The great black consciousness exponent Bantu Biko once observed that the greatest weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.
The truth of this observation remains an indisputable reality today.
I invoke this philosophical analysis in the light of the ongoing xenophobic violence gripping the country as expressed through the looting spree of shops belonging to foreign nationals in Soweto and other places.
It is worth noting that the lootings are targeting black-, Pakistani- and Bangladeshi-owned shops in our townships.
We have witnessed the shocking and horrific acts of violence unleashed by black South Africans against the so-called foreigners, mainly those of African descent.
Reasons for this conflagration are many and varied.
Some say that these “foreigners” are stealing jobs and occupying the living space belonging to locals.
These foreign nationals have also been accused of corrupting the social fabric of South African society through rampant crime and their disrespect for the laws of the country.
Some people have even alleged that foreigners are taking their women thereby causing the disintegration of family units.
We are also being told that the number of foreign nationals in the country has reached unacceptable levels.
There are complaints that these people, due to their destitution and desperation, are prepared to perform menial jobs for very low wages.
The argument is that these menial jobs, if performed by South Africans, would not pay these paltry wages.
We are also told that the fact that these people are so desperate that they are accept anything as payment for their labour, as long as they remain within the borders of the country, means that they are hampering and weakening the bargaining power of local people.
The list of complaints goes on and on.
The above reasons have been used to justify the persecution, harassment, maiming, raping, displacement and even killings of other human beings, the same way the ideologues of apartheid massacred us during the dark days of that evil system of governance.
The systems of colonialism and apartheid in Africa, which lasted almost 1 000 years, were wrong and unacceptable.
The master-race ideology of Nazi Germany was also wrong. The ruthless extermination of the Native Americans by Caucasians was wrong.
So was the annihilation of the so-called yellow people of Asia by American atomic bombs.
And yes, the brutalisation and dehumanisation of the Jews was also wrong. We should also not forget the human-made near extinction of the Khoi, San and Khwe people.
In a nutshell, I am saying that all systems of racial, tribal and ethnic chauvinism are wrong for they perpetuate falsehoods and heresies of racial superiority of one group of human beings over the other.
The entire philosophy of “othering” human beings is wrong. Period.
It is cruel and unfathomable that, as it is claimed, we should kill these African brothers and sisters simply because we are jobless, shelterless, poverty-stricken and hungry.
Would continuing with this persecution provide us with jobs, food, shelter and happiness?
If all these were true, why is the same hateful persecution not unleashed on white people since they are also foreign nationals?
If all these excuses were true, why is the persecution not spread to the super-rich white people who, as history attests, stole and plundered “our” wealth, usurped all our resources, dispossessed us of everything, massacred us and eventually forced us into slavery of the worst kind?
Why are only African foreigners bearing the brunt of this madness?
Black South Africans, why do we hate our brethren? If all of us belong to the human race, why are we being selective in our actions against foreigners?
Painfully, because of the latest negative developments, I am persuaded to conclude that some black South Africans are still caught up in the web of a psychological superiority/inferiority complex.
They believe, consciously and subconsciously, in the notion that they are superior to African human beings and inferior to Caucasians.
This superiority/inferiority conundrum expresses itself in the differential way through which they view and treat people of African and European origins.
They undermine and dehumanise the Africans who, in their narrow-minded view, are inferior beings but respect and revere Europeans whom they feebly view as superior beings.
It’s this hatred towards the Africans which has led to the current implosion.
The struggle for the total and genuine emancipation of the colonised mind should be radically and vigorously revisited.
Amilcar Cabral sums this up well by stating: “There is no group of people that can claim the absolute monopoly of intelligence, beauty and power, we all have room in the rendezvous of victory.”
- Ka-Sokois a political analyst
In the wake of xenophobic violence, is it time for South Africans to revisit the struggle for total emancipation of the mind?
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