'Black Monday' was nothing but naked nostalgia
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James Baldwin, the American writer and social critic, told us: “There are no white people, only those who think they are white.” In South Africa this identity, despite the death of apartheid in statutory definition, continues to claim supremacy directly extracted from that colonial and apartheid past.
Some time last week there was, on social media, an impassioned plea by a farmer who lost his dear friend, a fellow farmer, due to what is called another farm murder. The moving and teary plea called on supporters of the cause against farm murders to rise and do something. The request was to mark Monday, October 30, in black regalia and to bring attention to the plight of farmers as victims of these dastardly acts. Hundreds self-identifying as white heeded the call to participate in this protest action, that would see roads blocked off.
What unfolded was an occasion anchored in the claim of exacted white genocide. It is perhaps here that one must start to appreciate that those of a white identity accord themselves a right to be treated differently from others. Genocide is defined as “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group”.
It connotes wholesale slaughter and indiscriminate killing.
It is obvious there is no genocide taking place, and if recent crime statistics of 19 000 people who died in South Africa during 2016-2017 is used as a yardstick, the case can certainly not be made of a white genocide. We know this irrational claim stirs more than emotions and by itself could inspire careless acts of irresponsible minds with possibly more lives lost. It is important to condemn this peddled sophism of an orchestrated white genocide. What informs a claim of white genocide, if not a belief in the supremacy of a white identity as distinct from a common humanity?
It didn’t take long to see protesters unveiling their true colours when they came draped in the “Vierkleur” and apartheid flags. This when the democratic South African flag was burnt with no one in attendance protesting. This was followed by the uit volle bors bellowing of Die Stem - apartheid’s national anthem.
With this we witnessed the rejection of the official anthem adopted in democracy to accommodate and build social cohesion. While old apartheid symbols are not banned and the display of such not prosecuted.
Yet the apartheid symbols as paraded in this protest or anywhere else conjure a celebration of a past of racial ethnicity and prejudice, in which a white life was celebrated and the rest debased to a second-class citizenry.
Black Monday, whatever it meant, turned into nothing but the undeniable evidence of naked nostalgic hankering for apartheid white supremacy South Africa and glory days.
South Africans are in agreement that every murder committed either on the Cape Flats or on a farm must be condemned. While we condemn every life lost, we cannot entertain the idea that white lives matter more and are deserving of special acknowledgement and protection.
We also cannot be blackmailed into affording cheap white interest a sacred space to claim “no Boer no pap”, when the claim may equally be levelled “no farmworker no farm or Boer”. In the aftermath of “black Monday”, white-based interest groups configured in political party or civil society formations offered little in condemnation of those who displayed their racist glorification of an apartheid white supremacy past. We must deplore the lacklustre, sanitised condemnation of those like the DA and Freedom Front Plus, AfriForum and others that share an interest to defend a white identity as sacrosanct.
They pontificate these are only a few whites that engaged in this unacceptable behaviour, in an attempt to claim the majority of whites don’t agree with this, yet the silence of the so called majority is deafening. Where are the vocal corporate South Africa, business South Africa, Casac (Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution), Save SA, FUL, and all the foundations to condemn the actions of “Black Monday” propagators?
The facts speak for themselves in a post-apartheid setting; whites with a psyche of being a minority in a lost political power find it easy in democracy to claim an endangered species status. The threat we must deduce remains the black masses. They, in democracy, evidence a herd mentality where the defending of a white identity is directly linked to their continued existence. This psychology sees whites, voting essentially for white parties (they did not vote for Mandela), defending white interests and defending white racists even when they are wrong as in the many racist instances we have lived through.
We can think of the farmer Mark Scott Crossley, who beyond his 2005 conviction, continued with his racist black hate. Crossley was convicted for having fed one of his black workers to lions. A silly argument in defence of Crossley was proffered, - the black farm worker was already dead when fed to the lions.
This idea of a supreme white life juxtaposed to a cheap black life played out in the Bees Le Roux murder case too. There are too many examples to cite in our democratic past that see whites rallying around their own to defend white interest at the expense of others, regardless of how wrong they may be.
