Posts Tagged ‘ANC’

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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Unemployment Free Youth Day

Unemployment has become a very sobering reality in many young people’s lives in South Africa today. In Soweto we call it Loxion Management. Before you leave school you already know that this profession is one of the options waiting for you out there. Unfortunately “employment” is the only option we think there is out there. As young people, the thought of starting something by ourselves is challenging or dreadful even. I mean where would I find someone to invest in my business idea??

Well, funding is the least of our problems if we submit to our limited thinking that being employed is the only way to success. Entrepreneurship needs to be attractive to young people because honestly it is the way to ultimate success and true freedom. Even in our new South Africa, opportunities are laid out in front of young people and yet they fail to grab them all because of false paradigms. The biggest barrier that is preventing young people from pursuing entrepreneurship is this paradigm that has been instilled in their mindsets; that you need to be employed in order to be successful. Trust me, not all employed people are successful people.

In many instances you will find young people venturing into business purely because they could not find work. They start their business as an option of last resort and in most cases they flourish with success. Their unemployment becomes a blessing in disguise.

For a long time our society (especially black South Africans), has revolved around: Go to school- come of age- find employment. Even the pursuit for education is driven by the ideology of getting better job opportunities. Even I can attest that for some people it didn’t matter what degree they obtained, as long as it guaranteed that they will find a good job, it was on. So growing up knowing you needed to find work in order to survive doesn’t make entrepreneurship attractive or even viable. I mean who wants to run a spaza-shop/tavern/taxi business instead of going to the city and find a job. However what we fail to realize is that, whoever we will be working for is actually running their business and they are growing their business through our hardwork. The failure to realize that we are all born with the same amount of potential (and mental capabilities) renders young people with the false ideology that they can never be the employer, but the employed.EduAfr

 

My solution to this false paradigm is rather “out of the box” but I believe it will make a difference. We need to teach young people about African history. Knowing where you come from has a strong bearing on where you are going. Knowing where we come from as a nation will make young people understand how things have become what they are today, why is Africa the least developed continent, what our leaders believed in. Asking these type of questions will make African youth realize that they are equally capable of achieving anything, this will unlock the mental chains that have bound African minds for the longest time. Knowing what happened to Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa etc for it to be the country it is today will help shaping future leaders in reclaiming the wealth through their own hard work and doing it for themselves. We can no longer wait for someone else to give us bread, we must bake our own.

 

As we celebrate Youth day, the people that are at the greatest risk right now are our youth.  But ultimately, everyone’s freedom from poverty/unemployment is in their own hands, look around, see what you can start. Don’t wait for things to happen, there is no politician that will deliver a job at your door, not in a million years. The longer you sit and wait for a miracle there are other vultures (drugs, alcohol, Aids) roaming around looking to devour your youth, so you better keep busy. Just think, I’m sure you will come up with something and start your own enterprise, you are smart enough!

NgesiZulu kuthiwa: Vuk’uzenzele!

“The worst evil of all committed by colonization has been the wishful intent to discourage individual initiative to venture, discover, make attempts and to fabricate. The outcome is the current dependency status”-Unknown

Respect is Earned. Elders are Respected.

After City Press published a picture of President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed, the entire country was shocked, to say the least. A lot of reactions and opinions were expressed. I for one didn’t know how to feel about it, but I know that this issue was given too much attention. Perhaps it did deserve it or maybe it didn’t. Here’s my take on this matter, I won’t lie, this will be tricky as it borders between the thin lines of morality vs objectivity. I am unfortunately not going to take sides, as my idea of truth is not absolute, so I can only share my objective opinion on the matter. Please do forgive me if some of my arguments may seem offensive, but sometimes we just need to call a Spade a Spade simply because it looks like one.

The entire country came to a standstill because of “The Spear” by Brett Murray. I would like to declare that I did find the picture disrespectful towards the Mr Zuma. No living human being should ever be ridiculed like that, because none is perfect, not even one of us. “He, who has no sin, let him be the first to cast a stone”

You may not like Zuma, perhaps you never even voted for him, but the fact remains that he is the president of the country. He has to be respected as a leader of the nation. For me the most painful part is just imagining if something like this was done to my own father and my children and their friends saw it. It is wrong, I won’t lie. Brett Murray could have put his point across differently; I mean Mr Zuma is the President after all. In other African countries grave occurrences could have fallen on the artist who painted such a picture of the president. Children are even afraid to utter the President’s name, not out fear, but of respect for the highest position in the land.

Thus Brett Murray playing ignorant by saying “he did not mean to hurt anyone by the exhibition” really is an insult; he should just apologize to the President and the nation as a whole.  Plus, before you draw a picture of someone in the nude you ask for permission at least. He knew this would be controversial, but then again a lot of things about our President are controversial.

Which brings me to my next point; had our President been a different person, he would have been depicted differently. He wasn’t painted with a big heart or big brains or big hands, but with his genitals out. I believe a person should inspire the reverence they crave and the same applies to Jacob Zuma. The genitals are not an attack on his cultural decision to practice polygamy contrary to what the rest of the ANC population believes. A dignified father of a household does not go around sleeping with random women openly and impregnating them. Some of the women have HIV and some of them are his friend’s children with no expressed intentions to marry them. Yes a lot of men do these things out there, but in as much as we are required to respect the office of presidency, he should also do the same. So polygamy is not the problem here, reckless sexual behavior is.

