Khaya Dlanga

'Blacks, you are lazy'

2011-11-03 13:30

David Moseley recently wrote that white people should march like the blacks.

To quote him, “our single greatest failing as a race; we’re just too damn content to work hard and expect results from effort. What kind of a bone-headed strategy is that? No wonder we’re not marching through the streets demanding free trips to Mauritius, extra cheese on our pizzas and the like. We’re too busy working. Fools. The lot of us.”

The assumption, which is under the guise of humour, is that blacks don’t work hard and like free things. Well, I won’t lie. I like free things like most people do.

I don’t think that the woman who wakes up at 03:00 in Soweto in order to catch a train so that she can get to work very far from her home at 08:00 on time is being lazy. I don’t think that the very same woman who catches the train to get home at 20:00 to cook for her kids and then get to bed by 22:00 to wake up again at 03:00 is lazy and lacks effort. She hardly sees her young children but spends most of her day with someone else’s kids. She has to make these choices so that her children get a better education despite her pathetic salary. If that is laziness then I apologise.

Before we call people lazy, we have to understand their plight. I know that some will be tempted to call David Moseley a racist for penning that column; it would be a mistake. He simply has no idea how the poor live; he judges them from his privileged position. In fact, the column was meant to be funny and I appreciate that, but it lacked understanding of the plight of the poor.

Despite my blackness, I don’t like marching. I dislike marching so much that I considered paying someone to march on my behalf during last week’s Economic Freedom march. I also saw it as doing my bit for unemployment in this country. If anything, I usually let my fingers do the marching on my laptop by tweeting. Perhaps this makes me a bit white too.

It is clear that some people don’t understand South Africa. From the day apartheid began, there were many white people who fought in the struggle, who felt such a sense of injustice that they risked being disowned by their families and their communities because they decided to fight for right, not might. They were not fighting for the blacks, but for what was right.

David Moseley is also insulting white people with his column. White people marched with the ANC and UDF in the 80s because they were fighting for what they knew was right. I could name Joe Slovo, Nadine Gordimer, Helen Suzman and many lesser-known heroes who struggled against oppression. The mistake some in the white community made was thinking that these white people were fighting for blacks and against white people. No. They were fighting against what was wrong. Today, they would be fighting against inequality, not against white people.

I have said many times that black people are not fighting against white people, they are fighting against inequality. When they are tired of being unequal, they will march and will destroy anyone’s house in Sandton; it won’t matter if it’s a white or a black person’s house. Because it’s just the haves in Sandton and the haves are all colours.

There are heroes of the struggle like Beyers Naudé. He became a member of the Broederbond (Afrikaans, "Brotherhood" or "League of Brothers"). The Broederbond was a secret male Afrikaner organisation that sought the advancement of Afrikaner interests. It was the most powerful organisation in the country. It selected presidents, set up businesses, again, to advance the interest of one group.

His father, Jozua Naudé, was a founder and the first chairperson of the Broederbond. Beyers Naudé could not justify the oppression of some groups, therefore left the brotherhood. Since he was a gifted theologian, he was tasked with giving Biblical justification for apartheid. After resigning from the Broedebond, he had to leave the Dutch Reformed Church. His last sermon to his congregation was, "We must show greater loyalty to God than to man".

He left one of the most powerful and privileged organisations in order to fight injustice. To march “with the blacks”.

In keeping with Beyers Naudé’s teaching, in the fight against inequality, "We must show greater loyalty to God than to man". Right now, the divisions that we have set upon ourselves are a clear demonstration of man demonstrating greater loyalty to his own kind than to God.

On August 9 1956, 20 000 women staged a march on the Union Buildings to protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act (commonly known as the pass). These were women of all races.

Therefore, it is narrow minded to view marching against injustice from a purely racial lens.

South Africa belongs to all who live in it. Black and white. We have to work together to make what is wrong right. Hand in hand, black and white. But we will all have to sacrifice today if we want a better tomorrow.

- Follow Khaya on Twitter.

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