Thursday, April 23, 2015

Xenophobia in South Africa ... the pernicious cocktail of blackness

Once again South Africa is witnessing the the killing, maiming and brutalization of humans who are foreigners. Shock, horror and other forms of much lamentation abound, not only in South Africa but across the planet, particularly the rest of the continent.
President Jacob Gedlehelekisa Zuma has rightly called for sectors of SA society to help formulate a solution. He has kicked this off by rightly identifying a culture of violence. embedded during the apartheid era, as one of the drivers of the phenomenon.
It is to state the obvious that if a solution is to be found, all the fundamental drivers of the problem need to be identified.  To date there has been a confused mishmash of theories on this issue ranging from obvious, to naive, to even delusional. So what are they??
What is the fundamental driver of the xenophobia violence???

This can be answered quite emphatically. It is due to a prevailing culture of  Exclusion. 
Exclusion is an attitude or culture in terms of which another person is not regarded or treated in terms of the same rights and privileges that one accords to oneself. Apartheid was its most evil version. Hitler's 3rd Reich was another most evil version.
Violence by one human on another is always predicated on the notion that the victim is dis-entitled to one or more of the basket of rights that ordinarily accrue. The dis-entitlement may be momentary, as when there is a transient quarrel over some issue or other, or it may be long standing. Here we are concerned with the latter, i.e, endemic.
So the xenophobic violence proves the existence of the culture of exclusion.
The $64,000 question is why do we have this?  Why do so many South Africans have the culture of exclusion towards others??

1. Failure of government ... pandemic poverty ... dehumanization.
The previous apartheid government and the current 21 year old ANC government share complicity for the pandemic poverty, dispossession and disadvantage that subsists in this country. Symptomatic of this is that millions still live in shacks under cardboard, corrugated iron and plastic "like rats".
To have to be disadvantaged to this extent in an environment of first world opulence and grandeur, that SA exhibits on most fronts, has the effect of dehumanizing people.
It is not rocket science to understand that, in such a situation, people go into the Darwinian mode of "survival of the fittest" in the competition for scarce resources and the most vulnerable become victims. Anybody who has been to boarding school knows this.
Given this dehumanizing environment foreigners became obvious and easy targets.
Psychologically the instinctive answer the xenophobe has is that "charity begins at home".
You can hardly blame them, can you?

2. Culture of violence
President Zuma is 100% right that a culture of violence subsists from apartheid days. No question. As Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela stated so clearly at his Rivonia trial, the apartheid system was inherently violent and forced a violent reaction.
That culture of violence has never left SA. Violence is seen as a solution not only on the part of criminals but also on the part of otherwise law abiding citizens.
So in contending with their poverty, having been dehumanized, violence is a "go to" mode that has become internalized over time and is now embedded in the psyche.
The Marikana massacre, and that is exactly what it was, is more than symptomatic of how violent this society is, because here we saw the State itself killing its own citizens as a solution to the actual and perceived violence of its own citizens. 

3. Anomie
However the culture of violence is not free standing. It locates within a broader culture. Anomie is a Greek word used to describe a condition that attaches to societies, particularly during revolutionary times.
Its main characteristics are a) "social  norm confusion" and b) deviance.
Social norm confusion means that the populace, as a whole, does not have shared norms, values and morals. Symptomatic of this was the "Dubula i'bhunu" saga where the different groupings could not agree on whether such a song was tolerable and the Court;s later decision was roundly condemned by many.
The other glaring example was the saga involving "The Spear" painting which induced Counsel to weep in a Superior Court.
Once social norm confusion is endemic it will involve humans,not only on race/ethnic lines, but also across socio-economic lines. Since SA is now a world leader as regards the gap between rich and poor, it comes as no surprise that there is social norm confusion between the poor and the rest.
Deviance is precipitated by the fact that people redefine their goals and redefine the means of achieving those goals. In the process personal and functional integrity is jettisoned in favour of the often thoroughly reprehensible stratagems and tactics.
So in SA we see deviance right across all sectors, from security guards helping criminals to the "filthy rich" cooking the prices of basic national commodities. Every week the investigative program, Carte Blanche, exposes doctors, lawyers, hospitals, politicians, industry captains ... rich and poor alike ... across all groupings ... for deviant conduct.
SA is probably one of the most anomic countries on this planet.
What ensures that it continues to blossom is that there is a concomitant lack of accountability. There is undoubtedly a widespread perception that deviance and crime does pay.
The President himself should know that there are thousands who believe that he is "getting away" with an illicit advantage involving many millions as regards his Nkandla home upgrades.
As to what should be done about anomie please go here.

4. The SA Reform Model
The problem is that SA adopted what is depicted in Poster :"A" as opposed to what is depicted in Poster "B", as its reform model..

