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South Africans have this great fascination with Americans and it always camouflages under statements such as “they are international”, “they did it first”, “they are part of the first world countries”. Honesty? I am not moved by any of those statements.

City of Tshwane’s fascination with Nicki Minaj and Minister of Fun (Fikile Mbalula)’s fascination with Beyonce has cost us millions and they all say “it is good for business”. I then ask why our tourism in Kruger National Park has generated millions since 2013 and you never see American musicians perform there? Are we running out of business ideas and in turn feed our fascination?

Admittedly so, I too used to be fascinated by Americans. I listened to their music, I watched their movies, I read their books and did almost everything in the name of living “The American Dream” in South Africa. I dreamt of being in America. I sometimes imitated their [funny] accent in an attempt to be one with them you know what I’m sayin’? Well that didn’t follow logic when I started reading about America and learning the historical and political history about it.

The warm welcome and massive cheers Barack Obama received when he entered FNB stadium at the memorial of Nelson Mandela in December 2013 was a clear indication of undying love South Africans have for America – not that it is new. And No, it is not because it was Barack Obama – the first black president in America. Not that he did anything different from George Bush’s administration. In fact, he worsened matters when he stepped in.

Thousands cheered as he made what some considered to be “one of the most inspirational messages ever.” We are quick to forget who America is and what it stands for. This is the same president who inspired his troops to kill more Iraq people during his first term of office in the name of defending his country as explained in his famous statement “we will do everything in our power to protect our own. Any person or country that threatens us will be taken down.” which made Americans grow bigger heads.

Reverend Chikane in his book “Things that could not be said. From AIDS to Zimbabwe”, he questions this great fascination (almost obsession) we have with America saying “we forget that this is the same country that was supporting the Apartheid government.”

Just yesterday, a complaint was raised by a South African rapper Refiloe Maele “Cassper Nyovest” Phoolo on why Woolworths SA chose Pharrell Williams aka Mr Happy (who was recently found guilty for stealing Marvin Gaye’s beat) as their campaign ambassador over many brilliant South African musicians (him included), the young man was butchered with vulgar words by his own people who even support his music. Their defense? “Shut up and calm down, you are not there yet. Pharrell is better than you.” I read the many comments from various media houses. If Cassper was in a debate, the poor guy would be ridiculed to the core. He wouldn’t face the public after the debate. Like comrade Jesus, “I wept.”

I guess people have a right to call Cassper a hypocrite since he now collaborates with Americans he admired whilst growing up, but that’s beside the point. My point is that we are so quick to protect Americans than our own. I will not even speak about the recent xenophobic attacks on our very own African whilst many European, Asian and American foreigners are busy rapping our economy and everyone is not complaining about it. That’s a topic for another day (I will address it).

Comrade Jesus’ words that “…no prophet is accepted in his own country.” (Luke 4:24 KJV) is correct, however Americans have made it a point that they protect their own no matter what. No artist will be famous outside their borders without being known by millions within their states.

Remember Ebola? When their own (Americans) were infected, prominent figures like Donald Trump were using their social media campaigning to Barack Obama by posting short clips requesting him to protect their own people. I wonder if we would do the same considering that we recently failed with the TB Joshua saga. What a shame of a nation we have become.

It was not long when teens in townships paraded on the streets with American flags printed on their clothes. It was “cool” for them to wear the flag so much that they posted pictures on their social media profiles. The Kendrick Lamar haircuts we saw and the many Barbies (Nicki Minaj) who organised twerking events in the cities. We saw all that and as elders we were so excited and continued to fund their American Parades without thinking twice.

And then there is Sibusiso “DJ Sbu” Leope. Oh South Africa, have mercy. These past few days I have said on my Facebook page that if the ANC truly loved DJ Sbu the way they protect number 1, they would do everything in their power to protect him no matter how wrong he is.

Folks think we don’t see the many Americans coming to South Africa in Sandton doing seminars funded by South African companies and government, using our public broadcasting platforms when our own are still unknown by millions of South Africa.

When will we stop with this fascination? The fact that they have better equipment than us doesn’t make them more talented than us. Until we nurture and protect our talent, we will still sing their songs boldly with every line of their lyrics than knowing our very own National Anthem. I mean the black South Africans who stumble on the Afrikaans verse and the Afrikaans who stumble on the Sotho verse of our National Anthem.

I wonder if there is one American who knows full lyrics of one artist in Mzansi.

Thabang Phala

Thabang Phala is an award-winning development practitioner, business consultant, brand strategist, facilitator and thought leader with industry experience spanning over 11 years.

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