Police Minister Bheki Cele. File photo: ANA/Bongani Mbatha
Police Minister Bheki Cele. File photo: ANA/Bongani Mbatha

Why are we reverting to 'skop, skiet en donder' language?

By Oupa Ngwenya Time of article published Apr 19, 2020

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That SA is in lockdown does not mean minds should be frozen to put thinking in abeyance until April 30, 2020.

At issue is re-entrance of skop, skiet en donder terminology in the discourse to enforce compliance in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. It represents a barbaric mindset.

Embedded in it is the intention to hurt, demean. It also removes and assumes futility of rationality between the authority figure and the powerless victim to extract compliance.

And when there are fatal consequences, we wonder why.

Now that greater responsibility resides in the hands of formal black power, a continuation of a licence to skiet, skop en donder as a tried and tested proven trait applied to get blacks to do the right thing does not make it right.

With the dondering now shooting from the lips of black authority figures of the armed forces of formal democratic power, your guess is as good as mine as to who the atrocious extraction of compliance is aimed at.

Were the same phrase to be said or echoed from the lips of a white authority figure, condemnation would be spontaneous, universal and protracted with calls for an apology.

That it is a black authority figure taking liberty to say it, does it mean the signal given should not bother? Could it be that skop, skiet en donder in the ears of whites, suggests that whoever said it, is not talking to us, whites, but blacks?

After all, skop, skiet and donder is reputedly a language that blacks understand. It has been the case pre-1994, carried by command of white generals.

It logically follows that the ‘only language that blacks understand’ shall apply even post-1994. Could it be that black authority figures have nothing new to bring to the table that their white predecessor had not relied upon before?

What circumstances would make skop, skiet en donder necessary? It would not be acceptable were the kicking boot trained on non-compliant whites either.

Corporal punishment is now prohibited at schools, but the dondering is very much a hyped option to teach compliance. From this option, follows the understanding that the dondering dispensers, be they black or white representatives of formal public power do so ‘because that is the only language that blacks understand’.

Notably, this is not the language that representatives of public power use when speaking to whites. Distinct application of these languages typifies the psyche of a nation yet to be exorcised from the demons of white superiority and black inferiority complexes.

Why is such a language in usage?

Could it be that human rights violations of public power on whites compare insignificantly to blacks? And, ‘blacks too do not make it easy for authorities to not act that way’, is the public’s tacit understanding, even by some blacks, of the application of this high-handedness.

Discrepancy of this understanding finds corresponding footage in media coverage. Whether it is white or black authority figures dispensing atrocious conduct, the abiding understanding is that ‘blacks deserve it’.

In transgressions involving blacks, poor and unknown on the one hand and those involving whites, rich and the acclaimed on the other hand, choice for courtesy would most likely be harsher on the former than the latter.

Another distraction to fighting the global pandemic is the raging plight facing Africans in the city of Guangzhou in China at the hands of nationals.

Concern or condemnation on their behalf is battling to pointedly come through. Most vocal has been former AU ambassador to the US Arikana Chihombori-Quao waging a solitary crusade. The rest of the world is tongue-tied battling disbelief to speak.

Worldwide, white superiority is regrettably rearing its menacing head to undermine human solidarity.

And lockdown is a period where a meeting of minds should be at its peak.

* Oupa Ngwenya is founding secretary-general of the Forum Of Black Journalists, a corporate strategist, a columnist and a freelance journalist.

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

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