the joburg I’m hearing






Home-help, home-help, maid.

Crime. Them. Crime. Them.

Crime, crime, crime, crime,

Crime, crime, them.

Xenophobia, xenophobia, xenophobia.


Jungle. Jungle. Xenophobia. Jungle.

Juh. Juh. Juh. Juh. Juh. Juh. Jungle.

Them. Them. Them. Jungle. Them. Jungle. Jungle. Them.

… and you think I’m mad.

Other things I have heard: lots and lots of Somalis have been burned to death and killed in other violent ways for several years here in this country called South Africa. This did not reach the headlines perhaps because of scale, and perhaps because it wasn’t happening close to wealthy areas. Next, it might be… US! Which is really the strangest thing: that it isn’t yet that overloaded, overbearing ‘us’.

And the trouble with the mess here, and the mess in Zimbabwe, is that it seems to have swallowed up history. The importance of understanding the present through the past has been dispensed with by editors and foreign correspondents (and even academics) who write about these places from their Joburg or Nairobi offices. Our memories are so short. Of course Mugabe is bad news. He must go. This is nothing profound. But the mainstream analysis and understanding of Zimbabwe, and increasingly South Africa, is uselessly superficial. People plea for tolerance (see Zizek on tolerance and why tolerance should be avoided) and shout ‘Africa’s Hitler’ in the great scramble to ignore our shadows. It’s that damned light here, I tell you. It’s the light. And I wonder who has made it: is the light of the region, of this part of the earth – or is the light of the people, a reflection of the history and the people who tread here. Is it reflecting themselves back at them (us?)? Is that why they are so blind?