This year we, South Africans, are celebrating 21 years since the advent of democracy in 1994. This is the right time to reflect on the maturity of our democracy and its civil liberties. If South Africa was a young person, this would be the year to get that golden key to adulthood/independence. If South Africa was an American youth, s/he would be legal to purchase and consume alcohol this year. Based on this trivial analysis alone, I can therefore assume South Africa is young, vibrant, explorative, rebellious, and with identity crisis like any young person of similar age.
On the contrary, at this young age, South Africa is expected to do so much. Even the leader of the free world, “the United States of America” (US) has not mastered or afforded to free themselves from white male, patriarchal, heterosexual superiority complex. Compared to the US, South Africa is nowhere near in age or maturity to attend to the needs of our freedom. The US is considered to be a leader of the free world with its constitutional democracy drawing back to 226 years ago when George Washington ascended to power and, after years of black oppression, African-Americans were allowed the full liberties to vote in 1965, 50 years ago.
In the US, an 18-year-old black man was shot and killed by police at a petrol station on the 24th December 2014 in a St Louis suburb, close to where unarmed teen Michael Brown was killed by a white officer that same year in August. This led to the popular hashtags #AntonioMartin, #MichaelBrown and #Ferguson.
Last week, Freddie Gray had to undergo double surgery on three broken vertebrae and an injured voice box after he was released by the police. He died after days of remaining in a coma. The police said that he was restrained on the ground by an officer during the arrest, but appeared to be fine when he was taken to the district station. However, a cell phone video shows that the arresting officers used force that some may see as “brutal.”
Here we are talking about a country that is a leader of the free world with 50 years of alleged full liberties granted to African Americans, yet a white male, patriarchal, heterosexual superiority complex still persists which views a black man as a danger to society and as someone who should not be trusted, thus we have white police officers using the full extent of force to restrain them.
Hence, 21 years into democracy in SA, we find ourselves saying #RhodesMustFall and #SayNoToXenophobia, but that is pretty much it. We are a free country to hashtag in all that we do, but we do not physically and intellectual engage with substantive content that will lead us to our emancipation. It is unacceptable that in South Africa, our own people have no land, no assets, and no jobs, poorly educated and temporarily employed while the opposite is how we define the opposite.
It is unacceptable that in South Africa, we wake up and have newspapers that read:
“it is alleged David Forbes shot Toufiq Joseph in the parking lot of the petrol station. He then drank a soft drink and smoked a cigarette while he waited for the police to arrive”;
“Djavan Arrigone, a 19-year-old model and University of Cape Town student, allegedly claimed he didn’t “see anything wrong with urinating on the top of a black person” when he refused to apologise to a Khayelitsha taxi driver for allegedly urinating on him from a nightclub balcony”;
“early November two men were involved in a racially charged altercation at a mall in Green Point. The incident was said to have started after a seemingly drunk white man called a black man the k-word near an ATM”;
“last year, Cape Town salesman Andre van Deventer reportedly assaulted, racially abused and spat in the face of his ex-girlfriend’s domestic worker Gloria Kente in Table View. The incident occurred when Van Deventer had been arguing with his ex-girlfriend and in his outburst, grabbed Kente’s pyjamas and spat in her face after telling her that he “hated all k****rs”, including her”;
“on November last year, Muhammed Makungwa, a Malawian national and gardener, was allegedly beaten with a sjambok by a white motorist while on his way to work.The motorist, Jan Van Tonder – a dentist working for the SANDF – allegedly beat Makungwa viciously with a sjambok after nearly running him over with his car. Van Tonder had reportedly heard a sound near his vehicle saw Makungwa running and thought the gardener had broken into his BMW X5”.
Not yet uhuru in Azania, not yet uhuru for natives of this land, not yet uhuru for black lesbian women of this land, not yet uhuru for black go-getters who get suppressed by the white, capitalist, imperialist, patriarchal, heterosexual and Christian system.
So as South Africans, as we commemorate 21 years of token freedom, let us remember those who died for the true liberation of our people and stop hashtagging and start challenging the system. In that quest, do not settle for the master’s terms but your own, for it is not in the interest of the oppressor to free the oppressed, for they themselves need to be liberated from their white privilege.
iAfrica! iZwelethu! iZwelethu! iAfrica!