Politicians are astute in discovering ways to win the hearts of people. In South Africa, the African majority come from a tradition of dancing and singing which are audible and visible expressions of ubuntu. They bring people together in harmony as a community. Song and dance not only create solidarity, they are forms of worship and ways of reaching out to their Creator.
When Madiba danced, it was a spontaneous expression of joy. He was back among the people. When Jacob Zuma dances, it is a performance. He entertains the crowd with a show of his competence but Helen Zille is in among the crowd dancing as part of the community in the traditional African way. Though Zille is new to the tradition, she has entered into it with joy and enthusiasm.
I was watching an election show on TV in which three women, two white and one black were asked to comment on Zille's dancing for votes. The white women clearly felt embarrassed ; they felt that Zille's dancing was inappropriate and did not suit her. Were they ashamed that she had gotten off the white pedestal to join in with the crowd and declare her solidarity with the people? Zille is often shown in amongst the people, her arms around them, smiling, enjoying what seems to be a new freedom, freedom from stiff Western ways of politicking.
When I look at Zille dancing, I see a woman who has discovered a new facet of her personality. She dances with obvious pleasure. And she is in among the crowd. And it seems to me, her dancing is her declaration, "I am an African." Zille has definitely changed the image of the DA and the rhetoric of the party. The DA used to be focused on criticism of the ruling party and its incompetence. Now it is focused on its own competence and its willingness to serve the people. Now the ANC's rhetoric is focused on criticism of the DA and its incompetence. The ANC is now on the defensive. Is the rhetoric an indication of some change in the balance of power?
Does it matter who rules? Is dancing simply a new form of the opiate of the masses? They are all politicians after all.