Gareth Cliff talks to PS!!

Gareth Cliff is someone who is not afraid to express an opinion, nor is he afraid to defend it.  And often, it’s those who don’t care what others think of them who change the world. This unafraid approach to the world is what interested me about Gareth.  I like people who aren’t afraid. Too many people are unable to think something controversial, let alone say it or stand up for it.  Whether this means a person is egotistical or inflated, I don’t know, but I do believe it indicates intelligence, and intelligence is what we need to find solutions. So listen to Gareth Cliff’s outspoken points and make up your own minds.  There’s no better place to listen than on his own site Cliff Central. Perhaps a telling commentary is that while a few celebrities who come across as pleasant in the public eye refused rather rudely to be interviewed by me – Gareth Cliff is NOT one of these and readily agreed to answer some questions. What you see is what you get.

Gareth Cliff, Cliff Central

Case in point about Gareth expressing his opinion – here’s his rant about Nkandla. You are a slave with a new master. I  agree with this, South Africans. We have  new master – his name is Zuma. And we are responsible for him being here, whether we voted for him or not, because we pay taxes.

This particular incident is what made me really want to chat with Gareth. He came under fire came under fire from social media users after posting on his Twitter account that: “Who’s paying for this massive funeral for #SenzoMeyiwa?” (Senzo Meyiwa was the captain of the national soccer team – NOT a political figure – yet got a massive state funeral).  Twitter users hit back accusing Cliff of being ‘racist’ and ‘insensitive’ for asking such a question . The users then asked Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula to comment and the Minister rudely and ignorantly replied ‘leave him he is ‘suffering from a Verwoerd hangover.’ (implying not only that Cliff was racist, but also that he was stuck in the apartheid past).  Gareth Cliff refused to apologise and said “I was called every kind of vulgar thing by a horde of the least eloquent, most furious, marauding lunatics I didn’t know, and who couldn’t have all known Senzo either.”

For the international readers of my site, there’s a great run down of him on his own Facebook page (he’s someone interesting to follow on FB!!), but in a nutshell he:

– is a well known South African radio personality

– worked on various radio stations including 5 FM and 702

– volunteers his time to causes such as fighting the abuse of women, and helping those suffering from brain injuries

– is famously (or infamously) known for being a judge on Idols SA.

With all this in mind, I was keen to get into some issues of the day with Gareth (and hereby express my gratitude to him for answering my questions).

What is UNradio? What’s the whole concept about? If Cliff Central is UNradio, what’s the problem with Radio?

There’s nothing wrong with radio. There are just a lot more options available, thanks to the internet. Instead of eating oats every morning, why not try waffles, eggs, toast or cereals? Cliffcentral is a content hub – we make shows about everything from entertainment and news to entrepreneurship and animals. There’s a show for you.

Today’s embarrassment of Al Bashir not being arrested? South Africa defying the ICC despite being a signed member, the government going against our constitution and our own legal system. Dying to hear your comment.

I’m very embarrassed that our leaders don’t understand how important the rule of law is to a democracy. You’re not in a democracy just because you’re the leader of a party that won a national popularity contest. You’re there to work – and one of the things you have to do is abide by, enforce and support the rule of law. Our government seems to have forgotten what governments are for. We’re signatories to the Rome Declaration and we have made International Law as it applies to the ICC, part of our own law. If we can’t stick to our agreements with the ICC what chance do voters have of holding the majority party to their promises? The disregard the ANC show for everything except defending that ridiculous president of ours is alarming.

Just listened to your Nkandla rant. How do we get the electorate in our country to move beyond the fact that they are not educated (I believe the government likes to dumb people down and keep them in a state of poverty so that they can’t think … ) and get to a state where they can think? It’s really getting on my nerves that we are fed stuff like ‘the Nkandla report’, and today’s ‘we don’t know who was on the plane’…

When you accept democracy as the best of a bad bunch of political systems, you also accept that most people won’t vote with their heads. What you hope will happen to counter-balance that, is that the smart people in the party that wins will make sure sensible things are done. The ANC used to have thinkers and good ideas and the interests of the people at heart. Now they’re a party of oligarchy and elitism, with scant disregard for the people who elect them.

Do you think JZ is going to leave at the end of his tenure – or is he here to stay like Mugabe?

He better. Otherwise he’ll find himself chased out like he chased Thabo Mbeki out.

I know you have experienced this – whenever we try to argue for democracy in the face of the current government’s ridiculousness, we get called racists by our ‘opponents’, who have suffered the ANC’s dumbing down and aren’t educated – and therefore can’t debate on our level so have to resort to the racist taunt. How do we debate successfully on a lower level to that which we are accustomed?

Be careful not to sound intellectually or morally superior. Just because someone isn’t educated doesn’t mean they don’t understand what’s going on. The arguments we need to take up are the ones that dwell on bigoted, backward ideas and stereotype or shut down contrary points of view because they come from a black or white person, or from an American or Nigerian and so on. These are not arguments. We also can’t shout at each other and say how angry we are to get attention. If your argument is bad, we shouldn’t care how angry you are – or pretend to be. Make a good point or make way.

I listened to your discussion about Rachel Dolezal with interest. I suppose if we can be transgender, we can be trans race, too. But isn’t the bigger issue that she’s been a bit deceptive? Let’s face it, we always knew Caitlin Jenner was Bruce Jenner before. But we didn’t know that Rachel Dolezal was white.  I wouldn’t mind if someone ‘transraced’ – did I just invent that word?, but I kind of would mind if they claimed to have black ancestry – isn’t the bigger issue not transrace, but honesty?

You make a very good point. Nobody likes to be lied to. The fact is, I don’t care about your race or gender or sexual orientation unless I care about you – and if it’s important for you to be called he or she, I should respect that. Rachel Dolezal seems like one of those people who is very needy of attention, but if she wants me to think of her as black, she can have it her way. I don’t think of her at all. Also, your blackness or whiteness or maleness or femaleness is something you’re all wrapped up in. It is of peripheral interest to the rest of us – and should only be a source of concern if it is paired with prejudice and unkind action or word.

Social media is another thing that can and is used to influence the world. Congrats on your award of Social Media Star at the You Spectacular.  It can be such a time consuming thing, yet it’s vitally important for both business and personal life right now. What tips do you have for people wanting to further business or career, not get too sucked up in it – what are the pitfalls and advantages of it?

Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in a stadium, on a loudspeaker – and if you would say it there, make sure you mean it, because there could be consequences.

Something that’s been on my mind a lot lately is the burden of responsibility to leave something behind us in the world. I don’t know if everyone feels that or thinks that they need to do this, but I do. Do you feel you have the responsibility to leave something, a body of work, or an impact on the way people think and feel – in the world?

I think Cliffcentral will be a legacy project for me. Probably not the only one, but the one that I’m most preoccupied with at the moment. It’s  creating a new space for talent, audiences, business and freedom of expression. I’d be very proud if it grows into a massive entity. There are a great many who would benefit from that.

How do you feel in general about South Africa?

I have good days and bad days. The biggest fuck-up is in politics, but we tend to focus on the politicians a little too much – and of course their incompetence affects us when the power goes out, the petrol price goes up or we find ourselves unable to travel to certain places with a South African passport. I decided some time ago that I’m not going to allow them to make my mind up about what I think of South Africa, myself or the opportunities I see.

Follow Gareth Cliff on Twitter here.

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Writer, transcriber, proofreader, editor, lover of the arts.

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