Mmusi Maimane’s been having a bad time of it. But are the critics barking up the wrong tree?
“Whiteness, alone, is mute, meaningless, unfathomable.” – Toni Morrison
For the last few weeks, Mmusi Maimane has been subjected to pretty rough treatment at the hands of a number of prominent black people. The Twitterati had their go at him when Lindiwe Mazibuko announced that she was leaving for Harvard in May. After it became clear that Mazibuko had had a less than cosy relationship with Helen Zille for some time before the announcement, she was suddenly a hero to people who had previously slated her as a sellout. Maimane decision to head to Cape Town to replace Mazibuko as official head of the DA caucus was read as a sign of his ‘garden boy’ tendencies – a phrase that is offensive because of the contempt is connotes for grown African men who work as gardeners but that has done the rounds in a frighteningly un-ironic manner of late.
I have been torn about the public evisceration of the kind of black man Maimane represents, largely by older black people (but not only) seeking to police the boundaries of what authentic blackness looks and sounds like.
At the same time, I admit to having concerns about Maimane’s race politics. Nowhere was this more apparent than in his handling of his first big race test as head of the Parliamentary caucus: the Mike Waters tweet.
Waters – a DA MP – was lambasted…