National Pride

I’m watching SABC news here in Cape Town and right now there is some live event going on in Johannesburg, and President Zuma is giving a lecture about Alfred Xuma who was a former president of the ANC and a political activist. I don’t really know too much about South African history, but in watching this, I’m definitely learning a lot more. 

Anyway, besides the content of the event, the outbreaks into songs are what are getting me right now. The whole audience will just break into song, perfectly harmonized, as if they’ve rehearsed it all before–I know, they’ve probably sung those particular songs so many times that it’s like they’ve been in constant musical rehearsal. And they don’t sing mechanically, like the way we sing the national anthem in the US, but with passion and pride. The president got up to give his speech and they again broke into song. He interjected with a rallying call between him and the audience, after which he started the lead of another song, to which the audience faithfully responded in song. 

I can’t even imagine living in a country where the mere presence of our leader ignites everyone in attendance to break into song. I think President Obama has probably gotten the closest to eliciting that type of emotional pride of any other president, but it still isn’t a likely event. It probably doesn’t help that we don’t have a song with lyrics that are empowering–that give you a sense of national pride. The star spangled banner is just violent, and speaks to a time period where not everyone was even free. I can’t imagine a president getting up and leading a song either. 

Aside: listening to President Zuma’s eloquence makes me laugh when I remember the way President Bush sounded when he gave speeches–that is, like an idiot