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Thandi Modise vs Afriforum – is it because she’s black?

Thandi Modise had a farm, ee aye ee aye oh, and on that farm she had some cannibal pigs…

According to EWN Thandi Modise says that Afriforum’s plans, announced on Thursday, to privately prosecute her over her mistreatment of farm animals is motivated by their wish to show that black people can’t farm.

A bit of a refresher here, in 2014 Modise’s farm hit the news for the horrifying conditions the animals on it had to suffer.

IOL reported that the 85 surviving pigs on the farm had resorted to eating the 53 dead ones, and were drinking their own urine in order to survive. Sheep, geese, goats and ducks had also died on the premises – which appeared to have been without water for over a week.

Modise claimed at the time that she wasn’t a farmer, and that she was learning.

According to the Mail and Guardian, one of the workers said they weren’t paid, and in fact had taken to begging the nearby farmers for food.

The water pumps at the farm were out of order, and the fences were in disrepair. The previous owner said that it looked like the farm equipment he had sold with the farm hadn’t been used for years.

Two Ocean’s Vibe quoted Senior inspector for the national SPCA task team, Andries Venter as saying, “It was one of the worst scenes I witnessed in my 20 years at the SPCA.”

Julius Malema in 2014 slammed Modise, telling Citypress, “If people can’t take care of their own animals, how can they take care of the country? That is a demonstration of failure. The ANC must be ashamed to have a leader of that stature who does not care about the wellbeing of her own animals.”

My take

I’m a gamer, so recently there was a kerfuffle over Guild Wars 2. According to Yongyea, a gaming pundit I follow on YouTube, Jessica Price, one of the story developers, went on Twitter and posted a thread from an AMA (Ask me anything) she did about stories in MMOs, where she explained why she thought MMOs couldn’t have interesting main characters.

A guy known as Deroir politely responded that he thought the issue was less with MMOs in general, and more with Guild Wars 2’s specific storytelling engine, suggesting that things like branching dialogue trees could provide players with more of a feeling of playing a character.

Price didn’t take this slight disagreement well, and the whole discussion ended up with her intimating that Deroir was being sexist for expressing his opinion, proclaiming that she didn’t need to pretend she liked the game’s community on “her time” and the next “rando asshat” who tells her how to do her job…

It kind of made me wonder what she thought the point to posting something from an AMA on Twitter was.

The only person who brought gender into this was her. I read the original thread, Deroir was being nothing but polite, even apologising to Price at one point, and Price was just behaving badly.

So she got sacked along with another developer who came in to defend her, and has spent the time since them going to gaming media with a sob story about how it was all down to sexism, how her boss had the power to command a woman to stand there and take it and of course some sexists hopped on the train because of course they would and…

You know this is a pretty common story isn’t it? Where someone does something wrong, they know they did wrong, and they expand the criticism of themselves to their identities.

You get white guys who are sexist or racist who proclaim feminists hate men and that black people just hate whites. And of course you get some reactionaries who say “You know what? Yeah we do.”

And it really just serves to create this whole dynamic where it is bloc on bloc, instead of being down to one individual doing wrong. A fight is always more fun if you can bring in your friends.

Modise isn’t being slammed for being black, Price wasn’t fired for being female. At the core of everything is the fact that we’re all human beings, not identities.

All too often individual bad actors are taken as representative of the groups they are in. This is one of the tactics of oppression, and why in cases like Price and Modise you will get bigots jumping all over them, and it can be exploited by bad actors to force solidarity behind their bad actions.

But in real terms, nobody should be responsible to or for their identity. People should be free to be themselves, and suffer the consequences for themselves. We have our individual rights, which means we get our individual wrongs. This is the ideal I think all social justice should aim at, and we’ve got a long way to get there.

  • Picture of Thandi Modise courtesy of GovernmentZA on Flickr

 

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