In his play The Mourning Bride, William Congreve takes us into trauma and fury within the game of thrones of Granada: King Manuel gets murdered and Queen Zara, held captive by him, commits suicide.
The play opened in 1697 in England and left behind deep knowledge and understanding of human relations around power: it humanises, yet dehumanises the rich and powerful – the elite. The culturally famous line we have come to hold top of mind is found in the early scene of the play when Zara says: “Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned … nor hell a fury, like a woman scorned.”
Most of Congreve’s works were in the period of the Restoration in England between 1660 and early 1700s – a period that has historical significance similar to South Africa’s current period of reconstruction.
The devastating Three Kingdom Wars led to King Charles II embarking on an ambitious restoration of the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies. In South Africa’s reconstruction, we do not have a monarchy, but the ANC is leading the country to a reconstructed South Africa. Like soldiers after war, the majority of South Africans were on the frontlines of the brutal apartheid system, which involved physical and mental violence. The victims of apartheid crimes were not just marginalised, imprisoned, exiled, murdered or tortured, but the scornful systematic beneficiaries, too.
The fury of the scornful is felt on talk radio shows where broken souls gather to whine, blame, complain, minimise, whitewash or exaggerate their plight. The tawdry cartoon works of one obsessive Ayanda Mabulu and his sordid, admiring cash-flush clientele, exemplify the fury of the scorned.
Humans have the ability to outcompete the devil himself with hate and anger; the heavens, too, do not know the rage when love turns to hate. To many, it is inexplicable that, years ago, EFF leader Julius Malema was prepared to kill for Jacob Zuma – yet today he is prepared to be his prosecutor, judge and executioner.
Malema joins the black-faced Tony Leon and political minstrel Mmusi Maimane in this quest. Born of transferable and palpable fury, Cope’s Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota regains the meaning of his sobriquet.
South Africans were not treated for apartheid post-traumatic stress disorder, leaving many self-combusting and explosive in fury. It is reported as proper behaviour and acceptable reaction for communities to bomb their brand-new public clinic in protest for more free water.
The media is furious, as are communities.
Politicians are back to killing each other for positions.
Our anger politics are laced with vengeance and open hatred in parliament.
Politicians are no longer politicking but lawyering; judges and clergy are angry and taking the gloves off; the moneyed are boycotting investing.
The English Restoration did not go smoothly because of impatience, experimenting and fury. Will this country’s reconstruction fail due to the distracting fury, hyperbole, impatience and appetite for political experiments?
Wisdom dictates we stay the course of our recent prophet Nelson Mandela: reconcile, reconstruct and develop. But treat the fury…