Dashiki Dialogues: All that glitters is not yet Uhuru

2011-06-17 15:13

Speaking of June 16 and things, let me tell you about an old man who once tore chest first into our barb-wired borders. He was young then and had to go out and search for a better way of seeing.

Remember that all vestiges of home in the land of his birth had been stolen by the strange and wicked ones. They were stronger then and officially in power.

On cold enough nights, when memories are sweeter and the present resolutely bitter, he grows more cynical about the land he has since returned to after Madiba’s return from the Island.

“This is another country,” my old friend says shaking his head.

He means that what we achieved in 1994 is different to what many dreamed it was going to be.

The youth and black folk in general are not less challenged than in June 1976. Political power doesn’t seem like it has enough totalising force to make it better for the majority.

Some young, black people with radical appetites see the ruling party as a league of Frankenstein-like arbiters of the neo-colony. While on the other hand, some old, liberal white folks from the struggle days are no less cynical either.

To some, darkies in power are nothing more than demented “sexy beasts of the order of King Kong”.

I made this observation while at a book launch attended by up to 100 people.

I was one of only seven black people there, three of which were African-American women.

The rest were cynical, white-liberal coffin-dodgers.

My cynical old friend believes that “our politics lost the ballast of mass redemption and restorative issues when Mandela allowed De Klerk to tell him he was free”.

Oh, but it’s also true that politics has become industry for many poor, young people to think that it’s a way to get a piece of the Kruger Rand’s shine.

Participation is a ticket to bread, thus equalising them with those who inherited wealth.

And, of course, you have to wonder whether it’s valid to talk about, or even appeal to a “black agenda” when our dream is non-racial.

However, you’ll also have to wonder whether structural dispossession doesn’t have a black agenda or bias.

You see, when public rhetoric speaks of “the masses”, it speaks of black people – just as the “poorest of the poor” is a painful euphemism for darkies in Dashiki Dialogues.

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