This past Friday I was anticipating a relaxing weekend, with little more planned other than attending Tony Leon’s book launch at the wonderful Asara wine estate. There was a mere expectation on my part of a good lunch, good company and a good speaker. I was not, however, expecting TL to drop the political bombshell of Thabo Mbeki’s resignation. It was a bizarre moment that generated a muted collective gasp as the majority absorbed the news.
As I sat there I couldn’t help but think I was living through yet another ‘moment in history’ that requires individuals to remember where they were or what they were doing at that moment. But then again was it? Would this announcement in fact have a fundamental impact on the man in the street?
When I drove home, I watched a child, probably no more than four years old, kicking a soccer ball along the side of the freeway. He clearly would not remember this day, his only focus being on that ball and how far he could kick it.
I spoke to my daughter later that afternoon and asked her if she had heard the news, “Oh, yes,” she said. “I knew there was something I wanted tell you.” She then promptly changed the subject to her own personal needs. The topic was over.
That evening I attended a birthday party. Once again the topic came into general conversation, but it was brushed over with somebody commenting on the parallels between Thabo Mbeki and Gordon Brown. And once again the conversation was over.
This morning, a colleague mentioned she’d only just heard “the news”. My immediate thought was, well where have you been all weekend?
Call me cynical, but I can’t help think the only people who are going to benefit from this “moment in history”, other than the immediate political players that is, are the mass media who went into overdrive as they scrambled to tell the same story infinitum until I could tolerate the news channels no longer.