Constitutional Hill

How to respond to art (hint: not with threats of censorship)

Canadian politicians seem to be slightly more mature about being depicted in a work of art with their private parts hanging out. The large oil on canvas painting, which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not pose for, by Kingston, Ont.,-based artist Margaret Sutherland shows the prime minister reclining on a chaise lounge wearing nothing but a subtle smile, surrounded by people in suits, whose faces can’t be seen. A dog rests at his feet as a woman in business attire offers him what looks like a Tim Hortons cup on a silver platter.

As reported rather tongue in cheek by the Canadian press, the piece appeared to draw out the art critic in many Canadians. “This is just too funny – think she painted him a bit skinny – he should really be wearing his vest,” Myrtle Graham posted on Facebook.”This made my day. Nude Stephen Harper is ART,” tweeted Denise Balkissoon.

Other’s weren’t as amused: “Oh dear lord: may have to pluck eyes out now,” tweeted Paula Schuck. “I don’t know whether to laugh or be horrified,” added Kelsey Rolfe.

The Prime Minister’s Office also took to Twitter to voice a reaction to the piece. “On the Sutherland painting: we’re not impressed. Everyone knows the PM is a cat person,” tweeted Harper spokesman Andrew MacDougall, referring to the canine on the canvas.

Others on Parliament Hill took a similar tongue-in-cheek approach.”This is one case where I think we really do need a Conservative cover-up,” said Liberal MP Scott Brison. “I guess you could say in this painting it’s quite obvious that the Prime Minister has very little to hide.”

So far no one has threatened to obtain an urgent interdict to have the painting removed or destroyed. Not even cat lovers.

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!

    Hey OB,

    I see you’ve been included in the painting!

    A, er, little red-faced though.

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!

    Hey OB – say something to the artist.

    Stand up for yourself, you little prick!

  • Ivor

    Haha. Aboslutely brilliant. Thank you for this Pierre.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Very funny, Pierre. But the prurience of an Ontario “artist” does not absolve Murray of his RACIST insult of all blacks. And neither does the fact that the New Yorker published a nude cartoon of Bill Clinton after Presidential sperm was found on Monica Lewinsky’s navy blue dress.


  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!


    “In particular, the portrait depicts me in a manner that suggests I am a philanderer, a womaniser and one with no respect. It is an undignified depiction of my personality and seeks to create doubt about my personality in the eyes of fellow citizens, family and children,” he says.

    “It is clear in the eyes of those viewing the portrait that it seeks to depict me in a bad, undignified and degrading manner. Furthermore, in terms of the theme of the exhibition, my portrait is meant to convey a message that I am an abuser of power, corrupt and suffer political ineptness.”

  • ozoneblue

    I think I’m starting to feel like Cde. Zuma. I cannot be anything else than a racist White cause it is a virus in my blood, just as Zuma cannot be anything else but a primitive African and a dictator as such. So I say it is no use to hide or run away from it, just accept it as fact, embrace it, it is a biological inevitability, all we can do is come out of the closet.

    Start by sentencing this confused reactionary racist Brett Murray to 10 years of hard labour on Robben Island as part of a political re-education programme. Give these mutherf*ckers something substantial and REAL to whine and complain about.

  • Miikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ OB

    I share you sentiments. But I am not sure about 10 years for Murray. I say this is one of those very, very, rare cases where the death penalty may be indicated; Murray has insulted not just Cde Z, but ALL Africans. Speaking of Zuma, I heard somewhere that he actually opposes all of the race conscious stuff his govt is implementing, AA, BBE, quotas, etc. It is just that he has been too busy to get around to stopping such nonsense — but will do next year.


  • ozoneblue

    Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!
    May 20, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I have noted the News Ontario has censored the tiny member out. How flattering the size of that censor blot.

    On other sites they used a smudging technique.

  • ozoneblue

    Miikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 20, 2012 at 13:49 pm

    “I say this is one of those very, very, rare cases where the death penalty may be indicated;”

    LOL. That would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.. Don’t you know the deceased cannot be politically re-educated?

    I’m sure Murray have all the potential to become a productive and humble servant to the Socialist Republic of South Africa – given enough time on limestone and creative rock shape rearranging.

  • ozoneblue

    Margaret Sutherland certainly sound like another progressive artist commenting on the ills of society.

    “It was a sort of a culmination of some general frustrations of the federal government’s policies and what they were telling us,” said Sutherland, who has been particularly peeved with the government’s elimination of the long form census and its closure of certain prison farms”

    “”My responsibility as public safety minister is to ensure that individuals who are in our facilities receive training that is appropriate, receive skills that are appropriate, to the environment that they will be returning to,” he told the Sun’s Don Peat.”

    Had this been the forced labour camps of the USSR we would never have heard the end of it.

  • Mike Ambassador
  • ozoneblue

    Mike Ambassador
    May 20, 2012 at 14:28 pm

    I guess there is a difference in the context of in which both those works may be seen as controversial. As Zuma alluded to:

    “Zuma says he realises that the image has been displayed to “millions within and outside the country”, and that despite its removal, “it will continue to exist in the minds of those people who have seen it or had access to it”.”

    So when City Press decided to distribute that painting through the mass media on 13 May 2012, they changed the context from a piece of art with a provocative political message that may be viewed by art lovers in the relative private atmosphere of an art gallery, to a pretty offensive bit of mass propaganda with a viscous attack on the democratically elected president of South Africa for which the justification or factual foundation simply doesn’t exist.

    And note the theme stays very similar to the underlying thread that runs through this blog. The sustained attack on traditional African culture combined with constant references to Zuma being a Stalinist/dictator. Anybody who knows anything about South Africa and the inherently democratic nature of both the ANC and our current government will see that for the stinking crock of absolute bullshit that it is.

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!

    Mike Ambassador
    May 20, 2012 at 14:28 pm

    Well spotted MA!


  • ozoneblue

    “Naspers, owner of Afrikaans dailies Die Burger, Beeld and Die Volksblad as well as English-language Sunday newspaper City Press and a 50% interest in Rapport, is a keen buyer.”

    Perhaps these people do have some vested interest in sowing the seeds for a full scale race war. Same as Murray who is now associated with the University of Stellenbosch, is that not the same intellectual incubator of Apartheid where PdV hails from?

  • Mike Ambassador

    You see Mr. Ozoneblue, the moment you start justifying why one is Ok and the other not due to “context’, I personally feel you on a slippery slope to hell.

    The Freedom of Expression has to be absolute regardless of how you personally feel or your tolerance of what is morally or African culture.

  • ozoneblue

    Mike Ambassador
    May 20, 2012 at 19:12 pm

    Couple of years ago during Aparthied Koos Kombius wrote a song called “Almal Kaffers”. If you have a firm command of the Afrikaans language and realise what the song means and is actually saying then first impressions created by the title is immediately contradicted.

