About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

06 Apr 1995: Gasa, Faith

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POM     Faith, I would like to maybe begin at the present and move backwards. The IFP is due to walk out of the Constitutional Assembly today in the absence of any arrangements being made for international mediation on matters outstanding from the 1993 constitution.

FG     I wouldn't say we are ready to move today. That was the spirit of the people. You will remember that when we walked out it was also in the interests of saving what the people who have sent us here to come and do. Now when we came here it's a fact that we were slighted. International mediation or its process never began. I remember quite well the different emotions that went through the country, particularly also even our own members. Our members definitely had decided if we can't get in because paramount was the interest of the King of the Zulus and the kingdom of KwaZulu. Now when we talk about the kingdom of KwaZulu we are also looking at the institution. Now there's a general tendency to want to lump this together, there is no clear focus about what we are talking. If we are talking about King Goodwill and actually mention his name we are talking then about a person, but here we were feeling very strongly that as we move into the future we have to preserve that which will still make us a people, a nation, and we have got very strong feelings that if we lose the identity as Zulus and the institution then history and our children will never be kind on us. We are expecting that people who have known monarchies, there are quite a lot of kings in the continent of Europe, even in Great Britain itself, so here was a situation where we thought it's not only a parochial thing but it is also a national and international concern and the people are going to understand it for what it really is.

     Now, we went back because one of the conditions, if that was not guaranteed we would never have got into elections and I can guarantee you, and I am not politicking here, we were not going to indulge in violence, it is those people against us who were actually saying if we don't get into elections there is going to be more bloodshed. We were going to wait like all the other parties that are not in the government of national unity and put our stake and actually say what it is that we want to see in South Africa. But oh no, everybody was pressurising our leader, was pressurising us, things were said and our followers also were depleted because they had been hearing so many things. But their belief in the leadership of the IFP and their belief in Dr Buthelezi now as a person, because he's very consistent, never wavered, so when he agreed to sign it was in the interests of those people and he was now taking a solemn exercise to commit the entire KwaZulu/Natal region to commit the IFP and everybody who was rallying around us during those times of stress. So we are not sorry that he signed. In fact when he came back I was one of the people who was at Ulundi. He got so much reception which I remember. You know when he went out of the plane he just said, "My sister, why are you happy, what makes you people this happy?" For once I couldn't put it in words, you see, and then I said, "We are happy to see you." Like when he went to Pretoria our hearts were there and we have had enough of this denigration, this slandering, all the things that they are doing to him, and so when he decided, OK, these are the clauses, and this was not a unilateral decision. It was a democratically, clearly explained process and he went there with the support of his people.

     What we were expecting when we came into the government of national unity after elections was while the government of national unity was going on with its business something on the side would be settled so that we see international mediation taking roots. If they thought, and when I say 'they' I mean the National Party and the ANC, if they thought there was no more need, the onus was on them to say, "OK look now, really we are not playing games. We don't think there is a need for international mediation, let's sit down and talk." They kept quiet and for months Dr Buthelezi wrote letters under our instructions, "Please press for international mediations." And it was a matter of now I'm busy, this one is out of the country, this one is responding, this one is waiting for the other one and up to the point where now the whole thing is becoming fizzy. They actually said now they are bringing the King, they are bringing so many people, but as far as we are concerned three people signed on behalf of the three organisations and it was in the hands of those three that this should have happened.

     So the long and short of what we are talking about now is we are not going to be moving out on our own. When we moved, when we went out we said we are not resigning, we are going to listen to a mandate of the people and the people said, "Within so many days." And I also was present at the press conference after that, a special conference which was called. The journalists were actually pressurising us to say what we mean by thirty days and I remember Dr Buthelezi saying, "Thirty days is thirty days. It's a pity people can't count." So everybody has been counting the days but they have not been counting the steps that should have been taken by the parties involved to see that within the thirty days this should have practically happened. And now the speculation is the 5th April, we are moving out, we are doing that, despite the fact that we have got a caucus, we have released statements, we have got a National Council, we have released statements and put our position clear. Now, with this coming Saturday the National Council is yet again going to discuss the issue and we see what way things will go from there.

