Mbabane, Swaziland | 2 April 2014
I must offer an apology. Last week I wrote a column about a serious topic. I wrote about the idea of objectivity in journalism. I was thinking out aloud whether objectivity – being impartial and detached from the subject you are writing about – is always a good thing when covering a story.
I promise I will never write about such a serious topic ever again.
No, no, that might be too dramatic. I promise I won’t go near a serious topic for at least three weeks.
And you must know it wasn’t my conscience alone that forced me into such a retraction.
My mum always told me that if you think you made a mistake, say sorry before someone demands an apology. Mum’s words are wise (sometimes).
Some friends may have also passed comment on my wayward trek into the world of serious commentary. Think twice before you stray into objectivity, they cautioned.
Even strangers in the street said: “Hey wena, you know you should stick to the funny stuff, don’t get caught up in that serious what-what”. I should say that this is not a direct quotation. Though if it were, I wouldn’t know whether to take it as a compliment or a critique. Perhaps a bit of both, if I were honest.
Having admitted (or made up) all of that, I still had half-a-mind to stick it to the man this week and write another serious column. But I thought better of it. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not get deported. But let me not flatter myself.
So, what I’m really saying is: I thought I’d just apologise for fun. I thought I’d exercise my “right to apology” and say sorry. No harm no foul.
Even better, I thought, I have a “platform” to make such an apology: a weekly column in a national newspaper. And that’s when it hit me, like a shoe to the head. Platform. This word platform is being used a lot. Platform this, platform that, platforms everywhere – you’d think it would be a Swazi woman’s shopping dream. Unlimited platforms. But alas, it is just a word, a word we are seemingly overusing. Myself included, evidently.
If you listen and look closely you see and hear about platforms all over the place.
Websites have become platforms. Campaigns are being transformed into platforms. Political parties (whoops) like to call themselves platforms. It just goes on and on and on. One endless platform into an abyss of jargon and cant.
Even churches – or dance parties as they were described by the press – are becoming platforms. Presumably these church-based platforms lead into the heavenly ever after. Or, perhaps, they lead into the pastor’s bank account?
But back to the serious topic at hand: platforms – the shoe. Aren’t they uncomfortable to walk in? Ladies? It looks like an awkward shuffle, almost like a stiff-legged moonwalk. Although that may well be why they are called platforms. Platforms are meant to draw attention, so I guess the platform shoe does just that. It’s all beginning to make sense.
But none of this helps with my most pressing dilemma. How do I apologise on this platform? Surely I’ll need another one if I am to balance while saying sorry – nothing worse than apologising in one shoe. But, to be fair, at least I’ll be uncomfortable while uttering my words of retraction. Till next week.
This column was originally published in the Times of Swaziland on April 2 2014