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Two decades into supposed freedom, white people still believe that our struggle heroes owe the narrative of their legacies to their shallow opinions and not actual emancipation of black people, writes Naledi Chirwa.
The past few days have seen an eruption of racial charges against South
African Ambassador to Denmark, Zindziswa Mandela-Hlongwane, from racist whites
and black people who still suffer from massaging white fragility.
This frenzy waged against the daughter of South African heroine, Winnie Nomzamo
Madikizela-Mandela, is in response to her tweets on land thieves and apartheid
apologists who truly believe that Nelson Mandela was a living sacrifice for their
sins against black people.
White people and white-led propaganda systems of this country have invested
immense effort in deciding for black people what to make of apartheid and how
we are to feel about the continuous violence meted out against us. Not only
that, but white people have had no shame in defending the very premise of colonialism;
White people are adamant in driving the deception that they are not the
descendants of their ancestors, who structured this system of dispossession and
perpetual violence and yet find no fault defending the fruits of violence and
having their surnames on title deeds emanating from theft, rape, murder and
psychological trauma of black people.
White supremacy in South Africa constantly wants to define the parameters
within which black rage can find expression. It wants to decide not only how
the native speaks and dresses, but also how the native responds to the master.
This because they see black people as nothing more than house help. House
help that doesn't talk back. House help that doesn't have dignity. House help
that is in a constant state of silence even through dehumanising atrocities
like sacrificing a salary for breaking a glass. And lastly, house help that is,
like other forms of black labour, easily disposable. Hence the calls for
her removal as ambassador of South Africa.
White South Africans cannot fathom black rage finding expression outside of
the fictional limitations set by their stronghold on African soil. White people
rightfully understand the social power given to them by a "post democratic"
South Africa that did not require the injustice of colonialism and apartheid to
be reversed through more than efforts for reconciliation. Reconciliation that
wasn't even demanded by black people. This is because to the white person, it
is an honour for us to share spaces with them and a deterioration of their
humanness for them to do the same with us.
And thus we must be grateful to the coloniser for sharing benches, public
bathrooms and suburbs with us. If anything, the attempt to have black South
Africans gather justice from dispossession through a half-cooked and fake
rainbowism resulted in beneficiaries and perpetrators of the current status quo
to see nothing wrong with the treacherous consequences of apartheid for black
White people have consistently found unwarranted grace from black people.
This through so-called "leaders" of the liberation party who traded
the justice of black people for pension funds (a tendency still vigorously
prevalent) and the decision to fail to return land to its rightful owners, black
Africans, without compensation. This is why it was no surprise seeing Fikile
Mbalula rebuke Zindzi Mandela and not racists who were blatantly throwing
misogynist and racist slurs at her.
In her series of tweets and responses to white racists and apologetic black
people, Zindzi Mandela gave us a decade worth of free decolonised education. She
did this a few days before we commemorated and remembered the June 16 Soweto uprising
and the 106th anniversary of the June 19, 1913 Land Act. It was a beautifully
orchestrated coincidence as we were reminded of the gruesome hatred and
entitlement of colonisers, the lives lost fighting against white supremacy and
a slave driven education system that entrenched supreme reign over black lives
by entrenching fear in our very existence.
An education system meant to prepare the black child to be fit to serve
white interests and land laws that saw dispossession and theft legalised. This
is the very first thing Zindzi Mandela addressed: "We do not fear you,"
she asserts, "...you will not rule again".
And like old school white aggressive arrogance fearful of the possibility of
being stripped of power over black people, the retort was that Zindzi Mandela
is tarnishing her father's legacy.
Again, this position outlines just how highly white people regard themselves
over black lives. White people, two decades into supposed freedom, still
believe that our struggle heroes owe the narrative of their legacies to their
myopic and shallow opinions and not actual liberation and emancipation of black
In less than 24 hours, Zindzi Mandela was able to paint an accurate picture
of what South Africa looks like; an unequal society built on the dispossession
of black people's land that depends on the silencing of black rage to cushion faded
white conscience. If anything, Zindzi Mandela has modelled to all of us what an
ambassador and public servant should prioritise, and that is defending the
truth at all cost. The less said about AfriForum, the better.
- Chirwa is an EFF member of Parliament.
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