Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Fast Fragmenting Rainbow Nation!

So the rainbow is finally fragmenting, and fast. Soon, all political opinion in South Africa will be so governed by race that it will leave no space for real political dialogue, and a whole next generation will suffer the same ignorance and prejudice that their forebears tried so desperately to overcome. And it is not just the ANC which is at fault in recreating this nightmare, it is also the DA opposition, who also plays the race card, both mirroring each other's predudices. Both have no vision to offer the South African people anymore. The Freedom Charter has become a piece of paper that is paid lip service but no action. We have become an ignorant kleptocracy that revels in difference and race division. The falcon cannot hear the falconer - we are adrift in a misconstrued mess of ill-informed prejudice and recrimination.

So how did we end up here so quickly. The answer is simple - weak leadership. There is no arguing that our history will prove difficult to untangle from our future - that much we all recognized as the challenge of the new South Africa. There is no question that we come from a history that has so deeply fractured the South African psyche that it will take years to overcome. But in order to create a new future, we need strong, decisive moral leadership. The 'wishy-washy stand by your corrupt and ignorant friends style of leadership' isn't going to take us into a new future. It will trap our children in our awful past.

And for all the debates that we are witnessing, there is precious little leadership on what we stand for. Indeed, government prevaricates like an outdated old fossil, trying so hard to please all its allies (both political and business) that it presents a diluted vision for the country, and we no longer know what the ANC government stands for. All I know is that it now stands for relocating coloureds from the Western Cape to other places in the country - this is the return of the relocation policies of Apartheid, indeed, as Trevor Manuel has pointed out, the return of Verwoerd styled logic. It starts with these announcements, and eventually turns into a nightmare for people everywhere. Start with attacking coloureds and pretty soon every other group in the country that does not 'fit in' where they are supposed to will be under attack.

There is nothing new about this mentality. Victims of abuse often turn to abusers themselves. One only has to look to Israel to understand that if you cannot transcend your abuse you are doomed to repeat it. And transcending abuse requires more than material and economic freedom. As Steve Biko made clear, it requires you to liberate yourself, and not to look to others to 'give you' your liberation. You are the only person who can liberate you. Yes, economic upliftment is important but the fact is that people who are educated become liberated. That's exactly why women that are educated become less constrained by cultural and gender constraints and can formulate life on their own terms. Education, not wealth, liberates people. When you are educated, you know the world you live in, and can issue your own dignity to yourself.

That's what black consciousness is all about - it is not about turning vicious race hatred against your own comrades, passing comments such as, 'coloureds are black when it suits them'. A comment such as this only reinforces the notion that coloureds are half of this and half of that - a notion that was imposed on coloureds, to those who know our history. Coloureds are not half of anything - they are the ultimate truth about what a rainbow nation constitutes, that is; mixing! Imposing an 'ethnicity' on coloureds is to deny their real origins, and to play into the very same Apartheid classifications that we have tried to undo in the new dispensation. So why are our comrades in the struggle now turning to the very same prejudice that we fought side by side to eradicate?

Why can they so easily spew out the most racist garbage, threatening to split the ranks of political power along race lines? Well, frustration with the slow pace of change is one factor, but so is the incapacity of our leaders to act on principle. They can proclaim their support for the freedom charter on one hand, while invoking racist and ignorant prejudice on the other. Leadership in South Africa has simply become a duplicitous act - say one thing to one side, and another to the other side. Con everybody, mafia style, so that they fight with each other instead of questioning you when the inevitable conflicts emerge. Take no responsiblity for any errors in judgement, but claim the successes of over a 100 years of liberation struggle as your own, and the successes that occur in spite of, and not because of, your weak leadership.

We've often heard it said that if you don't stand for something, then you will fall for anything - and this, unfortunately is the position we are in. Anything goes, as long as you can find a way to 'spin' it out onto an uncritical society. We have quickly arrived at a situation where nobody really knows what the ANC stands for anymore. Precious few have stood by Trevor Manuel in his criticism of Jimmy Manyi, and President Zuma - as usual - seems to be absent from the public forum when the proverbial shit has hit the fan, no doubt trying to figure out how to maintain the precarious balancing act that he has embarked upon by trying to make everyone happy all of the time.

The fact is, nobody accepts white racism anymore in South Africa as publicly acceptable. Yet, black racism goes unchallenged. We are no longer the rainbow nation. We are fragmented, confused result of cosmetic surgery gone awry, a dismal shadow of our former morality. We have no real leadership. Instead, we have a broker who serves to please everyone, and in the process has distilled out what the essence of the ANC was i.e. a coalition of interests that represent a broad cross-section of South African society. The ANC now speaks only for its own survival, and the values that it professes to uphold on behalf of South African society have been cast adrift, replaced by a dull, unimaginative and dangerous racism that now threatens to finish what Verwoerd started all those years go, that is; to have us divided and conquered for eternity. How ironic, that the great liberators of South Africa are unable to outrun the pschologies of the past, choosing instead to drag us backwards into the nightmare of Apartheid styled racism. Are there any leaders left in South Africa, or are you all too busy nowadays to make a stand?


  1. Very well-written. I agree that education is more liberating than wealth, and this is why the policy seems not to be about neglecting education but actually annihilating it.

    We were in the States in late 2010 and saw first-hand the damage of the Bush years, a period that wasn't just low on learning but was actually about being anti-intellectual.

    In a strange way, South Africa is still in the thrall of the US. In the 1980s we were the African nuclear frontier of the Cold War, keeping the masses uninformed as we nailed the commies.

    Now we have a machocracy (along with the kleptocracy you mention) that seems to have spotted how effective anti-education is in disempowering people.

    Zuma has all the hallmarks of a Bush, in which case Malema might be Cheney (if he can be bothered).

    Does ANC stand for Another Neo-Con?

    1. Spot on! I've always maintained that Zuma was our Bush, sent to teach us the value of being vigilant about democracy. However, seeing how Trump has captured support in the US I am beginning to wonder if voters ever learn. First as tragedy, then as farce?

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