Wednesday, 02 September 2009

Is it because I am Black or White?

It is impossible to separate the population of the world accurately by race, since that is no scientific criterion by which to divide races, writes Web Du Bois in The Negro Problems.

There have been reports of late by the South African president Jacob Zuma that debating race would take the country backward and, and thought instead that it was non-racialism that deserved a debate.

In an exclusive (as journos prefer, although, at times they get into big trouble like Mail & Guardian’s journalist did with Judge John Hlophe) with The Star newspaper, Zuma said “we have never looked at things in terms of race and ethnicity but, rather, in terms of people being South Africans”.

This, The Star reported, was after South African Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu suggested that the African National Congress as a ruling party should “start a debate on race and transformation” and a “clear understanding” of what it means.

Sisulu made a call “in her capacity as head of ANC’s Social Transformation Committee, on the same day … that Malema told SAfm there would be an uprising if the issue of African people’s access to economic levers of power was not “handled properly”, The Star reported.

However, this does no mean any discussion on the subject – race or non-racialism – will take the country backward as, reportedly, suggested by Zuma.

In his Talented Tenth, Web Du Bois further wrote:

“The Negro race (with reference to black people), like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races”.

With these questions in mind, does South Africa need to debate race and non-racialism?
 With the president refusing to discuss the subject that has so far divided the country at large, who will be the Exceptional men to save our race?
 Will it be those trying to debate the issues resulting which as a result, are called racist, anti-white or anti-black?
 Or will you and I just sit and watch as one of ours start the debate we may afraid to be party to out of fear of be labeled a racist?

While still on the subject of race (discussion or cancellation thereof by Zuma) a report by Ottawa Sun last week Thursday of a South African, Brandon Huntley, 31-year-old, who was granted refugee status by the Canadian immigration and refugee board panel found “clear and convincing proof of the state’s inability or unwillingness to protect him” was .

The tribunal chair William Davis found that the “claimant would stand out like a ‘sore thumb’ due to his colour in any part of the country” and further noted that “Huntley’s “subjective fear of persecution remained constant and consistent” up to the time he made his refugee claim,” Ottawa Sun reported.

Davis said the evidence of Huntley and Laura Kaplan “show a picture of indifference and inability or unwillingness” of the South African government to protect “White South Africans from persecution by African South Africans,” according to Ottawa Sun.

Despite Home affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa having described the decision as “absolute rubbish", according to Mail & Guardian, while the African National Congress found his ‘attacked by Africans due to his colour of his skin’ "without any police intervention" sensational and alarming – Huntley seems to stand by his word.

The report has received numerous criticisms from certain quarters of the society, especially in South Africa being Human rights groups, South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) and South African Human Rights Commission to mention but a few.

According to The Star newspaper today, Huntley arrogantly ‘refuse[s] to talk to government,’ that ‘[he] opened people’s eyes’ and refused ‘to talk about his potentially precedent-setting court application because he fears the consequence his family, still living in South Africa, might face’.

Should not he have thought of that earlier? you may ask.

Contrary to Huntley’s ‘racism towards South Africa and those who live in it, at the time of writing, South African Independent Online reported that not only are the whites victims of crime, but blacks too, have been victims of crime – many of whom have lost their lives as a result.

Around May last year, 2008, many of the foreign nationals were attacked – while others were displace around the country, others returned to their country of birth out of fear of being killed, one of them being burnt alive – by black South African in township around Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town and Durban. Is it because they were black or white?

Moreover, of recently, a white student pupil at Klerksdorp is reported to have killed another pupil using sword. Is that because they were both white?

If one is to list examples of these incidents in the country whereby people – both black and white – have been victims of crime many a times some of which have been reported while others – because of challenges in the relevant authorities to deals with these matters – were not reported at all.

Around April last year, I was a victim of crime at Mmabatho, at Mafikeng when I was attacked by three young black guys to which I never reported because I could not identify them as it was during the evening and lost my belongings. Was that because I was of the same (if not different) race as them or not?

Just how many people, both black and white, have been victims of crime in South Africa and just how bloody many blacks have been called Kaffers or by racial terms by their white counterparts?

Actually, how many South Africans, black nogal, have been victims of racial abuse due to 300 years of apartheid from their 'priviledge' white counterparts, many of whom even if they had reported such crimes, nothing would have come of it and instead, they would be abused, and assault at times, restricted into going to certain areas, for they were black?

It’s time for The Race Debate South Africa and Zuma!


Brave Heart said...

I found this post quite interesting because of the issues that it raises.
My view is that as a developing democracy there shouldn`t be subjects that are taboo. Only by engaging in robust debates will we be able to shed light on quite a number of issues.

Brave Heart said...

Great post, keep it up and blog regularly.

Akanyang Merementsi said...


It is with these debates, despite being viewd as Taboo to others, that we learn to know more about ourself as a nations and our views on different issues, such as Race, Gender, Religion, Freedon, Democracy, etc.

How about we co-author something?

Brave Heart said...

You are quite right. We have just emerged from our apartheid past during which descrimination was institutionalised. We therefore are up a mountain in becoming one nation in the mould of Archbishop Desmond Tutu`s rainbow nation of God.
I order to ge there, we have to interrogate all sorts of sterotypes which we had internalised in our immediate past.
PS. Where do we start with our join-venture on one these taboos?

Akanyang Merementsi said...

I think it's a long process that must be done collectivelly - but am not sure if we really are collective in this country, by this I mean, we not not see each other as anti-this, anti-that but as One Nation - that we will confront and discuss and detabe these issues contructively so.

And until, like Martin Luther King once said, as posted in one of my blog post "One 'Colour' distrusting another", this will not happen until our society is “… transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers”.

It will be after this, that we will be able to move forward as we seem not to have done!