South Africa’s slow death…on our watch.

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I wasn’t there during apartheid but I feel like it was an easier fight than that faced by South Africans today. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying apartheid was “easy”, I’m just trying to highlight how today’s struggle seems easier yet it’s actually the harder because so many don’t even know there is a struggle.

 

When South Africa was under the wicked rule of apartheid, everyone knew apartheid was evil, immoral, and depraved. There was no middle ground and nothing subtle about its wickedness. It was gruesome, demeaning, and fatal for black people. As a result, every black person knew were they stood; every black person knew they had to fight the system. The frog knew it had to jump out the pan. This is not so obvious today. The frog is slowly burning to death in the pan.

 

For instance, last night protesting black students at the University of the Free State (the same university where white students made black workers drink urine) were beaten up by fellow white students (and their parents) and not one word has been uttered on the matter by the government, a black government for that matter. What’s worse is you have some black people apologising to white people for “other blacks’ behavior”. Furthermore, you have more black people who are blaming the protesting black students for not “promoting a racially inclusive South Africa”….are you fucking kidding me?

 

Black students are fighting for equality…like blacks have done since forever. Unlike white people who fight for superiority, all black people have ever wanted is equality. These students are fighting against abuse, white privilege, a curriculum and language policy that is skewed in favour of a white minority, and for that they are accused (by other black people too) of essentially promoting racism? This is exactly what I mean by “apartheid was the easier struggle”.

 

For me it’s like depression versus a broken arm. If you break your arm, everyone says you need to get to the hospital ASAP. It’s not life threatening but everyone is in agreement that it needs urgent attention by medical professionals. However, if you are depressed, people miss the urgency. You have people telling you to “cheer up”, some telling you to “just pray”, and some even telling you “it’s all in your mind”…and no, that wasn’t a pun. But we are talking about the human brain here. The command center of your whole anatomy. If it has problems, surely that calls for urgent attention right? Just because you cannot physically see that my brain is broken, doesn’t mean it’s not.

 

And this is the problem South Africa is faced with now. Unlike back when all black people could clearly see the ‘broken arm’ that was apartheid, so many cannot see the ‘depression’ that is white privilege; brutality of the police particularly towards black bodies; the need for decolonization; the historical advantages white people garnered during apartheid and continue to hold today;….the list is endless really.

 

And you know what the saddest part is? You may not be able to see it, but depression will kill you.

 

**** Just scribbling my thoughts ****

Dear White Beggar…

white beggar

I’m sure you’ve seen him before; clothes pressed, hair combed, necktie in that Windsor knot, nails manicured…oh, and a sign written in fluent Afrikaans. Yes, it’s the white beggar…or as I like to call him…a waste of white skin!

 

I drove past him again today and I always have the urge to have a chat with him. It’s like that giant red button signed DO NOT PUSH…you know that urge you have every time you walk past it? The urge to just push it? That’s it. I didn’t push it again today. Instead I thought I’d do the next best thing and write him a blog post. So here it is:

 

Dear White Beggar,

 

Let me start by getting the obvious out of the way first…you know you’re white right? Okay, just wanted to make sure.

 

Second order of business…why are you so broke?

 

Between 1881 and 1914, European powers (who incidentally were white men like you) set about invading, occupying, colonising, and annexing African land that belonged to people who looked like me…”non-whites” as you like to refer to me as. What were your forefathers doing during all this? They didn’t think to at least grab a few chunks of gold?

 

I mean I know why I’m broke. My forefathers had all their wealth molested by yours. It sucks but I guess it is what it is now. I have to start from zero but why are you in life’s overdraft?

 

Even as the decolonisation of Africa began and took its course, your forefathers kept all the wealth they had taken. They even formalised the ownership of their booty with title deeds, bank notes, etc. Meanwhile my forefathers were left with empty victories and truckloads of bibles. The land and minerals were all yours and you had “documentation” to prove it. What were your forefathers doing during all this? Unless all they wanted from Africa was some “big booty hoes”? But what use is a hoe if you have no land? 🙂

 

From 1948 to 1994, South Africa was an apartheid state. Your dad and his dad could go wherever and do whatever they wanted. They could get whatever jobs they wanted. You think Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) is bad? You’re truly deluded. Apartheid was the purest form of White Economic Empowerment (WEE). In fact, all your white lineage has done to Africa for hundreds of years can be filed categorically under WEE. So I ask you again…what were YOUR forefathers doing during all this?

