Subtle nuances we detest in the phrase "Clever blacks"

2013-07-30 14:03

I am one of those who have always had a problem with the phrase “clever blacks”. As a young black man I find the phrase insulting not only to me, but to my fellow brothers and sisters.

My main concern has always been if you are going to name or label those who went to school and educated “clever blacks”, then what are you going to name those who did not have the privilege to acquire education? Is it probably that the answer is there but no one wants to come out to say it?

What or who really are clever blacks? Are clever blacks those able to take to different media platforms their frustrations about today’s political landscape in our country? Are these people labeled clever blacks because they are intelligent enough to make their own choices on who to vote for come election time? Are they labeled clever blacks because it is not easy to get their attention and convince them on party politics matters?

If the latter is the case what does this say about the poor of the poorest? Do we call them just that, the poor of the poorest? Oh wait, probably not….suggestions are they might be called the opposite of clever, stupid. Yes, “stupid blacks”. This is probably the only answer that will make sense to the question above.

Yes, they might be called stupid blacks. Why is it difficult to be blatant about it? Because we know very well it is wrong to call people stupid. They are however silently seen as stupid because even their feelings are trampled upon by political parties promising improved service delivery every five years. They find themselves with no choice, but to believe this and cast their vote in favor of those who make the loudest noise in promising them the latter. They are powerless, but does it mean they can’t think? Nonetheless, they ultimately succumb to the false hope given by those who make the loudest noise in promising them heaven and earth. They have to just believe what they are told, don’t they?

It will seem clever blacks are therefore not needed to win elections, only the poor of the poorest. This is the reason political party campaigns are not necessarily much focused in urban areas, but the rural areas. This is where the majority of voters are; this is where the poor of the poorest are. This is where competition between political parties is taken to contest the biggest votes.

Late last year I remember the president of our country was slammed by the City Press Newspaper which led with the story in which the president made the off-cut remarks about the controversial Traditional Courts Bill to the National House of Traditional Leaders in which he derided Africans “who become too clever” in criticizing their own traditions.

However, some thought the City Press selectively interpreted the term “too clever” to mean intelligent instead of know it all, which some thought would have been a fairer interpretation. I found the debate quite amusing actually.

One would concur with me in saying some of the ways in which we practice our culture or tradition has to change particularly when these ways have proved to be dangerous over the years. Just this winter alone our nation mourned the loss of close to forty or fifty young lives which were lost through the practice of traditional circumcision. (See preceding article). The mourning has become something that accompanies this practice year in and year out. Regardless of the messages spread country-wide educating about the safest way of circumcision, we continue loosing lifes. One therefore starts to think that the problem is within the communities themselves. This probably has to do with the cultural attachment or belief that young boys come back from the mountains well groomed men.

How fallacious.

Think of successful men out there who did not go to the mountains, but continue to lead a successful life and to be role models in society. These are the same men who opted a different way of circumcision by the way. Sending your children to the mountains is risky; chances are they might not make it back home alive. You have got an option. If taking your child to a men’s clinic for circumcision makes you a clever black…let it be. If it means the community is going to see you as reneging from your culture, let it be that way.

On the other hand “clever blacks” as they are termed are seen as those tired of the current political landscape today. They are seen particularly as influential flouters without real electoral power. This will probably explain the reason behind the announced new forum by the former GCIS head Mr. J. Manyi to lure the educated and professionals in working together in helping the government of the day to address some of the challenges facing the country.

There has been a lot said by political leaders calling those criticizing their political parties to come-up with solutions, rather than just complaining. These are supposedly the “clever blacks” who take to social networks and other kind of media platforms to deride the government of the day. They are told they should move away from being the biggest whiners.

This surely emanates from the outcry increasingly feeling that things are falling apart, that there is no economic and political vision at the top and something needs to happen to restore a sense of direction.

This is reference to the so called “clever blacks” who apparently refuse to walk in silence, but try every tactic to voice their dissent. They express their opinions about what is wrong in the country and the state of its politics.

But indeed what are the critics doing to help in solving the problems facing our government, rather than just criticizing?

These critics have had enough with their parties, but they struggle to find a party that will speak to their ideals. They have spent years of loyalty with their parties and joining others is difficult.

They are also disappointed that the same parties they have spent so many years serving terms them “clever blacks” when they raise their dissatisfaction with the way things are run.

When they walk away to form new political parties they are chastised. They are warned not to form political parties out of anger.

What do you therefore call the EFF Commander in Chief Julius Malema and his brigade who is in some part raising the same notions our so called clever black sisters and brothers are raising?

A clever black brigade?

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