My good friend, Linda Martindale introduced me to a friend of hers, Nkosivumile Gola at the TRC Re-Enactment meetings we both went to a week or so ago in Stellenbosch. When i heard that Nkosi had a blog i immediately asked him if he would consider writing a piece for mine.
Not to give him an easy ride, i posed this topic to him – the fact that for white people who do want to make a difference in South Africa [and there are many who are generally seeking to ‘get it right’] the task can often seem so overwhelming. And so yes we need to look at restitution and reparation and especially in terms of land and economy disparity, but where do we start? Are there some first steps towards helping becoming part of a truly new and more equally balanced South Africa?
Meet my new friend, Nkosivumile Gola, and this is his response:
Baby steps towards a really new South Afrika
This is the most difficult question for me as it is also very important. The difficulty in this question arises from the fact that there are many acts which the white people have done yet the condition of the black people remains the same. Also my fear and difficulty of this question arises from the fact that justice in South Afrika has been limited into a voluntary act which is totally a divorced and disbanded idea when reflecting it to the actual history of South Afrika. According to our history during the apartheid days whites were beneficiaries not because they supported apartheid or not but because they were white but today justice is thought to be voluntary act meaning those who want to live just may do and those who don’t feel like don’t have to, that is a problem and will not solve the problem. This voluntary justice triggers a situation where elitation amongst black people occurs, a situation where a certain number of people are turned into elites amongst many that are brutalised by the system. This voluntary justice causes a situation whereby the black people have no choice but to live through the white people’s shame, guilt and mercy. Now all the shame, guilt and mercy of the white people will never equal the cry and brutalisation of the black people. The emotional state of the white people will never bring about the change required in South Afrika where we can then begin to talk about equal opportunities. Justice should not be a voluntary act but it is something that should be done both by those willing and those who are not willing, justice should be done on the bases that it is right not because it works (in our eyes) or not, not because it pleases, tickles and or even bruising. Now my aim here is to try and avoid the re-occurrence of what has happened before.
Now coming on what is it that the whites should do to (catalyse) the process of reconciliation in our country. I think it is of high importance that whites build these relationships with the black people and they must understand that by building these relationships with “particular” black people they are not doing anything to the overall pain of the black people. The black people are united by the wound which means we can only define them in plural form now there is no way that we can define them in a singular form. This means that when we dealing with the pain of the black people there is no black person as an individual but a black person as a unit. Though the black people are made up of individuals but singling them out of the unifying wound is a crime. Having white friends myself but my heart is rooted to the overall wounded black person. My heart remains loyal to that wound, I will remain nursing the black wound and if our friendship leads us into forgetting of this wound then it is of no help and we better understand there is no friendship in that. I love Biko’s definition of black; ”blacks are those who are by law or tradition politically, economically and socially discriminated against as a group in the South African society and identifying themselves as a unit in the struggle towards the realization of their aspirations”.
These relationships should be based on conversations about the past the present and the visions about the future. Conversation is a crucial part of the solution but only if it does not lead to liberalism (ignorance), meaning now these relationships should be the means to sharpen the black radical activism. I am aware of many white friendships that have led to radical black ignorance and I think this is one of the greatest injustices. Now conversations about the past are crucial as they are the ones that will inform why the present is in this fashion and they will bring about the possible solutions of the future. These conversations should be based on how does the continued white injustice in South Afrika play part in the present suffering of the black person and in that also informing that talking about white injustice is not the incitation of violence but a way to eradicate violence. Intentional Prayers also should be the crucial and the foundational part of these conversations. I then believe that these kind of relationships are healthy relationships as they are intentional about a better South Afrika.
Activism amongst fellow whites
Amongst many whites themselves I don’t think there is a necessary voice to instigate the bringing about of the required change in South Afrika. I think 1994 have closed the door of the white people by reconciling the white people with the stolen and blood privilege. I think they need a revival of their conscience and there is no one who can do that better well than their own people. I don’t understand white people at times as they would be more concerned about rhino poaching, global warming and panda bear whatever yet they are so quite about the animalisation and thingification of the black people and we truly need a voice against that. White people needs resurrection of their conscience so that what they have seen as normal for years they would now see it as abnormal and inhuman and I think this white voice will be of great help against such. I have seen many pols and petitions that spoke about the release of Eugene Decock and many on global warming and so on yet I have never seen any petition not even one that talks of the black pain of dispossession in South Afrika. I don’t think the release of Eugen Decock will return the land of the black people ultimately the dignity of the black people. This makes me to question myself is this rhino poaching more important than the black child who sleeps without anything on their belly almost daily?, is this global warming more important than the low life expectancy of the black people? Will the release of Eugen Decock heal this black wound and play a role on reparations?
