Abandon Eurocentrism

2016-05-25 06:00
Qondile Khedama- Social Observer

Qondile Khedama- Social Observer

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AFRICA DAY celebrations should bridge the gap in a fragmented society.

In one of his opinion articles, published in June 1925, Marcus Garvey says: “The time has come for the Negro to forget and cast behind him his hero worship and adoration of other races, and to start out immediately to create and emulate heroes of his own. We must canonize our own saints, create our own martyrs, and elevate to positions of fame and honour black men and women who have made their distinct contributions to our racial history.”

I have found it easy to relate to this phrase especially during Africa celebrations in a South Africa that has become so glaringly fragmented. Racism reports have increased at universities, schools and restaurants with Facebook and Twitter the playing ground for the most overt if not muscular racism – obviously questioning Nelson Mandela’s vision of reconciliation.

These outbursts we are experiencing in South Africa compelled me to reflect and revisit the ferocious theories used by the apartheid regime to maintain power and supremacy.

In his research, hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Padraig O’Malley interrogates theories of counter-revolutionary warfare that justified oppressive state violence and covert activities from 1980 to 1990, which was adopted from the writings of various Western military strategists.

The most favoured for his “practical” approach was the American Vietnam veteran Col JJ McCuen. The tactics adopted were “hard” security measures against political opponents of the state, combined with WHAM (“Winning Hearts and Minds”). Tactics were aimed at defusing political grievances and promoting right-wing ideologies generally.

French theorist Andre Baufr’s maxim warns that “wars are not won on the battlefield, but in the minds of men” and that was the guiding principle.

The aim was not just to restore law and order, at all costs, by the apartheid regime, but also brainwashing and social engineering on all levels in an attempt to “recast the foundations of civil society so that political access points could in future be restructured in a way that (would) not threaten the system. To this end the state attempted to radically restructure the moral, cultural, religious, political and material underpinnings of civil society in the black townships.

At the height of apartheid, conservative media intentionally ignored the stories of the ordinary black population and in doing so created an illusion of racial equality. Portrayal of black society had huge implications for both the black community’s self- identification and non-black expectations of the black community.

The media consistently portrayed the majority of black people as violent, aggressive and as criminals and white people as the victims.

Despite the advent of social media platforms that are unmediated, black society needs even more voices in the mainstream media X voices without bias, who can tell the true story of black society. South Africans need to recognise and accept the prominence of modern-day racism and address it rather than assuaging it, as is currently happening. There is no country in this continent’s history in which racism has been more rampant for so long a time, as South Africa. To be able to understand South Africa, and the anatomy of the diverse cultures one must weigh racism and the impact it has had on the culture and social norms. Only then can we move towards racial resolve.

At this stage one can only find solace from the SABC’s bold decision to implement 90% local content, though long overdue. This move will assist in cleansing our minds from Eurocentric information, that’s being consumed by the majority of South Africans and which the apartheid regime had forced down our throats. Though it will take long to regain and preserve African consciousness, it is a route worth taking if we are to free our country from Eurocentrism.

  • Marcus Garvey says: “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”. As we engage into Africa celebrations we need to answer pertinent questions on how to bridge the gap of a fragmented society. Qondile Khedama is head of Communications at the Mangaung Metro Municipality. He writes in his personal capacity.


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