Obama_selfie

“It’s never that serious”~ my friend

I have a friend whose response to any form of stress is “it’s never that serious.” In fact, very little ever seems to ruffle her feathers. If it’s fixable, she fixes it. If it’s not, she moves on. It’s a skill I am yet to master. A skill the rest of the world isn’t doing too good with either if recent events are anything to go by…

If you have not heard as yet that Nelson Mandela passed away, you need to stop living under a rock. I will not add to the many stories of his greatness that have been told because I can not do such stories justice. However, I can’t help but notice the shockingly huge backlash Obama is receiving because of that photo of him taking a selfie. As someone on the world-wide web said, “it’s the selfie seen around the world.”

Rather than condemn Obama for the selfie to the exclusion of all else, I would urge those who think that this is a matter of international importance, to weigh it against the fact that this was a celebration of Mandela’s life. Memorial may not be right word to describe the atmosphere at that stadium on that day. The plebs were singing and celebrating and waving banners and photos of Madiba. One Springbok (South African national rugby player) commented that the atmosphere was greater than the atmosphere at any of the big games he’s played in. People were there to celebrate the gift that was Mandela’s life.

I would also urge those who rush to condemn and judge to remember what Mandela was about. He forgave people who took away his youth, his life, his wife, his children. He forgave those who stripped away every dignity and his freedom. He forgave people who made him labour away in the hot sun the years of his life that those very same people lived freely. He came out of a hole and with forgiveness and courtesy for those who threw him in that hole, united a nation. He doesn’t strike me as a man who would cause an international incident over a selfie…. but maybe I don’t fully grasp what Mandela was and is about?

I would point out that Obama’s speech was the highlight of the memorial service. He was as compelling, as moving, as awe-inspiring as the leader of the free world should be. For the duration of his speech, all of South Africa paused. People who have never liked him became overnight fans. If I can not be trusted on this matter then trust in the rousing and thunderous cheer that followed. That is an international triumph.

I would point out that the selfie story was reported in the “humour/indulgence” section of the news in South Africa.

I would add that if the selfie is to be condemned so passionately, where is the condemnation for the individual who used sign language that most deaf people around the world couldn’t readily recognise. Where is the condemnation for the fact that an entire international community not only missed Obama’s speech but they missed every speech and sound at the historical event. Where is the condemnation for the crowd that delightfully booed the South African president and cheerily cheered everyone else. I’m sure that doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny levelled at Obama.

Finally, and a little tongue in cheek, for those who heartily praise Mrs Obama’s conduct at the time of the selfie….. have you considered the possibility that it was not the fact that she was at a memorial that had her so solemn but rather the fact that her husband was cheerfully cavorting with an attractive blonde. I would purse my lips and clasp my hands and plot which couch Obama would sleep on too if I was her.

When it’s all said and done…. it really is never that serious. There are bigger issues to cause international incidents about.

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