Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Die Burger berig...
Die slawe wat aan die 1808-opstand deelgeneem het, was die eerste vryheidsvegters in Suid-Afrika, het ’n bekende historikus die naweek hier gesê.
Prof. Jatti Bredekamp, uitvoerende hoof van Iziko-museums, het dié stelling Saterdag gemaak ná ’n herdenking van die opstand op 27 Oktober 1808. Vandag is dit presies 200 jaar gelede.
“Volgens hofstukke by die Kaapse argiewe in Roelandstraat het slawe in die opstand aangedui dat hulle hul vryheid wil opeis.
“Daarom kan na hulle verwys word as die eerste vryheidsvegters.
Lees hier verder.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Een substorie is uiteraard die Afrikaanse storie. Dis nie die tyd en plek om weer na te gaan wie se taal dit is nie. Taal, so lyk dit vir my, is anyway nie die eiendom van individue, of groepe of die elite in society nie. Taal groei, gryp aan en kleef aan 'n mens; 'n mens sou eerder kon waag dat ons plek-plek die eiendom van 'n taal word. Jy probeer weghardloop, maar dan haal jou skaduwee jou in. Jy hoor 'n uitdrukking, lees iets en jy ruik jou ouma se kombuis, die rook van die koolstoof en bakbrood, of jy hoor die hoederhaan vroeg in die oggend. Op daai moment weet jy: dis die huis, dis waar ek hoort.
'n Ander angle sou wees om tog ter wille van perspektief, doodeenvoudig vir Herman Gilliomee aan te haal as hy skryf oor die onstaan van Afrikaans: 'Gedurende die eerste sewentig jaar van die nedersetting het slawe en Khoi-khoi-bediendes waarskynlik die grootste rol in die ontwikkeling van die taal gespeel' (2004:42)
'Afrikaans is die eerste keer in gedrukte vorm gebruik in Arabiese gebedeboeke wat in die 1840s en 1850s vir die Moslemgemeenskap in Kaapstad opgestel is' (:176)
Gilliomee haal verder vir J.H.H. de Waal aan wat aandui dat destyds, 'n seker elite koloniste Afrikaans beskou het as 'n verarmde dialek, ontaarde Hollands, 'n onverstaanbare Kreoolse taal en les bes, 'n 'Hotnotstaal' sonder enige toekoms.
Interessant hoedat ons stories, dit wat ons ge-erf het, 'n mens nie net kan terugvat nie, maar ook vorentoe.
Giliomee, H. Die Afrikaners: 'n Biografie. Tafelberg Uitgewers. Kaapstad. 2004.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
"In apartheid-era South Africa, a country where race meant everything, Sandra Laing was a poster child for injustice, classified "colored" even though her parents were white.
Kicked out of an all-white boarding school because of the color of her skin, Laing was later reclassified white in response to her parents' legal campaign. But in a viciously racist society, her family rejected her when she fell in love with a black man, leaving her to start her life anew.
Her story has now become a movie, "Skin," which opened to a standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival this week....."
Read more on the Washington Post
Another story in the film on BBC News
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Yes, of course, BBI need to hear and take heed of the voices of caution. It cannot become home to bitter and opportunistic ethnic revivalism, a place for some racist and vile characters, with rotting political carcasses as a kind of Lazarus-moment. From those in charge of BBI this is evidently not the intention and hopefully the movement will be able to steer clear of these types.
What is critical at this juncture of our South African transformation process, is the mobilization of all communities under the banner of our constitution. This is a time to revive the notions of self-help and self-pride, in order to build sustainable communities. These notions are nothing new and some-one like Steve Biko, but also other post-colonial thinkers saw these as critical to the restoration of the dignity of Africa. This re-building of the self, also include movementbuilding, which will sustain the ideas and the cultural transformation that we all seek. It is at this point where new initiatives and social movements will be crucial and we will see more and more of these staking their claim.
