“I think there is no running away from the fact that now in South Africa there is such an ill distribution of wealth that any form of political freedom which does not touch on the proper distribution of wealth will be meaningless. The whites have locked up within a small minority of themselves the greater proportion of the country’s wealth. If we have a mere change of face of those in governing positions what is likely to happen is that black people will continue to be poor, and you will see a few blacks filtering through into the so-called bourgeoisie.
Our society will be run as of yesterday. So for meaningful change to appear there needs to be an attempt at reorganising the whole economic pattern and policies within this particular country. BPC (the Black People’s Convention) believes in the blending of private enterprise which is highly diminished and state participation in industry and commerce, especially in industries like mining - gold, diamonds, asbestos and so on, and of course the complete ownership of land. Now in that kind of judicious blending of the two systems we hope to arrive at a more equitable distribution of wealth.”
This is a statement that Steve Biko made in his trial during the 1970s. Law and behold, such a statement, together with the many predictions that have been made by fellows like Frantz Fannon, Credo Mutwa and Marcus Garvey, came to fruition. Today we live in society where only a few black people have been economically elevated in the current capitalist state of the land of South Africa.
This, together with the abnormality that the majority of the disadvantaged masses continue to vote for a government that marginalizes them and governs in favour of the middle and upper class, classes which continue to lobby against it. In modern politics this is rather confusing though very prevalent. A society with illogical problems which keep on attracting logical solutions that never seem to work.
The real question we should be asking ourselves in such a system is where to from here for the black bourgeoisie's elevated status in society? Should he be the chosen one to lead the rest of the masses into economic prosperity and pick up where CODESA should have left off in having the key yet uncomfortable discussions with the white minority that has locked up the economic resources of this land?
But where would he start? Where does he conjure the courage to risk his social status? Does he start with the land issue? Transformation? Unemployment? The governance system or economic system? Capitalism, Communism or Socialism? Let’s just dig deeper into how the capitalism engagement would play out.
The thing about capitalism is that not everybody can benefit from it. Though it might be the best model for wealth creation, more can be said of its ability to distribute wealth evenly compared to communism. So does capitalism work? or did communism just happen to fail first? But how do you even start to raise that discussion in a capitalistic world.
How and where does the black bourgeoisie compromise his own position, credentials and reputation in a society so driven by social statuses?
Surely he must be so confused. Does he carry on "poppin bottles" and just pass by the many black beggars that he sees in the streets? Is it his responsibility to care, or should he just move on because "everybody has to work to get somewhere in life. Society will always be unequal", so they say.
I don’t think he can just move on and I don’t think that everybody just has to make it on their own. Let me tell you why. A black baby born today is born into a society where his access to health and nutrition is inadequate to his counterpart. Parental support is inferior, education is substandard.
With these circumstances, how can he be expected to prosper? Yes, there are those few black people that can and do make it against the odds to economic prosperity and get celebrated in motivational television programmes and conferences. However, the majority doesn’t, and it’s a reality we need to face, black and white. The black bourgeoisie needs to ask those uneasy questions.
The black bourgesie lies strategically between the black masses and the white elite. This position should not be of importance to him and his agenda. It should be of importance to the national imperative and the ideals that Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Steve Biko, Oliver Tambo, Ahmed Kathrada and the likes would like to advance in modern day society.
A society where everybody is equal, and equality is not defined by a vote, but by the state of living.