By: Liza Mfana
The recent three year sentencing of Vicki Momberg for repeatedly using the word k****r has elevated the current discussion on race relations in South Africa, being met with contrasting reactions across the racial spectrum. The national conversation has taken up a more relevant turn due to the CheckPoint episode aired on 17 April 2018, which attempts to position “corporate prejudice” – institutionalized racism – as an issue that is more burning than mere racial slurs. It is as if the episode was a watered down product of my mind, with a reformist articulation. It came as I was penning down an article titled Vicky Momberg’s Sentencing Is no Reason to Celebrate, on which I gave a perspective on institutionalized racism and I have deserted in favour of this work.
This work then seeks to serve the purpose of ensuring that my radical perspective sees the light of day, and perhaps capture the imagination of multiple South Africans. I will look to do a one up on the CheckPoint episode, and provide a perspective that is without a coat of sugar. The means I will employ to meet this end is through clearly articulating the historical reality of South Africa within the context of oppression, and widen the net by drawing parallels between phenomenons such as patriarchy and other systems of oppression. In addition to this I will attempt to briefly present a perspective of how the system of the country is one that is designed to maintain oppression and why it must be destroyed. In doing so, I will also look to attempt to justify dubbing South Africa, the ‘Rainbow of Illusion’.
I might not be a professional in the fields of sociology, legislation, and related fields that might find expression in this article, but I will dare be brave enough to state that I do not need to be. I do not need a qualification to understand that a society built on lies, with bandaged wounds the size of a shaft mine, is destined for implosion. The CheckPoint episode was inadequate for me, for reasons ranging from the racial nature of the owners, executives and staff of eTV, all the way down to the emotionally unstable nature of South Africans, characterised by a state of collective amnesia.
These might have acted as barriers that compelled the CheckPoint collective to be less cutthroat with their approach to the episode, barriers by which I am fortunately not constrained. It is for this reason that I will outrightly characterize South Africa for what it is, a facade, a lie, a nation of parallel realities. It is a nation of those who have, and those who have not. Lest we forget, the Republic of South Africa is a Common Wealth brain child, later solidified by the National Party, designed to serve the interests of the caucasian minority. The illusion – on the part of the poor unsuspecting natives – was in the form of the CODESA negotiations that ushered in the so called democracy we are currently objects of.
These so called negotiations were in fact a demonstration of the natives begging – much like the ANC letter to King Leonard in 1912 – to be included in a nation that was designed to destroy them. These negotiations being an illusion because it never presented any structural changes, but attempted to unite two opposite realities. A union that was unfortunately not encouraged by the socioeconomic reality. Reflective, really, of the non-thinking nature of those who were charged with the responsibility of administering the affairs of this nation at war with itself.
With the reality of the architects of this state in mind, we are compelled to interrogate their character. While doing this, we are compelled to look into the central figures of the National Party as well as the British generation that preceded them. The majority of the people we are encounter down this journey are Caucasian, male and heterosexual – on the surface at least.
Now with the possibility of diving into an ocean of water, beyond my depth, I will rise to posit that these people were incapable of devising a system that promoted equality. This is because such a system would not be in their best interest, unlike the racist one that has come to be our reality.
In line with this reality, a system they created could not possibly be altered to meet a mandate of equality without being broken down, especially not through some meeting by two groups of patriarchs that masqueraded as a negotiation. In line with a position substantially argued by Cress-Welsing in The Isis (Ysis) Papers: The Key to the Colours amongst others, the white supremacy system was inspired by a deep rooted inferiority complex and the resulting paranoia from the Caucasian collective. As an international racial minority, the Caucasian collective have always been driven by the lie that other races are out to destroy their race. In addition to this, there is also the issue of the inferior genetic makeup – scientifically speaking – that drives the fear. The system was therefore designed as a defense mechanism, to oppress and destroy the other races of South Africa in particular and the world in general, on a systematic level.
In addition to systematic oppression that the Caucasians continue to actively maintain, they carry the responsibility of disregarding and destroying the humanity of the natives on an interpersonal level. This coordinated effort of individual action – such as the Momberg racial slur – is a fundamental part of their so called self defense, which when coupled with the systematic onslaught, proves perpetually devastating to the native collective. It does not take a social scientist to understand that an action, when carried out continuously and consistently across a lengthy period, develops into a culture.
Now on this basis, it is safe to conclude that racism, is in fact a culture to the Caucasian collective, which has been institutionalized due to its systematic nature. Unfortunately for us as the native collective, we remain disposable objects of the system and its creators, holding it up while it destroys us, and remain “in a state of [racially defined] perpetual servitude”, as Biko (1987; 48) once highlighted.
