Yes, this is another serving of our staple: South Africa’s ongoing (and necessary) race discussion. So as a tribute to Verashni Pillay and her “six things” article, Ernst Roets and his 7-point piece, and also to whoever will publish the next installment in this series (I’m looking at you, reader), I put it to you that
1.) Black People Have Minds
which we’ve surrendered to what I’d like us to call elderiarchy. This is a system wherein elders are regarded as right about all things and having rights in all things whether they’re right or not. It’s almost ageism’s opposite. When you try to point out the coerciveness of this system, you’re told it works through persuasion, through people talking and consulting one another the way culture requires. Having seen firsthand how this “talking” and its gender, hierarchical and generational inequalities work to serve the interests of some more than of others, I beg to differ.
Elderiarchy straps chastity belts over black minds from toddlerhood and suffocates them in adulthood. Some struggle veterans attempt to rule through elderiarchy by pointing out their past sacrifices to bring about a country in which black youth may be heard. When that youth says something that isn’t to their taste, however, such elderiarchs shut this freedom of speech down. Those elders thusly remain immune to the youth’s interrogations and criticisms. Freedom of speech is therefore the lease on speech that the old giveth and taketh away according to how they feel.
Elderiarchy swaps age for wisdom and authoritarianism for authoritativeness. We saw this in Baleka Mbete’s attempt to silence Floyd Shivambu using the elder card and in Zuma’s preference for “African solutions” that would stifle criticism from “clever blacks” and “westerners” demanding accountability over “colonialist constructs” like corruption. In elderiarchy, accountability itself means accountability to elders but never vice-versa. So it was that many of us darkies grasped intellectually that Mmusi Maimane was doing his job when he cleaned Parliament’s floor with Zuma’s presidency, but on another level saw uBab’ Zuma crucified by his own who have rejected him; we saw what the ANC “protects” us from: the devaluation of African values by the liberal DA. By playing his cards right during SONA week, Zuma went from ruling until Jesus returns to being Jesus returned.
We black people have surrendered our minds to patriarchy which is a copy-and-paste of elderiarchy’s structural evils. The knock-on trickle-down effect for black communities shows itself in taxi business monopolies, some tribal chiefs’ inexplicable incomes from State, gangsterism, the double-standards that the sexual behaviors of men and women are measured against and in the greater freedom of movement, vocation and dress afforded to men than to women. These inhibit our economic growth. We cannot continue choosing what limits us and blame apartheid for leaving us at a disadvantage. We can’t have our cake and eat it; we can’t choose and then unchoose freedom.
We have surrendered our minds to religionism and culturalism that hold culture above question and religious establishments that can afford it, above taxation. If we spent as much time, money and effort on figuring out how to grow wealth and strengthen societies as we do on traditional rituals and religion (the costs of which can be exorbitant) we’d have made a lot more tangible, permanent progress by now. Until Jesus returns to purge the whole temple of thieves and robbers, we will continue spending hard-earned money on sacrificial animals, ceremonies, church uniforms, new cars for pastors, better buildings and sound equipment for the church, field trips, tithes, church courses, books and DVDs that get our consumerist souls in touch with God-For-Sale. And we will continue to suffer for it. Yet that money could be used to improve earthly learning facilities in our communities. We love being fooled by religious, political and religio-political charlatans that don’t care for our salvation, political or spiritual. And I’m not bemoaning a few isolated incidences of botched mountaintop circumcisions, exorcisms turned into all-out brutality, pastors impregnating whole congregations or people washing their grass-eating and literal ass-kissing down with petrol; I am asking that we examine the structure from steeple down.
We have tolerated, nay, encouraged the disgusting, abominable, unholy, hideous, ugly, evil and undemocratic full-frontal broad-daylight fucking of Church and State. From the State I expected no better. But from the church, far more. The profane abomination of desolation calls for an Ezekiel 16 rebuke, a letter from Revelation, a leaf from Galatians, or the well-side question “Where is your husband?”, the New Testament version of “Is it because there is no God in Israel…?”
