[OPINION] MCQP: You changed your theme. What do you want? A bangra bash?
First they came for holi, then they came for Bollywood. It’s time to dalla (this is a slang term equivalent to throw-down. IE: It’s time to throw-down).
When I was in primary school I was called a curry-muncher and a coolie, to name a few. When I was in high school, the questions came: Do you guys always eat curry? Or, are you going to wear a sari for casual day? Or, you don’t really look Indian, why don’t you wear a dot on your forehead?
Then, I started working and this was by far the worst experience. It was as bad as eating a bland white people’s curry with all the vegetables in the world as ingredients and sauced up with a good few tablespoons of Mrs Balls chutney (because chutney MUST be Indian).
And I give you: “So you’re Muslim, but Indian? How does that work? You still celebrate Diwali right?” (Of course. Just like you celebrate ignorance every day).
And, “was your previous marriage arranged?” (No. The flowers were though). “I don’t understand how people can do that?” (It’s easy, you generally get a florist).
And, “my favourite Indian animated film is Aladdin, do you know it?” (Yes, I also know that it’s a Middle Eastern folk tale, but since you know everything, why don’t you educate me?).
And, “why do people dance like this in Bollywood movies Hand in the air with fitting a light bulb gesture accompanied by side-to-side head bob?” (I don’t know. Why is it that white people can’t dance in general and you always look like you’re two seconds away from crapping your pants because you can’t get to the toilet fast enough? Is it called the Sht shuffle?).
And, “can you make curry, you must cook me curry, okay?” (Sure, I’ll make curry when you start making some sense).
And my all-time favourite, “do you come from Durban? Don’t all Indians come from Durban?” (Sure. But they all live in Midrand now).
I kid you not. These were legitimate questions from “woke”, educated whites, a large number of them from the media industry. Be careful who you read people. Journalism is dark and full of terror.
This week, Mother City Queer Project (MCQP) announced that its theme would officially be called ‘A Bollywood Production’.
Project director Ian McMahon explained that the theme is “just another celebration of cinematic success and excellence, not intended to be anything more”.
Because that’s what MCQP is about. It’s about cinematic success. Next year they will celebrate 12 Years a Slave or Driving Miss Daisy or how black people almost never get Oscars, in general. Not.
Indians are tired. We threw spice so hard this time that the organisers have officially announced a theme change: ‘MCQP, The Musical’, to make it more inclusive.
You wouldn’t have a massive, highly commercialised jol aimed mostly at privileged whites that purchase luxury items like cocaine as an accessory for the night with a Shaka Zulu theme. Why? Because you would get slaughtered. Black Twitter and every South African with some sense would take you down harder than your coke that’s cut with Mazena. You would be scared. So scared.
But Indian peeps are cool, right? The chilled peeps of society. Quietly sitting in fabric stores, waiting for the next customer while happily chewing on samosa. We don’t even feature in any Castle Lager ads. The poster advertisement for the Rainbow Nation. Fine, Hashim Amla has a massive Jive billboard in Lansdowne because that cool-drink sponsors him, but that’s about it. But he’s obviously not Indian right? He’s Jihadi, so that doesn’t count.
You know those white people who are married to people of colour, or even make a point of taking a person of colour as a representative wherever they go to make sure they’re seen as cool and on the right side of history? And obviously, all of that means that they can drive around in massive metaphorical Hummers and bulldoze their way into all sorts of lanes because they become self-proclaimed spokespeople on race and ideaology? Those people are the worst and the ones who should know to be quiet the most. But… privilege.
Sorry Gaytriarchy. Just because the gay community is one that has been subject to criticism, disapproval, protest and even hate crimes, does not mean that you are entitled to appropriate the culture of other minority groups. You don’t get a “get out of jail free card”. You don’t get to be the worst. You don’t get a free pass.
Look, all credit to the organisers for changing the theme. Yes, they released a really lame press release to try and defend themselves at first, but then they realised the error of their ways and “came right”, as an aunty would say.
Still, I would put money on the fact that there’s going to be one dude who pitches up in full Slumdog Millionaire regalia because that’s his favourite musical. (Not musical, not Bollywood, definitely not okay. Okay?)
I’m just going to sit here and chow my barfee while I wait for the new artwork. Because the dude in the old Bollywood poster sure as hell is not Indian. Or if he was, the organisers made an extensive effort to get the most western looking dude in the world.
Turns out, we’re not just good for doing your math, fixing your computers, filling out your tax returns. Throws spice.
Haji Mohamed Dawjee is employed by Code For Africa at the head office in Cape Town as programme manager for impactAFRICA - the continent's largest fund for digital-driven data storytelling. She is a regular commentator on gender equality, sexuality, culture, race relations and feminism as well as ethics in the South African media environment. Follow her on Twitter: @SageOfAbsurd