Not all Africans aspire to be white

2018-05-06 06:01

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The rather unfortunate comments by one Mbe Mbhele “Imagine freedom beyond whiteness” (City Press, April 29) regarding the supposed un-freedom and the desire by blacks to be white, are deeply unsettling. The sentiments expressed by the author are similar in tone and context to those espoused by a former political leader located on our shores.

Who said black people are homogenous?

One has never heard or read about a Chinese person, or an American for that matter, who speaks on behalf of Chinese or Americans. On the other hand, black people have been rather unfortunate, because we have a myriad of spokespersons who speak on our behalf without our inputs or any scientific study to back up their assumptions. Are these spokespeople who spew diatribe about black people implying that the Almighty made black people by mistake?

In his book, the former political leader lamented that even though black people share similar roots, they have nothing else in common and have no binding ties. Is the former leader perhaps suggesting that whites have common roots and binding ties? Is the former leader implying that whites in the UK have binding ties with white people in Belarus? For the record, whites in the UK will rather hire an African than employ a white person from Belarus. His arguments are simply crass intellectual laziness.

What is utterly disappointing about Mbhele’s piece is the lack of scientific research about black identity politics to back up his claims. Hiding behind “time immemorial” is a tacit signal that no effort was made to conduct research. Even though material is widely available, no reference is made in the article to black people’s resistance to apartheid. For argument’s sake, out of 2 000 black first-year students at Wits University, how many aspire to be white or to move in so-called white circles? Mbhele does not tell us and yet these people are within his reach.

Rather than fulminating about black identity politics, the student could have simply gone into a library to research black people’s resistance to the isms. Frantz Fanon’s father was of a darker hue when he married his mother, who was of a lighter hue. Fanon developed his theories based on his experiences at the hands of white people and he was humiliated, even in his own family. To simply sum up your own aspirations or fears as a black person is not enough to advance the supposed suffering of black people. Even during apartheid, blacks were not homogenous and black people are not homogenous.

To test his theory of blacks wanting whiteness, the author could have employed a method called stratified random sampling. This involves the division of a population into smaller groups, known as strata. It is likely that South African history won’t be kind to the author, because even in the 1920s there were white men and white women who fell in love and gave their bodies to black women and black men, which culminated in the formation of laws such as the Immorality Act of 1927. It was enacted to prevent people from doing adults things across the colour line.

It goes without saying that there were white people who were prepared to pay the ultimate price in their quest to see black people as human beings. But to make claims that Koko (grandmother) Sebotse from Nebo in Limpopo aspires to be white, is a serious affront to black people across the diaspora. Members of the Black Consciousness Movement must be quaking in their boots at the mere suggestion that they aspire to be white, or to be seen in white circles. Is Mbhele even aware of the concept called black consciousness? Mbhele does not tell us how many white people want to be black, or is he saying that black people cannot exist on their own, but need white people like a newborn needs breast milk?

To answer Mbhele, freedom remains the power to act, speak and write as one wants – within limits. As Songezo Zibi said “we risk developing into a society that breeds young people who never learn how to accumulate data and analyse it sufficiently to produce coherent thoughts”.

- Legodi is a City Press reader

Read more on:    race  |  freedom

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