The question is whether a notion like bruin-ness (coloured-ness) could be or should be harnessed in this quest ? What has happened to black-ness or to our South African-ness or even African-ness. These are the fundamental questions that BBI will have to deal with concisively and it would be fascinating to hear the leadership speak out on these. At least from one perspective it could be argued that these are still valid, but that we, given the current political configurations, can only speak of these in a hyphenated mode, i.e. referring to coloured-South Africans, or coloured- Africans, etc, This type of language, although with and evident resemblance to old colonial and apartheid nomenclature, is of course inadequate. The language of our current legislation is inadequate. This remains exclusivist, in terms of which the bruin (coloured) can never be African, but also the mixed-ness of 'Áfricans' and Afrikaners is negated. Should these initiatives base their struggle on progressive and post-colonial identifications, transcending old conceptualizations of race and ethnicity and which appreciate this open-ness, then we may see possibly the first subversion of apartheid-type language. This may be hopeful and worth pursuing.
What will this mean for the ordinary farm worker, in Paarl or the unemployed youngsters of Eldos? It will mean that she is not marginal or invisible in the new SA, but that she is embedded in the colour-ful tapestry of a proud movement, who works towards justice for all people, because its black and white that are in our blood.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
In my persoonlike blog, het ek geredeneer dat hierdie wyse waarop nie-rassisme gehanteer word die geskiedenis van verontregting goedskiks ontken en dus die regmatige aandrang op regstelling ondermyn. Nie-rassigheid as ideologie is bloot relevant daar waar die werklikheid dit onregverdig verdring en daarom is en bly dit die ideaal waarna gestreef word. Die skerpste en sterk inset het egter gekom van Dr Danny Titus, onder die provokatiewe opskrif, Joubert jaag sy eie stert. Titus is onomwonde daaroor dat bruin mense hul regmatige plek moet opeis, sosiaal en ekonomies. Die tyd vir 'n apologetiese houding is verby en dis tyd vir aksie. Daarom die stigting van 'n beweging wat op grondvlak, mense en gemeenskappe se lewensomstandighede wil en gaan verander.
Miskien is dit ook tersake om die uiters relevante en uitdagende artikel van Jacob Rooi, Bruine neem jou kruisie op; red jouself, ook by te sleep. Hy verwys nie spesifiek van die debat nie, maar dis duidelik dat sy inset deel is van die breere gesprek wat besig is om vlam te vat regoor die land in bruin gemeenskappe.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Bo-aan my eie lys is ras en rassisme. Hoekom? Sommer.
Sommer omdat ek verlede Vrydag uitgery het na die Paarl om te luister na ’n lesing oor en ’n bespreking van rassisme.
In die kollig was die skrywer Ryland Fisher en sy nuwe boek, Race. (Fisher het wel meestal Engels gepraat – in die Afrikaanse Taalmuseum nogal – maar die gehoor was oorwegend Afrikaanssprekend.)
En nou sit ek en peins oor Vrydagaand se dinge. Dis ’n interessante boek, wat betref Fisher se hantering van sy onderwerp. Hy het onderhoude gevoer met 17 of wat Suid-Afrikaners ut verskillende agtergronde – van ’n skooldogter tot ’n kabinetsminister; van Rhoda Kadalie tot Melanie Verwoerd; van ’n vorige universiteitsrektor tot ’n werklose bruin man in die Kaap.
Fisher stel vrae, teken die antwoorde aan, en stel sy eie menings. En dan word die saak vir bespreking oopgestel in die Paarl.
Dis jammer, uit my oogpunt gesien, dat daar so min “anderskleuriges” was, maar die vergadering is glo gereël ter ere van wyle eerw. Abe Maart, van die Paarl, en dit verklaar seker waarom dit nie wyer geadverteer is nie.
Maar om terug te kom na ras en rassisme: Die ou Grieke het mekaar gegroet met die woorde “Wie is jy, en uit watter stad (land) kom jy?” Met hierdie twee stukkies inligting kry jy die vreemdeling in fokus, as’t ware. Jy weet, in ’n mate, watter soort mens hy is, jy weet iets van sy kultuur. Jy weet hoe jy hom ten beste kan hanteer. Jy is nie vir of teen hom nie; dis iets wat later kom, namate jy meer van hom weet.
Is dít nie hoe ons ons eie benadering tot vreemdelinge aanpas nie? En daar is niks mee fout nie. Ons het wel vooroordele of stereotipes wat nie altyd pas nie, want die vreemdeling voor jou is wel vir jou vreemd. Maar jou vooroordele help om jou evaluering van hom of haar aan die gang te sit.