Social justice should be the main conversation in your circles
According to the Bantu tribes or should I say the Afrikan tribes power is responsibility and not comfort, I believe if we can all adopt into that then we can have a better South Afrika. In the olden days it is said that it was the community that raised a child meaning everyone was responsible for everyone else and he who have had a responsibility to the one who have not. Then it was impossible to even separate the one who have from the one who have not, that sounds familiar!!!! The book of Acts 2:44 tells us that “believers had all things in common” and further shows us this when the writer (Luke) exclaims to us that “there was no one lacking amongst them” (Acts 4:34). I do believe then that the God Immanuel, the God who is with us He is socially interested in both those who have and those who have not and it is the duty of he who have to be sensitive to the prompts of Immanuel so that we can all say in our church today there is no one lacking amongst us. I once listened to a preacher who was doing apologetics on a subject about poverty he said; “the church has enough today that there would be no one lacking amongst them” it was an AMEN for me there! It can only be the greed of some that causes some to be living under the swamps of poverty. Now because of to Jesus social justice is one of His main agendas as found in both the Lord’s Prayer and also in the book of Matthew 25:36-46 then I believe it should be one of our main agendas too, so whenever and wherever we are sitting lets discuss social justice.
Stop voting for and supporting DA!
I am aware that your vote is your choice yet if your choice furthers the black pain then look carefully into your choice again. DA is a white instrument to keep the status quo in South Afrika so that the situation of the blacks (not pigmentation but keeping in mind Biko’s definition) remains unchanging. If the DA was truly after the emancipation of the South Afrikan poor then they would have policies that are pro poor. The required change in South Afrika today will not come from people who wants to maintain the white status yet not overlooking the black pain because it is the very maintenance of the white status that is the actual black pain and that’s what DA does it maintains the white status. At this juncture we don’t need people who will say we want to solve the problem “but” because it is that very “but” that stretches the black wound and the DA is the actual embodiment of that “but”. Also at this moment in time we don’t need pro white organisations and their support in South Afrika as each and every structure thereof in this country is actually pro white. Therefore supporting DA in South Afrika is actually the instigation of the black wound. As for who to vote I will leave that to you, but the policies must be interested in what you claim to be after. The policies of the party that you are voting for must surely be pro poor.
Change your way of life
Without fully identifying with the black pain there will never be a pure, genuine and battling prayers that are projected to the black wound. There are many people who claim to be pro poor yet their lives proves to be divorced from the poor. Thomas Sankara (the president of Burkina Faso 1983-1987) when justifying his act of having no air conditioner in his office, driving the lowest costing car, attending his meetings in bicycles, cutting a huge portion of his salary and using public services like each and every one in his country he says “we cannot live luxurious lives yet we are leading the poor”. I think being pro poor then should be beyond the claims and be the very lives. Therefore living in Bishop Scot and claiming to be pro poor is one of the greatest lies. I think it is in these lies that leads to ignorance such that there are many people who says they are doing something in fixing the South Afrikan problem yet all they do is to rub off their own guilt. I think it is much easier to rub off your guilt by these cheap acts which includes soup (the soup kitchen justice) than it is to allow ones very life to be wasted for justice. Lives being wasted is Christ being lived because love is only expressed when life is being lay down for the next person. Therefore anyone missing out on this laying down of life that very person is missing out on the greatest commandment (Mat 22:38) and that should be the greatest sin.
Give fair wage to your domestic helpers!!! Do not be limited by the standards of this anti poor government but be pumped by the pro poor Christ in considering the wage for your domestic helper. When you considering the payment of your domestic helpers think of yourself first (love your neighbor as you love yourself); would you be able to live out of what you decide to give your helper? If not then why are you even considering giving it to someone else? More especially someone who could be a single parent with at-least five children. It is pretty sad that many white people don’t even know the families of their helpers, they are not even interested in the life of their employees (helpers) outside of work, this is cruel as it proves a perception of what was once said and believed “the blacks are as good as singing, dancing and digging”. You should play part in the education of the children of your domestic helpers, find out how you can help them. Be it if the help is morally, financially, emotionally or even psychologically but your help might go a long way. I do believe that you can also contribute a great deal in the local schools and help the up-coming generation to see you as humans and not as superiors and future employers as it was previously forcefully and violently suggested and currently is inherited by the younger generation. This will help a great deal and you will be seen as a fellow human being and it will also help you when you walking around Khayelitsha, there won’t be chants that are following you saying Umlungu, umlungu (white person) repeatedly.