An organisation like AfriForum exists to defend and protect the interests of that white identity as a fundamental obligation.
“Black Monday” does not stand alone but must be understood against other events, one of which was the recent sentencing of two white farmers. Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, in what came to be known as the coffin case.
They were convicted for their inhumane acts against a farm worker, Victor Mlotshwa, by shoving him into a coffin. Judge Sheila Mphahlela sentenced Oosthuizen to 16 years imprisonment, five suspended for eight years. Jackson was sentenced to 19 years, five suspended for eight years. Their appeal was denied.
As is custom with all sentencing, there are always those who celebrate or reject the outcome. This in a normal society is to be expected.
However, in South Africa, this normal expectation has apartheid’s outdated enterprise of race configuration as its base.
Therefore, it was to be expected that those defined as black would welcome the sentencing of the duo when those who are white found it too hefty.
In a society where black lives have remained cheap, the sentencing of the two would mean there is hope not to perpetuate the growing belief that a white life matters more.
Black Monday cannot be separated from the sentencing of these farmers in what those who celebrate a white identity deem a hefty sentence.
South Africa, 23 years into democracy, violently wrestles with the reality of race as the totality of its citizenry’s humanity. We appear trapped in the categorisation and formulation of race as our identity descriptions and we live our lives manacled to the uncritical acceptance of these race frames. I wish to postulate we, as a democratic society with an uncritical adoption of race in democracy, evidence foundational challenges that show daily.
South Africa remains a racially polarised society where the veneer of an expedient Truth and Reconciliation Commission was willing to sacrifice truth at the altar of a quick reconciliation.
We are a society that was misled to uncritically adopt the false construct of a “rainbowism” of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, when we failed to prove the truth about this heinous past we lived through.
South Africa’s reconciliation also witnessed Mandela becoming an insurance policy for apartheid white beneficiaries to protect them from the “dangerous” unforgiving black masses. South Africa in democracy has unwittingly afforded white interest to count, to let that interest control the economy, continue in underscoring the supremacy of a white identity at the expense of a black life. South Africa in democracy appears built on the protection of a historic white interest, where it remains sacrosanct and daily demands such special privilege.
During the Fees Must Fall campaign of 2015/ 2016, we witnessed black students standing behind white students, the presence of the latter served as guarantee of no police brutality.
“Black Monday” equally saw no teargas or rubber bullets or even a police presence. This is the evidence of whites in democracy, because a white identity is afforded supremacy.
The 1994 consensus, regardless of how we want to prove romantic, be it in personal gloating of a role played or as the told legacy of those who negotiated, produced this anomaly of continued white privilege. If apartheid whites are today so arrogant as to burn the national flag, to sing apartheid’s Die Stem and to raise their apartheid flags when they falsely claim an exacted white genocide, it can be traced back to the faultlines of a society that inadvertently has the protection of white interest instead of a common humanity at its core.
Notwithstanding the fact that the constitution recognises a common humanity, the practical reality of South Africa confirms the supremacy of white identity at every turn of our society.
It appears a large portion of South Africa’s colonial and apartheid beneficiaries struggle to appreciate that very forgiving apartheid victims extended them undeserved forgiveness.
As “Black Monday” unfolds in claims of a white genocide, in Macassar, a couple with three children and four grandchildren were evicted.
It is claimed the farmer built houses for his workers and then evicted them under the PIE (Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998) Act, which means limited protection, which farm workers enjoy under Esat (The Extension of Security of Tenure Act of 1997) is not available.
The sad reality and defence of white interest and identity as superior, did not die with the generation of apartheid beneficiaries but it continues to live on in the youth, despite them being raised in the post -1994 era.
These, too, have fed from the breasts of that racist apartheid generation when they in ease of comfort can resort to call others k*****, as was the case this past week at the University of Pretoria.
“Black Monday” is tangible proof that apartheid beneficiaries hanker back to that time and will stop at nothing to spit at this black-led democracy because its only investment is the hope to see it fail.
To all “Black Monday” participants, we say all lives matter; you do not deserve special treatment in apartheid superiority of a white identity.
* Ramalaine is a political commentator and writer.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.