My thoughts on the Gareth Cliff image: the victory march

Gareth Cliff

When Alon Skuy shared this amazing picture with the world. It almost broke the internet. But that’s not my point.

But this is.

I honestly do not see the relationship between the metaphorical interpretation embedded in this image about the state of South Africa and its literal depiction of triumph over/with and through the legal justice system of our land that day.

To date, all I have been able to extract from comments about it, are the maligning voices of our education on “race, economy, politics and privilege”. All harmonized in one echo of rage.

Hear me well – by no means am I seeking to undermine anyone’s opinion on what they see as infinite reality on the image or outside. But I would however propose a paradigm shift on how we see things by challenging the metaphorical logic used by the general on-line community to interpret this particular image.

Seeing that this image has such a strong voice according to many. I am dying to know what the mannequins on the roof are saying to us about South Africa (metaphorically). What about the man walking behind Adv. Dali Mpofu? (He surely can’t be silent).

I submit to you that most people did not see this image for what it really is, but rather saw it as they are in their hearts and minds. Angry.

Angry over race, imbalanced social economic scales and privilege – these are all valid.

But the truth is South Africa has been an angry nation since way back when. And anger, wrath and rage and all other mind blinding emotions are what different races in South Africa seem to have in common lately – just blind volcanic fury.

Our 1994 victory and declaration of freedom only prevented physical fires from destroying the landscape of our country but it never doused the one burning in the hearts.

Back to the image.

Gareth Cliff

For a moment I paused and wondered what if it was Somizi or Unathi from the Idols judges who said what Gareth said (or Randal for that matter). What if it was one of them captured in this image, walking with a “white” Advocate immersed in victorious humor? And what if it was a white men knee deep in the trash bin (we have everyone in Mzansi)?

I am confident that this would have shifted the paradigm on our brutal Twitter streets.

Are we that angry and hurt that we have become blatantly prejudice to progress? By that I mean, this case was one of the few publicized victories for “black” lawyers alike.

Have we given up on justice, that we have become numb to the possibility of change?

By no means am I desensitizing what Gareth Cliff said or trying to shift the focus.

But could it be that incidents like his and many others before him and some to come, are telling us the following:

  • South Africans are angry at their environment, at one another and at themselves
  • The “1994 we are one” euphoria is wearing off and we are desperately searching for a new high (Happiness is our drug of choice)
  • It is insensitive to dictate how long it should take for people to heal from over 300 years of imposed generational damage (20 years of democracy is not enough)
  • We lack platforms to facilitate proper constructive engagement on how to heal from the past
  • South Africa as a nation needs counselling – we have dealt ourselves a bad hand for tool long

What are your thoughts?




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