As at 1994, Model "A" seemed obvious and unexceptionable, given the just elapsed viciousness of apartheid. However, as is often the case, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
In effect, SA adopted what was at the very heart of apartheid culture, and imagined that by reversing the colour coding evil could be rendered saintly.
The "race/ethnic based" approach in Poster "A" is inherently evil. Evil begets more evil.
The "needs based" approach in Poster "B" is not.

What this racialized approach to social justice has done, and is doing with a vengeance, is to:-
a) keep the apartheid culture of exclusion firmly in place;
b) posit that culture as central to human rights and social justice;
c) posit advantage/disadvantage as "synonymous" with race ethnicity and skin tone;
d) keep African folk "resident in the past" as opposed to ensuring that the past is only "referenced";
e) ensure the retention of a "victim complex" on the one hand and a "culture of entitlement" on the other hand in the psyche of African folk;

This list is actually almost endless as regards the "negatives" of the current race based model. Association is the most powerful element in human cognitive process. Ask any educator.
So to-day the people are infused in their psyche with the notion "Black good; White bad; Coloured/Indian not too good/bad". 

In his marvelous "I am an African" speech, delivered during the one magic moment when Nelson Rolihlahla straddled the world as a moral force, Thabo Mbeki makes no reference to "black".
"Black" is not mentioned in the SA Constitution.
Before colonialism Africans never defined themselves as a colour.
However our people imported the label "black" from the USA where it gained credence on account of the Civil Rights struggle there, even though it was a label of oppression invented by the racist Deep South during the Jim Crowe era.
"Black" was the label invented to accrue to any human with just "one drop" of African blood for the purpose of oppression.
But our people adopted it because of naiveté  and romantic association with a noble struggle that has long since been won since the USA has now twice voted a man to be their President purely on merit..

Black is a colour. It is not human.
In this way our people have become disassociated from their "humanness" ... from their "Africaness" ... from their "South Africaness" ... because they no longer  see themselves as human, African or South African ... but as a "black" category of grievance and entitlement.
In this way a human becomes a victim on a mission.

In this way,  by this process, we now have a nation that is absolutely in the grip of a culture of exclusion.
It required but the smallest of steps for that culture to also go "tribal".
The prejudice against other humans on account of ethnic difference so easily extends to others for being of a different tribe .. Bingo!!! . .you have xenophobia . .. in abundance ... because humanness has been lost in a sea on "blackness". 
When humans feel alienated in their own country they will tend to see anybody and everybody as an enemy or as a target to act out their frustrations.

The Solution --- in summary
a) Dump the current race/ethnic based reform model and substitute it with a needs based model.
b) Devise and prosecute a national program to tackle anomie as set out here.
Devise and prosecute a national program to educate the populace about human rights, starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, what it is, how it came about and why it is non negotiable.d) In that program include Dr Kenneth Kaunda's visionary concept of "humanism" and our own "ubuntu" philosophy.

It is that simple. As Nelson Mandela said -- "it is only hard until you do it"
So just do it.

PS: Jan -Feb 2017 sees another onset of murderous xenophobic attacks on Somali small business traders in particular.
Still my pleas go unheeded. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Defeat of Rhodes's Statue

Congratulations!!! Congratulations!!! 
We lesser mortals prostrate ourselves in abject admiration and awe for those brave souls that were involved in defeating the statue. The statue is known as Rhodes’s statue; “RS” for short.
Strategy -- in battle is always critical. This involved over 21 years of meticulous planning. Exercising this level of patience ensured that battle plans were sound and that RS was lulled into a false sense of security.

Complacency is always fatal. RS thought he was secure, perched up there all high and mighty, lording it over the Cape Flats like some god for 21 years.
Tactics – using poo and pee in the attack was a breathtakingly masterful tactic unprecedented in history. Phew!!

I am sure D Day survivors of the Normandy beaches have been moved to tears of admiration.
Surely the outcome of many wars would have been different if only the vanquished had thought of this. Had our people known of this incredible weapon at the time of invasion surely the colonialists would have been stopped dead in their tracks.
The victims of Attila the Hun, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan … etc … must be turning in their graves wondering why they did not think of such a deadly weapon, readily available in abundance.
Such was the courage, energy, ferocity and unrelenting persistence with which RS was attacked that Rhodes was simply overwhelmed, cowed into submission and preferring to hunker down in his tomb in the Matopos. What a coward!!

The Vice Chancellor of UCT observed that he personally felt "inspired". If, as an educator this was the effect on him, we should be chuffed that our young folk at school will also feel inspired by associating poo and pee with great achievement. 

The World’s cameras recorded this incredible victory. Now we need the poets and songsters to come on board with sonnets and songs, as much as they will be really hard pressed to capture the gloriousness of this victory. 

Surely Isandlwana now stands eclipsed???

And if these brave warriors are not, at the very least, rewarded with medals then this government must fall!

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