Art criticism: ANC KZN style

Andrew Donaldson
10 November 2013

Andrew Donaldson on the fearsome offence caused by the pupils of Westville Boys High

NEWS of the fearful sort has reached us at the Mahogany Ridge. It seems that, once again, the ruling party has been terrified by works of art of a satirical nature.

Grateful thanks, then, to the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal for alerting us to the offensive pieces in question. Had not provincial spokesman Senzo Mkhize waved around his soiled fascist trousers so demonstrably we may never have known of the T-shirts on display at the Westville Boys High School matric art exhibition in Durban.

As a result of the subsequent "political row" - as some newspapers have called it - the school's headmaster, Trevor Hall, has issued a statement in an apparent bid to put the matter to rest. 

There was, alas, little chance of that happening in a hurry.

The school's visual art syllabus, Hall explained, included a section on social and political commentary. Over the years this had produced art "expressive of a wide range of opinions"; pupils were free to comment on society as they saw fit as was their constitutional right. 

"I note," he continued, "that the art work of some of our learners, in the form of printed T-shirts on display, has caused offence to a political party. The three artworks in question were created by free-thinking learners as part of their art portfolios for examination."

In addition to fanciful notions that young people enjoy constitutional rights and are free to think for themselves, Hall's reference to the ANC as a mere "political party" was most unfortunate. 

It seems blasphemous to think of Africa's oldest liberation movement as a featureless, anonymous entity when it is commonly held that, of all the parties out there, it alone has been ordained by God to lead us to the promised ubuntuland. 

This, at least, is the gospel according to President Jacob Zuma, who was the subject of one of the Westville T-shirts. He appears as the avuncular grocer in the logo of a well-known biscuit manufacturer, with the legend "Bakers, est 1851" altered to "Fakers, est 1994". Another features former president Nelson Mandela as Colonel Sanders in a send-up of the KFC logo. Both illustrations appear in the colours of the ANC.

While we sort of get the former, the latter is a bit lost on us, and it's perhaps a pity that Hall didn't also offer an analysis of the pupils' work in his statement. Unlike the ruling party, not all of us are experts when it comes to art, you know.

Speaking of expertise, Mkhize's intemperate outburst revealed a certain deftness when it came to the cliché. The crippling blows he dealt the English language reminded Ridge regulars of the legendary Brian O'Nolan, whose "Catechism of Cliché" pieces for the Irish Times, written under the pen-name Myles na cGopaleen, are worth revisiting - if only to imagine the field day he'd have with the modern ANC media statement.

These are T-shirts, are they not?

"They are an outrage, an attack on the ANC and the country. They reflect how democratically-elected African leaders are undermined."

By whom?

"Certain institutions."

And the ANC?

"Is concerned that pupils are being used to further their interests."

What kind of pupils?"

"Innocent ones."

And these interests?


What sort of citizen would bring all this to your attention?

"A responsible one."

To what then does the party commit itself?

"To mobilising our society to reject all racist tendencies."

Where are these tendencies?

"In our midst."

Where is it that the ANC wants to get with this?

"To the bottom of the matter."

When will the perpetrators be exposed?


Where will they be found?

"Behind this anarchy."

Their deed?

"Is despicable."

What sort of tactics are used to fuel this hatred?


On what does it border?


Their vendetta?


How bent are they in their pursuit?


What do you want from the school?

"An apology."

Granted. The school has apologised. What now?

"The apology is rejected."

And so on. If anyone is to blame for all this, it could quite possibly be Gwede Mantashe, the party's bad-tempered goblin. As general secretary of the ANC, Mantashe led the great popular charge last year against Brett Murray's The Spear, the flattering painting of the president. 

So compelling was his fiery, rhetoric-choked display that it seems everyone has been inspired to be a critic.

A version of this article first appeared in The Weekend Argus.

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If you come across comments that are injurious, defamatory, profane, off-topic or inappropriate; contain personal attacks or racist, sexist, homophobic, or other slurs, please report them and they will be removed.
 responses to this article

I hate the ANC
I really do in fact is not a strong enought word to describe the mostly corrupt uneducated useless anc administration.

by ANC Dogs on November 10 2013, 11:47
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Growing up in a communist country (Hungary) this reminds me the freedom of expression we had under communism: You are free to express you support for the party.
There was a joke going around, I think even Reagan used it:
The US and Soviet . .more

by The Hun on November 10 2013, 13:38
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Lessons from the School art lesson
We definitely need commissars in every classroom to make sure that revisionist, reactionary,counter-revolutionary or neo-liberal tendencies are eradicated from art.

Whether it's schoolkids, "the Spear", photos of nude black feminists at an . .more

by Racist in ZANcspeak means someone who thinks (differently from them) on November 10 2013, 14:10
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The paint brush is mightier than the wANC's assegai
Bantuheidozania's Kleptocratic Kadristani @ssholes

by Injala Apera on November 10 2013, 14:15
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Ehe-he-hehe...we are most amused
To all ANC fools, followers and hangers-on...
what you have to be aware of - and very quickly - is that your number's coming up.
That, in common parlance, means that you are soon to expire.
You've had 20 years to prove your competence to run . .more

by Fuchsia Flag waving on November 10 2013, 15:05
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whose art?
We can't have a section of the population decide what is art for everyone in a multi cultural society. Art is a language, we all don't always say what we would wish to say out of decency and respect for others, especially the elders. Where do these kids . .more

by Kenna on November 10 2013, 23:24
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Bryan O'Nolan had no idea.
O'Nolan's idea of idiocy was a policeman who fell in love with a bicycle. Our policemen aim much higher than that. Mercedes Benz is their idea of romantic love.

