Tuesday, 23 November 2010

We hit the jackpot with Durban, what more is there to celebrate?

by Pravasin Pillay

It's been 150 years since indentured Indian labourers arrived on the shores of South Africa.

In honour of this occasion, celebrations are being planned, commemorative books are being published, ads pontificating poetically about the essence of South African-Indianness are being placed in newspapers and on radio and, one presumes, huge vats of breyani are being prepared.

I fail to see what all the fuss is about. Black people, if my timeline is correct, have been in the country for at least as long and you don't see them ululating about it. White people have also been here for ages, but do you ever hear them going on about their history in South Africa? They just want to be left alone in their modest gated communities. Now that's class. We would do well to take a leaf out of their book. But I guess the party's already been planned.

The marquee has been hired, the sitars are tuned, the bribes are paid, the samoosas are triangulated and the stereotypes are dusted off, so it's too late to cancel now. Still -- and I don't want to be a stick in the mud -- may I offer just one piece of advice to my peeps?

I know you're excited about the occasion because, let's be honest, we could have ended up indentured in some godforsaken place like Canada, but we hit the jackpot and got Durban, which has, like, the Moses Mabhida Stadium and uShaka Marine World.

'Turn down the cliché'
It's perfectly acceptable to be grateful for this good fortune but, when presented with a platform to express this gratitude, let's try to turn down the cliché dial. For instance, don't say things like, "My heart beats to an African drum and my soul to the rhythm of the tabla" on SAfm. Because that's kind of lame, see.

I don't want to get into a metaphysical discussion, but since when did souls acquire the ability to keep time with an Eastern percussion instrument? It's a metaphor, you say? For me, it's more like Oprah swallowed Deepak Chopra and Hallmark's multicultural division and became a slam poet.

Look, if you have to say something and if you want to be real about it, try emulating the sheer coolness of my favourite South African Indian, Manu Padayachee. A journalist and television presenter, he made history when he became the first black presenter on M-Net. On his presenting debut, he greeted the pay channel viewers with this piece of drollery: "Please do not adjust the colour on your sets, I look this way." That's how you do it.

One thing I find fascinating about the 150th anniversary is the conflict between various Indian lobby groups and organisations over who should spearhead the celebrations. This is what I love about living in a democracy: the freedom. All these unelected groups are free to claim to represent me, my story and my history without any sort of censure. And they're so considerate as well. Not once did I receive a pesky phone call asking me if I wanted to be represented by them.

I also love that they all seem to be run by rich and middle-class Indians, because, to me, nothing says indenture like rich and middle-class Indians. I would be seriously pissed off if some working-class charous from Chatsworth or Phoenix were put in charge of the celebrations. What would they know about it?

The only aspect of the anniversary that grates me is the news that a publication called The Vintage Book of South African Indian Writing will be launched to coincide with it. Looking through the contents it appears that every Indian writer in the country will be represented -- except me. I gotta say, that cuts deep. Is it a caste thing? I thought we'd moved beyond that.

Anyway, magnanimous person that I am, had I been asked this would have been my contribution of Indian punk rock anthems:
  • Gods Save The Queen;
  • Live Fast Reincarnate Young;
  • (White Naan) In Hammersmith Palais;
  • Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Weren't Arranged to Fall In Love With); and
  • Srimadaddankithirumalavaraahavenkatathaa is a Punk Rocker.
What's useful about my contribution is that it can double as a playlist during the anniversary party. It's a two-for-one. See, I'm Indian, I make a good deal for you.
jacked from Mail & Guardian Online
pics jacked from starafrica.com and david krut publishing


Anonymous said...

I love it! It's important to remember Indian presence in Mzansi but it's good to laugh at the silliness of the pantomime when Indian communities in Chatsworth and parts of the Flats could do well with the cash the that goes into celebrations.
Speaking of Durbz, when are you coming? Mail me.


Shane Barrera said...

According to reports, the "human-oriented and excellent social returns" together the core values and cultural systems under the influence, Forklift Group has accumulated a full range, highly skilled, loyal workforce. That you're expected to conduct thorough and proficient in loading and unloading of supplies in certain locations manually. 447.124 5 This includes paying close attention to the load limit of each particular forklift.