Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Rise and Rise of Black Racism in South Africa

When ANC representatives reproduce the racist filth that I grew up with in Apartheid South Africa it is hard to stomach and accept. It is especially hard to accept from people who never spent a significant day in the struggle themselves, and have climbed the corporate black empowerment gravy train to the very upper echelons of political and economic power in South Africa. And now they preside over the rest of us like kings, proclaiming their racist opinions in a manner not unlike our erstwhile Apartheid leaders, professing their racism openly and hiding behind spokespeople when it comes to making apologies.

So Jimmy Manyi (DG of Labour and president of the Black Management Forum) presumes to tell 'coloureds' (mixed race South Africans) that they are too concentrated in the Western Cape and should relocate themselves throughout the country? And another black government representative comments on the 'breeding rates' of coloureds in the Western Cape. Both shockingly racist, and indeed, ignorant of the very constitution that the people around me were banned, killed, attacked, tortured, and so forth, to bring into reality. Yet the reality remains out of grasp, because we have allowed the top positions in this country to be occupied by people with a limited understanding of the political history of South Africa, and mediocre intellects - people who are good for business, but bad for politics.

Not long ago, Nomaindia Mfeketo's (then Mayor of an ANC run Cape Town) Zimbabwean boyfriend posted a rant on the internet that characterised all coloureds as alcoholic drunks who were devoid of culture, unlike black African's, whose culture gave them a distinct advantage over coloureds. This resonates most with Jan Smut's characterisation of coloureds as 'an appendage to the human race', devoid of the culture that the 'happy natives' enjoy - a patronising colonial view that we seem to be unable to outrun in the 'new' South Africa.

Many years ago, while studying my undergraduate degree, I overheard a group of black female students commenting quite matter-of-factly to each other that, "coloureds are a product of rape". Wonderful! Now that we're finally free to explore and understand our real history we choose to follow in the footsteps of the racists who once ruled over us, instead of the inspiring and courageous leaders that led the struggle against all forms of racism and prejudice.

I cannot accept that we can be allowed to sink this low in our emerging discourse on a multi-racial new dispensation. After seventeen years of freedom, the South African psyche is still trapped, as Steve Biko observed it would be if we embarked upon a program of cosmetic assimilation instead of a natural integration. Will we ever be free of the racists that penetrate and occupy the highest levels of decision-making? Probably not, but we can expose them and call them to account.

It is unacceptable to me. I didn't choose to be born mixed race, and I have no choice in the matter now. Am I to spend the rest of my life apologising for my 'condition' to the new racists? Am I to be relocated to somewhere outside of the Western Cape so the ANC can regain leadership of the province? What options do you leave me when I stop being a human being who is capable of political dialogue and interaction and am relegated to being an alcoholic, over-breeding, uncultured 'appendage' to the new South Africa who needs to be told where to live? Under what authority do you presume to dictate how I should be defined, and what role I should be playing in this country?

And do you really expect that I want my children to experience the same unfiltered, racist abuse that I grew up with, having lived for more than half my life, under an apartheid regime? Do you expect that I want them to live characterised as the vermin of South African society? You better think again Mr Manyi, because racial purity can never be maintained, and when the changes come they will overwhelm you and all your small minded counterparts, and you will be relegated to the dustbin of fascism, as others have been.

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