Niemand (behalwe Fisher self, en later meer daaroor) erken dat hy of sy ’n rassis is nie. Want rassisme is ’n lelike woord. Die ander ou is altyd die rassis, nie ekself nie.
Fisher skryf egter op bladsy een: “I believe that I am a racist because my entire life I have been groomed to become one.”
Gewis ’n goeie manier om die boek aan die gang te kry. Prikkelend. Uitdagend. Maar nie waar nie.
Want as dit waar was, sou hy nie hierdie boek geskryf het nie. Hy sou ’n boek geskryf het waarin die deelnemers aan die debat nie die vinger van blaam sou gewys het na die mense of landswette of situasies wat hul menswaardigheid gekrenk het nie. Liewer ’n boek waarin die deelnemers apartheid of rassediskriminasie sou verdedig as nodig, positief of selfs as Godgegewe. Maar daar bestaan mos nie meer sulke mense in Suid-Afrika nie, of hoe?
Die een ding wat ek in die bespreking gemis het, was ’n definisie van rassisme. Kyk, die boek se naam is Race. Maar om van ras te praat is wetenskaplik. Dus is ons gevra oor rassisme. Dis iets anders. Dit gaan oor gedrag, oor verhoudinge. Oor die inneem van standpunte ten opsigte van ander mense op grond van hul ras. Ek noem iemand ’n rassis as hy meen hy is meerderwaardig op grond van sy eie velkleur.
Baie van die beskuldigings van mense as rassiste gaan eintlik oor hul swak maniere. Sê maar iemand druk voor ’n ander by ’n winkel se betaalpunt in. Doen hy dit omdat hy wit en die ander mens bruin is, dan is hy ’n rassis. Maar as hy dit doen net omdat hy haastig is, dan is hy gewoon ongemanierd.
En mense is soms te fyngevoelig. Hulle sien rassisme waar dit nie is nie. Twee mense klets in ’n winkel, salig onbewus dat hulle die gang versper. Hier kom ek aan en kan nie verbykom nie. Ek kan ekskuus vra, dan sê hulle ekskuus en laat my verbykom. Maar ek kon ook anders optree. Ek sien hulle is wit, laat my gevoelens opvlam omdat ek bruin is, en dan kla ek dat hulle rassisties was.
Ons lewe in ’n wêreld vol van wantroue, woede, aggressie en sonde. Om te lewe asof daar eendag hemel op aarde gaan wees, waar almal van liefde teenoor almal oorborrel, is wensdenkery. Ons sal maar moet saamleef met ’n mate van onaangenaamheid oor baie dinge – soos rassisme.
) Prof. Richard van der Ross is ’n voormalige rektor van die Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland.
(Erkenning aan Die Beeld)
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
A new coloured website, Mixed World has just been launched. It will definitely go to our blogroll. This initiative follows on a flood of Coloured facebook groups, also the very popular, Bruin-ou and other blogging types like Beyond Identity. The recent one-man commedy of Stuart Taylor, Techni-coloured and others certainly affirm our observation last year on the surge of Coloured identitygroups within popular culture and in particular amongst young people. Mixed world and Bruin-ou seems to follow the same trajectory and could be coming from likeminded guys, if not the same. The website is userfriendly with bells and whistles of Web 2.0 etc, whilst the theory behind these still seem to allude to the definition of Coloured in terms of the notion of mixture, if not blood or genetics then at least in terms of culture. Bottomline is that an evident, self-assured Coloured-ness is rising to the challenge and that need to be applauded.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
There would also be those who agree wholeheartedly with Kadalie. In fact for some of them, she is not going far enough. Coloureds for them, constitute a nation and separate race and they, as the true embodiment of the first peoples of this region, should in fact receive preferential treatment.
Evidently, these two extreme positions does not hold promise in dealing with the type of perception that persists and that Kadalie articulates. How are we to judge Thabo Mbeki then ? Mbeki has shown promise with his 'I am an African' speech, but since then he has been spiraling downwards in failing to articulate the real developmental challenges that (let's call it then) Coloured-blacks or Coloured-Africans experience. This is rooted in how he view these categories. His persistent distinction between Coloureds and Africans is a case in point. Coloureds, whites and people of Indian descend, at least in the language (mind?) of 'our' president, are not Africans, in contradiction to his earlier speech. No, they might be part of the broader category of blacks, but not as black as his 'Africans'. This discussion, of course have nothing to do with shades of skin colour, or genetics, as it refers to social and political categories. Hence, whilst the political elite might pay lipservice to service delivery in traditionally Coloured residential areas and communities, the reality is that, indeed, it doesn't count as much as when it happens in townships across the N2 in Cape Town or in Soweto. That is the reality and this is where Kadalie has a point.
