Black History month: Pro Africa is Anti-nobody

It’s funny how when things change, the more they remain the same.

Last week when a lecturer introduced himself at Business school, he told the class that he was a racist. Everyone was obviously astonished,; here was this white South African male in his early 40’s openly declaring that he didn’t like black people. What was even more appaling was the fact that he dared to talk about race in 2015! The blacks were offended and the white people equally so, but as our educator for the day we had to humor him.

His analogy was that, he wasn’t racist because he chose to be, he was racist because he was raised to be. All his life he was conditioned to think and behave in a certain way. He only first saw a picture of Mandela when he was 20 years old and spent about 2 years in military school with racist ideologies being drummed into his head. So he had no choice but to BE. An electoral vote will not suddenly shift his paradigms; it takes much more than that for things to change.

The whole point of his shocking declaration was that we all needed to talk about race and not make it this horrible monster that opens you up to so much judgment. In South Africa white people are “apologetically” white and black people are also apologetic of who they are. We are all tiptoeing around each other, while neglecting to love each other and ourselves for who we are. Being pro-Black is not being anti somebody, it simply, means you love and embrace who you are and the culture you were born into, likewise for other races and cultures.

Mental Slavery

February is Black History month, and in commemoration I though I should share an extract of Robert Sobukwe’s first recorded speech while he was a student at Fort Hare University. Reading it really proved to me that not much has changed, instead we have created an illusion of freedom and became more afraid of who we are. Celebrate black history, be proud of your scars, embrace the possibilities and remember that no amount of money  or denial will change the color of your soul.

This extract is from a biography of Robert Sobukwe’s life written by Benjamin Pogrund’s titled: “How can man die better”

how can

“I had an occasion last year and also at the beginning of this year to comment on some features of our structure of which I do not approve. It has always been my feeling that, if the intention of the trustees of this college is to make an African College or University, as I have been informed it is, then the Department of African studies must be more highly and more rapidly developed. Fort Hare must become the center of African studies to which students in African studies should come from all over Africa. We should also have a department of Economics and Sociology. A nation to be a nation needs specialists in these things……….

 I said last year that Fort Hare must be to the African what Stellenbosch (University) is to the Afrikaner. It must be the barometer of African thought. It is interesting to note that the theory of ‘Apartheid’, which is today the dominating ideology of the State, was worked out at Stellenbosch by (Dr W.M.M) Eiselen and his colleagues. That same Eiselen is Secretary for Native affairs. But the important thing is that Stellenbosch is not only the expression of the Afrikaner thought and feeling, but it is also the embodiment of their aspiration. So also must Fort Hare express and lead African thought. The College has remained mute on matters deeply affecting the Africans because; we learn, it feared to annoy the Nationalist government. What the College fails to realize is that rightly or wrongly the Nationalists believe that Fort Hare staff is predominantly United Party. So that whether we remain mute or not the government will continue to be hostile towards us. So much for the College…

…I know of course, that because I express these sentiments I will be branded an agitator. That was the reaction to my speech last year. People do not like to see the even tenure of their lives disturbed. They do not like to be told that what they have always believed was right is wrong. And above all they resent encroachment on what they regard as their special province. But I make no apologies. It is meet that we speak the truth before we die. I said last year that our whole life in South Africa is politics, and that contention was severely criticized…During the war it was clearly demonstrated that in South Africa at least, politics does not stop on this side of the grave. A number of African soldiers were buried in the same trench as European soldiers. A few days afterwards word came that from the high command that the bodies of the Africans should be removed and buried in another trench. ‘Apartheid’ must be maintained even on the road to eternity…

…. And as Marcus Garvey says: ‘You cannot grow beyond your thoughts. If your thoughts are those of a slave, you will remain a slave. If your thoughts go skin deep, your mental development will remain skin deep’. Moreover a doctrine of hate can never take people anywhere. It is too exacting. It warps the mind. That is why we preach the doctrine of love, love for Africa. We can never do enough for Africa, nor can we love her enough. The more we do for her, the more we wish to do for her.

I wish to make it clear again that we are anti-nobody. We are pro-Africa. We breathe, we dream, we live Africa; because Africa and humanity are inseparable”.

-Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe (21 October 1949)

I have taken extracts of the speech, for entire read feel free to purchase the book. The aim of this article is not to sow negativity in our young democracy, but as my lecturer eluded, it is to create open dialogue on our racial dynamics. I believe we can find common ground at some point in this life time, but only through a principle of love. Love for oneself and love for another despite the history.

History will forever remain, we cannot pretend it away. We cannot remain divided, because that only perpetuates the slavery mentality. If you really think about it we are all slaves to a certain extent, black and white.

Aluta!

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One Response to “Black History month: Pro Africa is Anti-nobody”

  1. Thabiso Motahegoa says:

    Great article!

    I think beyond just dialogue and watching rugby together, the former oppressed need economic strength to address racism. If racist can’t suffer some form of punishment then racists will not change.

    Why is racism not s crinal offence?

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