POM     Do you think Dr Buthelezi is very unfairly treated in the press?

FG     That has always been my feeling and I pity that because between you and I and your research and your investigation or whatever I always say it is a pity that South Africa is forced by the press and other people to see Dr Buthelezi in a different light. They are missing to see Buthelezi the man as he is, and if you have come close to Buthelezi as a person and then you study him as a statesman and a politician you will believe and agree that he has been treated unfairly. They are just looking for one slight mistake. It is to me a pity that Dr Mandela can make one slight mistake and the press covers up. He has got some language, language to put it so that when people read they don't get angry. But Dr Buthelezi just has to joke or just has to in passing say something, it then becomes the headline in the press and minds of the people. It's very recent, I think I've got to be fair, it is only recently that we are getting young journalists, even old journalists anyway for that matter, I think journalists also in our cutting them we've got to be fair one way or the other, they also are under pressure and they also want to sell their papers but their terms, and when I read them portraying Dr Buthelezi properly, I tell myself they are coming to a time when they are saying we want to tell it as it is in the way we were trained. After all what is a journalist? There is a person behind the main journalist and at times that person wants to say, "Uh-uh, to hell with whatever ethics, I just want to tell it as it is", so I think he has been unfairly treated. And I must give credit to some journalists, they try their best, not all of them are bad. It depends on the spirit and the mood of the country, then you find a sway towards him or a sway away from him. But on the whole he is really unfairly treated.

POM     When you look at the local elections coming up, there's a very low rate of registration so far. I think the figures for KwaZulu/Natal are the worst in the country. I had some figures up to 30th March yesterday that said in rural areas less than one percent of the people were registered. They don't know why they should vote again and they haven't seen anything delivered since the last time they voted. Some people ask, "Are we now voting to get Mandela out of office?" They are just confused, don't know what local government is. How do you think that will go in KwaZulu/Natal?

FG     I sort of like your assessment in why perhaps people are where they are now. You see we are talking here about people who have been disadvantaged for a long period of time and for them the national and provincial elections were going to deliver one way or the other. The political parties that had time to campaign; political parties like my political party, the IFP, that had short time, we didn't have time for sloganeering and promising because time was of the essence and what was important was for us to cling, I'm sorry I don't have ... which is in Zulu and English where my voice comes out quite clearly, when I was asking to please give IFP your vote. Now after the government of national unity there's no delivery. Now we are lumped together with the people that promised, even if we didn't promise. It also now becomes a responsibility of even us who did not promise people to live up to those expectations. So that is not highlighted by the press, that the people are disillusioned because of non-delivery. Then they will not rush into a third tier of elections when in national and provincial there is still a struggle about powers and all those things while their lot is not yet improved. For why would they go really to a local election? What is in it because they listen to those parties that are unitary parties that are saying, OK, power should be up there, and they are also listening to people who are saying power should be down there where we believe as federalists. But you don't talk federalism and unitary to people, you talk delivery. They are not interested. Even when we are writing the constitution I kept on saying to the people, "We don't talk about horizontal and vertical application of this and first and second generation rights", people don't know those things, people just want facts and they want to see their lot being corrected. So one of the reasons why people are slack is because they have not yet gained complete belief and faith in the present government, whether it's a government of national unity or whether it is the ANC which cannot deliver, but they have not yet been given that time to have confidence.

     Secondly, why is it that when we call a special conference that from the first day up till Sunday we called in all the languages of the party. The Amakosis were speaking, the political leaders were speaking, women leaders were speaking, youth leaders were speaking, the President himself was speaking, the National Chairperson Frank Mdlalose was speaking. We called on people to please, please, please vote, I mean they go and register. The papers underplayed our commitment to asking people to go and register. They are still quoting less and less figures whereas on the ground if I were to take you home you will be surprised how people are saying, "Where is the paper, where can I register, what do I do to be registered?" Now even the figures are defying the actual truth that is happening on the ground. Of course I must agree, it's not only KwaZulu/Natal. In many cases also there are big articles saying people are bit slow to come, but because of this political war that is going on and to make KwaZulu/Natal to look as a failure, it will be KwaZulu/Natal figures that are quoted. But in all essence, also I must be honest to say, people were a bit scared to go rushing to register for elections when they were not sure what is going to happen to the Amakosis. I don't care whether we can cloud it or close it in whatever way but people still believe in the authority of Amakosis because it is then an institution.