    However I wouldn’t play that song now, or back then in a public, multiracial setting – and I think Koos Kombuis would feel the same. I also believe Koos would have felt enraged if say – Steve Hofmeyer sampled the lyrics/tune and mixed it into a song with a conservative/racist message.

    The context and the audience of a piece of art makes all the difference. I don’t think the vast majority of Africans know who Vladimir Lenin was, what socialism means, or even share the incomprehensible hatred for Jacob Zuma that it appears some “white liberals” seem to feel. All the mass audience sees is a very denigrating picture of our president and a white artist making fun of our African president as you would of some animal.

  • ozoneblue

    I recall Eddie Grant’s “Give me hope Joanna”. During the heydays of Apartheid, at our whites-only universities drunken white students used to sing along merrily without the foggiest ideas of what the lyrics were actually saying about them.

  • Mike Ambassador

    Sorry if I am misunderstanding you Mr Ozoneblue but are we now not back to being paternalistic towards black people, and “censoring’ what we “educated” white people think will be in context for them to absorb.

    We need to treat our fellow Saffers with respect we demand for ourselves and educate if there is a misunderstanding of context. Today on News24 I did my best to educate on the comments section, weither or not I succeded I don’t know, but I respected my black fellow country men enough to put my point of view across in a respectful manner.

  • Mike Ambassador

    BTW I used to go to “Le Club” (in Hilbrow when you could still walk around there without any fear) as a student and we used to Sing Free Nelson Mandela (Special AKA) and I can assure you as a group we new exactely who we wanted free ……. and yes we used to drink it up. The song was BANNED!! by the NP governement (sound fimilar) because it was bad in the context of afrikaaners (sound fimilar)???, but we ignored it and even sang it on the pavements as the cops rode by in the banana wagons.

    Exciting times, and all I can say is what we thought ANC politics was and what is on show today is far far far apart. There was no talk of AA / BEEE / etc, we where going to be all equal, rather sad to end up with this mess we have today.

  • ozoneblue

    Mike Ambassador
    May 20, 2012 at 20:43 pm

    “Sorry if I am misunderstanding you Mr Ozoneblue but are we now not back to being paternalistic towards black people, and “censoring’ what we “educated” white people think will be in context for them to absorb.”

    Not at all you fucking pompous, hypocritical arsehole. Read my previous two posts.

  • ozoneblue

    Mike Ambassador
    May 20, 2012 at 20:55 pm

    “Sing Free Nelson Mandela (Special AKA) and I can assure you as a group we new exactely who we wanted free ……. and yes we used to drink it up. ”

    Obviously not Jacob Zuma or Mac Maharaj.

  • Mike Ambassador

    @ Mr Ozoneblue my question and exchange of ideas was genuine, no insult intended, so here are some wise words for you. Have a good evening further.

    “If someone comes to you with a gift, and you do not accept it, to whom does the gift belong?” asked the Monk. “To the one who tried to deliver it,” replied one of his disciples. “The same goes for envy, anger and insults,” said the Monk. “When they are not accepted, they continue to belong to the one who brought them.”

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    0B is right.

    Its all about CONTEXT.

    It’s not so much Murray we complain about, but the City Press for publicizing the presidential penis. In other words, Murray may freely exhibit what he likes within the safe precincts of a suburban gallery – so long the phallus is not widely disseminated.

    Also, Mabulu is black. He is therefore per-inoculated against the WHITIST bigotry of Murray.

    Hope this clears things up.

  • Mike Ambassador

    @ Mr Ozoneblue you are correct at the time we (as a small group of students) did not even really know who Prez Zuma and Mr Maharaj were, we were kids only starting to become politically aware. Prez Mandela was the rallying call the person to identify with. We were not in the townships taking a bullet for the cause if that is what you after. When I say we used to drink it up, I mean like students do i.e party a lot. No disrespect to anyone ….. ok maybe to our studies.

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 20, 2012 at 21:24 pm

    But Dworky,

    “so long the phallus is not widely disseminated.”

    THAT phallus has been widely, er, “disseminated”.

    And perhaps de-seminated too!

  • sirjay jonson

    My apologies Prof: I’m about to fly off on a tangent.

    Three of my many workers are Malawians, beautiful wonderful people. I also have colored and SAfrican black working for me. It’s just I have a weak spot for economic and political refugees. Something about sharing, in recognizing that I’m privileged, and knowing selfishly that such effort gives you bonus points in karma.

    To make a long story short, two of my Malawians returned to Malawi with a bakkie load of items for their families, anxiously but dutifully kept under observation on the train. You know the story I’m sure. Its so Africa.

    They are all legal mind you, all the papers and such. When they returned to Malawi, and its 3rd class with their bakkie load of items; they have to pass through Zimbabwe, no problem.

    Two months later they return to SAfrica. Well you heard today likely that a boarder guard had been arrested for insisting on a R10k bribe. Well, our guys much needed in the market garden, legal remember,had enormous difficulties being accepted once more by SAfrican authorities.

    The bribes: money or in the case of women, sex. My domestic, a Malawian, (I also have another from the local community as well), is actually striking, beautiful, model like, even having had 3 children and living with her equally hard working and skilled husband in a back yard shack, while leaving her three children in Malawi as they raises funds through skilled menial work for the food and life of their families in a country relatively far away.

    As I said Prof: I’m off on a tangent.

  • sirjay jonson

    Afterthought Prof: when my guys were refused re-entry, they were kept in Zimbabwe in ‘cages’.

    But finally, Mad Bob is dying, the party is fractured far beyond even the ANC.

    It’s almost over there, but not here.

  • sirjay jonson

    Cages for two weeks Prof: can you imagine. Almost magically, sympathetic Zimbabweans eventually managed to free them. Undoubtedly MDC.

    And they were legal for South Africa.

    Oh what a lovely world we have.

  • Brett Nortje

    You girls certainly appreciate blogs about penisses….

  • ozoneblue

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    May 20, 2012 at 21:24 pm

    “It’s not so much Murray we complain about, but the City Press for publicizing the presidential penis. In other words, Murray may freely exhibit what he likes within the safe precincts of a suburban gallery”

    Exactly. They could have published the story but they could use good common sense and censor out the offending bit. With freedom comes responsibility – that is what I always tell my racist White kids.

    But I think there is more to this new Rooi Gevaar story than that. Recall Vusi Mona and why he was fired at [Naspers] City Press?

    “After graduating, Haffajee realized her dream by becoming a trainee at the paper, then called the Weekly Mail. Stints in radio and television journalism followed before she won a job as a political writer at the Financial Mail, where she rose to the rank of managing editor before returning to the Mail & Guardian as an associate editor. As the paper’s editor, Haffajee says, she will increase coverage of African politics in a year in which six southern African nations go to the polls. She also wants to publish more stories on domestic violence and rape—legacies of a past, she says, in which “powerless men trained their alienation and anger on the women around them.” Her appointment comes in the wake of several scandals in South Africa’s newspaper industry. Two editors, the Sunday Times’ Mathatha Tsedu and Vusi Mona of City Press, were dismissed after a reporter from the Sunday Times leaked a story to City Press alleging that the national director of public prosecutions was an apartheid spy. Also, columnist Darrel Bristow-Bovey and South African Elle editor Cynthia Vongai were dismissed under accusations of plagiarism.”

