Monday, December 9, 2013

Why luvvies love calling Mandela "Madiba"

On the weekend Tim Blair asserted that those who use Nelson Mandela's clan name Madiba are "fantastic poseurs". Today he cites definitive evidence for this claim.

There are a coupla reasons leftist luvvies can't stop using the appellation. Firstly, it's familiar -- the inner-city tosser's version of calling Russell Crowe "Rusty".

Say "Madiba" and you subtly infer that you were mates with the guy -- or have at least broken bread with him on occasion. Even if you don't wish to convey that impression, it makes it seem you're an authentic fellow traveller with him. Clearly, you've been a brave and committed activist in the great man's struggle for freedom and equality.

The practice is akin to using a person's first name. Also, like the recently deceased icon's surname, it has the advantage of sounding truly African. Talking or writing about "Nelson" would just sound a bit awkward. Madiba, on the other hand, sounds intimate, affectionate and authentic.

Also, it's kinda esoteric. Not widely used in the meeja -- well, at least not until recently anyway -- it conveys to your reader or interlocutor that you have deep and detailed knowledge of the issues surrounding the person behind the name. Say "Madiba" and you're not just a brave human rights activist, you're also a scholar -- an assiduous student of the struggle against apartheid.

That said, I think it's lost much of its power in this regard. Hand-wringing meeja pseuds have really gone overboard with it, rendering it next to powerless on the socialist sneerer's smugometer. That's kind of sad -- and very much like what they did with the word "pugilist" to describe Tonay Abbott. Hell, even bogans call him that now ...


  1. The blog where I linked to yours is anything but reverential towards Mandela. If you need something to wash away the saccharine adulation, it's worth a visit.

  2. Yeah, I noticed that. Iconoclastic to say the least!