By: Corneel Booysen
As I sit here in my expatriated corner of the world listening to the choir of voices rising from South Africa, it is making something stir up in me. I have slowly been getting more and more frustrated with the white South-African narratives of:
- Apartheid was only 40 years, its been 20 years since 94, what was so bad after all?
- There was much more order in the “white” areas in Apartheid so that made it better in some way.
- Not everything was bad… please I want to make this pathetic point that not everything was bad during Apartheid… please accept my point <insert whiney tone here>
- My history books say the English oppressed us during the Angloboer war so the Afrikaners were victims too <same whiney voice>
- All of the above plus: Now that it has been proven that the ANC is corrupt and inept (opinion of course) – I am going to strut around like I am the victim and blast at the top of my voice that there was somehow something good about the previous dispensation and that whites and black are now somehow equal on some delusional plane and therefore the blacks should just stop whining about the past and get to running the country better otherwise they should give it back to the whites so that it can be “shown” to them how to run a country…
To which I want to reply:
- Black oppression lasted for hundreds of years. It never got better; it just got worse or different. During this time black social structures were disintegrated and they were rendered the indentured servants that the European needed to survive in Africa.
- There might have been the notion of order in white areas but the majority of the country was living in squalor and misery perhaps not seen before, except maybe during WWII.
- While there might have been a few inventions that could be recognized on an academic level, let it never escape your mind that people who are worrying about where they are going to sleep tonight or what their children are going to eat in the next four hours – are rarely in the mood to invent a better mousetrap! In fact that is as big a condemnation on the white person that they acted just like the English and French aristocracy that invented crochet or cricket out of sheer boredom while the proletariat propped up their existence.
- The history books you were taught during your white school years was a finely woven mixture of history seen from the myopic view of white person and pure fiction in other spots. The Boer war was barely a decade out of the 300 years plus history of the country. Before you complain again of the English oppression, consider the fact that it was the English who had to come banish slavery in South Africa because even the English could not stand the conditions that the slaves were living in under Afrikaner oppression. It was the English that paid white and black mine workers equal pay before the Afrikaners complained and insisted on all the cushy jobs on the mines with blatantly higher salaries.
- My first reaction is that I am sorry too that the ANC is showing such high levels of corruption and incompetence at times while it must be pointed out immediately that I never hear any white South African person point out any good that any ANC or black member of the government or public service has ever done (hyperbolic but true). But while I am firstly sorry for the sake of the poor masses that they are still waiting for their promised upliftment – a close second reason why it infuriates me so much is that this perceived weakness gives the white South African an opportunity to strut around and with a thinly veiled racism point out how things were supposedly better under white rule. It allows white apologists like Max du Preez to uncloak and sling their toxic condemnations over all that is not European. It rounds up all that is African with sweeping statement after sweeping statement until all that has ever been achieved by Africa is rendered down to Nelson Mandela and all the symbolism that whites attach to a person that was not at all the messiah they made him out to be.
- And just for bonus, a last point to direct your attention to the fact that, in the shadows of all of this chaos, the multi-nationals are still doing what they were doing during Apartheid – extracting the country. Power has never been handed over. There might have been the fine puppet show of handing over the government to someone else in ‘94 but money has never stopped flowing into the pockets of the super rich. Income inequality is the worst on the planet. Poverty continues unabated since 1652 and has never stopped being what it is today: Exploiting the locals while getting as much of the riches from the country as possible. And on the horizon the next oppressor is waiting for its turn. Economic power will be handed over from European hands to Chinese hands without ever being returned to its rightful owners. Its time for Africa to rise and take what belongs to it and that will mean getting rid of multi-national conglomerates that is holding on to the riches of the continent.