Writer and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.
Writer and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

#PoeticLicence: Perhaps if we are more like them they would accept us

By Rabbie Serumula Time of article published Nov 21, 2021

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Johannesburg - When you shoot someone in the face, that is hardly a warning shot.

But then again, Len Cloete was armed with a pistol from a female officer he just disarmed.

I don’t know if it was his rage, his aggression, his towering stature, his off the charts levels of disdain towards police officers, or his race.

I suppose it is a combination of all these factors that made him believe he would not be arrested, never the less shot, and that the police would somehow just leave.

They came there to escort him out of the hotel room, and Cloete made two things perfectly clear to them;

1. He was not afraid.

2. He had a gun.

It was number two that was eyebrow-raising to me.

When he said ”where is my gun?”, I thought to myself, “well, this has gone far enough”.

“Surely this man will be shot”.

This is where number one became clear as day.

He had enough time to take that same gun out of a drawer and in an action movie fashion, he simultaneously cocked his firearm, coupling it with a catchphrase, “who is playing dangerous!?”

I could not believe my eyes when he was taunting police officers in his underwear while brandishing his weapon, waving it in their faces like a wand in a magician’s hand, casting a spell of fear.

A spell whose ingredients originate in apartheid South Africa. A spell of dominance, reinvoking the spirit of colonisation.

At this point, shooting him in the leg could have resulted in a Quentin Tarantino style bloodbath shoot-out at the Misty Hill Country Hotel, in Muldersdrift.

We can all agree that the officers themselves did not show much of their police academy training.

It was as though Cloete was the conductor of an orchestra of star-struck officers hoping he would listen and leave.

I don’t know if it was Cloete’s rage, his aggression, his towering stature, his off the charts levels of disdain towards police officers, or his race.

But he would have been shot in the face sooner if he was black.

Let me explain:

French West Indian psychiatrist and political philosopher, Frantz Fanon, best known for the classic analysis of colonialism and decolonisation, spoke of the concept of inferiority complex.

According to Fanon, the inferiority complex of the colonised leads them to have a desire to be the “Other”.

You can see it in how we straighten our hair so it can flow like theirs.

In how we bleach our skin.

Perhaps the problem lies in the darkness of our skin.

They think it reflects our minds, that we are dim.

Perhaps if we are more like them they would accept us.

Fanon uses this concept in reference to adopting the cultural norms and values of the coloniser.

An unruly black client who refuses to leave a hotel would not get away with intimidating police and cocking a firearm in their faces.

And somehow have enough time to put their gun away and disarm one of the officers, and still believe he would not be arrested or shot.

That is white privilege.

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