     For instance, if I say I have been born of a priest - and I was born in the Free State far away from the influences of Amakosi and all of those things, and my father was a through and through Christian, he even didn't give us chance to look at the cultural and traditional practices and when we questioned him about that he said, "Look, I am a Zulu, born by a Swazi, but we are in the Free State, here are Sothos, what cultural practices am I going to teach you in Sotho? Should I now teach you the cultural practices of the Sothos and the Tswanas?" And then we understood. So it's only when I got married to a Zulu man that I started learning the institution and it's only when I began to follow Dr Buthelezi in the cultural liberation, then I also began to understand the institution of Amakosi and the monarchy. So I am trying to say people are not going to easily relinquish that which they think forms the base. These are the two fundamental reasons why, in KwaZulu/Natal, people were slightly slow. There is no delivery and if you push them to go and register they can register, they would like to vote, but please guarantee the institution of Amakosi.

POM     What kind of powers do the Amakosi have? What is the extent of their authority?

FG     The extent of Amakosi's authority, I don't think we can cover it in one interview, but this much I want to say to you, they are not autocratic, they are not all power encompassing. They are what you would call, if you look at the public protector, they protect their tribes. They are born, they are not elected. They also subject themselves to democratic practices and the rule of law. Nkosi cannot just kill people for the sake of killing people and get away with it. They still have the law of the country to look after and then they also have to protect their entire tribe within which they grew up because they are the appointed and anointed within that structure. So their powers go in as far as - I wouldn't say they've got unlimited powers because they don't rule on their own, that's another thing which people have got to understand. They have got councillors, they have got different strategies, the democratic practices as you see it from the western culture also is there in the rule of Amakosis.

     For instance, let me give you an example, an Nkosi cannot just unilaterally wake up and say there should be an Imbiso. An Nkosi would call the advisors and these normally, no matter how young or how old the Nkosi is they will be older, most of them will be an older group in the society and those are the people that will be able, even when they think things are going wrong, those are the people that would caution an Nkosi and say, "This far you can go but not further." You see? So it is not a matter of just without any reason they have got all the powers, nobody can say anything to them, and when there is a national crisis or in a particular tribe it is discussed with the elders, it is discussed with the Ndunas, those that are close to the Nkosi, and only then when there can be no solutions then the Nkosi says, "Let's call in impis." But having been advised from this structure, coming up from all these people, even women talk about it, "There is something, there is a crisis, what do you think about it?" And it becomes something which is discussed in that societal structure and then recommendations go up and then there is a need for Imbiso where an Nkosi comes through, where an Nkosi can be able to say, "OK let us call an Imbiso to address such situations." So the general belief and negative utterances that they have all the powers is not true.

POM     Is the land held in trust by the Amakosi? It's not owned on an individual basis?

FG     It is held in trust. For instance, let me give you something; if I wanted a plot here, that's another thing people have not investigated, if I want a plot here I can't just go to the Nkosi and say, "Can you?". No, no, no. If I talk to his Induna his Induna has councillors as well. Do you know that I can get that plot without an Nkosi being present there, because it's a structure - I wish you could talk to Professor Harriet about this, Harriet Ngubane. At Franschhoek over the weekend we had a wonderful presentation. I wish she could give you a document of the patriarchal society and the matriarchal society and then she then went down to how her land is held in trust and I actually learnt also in our discussions, because I serve in the Fundamental Human Rights, even the youth that is in the party here in parliament in our discussions, like I said to you, some of the things I am still also learning. But it was very much interesting to me to note that when you have spoken to an Induna, I remember my husband has had to ask for some piece of land around where we stay. At no stage did he say to me, "Let's go to Nkosi." You come there, you sort of ask from an Induna, you don't pay, it's a matter of negotiation and some allegiance and you talk to him and you want to say to him, "Can I be under you?" It is nothing compared to the historical land-locked system, the fear of ... as they normally call it now. No, no, no, it's something far different you see. That structure is completely different from this particular structure that we are talking about. So because it is held in trust, when they have now their own meeting under that particular tree, or in that particular hut, then the Induna then reports where I would put ... Patrick O'Malley has come with his family, this is the background, this is what happened to them and they are willing to be subservient to you and this is what we have asked them to do. [They are going to be staying within the few like this and this.] So it is the Nkosi who then asks, once the Induna accepts, it is a given, contrary to the belief that they are in complete control of this land and in the mind of any person we believe that land belongs to His Majesty.

