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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
Van Rooyen suddenly withdraws his interdict

In another twist involving the public protector’s office‚ the Minister of Co-operative Governance an.


By unknown | Apr 18, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Chew on this: Meneer Piet Skoot, a racist white farmer, is filled with revulsion on learning that his precious daughter is sleeping with his black labourer's son. He picks up his rifle and shoots the boy dead.

Chew on this: Meneer Piet Skoot, a racist white farmer, is filled with revulsion on learning that his precious daughter is sleeping with his black labourer's son. He picks up his rifle and shoots the boy dead.

Elsewhere, Mr Thabo Sethunya, a former liberation army hero, shoots dead his daughter's white boyfriend because he is repulsed by the thought of the apple of his eye "sleeping with the enemy".

Now, which of the two dads is a racist murderer and which one is not? There is a school of thought that says being black, Sethunya cannot be racist because, unlike the farmer, he was not motivated by a desire to oppress white people.

A similarly narrow definition of racism is being used to justify racial exclusivity by the Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ). Granted, the FBJ is motivated by the commendable goal of developing the skills of black journalists and removing all obstacles in the way of their development. This, of course, hardly equates to subjugating whites.

Nevertheless, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has found the FBJ guilty of unfair discrimination for slamming the door on whites who share its stated goals of improving the lot of black journalists and fighting racism in newsrooms.

Predictably, the decision has met with a lot of anger from black organisations and commentators.

"We have effectively been found guilty of being black and having the uppity presumption of wanting to address the injustices of the past that continue to thrive to this day," says FBJ acting chairman Abbey Makoe.

Respected political analyst Sipho Seepe decries the ruling for "legislating against human behaviour because it wanted to force the Constitution down black people's throats".

I respectfully beg to differ and find it puzzling that Steve Biko and Black Consciousness are being invoked to justify racially exclusive black organisations in post-apartheid South Africa.

True, Biko did say: "The basic problem in South Africa has been analysed by liberal whites as being apartheid. They argue that in order to oppose it we have to form nonracial groups. Between these two extremes, they claim, lies the land of milk and honey for which we are working."

But, he did also say: "The black man has got no ill intentions for the white man. The black man is only incensed at the white man to the extent that he wants to entrench himself in a position of power to exploit the black man. But beyond that, nothing more."

He went on to say: "At best blacks see whiteness as a concept that warrants being despised, hated, destroyed and replaced by an aspiration with more human content in it."

Although Biko rejected integration as an antithesis to racism then, he did not want a future where blacks and whites would remain in a permanent state of hostility.

His was a quest for a true humanity. He yearned for a society in which all people would live together as equal human beings, free from prejudice.

BC is a profoundly liberating philosophy. It played a pivotal role in our liberation. Not least by attacking the philosophical foundation for black oppression, which would have us believe that we were inferior sub-human beings whose purpose in life was to be the beasts of burden for the white man.

By teaching us that we were full human beings, that we did not live by the grace of the so-called white master race, BC imbued us with the necessary mental attitude to love ourselves. Its pro-black messages taught us to affirm our humanity without negating that of others.

BC adherents must wake up and smell the coffee.

The outcome of the liberation struggle is not quite what they envisaged. The new South Africa is not the socialist Azania of their dreams. It is imperative that we understand the reality of the situation and implications of the changed political dispensation.

True, political freedom has yet to lead to Nirvana for the vast majority of our people.

And, yes, it is foolhardy to argue that black society has reached Uhuru and it is thus not necessary for blacks to organise themselves to advance their interests. But, we cannot run away from the fact that blacks are free. That we run the country.

Yes, whites still own the economy, hence the cynical view that they are still in power and blacks are only in office. But, like Biko implored us, we should remain engaged in a continuous struggle for truth.

In doing so, we should be driven by a desire to improve the lot of our people and the downtrodden in our midst and the world, irrespective of colour or creed. It is precisely why many leading members of Azapo, including its president Mosibudi Mangena, are serving in President Thabo Mbeki's government, even if they differ strongly with the ANC.

By the way, Azapo, the torch-bearer of the BC philosophy, does not preclude whites from membership - as long as they subscribes to BC and socialism.

This is exactly what the HRC implores the FBJ to do.

The ruling reminds all of us that our racially exclusive past was an anomaly. It seeks to help us rid our society of all vestiges of our racist past and to help lay the foundation for a new South Africa in which nobody will be judged by the amount of melanin in their skin, the texture of their hair or the colour of their eyes. Our struggle was against all forms of oppression based on prejudice.

In the new South Africa based on respect for human dignity, it is imperative that we pause and consider carefully whether our desire to advance our special interests does not result in unfair discrimination against others.


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