We have surrendered our minds to ethnicism and tribalism. These are way of distinguishing foes and allies not according to logic and investigation, but racist supremacism (black people can swim and be racist too!), nepotism and cronyism. Then we turn around to denounce the racism of other racists.
These isms form a net over black people as a whole, trapping even those who’re struggling to break free and better their lives.
Alarmingly, many of us assume that freedom from apartheid means living by the above –isms and pushing others to do the same. Then we turn around and blame apartheid for the effects of choices continuously made in the present. No doubt apartheid laid a strong foundation for current suffering, but nobody asked that we build additional oppressions on that foundation.
2.) Black People Have A Choice To Make
We have to decide South Africa’s destiny. Granted, other races have to make the same choice. But we need to ask whether any of our choices prolong our journey to national prosperity before we pontificate on how other races are holding out.
3.) Black People Have The Power To Hold The Current Government To A Higher Standard
We have the right to engage or create different political parties. We have the ability to tell those parties what it would take to get their vote. We have the right to be protected from fellow (black and any race) people who’d perpetrate violence on us for wishing to engage different parties. We have the right not to find it “cold outside the ANC” or outside of Parliament (the temple where the ANC holds worship services to itself until Jesus returns). We have the right to choose which living standard we want and use the country’s resources to get there and stay there, in the most sustainable way possible. We have the right to fire politicians that don’t make this happen. We have the right to more than slightly better educations and slightly more dignified existences. We have the right to set the standard and have government aim for it, not vice-versa. The tail has been wagging the dog. How is it possible that the majority has the ballot and affirmative action on its side yet continues to starve?
4.) We Have The Right To More Than Just Deliverance From Apartheid
“How can you criticize so-and-so? Don’t you know how terrible apartheid was?” is a poor measure of the kind of government we deserve. And it’s a terrible argument.
5.) Black People Have Numbers
We often use those numbers to burn utilities instead of putting healthy pressure on politicians – or voting for different politicians. This tide is turning, though: township school kids are organizing underground libraries, protecting what black people do have from fellow black people. Some of the younger guys get it. I say this to everyone’s shame.
6.) Black People Have The Right To Demand Political, Sexual, Financial And Social Education And Liberation
These are central to emancipation from apartheid’s and colonialism’s effects.
For very long, tradition, superstition, culture, family pressures and religion have told people what their sexual and reproductive choices ought to be. But the Constitution says, every healthy nation proves and Former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano agrees that these freedoms must be based on sound information and self-determination.
The Constitution – our national bible – is the least known document in South Africa. Each black person ought to be able to demand workshops, radio talk and television talk shows, church after-meetings and rallies in which they are familiarized with its precepts and promises. Each black person should have the right to question the caked ways we’ve pretended to have this situation under control. This is to solving apartheid’s effects is to rolling out ARVs was to managing the AIDS crisis. It’s that central. We need to learn. Blaming apartheid for what’s wrong in my life won’t fix my finances, help me stay healthy or prevent me from making someone pregnant while I can’t afford to take care of myself. Don’t get me wrong. I do blame apartheid for a great many things. And do you know how what has come of the energy expended into blaming apartheid? Neither do I. Maybe nothing resulted from it.
The standard, formulaic “not all” disclaimers apply.
Some white people say to black people, “Apartheid is over, get over it” because they don’t want to face how they got the systemic advantages they live in.
Others say it because they’d like to alert black people to the new struggle against today’s oppressors who keep pointing back to ghosts to keep us distracted from what they’re doing to us.
These two groups of white people look similar, but their intentions aren’t.
Apartheid and colonialism were inexcusable crimes against humanity and there is much that must still be done to uplift those whose lives were worst affected. We ought to be angry about the past; there is no universe in which injustices so great can be allowed to just slide.
But this anger cannot be all heat and no light. There must be light.
The problem with light, of course, is that it illuminates even those things we don’t want anybody else to see.
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