Further, I have a sneaky suspicion that his reference to 'babbelas' is a reference to the stereotype of Coloureds to be lazy drunkards. Is this response too petty or squeamish ? But then, how is it possible that Mbeki, who is so eloquent a speaker and politician to let something slip, without thought of his context ? The reference to babbalas, a typical Cape Afrikaans term that comes from Zulu, on the Cape flats and on Freedom Day, seems to shows exactly what he thinks of us. This, in the context of his diatribe against the scourge of racism and xenophobia comes as a surprise, or maybe the President thinks that he has the credibility to discipline these poor souls. Well, maybe he did it in a light hearted, tongue in the cheek manner, especially given his own vulnerability for what David Bullard in his last swan song termed 'the curse of the white man'. Maybe this was a way he wanted to 'connect' with the babbalas-prone people of Athlone and Landsdown. Even is this was the case, it simply doesn't deal the fact that it only served to illustrate graphically the extend of his tragic alienation from these proud communities. We don't need this patronizing stereotypes foisted upon us by a fading friend of a tyrant like Robert Mugabe. His rants about racism and xenophobia is void of substance if he is not even able to stop himself from yielding to the temptation of throwing a below the belt punch.
Hence, we cannot but, raise concern about the current callous disregard for the development concerns of Coloured people, who are integral to the challenge we as a nation face. But then, maybe the alienation displayed here is simply a symptom of Mbeki's inevitable slide into oblivion.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
Die Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) vir 2008 is verby.Ek was nie daar nie, maar ek het die prentjies in die koerante dopgehou. Baie mooi. Maar elke jaar, en ook intussen, kom dieselfde vraag by my op: Waar pas ek by hierdie verrigtinge in?
Nou maar goed, ek sien van die ander bruin manne daar, maar hoe lyk dit dis elke keer dieselfde ouens? Min of meer. Hulle sê die fees is inklusief, maar wie word ge-include? Met die afsluit van die fees dra Rapport (20 Maart) onder meer ’n volle bladsy daaroor, met onder meer die opskrif : Ons Afrikaanses vir jou, SA. Ek weet nie wat die skrywer, Andries Vrey, daarmee bedoel het nie, maar die hele stuk gaan oor die bruin mense. Is ons, of is ons nie? Behoort ons, of behoort ons nie? Word ons gereken, of word ons nie? Word ons verdra, of word ons nie? Arme ons.
Mind you, ons was daar. Maar die blote feit dat die koerant die manne kan noem, en uitlig, en beskryf, wys dat daar maar bra min was. Selle ou toppies. Die bruin hoof van dié en die bruin hoof van daai. Maar dit lyk of die bruin mense maar nog as ’n aardigheid by die fees beskou word. Die onderhoof van die artikel sê: “Bruin mense en hul insluiting by veral Afrikaanse bedrywighede is veral weer by die KKNK bekyk.”
Sien wat ek meen? Afrikaners is ons nie. Afrikaanses, miskien wel. Maar nie heeltemal nie. Volgens die feesprogram, soos aangehaal, is die volgende vrae, onder meer, gestel: Bruines in Media 24 – Joernaliste of Uncle Toms ? Bruines by vorige wit universiteite se Afrikaansdepartemente – hoofde of kanonvoer vir die stryd om Afrikaans se oorlewing? Wat van ’n bruin Afrikaanse tydskrif of koerant wat onbeskaamd op die bruin gemeenskap fokus? Liewe leser, laat tog jou gedagtes oor hierdie oeroue vrae gaan.
Maar nou wil ek ’n ander vragie aanroer. Nie ’n nuwe nie (niks is nuut nie), maar miskien uit ’n nuwe hoek gesien. Van al die name wat in die verlede gebruik is om ons (dis nou ons bruin mense) te identifiseer, het ek nooit die naam Kreool gehoor nie. Nie onlangs nie. Doer in die verlede het my oupa glo homself beskryf as ’n Franse Kirjool, maar Oupa is lankal weg. Die woordeboek beskryf ’n Kreool as “Afstammeling van ’n blanke en nie-blanke” . . . byvoorbeeld in voormalige Engelse en Nederlandse kolonies, maar nie in Suid-Afrika nie.
