Afrocentricity: What the DA fails to get despite a black leader and the black vote

2016-08-24 14:20

The word agency is seldom used in South Africa with reference to the state of the country and that of the leadership of the country.  In sociology and philosophy, the concept of agency is defined as the capacity of an entity to act in any given environment. In sociology, an agent is an individual engaging with the social structure.

There is also a second part to the agency question, which also requires mentioning. The capacity to act does not at first imply a specific moral dimension to the ability to make the choice to act, and moral agency is therefore a distinct concept. Thus the ability to act morally does not dismiss the actor from acting.

Afrocentricity as a subject to my article is a paradigm that asks the agency of black people in the development of the South African narrative. Even with the diversity that characterises the country, the ideology asks, “What is the central role of black South Africans, in the future and history of South Africa?” “How is this central role facilitated and encouraged?” and finally “How do we ensure the inclusion of black people in the story of their development?”

Is Afrocentricity as per definition above important in South Africa?

There are five axioms that we unconsciously hold on to in our appreciation of the world. These are true of any culture and black people should stake their claim to them as well:

(1) Protection: There must be an active and genuine promotion of culture as determined by symbols, motifs, rituals, education, scripts, proverbs, and ceremonies. Every person in South Africa must have his or her dignity protected; this should be the fundamental core of the political and judicial system.

(2) Appreciation: Black people, like other cultures, should emotionally appreciate their role in any social, political, economic, architectural, literary, or religion. No one should be permitted to marginalise any black people in any situation, much the same as the same curtesy is extended to other cultures.  The idea of weak black people with inherent social stigma and no prospects in not in the spirit of the new South Africa.

 (3) Defence: There must be an active defence of black cultural elements as historically valid in the context of art, music, education, science, and literature. The biggest travesty from the post 1994 South African education system is the lack of focus on the agency of black people in their history.  This seems to be limited to Nelson Mandela and OR Tambo and very few agencies in the past are recognised. To the extend that the narrowed limit has led to the DA vs ANC on what is a Mandela legacy. No one has explored, how DA policies were related to the views of an Albert Lithuli, Pixley Isaka or Sefako Makgatho.

These are no practical names as Mandela to place in conversation because many black history makers are unknown.  A bouquet of names including Imhotep, Amenhotep, the son of Hapu, Duauf, Akhenaten, Hannibal, Hatshepsut, Hanno, the Sailor, Thutmoses III, Amadu Bamba, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Nzingha, Nehanda, Langston Hughes, the Pyramids in Kemet and in Sudan, DuBois, Nkhurhuma, Sankara,  Cheikh Anta Diop, Fanon, Menelik II, Sungbo’s Eredo, Kebra Nagast, and so forth are still not part of our orientation

(4) Celebration: There must be a celebration of agency and an uncompromising commitment to eliminate criticism or disapproval of black people for just being black. We cannot believe and accept a black society that cannot produce leaders, visionaries and game changers that the concept of competence is an entitlement of one race.

(5) Involvement: There must be an openness to include all of the achievements and contributions of black people as the collective gift of black people to humanity. Afrocentrism is a centering of an intellectual inquiry not the denial of the validity of other paradigms of knowledge. This means, by referencing a past, I am by no way implying we should seek to achieve a utopian past, which is both irrelevant and impractical in this modern society.   I am however suggesting, before we close roles for black South Africans on account of a section of society that failed as moral agents (those deemed corrupt and immoral). We should not delete the contribution of those that achieved in the past as evidence of a black society that can contribute the story of humanity.

 Thus if all society treasures the five axioms, black peoples involvement is as important as a culture involvement in the South African narrative.

The Democratic Alliance Conundrum for the Black Caucus

There are two constructs placed on all black people but more so on black people within the DA that we need to be placed in perspective. All black South Africans need to consider, “What is the narrative of the future for the country and for the black society?”, and “What is the definition and the expectation of a nation embracing diversity?”

Can the current black leadership within DA interpret this narrative with clarity to the party and country for the nation to believe the DA is no longer a white party?

Narrative of Incompetence

I agree, bad governance cannot be protected by any excuse including the race card. However does the black caucus within the DA agree with the party’s definition of non-racialism, and as such the implied narrative on what it means to be black.

DA structures by virtue of embracing a definition on non-racialism that is pro-white people involvement in the South African development narrative, the result has been a party creating opportunities for participation for the social group. The resulting narrative can wrongly suggest its party that promotes a standing narrative of black incompetence. A narrative that business is also supporting. The 2015 Jack Hammer Executive Report study‚ showed that there is a decline in the number of black South African CEOs‚ from 15% three years ago‚ to 10% at the time of this year’s research. It also showed that‚ out of a total of 334 people constituting the executive teams in SA’s Top 40 companies‚ 21% were black South Africans.

These numbers are consistent with DA numbers too. Case in point being the number released by the DA for the Tshwane executive. I expect as before the party would feel that all appointment are meritorious and competency profiles were used to develop the list. However does the black caucus within DA believe the competency 27% black within the country and within the party? And are South Africans to embrace that as the current measure of competence for the black population?

The noticeable consequence of the continued support of this narrative leads to the question, “Is the DA inclusive of black people at decision making levels?” Surely in 74% white Exco, which has a controlling management of Tshwane does not say so, similarly the balance in the party structures.


Embracing diversity especially across race is almost a corollary to the narrative. By this I mean, we haven’t embraced the ideas espoused by diversity that sustain the false narrative of black incompetence. The commitment to diversity is central to the advancement of the civil society, as such it should asked if the DA understand this? If black people do not see themselves solving their everyday life’s challenges, they fall into a trap of entitlement waiting on a hand of privilege to give because no opportunity for self determination is made available for them

Be Inspired South Africa!

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