All manner of opinions have sprung forth following the newspaper reports over the weekend about the allegation of the President fathering a child with a soccer boss’ daughter. The merits of the allegations are not the subject of this opinion. What is of interest is the reaction to the reported allegations.
Some modern-day Pharisees, who are self-ordained God’s representative here on Earth, have passed judgment on the person of the President as lacking in morals and unethical, whichever you deem worse.
What the Pharisees omit to mention is that David the King of Israel was a polygamist1. That Solomon, King of Israel for 40 years, had 700 wives and 300 concubines2. With all due respect, these modern-day Pharisees further omit to mention how many broken families are there in the 42 generations3, from Abraham to Jesus Christ, let alone that Jesus was, Himself, born out of wedlock4.
Then there are ad-hoc Aids activist, who include a Madam with a pineapple hairstyle who may or may not be a Premier of a mini-country in the west. They allege that the President’s conduct makes a mockery of the campaign against Aids. Their activism is ad-hoc because it is meant to only coincide with reports about the President. Let us group these together with those who cry foul about tax-payers having to spend money on a big and increasing family. Note that all these are people who claim to be advocates and practitioners of democracy.
What these ad-hoc activists omit to mention is that HIV is not caused by unsafe sex. Rather it is likely to be transferred by unsafe sex, if one of the parties is infected. While none has the patience to provide evidence of the HIV status of the parties, they find it convenient to pretend unsafe sex creates HIV. This makes a mockery of HIV/AIDS Education.
Unlike China, who introduced a one-child policy in 1979 to help control population growth, the democratic South Africa has no such policy. Neither is there a policy prohibiting HIV positive persons from having children nor a policy limiting the number of children a sitting Head of State is permitted to have.
The implicit message in all this is that cute little children are a blessing and a gift from God, except when you are HIV positive or you are a Head of State of a democratic country.
I disagree with the President that polygamy is practiced because it is a Zulu culture or tradition. There are a lot of polygamous affairs across the country and the world, just that others like to call it cheating or other sorts of names. Alternatively, people move from one relationship to another. That transition does not always involve a neat break up, followed by an idle period, then entry into another relationship. In most cases the transition is a product of a certain level of cheating, an overlap between the relationships you are from and the one you are going to.
I can say people are faced with a choice of polygamy, one big family, or choose to have many little broken families. Many broken families involve persons who bring children from previous relationships/marriages to their new relationships. And then get one or two kids outside the secondary setup who will only be revealed at their funeral to avoid embarrassment of holding high standards they can’t meet. Sometimes it even involves mothers attaching kids to non-biological fathers to avoid embarrassment.
However, it is not all the time that cheating leads to children. A lot of women and men cheat without getting caught. That includes journalists, analysts, opposition politicians, pastors, newspaper editors and many others. Are they better people because they don’t get caught? Are they better persons because their sexual conduct never makes headlines?
Let he, who is without sin cast the first stone.
While it may not be ideal, South Africa is a society littered with persons who do not always come from neat mother-father-kids families. Surely as you read this article your half-brothers, step-parents, step-children or half-relatives come to mind. Let alone that some you don’t even know and have no patience to find out about them. South Africa is a society of persons who reproduce and do not have population control policy, at least not yet. In reality the patterns of this society continues to reproduce themselves. In a democracy, leaders are elected from within such a society and as such can not behave in a manner that is alien to that society.
Our democracy embraces polygamy. It embraces gay and lesbians. It accepts abortion. However, democracy does not prescribe these for all of society, it only means people have the freedom to choose to do it or not. It further means, in a democracy, people would rather not impose their subjective beliefs or choices on others.
Before the Pharisees and the Aids tribunal descend upon me, this is not attempt to promote immorality or unsafe sex. This is just to say we should be objective, fair and honest in our view of our society, including the President as a member of that society.
As a democratic people, are we ready to accept that one day we might have a Head of State who is gay or lesbian and thus the spousal office servicing a president’s partner? Do we have the wherewithal to accept that one day we may have a female president who may do a Termination of Pregnancy (TOP)? Will we turn such to weekly headlines or we will accept that it is part of the society we live in?
Member of the ANCYL