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Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .

It's time for black intellectuals to raise their voices

By unknown | Feb 25, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Benzi ka-Soko

Benzi ka-Soko

The upcoming elections will soon dominate our national newspapers and TV screens and we will be bombarded with the views of countless analysts and intellectuals all professing to know what political realities lie ahead.

Some might hit the mark but others will misread the mood of the electorate.

Despite this scenario, I am of the view that we need black intellectuals in this country to play a plethora of critical roles.

However, they should not think that whatever they say is sacrosanct and beyond reproach. Any intellectual analysis should be subjected to intense interrogation.

Let me seize this opportunity to make mention of the fact that it is encouraging to see newspaper articles dealing with the fundamental issue of black intellectualism and its role in civil society.

It's my view that now that the issue has become topical - we should make it a point that it does not slide back into oblivion but rather strive to ensure that black intellectualism becomes the critical element of our daily existence.

Now that this country has become a democracy it is incumbent upon black intellectuals to take centre stage in producing ideas, policy formulation, opinion making and providing direction.

Black intellectuals should engage in these exercises without fear of anyone, including government and the all-powerful business sector.

Intellectuals should tell the truth as it is - despite the idea held by some that truth is not an absolute but relative concept.

And intellectuals should not dance to the tune of the rand, thereby misrepresenting the truth.

Intellectualism should stand for justice in the face of oppression and black intellectuals should lead this campaign for they have first-hand experience of being victims of a diabolical system of oppression and exploitation.

Black intellectuals should not be armchair critics of the current status quo in the world, but should, in the process of critical engagement, provide answers to valid questions.

In order to be able to carry these tasks out, black intellectuals should be robust in their engagement, rigorous in analysis and fearless in castigating the misdeeds of those who injure this country.

In simple terms, we need genuine intellectuals who possess visionary and strategic thinking skills.

This type of intellectual does not become intimidated by authority nor shiver and shake in the face of power and all its manifestations.

There are many issues that need the opinion and strategic direction of intellectuals and they include, among other things, the issue of black economic empowerment, the role of white business in macro-economic strategy, elitism in the political superstructure, unemployment, poverty, HIV-Aids and so forth.

Black intellectuals should engage on these issues because they more profoundly affect black communities than any other community in this country.

We need to hear black intellectuals giving direction on black empowerment in relation to the alleviation and eradication of poverty in our communities.

Crucially, black intellectuals should speak out loudly about HIV-Aids and how to subdue this monster and hopefully be removed from the face of the earth.

This assertion is informed by the fact that HIV-Aids has become a "black man's disease".

Black intellectuals should emerge from their comfort zones and engage the powers that be that black people deserve more than what they currently get.

It is a known fact that the majority of black people are economically suffering while most whites continue to enjoy the fruits of this country.

If black intellectuals can begin to talk about these issues more robustly and without becoming praise singers of certain political leaders against others, I believe that the whole country will also join in this dialogue and, as a result, more and more genuine interventions may well be forthcoming during this election period.

The trade union movement in this country has been pivotal in engaging on such issues and in the process produced revolutionary intellectuals who continue to articulate pro-poor policies aimed at redressing current economic imbalances.

Black intellectuals must now add their voices to this laudable aim.

l Benzi ka-Soko is an independent political commentator


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