What the ANC and Peter Dutton have in common

Andrew Donaldson says we are a notoriously thin-skinned people, world beaters at taking offence


WELCOME news concerning spiritual growth and self-improvement has reached us at the Mahogany Ridge: beer yoga’s time has come. And yes, participants really do take a pint or two while in, let’s say, the warrior or fire log pose.

It has obviously drawn condemnation from the purists who insist there’s nothing about beer in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the discipline’s foundational texts which date back two millennia.

The UK body Yoga Alliance Professionals has declared it unacceptable that it should now accommodate drinking. “Yoga is a sacred practice that has deep philosophical, spiritual roots,” YAP’s Louise Wallace has said. “Alcohol is not compatible with it.”

But Guzel Mursalimova, who has brought beer yoga to Britain, insists that she is demystifying the practice. Especially for chaps.

She told The Times of London, “I think it can be difficult for men to come into a class as the only one surrounded by very bendy women. By combining beer with yoga, it lowers the barrier to come in for the first time. We never thought to target a specific gender and we chose beer because it’s easy going and universal.”

Classes were designed to be social, Mursalimova added. “Yoga can be very silent but people chat through the sessions and we do things in pairs, it’s interesting to see people laugh.”

There have, perhaps unsurprisingly, been incidents of people losing their balance and falling over, beer in hand. Here at the Ridge, collapsing drinkers are a fairly common sight, even if yoga has nothing to do with it. It’s interesting to see people laugh at that as well. 

All of which brings us to this business with Australia and a situation which perhaps could also be demystified with some drink. And several more drinks, at least until we pass out and shut up about this silly sideshow concerning the overture to our “white farmers” from their immigration minister, Peter Dutton.

We are a notoriously thin-skinned people, world beaters at taking offence. And, boy, we did so in spades when Dutton suggested his “civilised country” could save our persecuted boere by fast-tracking their path to God’s own country.

Amid much hue and cry, Lindiwe Sisulu, the new international relations minister, called in Canberra’s high commissioner to SA, Adam McCarthy, for an explanation and to point out that her government was extremely PO’d at what it regarded as criticism of its stated intentions to expropriate farmland without compensation.

Meanwhile, the African Farmers Association of SA, who are greatly excited by and support all this talk of taking the land, has said it was offended by Dutton’s attempt to “polarise” agriculture. As their spokesman, Neo Masithelo put it, “He is bringing a racial dimension into a socio-economic issue.”

Elsewhere, there were at times demeaning attempts to argue that there was nothing racial about the torture and murder of farmers. 

No, goes this reasoning, these people are targeted, not because they are white, but because they are easy; they’re largely defenceless, live alone in isolated areas, have some cash and, well, as you know, there’s a lot of poverty about. Besides, as a society, we kill so many, many more black people.

Dutton’s comments may grate, but we do need to understand the context in which they were made. He is a member of the conservative Liberal-National government, which is likely to lose next year’s general election to the centre-left Australian Labour Party. The government is also under attack from the hard right, like the xenophobic and ultra-nationalist One Nation party.

In order to shore up right wing support, Dutton chose to speak to the conservative Daily Telegraph, Sydney’s biggest selling newspaper. He has no particular interest in South Africans, but came across all AfriForum to appeal to those Australians who didn’t mind immigration so long as those landing at Circular Quay were white and middle class.

The ANC should understand this. After all, it too has no particular interest in South Africans, but would rather shore up support with all this populist guff about taking white people’s property.

For here’s the thing. In other news, the UN’s 2018 World Happiness Report was released this week. Using information from Gallup International surveys conducted between 2015 and 2017, it cited six major factors in determining the happiness of a country: GDP per capita, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity and perceptions of corruption. 

Nothing however about land.

Of the 156 countries surveyed, Finland came out tops, Burundi the worst. South Africa was placed 105th. 

We are, frankly, rubbish and it may take more than beer and yoga to cheer us up.