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.
The reactions to Xingwana’s utterance (eg it is “an extreme verbal attack on the integrity of Afrikaners” and “a sign of religious intolerance”) suggest that Afrikaner men and religious doctrine are both above criticism. Given the widely promoted predilection for forgetting, we have forgotten that a particular interpretation of Calvinism underpinned the Christian nationalism that drove the project of apartheid. Moreover, as theologian Christina Landman has written, “local Calvinism was as sexist as it was racist” (see an excerpt from the article here). This local form of Calvinism, which still grips gender relations in Afrikaner families, dictates that “part of the salvation of the soul was the subordination of the female body to male rule, both in intimate spaces and the church”, as Landman finds. This explains resurgent collaborations between Afrikaner women and men to reinstall “the Afrikaner man” as “king and priest” of the household, as currently promoted in congregations such as Moreleta Park Dutch Reformed Church. While Xingwana is condemned, the same critics fall over their feet to defend white Afrikaner men — the group that benefited most from apartheid. Their manoeuvres dovetail nicely with Time’s efforts at deflecting culpability in the Pistorius case away from masculinity and onto blackness. Thus it is ensured that the hard questions are shut out: the questions about an entitled, damaged and damaging masculinity that seeks to claw back power through violence. – Christi van der Westhuizen on Thought LeaderBACK TO TOP