Thursday, January 5, 2012

Inequality and social injustice --- this culture is not an exclusively White invention

Phylicia Oppelt
In present day South Africa, and Zimbabwe for instance, it is blindingly obvious that there is widespread inclination to imagine that all the ills of the dispossessed/disadvantaged masses is explicable as a product of an imported White culture of inequality, with racism as its most pernicious form. Local history confirms this -- painfully.
So it is instinctively imagined that, but for this import by White imperialists/colonialists, we would not really have a problem of inequality. In the result there is a huge tendency to see Black leaders exclusively as our saviours and reject White leaders as disqualified. Typically we are inflicted with articles such as  - “This great black hope is inaudible without white” by an otherwise very good journalist/editor Phylicia Oppelt.  The whole point of the article is to discredit Lindiwe Mazibuko, as a political leader, simply because she is in association with a White led political party.
Oppelt is not being deliberately dishonest or racist. The problem is founded in her imagination. She imagines that what she is putting down is fair comment and this is because, like so many, she imagines that the culture of inequality is a “White thing”, imported by Whites. In the result Whites are substantively and perceptually disqualified from leading anybody to true freedom, let alone the disadvantaged Black majority. So it is all too easy for her to even rate Julius “Whites are thieves” Malema as preferable to Mazibuko because, according to Oppelt, there are no White links in his stance and message. Oppelt does redeem herself here.
So we really need to dispassionately examine the proposition that the concept/culture of inequality is a product of White mentality? Is it?
In my book “The Other – without fear, favour or prejudice” I relate how my Black grandmother, an Ndebele woman of the abeZansi class, accepted very few of the other ethnic groups, White or Black, as her equal.  Her behaviour was normal. That is the point. Her attitude and behaviour was perfectly normal for the times she was living in. That is an undeniable fact and cannot be gainsaid or wished away.
King Shaka Zulu
My grandmother was an Ndebele of the Mzilikazi clan. Mzilikazi, as is known, fled from Shaka Zulu and migrated to what is now Zimbabwe. Mzilikazi and his people took the prevailing Zulu culture with them. Equality was not part of the culture.
So this whole region was steeped in inequality; inequality of the most pernicious proportions. In South Africa King Shaka’s kingdom was founded on and kept dominant in terms of a most brutal pogrom known as mfecane.
Mfecane is used primarily to refer to the period when Mzilikazi, a king of the Matabele, dominated the Transvaal. During his reign, roughly from 1826 to 1836, he ordered widespread killings and devastation to remove all opposition. He reorganized the territory to establish the new Ndebele order. The death toll has never been satisfactorily determined, but the whole region became nearly depopulated.
In addition the Zulu nation was defined and structured as unequal with the abeZansi class being ‘royalty”. The people were divided into three main sections: the Abezansi [who were the aristocrats], the Abenhla [middle class] and the Amaholi comprising folk who had been captured in raids on other tribes. The Amaholi or Holi were practically in the position of bondsmen and rarely allowed to possess cattle.  
In Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) all other tribes were raided, robbed and quite brutally subjugated to the rule and dominance of the newly arrived Ndebele from South Africa. So the Whites were not the first colonizers. Neither were they the first to import the culture of inequality.
It is a reality that the culture of inequality was something of an international pandemic. From earliest times man was preoccupied with invading, raiding and subjugating his fellow men, all over the world. Alexander even got the name “Alexander The Great” for indulging in such thoroughly objectionable conduct. It is unnecessary to burden this post with the innumerable other examples such as the exploits of Genghis Khan who is credited with having killed more humans in his conquest of Asia than were killed in the last to world wars.
What is far more pertinent is to point out that the concept/culture of equality was just about nowhere to be found in this world be it the French ("let them eat cake") China, Britain (aristocracy), Russia, India (untouchables) or anywhere else. A “classless society” was never part of the ordinary approach of humanity throughout its existence.
So Shaka and the Zulus, and Mzilikazi and the Ndebeles were simply part of an international norm that was no more “White” than it was any other complexion!
So where does all this lead us to? What is its significance? To answer these question we need to imagine one more thing. What would have been the norm had the White man not arrived? Do we imagine that we would all have been living as equals in a classless society?
