I am unAfrican

December 27, 2012 § 30 Comments

I am unAfrican

I wrote this piece after president Zuma suggested that having dogs was unAfrican.

I owe my being to the whimpers, the tail waggings, the growls, the ball chasing, the tail chasing of the Poodles, the Chihuahuas, the Sausage dogs, the Bearded Collies, the Dalmatians, the Pugs and the ever differing barks of the unAfrican canines. My body has frozen at the sound of a sudden, unexpected bark disturbing a silent moment. My heart has thawed in the warmth of their tails wagging and melted at the sight of their excitement when they see me arrive at home after a long day. When I say I am filled with joy by these animals, I know no one dare challenge me when I say – I am unAfrican!

I am formed of the migrants who left Europe to find a new home on our native land to bring these unAfrican animals. In my home the names of dogs named Bhovas, Boxers, Lions, Tigers, Sporties, Rambos, Bobbies and countless other typical township dog names have been uttered by the names of my ancestors. My home has been protected and saved by these Bhovas, the Sporties and have also been companion, servant and best friend.

I know what it signifies when the blanket use of culture and what it means to a whole people to determine African and what is not. This has caused me to ask myself the question, ‘but did not humanity originate from Africa? Is everything that the world does then not African? And whose job is it to determine what is African and isn’t; and how do we decide what is African and what isn’t.

I am born of a people with weaves, bald heads, curly hair, dreadlocks, straightened hair, fake nails and those who carry their Chihuahuas in small bags. I am born of a people who never let their dogs in the house because they are almost more comfortable with it staying outside – guarding the home. I am born of a people who put on Revlon, Mac and Maybe she is born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.

I am born of a people who owned canines, wigs and partings on the side of their heads. Whatever their own actions, they remain still, part of me. I am unAfrican. Today it feels good to be unAfrican.

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A picture by the great and now late Alf Kumalo. Mandela being playful with a dog.

This column was inspired by Thabo Mbeki’s very inspiring, “I am an African” speech before parliament when he was Nelson Mandela’s deputy. here is the link to the speech http://khayadlanga.com/2009/06/18/i-am-an-african-thabo-mbekis-speech-possibly-the-greatest-african-speech-ever/

§ 30 Responses to I am unAfrican

  • BaleyIsRegal says:

    BRILLIANT does not even begin to describe this piece; as no adjectives have yet been dicovered to do so!

  • 3xlucky says:

    That visual was begging for this insane narrative – too perfect;-)

  • I think he’s talking about priorities, rather that one thing or the other. People who would rather look after their beloved Labrador, rather than see that their Great Aunt is taken care of. He has a point, of course. You just need to see it.

    • pointblankzaPointBlankZA says:

      I don’t think you seeing it to be honest.. I don’t think that is true in the least, it is a horrible sweeping generalization fed with a handsome dose of sheer ignorance. Animals are unable to take themselves to a doctor unlike humans. Humans can let you know they not feeling well whereas a dog cannot, you only know they unwell when they are really unwell – heard of the phrases “as sick as a dog”?

      As for having your dog in the front seat, that ONLY EVER occurs on or in farming communities, even then you do not know the reason for it. It could be that the farmer is driving along and finds one of his labourers walking back from town or whatever so he gives him a lift, it also just so happens that his dog is with him for the ride, as best friends often do, and he cannot put him in the back because he has a tendency to jump out of the moving bakkie. So to avoid injury he keeps him ion the front with him..

      The are explanations to everything. But as usual South Africans take their initial visual experience and slap the label “FACT” to it and that becomes their reality.

      finally, my dogs are far better then some humans and as a result I will love them more then those humans.

    • pointblankza says:

      Er no, I don’t think he was meaning that in the least. He was saying anyone who loves their pets more then a human has no humanity. Or did you miss that part?

  • Mgcini says:

    Today I was almost beaten up because I dared defend the miniskirt: It is unAfrican, they said. I asked if any amongst us can stand and say they are living an ‘African’ lifestyle…

  • Mulphinn says:

    Truth be told, I am unAfrican. And when I fire the crackers during my heydays without considering how many whimps and under the tables Potilo dives, we lit them crackers. Good one Khaya.

  • Steph Lawrence says:

    Well said and beautiful written.

  • hastur69 says:

    Well said. This may sound condescending but it’s not meant to be. “It’s really nice to see somebody that can think for themselves and voice their own opinions, without sprouting party political lines.”

