Your Highness I know you may be wondering why a mere peasant dares to write you a letter—and an open one at that. I imagine you’re having one of your aides read this out loud to you while you stare out of the window in absolute repulsion at my gall. I apologise in advance for upsetting your day. Please bear with me. It is officially 2014 now, and I’m sure you welcomed the New Year in a most majestic way—clinking glasses with your fellow oligarchs and marvelling at the sheer magnitude of wealth you all will be amassing in the … Continue reading Open Letter to the African President
Because today is Africa Day I let the giants speak for me. I hope these quotes from the people that were there when great change was made on the continent can remind us of the task at hand. And perhaps some of the themes in these quotes can be discussed wholeheartedly today.
KWAME NKRUMAH: Something in the nature of an economic revolution is required. Our development has been held back for too long by the colonial-type economy. We need to reorganize entirely, so that each country can specialize in producing the goods and crops for which it is best suited. (Neocolonialism The Last Stage of Imperialism)
CHINUA ACHEBE: Every generation must recognize and embrace the task it is peculiarly designed by history and by providence to perform.
PATRICE LUMUMBA: You must energetically combat tribalism, which is a poison, a social scourge that is the country’s misfortune today. You must combat all the separatist manoeuvres, which some of the preachers of the policy of division are trying to pass off to young and inexperienced people under the name of federalism, federation or confederation. In reality, young people, these names are only a new vocabulary brought by the imperialists to divide us in order the better and more conveniently to exploit us. Your entire future will be threatened if you do not oppose these manoeuvres, this new, disguised colonisation. – Address to Congolese Youth (August, 1960)
HAILE SELASSIE I: Africans are in bondage today because they approach spirituality through religion provided by foreign invaders and conquerors. We must stop confusing religion and spirituality. Religion is a set of rules, regulations and rituals created by humans, which was suppose to help people grow spiritually. Due to human imperfection religion has become corrupt, political, divisive and a tool for power struggle. Spirituality is not theology or ideology. It is simply a way of life, pure and original as was given by the Most High of Creation. Spirituality is a network linking us to the Most High, the universe, and each other…”
JULIUS NYERERE: Having come into contact with a civilization which has over-emphasized the freedom of the individual, we are in fact faced with one of the big problems of Africa in the modern world. Our problem is just this: how to get the benefits of European society — benefits that have been brought about by an organization based upon the individual — and yet retain African’s own structure of society in which the individual is a member of a kind of fellowship.“ In the New York Times Magazine on 27 March 1960.
It was recently brought to my attention that a certain journalist in South Africa, that is known to behave like one who is twenty-minutes away from applying for a trademark on Black Consciousness, dates nothing but women of European Descent (or White women, as I may continue to refer to them for the rest of this article).
Upon seeing that my response was a sarcastic “surprise, surprise” my friend quickly wanted to know why I was so unimpressed by this piece of information, that I went on to say something along the lines of: “these Black Consciousness brothers couldn’t care less about Black Women.”
But there’s a lot more to it than that and I’m going to show you why I think many subscribers to Biko, Fanon, Garvey and Co.’s principles end up with romantic histories that predominantly feature non-Black lovers.
Before we begin, let me confess something: At the age of fifteen I nearly got arrested for shoplifting Steve Biko’s ‘I write what I like’ from CNA.
That began my path into the wonderful world of Black Consciousness (BC). I ran into the aforementioned contributors to the movement and have since grown to understand a lot about my identity as an African woman and what exactly that means to me.
But I am beginning to suspect that I have outgrown staunch Bikoism and can therefore look at this topic with a detached wisdom on the issue.
Why subscribers some Black Consciousness date White people:
THEORY #1: Deification of Black People leading to disappointment
Soon after writing my last piece the topic of classism began to occupy my mind almost full-time. I became very quickly aware that in a country like mine (almost completely homogenously “black”) there were still factors that divided us as a people. My notion that all African people are the same and should be able to relate and connect based almost solely on their African-ness was challenged and almost completely discredited for the uninformed self-righteousness it revealed within me.
Along with the realisation that the words of Biko and Muendane, as well as the musings of a teenage girl on what I term ‘theoretical politics’, had almost no weight in the minds of the “common man.” The average African living very close to the poverty-line, had very little interest in what I believed was all it took for the world to change: an understanding of one’s identity as an African as well as the prioritization of this factor.
I began to see that if such things would have an effect on people, then the state in which these people lived would have to change immediately. Before I was to step onto my soap-box (which you will find is carved from the self-righteous wood of my middle-class upbringing) it would be imperative that I begin to focus on the factors that would allow these Africans to have any dams to give about the musings of contemporary ‘pan-Africanists’ like myself.
I see now that on this continent, at this juncture, it is economics that has more of an effect on people than matters of race. That is what has more power to connect people across nations. I can no longer stand by my previous emphasis on the difference between Sudanese and Ghanaian people or Moroccan people and “Cape Coloureds”, which was based on my perceptions about the differences in their heritage.
1. When in the presence of people of European descent in a casual setting, and a joke with a blatantly racially-insensitive tone is made how do you react?
a) By being silent. Its awkward, but I don’t see why I have to ruin the mood by being that guy.
b) By laughing. Haha, it’s true. Blacks be crazy
c) By calmly telling the joke-maker that he is an insensitive prick and go on to educate them about the virtues of being progressive in modern-SA
d) By telling the whole lot of them to go and [expletive] themselves
e) By finding out which one of them owns a company looking for a BEE partner
2. If you have a Twitter account, what is its primary use to you?
Hot on the heels of his re-election ANC president, Jacob Zuma went back to his real job—providing an entertaining distraction from what many of his critics call “South Africa’s Serious Socio-Economic Inequalities.”
And this time it’s about dogs. Yes, you read that right—dogs. We’re not talking metaphoric dogs like one would imagine he’d use to refer to CIA agents, here. No, he means dogs as in ‘woof, woof’.
The South African president has been quoted as saying spending money on buying a dog, taking it to the vet and for walks belong[s] to white culture and [is] not the African way, which [is] to focus on the family.
When I first caught wind of this on Twitter, my first reaction was to agree whole-heartedly with him. (Well, as whole-heartedly as one can agree while giving zero dams about a topic)