    We need to remember just who led this ferocious and sustained attack on Cde Zuma/ Mac Maharaj ever since 2001. And that he was “probably not” an Apartheid spy.

  • new kid on the blog

    I think the piece went beyond scope of second 16 of the constitution as pierre would like us to believe it has not. Of course the artist cannot be compelled to respect a person he has no respect for but to public attack his person without merit is unacceptable in the extreme sense of the word. What is protected by law cannot be preempted by an opinion of one person i.e “any half decent judge” as indicated by the authour of this piece. The painting intends to insult, no matter what the intention of the painter is, JZ.

    It further disturbing to a purported constitutional law expert ignoring deliberately the presidents background nor the non white south africans background regarding elders and nudity. If in western culture it is acceptable to insult your elders and claim later that it is artistic may God be with us but in our immediate sense of reality as people of african traditions we find it offensive. The painting is horribly negro phobic and not only has it insulted the president but also our sense of humanity as africans.

  • ozoneblue

    SA media controlled by [capitalist] whites – Holomisa
    2012-01-31 15:20

    “Almost two decades into our democratic dispensation, the South African media remains in the tight control of a minority group that has deluded itself into thinking it has the power to dictate the nation’s thought processes.” Holomisa said the UDM was concerned about the “biased and subjective” decisions made by editors and journalists on what was worth reporting on.”

    I guess that must be part of the problem.

  • ozoneblue

    new kid on the blog
    May 20, 2012 at 23:54 pm

    “If in western culture it is acceptable to insult your elders and claim later that it is artistic ”

    I don’t believe it is acceptable anywhere. You would note that in the piss-poor example he has posted here to sort of insinuate that Africans are unsophisticated and not as “mature” as the civilised West doesn’t count either. All the Canadian websites publishing that picture exercised responsible self-censorship.

  • new kid on the blog

    I agree. The president has children who are invariably subjected to a lot of opinions about their father and I might be right but I imagine they never fathomed their own fathers penis hanging out for the world to see. Marrying several women in accordance with african custom is protected by law, notwithstanding our so called civilized opinions on it. I am deeply scarred by Pierre’s utter and unmatched ignorance and disregard of many black peoples opinions on the matter by alluding that any half decent judge will not rule in favor of the ANC litigation on the painting. I believe he is polluting the public thinking on the prospects of success of that litigation in favor of the ANC. I believe further that integrity requires that you be neutral of the possible outcome of the law suit threatened by the ANC for it turns otherwise, the poor judge in your words would remain insulted for he bears half a brain in your expert view. Its inappropriate sir. With all due respect.

  • khosi

    We are not Canadians and I do not think that we should be told to adopt their value system.

  • ozoneblue

    So while we are on the topic of City Press and Vusi Mona. Perhaps one of the reasons the [whitish] decadents are so obsessed with vulgarity and the public humiliation of out democratically elected prez. It districts the public’s attention.

    “Arms deal commission calls for submissions”

    “In November, Zuma said he was himself prepared to give evidence. The commission was formed to investigate allegations of fraud, corruption, impropriety and irregularity in the arms deal package signed in 1999. It has dogged South Africa’s politics since it was signed after the then Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille, who is now mayor of Cape Town, officially raised allegations of corruption relating to the deal in Parliament.”

    It is therefore important that not only the prez but the entire commission be discredit from the word go as yet another Stalinst/draconian purge by the primitive, sexually depraved African dictator.

  • Ricky

    I find the statement of President Zuma quoted above quite interesting. Whether or not one believes President Zuma to be “a philanderer, a womaniser and one with no respect”, would it not be legal for someone to write an article saying that President Zuma is “a philanderer, a womaniser and one with no respect”? And would it not also be legal to write in such article that the President is “an abuser of power, corrupt and suffer political ineptness”?

    I assume this would all be legal to write in an article. In that case, I wonder how it could then why it, in President Zuma’s mind, should be illegal to publish a painting expressing the same sentiments (if these are indeed the sentiments that mr. Murray is trying to evoke)?

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!

    May 21, 2012 at 6:06 am

    Hey Khosi,

    “We are not Canadians and I do not think that we should be told to adopt their value system.”

    Is that true or did you make it up?

    Or perhaps are you quoting Mbeki who made it up?

  • Sine

    khosi says:
    May 21, 2012 at 6:06 am

    We certainly adopted the Canadian Charter and made it our Constitution almost verbatim (Bill of Rights) and even adopted their court judgments on the Canadian Charter. Dont you think that is a reason enough, especially seeing we are dealing with an apparent clash of the rights in the Bill of Rights?

    @Prof. Your post is absolutely spot on. The Canadian example is equally brilliant, especially having regard to what I have said above about the Canadian Charter and our Bill of Rights.

  • Thomas

    Another take.

