With all the hype around the Zuma Fresco, I feel obliged to ask, if South Africa has a culturally impartial moral criterion? In a society that tolerates all sorts of moral corruption (drugs, crime, child abuse, economic and ecological exploitation), why the intense focus on the corporeal conduct of the President? The history of S-Africa has certainly not been a narrative of social accountability or moral justice.  In my opinion, it was simply a question of time before our political leadership mirrored our historical moral ineptness.

For example, according to Jackie Loos a local historian, slaves often had  enough money to buy their freedom but a deed of manumission which “involved an extra 50 Rix- dollars to the Dutch Reformed Church” was payable. This indicates that the DRC church stifled emancipation and benefited financially from slavery. Originally the Cape was planned to provide passing ships with fresh provisions etc. This included prostitutes as some slave owners forced their slaves into periodic prostitution for income and as entertainment for friends. The emancipation of Christian slaves triggered civil resistance amongst owners. They summarily proceeded to encouraged Christian slaves to convert to Islam as Muslim slaves did not initially benefit from emancipation. This greed spurred rapid growth in the local Muslim community and across southern Africa.

A few years ago, a Muslim academic was chastised by the religious fraternity for declaring on public platforms that Muslims with European features and skin tone were probably the offspring of slaves raped by their masters etc. Similarly, in the 1980’s during a parliamentary address on television, I heard President PW Botha encourage whites, particularly Afrikaners to embrace their historical responsibilities towards Coloureds whom he described as the “sins of our forefathers”. In my understanding, this admission was akin to the outcome which I witnessed when i visited Albania during the recent Balkan War. Serbian soldiers under military orders deliberately raped and impregnated thousands of Muslim women. The long term strategy was to destroy the genetic and social structure of a society with mass rape.  

In my many historic conversations with the late Provincial Minister Glen Adams [former DP] I remember his words “Coloured history is defined by the ability of a family to connect itself to a distant white ancestor, there remains a deep humiliation about who we are as people”.

Additionally, the sustained global media refutation of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the historical guardians of monotheistic aligned morality, has also contributed to the breakdown of what is defined as moral. Internationally our primary media connection with Jews is the occupation of Palestinian land and our association with the Church is child abuse. Muslims are portrayed as intolerant and prone to violence.  In a post-modern society, the influence of mass media inspires experimentation with intoxicants and sexual ambivalence. We are encouraged to adulate and simulate the self-indulgent lifestyles of Rihanna and Britney Spears. Consequently, I think, what we may fear as a society is the realty that those who represent our hopes and aspirations, may in fact be, a true reflection of our moral history and the ambivalence that we mirror as a nation.