Now be honest. The truth shall set you free, as inconvenient as it is to accept.
The Man
As much as the Man from Jerusalem admonished humanity 2012 years ago - "Love they neighbour as thyself, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you", mankind has always been deaf to His Word!
And the truth is that whether it be Jacob Zuma, Helen Zille or anyone else, each has equal potential to be a good or a bad leader. Their race or ethnicity really has nothing to do with it! To believe that only a Black person can lead is emotive irrationality. 
Black people now have political power. The onus is on them to provide leadership to ALL subjects, regardless of race, colour, ethnic and other differences! That leadership starts in the brain ... of all ... 
When in doubt, tell the truth. Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Years Appeal -- to opinion makers of South Africa

This was first posted in January 2011 and again in Jan 2012. It was widely circulated. However it was completely ignored by all those that it appeals to. I remain undeterred, as truth must always endure.
It as relevant as ever as during  past years we have heard Whites being referred to as "thieves" and Lindiwe Mazibuko being attacked just for being a Black in the Democratic Alliance, just for starters. Comments on social network sites, and in response to media reports, show that the populace is as racially orientated as ever.
None other than the President, Jacob Zuma, has just lambasted our Black populace not to love dogs and use facial and hair enhancement lotions, as this betrays Black ethnicity. "Even if you apply any kind of lotion and straighten your hair, you will never be white," he was reported as saying.  
This is terrible stuff! really!.
He had previously voiced discomfort with the current Black Economic Empowerment model (BEE), saying what we all already know – that it has proved to be simply a vehicle for enrichment of a new “connected” elite. Read ....
So, once again, this is a direct appeal to Redi Tlhabi, John Robbie, Jenny Crwys-Williams (all of Radio 702), Justice Malala, Professor Pierre de Vos, Patricia de Liile, Helen Zille, Judge Dennis Davis, Mondli Makhanya (Sunday Times),  Ferial Haffaje (Mail & Guardian), Bongani Keswa (the Sowetan) … and other influence peddlers in South African Society.
Please decide which of the following statements are true as regards South Africa -
a)   human beings are categorized according to race, colour and ethnicity under Affirmative Action (AA) laws and BEE protocols;
b)   with Whites excluded from jobs and contracts as a matter of course;
c)  with Blacks included as of right;
d) and with Coloureds/Indians/Chinese to be included only if they first claim and prove that they are Black;
e) so rights and privileges are being accorded on the basis of race, ethnicity and colour;
f) this was the paradigm approach of the apartheid culture and system;
g) that culture was racist;
h) racism is evil;
i) and evil begets more evil.
Never mind which you may want to bake it, all of the above statements appear to be true. It would appear that we have racism. We have adopted it, believe in it, nurture it,  sustain it, and propagate it … despite its evil nature.
At a stroke we appear to have adopted the very essence of the apartheid oppressor’s culture.
It is not the reality we wanted, or want … but it is the reality we got.
Certainly this is the position, unless one is able to counter this conclusion with the same simplicity of the statements advanced, without emotive obfuscation and political gobeldigook and spin.
The simple answer is that racial discrimination is not, in itself, racist. It is racist only if it lacks justification or is unfair. Given the need for massive transformation, after apartheid,  little socio-economic transformation would have occurred without  it. It would have been somewhat naive to believe that the largely "advantaged" Whites, who have as yet to just say sorry for the daily mistreatment of Blacks during apartheid, would have "volunteered" any form of real transformation.
In short, this is one of those rare occasions when the “end does justify the means”. Normally it does not, as would be the case where we would not award our “General” Cele a medal for uncovering a plot to bomb Soccer City and kill 75, 000 fans … if he uncovered the plot by torturing the informants.
Our case can be likened to having to use the venom of the snake itself in order to counter the effects of its bite.
But, of cause, as with using snake venom, we were always required to be acutely mindful of what we were dealing in, to proceed with extreme circumspection and to use no more of this venom than was absolutely necessary, if we were to avoid harming, even killing, the patient.
