City Press Debate – Are we strangers in a strange land?: Phumlani Mfeka

2013-05-26 14:00

Mayor of Newcastle is on thin ground if he wants to grandstand, writes Phumlani Mfeka.

Dear Afzul,

As an indigenous African of this province informed by the Zulu idiom that ?says, “Akukho zinyane lemvubu ladliwa yingwenya kwacweba isiziba” – whose meaning I would expect you to know since you have been residing in a province that is predominantly Zulu – I penned this letter to you in the interests of educating, liberating and giving you a free, but stern, warning not to grandstand against an African person in the way you did to the traffic official who innocently mistook you for one of the Gupta brothers.

Such an action is certain to attract severe African contempt.

First and foremost, you are an Indian and, contrary to what you believe and what you perhaps have been taught, South Africa is an African country with its land in its totality and proportion rightfully belonging to its indigenous African people.

In KwaZulu, with the dawn of British colonisation and imperialism, we saw the indigenous African people dispossessed of their land, livestock and fishing industries through the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Indians in this province have been unequivocally racist towards Africans from the time they were brought here by the British.

Upon the Indians’ arrival, they fought alongside the British at the Battle of Isandlwana against our African ancestors.

Your hero, Mahatma Gandhi, once again rallied Indians to fight alongside the British in the Zulu Rebellion led by Nkosi Bambatha kaMancinza, where more than 7?000 African warriors fought and bled for this land.

Indians were treated as second-class citizens to the British, but at the African people’s expense.

They remained proud British subjects.

In 1949, Indians, with the support of the apartheid regime, attacked the African people and history will advise you of the casualties Indians suffered, regardless of their Boer support.

Now, in reading an article titled “Newcastle mayor lays complaint after ‘Gupta’ slur” (City Press, May 8), I was rather perplexed to read that an innocent case of mistaken identity is now being used in a senseless, vicious campaign to ensure a poor African traffic official loses his job, letting his family go hungry, merely because of your overarching arrogance and bruised sense of pomposity.

Who do you think you are, asking an African whether he knows who you are in his native land?

Indians have never been comrades.

They don’t vote for the ANC and thus have no constituency that can warrant you to be mayor in the first place.

Your ignorance, second only to your arrogance, robbed you of an opportunity to realise that although you are mayor, the ordinary people you are supposed to be serving cannot even recognise you, which is indicative of how completely divorced from the people you are and how they are not your priority.

You also missed an opportunity to realise that Africans in this province do not regard Indians as their brethren and thus the ticking time bomb of a deadly confrontation between the two communities is inevitable and shall be exacerbated by the antagonistic attitude that Indians such as yourself and Vivian Reddy have.

The traffic official was absolutely correct in reminding you that India is your home, and you should perhaps begin to embrace India as your home as we Africans embrace South Africa as our home, which we are more than willing to fight and die for.

What further fuels my disgust at the manner in which you chose to handle this minor issue is that, even in the wake of the traffic official expressing remorse and being willing to apologise, you further didn’t see an opportunity to promote unity and social cohesion by reconciling and being above pettiness.

You have completely failed to take this opportunity to be a leader and demonstrate that, indeed, you are a selfless individual who is committed to the unity of the people of Newcastle.

Now if you choose to further pursue this issue in the manner in which you have threatened, I would like to advise you to do so cognisant of the fact that we as Africans see these shenanigans of yours and have made a note.

Your attitude reminds us of the very same attitude that the super-racist Gandhi had towards Africans. His existence, as with that of many other Indians of the Indian Congress, in itself was an offence to Africans.


Phumlani Mfeka

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