    Analysis: The Spear, The Prophet, “Them” and “Us”
    It was bound to cause a storm. The image of President Jacob Zuma in a Soviet-style stance, his genitalia exposed. What it really showed was exactly how divided we still are, which means we still don’t have a clue who we are.
    “Those poor ignorant darkies, they just don’t get it, do they? Of course we must publish the image of Jacob Zuma, genitals exposed, because it’s all about the sacred notion of free speech, enshrined in glorious Western tradition and culture, right?”
    It’s a crude paraphrase of the wave of reaction that has swept South Africa’s media over the past few days. It bemoans a similar howl of protest from the ANC, the Zuma family and many of his supporters, which can also be paraphrased:
    “Aaaarggh! The ghastly white imperialist invaders have overstepped the mark once again, obsessed as they are with black people’s genitalia, shattering the dignity of one of our African elders and the leader of our glorious African country. Free speech is one thing, but this goes too far!”
    Both positions – viewpoints – are right, but to say that is to miss the point. In fact, it’s because both are correct that we are missing each other.
    If your background is Western, which we can very loosely translate as white, then, yes, freedom of speech is likely part of your core being. “I may not like what you say, but I will die defending your right to say it,” is the old line.
    And if your background is African, which we can equally loosely translate as black, it is probable that part of your core being will contain respect for your elders and respect for office – like that of the presidency.
    Core values do not admit of debate, so we stand on either side of the barricades shouting hysterically at each other. The clamour is futile because neither side wants to hear what the other has to say.
    Recast the debate, then, in a couple of different ways.
    In February 2006, a court granted the Council of Muslim Theologians an interdict against the re-publication by the Sunday Times of the so-called Muhammed Cartoons. The court held, in essence, that the cartoons were deeply offensive to a portion – not all – of South Africa’s population and could trigger violence.
    In what way is this Zuma image different? Is the anger of that segment of Muslim South Africa which was outraged by the cartoons somehow different – more wrathful? – than those black South Africans who have been offended by the Zuma image? It seems unlikely.
    Take the analogy to a more extreme place. Imagine the outcry if some deranged group of neo-Nazis started publishing cartoons or images denying the Holocaust, and showing – for the sake of argument – one of the revered founders of the state of Israel, Golda Meir, with her genitals exposed, or perhaps with a swastika superimposed, or some other vile and tortured construction? Community reaction in its broadest sense would be instant and justified. How would this be different from the Zuma image?
    No, it will not do to argue it case by case, saying that Zuma is a politician with a corruption cloud over his head and five wives who deserves what comes his way, and that the Prophet and the late Mrs Meir are different. There are plenty of people whose views on either of the last two are far more extreme and vitriolic than anything you’ve even contemplated about the Zuma image. In these waters, opinions really can be a matter of life and death.
    Once a society has placed a limit on free speech – and ours is one that has – it then becomes a question of where that mark sits at any given historical moment. The Prophet cartoons were deemed unacceptable, as would be my hypothetical neo-Nazi example. We shall see in due course where a court places it in respect of the Zuma image. None of us has the right to cry “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.
    An altogether different approach is needed, then.
    South Africa is a society that remains deeply divided, perhaps more so now than at any time since 1994. I am reminded of a trip to Zimbabwe in 1997, during which I spoke to many people, black and white, in several different parts of that troubled land. On return, I wrote a newspaper column warning that it was a country heading for severe trouble: the attitudes of the people interviewed were radical, unforgiving, and cast along clear racial lines.
    Phrases I recall were about “them” and “us” – if “they” didn’t start fixing things and stop corruption, the country would go to the dogs and if “they” didn’t start embracing transformation and closing the wealth gap, and realising that “we” had done “them” a favour at Lancaster House, there would be trouble. That kind of thing.
    Unsurprisingly, there was great trouble three years later. In South Africa today, I hear the same phrases again and again, with an increasing number of commentators expressing similar concerns about our country’s direction. The phraseology used in the current Zuma image debate is less crude than the words I heard in Zimbabwe 15 years ago, but the subtext is identical: “THEM” and “US”.
    “They” don’t understand freedom of speech or African cultural values, “they” are obsessed with controlling what people think or fixated on African genitalia. “We” are always right.
    If this observation is correct, then a simple question follows: why hand your enemy a club with which to beat you?
    “We” know “they” will react with anger at something like the Zuma image. “We” know “they” are only doing it because “they” hate blacks. “We” know “they” don’t really believe in free speech.
    So why do “we” release something like the Zuma image? “Their” reaction and the outcome is entirely predictable, as it was in Zimbabwe. Is that outcome “we” – any of the multitude of “we’s” in this country – want? Just like the DA’s march on Cosatu: an absolutely predictable outcome with equally certain reactions from “us” and “them”.
    Of course, the same observation must be applied not only to the image, but also the ANC reaction. “We” are going to court to have this dreadful image destroyed and banned, “we” are outraged, etc. Turn to this weekend’s Sunday Times and look for the image of Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, reclining nude on a lounger with a small dog at his feet. Says his spokesman, via Twitter and quoted by the Sunday Times, “We’re not impressed. Everyone knows the PM is a cat person.”
    A skilful deflection, a smile, a little wit. No howls of outrage, no club for the enemy. Crisis – if there ever was one – defused and the storm remains in a very small tea-cup. What would have happened, for example, if Jackson Mthembu had Tweeted something similar:
    “ANC unimpressed…real Pres. Zuma is man of far greater… ahem… stature!”
    End of story. The fire in the crowded theatre quickly extinguished and the audience left laughing. Wouldn’t that have been a far better outcome for all of “us”, whoever “we” are? DM

  • ehud-olmert

    “They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.”


  • ehud-olmert

    “They cannot take away our self-respect if we do not give it to them.”


  • ozoneblue

    May 21, 2012 at 8:21 am

    “@Prof. Your post is absolutely spot on. The Canadian example is equally brilliant, especially having regard to what I have said above about the Canadian Charter and our Bill of Rights.”

    Really? Then why did the Vancouver Sun also exercised constraint by censoring the picture of the painting.

    Could it be that they are backward socially conservative Africans too?

  • Mike Ambassador
  • New Kid on the blog


    this is not primarily about whether we have adopted the Canadian constitution as you want us to believe and see the entire painting in that background. This is about the insulting nature of the painting and i doubt if the consitution protects insults as you and pierre wants us to believe.

    The artist has clearly insulted not only JZ but also our sense of decorum as people who grew up not in Canada but in Africa with certain rules. In fact when we grew up we would feel violated if we accidentally saw a nude elder. Now to publicly says that its artistic and therefore acceptable is the worst nonsense ever paraded in our national discourse.

  • ozoneblue

    Oh – and lets revisit the context again.

    “The painting hangs in a community space that is often rented for children’s recitals, so Ms. Enright had to get creative herself, covering up the painting with a cloth supplied by the artist whenever the room is rented out by all-ages groups.”

    “Part of our policy is that as a public library we support intellectual freedom. But the room is used as a multiple purpose room – it’s not a public gallery. It’s a meeting room for public recitals. The library board asked if we could either take it down or cover it up when we’re having children’s recitals. Because we did have a complaint last year about some female nudes that were in an artist’s show.”

    Read more:

  • ozoneblue

    May 21, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Correction: Then why did the Vancouver Sun also exercised restraint by censoring the picture of the painting.

  • Brett Nortje

    ozoneblue says:
    May 21, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Who cares?

    What I would be interested to know is whether the fable about the boy who cried out that the Emperor has no clothes is culturally within your frame of reference?

  • ozoneblue

    May 21, 2012 at 8:58 am

    “The library board asked if we could either take it down or cover it up when we’re having children’s recitals.”

    Yet prez Zuma’s massive schlong was published in a family newspaper for millions over the world to behold. This is “liberalism” and “freedom of expression” gone fucking bonkers.

    These gayish whitish decadents are openly taunting the people of South Africa now. Keep on pushing the boundaries and abusing their freedom. Time to put down the foot and lay down the law.

  • Vuyo

    But there’s a cultural arrogance and imperialism underlying this post. The fact that Canadians react in this manner does not mean that Americans (a western “democratic” society) would. I would argue that this painting would be unacceptable from a perspective of a conservative community such as that of the USA’s mainstream. This fact on its own does not indicate whether Americans (or liberty loving Canadians or Utopians and Martians) would be correct (or otherwise) in their response.

