Our country as a rainbow nation is booming with minerals, vibrancy, agriculture and shower heads that water it, not to mention baby Julius being kicked out of the crib because he learnt how to walk. When the ANC came into power, most blacks – if not all – were excited about the mere fact that a black person is finally in power. The question of that person being competent enough and equipped to play a role in the successful development of our country was beside the point. Our parents and grandparents fought hard for the liberation of non-whites. I wonder if they have come to regret their struggle, looking at the way things have gone downhill since then. It’s rather distasteful.
The very same people who were fighting with us for our rights are the very same people who are now corrupt and exploit the hard work of the lowest common denominator. The people who fought for their leaders were below the poverty line before 1994. Sixteen years down the line, the very same people who were oppressed by the apartheid government are oppressed by the ANC government in this new democratic country. The difference is that the situation has become worse and it’s now black-on-black violence. The story is getting old. Some of the white people in our country are probably saying: “they wanted to rule the country right? We gave them the opportunity that they wanted so bad but look at them, they are screwing their own people over”. We are now probably a laughing stock.
I am sure most people are familiar with the 2008 xenophobic attacks. People’s homes being burnt down with no care of how this will affect them and their families. Babies being shot whilst on their mothers’ backs. Men who failed to say the word ‘elbow’ in Zulu to prove that they are true South Africans being beaten and burnt alive. I am sure if we could take a trip back to 1955 following the Sophiatown removals, people fought back because they didn’t want to be foreigners in their own land. They did not want to be removed from their homes where they had established friendships, created memories whilst watching their children dancing in the dust. Black South Africans seem to have forgotten how it feels to be chased away from your own home, tortured and being considered as insignificant as if you don’t matter. During the apartheid uproar, most South Africans sought for refuge in neighboring countries, Zimbabwe especially, and were welcomed with warm and empathetic arms.
I am ashamed to see that we lack to understand that all blacks, including all other races, belong to Africa, therefore to South Africa as well. Growing up, I have always praised the saying ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ that means ‘I am because we are’. The African ubuntu spirit that our parents have always prided themselves on seems to be reserved for the black South African nation only. Derogative terms such as ‘kwerekwere’ and ‘ikwang’ have emerged over the years, but the one thing I don’t understand is: why are black foreign nationals referred to in such terms?
If it is a white foreign national, the same term suddenly doesn’t seem to apply. I don’t understand what is really wrong with our mentality as black people. When a white person calls a black person ‘nigger’ or ‘kaffer’, fists are flying. The black person would be fighting and defending their race and honour. The white perpetrator is called racist. However, when a black person physically or verbally insults a white person, it’s okay for s/he is not considered as not being racist. It’s seen as just pure human conflict. Colour, all of a sudden, is not involved. There is this sick notion that has been going around that black people can’t be racist. Just think about it. It is ridiculous.
Going back to the ANC, the amount of corruption that has been taking place since the party came into power is such that you could easily mistake this government for the Apartheid government. I am sure you are familiar with the book Animal Farm by George Orwell. Politically speaking, this is a great piece of literature. The novel includes the use of allegorical characters which represent various official delegates who are corrupt and abuse their power at the expense of others. The thematic concerns of dystopia, false consciousness and abuse of power are very brave and give insight to those who confuse optimism and reality. The quote “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others” exactly epitomizes what is going on in South Africa.
In the year 2012, we are living in a world of freedom of expression, human rights and rainbow colour that joined us together after Zuma’s shower had rained on us. On paper, we are enjoying the fruits of the struggle and liberation as black people; we are free. However, in reality the situation the country is in seems to contradict this statement. The distribution of wealth is only for the elite few at the top of the ladder. It is similar to helping a friend climb a peach tree in order to indulge in the succulent, sweet and bright orange ones at the top. But then your dearest friend gets to the top and greedily keeps all the fruit to himself and throws you the seeds, forgetting that if it was not for your assistance he would not be there at the top – literally.
