Blacks have long learnt to hate that which looks like them

31 January 2015 - 05:02
By Rams Mabote

MANY, many years ago, before the proliferation and mass migration of African refugees into our shores, new shopping malls started germinating everywhere.

The result was inevitable. Because of the economies of scale and variety, the malls started outpacing and outsmarting the small township corner cafe.

In no time, the corner cafe began bleeding, slowly haemorrhaging, and has pretty much died, if not living on permanent life support.

Curiously, in spite of massive unemployment and desperation then (as is now), there was no violent reaction to the malls. No one mobilised against Shoprite or Pick n Pay to be looted or burnt.

But these shops were killing small retailers. Township folk had access to fresher but cheaper food just a little walk from their homes and clearly they didn't need the corner cafe anymore.

In my view, the madness we are witnessing in Soweto is not economic. It is political.

It is the manifestation of centuries of colonisation and dehumanisation of African people, the sole purpose of which was to sow self-hate (of course while plundering, raping the land and exploiting people).

Subsequent to the invasion of the townships by white-owned shopping malls came the China malls - built, owned and populated only by retailers of Chinese origin. These malls, although not in the townships, were built strategically within reach of the township folk.

The effect of the China malls on small retailers is yet to be calculated. And yet, rightfully, no one went to raid and attack these malls for economic reasons.

As if that was not enough - although this is unrelated - the Chinese community fought to be recognised as "black" to enjoy the benefits of redress that come with policies like black economic empowerment and employment equity.

The question is, why didn't we mobilise to have these malls razed to the ground, as we are doing to the spaza shops owned by foreign nationals? Granted the malls provide (more) jobs for locals, but in killing the corner cafe, it was almost like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

What we are witnessing now in Soweto is the result of this self-hate. When Pick n Pay "kills" businesses belonging to Baba Mnguni or Ntate Pilane or MaMatamela, we don't care and we are even quick to embrace it.

But when a fellow African, who not only lives among us but also finds the cheapest goods for us to undercut Shoprite, we respond with hate and blame the African for our woes, real and perceived.

In the process we come up with all sorts of contrived excuses like "they don't pay tax, they sell drugs (no proof ever produced) or they take our women" - as if our women have no choice in the matter.

What we are seeing in Soweto and - as we can see it is now spiralling into other parts of the country - is self-hate in action.

This is proved more when even our law enforcement officers not only look the other way, but have been caught abetting the attacks, because it is easy and we have long been indoctrinated that blacks must hate that which looks like them.

We treat black street beggars with more disdain than their white counterparts. We hate Zimbabwean waiters more than we despise Eastern European shop managers.

We get agitated when traffic is diverted in Orlando during the Soweto derby but we understand when Corlett Drive is at a standstill when the Proteas play at the Wanderers Stadium. We litter more in the townships.

We dress up when we go to Sandton. And we correct or laugh at blacks who can't pronounce English words but deify an ultra-racist in Ventersdorp because he can speak three words of Setswana, mostly swear words used to denigrate his workers (read slaves).

Verwoerd is not dead. Long live Verwoerd.

Mabote is a public relations coach and founder of Kingmaker Consulting