    Personally I see nothing wrong with an artist being allowed to express themselves as they deem fit within the law and disagree with the basis of the ANC’s/SACP’s/Culturist, etc, condemnation of the painting. What I find hypocritical is that the South African mainstream would never accept such a critique (acceptability being reflected by the marketability of the product) if it was directed against a prominent capitalist or a representative of white culture. If this was a painting of Harry Oppenheimer, etc, (dripping with the blood of countless migrant workers) or Helen Zille or De Klerk, etc, there would be an outcry within the sectors of our society that really matter (i.e. the white community and their press, both of which largely follow the dictates of the capitalist plutocracy) and nobody (who, at least, values procuring the means of a daily living) would even contemplate speaking “truth to power” through their art. This is a form of market autocracy that renders the real warts of our society not subject to scrutiny, since to do so would alienate those who have purchasing power or the power to employ (largely those who accumulated the means of production through apartheid and colonialism and those who are beneficiaries of these crimes against humanity).

    All of this means that the painting, in itself innocuous, is in reality likely another instrument of war in the battle being waged between bourgeois and society’s interests in general.

  • Sine


    I will focus this response on the law: The fact that the Vancouver Sun felt it necessary to exercise restraint on the Harper painting does not give their actions the ability to determine what is legally tenable in Canada. The restraint, as you have properly called it, is merely an opinion of those in power at the Vancouver Sun on the painting. That does not mean that the law in Canada provides that the said picture unlawfully violates Harper’s freedoms. Basically, the opinion of those in power at Vancouver Sun is irrelevant to the determination of whether Harper’s naked picture is a violation of the Canadian laws.

    @New Kid

    “The artist has clearly insulted not only JZ but also our sense of decorum as people who grew up not in Canada but in Africa with certain rules. In fact when we grew up (sic) we would feel violated if we accidentally saw a nude elder.”

    The then prevailing “sense of decorum” of the people was actually subsumed into our Constitution when it entered into force. The boni mores of the people of South Africa are now enshrined in the Constitution. That basically means that when a person expresses an opinion which is contrary to the Constitution just like you and many others siding with Zuma and the ANC on this, that person’s actions are actually contrary to the boni mores or the “sense of decorum” of the people. However, we let you, Zuma and my ANC to express opinions contrary to the Constitution because we want you guys to enjoy the freedom of speech in our Constitution, the very same freedom you are now depriving to the artist who drew the impugned picture. Lastly, what you used to do whilst growing up is irrelevant to the determination of whether the artist violated Zuma and whoever else’s rights in painting and displaying the picture. We are not dealing with customary law here but with Constitutional Law. So we look at the Constitution, not customs or what you or Jacob Zuma did as teenagers.

  • khosi

    May 21, 2012 at 8:21 am

    No, it could never be reason enough. So that we are clear about where I stand on the matter, let me state one or two things:-
    1.) I do not believe that this particular painting should be censored.
    2.) I do not believe that President Jacob Zuma, or any of his supporters, can honestly claim that this painting represents the President in a manner is irreverent to how the President has conducted himself.
    3.) I am hoping that our President takes time to introspect honestly, as to what he may have done to validate that such a painting, of him, is made.
    4.) Absolutely, we have to be critical. But given our history, we must contextualize that criticism in a manner that does not offend a whole group when, in fact, it is an individual who is a target of such criticism.

    That said, it does not then say that our reaction must be one that follows the Canadians or one that shouts ‘he deserves it!’. That would be wrong. He is the President of the Republic of South Africa. We must accord the President that decorum. At all times. If we, as South Africans, respect that fact and that office, we cannot engage ourselves with any action that denigrates that office or the person that WE put into that office. If the Canadians or anyone else chooses to do it differently, that is their choice.

    If anything, we as a society, are the ones who should be held at fault for putting a person who attracts such a level of disrespect into that office. But we will not do that because it is easier when we have either Jacob Zuma or the artist Brett Murray to blame.

  • Sean


    Minister opens case over Zuma painting

    Can the DOJ do this if related to the President (as opposed to Jacob Zuma)? What is up with this over-reaction?

    Minister opens case over Zuma painting
    ( )

  • khosi

    May 21, 2012 at 9:48 am

    You nailed it!

  • ozoneblue

    May 21, 2012 at 9:49 am

    “The fact that the Vancouver Sun felt it necessary to exercise restraint on the Harper painting does not give their actions the ability to determine what is legally tenable in Canada.”

    Ottowa Citizen as well.

    Sun News as well.

    I wonder why all these news agencies exercised a measure of self-censorship when it comes to publishing a denigrating picture of their Prime Minister.

    Clearly this is not only about pushing the hard boundaries of the law. A legalistic technical matter to be decided by the courts.

  • Brett Nortje

    ozoneblue says:
    May 21, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Se my jy het al gehoor van die kaalgat keiser?

  • Brett Nortje

    DOUGLAS GIBSON: How Zuma can vault into the same league as Mandela

    President Jacob Zuma must say he has decided that he has not had a fair crack at governing the country properly for the first two years of his term and that he intends doing whatever he can over the final two years of his presidency to put SA on a new path

    Published: 2012/05/21 07:24:54 AM

    SA CANNOT afford Mangaung. It becomes clearer by the day that there is a paralysis of government and leadership in the country because of the party leadership election in the African National Congress (ANC) in Mangaung in December.

    The failure of the government to act in the Eastern Cape to resolve the education crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of our young people is directly ascribable to the fear that determined action will alienate the all-powerful teachers and harm President Jacob Zuma ’s election prospects within the ANC. The interests of scholars rank far behind those of Zuma and the politicians and officials charged with administering that province.

    Parents have to take their children to neighbouring provinces to give them at least a fair chance of a better education.

    The shocking situation paralysing the South African Police Service (SAPS), with open warfare between the most senior policemen in the land, undermines the rule of law and destroys even further the reputation and standing of the SAPS.

    Zuma has not only failed to act, or insist that his minister of police should do so, he has allowed a man under a huge black cloud to continue in a highly sensitive police office, despite evidence of wrongdoing on a grand scale. This police lieutenant-general should be suspended and be given the opportunity of appearing in court to clear his name or be punished for his crimes if found guilty. Instead, South Africans hear that he may be the president’s choice to be national commissioner of the SAPS.

    The media speculation is that Lt-Gen Richard Mdluli is a political ally of the president and has undertaken to promote the president’s electoral ambitions.
    Zuma has committed his government to job creation as the most important priority and the greatest social need. But he and his government fail to take the steps necessary to realise that aim.

    He should be leading SA and binding the government, the labour unions and the private sector into a new compact that recognises the seriousness and the urgency of cutting unemployment, agrees on the steps to be taken and then takes them.

    Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is something of a national treasure in that he often speaks truth to power.

    It is time that power spoke the truth to him and told him that Cosatu is an essential part of the fight against unemployment. If more jobs are created with Cosatu’s help and support, there will in due course be more workers available to join Cosatu. This is not imparted to Vavi because he cannot be offended or even challenged intellectually at this stage of Zuma’s re-election campaign.