     Now the whole thing is blurred, the vision is blurred by the political aspect where now people put in corruption, where people say human rights have been violated and all those things. And we wish people could have seminars one after the other so that we teach each other, the rest have got to learn about how we relate to matters of land, because we have learnt, we have gone to school, we have got degrees in public administration, we learnt Roman law but I doubt that there's any Roman person who knows about Zulu law. You see?

     So I think the answer to all this, I see it as a long term and lifetime commitment to teach each other with passion and with tolerance. And I think once I make you understand how I feel about certain issues that we can together write the history of the country, then we together agree on a certain constitutional principle because it satisfies me, it satisfies you.

POM     Just going back to King Zwelithini for a moment. I have interviewed him about four times in the last four years and on every occasion he has been very anti-ANC. He says they are a Xhosa dominated tribe, they are going to rule over or be dominant over the Zulu people, we will never let that happen. And then he was very strongly supportive of Dr Buthelezi and then after the elections there is this kind of turnabout. What happened to jar the relationship between himself and Dr Buthelezi?

FG     I think in a way I've answered your question. How did I answer it? I said it is this politicising of events and issues. No, let me start off by just being honest with you. I feel a little bit uncomfortable to talk about His Majesty in terms of my own cultural standard, and because I am a woman I also do believe that it becomes very difficult to talk about things monarch because unless you know what you're talking about, that's number one. Number two, I do also believe that things monarch must be discussed by those that are of royal blood. It's good for me to understand them but I wouldn't be able to categorically come in and give judgement, it's unbecoming of me to do that.

     But now having said that, let's take Dr Buthelezi and His Majesty. There is blood running between those two veins, those two individuals. It's a relationship steeped seriously on the tree, a family tree of royalty. It's not friendship, it's not western styles of living, it goes far back in their own death and on his death bed the monarch handed over to Dr Buthelezi the responsibility of looking after King Zwelithini. Now what is happening hurts him greatly. Whoever has gained responsibility, I mean gained control of the monarch, should have done it without drawing a wedge, there is nothing - OK, OK, if he had believed that the ANC is such a bad organisation which I must tell you Dr Buthelezi, as I am his follower, in all the news conferences, the Women's Brigade conferences and what have you, he used to teach us about the ANC. Today the youth of the IFP and the women there, and everybody, we have come to sort of appreciate the problems the ANC in exile were having, even Dr Mandela in jail because intertwined in his speech he used to set time aside, at no level did he teach against the ANC because firstly he was in the ANC Youth League himself. His education career was torn to pieces because of his activities in the ANC.

POM     As I understand it he was a protégé of Chief Luthuli.

