By Gillian Schutte
EFF leader, Julius Malema, has this past week, faced off Afriforum’s Advocate, Mark Oppenheimer, in what has to be the most ludicrous court case of the post 94 South Africa. Essentially, the singing of the apartheid freedom song, Kill the Boer, a chant that is deeply symbolic of Black resistance to White oppression, is on trial in the equality court of South Africa in the continuation of the Afriforum vs Malema hate speech case that has been ongoing since 2010. Oppenhiemer has come off as a pompous bumbling fool with his woefully inadequate understanding of the historical crime against humanity that was colonialism and apartheid. He cuts an unimpressive legal figure as he shoots limp and misplaced anachronisms at Malema’s quick witted responses. The court proceedings have unfolded like absurdist theatre, where white hegemony pits itself against Black resistance and exposes the sham of a so-called post-liberation democracy that boasts ‘the most progressive constitution in the world.’
The fact that this charade is playing itself out 28 years after independence, tells us all we need to know about a constitution that has completely overlooked the psychosystemic impact of enduring colonialism on the collective psyche of the people native to this land. It speaks to the dismal failure of the Eurocentric human rights framework to take into consideration the gruesome experience of colonialism and its impact on the very fabric of the lives of the African majority through the brutal white oppression of their minds, souls and bodies in a pitiless 370 year history of subjugation. Further, it sheds light on the fact that African trauma, which Malema gives voice to, is not given so much as a nod in this rights-based democracy. Rather the matter of reconciliation and forgiveness underpins the constitutional claim to progressiveness, effectively excluding the oppressed majority from the human rights trope.
Oppenhiemer’s cringeworthy condescending conjecture drips with White masculine paternalism. His bumptious utterances only serve to highlight his utter ignorance of the ongoing evisceration of the lives and livelihood of indigenous South Africans throughout the colonial history of this land. His pretention to justice is devoid of the understanding of the ontology of the Black colonised subject precisely because he understands the law as only applicable to humans and it is clear that Malema is hardly human in his white delusion. His non-human status means he is automatically unlawful. To be fair, this is not particular to Oppenheimer. It is a belief embedded in the collective Settler psyche and what it means to be White and superior – a conviction that is premised on the colonial construct of the inferior and monstrous African.
In the exchanges between himself and Malema, it is clear that this bestial nature of the colonised Black subject is forefront in his mind – right down to the rules of engagement. Malema answers questions in a vastly intelligible manner and Oppenheimer consistently repackages his answers into befuddled and reductionist bloodstained scenarios, insisting that Malema is encouraging the killing of all white people. He seems incapable of perceiving Malema as anything other than the bogeyman of his settler nightmares.
He is not alone in this. Most whites perceive Malema as a threat to their safety and security and many refer to him as a murderous dictator of the African kind. The ‘Thuma Mina media cabal’ has also successfully engineered this monstrous archetype of Malema over the years.
This lack of recognition of the humanity of those in African skin, especially of those who resist and shout down the whiteness trope, is embedded in white consciousness. It is expedience that works to maintain white privilege on a number of levels. Not only does it give them reason to remain in self-serving victimhood, it also allows them, individually or obliquely, to enact horrific psychological and/or physical violence onto black body. Thus, over and above the epistemological violence from the entrenched white system, you will often find whites, and especially white farmers, enacting physical violence onto Black body in a show of ‘protecting their people’. Africans are thus held ransom through fear of physical violence and murder and remain shackled psychologically by what many refer to as the terrorism of the Whiteness discourse in the constant attack on their psyches via an ongoing anti-black social discourse. Malema has broken free from these shackles. He will not kowtow to white superiorist logic and it drives them mad.
In the end this case has done much to expose the pigheaded nature of white setter arrogance in a so-called post liberated South Africa in which Whites have ‘been allowed’ to remain comfortable in the master slave narrative precisely because there has been no pressure on the white collective to move out of their colonial apartheid consciousness. The power/race dialectic has thus never budged even decades after independence was declared and the white population continues to view the black population in terms of the master slave framework.
It is a shameful indictment on the justice system that this case has not been thrown out of its courts. Given the bloody history of this country the case ought to be redundant and the equality court’s previous ruling against the singing of Kill the Boer ought to be overturned. It signals nothing more than their enablement of a collective of entitled White patriarchs looking after their ill-gotten privilege and flexing their baas mentality. It exposes the regressive thinking of Afriforum, and whites in general, in their ongoing mission to strip Africans of everything that is theirs.
Clearly it is the power of the symbolism of the song that they seek to eviscerate while using the preposterous argument that the words cause farm murders. This is simply a ploy to smokescreen their fear of Black autonomy. Somewhere in their backward thinking they know that the allegory contained within the song is one of resistance to whiteness itself, on all its levels of attack against African body soul and mind. They are hyperaware in their regressive white thinking, that the song speaks to the psychosocial excision of the white imperialistic logic that has laid waste to everything African and stripped Africans of their right to exist as human. And mostly it signals the possibility of an autonomous African economy.
Beneath their layers of avarice and paranoia they must surely be aware that if anything is causing farm murders it is the perpetual enforced poverty on the African majority through the failure of whites to come to the table and pay back historical usurpation through a wealth tax. It is the failure of the state and the judiciary to live up to its constitutional promise of equality for all, and more importantly, its failure to return the land to its rightful owners and inaugurate reparations for victims of colonialism and apartheid.
What scares the white man most about Malema is what he represents to them and that is the defiant, fearless and autonomous African – the African that is capable of taking back the land and reconstituting African life without the permission of the white baas.