About Advertise
Culture, Reality
Elephantiasis Durbanitis

Elephantiasis Durbanitis

by Alex Sudheim, images by Kevin Goss-Ross / 23.02.2010

Even though the tropical parasitic disease Elephantiasis is characterised by a catastrophic thickening of the skin, the local version – known as Elephantiasis Durbanitis – afflicts only members of the ruling party and is defined by a startling reversal of the usual symptoms in that it causes an alarming thinning of the skin.

As part of one of Durban’s many costly cosmetic surgeries of the inner city designed to impress those few Europeans who actually come here for the World Cup, the municipality commissioned world-renowned Durban sculptor Andries Botha to construct three life-size elephant sculptures in his ongoing, hugely acclaimed project involving the use of recycled materials to create his singular pachyderms. As an indication of the success of this project, consider the the fact that nine of Botha’s elephants are currently wowing audiences around the world: Lux Themba, created from galvanized steel and indigenous leadwood is permanently in the Netherlands; Nomkhubulwane, woven out of recycled motorcar tyres, drew awestruck crowds beside her at Durban’s KZNSA Gallery before travelling to Mexico to be displayed at the 9th World Wilderness Congress whereafter she will travel to the American cities of El Paso, Fayetteville, Chicago, Bozeman, Montana and Detroit.

Thus, even though our soccer stadia are grotesque monuments to arrogance, folly and hubris and the puke-inducing propaganda force-fed us by the state media is triggering national waves of nausea, I mean patriotism, for once it seemed the ANC were spending public funds on something that everyone could agree was a pretty good idea. After all, seeing a trio of massive elephants grazing upon an island in the midst of Warwick Junction, Durban’s bustling, utilitarian transport hub, would be pretty neat. Plus, at a cost of R1,5 million, it wouldn’t cost the city more than it pays Shauwn Mpisane to build a self-destructing RDP toilet.

IFP Elephants

But alas, these elephants appear to have been placed upon the extinction list right next to their flesh-and-blood brethren. When a convoy of ANC stuffed shirts recently glided by the elephants being installed, the party’s brittle ego had a wobbly. Isn’t the elephant the symbol – shock horror – of the IFP? Immediately these party functionaries contracted a morbid dose of Elphantiasis Durbanitis, promptly wet their nappies and bawled at Durban’s municipal manager Mike “Mussolini” Sutcliffe to do something about it. Once again our Mike jumped boldly into the breach to shaft the city at the expense of his party’s petty power hang-ups. All of a sudden, ages after the project was green-lighted, approved and given the go-ahead and scant months before its completion, Sutcliffe has put the brakes on it.

Out of the blue, this has now become, in Sutcliffe’s own words, “something which I am investigating so that I may be better informed about processes and procedures being followed. I was not aware of any of the details of this project, including ensuring there is proper procurement, and I need to report back to the Mayor.” Some crackerjack city manager we got here, “unaware” of a high-profile public art project which has been in the media spotlight for months on end. Then, with flabbergasting disengenuity, he goes on to say: “I am sure you would agree that it is my job to ensure public funds are properly expended and that fair and transparent processes are followed.”

Elephant Enclosure

But the real clincher is Sutcliffe’s bald-faced assertion that “the fact that some people want to politicise it is not something I will waste time reporting on.” How stupid does he think we are?! Even the terminally turgid IFP was bemused and noted that “the elephant goes beyond the IFP and is part of greater South Africa. Where will all this end? The DA uses the sun on its logo, so will the ANC next try and stop the sun from rising?”

When asked by the Sunday Times about his decidedly non-revolutionary lifestyle of garish opulence, Julius Malema retorted indignantly: “What gives you the power to ask me this question?” In a country where a factotum such as Malema clearly comprehends as much about transparency being a cornerstone of democracy as he does about woodwork, perhaps it’s time for all other political parties to make their symbol a condom since this is one thing the ANC leadership evidently has very little use for.

All images © and courtesy Kevin Goss-Ross.

30   3
  1. sleaze says:

    I think think the ANC would prefer giant statues of German luxury sedans, much more representative.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  2. Anony_miss says:


    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  3. afrikazi says:

    when did Mahala relocate to Orania?
    you don’t speak for us all
    we are not all scared whiteys
    wake up, pale and nervous ones
    this aint your koloni no more

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  4. hobo says:

    what about a pack of hyenas attacking the elephants -this would make a nice interactive sculture-or even a crocodile with a leg in its jaws-or a luxury german sedan being trampled-does this talented sculptor have any other animals in his portfolio-maybe the city has been saved although for all the wrong reasons-an elephant in mexico or amsterdam is a bizzarre and wonderful site but in durban would be just another tourist cliche??why not a rhino?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  5. chop says:

    Well said Afrikazi…spoken like a true member of the ANC…not addressing the topic/question/issue/whatever and allowing your prejudice to shine on through. Keep it up!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  6. Andy says:

    Come now Afrikazi – reporting on the ruling party’s excesses doesn’t mean we don’t still believe in the true spirit of the revolution. In fact it re-affirms our commitment to it.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  7. afrocheez says:

    Sigh, another benighted brother confusing issues of democratic procedure with race. If the ANC want to rule a democracy, then democracy’s central tenets of transparency and accountability need to be respected. Otherwise the ruling party should make like China, ban political opposition and become a fascist state. We are not pale, nervous, scared whiteys we are DEMOCRATS. If you don’t believe is democracy then you’re a FASCIST. Democracy transcends colour – Sutcliffe is a whitey but he is a FASCIST. How do you account for having so much in common with a whitey? Kinda makes a mockery of your racist, reactionary argument…

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  8. indahood says:

    afrokazi, if anyone is scared its the ANC. they’re scared of a wire elephant?! shows just how paranoid and insecure they are

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  9. ho fucking hum says:

    Fuck, am I getting bored of all the coverage of the leading party and it’s very many cancerous tentacles. These fuckers will do what they want, as every other government is doing in every country on the globe. Maybe educate yourselves a little. These clowns in our govt are rank amateurs by comparison.

    Stop all this bullshit on internet forums and get out there and be proactive. All these uptight anonymous twats clenching their teeth typing away furiously all over mg/thetimes/sowetan/iol. Get off your lazy arses, put off this piece of shit computer and ACT out!

    Without the whites this place is fucked. Without the blacks this place is fucked.
    You can choose to talk colour all day while the carpet is being ripped from under you by your very own fucking ‘leaders’. Wake up.

    Caught a kid’s show on SABC during lunch and was actually encouraged. The (very) new generation is so far beyond this hate/petty/blame/bias blah. When they’re grown up maybe we’ll grow up.

    And please, if you’re born in the 90s you are NOT a fucking ‘child of the revolution’. Wannabe fucks.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  10. leo says:

    new shoes!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  11. Niklas says:

    Why is there so much swearing as soon as there is dissent on an open forum such as Mahala? It tends to unnecessarily weaken the best argument, as the polite German “Kraftausdruck” exemplifies: “power expression.” We clearly don’t need more power, we need more sense of a communal future. If we can’t have public art unless a ruling party allows it, then this indicates a serious problem. Even more serious if we can’t effectively do anything about that – together. Join the FaceBook group “save the Durban elephants” if you don’t live there, and if you do, get over to the site and organise some awesome series of protests. If poverty, disenfranchisement and and agreeing to disagree can bring us closer together, let’s THANK our ‘leaders’ for cutting the naional arts council’s budget down to a sneeze. Wer zuletzt lacht, lacht am laengsten – the one who laughs last, laughs the longest. Let’s hold our breath for our last good laugh at the puppets waving their fingers from their limos before an educated, empowered adn liberated people of South Africa bid them good riddance via many many small, concerted and peaceful acts of protest.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  12. Gardener says:

    While the debate rages above about politics and governmental interference a very real threat to Live elephants looms. The meeting in Dohar of CITES will have a proposal tabled by Tanzania nd Zambia to downlist Elephants from CITES Appendix 1 to CiTES Appendix II – and a request to sell their “ivory stockpiles”. This will be the death knell for the elephants in Southern Africa. If you can’t leave your desks – then a protest can still be made here:

    Zambia has 27,000 elephants and 11,500,000 million people you reckon that allowing the sale of ivory again won’t make some of those 11,500,000 decide to take out a couple of eles so they can feed their kids. When the last one is shot and their teeth hacked out what will you be doing?

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  13. eish says:

    i think our stadiums are, by and large, beautiful.

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  14. carlotta says:

    There are protests out there for service delivery and well – these are people who got off their asses and are trying to say – we’re frustrated – so maybe that’s a step in the right direction. I think the whole elephant sculpture banning incident reaches new heights of stupidity. The ANC is re-writing history to present themselves as the only people who fought for liberation as if there weren’t other agencies and other people beside them. Did the party liberate this country or the people? who’s forgetting what? Oh there were good white, coloured and indian people and then there were very bad black people who sold out – and so this makes the race debate – more complex? black and white – anc only – unfortunately our cadres think that you can run a country on your political pedigree above ability. I say shoot the incompetent bastards!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  15. […] http://www.mahala.co.za/culture/elephantiasis-durbanitis/ Elephantiasis Durbanitis Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010 by Alex Sudheim, images by Kevin Goss-Ross […]

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  16. David K says:

    I recommend that the ANC should stop using PPC cement for any construction projects due to it being supportive of the IFP.
    Otherwise PPC will have to alter their Elephant logo

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  17. Zyah says:

    mqOEop I’m not esaliy impressed. . . but that’s impressing me! 🙂

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  18. hater says:

    afrikazi use your spellcheck and at the same time check yourself you amateur! with a mind like yours you should be in government ripping us ‘whiteys’ off and your OWN poor brothers in the townships you would fit well right in there, this isn’t your colony either its everyones get used to it you need us more than we need your lame ass hate speech!

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  19. […] Suddenly a massive squadron of Metro cops and private investigators swoop and bundle them into the backs of police vans, while they were busy choosing the best colours to blend against the cold grey sky. Another fine example of Durban’s war on public art. […]

    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0

  20. lance says:

    a short video on the elephants here:


    Thumb up0   Thumb down 0