But, with respect, except as regards Employment Equity (salutary), which includes non-racial discrimination as regards gender and our disabled brethren, we have not been at all circumspect in the use of this poisonous elixir, but somewhat reckless. To-day we appear to have an “Animal Farm” situation where “Black good, White bad, Coloured/Indian not too good” as the underlying national premise on which entitlement to socio-economic rights and privileges accrue. President Jaco Zuma's latest "you want to be White"  gaffs have vindicated my stance on this quite spectacularly. 
The problem, and with respect, it is a terrible problem, was in the setting of the basic criteria under AA as “Black”. It would have been a relatively simple matter to set and implement it as subsisting apartheid induced disadvantage. Since Black folk are the majority in this category, they would still have been the majority beneficiaries of AA and other “real” transformation strategies.
The difference however, and it is a real difference, is that the socio-economic transformation model would then NOT have been racist.
This paradigm difference in approach would also have largely put paid to the present BEE model, which has but a nodding acquaintance with redressing disadvantage, and as Zwelinzima Vavi (President of Cosatu) says - "It is greed that is inspired by the conspicuous consumption of the new elite, the (black economic empowerment) types who blow up to R 700, 000 on one night parties ...” while millions are denied true transformation and still live under corrugated iron, cardboard and plastic. Read ....
It is blindingly clear that, because we prescribed being "Black" as the paradigm criteria, opened the door for all these fat cats to tenderpreneur themselves to fabulous wealth whether or not they were ever disadvantaged. Evil begets evil!
This embedding of Black ethnicity, as the basic criteria, is having other pernicious repercussions. If you don’t think it is evil consider the plight of Coloureds as a "touchstone" test. During apartheid many Coloured families had a “White sheep of the family”. By this is meant, a family member who had “crossed over” and was very secretly “playing White” so as to secure socio-economic advantage.Now, by law and protocol, all Coloureds are required to “play Black”, so as to secure the same advantage.
You see, in Australia the government shamefully abducted Coloured children and tried to “breed out” their Black blood. Here we imagine that passing a law classifying them as Black under a so called “extended definition of Black” gets rid of the “Coloured problem”.
It is to state the obvious to say the a person should neither be advantaged or disadvantaged, purely on account of ethnicity.
Now, please ask any 5 year old child whether or not Trevor Manuel or Herschel Gibbs is “Black” . You are then going to have to deal in lies in order to assure the child that … blah, blah, blah … as you trot out the politics of advantage and disadvantage. Please spare the child the business about Chinese being Black.
Justice can never be founded on lies!
Consider what we are doing to our children with this “Animal Farm” environment in which “Black good, White bad, Coloured/Indian/Chinese not so good” is the message.
What do Sonia and Mathew Booth tell their children about who and what they are? This is wicked stuff. 
What is happening to the self-image of each of our little ones? Ask any criminologist and/or psychologist how important it is for human beings to accept and be proud of what and who they actually are. Problems with self image predisposes human beings to deviant and/or criminal conduct. What culture are they internalizing?
Do we really believe that one day Black folk will suddenly decide that Blacks are no longer "more equal then others" and that race, ethnicity and colour no longer matter? Do we really believe that? Do we really???
Are we so delusional as to believe that this obsession with race, colour and ethnicity is a worthy replacement for apartheid culture?
Oh yes, the American brand of AA is also raced based. The difference, and it is a huge difference, is that it is race based benevolence by a White majority for the benefit of a Black minority, apparently as an act of atonement. No one is prejudiced. No one is corruptly enriched. Despite this, the Courts there are still  often embroiled in having to deal with allegations of "reverse racism" with resolution dependent on whether the discrimination was just and equitable.
As said, if subsisting apartheid induced disadvantage, was the criteria for AA and other true transformation programs, we would not have our hands steeped in perpetuating the evil culture of our apartheid oppressors.
Now unless you are able to say that what appears above is not true, in language that has  the simplicity of truth, devoid of emotive obfuscation, you have a duty, a sacred duty, as an influence peddler, as an opinion maker, as a leader in your own right, to take on this evil. It is corrupting the very fabric of our society, subverting nationhood and fueling confusion, resentment and dysfunction.
You cannot continue to countenance the very essence of the culture of the apartheid oppressor and say, 
as it did  -
"we do this in the name of social justice".
I'm for truth, no matter who tells it.
I'm for justice,
no matter who it's for or against.
Malcolm X
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