Waarom nie in Suid-Afrika nie? Dis ’n lang storie, wat nie hier uitgepluis kan word nie, en ek pleit nie dat ons Kreole genoem word nie, maar liewer dat ons erken dat ons, as mense van gemengde afkoms, ons in ’n mate identifiseer met mense van gemengde afkoms oor die wêreld heen.
Daar is Kreole in baie dele van die wêreld – in Suid-Amerika, Sentraal-Amerika, om nie die hedendaagse swartes in Noord-Amerika en die Metis (wit en “Indiërs” van Kanada) te vergeet nie.
Dis mense in die Wes-Indiese eilande, in Spanje en ander dele van Europa, oral in Afrika, en in die Ooste. Baie het plaaslike name opgedoen, soos Mulatto, Chicano, Mezisto, Metis, Eur-African, Eur-Indian, en andere. En oral is daar kulturele eienskappe wat voortgevloei het, soos die musiek van die Wes-Indiërs, en hul besondere danse en kunswerke, om nie te praat van taal nie. Oral word daar ook met trots eie werke van geskiedenis, prosa en filosofie voortgebring.
Gevolglik is daar akademiese werke, studiegroepe en sentra by universiteite gestig wat die fokus laat val op die eie kulture van die verskeie groepe. Dit dra alles by tot ’n trots op die eie, nie net van die Kreole nie, maar van die betrokke lande. Die mense het in hoë mate uitgestyg verby die tyd en stadium waar hulle as minderwaardig beskou is, en het oor die jare volwaardige mense van hul land en van hul bevolkings geword. Maar belangriker, in hul eie siening, in hul gees. Hulle het die stadium ontgroei waar hulle net aanhangers was van ander groe-pe, hetsy ekonomies, polities of demografies.
Stel jou voor, liewe leser, dat ons (dis nou weer ons) onsself deur ’n ander bril kan aanskou. Natuurlik is ons voortvloeiend uit ander stamme en mense, (wie is nie?) maar uit daardie proses van kreolisering kom ’n sterk, eie selfbewuste entiteit, wat by niemand se agterdeur wil inkruip nie. Is dit moontlik?
Thursday, March 20, 2008
His speech Tuesday distanced him from his pastor's views:
"We the people, in order to form a more perfect union."
Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.
The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation's original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.
Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.
And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk – to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.
This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.
This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton's Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I've gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world's poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.
It's a story that hasn't made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.
Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.
This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either "too black" or "not black enough." We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.
And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.
On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it's based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.
I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.
Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way
But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In my first book, Dreams From My Father, I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:
"People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend's voice up into the rafters.And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn't need to feel shame aboutmemories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild."
That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.
And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.
Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.
But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.
The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.
Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.
Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.
Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today's urban and rural communities.
A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one's family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.
This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.
But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn't make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright's generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician's own failings.
And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.
In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don't feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they're concerned, no one's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they're told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.
Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren't always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.
Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.
This is where we are right now. It's a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.
But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.
Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright's sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.
The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know – what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.
In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother's keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister's keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.
For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.
We can do that.
But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.
That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.
This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.
This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.
This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged, and we want to talk about how we'll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.
I would not be running for President if I didn't believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.
There is one story in particularly that I'd like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King's birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.
There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.
And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.
She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.
She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.
Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother's problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn't. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.
Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."
"I'm here because of Ashley." By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.
But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Die afsku teenoor die Reitz-4, moet onverdund gehandhaaf word en die veldtog van Vryheidsfront en ander regse groepe moet gestuit word. Dit is een van die mees fascinating, maar teenstrydige aspekte van ons grondwet, dat rassisme nog steeds polities verkondig kan word, agter die skanse van self-beskikking, kultuur, taal en so wragtag, Christelikheid. As Christen, skok dit my telkens wanneer die tipes organisasies aanspraak maak op hul Christelikheid. Miskien het Sakkie Spangenberg to 'n punt beet, en is dit 'n Gordiaanse knoop wat dieper besinning vra. Ek wil my egter beperk tot Andries se mening. Inderdaad, soos vele kere hier genoem, die Reitz-4 se grootste sonde is die elfde gebod, 'though shall not get caught'. Nel van Swartruggens wat trots teruggekom van sy 'oorlog' en homself as held in sy gemeenskap verklaar, ontdek hy word deur sy mense as 'siek' verklaar. Hulle is almal uitgevang en word nou (miskien tereg)in die publiek as die sondebok in die woestyn gejaag. Maar wat van die wat 'agter die skerms' hierdie omgewing skep, wat polities kapitaliseer uit die angst, en onverwerkte 'histories'. Is dit bloot die kinders (jeug) wat 'siek' is ?
