Malema: is there a Pedi village missing an idiot?
Julius Malema’s latest and possibly most glorious clanger claims that hermaphradites do not exist because there is no word in Sepedi to describe the intersex condition. He also claims that the concept of hermaphroditism is an imperialist plot being forced onto South Africans.
Christina Engela of the South African Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (SA GLAAD) asks if there is a village somewhere that is perhaps missing an idiot and has raised some of her issues with the ANC Youth League president.
“For me,” says Engela, “there are three mysteries surrounding Malema. The first is, he’s twenty-eight years old, so how can he STILL be president of the youth league? The second is, how does he manage to top his previous ignorant statements with something significantly more stupid with each successive blunder? And the third is, how does he keep getting away with it?”
“I am astonished every time this man opens his mouth in front of a microphone - and astounded by what comes out of it. What is so baffling is that no matter how big the foot, he actually manages to open his mouth wide enough to fit it in every time.
Does he actually know anything about anything? Doesn't he know he should actually read up on a subject if he doesn't know enough about it to make a public statement about it?”
When Malema was commenting on the Caster Semenya saga, he said: “Hermaphrodite, what is that? Somebody tell me, what is hermaphrodite in Pedi? There's no such thing, hermaphrodite, in Pedi. So don't impose your hermaphrodite concepts on us. You are either a woman or a man. When a child is born you are announcing it’s a baby girl or a baby boy. We have never heard in the village a child being projected, ‘we are given a hermaphrodite’. There's never been such a thing in a village we come from.
“Why should we be told today our children are hermaphrodites? She's a girl and why should we accept concepts that are imposed on us by the imperialists? We will never agree to that concept. You are either a girl or a boy and that's it.”
Engela asks, “Does this man realize the kind of damage his ignorant remarks cause to the intersex community? Now fellow ignoramuses will pick up his tune and perpetuate this ignorant claim that there is no such thing as hermaphrodites, despite the clear medical evidence that intersex people are not a figment of the imagination -and making life still harder for the intersex community.
In a recent interview with Gareth Cliff on 5FM’s breakfast show, Malema reinforced his opinion when he explained how very easy it is to determine the gender of a child, saying “you just look between the legs”.
Clearly Julius Malema is no expert on gender identity and the fact that intersex people do actually exist in places even if the language spoken in that particular area does not have a word for hermaphrodite or intersex.
I am sure that National Geographic and the many reputable scientists and medical specialists who are experts on the subject will be surprised to hear that their conclusions based on scientific fact are laughably incorrect because the president of the ANC Youth League says that such a person cannot be real because there is no word in a particular language to describe them.
Engela closes her valid argument by saying, “As a transgender woman I most certainly empathise with the plight of the intersex. Is there ever going to be any recognition for intersex people? Will society collapse because people realise that the line dividing the genders was imaginary all along and has now vanished? Is the idea that there is more than just a gender binary so overpowering? Is there going to be a global panic because people won’t know anymore who belongs at the bottom and who belongs on top?”
Incidently, Ms Thelma Tshebane, a senior lecturer at the Wits School of Languages in Johannesburg, says the Sepedi word for hermaphrodite is “setabane”.
Christine Engela is the deputy president of SA GLAAD. Visit www.saglaad.org
for more details.
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