‘Skep Moed’ and unfortunate visual prostitutions

As an artist I have come to re-realize the intense responsibility a visual auteur has over his/her audience. It’s like being given royal status for christmas. Suddenly you are given an authority that have stretched across milieu’s to hand you a sceptre bequeathed with powers too great for you to even behold.  Quite a few years ago I came across a video from a company called AfriForum an initiative devoted to tackle the Afrikaner minority group in South Africa’s apathetic withdrawal from political participation. My Facebook thought it was important for me, as Afrikaner myself of course, to see Afriforum’s then latest video: ‘Skep Moed‘ (Create Courage).

So what was this ‘Skep Moed’ all about you might ask? While the video might be seen as an innocent plea for farm-murder victims, I simply could not shrug off the reminder that the visual language used was something akin to olden day propaganda posters. For me all that video was set out to do was reunite Afrikaners in pre-Republic patriotism. Bringing back some of that cliched Anglo-Boer war nostalgia, they just replaced the poor-russian-farmer-with-scythe-in-hand with a picture of a Boer with a gun and khaki hat. Ah… the 100 year ‘Voortrekker Herdenking’ (commemoration), the 1950’s reappraisals of old Afrikaner history. Drawing from the notion of History with a capital H, ‘Skep Moed’ simply looks like an attempt to reignite despondent Afrikaners to set alight a spark of long lost courage hidden within their bloodline. ‘Unison in grievance’… basically the video looks somewhat like a sequel to the whole De La Rey ‘affere’, based on the Afrikaner’s cultural inheritance and individual’s ability to recall what generations before them had been through, the image of ‘the rough past’ was used to encourage the Afrikaner to take courage – i.e. ‘The Afrikaner Struggle’.

However the sad truth is that, besides from the in your face flag-waving zeal, ‘Skep Moed’ managed to herd support as effectively as feces attracts flies. ‘Skep Moed’ was one of those videos that gathered the full support from some Red October Afrikaner cultists like Steve Hofmeyr, Bobby and Karlien van Jaarsveld, Pieter Koen en Gerrie Pretorius. Sex without consent is rape. Now replace the term sex with emotional manipulation.

manipulate |məˈnipyəˌlāt|

verb [ trans. ]

1 handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner : he manipulated the dials of the set.

• alter, edit, or move (text or data) on a computer.

• examine or treat (a part of the body) by feeling or moving it with the hand : a system of healing based on manipulating the ligaments of the spine.

2 control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously : the masses were deceived and manipulated by a tiny group.

• alter (data) or present (statistics) so as to mislead.

This should be illegal! The director of this film is unscrupulous and sly. Foxes! I think Afriforum should be charged with the abuse of The Afrikaner Collective Memory. I am sure they would be found guilty on more than one account. Visual rape, ag ja its not so bad… Of course an ideologically infested audience, illiterate in nation building methods, will be naively convinced by such emotion tugging pictures as used in ‘Skep Moed’. Yet unfortunately visual rape is definitively not where it will end. The video’s title might as well be replaced with a sensational Sun newspaper heading gone theoretical – “Neocolonialist endeavors continued”. Just imagine those fired up res boys from Stellenbosch, stuck so far behind that elusive crocheted curtain that they do not even feel the poisonous penetration of visual propaganda, singing De La Rey ewe innocently, but eintlik sneaking round at night to places out of sight, conspiring to go kick heads like rugby balls. By the looks of this, being a totally different specie, Afrikaners would definitively love to be granted the fortune of living on a different planet.

However strangely enough we are NOT living in a Douglas Adams sci-fi galaxy! This classification of me and you the enemy/ other with whom I’ll never agree with and hence attack is simply childish nonsense. Seriously, are we all not living on one planet here! I feel hopeless, yet I know this is what there is, there are no extra planets. To all the nerds out there, sorry this is planet earth, not Arrakis or Caladan, we are one specie here! The only nation that needs building is the human race and not the Afrikaners, the Africans, the Americans and the la-blah blah – bleh. So duh.. They mos call it democracy, freedom, equality and and ‘lo the most sacred of all Human Rights don’t you know?. Divided as we stand… hmmm. This means that only some people will devote their lives and give up their comforts (to mention the least) and sadly realising too late that they were defending something fake, ai…sigh. No….. this cannot be! Oh please please you un-sci-fi universe, can’t the rest at least try and face the music too! Oh but wait, I can’t be a ‘scaredy’ limp dog with my tail between my legs. Shut up, keep calm and carry on! How those things are irritating me! You can actually just bring in a Mandela quote here. But how shameful is it not that I have to remind you of the ‘turning the other cheek’ method so soon after his Tata’s passing. Don’t you know that it’s the foundation of the most simple ethics.

I know I am being hypocritical now, but I cannot help but wonder why oh why we can not get it right. It’s so strange to me that it’s still so difficult for us to understand that each human being is an individual, i.e. different to the one next to him/her, and the next and the next and the next. Its as obvious as daylight just look around you. Whats that thing about, we are and exist on, through and with DIFFERENCE. I fully agree! Without difference we would be dispensable and simply and sadly replaceable. Recovering from the unfortunate visual prostitution I once more gather my courage to assume my responsibility as an artist. So to make sure I realise that I am capable of being both victim and perpetrator, I will now make a very important note to self with regards to visual creation – In order to prevent the awkward situation of visual rape: Do not vouch for any one culture, language or race. Wow this should be put into the constitution of the galaxy!

3014,  1000 years later.  Out of the small window behind me you see the earth floating far-off and some meteorites drifting past.  All serious and Spock-like I lift my hand and announce; “As citizen of the world, I, Carla Inez Espost accept that Difference is paramount to human existence”.

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