Another thing, commenting on The spear in isolation is misguided and it deepens the offence. Zuma’s portrait was part of a whole exhibition. And according to my understanding, the theme was to reflect on SA politics and how things have changed from fighting for freedom to nurturing corruption while the poor remain poor. And we must all admit that Zuma has been the most notorious leader this country has ever had, from a rape and corruption trial to presidency; the most questionable high profile appointments to a conviction and subsequent parole of his financial advisor, there is then, of course, his weakness for the opposite sex which is evident for all to see. So the portrayal is not an attack on his persona, but on his conduct as a leader and the examples he sets. No one should be judged on their personal decisions, but he can try to contain his weaknesses for the benefit of the people in his sphere of influence. The bible says: if it causes your brother to stumble, don’t do it. No amount of boycotting or striking can erase Zuma’s previous conduct. So in the context of the entire exhibition, Zuma’s portrait did make it’s own statement.

My key subject matter though, is how this matter was handled by the entire nation. No doubt, it did hurt and offend a lot of people on both sides of the fence. It literally tapped on the most sensitive wounds in our democracy and frankly, everyone was just quick to take offense (again, on both sides of the fence).  It was indeed a time where almost everyone, was somewhat tested on how they perceive things in this country and virtually their loyalty questioned. I say this because as a young black woman who didn’t really take this issue to heart, I was somewhat perceived as insensitive. I know I have lost respect from some of my comrade friends. So this picture has not only increased racial tensions but also sows division among Africans themselves. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion because we all perceive things differently, that’s the beauty of being human. Yes I do believe that the picture was disrespectful and I wish it was never painted, but I also feel this whole thing has been blown out of proportion. A whole country cannot come to a standstill over one person offending another.

ANC called for the boycotting of the City Press, and copies of the paper were burned last week. They demanded the picture be taken down from the respective websites. They also took the matter to court and marched to the gallery. A white professor went into the gallery and painted an X over the painting’s face and genitals and another black guy smeared black paint over it. Both men were acting independently and didn’t know each other. In the midst of the turmoil, both races managed to find common ground, very heart warming, I must say. There is hope afterall.

So now the marches and court interdicts have been abandoned, the painting ruined and sold to a foreigner, how do we start picking up the pieces as a nation? A lot of underlying issues have come out in open and they need to be dealt with. The fact that we resorted to: boycotting, burning, banning, vandalizing and court orders to put a point across says a lot about conflict resolution strategies our leaders have. Is this the only way to fight our battles, really? These methods earned us our democracy, fighting the apartheid regime was hard required force. Now we have a democracy where everyone is equal and we are still using the same tactics to face our challenges. It’s like saying today’s youth lacks passion and is passive compared to the 1976 youth. But we are facing different challenges to the 1976 youth. We cannot be fighting Aids and unemployment with stones and burning tyres. Exactly, different battles require different weapons.

4000 ANC members (against an expected 15000) marched to the Goodman gallery for the removal of the damaged portrait and to basically put their point across. Are these very people not affected by the serious problems engulfing our country? Since they know they have a right to be heard and have rightfully exercised it, cant they do the same for their children’s future? I am just worried that the “masses” are only mobilized when it is suitable for certain interest groups. Malema’s hearing proved this theory of “rent a crowd” true. I have nothing against the March to the gallery because the ANC took offence and wanted to set the record straight. I just wish they could exercise the very same enthusiasm to real issues that are killing our nation. Or are people dumb enough to be told what to march for?

A 17 year old mentally ill girl was gang raped and the video went viral, no one marched. An 8 year girl was raped by a 15 year old boy and her eyes were gouged out, no one marched. Our sisters and brothers are caught in an education system that says it is okay for them NOT to know 70% of what they are taught,  a mere 30% is good enough for them to pass, no one marched. Some provinces are without school textbooks and it’s almost June, no one marched. Our Crime intelligence boss is being investigated for hideous crimes and still keeps his position, no one marched. Our country has one of the highest unemployment and HIV infection rates in the world, no one marched. Today, I saw a headline that a grade 3 pupil is pregnant, no one will march. I could go on and on, there is so much that we are struggling with as a nation and there are a lot of matters that require our urgent attention. My concern is that as a population we have our priorities wrong. When know how to stand up and be counted, but we don’t know for what exactly.

Out of this whole saga, the one thing that gave me the most anguish was that security guard who arrested the people who vandalized the painting. The black guy was man handled like he just robbed a bank while the white guy was being handcuffed carefully. They both vandalized the painting and should be treated equally. By equal, I mean equal respect. But then again it’s unfortunate that as a nation we are still failing to see each other as individuals but by our skin color. For me that particular scenario should be the starting point of opening debate on perceptions and feelings caused by this exhibition.

The President clearly understands that there are a lot of underlying issues and has called for an open debate. The debate is not to talk about that ugly picture, but to allow individuals to express their feelings that were stirred up by the commotion. What concerns came to mind and how to make things better. For this gesture, I really thank the president. He has looked pass the humiliation and turmoil, from which I believe his silence throughout that time was the best response.

Right now fighting about who is wrong and who is right will not get us anywhere. I cannot say Zuma is a victim nor can I say Freedom of speech (Brett Murray) is a victim, neither get my sympathy. For a long time I really wasn’t sure how to feel about the portrait, honestly because a part of me was offended and a part of me wasn’t. Again this is my opinion and you are entitled to yours. You may agree to some of the points I made above and you can disagree to some of them, trust me, you are not the only one. We all learn as we go, and as country we need to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, such hurdles are part of the growth process.

 “The uncomfortable bottom line is that South Africa is a white controlled-black country”- Jonathan Moyo. Your thoughts?