My grandma – sagacious and knowledgeable as she is – has always told me that you can never correct one wrong with another. The implementation of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) system was to some level a big failure when taking into consideration the needs of the country as a whole, and not just those people who are sitting at the top, feeling entitled to what they have been rewarded because they fought in the struggle. In South African companies, your worth, competence and value are marked by whether you were in the struggle or not, regardless of your skills, ability to make the right decisions, ability to think logically and critically, and educational qualifications. I feel that the government plays the lottery on a big scale; the people chosen for positions are randomly selected. Their resumes probably have this written: educational qualifications – 10% in woodwork; criminal record – fought in the struggle. They are good enough to go. BEE seems a temporal solution to a long-term problem. It’s similar to putting a band aid on an arm that has been amputated.
Most people overseas have always had the ignorant assumption that South Africa and the rest of Africa is a jungle with lion pets and squirrel friends that talk in clicks while we sing ‘kumbaya’ around the fire and tell old stories at night time. We seem to be offended but when taking our barbaric actions into consideration, you can’t help feel sorry for the already tainted reputation of our country. The country’s blame, ignorance, lack of mental and emotional intelligence and lack of education. Not even Zuma’s shower can cure that disease. People from overseas are probably laughing at us. Before 1994, we were fighting the whites, and then 16 years into democracy we are fighting each other. Barbaric indeed like monkeys in a cage fighting for a banana peel.
The reason I feel the attack on foreign nationals was predominantly from the blacks is because their determination, dedication and work ethic exposes our flaws. Next to them we feel naked and the world can see what we are incapable of. I have come across various people from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria, Somalia who have top educational qualifications but are street vendors and gardeners. They don’t mind getting paid R100 a week, because they know what it feels like to have nothing. They have seen their children with bellies sticking out and flies in their eyes, and those flies with flies in their eyes. However, we as black South Africans want to get paid more or be employed in higher posts even though we don’t have a single qualification. Now think about it, does getting 83% in Life Orientation and Home Economics count? I don’t think so!
I still think that because of the struggle we are entitled to these things, like somebody owes us. Another similar plot point that I picked up whilst reading Animal Farm, is that Mr Jones who (in this case the apartheid government) has always been viewed as the only threat to the animals (in this case black people in South Africa). It is as if we are saying “as long as white man (Mr Jones) doesn’t rule, the country is fine because we are in a supposed democratic country”. What we fail to see is that our own people are oppressing us. Manipulators such as Julius Malema have kept the black mass preoccupied with songs like ‘Shoot the Boer’ which apparently strives for black liberation from whites. I thought we passed that phase in 1994. The song is used to divert people’s attention from what is actually going on in the country. It is propelling people to fight an invisible struggle that does not exist.
Like the animals in the book, blacks are blind to the corruption that is happening in the government. Was it better for blacks when the white man ruled? One can also look at the enforcement of the Media Tribunal and the Secrecy Bill. Apparently, these are implemented to protect the privacy of the government. The question we have failed to ask is: “to what extent are they protected?”, so that means they can get away with anything. I see this whole thing as a scapegoat to avoid being caught in the heat of corruption. We are always complaining as victims, saying that power has been taken from us but the truth is that we have handed over that power to the ANC. What happened to the right to freedom of expression and access to information?
I understand that South Africa is still in its baby steps of democracy. However, in 20 years we cannot be using the same excuse. So for now the government can get away with no service delivery and use that excuse. Boxer, who is a faithful and loyal animal, epitomizes all of the best qualities of the black mass who are now being exploited. I wonder how it feels for Nelson Mandela to see everything that he has built and worked hard for crumble into dust in his sight, before he has even turned into dust. The instructions on a varnish tin always read “make sure all dust is removed before use”. However, it seems that we are varnishing over the dust we have crumbled into for the sake of being a supposedly democratic country.
I am a troubled young person because I don’t understand what is going on with our government! They seem to have lost touch with the essence of the struggle. I can’t really tell the difference between the apartheid government and the ANC. The pig from the man.