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Some thoughts on Racism and Respect

08 November 2012, 09:01

I am fortunate enough to be employed in a multiracial organisation where I get to mix with people from a myriad of races and cultures. My casual interactions with these varied groups has made me appreciate the abject lack of respect among these groups! Being a black African man, the values of respect are inscribed in my very DNA. From where I originally come from, a person is respected not because he/she drives a Bugatti Veyron, or for their bank balance, but merely because you are human. This is the spirit of Ubuntu. In the midst of the chaos of the modern world, that world from whence I came is now a far and distant memory. In this world, if you want something, no one gives it to you, you have to go get it!

And so it goes without saying that in any facet of life, be it craftsmanship, winemaking or in any specialization that comes to mind; if you want respect, you have to earn it! Only through painstaking labour and through intelligent innovations does a man distinguish himself from “the crowd” and therefore earns respect among his peers. In much the same way, if a man desires the distinguished office of a medical doctor, he/she must be prepared to earn that office, and it doesn’t come cheap. Even in bottom of the barrel “crafts” such as philandering or crime, you have to go out of your way and sink shamefully low to earn the respect of lesser men who hold rank in such manner of living. Hence my theory is that racism will only see its timely end when our people finally become sophisticated enough to compete at par in the modern world and contribute significantly to the advancement of modern society. I believe that to some extent, we are looked down upon with reason. It’s true that our people are not responsible for even a single scientific advancement in the modern world. We may excel today in any academic field, but the very idea of a formal education is not African in origin. And yes, none of my people ever composed a symphony or painted a fresco. And it goes without saying that most of the modern marvels we see around us that are not ascribed to “the maker” were conceived through the minds of men and women of other races.

These are the very facts that the entrenched racist is armed with and changing his views on the black man will not come easily! Only the sure and steady progression of our race will take away his armour and open the door to reason. At the moment, we the black race make it far too easy for the racist to justify his views. The prevalence of war, disease, sexual violence against women, genocide, bad governance, corruption and crime on the continent make the racist sit more comfortably on his supremacist throne. My brothers and sisters, it is hard to find any respect for a man of little financial worth whose only sense of accomplishment are the many fatherless sons he has brought into the world. Too many of our brothers fit this description. Rather than arming the racist by “living like animals”, let us help quench the fire through the manner in which we live.

A while back I spoke with a white colleague of mine along the same lines and he expressed his dismay at the racial disharmony in this country. He also pointed out to me that the very notion of a “rainbow” nation was one of the biggest lies ever sold by any country in the history of propaganda. And South Africa has been selling this lie since 1994! The reasons for his convictions were that he felt first of all that the black man has not earned anyone’s respect because of the way he lives, and second of all, that black and white people don’t really mix in spite of the “rainbow” nation facade. Sadly, I found myself agreeing with his convictions, but bleeding inside and secretly wishing for a change in the status quo.

And I’m not saying that apartheid didn’t do us any harm, or slavery, or colonization, or segregation, or the many years of “Bantu” education. These certainly are among the many chains that have chained our people in the past and in many ways continue to haunt our race to this day. Yet we are not the only race to have faced dark and difficult times. In 1945, much of Germany lay in ruins with the conclusion of World War Two. Much was said about the destruction their race had brought upon the world. I’ve seen images of the holocaust many, many times in the past, but even up to today those images still make my skin scrawl. In the entirety of recorded human history, the holocaust certainly ranks among our darkest chapters, if not the darkest. In spite of all this, today the German people stand a proud and victorious nation, revered throughout the world for their ingenuity and hard work. They rose from their ashes and from their moment of shame. They did not stay in the mud and weep endlessly over the outcome of a war that could and perhaps should have been won; they arose and now conquer the world not with a gun, but with their skill and brilliance. In much the same way, we must rise beyond our challenges and emerge a victorious race with a real place in the modern world.

The days of sitting around fires at night while our granny’s tell us folk stories that fill us with superstitious beliefs are long gone. The time of the panga and the spear has also long since passed, their end perhaps illuminated by the overwhelming glow of the hydrogen bomb. A new age now beckons to the man of colour, it is the age of E=MC², the expanding universe and the search for extraterrestrial life; it is also the age of RESPECT. If you want some(respect) black man, get up, and go get some! How, you ask? Through innovation and by bringing something new that everyone can appreciate instead of the begging bowl WE in the modern world have become so accustomed to from YOU!

This is a call for virtuous living among the black race. Be that better black man that the world needs and wants to see.The world is still waiting for the black race it can respect.

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