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Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Problem With Respectability (Race) Politics

Written by Doreen Gaura for her column on iamtehn.com

About four years ago I made the life changing decision to go BACK to natural (no such thing as “going natural” in my opinion); about half a year later I was back on the job market after completing my internship at a renowned regional (SADC) gender organisation in Johannesburg. With a full head of uncombed, Afro textured hair, and at the risk of sounding as though I am tooting my own horn, I was totally rocking it, I sent out dozens of CVs and decided to volunteer at another NGO in a bid to keep my foot in the door.

Somewhere in the middle of my professional purgatory, some relos from back home visited with us and like any concerned Zimbabwean adult, they wanted to know what my plan for the future was i.e. was I actually actively looking for a job or was I sitting on my lazy, ruffian tattooed and pierced ass, just sponging off people as is the usual assumption made about people who look like me. I told them that I actually had an interview lined up for a managerial position with an organisation in Cape Town (the very same one I find myself currently employed at) to which they responded with a barely concealed sigh of relief that was quickly replaced with a look of what I can only imagine horror fornicating with disgust would look like were they flesh and blood; something freakishly ugly. “You are planning on doing something about your hair aren’t you? You can’t go for an interview looking like that!” the one relo exclaimed. To be fair, hers was constructive criticism because she didn’t just stop at the criticism but went as far as to offer up a range of “solutions” to my perceived dilemma which ranged from me getting a weave to me relaxing my hair, however, not one “solution” involved me keeping my hair natural. Apparently that isn’t an option on the road toward “respectability”. Who knew?

This actually isn’t an isolated incident but is in fact the story of my adult life in my Zimbabwesphere as it is the story of many-a-person of colour around the world since time immemorial and as Jay Smooth articulately pointed out, the story of the very many Treyvon Martins’ and the abuse they have suffered and/or their subsequent deaths. In spite of the political and the perceived socio economic emancipation of the brown (black) person, the quest to “deniggerfy”/ “dekaffirise” the Afrikan seems to be very much alive and kicking and it appears that it is the very same brown person who claims to be emancipated that is leading the battalion into war against the “unrespectable black”, be they sitting at a CNN news desk in the U.S. or in an office at Karigamombe Centre, Harare.

I have found that we are the biggest critics of “blackness” and are quite content with being dictated to by others what determines our right to respect. “You have tattoos? Well then, you deserve to be discriminated against and be passed over for that job you applied for that you were the most qualified for out of all the other candidates who applied isn’t it?” “You have dreadlocks? Well then, it makes total sense that you were profiled at Maputo International airport and suspected of drug trafficking because in all fairness, you do look like a thug.”

This is not just the plight of the average Shupi/Jane or Joe/ Kwame on the streets of Harare or Joburg or Accra or Miami or Kent but it also goes to the highest office of the land in a lot of places, especially Southern Afrika. I have heard South Africans express their dismay at how Msholozi a.k.a. Jacob Zuma sometimes likes to tog the traditional Zulu attire, ibhetshu, because they think it’s embarrassing or unprofessional but the very same people are totally OK with the leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, traipsing across the globe being profound and enlightened and shit, all the while donning an orange curtain like thingy and I must admit, some very groovey beads.

People say presentation is everything and in a lot of ways they are right but they negate the fact that presentation cannot be viewed in an overly simplified and singular manner. A good presentation is not necessarily reliant on what you are wearing or what your hair looks like but on how you carry that look that serves to express a part of your personal identity. I have eight tattoos, a nose ring, finger combed “nappy” hair, I do not own a suit (I hate them; they’re stuffy) and my idea of dressing formal is donning one of my many kente, capulana or chitenge print outfits and believe me when I tell you that none of these aspects of my “presentation” prevent me from writing articles and papers that have been published around the world, or from addressing parliamentarians and politicians in South Africa and Italy on children’s rights,or from drafting national guidelines on combating child exploitation with SA government and ILO (Internationl Labour Organisation) officials, or being invited, on two occasions, by the Department of Labour to be the keynote speaker at their national events on the National Day Against Child Labour. Not only do I do these things which are part of my job in spite of my allegedly unrespectable look but I do them well.

When Don Lemon of CNN suggested that if brown people presented themselves more respectably by, say, young brown men pulling up their pants, tragedies like that of Treyvon Martin would be easily avoided I saw red. Now don’t get me wrong, I personally detest the whole sagging jeans thing, but I would never discriminate against someone or justify an injustice committed against someone because they had their trousers hanging halfway down to their ankles. To me it’s no different from the “she deserved to get raped because she was wearing a mini skirt” codswallop that misogynists often spew. This line of thinking only serves to justify systemic racism and the continued oppression of brown people and blames the victim instead of the perpetrator.

And it doesn’t end at appearance mind you, but it even goes as far as accents and our command of the English language or the professions we choose. Venturing into the arts is still not considered a respectable career choice in a lot of places, especially Zimbabwe where artists not only struggle to eke out a living through their art but also to gain respect from society for their chosen profession. The same goes for the way we speak. People are more ready to accept and respect someone who speaks private school English than someone who speaks English with a heavy Shona or Ndebele accent. We use one’s fluency in the English language as a bench mark for their intelligence regardless of the fact that the former does not necessarily guarantee the latter. Trust me, I have met some fluent English speakers in my time who are as thick as door nails and not quite as useful. If anything, this bar that has been set as a result of colonialism only serves to discredit people’s opinions and positions and render them inadmissible or void and this is mainly because a lot of Afrikan peoples who are otherwise well informed on a particular subject find it difficult to articulate themselves effectively or coherently in the English language.

The idea that brown (black) people need to look or act a certain way to deserve respect or be safe from racism or discrimination is ludicrous and reinforces the colonial belief that Afrikans are primitive or subhuman. It serves to justify the historical (and in a lot of ways still existent)oppression of the brown person. The real tragedy is that this system and the issue of respectability (race) politics are so entrenched in our societies that we as brown people have internalised them and are now their propagators and are zealously feeding into it (racism)ourselves. What we do not realise is that this detracts from the real issues and prevents us from reclaiming our common identity, redefining it on our own terms(whatever the result maybe: sagging jeans and dreadlocks or not) and subsequently demanding its (said identity) global recognition as equally respectable and demanding an end to the vindication of racially charged discrimination and violation.

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Why “The Great African Character Design” is NOT a Disaster but the Makings of a Revolution

Written by Doreen Gaura for Africa on the Blog

 

Princess Zahara. Image: John and Charles Agbaje

Princess Zahara. Image: John and Charles Agbaje

 

I realise that this response to Eugene Ramirez Mapondera’s  rather Afrophobic litany on all the things “wrong” with Afrikan comic book character design is delayed but I write it nevertheless because I believe the points I am going to highlight here to counter his assertions are quite crucial to any conversation on Afrikan art and its future as an influential player in the global arts and culture arena and as a trendsetter in global pop culture.

I must begin by saying that I do not disagree with everything that Mapondera postulated in his article because he is right, the field of comic books and their characters is essentially a popular culture thing and it needs to be relevant, particularly to the audience of this medium.

It needs to be progressive and/or modern so yes, urban cities, modern techno gadgets and gizmos and culturally diverse and integrated i.e. globalized communities in the story’s backdrop are all important aspects that a designer would do well to include in his/her creation and this includes in the character development and design process.

With that said, everything else about that article was nothing short of offensive and reeked of internalised racism and an unhealthy dose of an inferiority complex. The language Mapondera uses in his article (in relation to Afrikan character design and cultural influence) to make his point about the need for innovation in comic character design is so self deprecating I cannot help but visualize a freakishly weird creature that is a fusion of the character of Uncle Ruckus from the popular animated TV series The Boondocks, King Leopold II of Belgium and Cecil John Rhodes spewing all of that tripe. His ill informed but well-worth-the-consideration point is almost completely drowned out by the hot mess that is his tirade against the things that both inform a general/common Afrikan identity as well as inspire a sense of pride in these identifiers that are ultimately proudly Afrikan.

He ignores that all other cultures still hold onto certain elements they deem essential to their identity going forward and in the west they dub these the “classics” or declare their proprietors and ambassadors “cultured” and yet when we do this, hold on to aspects of our past that we would like to carry forward with us, it is, in Mapondera’s opinion, us being “unsophisticated” or “tasteless” or “backward” or “derogative”.

What is derogative is how he looks upon things such as spears, beads and animal skins in this way because although we now tog “skinnys” and hoodies, we also still wear beads and dashikis and kente, capulana, chitenje or mudcloth (all commonly known as “Afro print”) outfits, not to mention that spears and animal skins and drums are still very present in a lot of modern and if anything affluent spaces from our homes to hotels and offices all as part of what is considered “sophisticated” décor.

Mapondera appears to be so blinded by his apparent inferiority complex that he seems to confuse himself a little in his article when he uses conflicting strands of reasoning to praise western and eastern creations on the one hand and to tear down Afrikan creations on the other.

His adulations for fictional and very fantastical western characters like Superman, the X-Men and vampires do not call to question the unrealistic characteristics and qualities of these characters, neither does he interrogate the impracticality of Clark Kent’s “disguise”, the unrealistic indestructibility of Cyclopes’ eyelids by his own death ray or the ever changing vulnerabilities of the blood sucking (and nowadays “vegetarian”) undead for instance but he will challenge the practicality of the Afrikan comic character’s costume which involves being topless/bare breasted and argue “protection against the elements.”

He also uses Marvel’s famous comic book (now turned movie) The Avengers as an example of “sophisticated” characters in comparison to their “woefully” primitive Afrikan characters and yet he appears to ignore the fact that Thor, the Norse God of Thunder (inspired by Germanic mythology) is a part of the Avengers team, complete with his very archaic and somewhat impractical gear and arsenal which is solely made up of a non-battery powered hammer affectionately known as Mjolnir. Wait, there’s more, in addition to the Germanic man-god, the avengers team also boasts the skills of Captain America in his American flag inspired spandex, I repeat spandex, costume – he must share a tailor with Superman as he too has a costume that is inspired by the star spangled banner – but this, this, Mapondera does not have a problem with.

He does not consider these ever consistent trends a sign of tedious or clichéd unsophistication but he will bemoan the red, yellow and green colour scheme of Afrikan characters.

In his citation of the definition of sophisticated he conveniently omitted to include disambiguations of the term as sophisticated can also mean “to alter or pervert” and the antonym for this, which I suppose by implication would apply to the current nature of Afrikan design would be “unadulterated; pure; genuine” which in a way is a compliment despite the fact that he meant it as an insult.

I was particularly intrigued by Mapondera’s and the site administrator, Sigma Scribe’s responses to comments that called into question the author’s barrage against particular aspects of Afrikan character designs.

Sigma Scribe dismissively responds to a comment made by Shaudzirai Lowe Mudekunye Mawunganidze that calls into question Mapondera’s choice of words to describe what is inherently a lot of Afrikan peoples’ heritage using what appears to be sarcasm when s/he comments to the academic nature of the comment as though to imply that there is no room for that kind of analysis or rhetoric on that platform.

This dismissal of the intellectualization of the article in the debate exhibits a refusal to welcome practical criticism or to be encouraged to self evaluate and interrogate the flaws of the author’s argument for the sake of progress and the actualisation of the sophistication he and his supporters so audaciously claim to advocate.

In addition, the comment made by the scribe about him being “unapologetic” and “revisionist” almost as if to imply that he is a revolutionary of some sort is also a bit worrying because, again, it completely refuses to review opposing postulations that may or may not be valid from the get go.

It also negates the fact that if indeed Mapondera is viewed as some sort of post modern revolutionary of his “sophisticated” Afrikan ilk, there is a difference between being a revolutionary and just being stubborn and arrogant. Besides, it is not all self professed revolutionaries who make good/ideal revolutionaries.

After all men like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Kony are considered revolutionaries in certain circles and I find Mapondera’s choice of words a little too close for comfort to the colonialist and Eurocentrist view of the Afrikan to be deemed a positive inspiration.

What I believe Mapondera misses completely in his article is an opportunity as an informed, experienced and articulate artist and instructor to advocate for an amalgamation of modern and urban Afrikan spaces with their respective heritages.

To challenge us, and more particularly his students, to set our own and possibly the rest of the world’s, standards on progress, advancement and development and inspire a resurgence of an Afrikan renaissance of sorts in this area of pop culture.

Instead he chooses to use this opportunity to pit modernization against cultural heritage and identity and in his article and subsequent responses to comments, he ignores the fact that Afrika does not need to turn itself into a quasi America or Japan in order to be a powerhouse in the global comic arts scene.

What he does manage to do is callously betray his own privilege and completely disappears the realities of the majority of the peoples of the continent, including those of the very same Zimbabwe he both hails from and presently resides in.

He completely overlooks the fact that Sub Saharan Afrika survives at approximately 60% (urban) and 14.2% (rural) access to electricity, or that access to computers and the internet and microwave dinners and Justin Beiber/ Miley Cyrus etc are still more of luxuries enjoyed (or suffered, depending on which side of the fence you stand) predominantly by the privileged or that majority of the people identify more with heroes like King Shaka, Mbuya Nehanda and Queen Yaa Asantewaa or Shango; Orisha of Fire and Thunder than they do Thor and Aqua Man.

In a bid to abate his fears that this will only serve to restrict Afrikan comic books to the continent and context specific locale I will point out that the Green Lantern was inspired by Irish folklore and heritage so if the Irish can successfully export their own culture via the Green Lantern why cant we do the same with our own heroes?

C. Matthew Hawkins so aptly put it when he said:

“Comic book heroes personify societal mythology, and mythology tells people who they are and what they can be. A society that only imports its superheroes, but never produces heroes of its own, is a society that will always look to others to solve its social and environmental problems.” 

We have been taught for centuries that we will never be better than the lesser and that Afrikans have always been primitive and backward and that it is only the global west or the global east that can set the tone for what is and what isn’t progress and sophistication. Mapondera’s article is a manifestation of the inroads that this dogmatic indoctrination and miseducation on the history of the world and its peoples have made in the minds of the oppressed.

Digital artists and creatives like Ghanian computer game designer Eyram Tawia and Zimbabwean designer, founder and director of Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts and author of Afrikan Alphabets Saki Mafundikwa (who applies the philosophy of Sankofa in his work) are in my opinion much healthier for the young minds of digital arts students because at least they, although keeping up with the times, still exhibit and encourage pride in our Afrikan (creative) heritages and the need to keep them alive in both our work and in our journey towards becoming leaders in the global digital arts world.

In my opinion, and if history is anything to go by, assimilators are neither inspirational nor influential. However, those that set themselves apart are. Afrikans need to thrive to be Afrikans, yes perhaps global Afrikans/ Afropolitans, but Afrikans all the same, not Americans or Japanese or Britons. We need to give our children s/heroes they can identify with and who look like them and sound like them. We need to create these s/heroes from the rich and full repository of our history, folklore and mythology not that of others and we also need to be selective of the kinds of international icons we draw our inspiration from.

Not all things trending are worth duplication. We need to give our kids roots with which to hold their identity firm in the ground in order to sufficiently nourish the magnificent plants they will grow and blossom into based on and informed by their identity and origins and yes inspired by the world around them presently. We need to use pop culture to change the negative narrative that Mapondera so obviously buys into and retell our own stories to share and inspire the rest of the world. There is a reawakening/ revolution a-brewing in these here parts of the world and it should be digitized.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Afritude, Art, Culture, Literature

 

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Ties that Bind: Could Tradition and Culture Bridge the Gap Between the Personal and Political?

Written by Doreen Gaura for Bokamoso Leadership Forum

Doreen-300x180

In spite of the progress that has been made thus far regarding public policy and legislation to ensure gender equality and bodily integrity in a lot of Southern [1] Afrikan countries there continues to be a barricade impeding the smooth flow of these policies from the public/ political space into people’s personal spaces and more specifically the home. It has become abundantly clear that it is not enough to just have laws written down on a piece of paper  that the majority of people do not know exists or do not understand or cannot identify with.

I recently attended a symposium organised by the Women’s Legal Centre, Heinrich Boll Stiftung and Bowman Gilfillan in Cape Town, South Africa, on customary law and women’s rights. The recurring theme of the conference was the need to find an effective way of marrying customary law/ traditional justice systems with state constitutions which are essentially designed to ensure equality and entrench the inalienable rights of all people. Yet, of course we know that in most cases as in some countries “all” does not include their queer citizens, within that state. The attempt to reconcile customary law with common law especially as it regards gender equality is nothing new as this has been the aim, at least in theory anyway, for decades and a question remains: is it working?

The answer is both yes and no. Yes, in the sense that a lot of countries in the region have either signed or signed and ratified various international and regional instruments that speak to the advancement of gender equality such as the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons especially Women and Children and most — have gone as far as legislating the provisions in most of these conventions. However, it is a ‘no’ in the sense that implementation in most countries has left a lot to be desired as well as the fact that there hasn’t been substantial buy-in or internalisation of these principles and laws as they are presented and understood from the majority of the public.

Various factors play into the perceived resistance of these ideals along with obstructions to effective implementation but here I will focus one of the perceived main obstacles to entrenching human rights on the continent: cultural and traditional practices. I am of the view that the differences between common/constitutional law and customary law are that to most people, the former exists only in the confines of the public and political domain while the latter exists both in the public and the personal spaces so in other words, it is a matter of accessibility and ownership.When I speak of accessibility, I am referring to the accessibility of the language of these modern and progressive laws as well as accessibility to and of the structures, the advocates, officials and enforcers of these laws. Regarding ownership, as far as most people who these laws are supposed to serve and guide are concerned, these laws belong to the white people, the economic elite and politicians whereas customary laws and culture belong to “us” – the rest.

Having worked in the gender sector in South Africa for a few years, I have noticed that this disconnection between common law which represents the public space and customary law which essentially represents the personal spaces is not limited to the rural and/ or uneducated public. They also affect the role players and service providers, including some activists and legal professionals, as they too have personal realities influenced by the very same personal politics as their beneficiaries such as culture. Sylvia Chirawu, National Coordinator of Women and Law Southern Africa (WLSA) in her paper All that Glitters is Not Gold: Challenges Faced by Women in Implementation of Laws that Outlaw Harmful Cultural Practices in Zimbabwe highlights:

Anecdotal evidence shows that very few African women would marry under general law without lobola having been paid

Due to colonialism and its influence on indigenous traditional legal structures and the need by the colonised to assimilate, we see people living dual realities with many of us balancing our traditional customary identities with our modern, colonial and post-colonial and global identities. As a result we are CEDAW wielding, Simone de Beauvoir quoting warriors by day (in the public and political space) and culture preservationists by night (in the personal spaces) and we seem to be struggling as activists, professionals, service providers and experts ourselves to make the two aspects of our politics and our realities meet.In my opinion it has a lot to do with two facts and these are our need to preserve our autonomous cultural identities as empowered Afrikans as well as thewrong notion that our customs and their laws are inherently opposed to the realisation of human rights.

Our customs and laws are not inherently opposed to human sights

There is no such thing as a homogenous Afrikan culture/tradition but there are similarities and recurring themes across most, if not all, indigenous cultures and traditions and these include the preservation of the community and the protection of its individuals. Bearing that in mind, a many customary laws — even the ones that are being harmfully practiced today — were essentially designed to ensure this and not the opposite. The subsequent perversion of our cultures and laws can be attributed to the contamination by and influence of the cultures of the colonisers. Thus, a lot of things that we claim to be part of our culture or our tradition may not actually be ours to begin with and our communities were more inclusive and tolerant than we are led to believe.

We must remember that indigenous customs were not always essentially patriarchal or homophobic, for instance, and despite popular belief gender identity and gender relations in Afrika prior to colonisation were more egalitarian than has been alleged and certainly more egalitarian than European cultures were. If anything, it can be argued that colonialism introduced and facilitated the marginalisation of women and LGBTI people in our societies.Customary law is by its very nature an evolving system.  Instead of calling for the banishment of customary laws and cultural practices in a bid to ensure human rights and equality, we should facilitate this societal evolution ourselves.  Without interference from outsiders, we can create something context specific and workable that we can all call our own. This can start with understanding the authenticity and origins of a particular customary law or what necessitated it and what issues it intended to address and ultimately the relevance of the said law in the present society and/or whether modification or erasure is necessary and how this can be done. Justice Westhuizen, in the case of Shilubana and others vs. Nwamita and others, aptly pointed out:

The involvement was stagnant during the colonial and apartheid era but it should not continue and the free development by communities of their own laws to meet the needs of a rapidly changing society must be respected and facilitated.

Ultimately, I am of the opinion that there needs to be a realisation that regardless of one’s level of education, exposure or class there appears to be more of a connection, be it at internal or environmental and conscious or subconscious levels, between their personal and their cultural/ ethnic identity than there is between their political and the personal. I would like to posit that a connection between the political and the (evolved and evaluated) cultural be established and perhaps by doing so we may see the required and necessary integration of our political rights and bodily integrity into our homes and making those spaces safe for women and girls.

[1] In this post (and on this blog) Afrika is spelt with a ‘k’ in line with the author’s Afrikan activist affiliations. Most Afrocentrists use the letter ‘k’ instead of ‘c’ as way of acknowledging that ‘Africa’ is not the true name of the continent. When one speaks of Afrika, they’re bringing an Afrikan-centered view to the meaning.

 

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Black or White; Apparently it Matters

RO5

 

by Shaudzirai Lowe Mawunganidze

Born of a white mother and black father, I am glad to say I was only awoken to the idea that black and white were different when I was twelve. It was a stupid and childish question that shook me to the core, waking me to the realization that indeed minds could be this fickle, that unfortunately changed me forever.

The definition of racist in the New Oxford American Dictionary is a “belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief : a program to combat racism”.

(Noun) 

Not a week goes by without reading or hearing something racist, thus I have decided to air my own two cents about how I feel about it all, especially after the Red October marches that took place in South Africa.

Racism seems to be an ever- present state of mind for many of my African kin. A symptom of our colonized backgrounds that we still carry on our backs; whether we carry pass books to move through space or simply live in it. Race pulsates through every vein in our bodies until it culminates in melanin of all varieties. It’s quite poetic, until we start to think about how fair skinned humans are more entitled to one thing and darker skinned humans entitled to another – both guilty of feeling they are better than another. Not to mention physical attributes of a certain nature being more desirable to others thus resulting in half the world trying to mimic the other and no one ever being satisfied. Racism is one issue that will gnaw at our hearts and minds until the end of time it seems, continually transforming in presentation in order to remain ever lasting within us.

I was amazed to see pictures of so many people participating in a march to once again trivialize an otherwise bigger problem i.e. the high prevalence of crime by making it about race. Not just that white people are being killed, no, it had to be taken a step further by noting that black people are killing white people. Nothing stops this nation, of which I am a part, from breaking down any statistics ultimately into a comparison by race.

I read opinions to the effect that when blacks kill white people it is referred to as crime, but when it’s the other way around its racist – the official website claiming that white people are being slaughtered (because all other races are simply dying from breathing, or poverty, or whatever else affects anyone who is not white). It is disturbing that in this day and age, protests are still race based. Somehow I thought that ended in the 80’s? I was clearly wrong. Reading through some of the comments under a lot of the stories I am wondering whether people actually want to move from the mindset of black on white or white on black?

In one sense, I can understand why many white people would feel threatened, after all, with centuries of known oppression of black Africans, and knowing exactly what whites did to blacks, who wouldn’t be afraid when blacks suddenly now have title and political power that they may decide to do the same thing in return? At the same time, I would hate to see that happen because it hinders progress completely, and am more of the opinion the struggle is for black people to stop feeling inferior themselves. Many of the people who defend Red October say that it has nothing to do with race, and yet it is blatantly said- to stop crime against white South Africans. In this case, I would be marching to stop crime against my mother and her family, I may have to think of creating a rally for my father and his family, and then another one for my siblings and I to attend for our own safety. South Africa, enough is enough. Race is always the easiest thing to harp on about simply because of the history that the country has endured. I don’t claim to believe that we truly are a rainbow nation- I am not that naive, I do however maintain that the more race is thrown into the works, the easier it is to fall back into patterns unknowingly.

Crime is crime, regardless of who perpetrates it, and who the victim is, the fact is that taking a life is not right unless sentenced by a jury. I understand that Red October is about hate crimes, and I fully believe that people must air their views, I am just saying get the wording right. If it is about crime, keep it about crime and don’t throw things like BEE and affirmative action into the mix alongside the deterioration of infrastructure- that’s not a race issue, that’s a management issue.

It amazes me how issues such as crime become entangled in race wars so as to continue to play victim. A few years ago I attended a not so successful million man march on crime just after legendary South African reggae musician, Lucky Dube, was gunned down. There, it was not about race, people of all walks of life made their way to the Union Buildings to fight crime- not racially profiled crime, just crime. Why divide it?

If people are so uncomfortable living in a country where all races are embraced, I would like to suggest a move to another country where there is only the race which you approve of, so the rest of us can get on with the matters at hand. Job creation, combating human trafficking, fighting child abuse and exploitation, advancing education and improving health delivery; let’s build our society and spend our time usefully.

To the participants in marches like Red October, you may want to pick a more prolific day to march, rather than one commemorating a defeated war hero whose story was found fitting of Nazi (also read RACIST) propaganda. Just like Oom met his end, so should defeatist, divisive marches like this…

To my fellow Africans and world citizens, though it seems like more words in the wind, let us strive to look at issues for what they are- more than just making them about the color of our skin. Speak for justice, not special or targeted justice. The color of our skin ceased to delineate where we came from the minute ships first touched water. Much as we like to think one is better than the other, there is no better, there is no worse, there is just human and that is the only fact.

 
*Shau, loud, proud, lover of Africa, art, music and poetry. She has completed a bachelors degree in Political Science as well as an honors degree in Gender Studies and is the founder of K’emil, an African clothing line for the free at heart. Shau is also a research consultant. A woman, daughter, sister and wife, African. Check out her blog http://panafricanprincess.wordpress.com/–
 
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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Human Rights, Politics, Reflections

 

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