The great dog debate – Zuma was promoting African culture
A lot has been written by Independent Newspapers journalists of a few remarks that President Jacob Zuma made in Impendle, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, about promoting ubuntu and maintaining respect and high regard for other human beings and African culture.
In his wide-ranging address, the president 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.
President Zuma emphasised that 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 message was the need to decolonise the African mind post-liberation to enable the previously oppressed majority to appreciate who they are and uphold their culture.
They (Africans) should not feel pressured to be assimilated into the minority cultures, Zuma said.
He underlined the need to begin to promote the majority culture – the African culture – within the diversity of South African society. This 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.
The president’s address was meant to promote a debate about deconstruction and decolonisation of the mind as part of promoting reconciliation, nation building, unity and social cohesion.