Oros the happy hippo

Andrew Donaldson says Collen Maine has not been having a good time of it lately


GOSH, but the ANC Youth League has been quite busy lately. It’s not all fun and fried chicken with these guys. For starters, it’s Youth Month and, with that, an opportunity to rise from the abyss of inconsequentiality and strike out afresh for that elusive relevancy.

To this end there was the league’s NEC meeting last weekend, after which they announced their candidate of choice to next lead the ANC, Nkosazana Jacob Zuma. 

No surprises here and, as matters stand, the more pessimistic of the Mahogany Ridge regulars are already referring to the former Mrs Zuma as the country’s first proxident, which admittedly is a bit of a tongue twister on a creme de menthe and schnapps bender. But more of that another time.

Some critics have pointed out that the dour Sarafina Dlamini-Zuma is more gogo than go-go and that it has been ages since the ANCYL endorsed a presidential candidate who was even vaguely youthful. But it’s also been a while since the league was even led by a youth.

Collen Maine, its wholly Guptured president, has not been having a good time of it. In an attempt to gee up the league’s attempts to commemorate the June 1976 Soweto uprisings, Maine posted a picture of himself on Instagram, captioned “Youth Month loading.”

He looked like a happy hippo lost in a late 1970s-type record store. He was even standing in front of a Sex Pistols poster. Hipness abounds!

Among the first to weigh in with the body-shaming was the formerly fat EFF commander-in-chief, Julius Malema, who reposted the snap on Twitter with the caption, “#AmaGrootman,” a reference to a song by the DJ Oskido.

The floodgates of derision opened, and there came comments on Maine’s breasts and queries about his bra size. (Is that correct? If a chap needs support for his man breasts — the term, I believe, is moobs — does he not then wear a bro?)

This ad hominem abuse has unfortunately diverted attention from the league’s important urgings about white monopoly capital, land appropriation, the promotion of youth entrepreneurship and unemployment. But then that’s the inevitable outcome of starting a personality cult when you have no personality as such.

One campaign now derailed was an attempt to blame immigrants and refugees for substance abuse among the youth. As they put it in a statement that, for obvious reasons, was quietly withdrawn a few days later:

“The ANCYL is greatly worried by the high level of drugs and substance abuse which has captured young people. These drugs are mainly distributed through out the country by foreigners in areas that are known to the public. The Youth Month should be used to promote the establishment of public rehabilitation centres to accommodate families that can not afford to send young addicts to private rehabilitation center’s. The Youth League will use the youth month to interact with young people through out the country in their hang out areas and report suspected drug distributors who must be dealt with heavily, and if foreign must be deported to their countries.” [sic]

With that xenophobic outburst out the way, the league then called on branches to “positively intervene in child headed households in their wards”.

Which is a pity. One can readily imagine the reaction to their interventions had they gone ahead with their creepy plan to hunt down foreign dope dealers in “hang out” areas: “Forget the drugs, hide the lunch! It’s that dude again, the one who looks like an eggplant.” “Saxonwold’s that way, Oros.” “Where’s your bra?”

Then again, they may not bother with such pleasantries and just throw stones at them. For, in truth, the “hang out” area is ideological territory that Maine and the league are now losing hand over fist, especially in metropolitan areas.

Which may explain why their showcase rally yesterday was a dusty affair in Ventersdorp. This is the back end of nowhere. Perhaps the youth there do regard the spectacle of old men in silly clothes extolling the virtues of a sainted leadership long since laid to rest and passed unto dust as a revolutionary experience.

Given the high unemployment rates in their communities, the rural folk may go for empty slogans like “Youth to the front! Leading the charge on radical economic transformation” but it unlikely this schtick will appeal to city youth.

Perhaps they now realise that politicians who talk of moral regeneration, social cohesion and nation-building are most likely to be liars who mean them harm and are thus best avoided. 

We do hope so. It’s a sign of maturity and is to be encouraged.

This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.