FG     Yes, you see. Now I do not know what has made His Majesty to turn around. I wish I did. And I am not here going to label people. I don't wish to do that. It's below me to do that. But I am one of those people who are feeling very bitter about what is happening, because like I have told you, it is this Buthelezi who taught me to respect King Goodwill. I want to be blatantly true to you that as an academic, a young fiery academic and in fact I was a Black Conscious Movement student, I was with SASO and my affiliations before politically were with the Black Consciousness Movement. So I didn't even know whether I've got to respect a King. Which King? Like look at the background I'm coming from, from the Sothos, from the Xhosas, my father going to this place and preaching in this, so I sort of mixed with all the different tribes in South Africa. So, to me, it was not very important. But Dr Buthelezi taught me to respect the monarchy. Now if it is the same monarchy that goes against him, it's a pity for me. And even as I am speaking to you it's time we speak in anger about the monarchy. We just have to look at Buthelezi's face. He turns, he is angry. He cannot take it that we can just use his monarchy's name just like that and because of respect then we retract. Buthelezi can allow you to criticise him across the board and this aspect I didn't know about him, it's my husband who taught me that. I never believed that you don't say no to Buthelezi, because the people who are talking against Buthelezi used to tell us that he is somebody you cannot dare cross words with him. But my husband says, "You cross words with him he respects you even more." I said, "What?" He said, "Yes." Now my husband is an historian and he queried certain things with Buthelezi and he said, "I have had to query him on certain issues and we would have to go through them and I learnt that after each time we have had a clash on certain issues he respected me more." Now I am today a Women's Brigade leader because I have been able to say, "I don't know, this is my opinion, do you think my sisters support you?" That's what Buthelezi wants. He doesn't want to be saying "Yes, yes, yes", but unfortunately when people are looking for grandstands everywhere they choose to say what they want to say about Buthelezi.

     But let's turn back to what you have asked me. It is a great pity that the monarch has decided to go the route he is going. All what we wish for is, OK if the ANC, within the ANC we do know that there are Zulus, but equally they knew that within the IFP we had Sothos and Xhosas but they didn't want to acknowledge that you see. So the whole division, there is a wedge which has been calculated through some plan of action that once we draw this wedge, I think it was 1987 or so, I'm not very sure about that date, there was a pamphlet which went through the country and now the things are happening according to the pamphlet. It was saying, "Destroy the Zulu might, destroy Buthelezi, get a wedge between them, dehumanise the Zulus so that they can be subjected to move into a South African mould where they shall stop saying they are Zulus, they should look at themselves as South African." I've got nothing against being called a South African but I'm not going to be just popped into a melting pot where I am able to say I am a South African and what is your nationality? No, I'm still South African. Who are you? No, I'm a South African. That's not the type of thing. I want you to know that I am a South African, a Zulu woman. She's a South African, Sotho woman. But we together work for the betterment of South Africa respecting the cultural diversity. What the world can assist us here is to teach us how to handle diversity, how to look into a pluralistic society and assist these people to co-exist because in England we didn't have just the British, the English, we have had the Saxons, but we haven't heard that they killed each other. We have seen them working together and this is what the west should be doing to assist us to know that you can co-exist with people, respect their culture and don't take it away from them.

     So I still want to see a South Africa where everybody is proud of being a South African, working for the good of South Africa but maintaining cultural identity because I have a responsibility as a mother and I'm going to be a grandmother, my daughter is expecting now. I want to hand down to that boy or that girl, when I am cuddling that child I should be able to tell him or her about the heritage of the Zulus because my daughter is getting married to a Zulu man. If she married a Sotho man I would even, because I know the Sotho cultural way, I would also - I have to hand this down. Now history will hand out South Africa's success but I've got to hand down my national successes to my children.

POM     Under the traditional law, the Amakosi, where do women fit? There must be a clash between the traditional position of women in society and what would be regarded as women wanting equal rights with men?

FG     It's a lovely question. I wish people had asked it long ago before we talked about gender equality. Surprisingly under cultural law women have got a very, very special position in society. The only woman who suffers in the cultural law, and you know when I say now traditional I don't only mean the Zulus I mean the Sotho, the Tswanas, the Xhosas, but the specific examples which I may give you now are coming from the Zulus because I was brought up by the Zulus anyway. The only woman who gets downtrodden is a woman who does not handle herself properly, or a maiden that has no morals. Morality is one of those strong fibres that the traditional law is serious about. When she grows up she is taught how to be a woman, married, not subservient but working together with her husband to see that things get done. Now we must separate abuse and all that from tradition. In the African tradition a man who beats up a wife is no man at all. He is castigated, he is looked down upon, but now people who have not actually understood this they think that beating up a wife or beating a woman, you are macho, then you are a real man. That's a misnomer, that's wrong to believe that. We are coming to the position of women. After puberty she is now taught safe sex to protect her from getting a child at home. Yes she does more work in the home. Why? It is believed that a strong woman would be able to look after a home which is going to produce even stronger male and female progenitors in such a way that we have got a strong societal structure. Then after having her menses and all that she now gets into a tougher training because we are now thinking she is now ready to get into marriage.