    Business is insufficiently challenged and engaged by the president. Business knows that it and not the government will create the millions of jobs needed but it is not doing nearly enough about it. Exports should be a prime objective but much of South African business is fast asleep and inhabiting a comfort zone of southern Africa and perhaps Africa, with something of an obsession about China, India and Japan. For example, very few seem even to be aware that the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, with a population approaching 500-hundred million and including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Burma, will in 2015 become one big economic entity. We need to be there: analysing markets, satisfying needs by manufacturing what they want and need, and then selling our goods. We catch fish off our coast and sell it to Thailand; they can it and sell it back to us. I just shake my head.

    Zuma and the responsible ministers and diplomats should be addressing the trade issue much more vigorously. Hundreds of thousands of job opportunities could arise. Regrettably, Zuma’s attention is elsewhere and some of his ministers are permitted to carry on ideological warfare with each other. Some of them are allowed to take action that signals that they do not welcome foreign investment in this country. They need to have their heads banged together and reminded of the urgent priority of creating jobs.

    The ANC suffers from a democratic deficit. Many countries would envy the fact that SA could be about to have its fifth president in 20 years, and this is, of course, an indication of democratic activity within the party. The other side of the coin is that people in the ANC seem to be unaware that the side that wins rules and the side that loses accepts that the winners have a mandate to run things for their term of office.

    In the ANC there is now a type of permanent warfare in which the democratic outcome of party elections is not only not accepted, it is undermined at every term.

    There is not a concept of a loyal opposition within the party: the winners are vilified and are not given a fair opportunity. One shudders to think what will happen when the ANC is voted out of power in a national election, as it will be one day. That will be the ultimate test of our democracy.

    The solution to all of this lies in the hands of Zuma.

    He has stated happily that he is available to serve if he is deployed by the ANC.

    He has utterly failed to explain to South Africans why he should have a second term as president. He has failed to sketch his vision for our country or to explain why, at the age of 70 now, 72 by the time of the national election in 2014 and 77 at the end of that term, he should be re-elected. He has not told us what it is that only he can do for the country that could not be done as well or better by any one of several other aspirants. There is no burning desire to set SA on a new and better path.

    There is no evidence of a passion to make the changes that are essential to secure social stability, progress and economic development. Why would a second term be an improvement on the first term? Why does he want to be, or need to be, president?

    My advice to Zuma is to announce that he has considered the interests of SA very carefully. He must say he has decided that he has not had a fair crack at governing the country properly for the first two years of his term because of internal politics.

    That he intends doing whatever he can over the final two years of his presidency to put SA on a new path and finish up as a successful president.

    That to do so he needs to be free of the politicking of the run-up to Mangaung and the aftermath in the light of the unhappy precedent set by the leadership changes at Polokwane five years ago.

    That, as a result, he will not be seeking another term.

    That he will play no part in deciding who his successor will be and that he will give his wholehearted support to whoever emerges as the new leader of the ANC and thus president-in-waiting.

    Zuma might almost vault into Nelson Mandela’s league by taking the actions that I have suggested.

    It would free him to do the right things for our country for the next two years and then enable him to retire with dignity and honour to spend quality time with his wives and his family after 2014.
    • Gibson is the former opposition chief whip and ambassador to Thailand. He is back in Johannesburg, where he works as a writer, commentator and public speaker.

  • Sean

    I just read the excerpts of JZs affidavit on IOL (

    I would love to have watched the Judge’s face when he/she read this:

    “In particular, the portrait depicts me in a manner that suggests I am a philanderer, a womaniser and one with no respect. It is an undignified depiction of my personality and seeks to create doubt about my personality in the eyes of fellow citizens, family and children,” he says.

    “It is clear in the eyes of those viewing the portrait that it seeks to depict me in a bad, undignified and degrading manner. Furthermore, in terms of the theme of the exhibition, my portrait is meant to convey a message that I am an abuser of power, corrupt and suffer political ineptness.”

  • Zoo Keeper

    This is going to backfire on the ANC.

    To those crying “anti-African” – please, give me a break with your ridiculous artistic naivety.

    African art abounds with phallic works and symbols from Egypt to the Cape, even our original artists painted themselves hunting with the man bits protruding.

    It is actually bang in the middle of African art to show a knob. Art knows no bounds so shut up with the “its not my culture” rubbish. It is, it just shows how little you know about your own artistic heritage.

    Zuma and the ANC should know better than to take on art. Leave it,if it offends, just don’t look.

  • Mike Ambassador

    ozoneblue says:
    May 21, 2012 at 9:13 am
    May 21, 2012 at 8:53 am ozoneblue says:
    May 21, 2012 at 9:21 am
    May 21, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Correction: Then why did the Vancouver Sun also exercised restraint by censoring the picture of the painting.

    Yet prez Zuma’s massive schlong was published in a family newspaper for millions over the world to behold. This is “liberalism” and “freedom of expression” gone fucking bonkers.

    @Mr Ozoneblue, the City Press apprently did cover the “öffending part”

    “A group in the newspaper’s office had wanted the picture to lead their arts section, but too many people in the office had objected on grounds that ranged from it being a family paper, to concerns about dignity and cultural values.

    We are Mzansi, not Afghanistan

    Instead, it was run inside the newspaper, covering his “indignity” with a price tag.”

  • RickySA

    Vuyo, how can you know what the reaction would be to a similar depiction of Helen Zille, De Klerk or Oppenheim? I would imagine that people like De Vos would also defend the freedom of expression for such depictions. But, like you, I have no way of knowing.

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!

    Get over it, Tambo’s daughter tells Zuma

    Johannesburg – The daughter of the late ANC veteran Oliver Tambo showed little sympathy for President Jacob Zuma’s complaint about a portrait of himself exposing his genitals, The Star reported on Monday.

    Tselane Tambo posted the following message on a social networking site: “So the Pres JZ has had his portrait painted and he doesn’t like it.

    “Do the poor enjoy poverty? Do the unemployed enjoy hopelessness? Do those who can’t get housing enjoy homelessness? He must get over it. No one is having a good time. He should inspire the reverence he craves. This portrait is what he inspired. Shame neh! [sic]”

  • Gwebecimele

    Typical politician, open your mouth after swallowing the “Handbook”

  • Jama ka Sijadu

    I wouldn’t want to look too hard for fear of going blind, but I honestly can’t see a “toti” sticking out on this Canadian PM…is that just artistic licence or SD syndrome?

  • khosi

    May 21, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Obviously what Gibson is saying is utter rubbish.

    He seems to hold Mandela out as a yardstick that must be reached. Just who decided on that? Of all his achievements as a liberator of people of all races, Mandela sucked as President. Nothing to be emulated. That is my view.

