fathers and husbands

  9. Ntebaleng Ntebaleng 10 January 2011

    @Gail

    you miss the point madam this is not about rights at all – its about breed – please get it or perhaps because you are from the previledged class source info to understand this better

  10. Mpho Mpho 10 January 2011

    Sarah Britten, what do you say to Akanyang Meremetsi’s comments? Long but very interesting…

  11. Ntebaleng Ntebaleng 10 January 2011

    @Nguni

    Sorry buddy – that is not the argument and yes Obama is an African nobody can dispute that – Obama calls himself an African American and yes he is Ameriacn of African descend

  12. Themba Themba 10 January 2011

    I am not sure whether to be amused or saddened by the apparent understanding of Freedom of Speech by liberals such as Sarah Britten and Chris Ropper. Now, I do understand why they do disagree with Sentlentse Diakanyo and why they would feel the need to respond publicly. Unfortunately, their reaction has not been about the points Mr Diakanyo raised, rather an attempt at a personal assassination of Sentlentse.
    The media is up in arms with government attempts to muzzle it, but media practitioners seem hell bent to practise these amongst themselves on the basis that one of their own expresses views they do not share.
    What happened to the Voltairean adage “”I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.” Are we now invalidating the first part of the statement where we only fight for the rights of only those we agree with? What a sad reality, if that is what we are headed for.
    Ms Britten spends a significant portion of her article attempting a character assassination, because she has deemed herself speaker and writer for “half the known world”
    I think you have spent too much time in cyberspace, Madam, and have not realised that the vast majority of South Africans have no access to the internet and therefore the people who were upset at SD’s comments do not even constitute a substantial portion of the opinion makers in this country, let alone those who

  13. Tlanch Tau Tlanch Tau 10 January 2011

    Brilliant Akanyang. Thanks for clarrifying this. Wonder what Sarah has to say about that.

  14. Themba Themba 10 January 2011

    I think you have spent too much time in cyberspace, Madam, and have not realised that the vast majority of South Africans have no access to the internet and therefore the people who were upset at SD’s comments do not even constitute a substantial portion of the opinion makers in this country, let alone those who option translate to votes. Yet, you have a right to your views, but those do not extend to character assassination or assuming yourself to speak for the “nice guys”
    For all I can read on this article, you certainly are not a nice person and I would certainly befriend as my FB or SMS friend.
    I have also had encounters with SD especially on Facebook and my problem is not that I did not agree with him. I disagreed with him more than not, but he tended to be condescending in how he expressed his views. So, I am not his friend and really limit my engagements. His article is one of a few that I followed, though his justification on 702 short changed his argument.
    To call SD’s arguments “kak” because you disagree with them makes you no less than Juju. Remember Juju called people agents because they dared to have views dissimilar to his. In my view, the one person who showed greater similarity to Roodt, Malema and Hofmeyr is Britten and Roper.
    What I see you is personal jealousy from someone who is stuck with irrelevant views.

  15. Themba Themba 10 January 2011

    What SD did was to promote a debate on an issue that resonates with a majority of South Africans, while the liberals often try to direct the debate towards BEE and government corruption, it is nice that once in a while the hire “Uncle Toms” do deviate from the script and actually write something that forms part of their discussions at home or those they relate in person with.
    It saddens me that people that claim to be proponents of Freedom of Speech are the first ones to spew this garbage. SD’s comments were not a political attack on anyone and he clearly justified his views using a range or sources and research. Britten would rather us focus on her opinion as the basis of judging people’s views. What sad state liberalism has produced. What next? Run to Australia and claim asylum?

  16. Gavin Foster Gavin Foster 10 January 2011

    @Themba

    “the one person who showed greater similarity to Roodt, Malema and Hofmeyr is Britten and Roper.”

    Go figure….

  17. Ash Ash 10 January 2011

    Ntebeleng, what nonsense! “so get it in you madam patenity determines breed – if you are European lady and i have a child with you as an African male your children will certainly be African even if the can have blue eyes and blond hair like yours – a woman has no identity – women assume identity from their fathers and husbands”

    There are matriarchal societies today, as there were generations ago. Which actually makes more sense as you know who your mother is, you do not always know who your father is, even if your parents are married!!!

  18. Paul Barrett Paul Barrett 10 January 2011

    @Ntebaleng: You write – “when you want a certain breed you always look for a perfect male for that – there are things in the world that do not change – partenity is one – you are duped by equal right and thinks all runs in that line – Gail we are all animals and leanage is partenal not martenal”

    This is entirely false. A basic text on genetic inheritance will explain that any child inherits 50% of its genetic identity from each parent. An entirely equal contribution from father and mother.

    What you are talking about is a social construct; and there you are correct – there is no way that any social construct can change genetics.

  19. Molemo Molemo 10 January 2011

    You people (so-called white people), are a European RACE, with African nationality. All along you’ve happily called yourselves Europeans, what’s wrong now? My family’s living in Europe for 10-generations won’t make us European in terms of race. But it will make us European nationals. Dumbos.

  20. Themba Themba 11 January 2011

    @Gavin Foster
    Glad you agree

  21. Conrad Hoffman Conrad Hoffman 11 January 2011

    Again it is the majority of whites that feel hard done in by Senletse Blogs??

  22. Oldman Oldman 12 January 2011

    Sentletse Diakanyo’s (aka MoAfrica) articles are thought provoking and often a refreshing change to the almost total neo-liberal colonial package that is called ‘Thought Leader Blogs’.

  23. Richard Catto Richard Catto 11 February 2011

    A lot of people online don’t perceive sarcasm. I get a lot of my comments taken at face value, which was not my intention.

    I’m also a big fan of hyperbole, which is also not meant to be taken at face value.

    What I don’t tolerate these days is when commenters become personally abusive. On FaceBook, I don’t just unfriend, I also block, because an ex-friend can sometime morph into an enemy.

    I don’t believe in that “keep your enemies closer” bullshit. The farther the way, they are, the better.

  24. Thandile Thandile 11 February 2011

    @ Richard Catto
    Your point is?

  25. Richard Catto Richard Catto 12 February 2011

    @T: flying way above your pointy little head.

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