I recently started teaching an English & Communications class at the Durban University of Technology (DUT). I always try and engage the students outside of the textbook, because it's such an amazing opportunity for Previously Advantaged White Suburban Boy to swap ideas with young African and Indian students. There aren't any white students anymore, but that's another story.
So this morning, I had a class of Electrical Engineering (Light Current) students, made up of young Zulu men and women, and during our customary Veering-Off-Course, I happened to ask the class who thought ANCYL president Julius Malema was a good leader. I was shocked (although I was careful not to register it) when most of them said yes, he is. A few were particularly adamant that Malema's "calling a spade a spade" was the thing that made him great.
I pointed out to them that already, not even having completed their first year of technology-based tertiary education (which most of them are failing), they are better-educated than Malema. That didn't phase them. "You don't need education to be a good leader", one of them said. "Look at Zuma", another one agreed. Look at Zuma indeed.
The final straw came when one guy said to me, "Malema is a great leader, just like Mugabe". I wasn't sure how to respond to that. When I told them a few Zimbabwean Horror Stories, they all agreed that no, Robert Mugabe had made a mess of Zim, but that nevertheless, Malema is going to be president of South Africa one day, and he and Mugabe have much in common.
These are fairly intelligent, urbanised young South Africans.
They completely believe this.
Nkosi sikilele iAfrika.
Because nobody else will.