     I must be honest, they have never been brought up to be academics or what, they have just been prepared for a marriage route you see. There are those that rebel against this training but history is a little bit quiet about them, but they are there. And then when she gets married she is given a name whereby she is going to be called here in this home, but don't forget, depending on her birth line at her home, like my daughter now, the one who is expecting, there are certain things which we cannot do until she comes, even if she is Mrs, but we have to wait for her and we call as the first born Umafungwase. The first girl born in a family has a very, very powerful role. When she talks we all listen. Do you see the difference? Yes? And when things get wrong in her sister's home, I mean brothers' families, let's say the brothers are married, the wives when they want to appeal before they come to me and my husband to say, "Your son is failing", they first get into contact with Umafungwase. Only she will come and say, "What is happening in my father's kraal?" because you see now I have got a big house at Empangeni but it is not my husband's house according to tradition, it is his father's house. When Theodore, my son, has a house that house will be doctor's house, her husband. So this gives charity to go to Theodore's home and say, "What is happening in my father's home?" And that is his house. I am trying to show you this powerful role this woman plays. Now, when other sisters-in-law as they come she gets elevated, the more brides come in she gets elevated and when there is a family Indaba the woman are called, they sit there, they listen.

     Now if you don't know their culture and you see them sitting there quietly you think, "Oh my God, poor lambs, they are called to listen because at the end of the day when judgement is passed the kraal heads will turn and say: what do the mother's say?" Amongst the eldest of us, having conferred with us, we say, "This is what we think." Now when she grows old, not very old anyway, when we say old in terms of now having other daughters-in-law, she is a mother-in-law, she's got to that stage, she then is having the status of entering the kraal where the cattle are kept, otherwise no woman comes around there because it is not believed, it is known that around the kraal that's where the graves of the ancestors of the home are and when things go wrong in this home we go to the kraal to go and report that now.

     Now women, according to your culture you say, "Uh-uh, that is a subservient role now", but according to our culture we know it is not subservient, it's in keeping with our role in as much as when a child is born our men don't just come in and observe the birth of a child. They wait until ten days before they can come in and actually handle the child, and that's not subserviency, that's not cowardice that they are shirking responsibility, they take it it is like that. Now even when things are tough in terms of marriage, in terms of death, it is to the woman of the home that we turn and to the women in the community. You walk with stature, you walk with pride. Like I said to you, the ball is in your hands whether you want to be respected in the community or not and there comes a time when everybody says there is no better compliment that can be paid to you by your people than when they say, "Mama Gasa." So if you notice when people say, "Mama Gasa" you are already that status alone, you have walked in front of them in such a way that you deserve that statement.

POM     Do you think it is true that the west really with modernisation tries to impose it's culture on other cultures, that it doesn't really respect other cultures?

FG     No, I think that is a little bit unfair. I think one of the few things that I do have really, I do have a sense of justice. I think it is a little bit unfair to say so. Let us look at the pressures which came with modernisation, and when modernisation comes it should come and find you routed for you to be modernised and still retain what you call humanity. But as modernisation comes, just take me, let's just talk about me and nobody else, if I as a Chairman of caucus, in fact when the House sits I think I'm going to release the Speaker, I'm a modern woman, I'm a career oriented person, but I'm just a different person who makes her career and home. You strip me of my home then I don't give my best in my career. One way or the other it's just a gift I've got of balancing the two. When one of them is a little bit shaky it affects the other. So I call myself a modern woman because traditionally I should be at home looking after my husband, looking after my children, looking after my home. Parents work and come back. This is a giant step that I had even to leave them and come to Cape Town, but when I came here I couldn't operate until I brought in and I started finding, I started getting my feet. But if I decide to push that sense of justice I was talking about, to push life values off in the name of because I'm modernised, that's not the western civilisation and modernisation superimposing itself on me, it is the greed and the ambition in me. I think that's the problem we are having. We have got to be able to say, "Oh she's like this", then we shouldn't club, I hope I'm making myself clear. I should be able to be a modern woman within the Zulu culture, within my African societal structures, with the western, because I am here because of western modernisation, but it has not at all imposed itself on me. I am still able to remember and hanker after knowledge of some of the things which are my roots, you see. Now once I throw them away, once I refuse to recognise them, it is not western modernisation that has imposed itself on me, it is my ambition to want to be even more modern and therefore I think to be more modern I have got to shirk that. I think we have got to.

