Blacks should rid SA of racism

Last month South Africa was shocked by the story of a farmworker couple who were allegedly forced to exhume the remains of their one-month-old baby by a Free State farmer.

Last month South Africa was shocked by the story of a farmworker couple who were allegedly forced to exhume the remains of their one-month-old baby by a Free State farmer.

The farmer, Fanie Hyman, was apparently incensed by the couple's decision to resign from his farm at Greenlands, near Koppies in Free State.

He then drove them 300km to Pretoria, where they originally came from, and "dumped them" at his scrapyard.

Together with the child's remains, the couple sat in the back of the bakkie while Hyman sat alone in the front.

The couple were arrested by police at Zandfontein when they went to report the case and were kept in custody for five days, while the remains of their child were left unburied in a field for three days.

They were charged with illegal exhumation of a corpse. The charges have since been withdrawn.

Hyman was arrested and charged with violation of a corpse. He is out on bail.

The Mnisi story coincided with another horrendous story of white students at the University of Free State who forced black workers at the institution to eat food into which they had urinated.

These incidents and many other racially motivated attacks on black people have made the country to face the reality that racism continues to exist in post-apartheid South Africa.

To use the words of the late black consciousness leader Steve Biko, "the thesis of racism continues to exist".

As an exponent of the black consciousness philosophy, Biko believed that the antithesis to racism is "strong solidarity among black people on whom white racism continues to prey" - as shown by the incidents in Free State and at Skielik in North West where a white youth shot and killed black residents.

Speaking at the recent congress of the Azanian People's Organisation, psychologist Saths Cooper said: "At no time in the history of post-apartheid South Africa is the BC philosophy been more germaine than it is today."

Cooper, who is a former Azapo president, called on all the black consciousness formations to unite and provide black people with a vehicle to rid themselves of the vestiges of racism.

He said black solidarity as espoused in the BC philosophy was an effective weapon against racism and a reliable vehicle for black self-affirmation.

Blacks, Cooper said, needed self-affirmation because though they have achieved some physical freedom, including the freedom to live where they chose, they continued to suffer from psychological oppression.

Looking at the current socio-political situation in South Africa, the issue of self-affirmation among black people is very important.

This can be seen from the fact that the Constitution of this country includes equity laws aimed at affirming those who have borne and continue to bear the brunt of apartheid colonialism.

Of importance, however, is that black people must also be allowed the opportunity for self-affirmation.

This means that they cannot only rely on the government or the state to affirm them through policies such as affirmative action, but they should engage in initiatives that allow them to problematise, assess, analyse and come up with solutions for their situation as a group.

Cooper also said black people should not allow themselves to be cowed by constitutional interpretations that emasculate them as a group - in the name of nonracialism.

In this regard, it is important that black people stand their ground against attacks by pseudo nonracialists - who accuse them of racism while, in fact, perpetuating their privileges as beneficiaries of apartheid.

Cooper went on to argue that blacks should also guard against those who want to reduce black solidarity to a negation of nonracialism.

In fact, as Biko has pointed out, black solidarity is an antithesis of racism - with nonracialism and egalitarianism as the synthesis.

This means that black consciousness adherents as exponents of black solidarity do believe in nonracialism but not as an antithesis to racism but as an objective.