By Dimpho Phiri
Welcome to the state of violence where xenophobia visits yearly and naked Bulelani Qholana was violently evicted from his shack. Collins Khosa murdered by the South African defence force and the nation where Uyinene Mrwetyana, Tshegofatso Pule and many other women are brutalised and killed every second.
This article will discuss why South Africa cannot realise the dreams of the Rainbow nation and Biko‟s vision of a true human race. I write this not only to engage the topic but to amplify the voice of black people as it is evident that the looting of our lives and livelihood is not enough. We constantly face structural neglect and are plagued by gender-based violence, the indignity of poverty, exclusion and social death.
‘Kuzolunga’, is what we have constantly told ourselves but 26 years into democracy and this has evolved to ‘Kuzolunga Nini’?
Fighting for recognition
Speaking from the subject position of “those confined to the other side of line (zone of nonbeing) blacks suffer unremitting social invisibility” (Madlingozi 2017:146 ).This simply means we are not seen as deserving of life and basic humanity by those who oppress us and our own who are enamoured with melanin but clouded by the comfort of whiteness. This is worsened by our current government and its neoliberal rational that is riddled with corruption, bad policy choices and cadre deployment.
Despite the democratic transition we are a people stripped of our history, culture, heritage identity and till date facing epistemicide. Our political apparatuses have failed in delivering us from the fruits of Apartheid and colonialism as this power was attained through a democratic transition and not a revolution. An ideal revolution is a revolution whereby the transfer of power in the economy, institutions and land occurs without negotiation.
Both black and white citizens of this country maintain structures through repeated acts of adherence. We have legitimised, strengthened and maintained structures of oppression by adhering to them and accepting this state of the nation. White people have maintained whiteness, white supremacy and superiority complexes on the latter blacks have maintained the structures through black inferiority complexes, not ensuring the transfer of power and black economic transformation. If we are serious about getting closer to true humanity or the rainbow nation, we need to address these inferior and superior complexes to avoid premature integration. Moreover, there needs to be a deep acknowledgement and reparations for the injustices white people caused during Apartheid.
Education and its attachments to revolution
The education sector makes it is evident there is unequal access to institutions and resources for learning. What worsens this is the low number of textbooks written in South African languages other than Afrikaans and English. People are being deprived of knowledge not only due to financial constraints but also because of the language barrier. As writers we thus carry the responsibility to ensure our work is digestible and benefits the same communities it speaks for. Black should have access to philosophies and liberation ideologies and theories that they will utilise to conscientize themselves and understand their subject position. We are constantly violated however we cannot make sense of it or put it into words.
As seen in 1976, it is evident liberation theory and philosophy is important for revolution and meaningful changes in society. Arming blacks with decolonised social and academic knowledge will enable them to reimagine and actively create the Africa they want to live in. This is due to gaining a political consciousness and a simultaneous commitment to making a change.
Black consciousness as a means and end
Black consciousness is “a philosophy, political ideology and postcolonial social ontology based on black pride” (Biko 2004 ). In simple terms black consciousness is an act of love to us, our country and black communities around the world. It liberates and allows us to fall in love with our blackness and fight against everything that plagues black society. It only makes sense for us to abandon inferiority complexes and through this break the structures that oppress us. By simply being conscious we are breaking the habit and using our agency to destroy oppressive structures. Black consciousness is also “a realisation and awareness of the facticity and reality of blacks existing in a world that is constituted by systemic white racism” (Biko 2004:97). Hence, for as long as the institutionalised brutalisation of blacks either socially or physically lives on the call for black consciousness will exist as it is the means to conscientize and provides a blueprint to end this oppression.
Sisakhalela Izwe Lethu.
The tears of the Bantu have flooded the gates of the nation for decades however we have yet to taste true liberation. This is not to say we won’t realise this future but rather to say we still have a long way to go. We need to gain consciousness, armour ourselves with black pride then discard inferiority and superiority complexes. On a positive note, we are the dreams our ancestors didn’t have the liberty to have and proof that change is inevitable. Despite the depressing state of our nation, through black solidarity, critical engagement with our problems and epistemic justice we can and will realise the dreams of a true humanity. A humanity where we will rejoice, and black people will finally quench their insatiable desire for peace.
Biko, S.1946-1977 (2004). I write what I like. Johannesburg: Picador Africa.
Madlingozi, T.2017.Social justice in a time of neo-apartheid constitutionalism: Critiquing the
anti-black economy of recognition, incorporation and distribution. University of Pretoria