     So I wouldn't blame western modernisation. I do have quite a lot of white friends that want to impose themselves on me. I say, "Look, we are friends, this is your thinking", and I long stopped thinking - to me if you are talking bunkum it's bunkum, it doesn't mean that because you are white then it's sense and if you are talking nonsense it doesn't mean it's going to be good because you are black like me. So after this colour issue, I go beyond it and look at the mind of the person that is talking to me and if he is off track, not because he's white, not because he's black, he's just off track. So I think it would be a fair accusation to say there is an imposition but I must now on the other hand say when they came with civilisation and modernisation, some really are guilty of saying, "No, drop this for this to work." Now we can't perpetually penalise generations just because that happened. We should come to a level where we can say, OK this must have been a personal error. I may be wrong.

POM     Has television had an impact on the traditional way of life?

FG     Yes it has, it really has. Look at my children, my children are different. I've got five of them. Now with the first two we had no television, in fact it already was there but blacks couldn't, you know in South Africa it was not, then the third one came in. Then these two are television kids, these two. These are not television kids, they met when they were already grown and they had gone though college and they met, when they were at university coming home, television at home. Then she is the middle string. I promise you, terribly different , I can see it. These, by virtue of their age, should be back-chatting me or something like that, but because of the traditional way of upbringing they sort of - you know, this one weighs her way. These are spoiled brats and they have gone to mixed schools and now I am beginning to be relying on these to assist me to bring back these values here and then these two are saying, "It is your fault, you were too strict with us. Why are you allowing this to happen?"

     But I find from time to time I have got to go here to come and assist this angle. I'm talking now about my family. The advent of television. Now this one being an only son and last born, he has got a TV set here, a TV set there and unless really we do something drastic he bangs the door; that is not done in an African culture. If I am scolding you, you have got to stand there, listen to me and say you are sorry. But if you think that I am wrong, you keep quiet for a time when I am happy, then you say, "But you know you were not right." You see that? But I promise you this, if I say something and they feel it is unfair they look at me in the eyes and say, "But you are lying Mama." I got sick one day, I couldn't take it, and they romp off to their bedrooms and then, pow! They are looking at television, they are mixing with the other children at the boarding schools, they come back home over the weekend, so what am I doing to solve this? You know where they are now? I sent them over, the day before yesterday, they are with their Granny at the farm in KwaZulu/Natal. So from time to time I give them running shorts and playing things, no smart things, and I send them to my less fortunate relatives in the farms where if they, with one hand, these others, because in the Zulu, in the traditional set up we don't need any permission to take a person to task. He is taken to task immediately if he is doing something wrong at that time you see.

     So television is interfering with the traditional aspect of our kids because even CCV when you look at it, it is nothing traditional. It's a mixture of urban life and a mixture of American things, you name it. So television definitely. And now if we call for traditional programmes the UN cries, no we are trying to let South Africa get modern and we are going to be sharing the viewing time and the programmes in terms of the eleven languages. How they will get round that one while I'm still alive I would like to see. The answer lies with the IBA and the people that have business, I wish then they could all be able to take what I am saying to you in a very, very proper perspective and apply it so that it assists that some values, we cannot cry only for tradition, but there are some values that we need to really keep in the upbringing of the children.

POM     I think I will leave it there. You must have other work to do.

FG     Yes. There's always enough time.

POM     Thank you ever so much.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.