Durban – Former minister and presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj has warned that the ANC has to shape up or ship out as its position as the leading party is not only threatened by the opposition but also by its internal battles and governance mistakes.
Maharaj was speaking during the 100th Anniversary of the Life of OR Tambo Lecture, which he delivered at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
He said part of the challenges facing political parties was that people now viewed politics as a career when it should be something they went into because they wanted to serve people. He said ANC leaders deployed in government must be effective and efficient because that would earn them votes in the next elections.
“1994 changed the scenario entirely. We got into the Struggle before, not as career; or for a wage. We did not go into it with an expectation that tomorrow we would be rewarded,” he said.
Maharaj said the current factionalism and contestation ahead of the 54th ANC national conference was not the first time the leading party faced such challenges, but it always survived.
While he confessed he was pained about the declining numbers of the ANC membership, he said pointing fingers at the leadership would not help unify the party. He called for ANC members to have tough conversations with each other where they could talk about the problems that led to the organisation’s current state.
Maharaj said some of the lessons that South Africa could draw from leaders like Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu was how the trio rigorously debated when they differed in views, but they never competed, instead they complemented each other. He described Tambo as a resilient leader, while Mandela was resourceful and Sisulu persistent.
“Tambo never allowed the revolution to devour itself. He was devoted to the well-being of everyone in the struggle, to the point of subjugating his own needs to those of his colleagues. What he wanted of himself often did not match with what the ANC demanded of him, but he bowed to the whims of the party.”
He would not be drawn into revealing his preferred candidate for the ANC presidential position, saying the decision rested with party members.
“I’m not ready for this to be over yet,” said the woman, her breath hot on my ear. We were holding each other tight, swaying back and forth as a disco ball threw light across the room.
Over her shoulder I watched two straight men, also strangers, grip each other’s waists awkwardly like kids at their first dance.
The room had been turned into a queer prom, and the intent behind it – as proclaimed by our host Taylor Mac – was to kill the songwriter Ted Nugent. Metaphorically, of course.
Like the 20-odd hours of show that preceded this moment, it was at once hysterically funny and deeply moving. The woman pulled me in closer, and rested her head on my shoulder: “I’ve been sad about this ending all week.”
To try to describe Taylor Mac’s magnum opus, a queer retelling of American history, is as impossible and unsatisfying for both parties as trying to describe a dream. Half the audience there that night – including my dance partner and I – had experienced the full 24 hours of it, and finding a same-gendered stranger in the crowd to slow-dance with to a song by a racist Trump supporter was one of the tamer things we’d been made to do.
A 24-Decade History of Popular Music had only been performed twice in full before it headlined Melbourne festival, where it was split into four six-hour blocks that ran Wednesdays and Fridays until 20 October.
Mac – a prodigiously talented legend of the theatre and drag queen scene in New York – is in full drag and full voice for the entire production. There are no breaks, for Mac or for the audience (although we’re free to roam around as we like); and even the 23 spectacular costume changes – designed and implemented by the artist Machine Dazzle, whose own outfits are just as fun – happen on stage.
It begins in 1776 and each hour represents a decade, moving forward to the modern day. Mac has meticulously researched the musical history of America, and performs eight to 10 songs that were popular at the time. That’s more than 200 songs in total, arranged and directed by pianist Matt Ray who shares the stage with Mac for almost all of it. Apart from everything else, its a feat of lyrical memory.
But most of the show happens between the songs, where Mac weaves stories, stand-up, poetry readings and performances that celebrate those who have been forgotten or left behind. Marginalised radicals are made the heroes of America’s story, and the rest of us are forced to confront the human consequences of our privileges, our prejudices, our colonialism.
It’s not a history lesson, Mac reminds us, but a “radical faery realness ritual sacrifice”.
The performance is the ritual; the audience is the sacrifice.
There’s a full orchestra, enormously talented back-up singers, and Chanon Judson is given the spotlight to perform the end of slavery in some of the most moving dancing I’ve seen. We’re joined by a temperance choir, a cabaret star, and a group of burlesque dancers; there’s a knitting circle and a circus troupe. The band of Dandy Minions – a selection of Melbourne’s finest queer performers – weave their way through the crowd, pulling people out of it and sacrificing them to the show.
There’s a lot of nudity, and a lot of sex; a gay wedding, three wars and Judy Garland’s funeral. On the final night two giant inflatable penises – one Russian, the other American – float mesmerisingly towards each other above the audience, before coming together in an explosion of white streamers.
It’s the end of the Cold War, sure – but it’s also a giant gay orgasm, featuring a literal Yankee doodle.
In the first hour we’d found out that Yankee Doodle Dandy was actually a homophobic British song. So for the next 23, Mac explained, we would enact the dandy’s revenge.
