The errant musings of a privileged jackass living in a post-colonial democracy being looted by the liberators. A Luta Continua. If you like what you read, let me know. If you don’t jog on, and just call it fake news.
Driving around with the confederate flag in the back window of your pick-up truck, content that your fourth MAGA collector’s edition cap is in the mail, you look out at your world and all seems well.
Even if it wasn’t, that wouldn’t matter, because Betsy, your pump action, is mounted very clearly on your gun rack across the flag, so any degenerate drug selling gang is coming nowhere near the paint job on your Ford.
As you head toward town, through the soaking Richmond rain, you notice a commotion, a lot of people are cheering. You pull over and walk down the gentrified avenue because cops have blocked the road. There’s a rush of blood to the head as you turn the corner and the reason for the ruckus is revealed.
Hanging in the air and spinning like an unwound yo-yo is your hero, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, who is being taken off his pedestal.
When the statue of our old racist colonial pal Cecil Rhodes was decapitated recently (Guys, where’s the video, come on!?), it wasn’t surprising that it was first reported locally on Cape Talk and the internationally (CNN and BBC) before the rest of the country picked up on the story.
That’s because South Africa has already waged the battle of the racist statues and we’re still stuck in inevitable limbo about it, mostly because other issues like electricity, food, water, working toilets, better education, employment and avoiding general misery and dying (oh and a pandemic) are higher on the agenda.
But we all remember the indignation of the whole debacle, until something else important came up to tweet about. Most of us were happy to see him first being removed from UCT, so it made sense for his head to be cut off while he was pondering himself up at his memorial.
Now suddenly, in lots of places it the world, statues of past slave masters, racists, colonialists and others are finding themselves getting new paint jobs or face down in the mud at the bottom of some stinking river.
“My golly gosh if it’s not those bloody radicals trying to fuck up the status quo again.” At least that’s what you would hypothetically be saying if were drinking tea and cucumber sandwiches and you voted for Brexit and you were between 26 and 56 and living in Bristol when Edward Colston was thrown into the drink.
Golly gosh how did all of this happen?
It’s quite simple. What was started centuries ago has now come full circle.
Yes, the UK used to be a place where you could walk around with your pinstripe suit and your bowler hat and have your shoes cleaned by the poor immigrants who were conquered by empire and subsequently given the honor of being allowed to come and settle in the motherland.
However now you are surrounded by your conquests, who have grown wise and have the same rights as you do.
And what’s interesting about them is that these folks are not interested in being, to quote our other supremacist friend Hendrick Verwoerd, “hewers of wood and drawers of water”.
Just like our imaginary friend in the beginning of this yarn, there are many people all over the world who are currently waking up to a different reality since George Floyd and #BLM. But what is it about identity that gets under the skin in such an unholy way that we unconsciously rebuke the idea of losing a couple of statues that may have passed their sell-by date?
As Covid-19 drives us into our homes and puts us under pressure to be introspective, we have an opportunity to challenge the status, which means, quite literally, it’s game on.
Episode 2 launches 8th September
BY ALEX ROWLES