    I suppose that if one reads into what Gibson is saying, then factor in what Hanekom reportedly said about Ramaphosa, we get a good sense of where this country is being nudged towards.

  • Pierre De Vos

    Oh, how hilarious: “Yet prez Zuma’s massive schlong was published in a family newspaper for millions over the world to behold”. Only problem is: there was not publication of President Zuma’s “massive schlong”. (We do not know how his “schlong” looks like as we have not seen a picture of it.) This was a work of art in which the artist created a picture of somebody looking like the President with a “massive schlong”, so there was no depiction of his actual attributes. Conflating what is depicted in a work of art with reality is a bit weird (and sometimes lead phsychiatrists to question the sanity of the patient doing so). If I paint a picture of a space ship, only the rather unhinged among us will point to my painting as proof that aliens exists. The fact that so few people seem to be able to make the distinction in this case may have something to do with the President’s public image as a philanderer and ladies man, but it is still rather weird.

  • Gwebecimele

    The biggest joke is that there were other pictures which attack the ANC as an organisation such as the Johnny Walker (Keep on walking Comrades), ANC for Sale, ANC SOLD, Sol Mahlangu ………..Chivas Regal, etc. I have not seen any statement from the ANC challenging these pictures/perceptions. All we hear is about the one picture that relates to JZ.

    It is very dangerous for the ANC to request courts to verify or confirm JZ’s behaviour. It can actually backfire and give everyone else license to produce more of these pictures. Already, Zapiro produced another version of this picture where he replaced the Prez’s organ with a shower head.

  • Gwebecimele

    If one wants to draw a picture of a black man’s organ, you need to know basics such as, Is he circumcised??? etc.

    I am not sure if this detail will be relevant to the courts and whether a “Judicial Peak” would be in order.

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!

    May 21, 2012 at 11:41 am

    LOL Gwebs

    “… a ‘Judicial Peak’ would be in order.”

    You’re a nut!!!!! 😛

  • Gwebecimele


    “Taxi drivers were demanding that all tickets be issued in IsiZulu, that all present warrants be cancelled and that there should be no traffic enforcement during morning and afternoon peak hours.

    Other demands included that no Indians or whites should write tickets because taxi drivers did not speak English, that taxis only be towed if there was a road sign indicating that vehicles would be towed and that they must be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers anywhere.”

  • Zoo Keeper


    I believe Shaka banned Zulu initiation rites. From there you can hazard a guess, but maybe a judicial peek will have to suffice – unless the Professor is lining up his application as an expert witness :)

  • Gwebecimele

    Zille can buy this art with our taxpayers money its allowed.

  • Sine

    “If we, as South Africans, respect that fact and that office, we cannot engage ourselves with any action that denigrates that office or the person that WE put into that office.”

    I cannot agree more with you on point 2.). Firstly, yes he deserves it! Secondly, I am absolutely delighted that you actually do remember that he is the President. Well, a President, according to South African Constitutional law, is actually entitled to less respect than ordinary citizens. Here is how is it understood in Constitutional jurisprudence (I think the authority is President of the RSA v Hugo or SARFU. I cant remember now); If the President and other government ministers were to wield too much respect then democracy itself would be in danger. They would forget that they are representing the people there and that they are accountable to the people. That would stifle debate around their actions and they would get away with a lot of nonsense whilst hiding behind the respect to be accorded to the office. If Zuma wants people to give him the same respect accorded to ordinary citizens then he must stay away from politics, let alone the highest political office in the land. He is a public officer, not the CEO of a private company for crying out loud. If he still wants to remain in the highest office then he must behave in a manner that would make it unfair for the drawings of the nature of the impugned one and the drawing by Shapiro of him (Zuma) and his ilk about to rape Lady Justice! Notice very well that I did not say the drawing would be illegal if he behaved differently but I said it would be unfair. Its legality is something else. I say Zuma and the ANC will suffer great embarrassment in court because by applying to court he has actually allowed (unconsciously?) a “judicial inquiry” into his behaviour in the public eyes. Well, from the readily available info about his behaviour, don’t you think a prostitute stands a better chance in court in a rape case? (Sorry, did I say prostitute?)
    What I said above applies mutatis mutandis to the other publications, even if all the Canadian publications said the same thing! Remember this, the opinion of ALL publications in Canada does not become law by virtue of its uniformity. If they are so alike then they better make it their policy and keep in mind that whoever such a policy does not extend to will still be allowed to make such paintings!

  • Sine

    Gwebecimele says:
    May 21, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I am not sure if this detail will be relevant to the courts and whether a “Judicial Peak” would be in order.

    LOL. You made my day! LOL

  • Sean

    Mantashe pulls out the race card. How original. and disappointing. Perhaps he should see Pierre’s post.

  • Gwebecimele

    This is unANC.
    This deserves an art & ANCWL attention.
    It is interesting that nobody is interested to know the source of the money.

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!

    May 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I suppose, Sean, it could be said that Gwede is, er, standing up for Zuma!

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!
  • Deloris Dolittle

    I’m so sick of the Blacks on this site comlaining on this blog about how this painting is against african culture. For F@#$k’s sake, every day I travel 30 km to work and 30km back. Not a day goes by that that there is not one of you standing next to the highway pissing in full view of every one driving by. I don’t want to see that , ever, I think it is a disgusting habit. And now all of a sudden it is un African to show some one’s penis in an art work. Get a life man and start looking at the image you present to the world out there and then maybe you will realise why this painting is so appropriate. (and the pissing in public is just one example by the way)

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!

    Deloris Dolittle
    May 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Hey DD,

    This has got to qualify as one of the most idiotic comments yet!

  • Gwebecimele
  • vulo

    @ Deloris: I am black I never piss on the road. Generalisation is a very dangerous think felow citizen. Just because you have seen a few people doing a disgusting “thing” does not give you a right to generalisation and denigrating somebody else culture. Agreeing with that culture or not.

  • Sine


    I see Deloris Dolittle has joined the esteemed list of resident idiots. LOL

  • Gwebecimele
  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Mr Mantashe is right. The sheer massiveness of this “schlong” feeds every RACIST stereotype of black men being hung like horses. I can wager you that if it were FW or even Alec Erwin being portrayed, the organ would have been more in proportion with an ordinary human member.

    While I am certainly in favour of the rule of law, one must see the Young Communist League’s promise to tear down the “painting” on Thursday in light of the DA’s introduction of a culture of violence into our politics. This was clearly manifest in the DA’s irresponsible attempt to burn down COSATU’s offices last week.

  • New Kid on the blog


    you are certainly suffering from mild cognitive impairment. you are full it.

  • Thomas

    Can the artist now paint a picture of the Zulu king with his manhood out? Then I will say that he is really exercising his free speech. For now he is attacking a man who is lying on the ground. He must have balls and show us that he is really against polygamy.

  • Thomas

    Deloris Dolittle says:

    I have seen a number of whites pissing in the streets. I will assume that you won’t be offended by them penises because maybe you are familiar with them.

