Reconciliation without justice

2009-10-24 13:46

HOW do we explain the strange behaviour of a black university head who is hired to transform a racist ­institution but ends up inviting back white students accused of racist behaviour?

Prof Jonathan Jansen initially got support for his “brave” move from influential quarters including some university “stakeholders” such as Sasco and a cabinet minister who ­attended his over-the-top induction ceremony, where he announced his “gesture of racial reconciliation”.

Our beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote an open letter to Prof Jansen to “salute” and “commend” him for his act of forgiving and dropping charges against the four white students who cajoled black workers to run around like mad animals and eat their piss and faeces while recording the sordid affair. Tutu declared Jansen “a great man”, and that he should “count me among your ­admirers”.

Further significant about Tutu’s show of public support is the link he drew between what Jansen did and what ­Nelson Mandela did in 1994. I think Tutu is correct on that score.

Jansen’s “magnanimous” gesture is consistent with the politics practised by Nelson Mandela and accepted by blacks, and continued by Mbeki and now Zuma. In the main, such politics demand of blacks to forgive and forget without getting restitution for the oppression and racism that happened here for more than 300 years. At best this can be described as reconciliation without justice. This politics focuses on reassuring the ­beneficiaries and perpetrators of racism that they have nothing to worry about, all is forgiven. The interests of the black victim are sidelined, as in the case of the black workers at University of Free State.

Jansen forgave the students without consulting the victims, thereby subjecting them to secondary victimisation.

The rector used his black skin to perpetuate black victimisation, only now as an act of ­reconciliation and good. How evil!

This politics normalises ­historical injustices against blacks. It’s a little like someone came to your house and dispossessed you of all your goods and threw you out into the street, now they demand that you reconcile with them while you are condemned to a life on the street and poverty and they enjoy the comfort of your home. This is what happened here in 1994 and is now dramatised by Jansen.

What I find hypocritical is the opportunism of the ANC and its allies, including Minister Blade Nzimande’s rebuking of Jansen. Of course the ANC has also declared its support of his vision of non- ­racialism. The good professor has done nothing which is not consistent with the post-1994 politics. In fact even if the four white students were to go all the way to court, they are only likely to end up with light fines. This means if you experience racial discrimination and violence because you are black, the police can’t open a case of racism; they call it something funny like crimen injuria. Yes, racism is not a crime in a country which has experienced 350 years of ­racism.

As long as blacks remain a powerless numerical majority there is no hope that white racism will end. No one has yet asked this simple question: Why did the workers allow themselves to be abused in this manner by white children? That racism is allowed to flourish, including being rewarded, is not the problem of whites. It is a demonstration of the psychological oppression of blacks who continue to give power to whites, with assistance from such men as Mandela, Tutu and Jansen.

On October 31 at 3pm the fourth edition of New Frank Talk is launched in Newtown Kospotong. Chinweizu will talk from Accra about power and true freedom for Africa.

)Mngxitama is the publisher of New Frank Talk

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.