JONATHAN JANSEN: A good dose of humility from white people will advance the land debate

File photo of people working on a farm.
File photo of people working on a farm.
Image: Adrian de Kock

Dear white brothers and sisters... I love you but we need to talk about the land issue.

I love you but we need to talk about the land issue. In the past few weeks I have spoken at different kinds of events — book fairs‚ corporate lunches and community workshops — and noticed incredible stress‚ tension and anger on the part of white citizens. The same thing happens on my social media pages; incredible rage.

Most of all I noticed that white friends and strangers had no idea about how to talk about land reform without getting angry (which kind of short-circuits any capacity for reason) and making silly arguments. So I wanted to offer a few suggestions about how to respond to the demands for taking your land‚ as you see it.

First of all‚ you might not have noticed but South African politics has become really good at slogans like “white monopoly capital” or “decolonisation” or “radical economic transformation”.

Like all political slogans‚ there is an element of truth in these words wielded in public but mostly they are intended for purposes of political posture (“I am more radical than you” as with the EFF) or political distraction (“Please ignore state capture as I blame whites” per Jacob Zuma). Rarely do these slogans lead to meaningful change. So too with “land expropriation without compensation” (let’s shorten this to LEWC).

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