by Guy Mullins on November 10 2013, 23:57
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Please Where Can I Order Those Tshirts?
I want to order those t-shirts. Does anybody have pictures of these anyway? Haven't seen any. Just outraged articles but no pictures of the subjects at hand. But please tell me where to order those t-shirts. Those kids should be encouraged in their . .more

by Adriana Stuijt on November 10 2013, 23:59
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These boys come from Westville Boys High.

by Donald on November 10 2013, 23:59
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T shirts
ANC un Democratic Party ,free Speach and pictures only as it suits them . Brain dead fools.

by Francis on November 11 2013, 06:32
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T shirts
Adriana go to YouTube Search t shirts westville boys ,you will see them there , I also want to buy some maybe may be the school could print for us

by Francis on November 11 2013, 06:35
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Where can one buy one?
Is it Art if one combines the tee shirt with a red beret and a breitling? I'm thinking Warhol?

by Bob the hob goblin on November 11 2013, 06:39
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Free thinking, born frees, expressing their talent and creativity at a South African him school? Wonderful stuff!

by Sara Gon on November 11 2013, 07:07
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this is another warning
The ANC has almost unfettered power, has almost 2/3 of electoral support, has deployed its mandarins in public and private enterprise, in chapter 9 and other public entities, controls organised labour - it is a monopoly party (yes, both the game and the . .more

by alexxzarr8 on November 11 2013, 08:22
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funny isn't it?
Presidential stage acts involving much hip shaking and singing about machine guns is quite Ok and merely an expression of an age old cultural belief and under no circumstances whatsoever could any right thinking person take it as invoking genocide or . .more

by Pangolin on November 11 2013, 09:55
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More, more we want more.
Let's draw Zuma!!!

by Peter Dentenhead on November 11 2013, 10:05
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art t shirts
The reaction by the ruling party to the westville high school art students t shirts is pathetic and immature to say the least. The ANC promote racism at every turn and the moment white students retaliate the party members get upset. It is laughable that . .more

by vazi Nauru on November 11 2013, 10:15
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"Gwede Mantashe, the party's bad-tempered goblin"
Worth repeating, ha-ha-ha, classic!

These cANCer clowns, intellectual midgets and con-tricksters all, have no place to hide for the circus tent is collapsing and the main show carousel ponies and chimps are all scattering helter-skelter. Where . .more

by Cap'n Haddock on November 11 2013, 11:23
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Now that's power for you
Three school kids hold Africa's "Premier Liberation Organisation", this cANCerous government, to ransom... BIG LOLZ!

by Cap'n Haddock on November 11 2013, 11:31
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#Art ANC style
This is effectively a one-party state and it is imperative that we get rid of it to change the balance of power! They are fascists and national-socialists of the Hitler type.

by Elle on November 11 2013, 11:42
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ANC also have a right
Andrew I think the ANC enjoys the same right like any other politcal party in South Africa. But due it struggle credientials it happen to be in Government. If the ANC is attacked in any form It could be in form of T- shirt or through media, ANC should . .more

by Buh Nzimande on November 11 2013, 12:10
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But Tissi Tart?
But TIssi Tart? (anyone remember that strange art exhibition? Gon eFishing?) You wonder why the ANC has so much time to waste policing white boys' protest tee-shirts. We are heading towards a jackboot mentality. Afro-Gestapo. Sies!

by Acid Mind on November 11 2013, 15:08
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...you do not hear Greedy Man Tashe shouting the odds about the violent murders of ageing farming folk who get their heads smashed to a pulp with hammers. Go figure.

by jack on November 11 2013, 15:16
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A pint of stout is your only man
I'll buy a round of Guinness for the regulars of Mahogany Ridge - and, indeed, for Senzo Mkhize - for reminding us all of the incomparable Myles na gCopaleen, alternatively na Gopaleen.

But only if they spell his pen-name right.

by Mal Morrow on November 11 2013, 16:01
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@Mal Morrow
We're getting thirsty. . .

by The Ghost of Flann O'Brien on November 11 2013, 16:32
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Like the "FAKERS" tee shirt, but....

.....I have to admit I don't understand the MADIBA "KFC" tee shirt.

Can somebody explain for moi, asb ?

Merci, bedank, etc,

Chikurubi-Marketing-Dept :)

by John Austin on November 11 2013, 23:22
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one of those ancunts said
the learners need to be monitored by the teachers. WTF how retarded did this liberation movement become -- the ANConstipation.

by ewald on November 12 2013, 03:46
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@John Austin
Hi John. Your question refers.

I think KFC's face is that of the avuncular Col Sanders, a person who is the source of all that is 'finger licken' good. The reason he is so smart is in his secret recipe. Another is that the cadres spend and . .more

by James Bell on November 12 2013, 11:02
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wasting time with stupid art
Free speech is like releasing hot air from the belly. The fact that you are free to do so doesnt mean the air does not stink. The expression still stinks. Time is best used creating art that is unifyig the nation than challenging the constitution and . .more

by gadlaza on November 14 2013, 14:27
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Which constituion - the one we are always reminded of or the one that Jacob regularly ignores.

by MADODA on January 02 2014, 12:45
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