Hindsight: South Africa, it is time to Study Apartheid

Copy of 2dThis is not an exhaustive exposition, it is a comment. There is so much that is going on in our country at the moment that gets one’s tongue wagging about the possibility of a bleak prospect as far as our future is concerned even if it is done in the safe haven of our closed doors. South Africans find themselves at a point whereby either fully acknowledge the problem that’s facing them or wait for a full scale implosion as far as race is concerned. For lack of space in the present article I do not want to focus on particulars of incidents that point to us that race continues to be a problem in our country neither do I have a fully fledged arsenal that can assist us in this regard as much as I desire to delve into an informed analysis, which might of course take time to be finished and whenever when that happens I might risk speaking above the reader. So I will shoot from the hip.

Will we ever deal racism a death blow that will flatten it to its smithereens? Anyone who is patriotic about our country must have pondered this question at a certain point. Racism is a global phenomenon, it exists the world over. The racism that exists in our country is enshrined in apartheid. Thus apartheid and racism in the context of South Africa are inseparable. One cannot speak about race without talking about apartheid or vice versa. But from a layman’s perspective there are some degrees of difference that must be acknowledged between these two terms. Race precedes apartheid, race which connotes each of the major divisions of humankind, based on particular physical characteristics, is there before apartheid chips in. Apartheid is a system of segregation based on race; that one particular race is above the other. In this light then it can be agreeable to venture that terms such as religion, economy and education located in our society are affected by apartheid when it is activated, when it is operational and its tentacles touch various aspects of our society. These terms or rather phenomena – religion, economy and education,  are universal in nature as far as humankind is concerned. They can be encountered everywhere in our globe albeit in variations. I have deliberately limited myself to these three terms simply because they offer examples wherein the interplay of apartheid is overt in what is to follow below.

It was through religion that apartheid was entrenched in the white South African’s psyche to argue, spiritually, through the proponents of apartheid that they were rightful rulers of our country. The third or fourth if not subhuman citizenship economically speaking, unto which black South Africans were relegated to at the ascendency of white South Africans toppling any economic means or opportunities that might have been available for black people to partake in the economic development of South Africa prior – pushing them outward to a role of cog, screws and consumers. Thirdly the concocted education that strove to keep the Black South Africans in their place as only a workforce surplus at incompetent salaries strove to guarantee to the center of power, the government of the time, behind the apartheid machine that black South Africans would stay at the level of sub-humanity.

In 1994 when South Africa attained what it affectionately called the Rainbow Nation, currently speaking, it seem – in retrospect – it thought it could wish away an era wherein our society was divided and match all of us to Canaan. Hypotheses: If apartheid was entrenched as a policy as of 1948 then as an Ideology apartheid was 46 years old in 1994. However should we take into account the 1913 land act as a seminal point of dispossession there is a pre-apartheid period that we need to acknowledge lasting for 35 years prior to 1948. Shall we push our envelope further by taking into account the effects of the South African war 1899 – 1902 on the development of the policy of segregation in this country? You can see how old and complex the problem is by just adding the years as you go along. But then if 1994 is anything to go by and the euphoria that it brought about why are we not reconciled? Why is there such violence on black people by whites if the New South Africa of almost 21 years is supposedly liberated from the stranglehold of hegemony and is supposedly democratic? What if not all of us have bought into the concept of equality? That perhaps we have gate crushed an arrangement, apartheid, that was working for some people and as a result we are a nuisance. Henceforth there is feeling that black people have reconciled with white people but it is not so the other way round. That white people do not want to acknowledge the effects of apartheid. Can this outright acceptance of equality in South Africa that acknowledges that black people are human beings too be achieved?

I believe it can be achieved. But it is not going to be for the faint hearted. It will take white South Africans too to make it a reality. All of them, those who’ve reconciled and those who hate black people. It will also take black people who hate white people to make it happen. This is not a dialogue. We do not need a talk shop or another Truth and Reconciliation Commission; we need a practical solution that will bear fruits. What we need is much more intense. We need to study Apartheid, we need to acknowledge it formally for what it was pre-democratic South Africa. And to what it is in post-Apartheid South Africa. Only when we have looked closely at it as a policy, better still, when we look at it as an Ideology our South African society through which the various ideological state (ISA) apparatuses such as religion, economy and education, touched on earlier, are deployed to entrench it will we appreciate just how damaging it can be/it has been to the South African national psyche. We either purge ourselves of the albatross that engulf us than go to sleep and hope the problem is not there when we wake up the next day. To get an understanding of what’s wrong with South Africa today we will have to study apartheid as an Ideology just as much as we give ourselves time to understand Marxism or devote our self to religion. Until then we face a possible covert warfare whose escalation spells one word – war.


21 January

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2015


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