  • Zoo Keeper


    Silly one that, you’ll get it and can’t help you there.

    Much better to point out the tonnes of African art depicting genitalia and ask why this is suddenly un-African when the history of African art points in the other direction…

    Any of you arguing “culture” going to take this point on?

  • Makulu Nyoka

    Who said the Spear portrait is of Zuma?

    Not the artist or the gallery as far as I am aware.

  • Ricky

    I agree very much with the professor’s latest posting – it is obvious that the painting is NOT an attempt to depict any part of the President’s anatomy which makes all the fuss a bit much, in my view.

    I have no problem with persons finding the painting insulting for the President, in bad taste etc – but do find it a bis sad that so many, including the ANC representatives and the President’s family, saying that it is racist. Is there any proof indicating that Murray meant to demean all black men? I am not aware of him having a racist past or anything like it. In my view, using the race card in this particular case reeks of cheap politicking.

    About the Zapiro drawing, well, it is OBVIOUS that Zapiro did not meant to depict the private parts of the President in his drawing – so what is so insulting about a shower head out of the pants of a cartoon president?

  • Ricky

    Just read the actual comments of Mantashe – and there are even worse than I thought.

    “It’s rude, it’s crude, it’s disrespectful” – but does that make it illegal, General Secretary?

    IOL: “He said if it had been a white man depicted, the reaction would have been very different. As far as many people were concerned, black people were just objects, he continued.” Now, Mr Mantasha, how do you know that the reaction would have been different if a white man had been depicted? I did not hear about a great uproar about the painting in the nude of Mr Harper of Canada. What a stupid, inflammatory comment by the General Secretary of the ANC.

    “I said how about the idea of going to court tomorrow and as we sit there we can take off our trousers… we can walk around with our genitals hanging out… it’s crude,” he said. Again, it seems that the General Secretary cannot understand the difference between a black and red oil painting and people being naked in the flesh. Does he also think that nudes depicted on paintings at various art museums are “crude” and similar to people walking around naked in court?

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Thomas is right.

    Naked nudism may be in accord with liberal whitist norms. But, so far as I can tell, it is utterly ALIEN to African culture. That is why I am demand that the maidens who parade shamelessly in and around the kraal of Zulu royalty with their ample breasts exposed be prosecuted for public indecency!

  • ehud-olmert

    whatever may come, “stand up in court” raised as evidence “Judicial Peak” & the like , the point remains that the artist has achived what he set out to do >> whatever his intentions good , bad or evil etc the painting is up , out there in all its glory & well on its way to the artic, whether its going to shrivel up and die well thats the ANC`s call..option from peanut gallery ” spear no evil hear no evil” , its bound to “pass” like everything else.

  • ozoneblue

    Mike Ambassador says:
    May 21, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I may stand corrected.

    However this is how it is described on Citi Press:

    “A group wanted the image of an “exposed” president to lead our arts section, called 7, but too many people in our office objected on grounds that ranged from us being a family paper, to concerns about dignity and cultural values. We put the image inside and ran a funny version on page 1, its indignity covered by a price tag.”

    And the bottom line.

    “But mostly, I will not have my colleagues take down that image because the march away from progressive politics to patriarchal conservatism is everywhere.”

    “Patriarchal conservatism” is a big problem in a country where teachers have to defend their dignity against undisciplined and ill-mannered brats in a court of law when dirty pictures of the principal are posted online.

  • ehud-olmert

    im not to sure that the painting is of the honorable member JZ? the head does not seem elongated enough?

  • Ricky

    EO, in one article I read, the author said the face looked more like Z. Vavi of COSATU.

  • Brett Nortje

    Anyone want to contextualise the ‘outrage’ with a MEC who bared her buttocks at critics at a media conference?

  • Maggs Naidu – ABZ – Zuma must go!

    Brett Nortje
    May 22, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Hye Goofy,

    You made that up, didn’t you!

    Just cos you share a name with the artist, it doesn’t make you one.

  • Pingback: To be unAfrican seems to me a compliment | Evidence & Reason()

  • Veritas

    This case is not about black vs. white or vice versa, it’s not even about the depiction of nudity.

    Its really about freedom of expression, a flawed politician’s right to dignity and perhaps “laese majeste” ( whether the President, as Constitutional head of State, is entitled to be respected) even if he is a “prick” in reality.

    The ANC knew it was electing into the highest office at Polokwane a philanderer and a person identified by the high court as being in a ‘corrupt relationship” with Shabir Shaik.

    They took the risk that he would perform just like his CV (past history) suggested he would and so he has.

    He has screwed the country over not only by his own ineptitude and maladministration but also by interfering with the administration of justice, eg. by appointing as head of the NPA a lawyer adjudged by the SCA to be unfit to hold that office, packing the Judicial Services Commission with ANC “Yes -men” who have not only ducked and dived in dealing with serious complaints against the Judge President of the Western Cape but have also not appointeed the best qualified candidates to the bench, and also by arranging for corruption charges against him to be dropped by an acting head of the NPA, who was soon after offered a judicial appointment by government – apparently to thank him for “services rendered”.

    He has sought to arrogantly display his manhood in public by, inter alia, singing “bring me my machine gun” while dancing suggestively in front of his admirers, sleeping with a woman who was not his wife or even his mistress, boasting about his virility and sexual prowess and, very recently, promising to not only take take further wives but to father further children in addition to the approx. 18 he already has – at the age of 70 nogal.

    Given that this man is such a stud and MCP there is virtually no-one in the country in the public eye who more sets himself up to be parodied by cartoonists and artists who are trying to make the point that the only thing he is fit for is sex and that he has done and, continues to, “stuff up” the country and hence the chances of millions of innocent and, in most cases, poor, unemployed and ignorant people.

    My bet is that, just as Justin Nurse won the right to parody, as warranted political satire and comment, SA Breweries’ Black label beer on his T-shirts claiming freedom of expression, so the courts, if asked to decide, can be convinced that the cardboard cut out type depiction of Jacob and his protruding “member” at the Goodman gallery is justifiable free speech.

    Given the defacing of the painting at the gallery today by some thug, who knows nothing of democracy or free speech, it is unlikely that Zuma’s interdict will be heard by the full bench on Thursday as the offending picture is no longer able to be displayed and the interdict proceedings become somewhat moot ie. the subject matter of the interdict is no longer causing “offence”.

    While the picture shocks and is meant to shock, the reality is that Zuma’s actions as parodied by Murray have had devastating consequences on the lives of millions in SA. He and his supporters need to understand that the country and its people need to be protected against shockingly bad government and threats to our Constitution and humour and satire, sadly in his case even the use of the phalic symbol, are sometimes the only vehicles available to the public to effectively express their abhorrence and disgust of comrade Zuma, this dangerous and pathetic man and everything he stands for.

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