Mac is not a teacher, but a reminder. The show reminds us of the systemic violence against black and native America, queer people and women, and it reminds us of its modern-day consequences.
We raised money for the refugees our government has detained offshore, and for Indigenous Australian education. We celebrated suffrage, spent an hour at a soup kitchen (we lined up for actual soup), and reckoned – heartbreakingly – with the Aids crisis that had torn through Mac’s community in the 1980s.
As the show reached its peak in the final chapter, Mac wore a headpiece with three screaming skulls on it: the tangible horror and destruction of Aids. Addicted to Love was interspersed with Diamanda Galás’s Let’s Not Chat About Despair. Every hour, one performer would leave the stage – another metaphor for the disease that picked people off one by one.
And at the end of the show it was just Mac, swathed in a gorgeously detailed vulva costume three time the size of the performer, singing with a banjo in the middle of the stage.
“That’s the second biggest vagina I’ve ever seen,” the man behind me deadpanned. By this point, he was probably right.
A 24-Decade History is a work of genius because it’s so much more than a stage spectacular, or a showcase of Mac’s myriad talents and radical reinterpretation of history. It’s genius because it implicates everyone who gets to see it.
One of my favourite moments came in the third chapter, performed the same day #metoo was rolling relentlessly through my Facebook feed. All the men aged 14-40 were evicted from the audience (we had just hit world war one), and made to mime squeezing their bodies into a man-sized vagina on stage. If a woman stole their seat in the meantime, Mac said, they had to suck it up and say, “You deserve it.”
The next night, all the lesbians in the crowd were invited to an exclusive lesbian tailgate party inside a queer womb – featuring free beer and a playlist of songs and poetry popular with radical lesbians at the time.
If queers have been under-served by history, lesbians have been under-served by queer history – so now, Mac explained, we would celebrate them.
At the very beginning of the final show, the audience was segregated. Mac told white ticket holders to leave their seats at the front and centre of the theatre, and crowd out the sides, re-enacting the “white flight” of the 1950s. People of colour in the audience – notably, there weren’t a lot of them – were invited to move forward and stretch out at the front, where they could choose to remain for the final six hours.
To the people grumbling about losing their seats, Mac said: “These aren’t your seats. This is my art show.”
To the people of colour at the front, Mac said: “I thought I’d give you an opportunity to see white people do something stupid and humiliating”.
And then the white people among us faced the centre and sacrificed our ineffectual white guilt, with loud noises and effusive gestures. “This will go on for longer than you want it to,” Mac warned. It really did.
If 24-Decade History sounds insufferably preachy or woke, it isn’t. Or, if it is, it is funny and subversive enough to get away with it.
Every time the show gets overly dogmatic, Mac flips it, deconstructs it, highlights the complexities. Is all cultural appropriation bad, or can some appropriation occasionally be helpful? Are all queer men heroes, or can some queer men occasionally be sexist?
And if this show is so revolutionary and important, why weren’t the $700 tickets to the full suite subsidised? And why was the audience almost exclusively white?
“I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me,” Mac said, addressing the festival itself, “but I’m fine to get a little lipstick on it.”
Mac told the Guardian last month: “I want the show to be so long that the audience is falling apart, I’m falling apart, we’re all falling apart and we’re also building bonds.”
I was afraid, split over 10 days, it wouldn’t be able to live up to the expectations it had set that day and night in Brooklyn last year, which the few people lucky enough to attend remember in rapturous terms.
I needn’t have worried.
The final hour ended with Mac standing at the front of the stage, singing the same lyric on loop, a-capella, and inviting us to join in:
“You can lie down, or get up and sing,” Mac sang. “You can lie down, or get up and sing.”
As the lights faded Mac’s voice died and disappeared, and the voices in the audience rose up to replace it. We had come face to face with our complicity in a system we knew needed to change, and we had a choice to make together: we could lie down, or get up and sing.
We sung for what seemed like an age, trying to hold the feeling in the air and trying to hold the show in our lives – and when the lights came back on, there were more tears in the audience than I’ve ever seen in a theatre. Particularly in a theatre that had also hosted giant vulvas, inflatable penises and a backroom sex party.
And that’s the other genius of Taylor Mac’s show: 24 hours doesn’t feel like enough.
ほかにもいくつか試してみる。Dropboxへファイルが保存されたら、OneDriveにバックアップするというもの。こちらも、両サービスにサインインし、フォルダーを指定するだけで、フローが完成。ファイルを保存して放置しておくと、自動的に「bacup from fropbox」というフォルダーにファイルがコピーされた。大手のクラウドサービスがいきなりなくなることはないだろうが、バックアップがあるのは安心だ。