Politicians are the worst people. At 18 they head to university determined to join the various political party youth structures because at that stage they presume themselves to be already all-knowing, and capable. They leave school believing wholeheartedly that what the world needs is their input, as they know what’s best for you and I. At 18, with no world experience, they think they should be leading you. Over the years we load these mini-narcissists with money and power, and then we are surprised when things get more messed up than beer and candles night at a convent.
Politicians are single-handedly responsible for everything awful that has ever happened. Wars, corruption, apartheid, the Holocaust, and this Jacob Zuma statue – all these things came about because of the decisions made by people who should never have been given power in the first place.
As a society, we repeatedly elect the worst of humanity, then watch as these mini-tyrants tear their countries apart, and celebrate their own greatness by naming everything after themselves, and their friends. Every government building, every airport, and every stadium gets to be named after them, inspiring yet more people who want things named after them to go into politics. Isn’t it time to stop empowering these madmen?
Now there are calls to rename the Cape Town International Airport and, unlike Britain who would no doubt have wanted it hilariously named Airporty McAirportFace, our suggestions are 99% in honour of other politicians and freedom fighters. If we want to encourage the right people to go into power, we need to avoid honouring them. We need to switch off their access to the front pages, tune down the honorifics we pay them, and have them do more work, and less talking. Let the humble seek power. The only things we should name after politicians are natural disasters because like politicians they are brutal, expensive, and infinitely worse for the poor.
Instead, we should be honouring the people that make us proud to be South African. Like me. As someone who has tirelessly, and humbly worked to achieve acclaim, I think we can all agree that I deserve something way bigger than merely having my name on an airport. So while we wait for the inevitable 300-metre high statue to me to be constructed on Table Mountain may I suggest that we name the airport, and all future buildings, after those who through their endeavours have lifted our country’s name high around the world?
I would love to land at Hugh Masekela International, or indeed any airport named after legendary artists, sportsmen, scientists and authors. Who would argue that Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Ingrid Jonker, Brenda Fassie, Nadine Gordimer, Athol Fugard, Caster Semenya, Hashim Amla, Vusi Mahlasela, Aaron Klug, Abdullah Ibrahim, Sydney Bremmer, and countless others would deserve to be remembered, and honoured in this way?
I understand the need to respect people who dedicated their lives to give us the country we currently have, but our inability to honour anyone other than them reveals a gaping, and dangerous one-dimensionality in our thinking. By my estimates, two-thirds of things in this country are named after Nelson Mandela, but we don’t have a single significant tribute to Miriam Makeba. As long as we honour only warriors and politicians, and neglect those who bring beauty to our country we tacitly tell our children that the arts, peace, and scientific endeavour are unimportant. We need to do something to ensure this is not the impression they are getting urgently, and the gigantic solid gold, mechanised statue of me just isn’t enough.