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'Julius Malema is in every way the face of the unaddressed oppression crisis in SA'

Julius Malema leader of the EFF on the podium during the SONA 22 debate at the City Hall. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Julius Malema leader of the EFF on the podium during the SONA 22 debate at the City Hall. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Feb 23, 2022


The AfriForum case in the North Gauteng High Court against Julius Malema and the EFF is once again showing us how a nation that has lived together for 370 years with race and class oppression and now has experienced democracy for 28 years, can still fail to arrive at any understanding of concepts such as the psychology of oppression.

I am often saddened that our academic and medical community do not spend time in public education on the damages caused to the psyche due to centuries of internalised oppression.

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The transfer of this internalised oppression continues from generation to generation in language, education, public service and lived experiences.

When the late Desmond Tutu told us that we are God’s rainbow nation, it was, at best, an aspirational statement. There was no content to it. All the evidence showed that we were a deeply divided and painfully fragmented society.

The overwhelming majority of people have never had anyone to talk to about that deep pain and loss of humanity that racial, economic and cultural oppression subjected them to.

Today those unattended-to pains have festered into cancerous wounds.

The ANC’s myopic failure is its continued embracing of the fruits of oppression and trying to dish it out to the rest of the country as fruits of liberation. The ANC has, in the words of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, abandoned the struggle for a respectful, safe, just, equitable, inclusive and prosperous South Africa.

Freire says that “at a certain point in their existential experience, the oppressed feel an irresistible attraction toward the oppressor and his way of life. Sharing this way of life becomes an overpowering aspiration.”

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We had wealthy oppressors who took land, mines and resources for themselves. Now we have wealthy acolytes of our oppressors. We do not have liberators. They are taking the same from us.

As the oppressed, we never fully appreciated how overpowering an aspiration the lifestyles of the oppressors would be to our exiled liberators.

It is into this abusive ecosystem of continued oppression and exploitation of black people that Julius Malema’s articulation of oppressed people’s aspirations begins to make sense.

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His conduct was despicable at the recent Judicial Services Commission hearings. He was brilliant at the AfriForum trial. He articulated truth about race, culture, power and land that the ANC has abandoned.

He carries the anger we all should have at black subservience and white entitlement in every fold of his visibly fallible leadership.

Embroiled in several court cases, including the massive VBS scandal his party and its office bearers are alleged to have benefited from, he is in every way the face of the unaddressed oppression crisis in South Africa.

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He articulates the ongoing oppression of black people in South Africa without fear and in uncomfortable terms. He is the national alarm clock that informs us all that time is running out in our quest to build a just and prosperous South Africa. But he is also a veld fire that burns out of control and wreaks severe havoc.

He and his colleagues have, however, not escaped Freire’s view that the oppressed are drawn to the lifestyles of the oppressors.

Enter Julius Malema. An alarm clock and a veld fire. Many point to his destructive veld fire behaviour and the use of inflamed rhetoric that many perceive to be inciting crowds. It is time we pay attention to the alarm clock he is pointing us all to. Time is running out.

* Lorenzo A Davids.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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