The Spear


Written by: Jasper Bormans

The Spear”, by Brett Murray was, I suspect, just supposed to be a mockery of the current president of South Africa, a satirical painting. But it has raised far more issues than it bargained for, most of those issues revolving around the cultural aspects of South Africa.

Our society no doubt has a few notches it needs to work out. The “race groups” are technically still living in the Apartheid system. The birth of the new South Africa gave us rights, but the 50 years of racist grouping has left us with people who have grown up with certain ideals, strong cultural principles and prevalent family values.

This has caused communities to grow in the “Race areas”. The different community structures have weakened since the birth of the new South Africa, people accepting that the other community is different and generally trying to make things work, but “The Spear” has made one of the fundamental differences in our cultures clash and grind.

The “African” culture (in general) has great respect for authority. It doesn’t matter by which means the authority has been achieved. The “White” culture (again, in general) in South Africa has less respect for the authority, and it depends mostly on whether the power was gained by moral or immoral means.

I’m not so sure about other perspectives of this, but the entire controversy revolves around these two cultural aspects. I think by now you should see what I’m getting at. Race is still a problem, guaranteed, but the problem with “the Spear” is fundamentally more cultural than racial. The disrespect shown to authority is monumental, and the keepers of the “African” culture aren’t so happy with it.

Personally I think that the ANC’s plea that Zuma has the right to human dignity and privacy is (as my cousin would say) ridunculous. As soon as a person raises himself to a station of authority, he should expect to be ridiculed.

The problem with that is that it purely lies in certain boundaries; a President should be ridiculed at every turn, he should expect it, but the leader of a small group of people has the right to human dignity and privacy.

A figure of authority who is leading a large group such as a nation has given up his right to privacy. It all depends, but I think that this point is vital to the controversy surrounding “The Spear.”


  1. Well written Jasper. We have too many holy cows in our country – we as a nation place people and groups on raised platforms, elevating them above reproach.