As a young black person in SA, I seem to be reminded constantly of my place in society, that I remain a descendant of those who were enslaved in their own land.
Despite the crucial historical milestones of our struggle, we have pockets of people that still lust over the past and continuously entrench the oppressive status quo through any means at their disposal.
It was thus without shock that I learnt of Helen Zille’s remarks about many young black pupils from the Eastern Cape seeking schooling in the Western Cape.
The DA leader, Honourable Zille, referred to South Africans of indigenous origin as refugees flocking to the Western Cape to escape conditions of economic hardship in the Eastern Cape. She justifies and attempts to validate her assertion by laying the blame at the doorstep of her natural enemy, the ANC government in the Eastern Cape, in particular.
She unapologetically labelled them refugees. Yes, refugees in their own mother land.
On the face of it, this false assertion seems to be innocent and un-laden with any prejudice. However, a thorough analysis reveals quite dramatically the prejudice and racial stereotyping that is prevalent in SA as epitomised by the leader of the DA, Empress Helen Zille.
As an empress of racism and racial bigotry, she cannot hide her ideological and subjective disposition to the other, a racial other – in this context another that must continue to live in conditions of squalor, exclusion, inferiority, economic oppression and exploitation. Indeed, an indigenous African other who must always be made to feel that the empire and its civilising and economic advance is not a natural habitat for her backwardness and rural and peasant conditions.
The comments reminded me of a song by Yvonne Chaka Chaka, composed during the draconian rule of apartheid, tilted Mamaland.
Part of the song’s lyrics are: Who’s that man calling me stranger in my land, my mother’s land.
This song was evidently referring to the racist regime which brutally reminded Africans that they were ruling the country, and making every black man feel as if they were a stranger in their own land.
Zille just reminded us of those dark days of apartheid where blacks had concentrated areas designated by the apartheid agents and that was where they belonged.
Her comment also comes just after a deputy minister and leader of the Freedom Front Plus, Pieter Mulder, was audacious enough to refer to black people as Bantus, in this day and age. A term which is no less as derogatory as nigger is in the US and k***** in SA. Unfortunately, it’s a word still used in dark corners of farms where workers have no rights or access to the justice system.
I asked myself what exactly gives these people the arrogance and zeal to say such things in this democratic dispensation. Is it because as blacks, we have become perpetual apologists? Like Jesus carrying his cross, are we carrying the burden of ensuring that this country ultimately becomes a non-sexist, non-racial democratic society?
Even if it means that that we are the only ones who believe in this vision?
Its evident that many whites in SA tacitly yearn for the dark days of apartheid, that despite their benefits from the immense economic development and reconciliatory spirit of the ANC-led government, they still undermine efforts to reconcile this country.
The construction of racial otherness in our country – underpinned by capitalist exploitation – has created a country with skewed economic development and demographic inequalities.
These have defined blacks in general and Africans in particular as condemned to live in conditions that only experience life as subalterns rejected by the imposition of white dominance, with its claims of civilising epitomes through religion, education, high systems of thought and culture.
It’s no strange phenomenon, here and in other countries, that people would move to large cities to search for better opportunities, employment and so forth because of this narrow displacement by the apartheid regime.
Empress Zille is forcing us to do what we must to confront a demon that faces our country, the issue of racism and its denialism and capitalist exploitation.
Not long ago, she appropriated and enclosed herself in the apparel of the liberation movement by claiming to embrace its history and leaders, including the Freedom Charter, which proclaims that SA is a country that belongs to all who live in it, black or white.
We knew then, when she did this that it was a superficiality and pretence to gain votes in the constituencies of what she today refers to as refugees.
Yet, today she reveals her nakedness by reminding all Africans and blacks that her civilisation and ideology and its economic base are not meant for this despised other that must remain enchained in the colonial and exploitative milieu as a result of the wars of her forefathers.
Empress Zille succeeds only in fooling the short-sighted.
The Empress in the Western Cape should therefore be reminded that the Western Cape is an integral part of SA and that the province equally symbolises the beginning of dark days for Africans – a pit stop for slave trade and the beginning of colonisation.
Her utter racism epitomises her ambitions to assert these historical injustices and keep the black refugee in a despondent camp called Langa and Gugulethu as she does in the Western Cape.
We should worry about what she would do if she were even given a day to rule this country.
n Ndima is spokesperson for the Gauteng ANC caucus. She writes in her personal capacity.