Demystifying South Africa's President Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki

What will happen if President Thabo Mbeki released a hip-hop album? In some quarters this suggestion alone will be considered a million US Dollar question. Or most dangerously, a course for treason. It's not. I know exactly what the repercussions will be if His Excellency took time off his heavy schedule of lobbying for his seat in Limpopo and leading us and the continent, hit the studio and bruised his tonsils over a funky beat.

It's not a R388, 88-cent question, but the answers still don't come starchy-crisp or minted. The way to capture its source is to take few steps back and retrace the routes of Mbeki's mystic. During former United States of America President Bill Clinton's tenure in the White House the US's sleepy Southern city of New Orleans gained much prominence. Word on the streets was that New Orleans is where American jazz was born before being adopted by Los Angeles and abducted by New York then rescued by Afrika. I started loving jazz around that time and even thought that the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival was the best music event since Woodstock '69. That Clinton is an avid saxophonist suddenly made its sound hip. Not only did it degrade Clinton to a stature of a human being who engages in a little fellatio, lies through his teeth, plays jazz and sheds a tear, it made Clinton be like you and me. The Arkansas boy who grew up in a town famous for gangsters was reborn. All that dark aura of presidents in dark flannel suits and blue shirts who always tow an entourage of clean shaven bodyguards with cream white earpieces lodged in their equally dark suits was gone. Clinton was so much a man unlike the caricatures we endured in films like All The President's Men, Absolute Power and Armageddon. He was a president according to John Travolta, not Gene Hackman and Kirk Douglas.

What this suggests is that Mbeki also needs an image revamp. For most of us the last time Mbeki's mystic was partially unbundled was when he was "the mailman" just before the general elections three years ago. But still, one couldn't shake the feeling that even though he seemed to be walking alone there was some sniper hiding in the greenery of Tshwane with executive instructions to carry his orders to the letter. That's the Mbeki who's a quagmire, who even a horn-blower like Ronald Suresh Roberts fails to dissect into swallowable crumbs.

I think the starting point should be a national tongue in cheek debate about some of the old rumours. Let's feel free to speculate what we think he stuffs in his pipe. Television can invite health experts, clinical psychologists, tobacco executives, Rastafarians, the clergy (most notably fundamentalists), scholars and commentators like Dennis Beckett and Professor Cedric Gutto. SABC3's 3Talk and DStv's Reality TV should prioritize the subject.

Is His Excellency easy-skunking the holy herb or Boxer? One naughty US President confessed that he once smoked, but didn't inhale- funny heh Clinton. Let's quiz our own and learn more about him in the interrogation. No comments should be invited from his mouthpiece, Mukoni Ratshitanga, the African National Congress' Smuts Ngonyama, Government Communication and Information System's Themba Maseko or the South African Democratic Teachers' Union's Willie Madisha. We don't want to hear from any of the president's men. We want insinuations from comedians Mark Lottering, Kagiso Lediga, David Kau, Pieter Dirk Uys and Independent Democrats' Madame Patricia de Lille. (Okay, at your insistence we will include Madam Helen Zille) These are some of the guys who can blow their mouths like a horn and run their tongues like a VISA.

The next entry point should be his reported love for the Internet. There was once a time when some pundits referred to Mbeki as the Internet President. What will be fascinating to find out is what he does whenever those annoying spam pop-ups make their presence visible on his monitor while he's busy browsing the US State Department website to sniff the latest vomit from Condi? Does he find any humour in the skimpily dressed bimbos who violate his privacy or immediately puts out a contract for a high-tech spam blocking system, a firewall of sorts. Maybe he gets on the line and talks to Mark Shuttleworth in the event of strained relationships between himself and his former spy boss Billy Masetla. I find those pop-ups irritating, especially while I'm browsing ANC Today or the Orlando Pirates website and I figure out the whiskered one doesn't smile either.

What does a private jet trip with the President entail? It will be interesting to see a television documentary shot entirely inside Ingwazi (the Eagle Fish) over a term of six months and once again get to see what crisps does he bite and which internet service does he like the most while travelling 35000 feet at 800 kilometres per hour. What television programmes does he watch apart from SABC International, BBC, Sky News and CNN? What is his favourite Internet search engine? I'll put my head on the line and claim that he looks like a Google-man, I've seen his types at the Cafe. What does he think about Facebook, MySpace, blogging, does he have a blog which is only accessible to friends named The Third Term Blog?

A lot of dark stuff about the dark stature of President Mbeki is known. Funny that some sadists find trading gossip about his only missing son to be juicy, which we don't. They whisper that he hardly talks about him. He doesn't share his grief with you because it hurts, stupid. We know he's got reservations with the orthodox approach to interrogating HIV and AIDS. I don't find his views on AIDS interesting since there are millions of people who share them, including the Minister Of Health Mantobazana Msimang. Leave Mbeki's thoughts on HIV alone and talk about his poetry. Do you sense a ghostwriter behind those lines he likes to quote?

I know when Mbeki recites one of 'his poems' I'm inspired to write a poem as well. He' s a bard of serious note who the poetry fraternity would appreciate if he graced their Sunday afternoon readings in small venues once in a while. That would encourage every vagrant in Newtown and Nelspruit to find the poet in them as well. Imagine the financial spin-offs from book publishing, poetry festivals and performance fees. Poetry can even replace kwaito and SABC's Dali Mpofu can stop the payola scheme run by some members of his corporation - to accommodate the art of presidents.

When Mbeki tries for a drive at a golf course it makes me hate golf and informs me that I'll never get it right. I feel embarrassed as if I was the amateur with graying hair. He makes golf look like a visit to a dentist. I can't play a game with Mpofu under the guidance of Ernie "The Big Easy" Els at an 18 hole Gary Player designed course, which are some of the pecks Mbeki is afforded. He still uproots quite a lot of grass though.
What with all my primitive thoughts of a handicap being a physical disability and putting for birdie being a term borrowed from skin flicks?

Mbeki undoubtedly inspired my poetry book Journey With Me and Taste of my Vomit which are out pre-launch. Right now I'm hoping he can make time between his campaigning to grace the launch of Taste of My Vomit and "buy" autographed copies and quote my poetry during his opening of parliament next year. I want his inspiration on a musical recording titled The Ghetto Says as well. We've heard and seen ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma and Inkatha Freedom Party boss Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi tear their tonsils and sing. Yes, we have seen Mbeki boogy with recording artist Solly Moholo which came out comical. I've seen him be all too intelligent to my detriment at Dakar, Senegal and the United Nations General Assembly recently.

I wonder what will happen if I had him on a session with Bra Hugh Masekela, Colesky, Thandiswa Mazwai, Gabie le Roux and DJ Cleo. What will Zizi be doing? You guessed right, he'll be lacing rythmes as a rapper ala Hip Hop Pantsula. And his album, The Renaissance Man Volume I will help cut the crime rate by half as every street corner dweller will find reason to outsmart the president in the studio. Since the album won't be sold but free downloads from the government website and ANC Today will be encouraged, think of all the financial spin-offs from the sale of bootleg CDs and MP3s.

PS. And the title track can even be the theme song welcoming visitors to the Interpol website and on the phone while you wait to be transferred, ask Commissioner Jackie about the possibilities.

1 comment:

  1. Tshisa Kasi Kulture! I visualise the collusion of brains when I hit the studio with the main man. Maybe we can debate about the origins of AIDS on an immortal techinique tip.


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