In addition to this systematically institutionalized racism, the Caucasians are driven by other Eurocentric ideals and world outlooks which they imposed onto native Africans. A central theme across their system was the solidification of concepts that the natives viewed as fluid, said concepts in addition to race, being gender, and sexuality amongst others such as class – which I will not engage for purposes of this article. In addition to this, they imposed a predetermined understanding of the “normal” family structure as consisting of two heterosexual partners and their children.
This assertion of normality as one can imagine had multiple underlying assertions. It asserted that the normal genders are binary – male and female. It asserted that heterosexuality is the norm. It presided over the mass erasure and othering of millions of people and lived reality. Every existence that is not in line with these predetermined identities was shunned and cast out as an abnormal abomination. To solidify this much like with racism, the systematic prescription had to be solidified by individual action.
Meaning that those who fell into the categories of normal, had to ensure they subjugate and terrorize those deemed abnormal. This is how humanity was lost and the world was further divided into two groups, the oppressors – Caucasians, cishet men, heterosexuals, etc. and oppressed – all people who are not Caucasian, all people who are not men and all people who are not heterosexual, etc.
For the Caucasians, it was an excellent strategy if you ask me “in way of a house divided against itself can never stand”. The Caucasians anticipated that we would one day become disillusioned with the reality of this barbaric system. Once that happened, they anticipated that we would rightfully be out for blood – figurative. They therefore ensured that they fragment the natives to such an extent that the only blood we would spill, is that of each other. And so in this way, ensured we would never achieve the unity required to overthrow them and their system to liberate ourselves. It was their anticipation, that should we ever start on a road towards genuine and uncompromised liberation, we will self destruct before getting there.
They excellently utilized the Machiavellian plot, to construct an indestructible cage for which we hold the key, knowing very well that we would keep its door shut psychologically even though it may be open, physically. It is the same effect as the experiment of enclosing a fly in a jar for a few days and opening the lid, to watch it fly no higher than where the lid used to be. They achieved this through the method in the paragraph above, of co-opting natives – the “oppressors” – and making them a layer between themselves and the downtrodden majority, granting them a little power in order to enable them to carry out their gate-keeping duties.
This way, men will fight women and everyone else to maintain the privilege of being men. Heterosexuals will fight everyone else to maintain their privilege. The middle class petty bourgeoisie will fight everyone else to maintain their privilege. The fight for liberation will certainly fall on its face with every attempt. A genius and well thought out system if you ask me. A unprecedented display of an elevated understanding of power and human nature.
One that if we do not rise to comprehend and seek to understand and combat, will result in the last wills and testaments we pass to our children, consisting of nothing but generational poverty and centuries of oppression. Because the only way to end the system of oppression as we know it, is to destroy it.
The only way out of this predicament for us is the total destruction of the system, as I have alluded above. This requires us to address wealth inequality and move towards the abolishment of the concept of ownership. End racial inequality and move towards the abolishment of race binaries. End gender based inequality and move towards the abolishment of gender binaries. End sexual orientation based phobias and discrimination and move towards sexual fluidity.
In essence, ours is to ensure that we look to liberate all that was trapped in the Caucasian cement of binaries and hierarchies, because only then will we be able to move towards our own liberation. This paragraph addresses the “what” in the needs to be done question, living a huge question of “how” remaining unanswered. It would be nothing short of arrogance and lies if I were to claim that I can address that question on my own, as I believe that this should be a collective effort. Irrespective, on the basis of the reception to this article, I will decide whether to pen down a follow up, unpacking my personal thoughts and ideas that could be implemented in pursuit of the “how”.
Till then, I shall leave you with the famous words of Frantz Fanon that:
“Each generation, in relative obscurity must find their generational mission and either chose to fulfill it or betray it.”
The uncompromised liberation of our people – and that of our oppressors for that matter – is our generational mission. The choice remains to be made. Until such a time, the first and arguably most important step, is understanding the rainbow of illusion that is the Republic of South Africa.
“Our homeland or death, we will win!”
Definition of terms
*caucasian – the scientific term of those referred to as “white people”
*natives – a historical term used for those referred to as “black people”
*heterosexual (het) – people sexually attracted to the opposite gender within the status quo binaries
*cis – people whose internal self image corresponds with their external genitalia
*trans – people whose internal self image does not correspond with their external genitalia or who have went through a process of transitioning to align their genitalia with their self image.