David Nkoana has a point about resisting the urge to shoot the race card from the hip (that's a mangled metaphor but what the hell) each and every time people of different ethnicity have a difference of opinion.
Although Nkoana does go on to talk a load of crap about the need for absolute demographic representation in the economy. Life is not so easily measured out in coffee spoons.
I've used the n and k words on this blog several times myself. Rest assured that blacks have at least equally insulting names for whites, which most whites are not aware of by virtue of not understanding their language, those cheeky zots.
Isn't it time we moved on from unadulterated racism to something else? Could it be that our racism formula should be revised from black Arabic coffee to cafe latte, even if it will never quite get to being, well, de-kaffirnated? No milk left to put in your coffee leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
David Nkoana writes that it is time to put an end to the name calling and insults
I am bitterly disappointed by the raging race debate by some South Africans who are betraying the historic mission our broad liberation movement which was led and guided by our Tambo, Mandela, Sobukwe and Biko, to name but just a few. Is this what we want to bequeath to our children and their grandchildren? Surely, South Africa deserves better.
The recent race-loaded rantings by political leaders, commentators, news journalists, church leaders and the legal fraternity concerning the white Canadian refugee, the structure of our economy, employment equity targets, the Hlophe saga and Caster Semenya's gender verification debacle do not bode well for our long-term vision of the building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
On June 26 1955, the Congress of the People, constituted by progressive organisations, such as the ANC, Communist Party, South African Indian Congress and the Congress of Democrats adopted the Freedom Charter at a conference in Kliptown, Soweto .
Its preamble, which became the guiding principle of our post-apartheid constitution, asserts that: "We, the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people."
In his speech at Bonn in 1986 the late President of the ANC, Oliver Tambo reiterated: "The ANC has grown and developed over the last 74 years into the powerful force it is today because the masses of our people see it as the embodiment of that perspective of a free and peaceful South Africa for all the people of our country, regardless of colour."
The late Walter Sisulu, quoted from the extract of We shall overcome said:
"The fact that non-racialism is a leitmotiv in the programmes of almost all the forces in the struggle becomes an outstanding testimony of the maturity of their political and philosophical outlook and also points to deeper economic factors that are at play, and which rise above and beyond the constraints of racism."
South Africans of all political persuasions need to be reminded that the most endearing and remembered legacy of Nelson Mandela and the ANC, at least in the hearts and minds of ordinary people, is the absolute insistence and nonnegotiable stance taken in favour of the principles of reconciliation, reconstruction and development, with the concomitant call for national unity and nation building, as building blocks of the new South Africa. One of the founding principles of all the political formations aligned to the congress tradition has always been non-racialism and not multi-racialism.
Tata Nelson Mandela's first presidential address in 1994 began with a poem from Afrikaner poet Ingrid Jonker stressing the compatibility of holding an Afrikaner and an African identity.
Moreover, throughout his administration, he undertook high-profile symbolic reconciliation initiatives to convince whites and other minority racial groups that they had a place in post-apartheid SA. On the eve of the 2009 elections, President Zuma assured South Africans that Nation-Building, unity and reconciliation will continue to be the cornerstone of the new administration after elections and called on all South Africans "to build a united compassionate and caring nation and also called for forgiveness.
The emirate Bishop Desmond Tutu describes in his book, No Future Without Forgiveness, when writes that:
"A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good; for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are."
According to Steven Bantu Biko, black consciousness articulated itself as "an attitude of mind, a way of life". In various forms and under various labels, before then and after, this attitude of mind and way of life have coursed through the veins of all the motive forces of struggle; it has fired the determination of leaders and the masses alike. And one of the greatest legacies of the struggle that Biko waged - and for which he died - was the explosion of pride among the victims of apartheid. The driving thrust of black consciousness was therefore to forge pride and unity amongst all the oppressed, to foil the strategy of divide-and-rule, to engender pride amongst the mass of our people and confidence in their ability to throw off their oppression.
In his inaugural speech, the late President of the PAC Robert Sobukwe stated that the structure of the body of man provides evidence to prove the biological unity of the human species. All scientists agree that there is no "race" that is superior to another, and there is no "race" that is inferior to others. The Africanists take the view that there is only one race to which we all belong, and that is the human race. In our vocabulary therefore, the word 'race' as applied to man, has no plural form. We do, however, admit the existence of observable physical differences between various groups of people, but these differences are the result of a number of factors, chief among which has been geographical isolation.
In his first State of the Nation Address, Former President Kgalema Motlanthe stated that:
"The ANC based its vision for the country on the principles of the Freedom Charter. This vision is all-encompassing. It does not exclude any single South African. Nor does it allow that any person has any greater claim than any other to being an integral part and component of this; our proud nation.
Just as we all have an equal claim to this country, we all have an equal obligation to build a society that is united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous,"
I am bitterly appalled by the latest distasteful piece written by one Andile Mngxitama in the Sowetan, Tuesday September 8 2009 titled; "Shame, Mzanzi is not putting our people first" (see article).
Mr. Mngxitama makes the following preposterous statements about the current leadership of our country;
Basically, South Africa is overly concerned about how it is viewed by the white world; and
Zuma is a President of a racist country that continues to treat black people as second-class citizens.
