My dear brother Iqbal, Allow me to heartily congratulate you, on your amazing feat of bringing back home the Independent Newspaper Group. By pulling this off you have left an indelible mark on all our collective conscience; that nothing is irreversible, nothing is irreparable... except a willing capitulation to the status quo.
In doing that, you have brought to pass one of the most extraordinary destinies that any black man in SA has ever known.
It is common cause that all of our organisations and their leaders, be it from the glorious ANC to the brave but small BC movements; all of them stand from time to time, unfairly and unjustly indicted in the court of public opinion.
Simply because black people did not have access to the levers of public opinion. The overall aim, over time, was to make our leaders and our movements be rejected in the hearts and minds of women and men. To portray us as a people without a vision, so that our dream of freedom must quickly perish.
What has painfully been lacking in all of the SA press so far, has been the unadulterated voices from a black ownership perspective. With this single monumental act, you have not only made history but corrected an aberration.
For too long have black voices been kept silent or in check, and our heroes and heroines distorted. Qui tacet consentire videtur... said the ancients in the Latin of Rome; he who keeps silent seems to consent. Thus, it seemed as if were were consenting and giving credence by our forced collective silence.
We, the black people of SA shall be silent no more, thanks to you. We have regained the use of our voice. And there is nothing more beautiful and empowering than using the voice we have always been known to have.
Of course, I know that it does not mean, as a new black owner, you are going to condone wrong deeds and overlook the scourge of our times: corruption, poverty, parsimonious morality, service delivery, racism and tribalism.
If I may be so bold as to say, I think I know you better than that. Thank you for allowing me to say that.
In all of your comments in the press, you have stressed your independence of mind and of action.
Let me, here and now, assert my belief in your intellectual integrity and independence. I know and believe that you will not pander and kowtow to power. I know and believe that you will not feed the public your prejudices disguised as principles. The height of intellectual arrogance, it is said, is to present your prejudice as your principles.
As for the freedom of the press, I verily believe that “it can only be guaranteed by those who own it” as it was once so articulately put by Liebling.
The road ahead for you is, of course, littered with explosive and dangerous minefields in your noble quest to bring the truth to the public. As you know, you have now officially entered a battlefield in which the truth is usually the first casualty, and your long-established competitors will wish to hasten your demise. I know and verily believe that you have no illusions of omnipotence, and of an easy victory against your established competitors.
They will use guile and deception. And will, over time, do to you what they did to others such as This Day etc. It is a field of battle out there, and I am confident that you are ready and armed to meet them and join the battle. I am also certain that you will prevail.
Your strength of character is well known, and it will now alarm more people than it encourages. You have a reflective nature and, during my discussions with you, you have often displayed an exalted coolness of mind in the heat of battle.
Yes, indeed it is well known that you have a gentle exterior, but that is only to hide your iron determination needed and necessary in business. And given your past great success in areas in which black people were excluded, such as fishing and shipping, in which you have excelled, I believe you will be able again to calculate the exact sequence of events so as to once more keep ahead of them.
I could go on and on but, my dear brother Iqbal, let me remind myself that I am writing this brief note to congratulate you on engineering a very remarkable and extraordinary feat of destiny. A prodigious destiny indeed, not only for yourself , but also for black people in general; and most importantly one by which posterity will benefit.
*Raisaka Masebelanga is a South African lawyer. He submitted this piece in his personal capacity.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.