South Africa’s mischievous boys and virtuous girls

Date: January 1, 1970
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South Africa is a post-conflict society as well as a democracy in so far as suffrage but whether we are addressing the ills of the past is yet to be determined. This is clearly illustrated by the Zuma trial which has highlighted several issues that made me ponder as to how long will it take for South Africans to achieve liberation status?

Jacob Zuma is one of the revered veterans and freedom fighters of the anti-apartheid struggle. He has popular support for being a political maverick, a people’s person and a good dancer. Without a higher education he is regarded as highly strategic and with street savvy. He is the ultimate Macho Man, having fathered many a child. He is the fun-loving mischievous boy. All these attributes easily identifies him with the lay person. But what is a mischievous boy? Is it a cocky man with serious attitude, sex appeal and a high libido? It appears that in South Africa today a mischievous boy is someone who is harmless. Could JZ be more than mischievous?  My answer to these questions is framed in the analysis of the mischievous boy versus the virtuous girl syndrome.
The mischievous boy in this context made a commitment to a cause and was a freedom fighter. In the construction of the image of the freedom fighter, the freedom fighter sacrifices self for the greater good and for the eventuality of liberation; embracing discipline and passion. This image conjures up the potency of a warring body; a body that serves its people risking death. Loyalty is owed to the freedom fighter for the ultimate sacrifice made and in the successful delivery of liberty. The materiality of the freedom fighter’s body as written in the annals of history, afford the surviving freedom fighter respect and dignity. The freedom fighter becomes the icon of our liberation possessing elegance, sophistication and forgiveness. But there is an edge to the freedom fighter that allows the freedom fighter the privilege of vacillating between passion and reckless abandon, which falters on being seen as mischievous. But even with these attractive and outrageous constructions of the freedom fighter, a democracy is obliged to observe the laws of the nation as the ultimate price of liberty and, as such the freedom fighter is obliged to observe the laws of the freed land.
Many South African women during the dark days of apartheid endured violations at the hands of the security police and by some of their comrades, highlighting the high price women paid in the struggle. It has been documented that some women were treated as sex slaves within the camps to service their comrades because it was considered their duty and their contribution to the struggle. This is not a new revelation; many a war of independence fought on African soil have followed a similar trajectory. The abuses that women faced as part of our history against apartheid, signifies that the struggle for the nation has been fought on the materiality of women’s bodies. 

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