A few months ago, author William Gumede described Zuma as someone with a narcissistic personality disorder — a set of traits defined by Austrian psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut as “including an exaggerated sense of superiority, a lack of self-awareness about the impact of their behaviour and having a disdain for others, who they devalue to validate their own grandiosity”. These people lack empathy, have a distorted sense of reality and are incapable of seeing anything from anyone else’s perspective. Narcissists like Zuma, Gumede argues, can’t accept responsibility and don’t care if they take down entire countries with them. The events at Nkandla, sadly for Zuma, only reinforced that perspective.
A few things are going on here. Thing one: hubris. But why dwell on it; who doesn’t when they have the chance? Thing two: nostalgia. When you grew up in a country like this, on the oppressor side of the frontier lines, nostalgia can feel a tad morally problematic. What’s that you miss? The eighties? Oh you liked those, did you? I think part of the recent Rodriguez high around here has been about this condoned nostalgia for an older white generation. Suddenly you can reminisce about which suburb you grew up in, which dances you went to, what music you were listening to, and not really have to mention apartheid. “I grew up in Linden!” “I grew up in Emmarentia!” “We danced at the Lemon Squeezer!” And maybe that’s okay. I’m not intent on having my say on the matter here, one way or the other. Nostalgia is an issue. But not the issue. – Anna Hartford, on attending a Rodriguez concert in Cape TownBACK TO TOP