 

I’ve been to school and university with some seriously dumb ass white people and they have way way better jobs than me. Even with the imaginary “BEE barrier” they have to supposedly contend with. What’s your excuse? I tell you what, I’ll give you the “wheel chair” you’re asking for and you give me your skin. I’ll be back next week with 50 wheel chairs and the keys to the De Beers safe.

 

Anyway, credit where it’s due, you do look very smart. And the way you still turn up your nose at black folk? Very impressive. I mean, the least you could do is write your begging brief in English. ‘Cause you’re dressed so smart I don’t know if you’re begging or you’re Jehovah’s Witness…though your alcohol breath kind of gives you away.

 

*just scribbling my thoughts*

Dear African leaders, leadership is an action, not a position

Like most folks in South Africa, I’ve been following the “Nkandla-gate” story with much interest. For those of you who may not know what I’m talking about, Nkandla-gate refers to the security upgrades currently being performed to President Jacob Zuma’s home in Nkandla. The cost, an estimated R203 million (almost US$25 million), has, predictably, riled South Africans who, reasonably, feel this is too lavish. From whom does President Zuma need R203 million worth of protection from? Julius Malema? Fezeka Kuzwayo? Oops, too much?

 

Anyway, the terms “tsotsi” and “corrupt” have been thrown around so, yes, people are exasperated. This isn’t the first time President Zuma, affectionately known as “Jay Zee”, has had a run in with the term “corruption” (remember Schabir Shaik and the US$5 billion arms deal?). In fact, nowadays his government appears to have virtually trademarked the term.

 

I should point out, somewhat obviously, that Africa is not the only continent with countries plagued by explicitly discernible corruption. Think North Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Venezuela (congrats on your re-election Hugo, I see you), etc. The only reason I am solely discussing African countries is because I have a vested interest in Africa, what with being African and all.

 

Only seems fair to start with South Africa’s neighbour, Swaziland, whose government does the corruption thing quite well. The Kingdom’s ruler King Mswati III has a personal fortune of over $100 million, a palace for each of his 13 wives (13? I can’t even handle one), and a fleet of luxury cars. Meanwhile 60% of the population lives below the poverty line and almost 1 in every 4 are HIV-positive.

 

In true Godfather style, Armando Guebuza, Mozambique’s president, is said to gain from the country’s growing drug trade as Mozambique is fast becoming one of Africa’s most active narcotics transit point. Meanwhile, Omar Al-Bashir‎, president of the Sudan for over 20 years is accused of siphoning some US$9 billion of Sudan’s finances into his private bank accounts in the United Kingdom. Sudan recently split into two countries (Sudan and South Sudan)…hope that doesn’t mean twice the siphoning of finances.

 

Mwai Kibaki and his Kenyan government lose almost 30% of the country’s national budget to corruption. “Kitu kidogo” they say in Kenya, which is Swahili for “something small” (as in give me something small on the side), is a motto for plenty a corrupt official. Kenya’s neighbour Somalia has a new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who only came to power in September of this year, so we’ll give him a chance. But the preceding government frequently failed to account for millions of dollars.

 

Do I have to mention Zimbabwe’s government? I love Zimbabwe but my goodness is the corruption rampant. In 2011, Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti claimed at least US$1 billion in diamond-related revenue was unaccounted for. Weirdly enough, this was better than in 2008 when they were losing about that amount daily for a time. President José Eduardo dos Santos and his Angolan government are faced with persistent corruption which results in Angola’s oil wealth not reaching the nation’s poor.

 

The list of corrupt leaders seems unending but it’s not all bad. It’s not like every single official in every single country is on the take or hiring their nieces and nephews. There are some very good African leaders fighting the good battle. President Ian Khama and his Botswana government are doing a great job keeping the country relatively free from the cancer that is corruption. Likewise, President Jorge Carlos Fonseca and his Cape Verde government are trying hard to keep the country’s service-oriented economy somewhat free from corruption.

