By: Stanford Gibson
Photo by: Sydelle Willow Smith www.sydellewillowsmith.com
It’s funny how we coloureds find ourselves smack dab in the middle of another so called revolution. Neither here nor there…cyber arguments over which side of the fence the coloured should fall. Did I say funny, I actually meant sad.
Before I get to why it’s sad, I have to admit that I haven’t spent much time or intellectual capital on the whole statue saga. At first I simply thought of it as a storm in a teacup, an orchestrated mess meant to distract us from the real problem; a corrupt government. The different views on the matter, from the sides given TV and radio airtime, varied and many bordered on stupidity. There are those who think of the “revolutionaries” as kids acting out while others think of it as cultural genocide. Certain groups likened it to the Jewish tragedy.
Weeks later and I eventually formed an opinion. At first that opinion was that the furore over white privilege is genuine but the object or target of that anger seemed misplaced. Before I aired my views I chose to be critical of my own thinking; have I formed an opinion out of anger, out of misplaced loyalty or out of a position of servitude?
What is the issue? The issue is the current state of the economy after years of apartheid and years of democracy. The failure of all government to date has led to widespread poverty, mainly amongst those of colour. Furthermore, the issue is the pervasive, institutionalised forms of racism that plague every sphere of society and how many still turn a blind eye to it. Including those covert racists entrenched in our democracy, agents of prejudice in all echelons of government, businesses, big and small, on and off the sports field. Those chameleons who shout for peace in name of religion, in the name of Mandela, in the name of future generations are the very same people who forget about equality. It is my view that we cannot have peace without equality.
I say Rhodes should have fallen but Rhodes has long seized to be a mere statue. Rhodes is a system of governance, a way of life fuelled by greed, corruption and the façade of reconciliation. Like it or not, the seed of change has been planted and these are no longer kids acting out, rather, they are the youth standing strong. Change is inevitable. Those parties wishing to hijack the revolution will realise that the movement will grow and become too big to contain. Government is foolish to ignore the signs. “The belly is an ungrateful wretch, it never remembers past favours, it always wants more tomorrow.” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Our people are long past the hunger pangs, they starve. To the true perpetrators of cultural genocide, during the days of apartheid, to you I say the chickens have come home to roost.
Back to my first point; the debate over where the coloured should stand. It’s sad because we should side with the preservation of history. We should be on the side in which we are represented as equal owners of this land. Not some kind of by product that stood by when apartheid occurred or white lackeys in subservience to a white master. Much of this land has been built on the backbone of many coloured men and women. So many perished in the struggle for freedom, of my family was exiled because of their involvement in politics. Many of my people performed great feats in the name of humanity. Where are their statues, where is our piece of history, when will we be commemorated?
Perhaps while some tear down and others fight tooth and nail to preserve their legacy, we should erect our own symbols of heroism, of courage, of contribution. Believe it or not, WE ARE HERE TO STAY.