Hi, once again
Let me not beat about the bush. I am a firm believer in the freedom of speech, and was very much annoyed by what happened last week, a day before freedom day celebrations. Apparently the SABC (public broadcaster) had committed censorship again. This time around it was supposedly to prevent hate- speech propagated by the Sowetan newspaper advertisement. The advertisement borrowed on the famous Martin Luther King Jnr. “I have a Dream Speech”. For an example it says “…I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up against each other and erupt into an oasis of crime, grime and home to racial attacks and injustice….I have a dream that my children will be repeatedly raped, sodomised and left to fend for themselves long after HIV and AIDS have taken me away”, and “…I have a dream that one day farmers shall be brutally murdered and workers thrown into lions’ den”.
If you ask me, this is a relevant advert – conceived at the right time. It flies in the face of political correctness that it is South Africa today. The South African physique is so sensitive to freedom of expression that it end up be coming difficult to say anything at all. I know the rationale behind the legislation that prevents hate speech and racism and respects the constitutionality thereof. But, by the same token, we can’t be a nation that finds it difficult to laugh at itself, to reflect upon itself and so on. I fully agree with the various commentators across the various spheres of the media industry that the advertisement was just a “decries of South Africa’s ills.” It is South Africa’s problems turned into sharper focus. It problematises the values of freedom that all of us so dear hold. Thirteen years of freedom had come up with a whole lot of problems to the South Africans- child rapes, murders, deepened racism and the like. The SABC, as a public broadcaster should be the vehicle for such public statements like the Sowetan’s advertisement. It should not bury its head in the sand with hollow excuses, but it should encourage the public to face the stark reality that is facing South Africa.
It is even telling in the advertisement itself that it encourages the South Africans to take their freedom seriously and challenge things like crime and rape. Its punch line reads thus: “What have you done with your freedom South Africa?” and “Don’t let it go to waste, cherish it”.
Regards, themba (The Armchair Critic).