 

Zambia’s Michael Sata, or King Cobra, as he would rather be addressed, built and won his election on the promise of ridding Zambia’s government of chronic corruption. Zambians have accused him of taking a politically-motivated and self-interested approach to his anti-corruption campaign. So basically, he’s dealing with corruption but only if it’s committed by those who oppose him. A little hypocrisy never hurt anybody right? J

 

Other governments that don’t take too kindly to corruption include those of Mauritius, Rwanda, and Namibia, amongst a few others. Well done to you all. An honourable mention must go to Malawi’s president Joyce Banda who recently cut her own salary by 30%. Additionally, she sold the country’ US$13.5 million Dassault Falcon 900EX presidential jet and a fleet of 60 Mercedes Benz government cars. Nice one Mrs President.

 

For those African leaders who are corrupt and aren’t fighting tirelessly and selflessly for the welfare and security of their people, I say to you, leadership is an action, not a position. So get with the programme.

The joke’s on black folks…it always is.

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At first glance, this picture of these two lads playing chess is hilarious. In fact, it’s hilarious at second and third glances too.

If you don’t see what’s funny about it then your life must be ignorantly bliss. But not to worry, I’ll give you a quick description:

The gentleman in the white glad rags belongs to the Ku Klux Klan (that’s their “uniform” he’s donning). The Klan, as it is affectionately known by its “constituents”, is a far right (quite far) organisation that promotes and believes in extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, white everything really. Needless to say, they “don’t take too kindly to niggers”.

And obviously, the other gentleman is a “gangster from the hood”, and evidently he “doesn’t take too kindly to crackers” either…hence the toys they’ve both placed on the table.

Now you get the joke, right? No? Ah, forget about it. 🙂

Strangely enough, what I thought when I saw the picture was they both kill black people.

Protest against white rule at your peril

Following their protest at the 1968 Olympics, Smith and Carlos were pretty much banished for the U.S. sporting system in the years that followed coming under severe criticism for their protest. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, Avery Brundage, deemed the protest to be a domestic political statement, unfit for the “apolitical”, international forum the Olympic Games were supposed to be. In an immediate response to their actions, he ordered Smith and Carlos suspended from the U.S. team and banned from the Olympic Village. When the US Olympic Committee refused, Brundage threatened to ban the entire US track team. This threat led to the two athletes being expelled from the Games.

 

A spokesman for the IOC said it was “a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the “Olympic spirit”. Brundage, who was president of the United States Olympic Committee in 1936, had made no objections against Nazi salutes during the Berlin Olympics. He was known to be one of the United States’ most prominent Nazi sympathisers even after the outbreak of the Second World War.

 

Back in the U.S., Time magazine showed the five-ring Olympic logo with the words, “Angrier, Nastier, Uglier”, instead of “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. As if that wasn’t enough, Carlos and Smith were subject to abuse and they and their families received death threats.

 

Carlos fell upon hard times towards the end of the 70’s. His ex-wife committed suicide, leading him to a period of depression.

 

Australian Peter Norman, who was sympathetic to his competitors’ protest, was reprimanded by his country’s Olympic authorities and ostracized by the Australian media He was not picked for the 1972 Summer Olympics, despite finishing 3rd in his trials and thus qualifying for the Games.

 

Smith and Carlos were pallbearers at his funeral after his death in 2006

Win and you’re American…lose and you’re a Negro.

Remember the Olympic Black Power salute? If not, here’s what basically happened. In protesting human rights abuses, of black people particularly, Black athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black gloved fists during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico.

 

The 3rd gentleman (the white athlete) on the podium was Australian Peter Norman. Like Smith and Carlos, Norman (a critic of Australia’s White Australia Policies) wore a human rights badge on his shirt to show his support for Smith and Carlos’ ideals.

 

Tommie Smith had won the 200m race in a world record time with Norman and Carlos in 2nd and 3rd respectively. When receiving their medals, Smith and Carlos were shoeless and wearing black socks to represent black poverty. Tommie Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride while Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S. He also wore a necklace of beads which he described “were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.”

 

Smith and Carlos had planned on bringing black gloves to the event, but Carlos forgot his in the Olympic Village. It was Peter Norman who suggested Carlos wear Smith’s left-handed glove. That’s why Carlos is raising his left hand, as opposed to his right, as is the traditional Black Power salute.

 

As they left the podium they were booed by the crowd. Smith later said “If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight.