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Malema's remarks are reckless

The writer states that Malema's remarks about Indian citizens were reckless.
The writer states that Malema's remarks about Indian citizens were reckless.
Image: Alon Skuy

Race is a contentious issue and racial tensions are bound to flare up now and again as a result of our inability to build a society where racial background is not the chief determinant of success.

This is a fault line of the post-1994 dispensation - one that requires responsible leadership to ensure that it does not result in a volcanic explosion of the nation.

For decades, even before we became a free country, there was a concerted effort to forge us into a united nation, in spite of our cultural and ethnic diversity.

The founding fathers of the post-1910 Struggle rejected the colonial project which sought to divide indigenous blacks into "tribal groups". In the 1940s, subsequent generations fought against attempts by the apartheid regime to drive a wedge between indigenous blacks and black people of Indian origin as a way of breaking the backbone of a broad alliance against oppression.

From the 1960s to the 1990s black people of Indian ancestry fought side by side with other comrades to attain freedom. Some, like Sulaymaniyah "Babla" Saloojee, Ahmed Timol and Lenny Naidu, laid down their lives.

We should never lose sight of this historical fact: the tree of freedom was nourished with the blood of fighters of all races.

This does not mean we should ignore any differences and tensions that may exist within previously oppressed groups. Nor does it mean we should deny that apartheid did give certain privileges to Indian communities that were refused to the rest.

EFF leader Julius Malema's remarks at the weekend may help his party hog headlines and gain him votes from those with anti-Indian sentiments, but they are detrimental to nation-building.

To claim that the "majority of Indians" are racist is reckless and irresponsible.

So what if there are fewer inter-marriages between "Indians and Africans"? Can he really attribute this solely to "the majority of Indians" seeing us as "sub-human"? Are there no Africans who regard marrying Indians "taboo"?

Malema should think carefully about employing the kind of rhetoric that focuses on driving a wedge among the oppressed. It is a slippery slope down the path of reactionary and narrow-nationalism and ethnic politics.

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