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South Africa: Barking up the Wrong Tree

For some years, it has been a macabre indulgence of South African poor blacks to visit their anger and frustration on the so-called ‘strangers’ in there midst. The latest rounds of attacks were ostensibly instigated by the misspoken words of a local potentate who unfortunately have become a common rallying point of pointless anachronism and threatened violence in most African countries.
From the apartheid days in south Africa blacks have always been treated with the utmost disdain and the homelands were nothing other than large slave camps to support the white-led government in its continued domination of the country. The incident of the Marikana miners is a sad reminder that apartheid tactics are still very much the norm in South Africa. Apartheid ended about 20 years ago and yet the average black person still lives as if the system was still in place. Any right thinking person would agree that apartheid only changed its tactics by putting up a black front and retaining most of its benefits and privileges. It is these benefits and privileges that have precluded black South Africans from full participation as equals. The whites in South Africa hold the rights to most of the best agricultural lands, leaving blacks feeling alienated and dispossessed. Because the natives have not really organised themselves to fight back, they fight themselves or foreigners in their midst. One thing we always fail to get is that white supremacy would begin to crumble the day we stop fighting amongst each other. Our confusion and internalised self-hatred are the bane of black existence on the planet. Here we are immersed in an ocean of plenty and yet pitifully reaching out for a cup of water.
Mandela was a great individual and his sacrifices for the emancipation of South Africa are well documented. However, the freed Mandela was different from the one that was incarcerated for nearly 30 years. When Mandela became the first black President of South Africa, it was with the tacit understanding that white socio-political and economic structures would be left largely intact. The real meaning of this was that South Africans would have their symbolic Madiba, while the wind to the sail of national economic equilibrium is largely taken away. Mandela surprised some close watchers by instituting the so-called peace and reconciliation committee where members of the public who were wronged by the apartheid regime met with some of their oppressors and publicly ‘reconciled’. In a rather synchronized display of public reconciliation, the aggrieved and the murderers and criminals ‘forgot grievances and injustices’ as if they never happened. At that point, it was easily understandable that peace and reconciliation without justice cannot solve South Africa’s deep divisions and uneven economic opportunities. The ‘peace and reconciliation’ only positioned the whites and black elites to continue the over lordship with a vague sense of forgiven guilt. South Africa has had black leadership for more than 20 years and yet the economic emancipation of the majority of its people appears a distant prospect.
The only conclusion that can be drawn is that South Africa is not yet liberated; there has only been a transfer of power from white supremacists to their black surrogates who suffer an apparent amnesia of years of oppressive apartheid. The white man understands our psychology and can easily manipulate us to achieve anything he wants. Blacks in South Africa see each other as enemies more than they see the white man because it is easier to vent on fellow oppressed people than the oppressor. This template is evident in most of Africa’s conflicts where pogroms and genocides have been carried out between tribes in order to avenge ancient crimes or ‘solve’ land disputes. In all these disputes, white oppression and colonial designs can easily be traced as the precursor or the enhancer of such conflicts. The recent xenophobic attacks on so-called foreigners who are victims of the same slave master by indigenous black South Africans is pathetic and should be condemned in the strongest terms. South Africans should be fair and strong enough to throw off the last yokes of white supremacy in their midst, whether it is white Boers or the new black elite that are now insulated from the struggles of the ordinary people ensconced in homelands that look very much like prisons. All Africans, or at least most of them, stood by South Africa during its most depressing times as a nation; it is therefore unconscionable for it to play the xenophobic card, whether the whistle is blown by an overzealous tribal bigot or an acquiescent central government that to all intents and purposes is not really in power or has been swallowed by it.

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