I couldn’t help but see you, on my drive home. There, the size of a building, is the message in yellow and black and green. And there you are, your face many times its actual size, staring out. I could see you, but I presume that you couldn’t see me.
Unlike many political adverts, such as Mashaba for Mayor and the other candidates for the upcoming election, you do not meet our gaze. You, Msholozi, stare out into the sky over Joburg, looking at some far-distant speck in the south-east. Perhaps you’re on the look-out for Gupta airways, hoping for some deus ex machina escape from your present woes. On your face is the same look I’d imagine seeing on Euripides’ Medea, after her infanticide, her dead children in her lap, waiting for a chariot drawn by dragons to whisk her off to freedom from prosecution.
You avoid our gaze, Msholozi. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised – you’re just being true to your name.
And then, of course, there are the words. In black font, bold and capitalised, is the slogan. The isiqubulo. The same tired thing we’ve been seeing since 2009 – by holding and pulling together we drive our country forward as though it were a recalcitrant ox.
Except that you’d only know what it says if you speak an Nguni language. The choice, it seems, once again went with isiZulu. Not that I’m complaining or anything, since it provides grist for my mill. But a small look at the demographic data for Gauteng would show you that you’re avoiding the gaze of all people who do not speak isiZulu. And that’s quite a big bunch.
Just down the road, once I’m wending my way through Berea, I notice that your competitors have opted for a more nuanced approach – some seSwati, a bit of English and some Afrikaans. I even spotted a few seSotho posters.
But not from you, Msholozi. You and your party are quite happy to spend a considerable amount of capital on a poster the size of a building, in only one of the 11. I would admire your chutzpah, if I didn’t already know that it’s not chutzpah – it’s hubris.