Media reports claimed this week that Makashule Gana of Democratic Alliance Student Organisation said the party’s posters (see below) with the message “In OUR future you wouldn’t look twice (to what?)” were meant to create a debate about race – and they did.
Gana reportedly said this, arguing that o say the posters were extreme – as had been alleged by Theunis Botha of the Christian Democratic Party who said they were “shocking” and promoting “sexual immorality” – was unfair. Botha told Times Live on Tuesday that there were “many ways in which the DA could have projected its image as a non-racial party, rather than using a poster clearly promoting sexual immorality”.
Gana, however, differed, saying “to say the poster is sexual is taking it to extreme”. He said the posters were saying a lot, instead. “They [the two people on the picture] are embracing each other, and it shows in this country that we can find an opportunity to embrace each other”. He did not know why “there (were) negative comments about it [the poster]” as “it is a work of art that depicts a future that we [DA] would want to build”.
The Ads would, unfortunately, make you want to love South Africans even more, if you never did. Even social networks were buzzing, with many accusing the party of claiming to be non-racist when it in fact is. Although the views were diverse across racial line – but one could get a sense that many black people were angrier than whites as, to them, DA was far from being the non-racial opposition party it claimed to be.
DA may not have achieved one of the objectives it intended to (of portraying itself as a non-racial party) but it managed to get South Africans debating the thorny and controversial race issue, and at the same time exposing our racist tendencies. To Sarah Britten the posters meant we would find them unusual or offensive, thereby implying we are “excessively aware of race” which would then require our re-education “in the principles of non-racialism by the DA” (my emphasis).
I agree with Britten when she, like Gana did through the posters, says that the time has come for South Africans to open up the race debate because we have been “sitting on it for years and acted as if it does not matter”. Britten admitted that we need to ask ourselves questions, almost similar to those former Mail & Guardian journo Mmanaledi Mataboge, currently working to the controversial City Press had addressed in an open letter to her white colleagues in 2009.
These questions would include whether we – as black and white South Africans – have ever discussed our race relations or we just “jumped to reconciliation” and that for as long as we do that (jumping around our race relations and not discuss it), “come 2020 we will still be jumping up and down because we will not have a stand on race relations”.