A lot has been made by Independent Newspapers journalists of a few remarks that President Zuma made in Impendle, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, about promoting ubuntu and maintaining respect and high regard for other human beings and African culture.
The President in his wide-ranging address referred to what people should guard against, such as loving animals more than other human beings. He made the well-known example of people who sit with their dogs in front in a van or truck with a worker at the back in pouring rain or extremely cold weather. Others do not hesitate to rush their dogs to veterinary surgeons for medical care when they are sick while they ignore workers or relatives who are also sick in the same households.
This is not to say that animals should not be loved or cared for. The message merely emphasised the need not to elevate our love for our animals above our love for other human beings. He emphasised the need is to preserve that which is good in certain cultures and avoid adopting practices that are detrimental to building a caring African society.
More than that, the essential message from the President was the need to decolonise the African mind post-liberation to enable the previously oppressed African majority to appreciate and love who they are and uphold their own culture. They should not feel pressured to be assimilated into the minority cultures, he said. He underlined the need to begin promoting the culture of the majority, African culture, within the diversity of South African society, as part of building a new society following the attainment of political freedom.
The President's view is that as we move towards the second phase of socio-economic freedom, cultural freedom should not be left behind.
It is unfortunate that the journalists concerned chose to report the comments in a manner that seeks to problematise them instead of promoting a debate about deconstruction and decolonisation of the mind as part of promoting reconciliation, nation building, unity and social cohesion.
Issued by: The Presidency