In the same article, Mr. Mngxitama makes statements such as; "Our country lacks black soul and mind, President Zuma does not want us to debate racism because it will offend ANC white comrades, that current leaders are mere black colonialists and that they are a white power behind a black mask. What a load of crap!
Mr. Jack Bloom, the Democratic Alliance MPL in Gauteng , went a step further and attacked Jimmy Manyi on the employment equity policy targets in an article on Politicsweb (see here). Bloom attacks Jimmy Manyi for believing in absolute demographic representivity at all levels and argues that societies benefit from the dynamism of creative minorities like Jews, the Parsis in India (founders of Tata), and overseas Chinese, who are all "over-represented" in certain key areas. If proportional representation is acceptable in all our legislative institutions from municipal to national level, why can't the demographic representation also be accepted in the economic and employment sectors of our country?
Mr. Bloom ought to know that under representation by Africans in other key sectors such as the economic, education, finance and information technology is perceived as an imbalance reflective of their overall political vulnerability.
Equally disappointing are the reported assertions by our learned jurist, Judge Kriegler that; "everybody knows that the only reason Judge John Hlophe was not prosecuted was the colour of his skin" and the comments attributed to Minister Sisulu's newly appointed legal Paul Ngobeni in the City Press (13 September 2009:1) that; "the DA racist bastards are hiding behind so-called parliamentary privilege to abuse my name".
I am not under any illusion that the scourge of racism can be completely eradicated in just 15 years of our democracy. Racial stereotypes were built and entrenched throughout the 300 years of colonialism and apartheid upon our society. Racism is still embedded in the psyche, attitudes, behaviour, perceptions and perspectives of a substantial number of our people and remains an integral part of the South African reality. It cannot therefore be otherwise, given that we have grown up in a racist society and that our earliest messages about ourselves and others came from an ideology of white superiority over black.
Even in the United Sates of America, which has been branded as one of the advanced democracies globally, and where racial discrimination was outlawed long ago, is still grappling with issues of racism.
Recently, a black Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. asked police who arrested him while he was trying to enter his home the following question: Is this what it means to be a black man in America ? Apparently, a white neighbor saw Gates trying to enter his home and called the police, suspecting an intruder was prying open his front door.
Racism is not merely the manifestation of prejudice and discrimination between people - it is an entire system, entrenched and deep-rooted, working mainly against black people, depriving them of resources, opportunities and dignity.. It is bolstered though education, religion, media, political power, the economic system and the dominant values in the society. This means that black people in South Africa not only carry with them the hurt of a life-time of exclusion and alienation, but daily experience the brutal reality of racism. Having said all that, it does not mean that all black people are incapable of practicing racism, even though they do that from a victim point of view.
Be that as it may, it is my considered viewpoint that as proud South Africans, guided by our Constitution, must gradually move towards building cohesive, non-racial, caring and sustainable communities. In so doing, we will be promoting our shared values and social solidarity within our communities and neighborhoods. Non-racialism derives from the humanity of the cause of liberation struggle itself and the recognition of the equal value for all South Africans.
Our democratic Parliament has worked very well in the last 15 years to remove apartheid laws from the statute and replaced them with transformative laws, from the Labour Relations Act, Employment Equity Act, Skills Development, Black Economic Empowerment and so on. We therefore expect some level of rigorous people's initiatives to create a non-racial and non-sexist society. We clearly need to ask ourselves whether we have done what we need to do to overcome the stereotypes that were entrenched over many years by racist policies of the past or we still, unwittingly, pander to those racist and backward stereotypes.
Indeed, we need to confront what may be an uncomfortable question whether as South Africans, black and white, we are, under the same flag and under the same anthem, marching separately, even pretending, at times, that the other does not exist. Whether we like it or not, South Africa truly belongs to all of us.
I am quite convinced that a majority of South Africans, regardless of race or political affiliation, supported our athletes (Caster Semanya, Mbulaheni Mulaudzi and Khotso Mokoena), the Spingboks, Bafana Bafana and the Proteas during their different moments of glory. According to the recent surveys, Over 90% of whites in this country regard themselves as patriotic South Africans. We cannot therefore continue to racially polarize our beloved country and its people simply because a tiniest minority is still determined to habour the concept of racial stereotypes.
That there are racists in South Africa cannot be denied, but they in the minority, and South Africa cannot therefore be branded as a racist country as asserted by Andile Mngxitama simply a minority of South African still practice racism. I agree fully with Advocate Ngoako Ramatlhodi in his article (Sunday Times, 13 September 2009:12) responding to Judge Kriegler's challenge to the Judicial Service Commission on the Judge Hlophe saga that:
"Nation-building is a long process, which we must approach in a responsible, delicate way. The historic wounds are still bleeding. Our country needs to be assured that good race relations will be constructed on the basis of justice for all - in particular, justice for the victims of apartheid.
The right to express our views is enshrined and guaranteed in Chapter Two of our Constitution and we are entitled to robustly engage and debate on any topical issue. In exercising such a fundamental right, we need to desist from irresponsible and racist utterances, name calling such as labeling other fellow South African as racist bustards, buffoons or lunatics simply because they hold different views to ours.