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The taboo that says it's treachery for a brother to criticize a brother. Zuma confirms he heard the joke, and says, "it would be entirely in character for him to laugh" at it.) Jokes rooted in pain are nothing new, but it was extraordinary to have a banquet-hall of glamorous black-tied Africans laughing at the notion that South Africa is now in such a pitiful state that even they might want to flee.Heck, even the universal conventions of good manners. Zuma's direction, and lo: "He was laughing like crazy," says Mr. Is this not a sign that they're transcending victimhood?Black Americans made the critical breakthrough in the seventies. Clara Zomer, 68, was appointed housing minister this month by President Oscar Arias.Indians followed suit about 10 years later, and look at them now -- rising giants of international trade and authors of every third work on the West's best-selling book charts. She becomes the first Reform Jew to join the Cabinet since Arias' term began in 2006.God knows what the broadcaster was anticipating, but what it got was renegade comedy of a sort never previously seen in South Africa. Their film, the 2006 "Bunny Chow," directed by John Barker, did well on the local circuit, but foreigners found it a bit bewildering.The show slaughtered sacred cows and lampooned important people. Bimha, "and the guys were like, 'Let's move on,' you know? There was an "Easy Rider"-esque scene where a small-town redneck threatens to murder the funnymen because they're trying to seduce his wife, but otherwise, this was a South Africa that was totally unfamiliar to outsiders. There was clearly no chance of "The Pure Monate Show" getting a second chance on state TV. The boys were making good money on South Africa's live comedy circuit.
Lediga, "but they seem to get very anxious about ideas that might draw the attention of the Thought Police." If failed "The Dictator" project cuts a bit close to the bone, one struggles to imagine the reaction to their other movie project -- a comedy about apartheid, loosely inspired by "Life of Brian," Monty Python's heretical parody of the story of Jesus. Kibuuka, "like white racists with black lovers and morons trying to free Mandela." Did he say morons? These guys are lucky to be working in Africa's most tolerant country. Nearly every country in Africa has "insult laws" to protect the dignity of its leaders, and if those don't work, there are other forms of joke suppression: African culture commands youngsters to respect their elders, and Africa's embarrassments provide a powerful incentive for self-censorship. They are also staunch anti-imperialists, always delighted to find an American in the audience so they can crack jokes about moronic presidents and so on. The other night, Tsepo Mogale picked out some pale faces at a front-row table and said, "You whites are full of s-, you know." He proceeded to tell a story about how he pulled up at a traffic light alongside "a battered old Datsun carrying a white family" who locked their doors the instant they clocked black skin. Noah concluded, but now that a Zuma presidency is on the cards, they aren't laughing anymore.
In short, the film was a fairly accurate depiction of the lifestyle and attitudes of, say, university students who were in grade school when apartheid ended and find their parents' politics passé. "I thought politicians would be smart enough to treat comedians and satirists like court jesters," says Mr. "You let them do their thing, and then you stand back and say, of course I believe in freedom of speech, look what I'm willing to put up with." But South Africa isn't like that. In other words, Nyrirembe is stupid, arrogant, occasionally barbaric and always surrounded by quivering yes-men. Meanwhile, his followers portray him as the victim of a political vendetta orchestrated by "counter-revolutionaries." The dispute has precipitated a crisis in public life, with militant Zuma supporters threatening mayhem if the government attempts to jail their hero. Noah launched into a monologue that went something like this: In apartheid's dying years, he said, hundreds of thousands of terrified white South Africans moved to Australia rather than live under a black government.
Like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, he is perplexingly popular among foreign black-power fans, who invariably grant him a standing ovation when he appears on their shores. Lediga was sent to New York and Cannes to sell the project to potential investors, none of whom were willing to commit. "It was absurd," he says, "and that's always funny. I drive a Mercedes." This draws a laugh, but whites are a dwindling minority, not nearly as interesting as the "Afristocracy" that now holds power. It was against this tense backdrop that dignitaries gathered at Johannesburg's Emperors Palace casino for the Black Management Forum's 2008 gala dinner. Zuma was the keynote speaker, and entertainment was provided by Trevor Noah, 24, the newest star in Takunda Bimha's stable. Those who remained were charmed by Mandela, but when the old man stepped down in favor of Thabo Mbeki in 1999, whites thought, uh-oh, and there was a renewed exodus to the Antipodes.
"Learning to laugh at yourself is a great sign of human evolution," says Kagiso Lediga.
Jews and the Irish went through the process generations ago. " A member of Costa Rica's small Reform Jewish community was named to the president's Cabinet.
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What do you do, if you're young, gifted and African, when the Economist describes your home as "The Hopeless Continent"?