  • Mandy says:

    Thank you! Finally some sense!

  • John Douglas says:

    that is beautifully described as we our so called unAfrican! Mini skirts in Swaziland, SA blacks must not love their dogs? Where are we going in Africa? This is getting funnier by the hour! its about time we all realised we are different people & still very much evolving in the 21st century!

  • mphorefilwe says:

    Official one of newest favourable blogs. Lol. What a twisted read. Loved it

  • Alicia Koch says:

    This makes me proud to say I am unAfrican too. Despite me being a white African I have never thought words have rung more true. How can one man decide what is African and what is not. As Africans we are made up of so many different wonderful things. Why is having the love for an animal not one of them? It makes me so sad to see a leader fill so many people’s heads with such negative thinking.. Hopefully his words will not be headed and Africans will be able to make their own decisions on what makes them African and what does not.

  • Melanie Feris says:

    Indeed.

  • Fred Khumalo says:

    eish, Dlanga, uyichanile mchanam

  • neil & beastie says:

    I’ve got an AfriCanis called Beastie.. She tells me that she was here first..

  • BRM says:

    I am African. I own over 200 horses… They all come with a German car. Today it feels good to be an African.

  • Shirene says:

    Why should carimg for a pet or any animal and being African be mutually exclusive ? Or even caring for a pet and loving humanity ? There is no better way to instil compassion, reliability and a sense of responsibility in a child than to give them a puppy (or kitten) only on the condition that they feed it regularly on time and walk it at least once a day. They will only then begin to suspect the responsibility entailed by parenthood; not only the joys but also the daily grind.

  • v4vikey says:

    beautiful written.

  • Judy says:

    Nicely put. Culture is an evolving living heritage. It’s the stagnant attitudes of those bound to the past, the dictatorship of the dead that stifles openness to understanding and enlightenment.

  • Derek says:

    Beautifully writtren, – thank you, Khaya!

  • Bridget Reynolds says:

    Enjoyed your article Khaya. As a “whitey” I found JZ’s comments on this quite ridiculous and unnecessary. I live in Jhb and see people of all colours everyday walking and running with their dogs – just all seems so normal. Isn’t that what its supposed to be like? Most ordinary people just getting on with normal life – why can’t our leaders? Anyway gotta go have 2 canines and a cat waiting for me :-)

  • Bridget Reynolds says:

    PS Isn’t a R20 million mansion unAfrican …?

  • mikempofu says:

    Reblogged this on Thought.Insight.Feeling and commented:
    Based on recent comments by Jacob Zuma that looking after dogs was unAfrican

  • Thanks for saying it for us all…

  • Alistair Knox says:

    Brilliant piece!
    Traditionally Bantu-speakers have had a very soft spot for cattle-especially certain ones as they had important ritual & social functions in traditional society,& were kept past adulthood even if they were slaughter beasts as bridewealth or until ritual demanded a sacrifice,which was wasteful in terms of getting the most out of an investment as they carry on grazing once grown up! Money/gold doesn’t eat all the time. How much do they differ from dogs? They are not people either. Dogs certainly don’t crap all over their livlng quarters,cows do it wherever they please. Not that I discriminate against cattle…

  • rue says:

    i remember hearing from my father that Harare was once a playground for foreigners, that today, we cant identify a single culture in the city because it is hybrid. South African came to the city, escaping the dangers of apartheid. this is African. i usually love your work and opinions, feel they are fair, honest, from any perspective. your recent tweets about zimbabwe disappointed me though. in a position where you have the power to influence the youth (maybe you do not realise this) certain statements allow a way of thought that we must not stand for. xenophobia is a sensitive issue, the unkindness Africans show to other africans frightens me and must be addressed. But never encouraged or made fun of.

  • rue says:

    i remember hearing from my father that Harare was once a playground for foreigners, that today, we cant identify a single culture in the city because it is hybrid. South African came to the city, escaping the dangers of apartheid. this is African. i usually love your work and opinions, feel they are fair, honest, from any perspective. your recent tweets about zimbabwe disappointed me though. in a position where you have the power to influence the youth (maybe you do not realise this) certain statements allow a way of thought that we must not stand for. xenophobia is a sensitive issue, the unkindness Africans show to other africans frightens me and must be addressed. But never encouraged or ridiculed

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