Audio discussion: ‘Voices from the suburbs – can we talk our way out?’ – PE Philosophy Café

Please note that the audio quality is not great – levels are all over the place – and that one is best off turning down the bass on their audio system.

First of all, it needs to be made clear that Gary Koekemoer coined the name, ‘Voices from the suburbs – can we talk our way out?’, after a discussion with a friend, Nikolai. It became the name for a discussion that took place at tonight’s Philosophy Café in Port Elizabeth. Note that Philosophy Café is not an actual Café, but a group of people who meet under the guidance of prominent PE philosopher Bert Olivier – 

Here is some background to the topic, written by Gary and originally emailed to the group:

Nikolai and I met last week and what we agreed is that I would lead in with my input and then see if we could generate some dialogue within the group in response to that. I though it useful to provide some input beforehand and some interesting pieces to read if you have the time.

The Rainbow Nation is in trouble, we have hit an iceberg that wasn’t on the charts and we may be at that watershed moment that either pushes Nietzsche into the abyss or ups his pace dancing on the edge. Civil strife and wildcat strike action has returned to pre-democracy levels. Crime is a reality for everyone, everywhere.  SAPS is returning to “kraagdadigheid” as their preferred modus operandi. Government seems intent on using power to drive through vested and parochial interests. SOE’s are failing. Social media is not a friendly place, safe behind our screens, we launch bigoted, intense and arrogant attacks on anyone who disagrees with us.  Our children are echoing our racist narratives. Our communities, our churches, our sport clubs, our schools appear still to be divided on socio-economic and racial lines. We are blind to the good that has been happening, to what has been achieved. I get the sense that we want fight our way out of this, rather than talk our way out.

20 years ago, we faced an abyss, we turned at the last moment and talked/ dialogued/ negotiated our way out of it holding up the hope of democracy as our guiding light. That light has gone out, democracy cannot save us. Our hero is dead, his legacy being questioned. The TRC didn’t deliver what we expected, in turn for the outpouring of grief and hurt, families were not compensated nor was justice served. We live in a country that allows war criminals free passage but denies access to holy men. What went wrong? How did we get here? Is it really just down to Zuma or the sins of Apartheid?

I think that in some sense our hearts are broken, our faith in the goodness of humanity is in tatters and we don’t have a new hope to rescue us. We couldn’t be in a better place. At ground zero there is only up. The new narrative that arises will inevitably be an honest one and possibly we will take responsibility for our futures. We have to have faith in ourselves to get us out of this mess, but perhaps we also need to find a new way of talking about us? Perhaps it starts with race and privilege, what do we do about our personal experience thereof

I’ve included a great article by Sam Vice (thanks Nikolai) about “whiteness” and Eusibus McCaiser’s/ Pierre de Vos responses and also more recent articles by the Free Market head, Leon Louw and also an Africa Check one that tests some of the factual claims being made. In conjunction with Berts’ article he supplied perhaps it can help us think through how we go about constructing a new narrative for this beautiful, fooked up place we live in. I don’t imagine you’ll have time to get through all the articles, unless you really have nothing else to do this weekend, but I think an interesting selection to browse through if you can.

Some of the external links mentioned by Gary and in the discussion: documents/How%20do%20I%20Live%20in%20This%20Strange%20Place.pdf

A response I have written in light of the discussion / debate:

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