Die ervaring van Andries, op Loftus, het ek op Ellispark beleef tot groot vermaak van die omstanders. Ek was daar met my dogter, ook nege op daardie stadium. Ons is bruin en het die game van die CATS en Stormers gaan kyk. Ek het ook, soos Andries, daar en dan onderneem om haar nie weer aan die kru kultuur bloot te stel nie. Ek het dit beleef in die laat 80s toe ek en vriende naïwelik, op Coetzenburg, ons atletiekhelde wou gaan kyk het en deur hierdie 'slim' narre, onder groot gejuig van die omstanders, soos honde weggeja is. Dit kan mens nie vergeet nie. Daar was nie 'n staatsgeondersteunde polisie en wetgewing nie op die veld nie, die dinge gebeur egter met die goedkeuring van die reg(s) denkende intellektueles, wat in stilte saamsweer teen die 'ander', met die slim narre en die 'siekes' vanwie ons onself gerieflik kan distansieer, sou die optredes op die lappe kom. Andries, dit sal help as 'ouers en denkende wittes' begin om hierdie mense op hul plek sit en reg help. Waarom is 'Loftus en 'n aangeklamde groeppie' egter nie die regte plek nie ? Is dit nie juis nodig dat oral, in die persoonlike en publieke ruimtes ons meer as vuil kyke nodig het nie ? Inderdaad, ons moet ophou lag vir ons 'slim narre' en hande klap vir die 'Klipdrift en Coke' komedies; ons moet die grimering begin afkrap, want agter die masker van die nar, skuil menigmale 'n persoon in onsekerheid, aangejaag deur spoke uit die grafte van vergeteldheid; maar meer nog, en dis hoekom ons soms so magteloos voel, agter die maskerades op Loftus, Ellispark, Coetzenburg wreek die verlede homself nogsteeds op ons. Ek is daarom, anders as Andries, van mening dat hierdie ontmaskering ook moet kom deur wetgewing, deur die ontmaskering van die strukture wat ons as ouers lamlê, strukture in ons politiekery, in die media, in ons ekonomie. Kom ons werk saam, Andries om hierdie sttrukture te verander.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Friday, February 29, 2008
Dit is met opgewondenheid dat ons kennis neem van die aanstelling van prof. Danny Titus, as ATKV se uitvoerende direkteur: kultuur (Danny Titus nou ATKV se hoof, Beeld, 29 Feb 2009) Hy neem die leisels oor by Coenie de Villiers. Hierdie besluit is inderdaad rigtinggewend, nie net vir die ATKV en kultuur in die land nie, maar vir versoening en nasiebou. In die lig van die onstellende ontwikkelinge die laaste paar dae, staan hierdie skuif in die teken van hoop. Dit is hoopvol dat die ATKV ( en hier moet Hans du Plessis en die direksie geloof word) hierdie stap neem en op so ‘n wyse die neeerslagtigheid, deesdae rondom die plek van Afrikaans en Afrikaansprekendes aan die kaak stel.
Prof. Titus, leidende akademikus en gemeenskapsleier, asook oudstudent van Universiteit van Weskaapland, wat sy doktoraat in die regsgeleerdheid in Nederland verwerf het, is van mening dat die ATKV deel is van die nuwe Suid Afrika en ‘mense kan saamneem na ‘n verenigde Suid Afrika....’. Hy dien onder andere op die direksies van die Aardklop Kunstefees en Transparency International, in Suid Afrika, maar is ten diepste ‘n intellektuele leier, gevorm in die kerklike en studentebewegings van sy dag.
Die ATKV het met hierdie aanstelling, (miskien sonder dat hulle dit weet) emfaties, ‘n streep getrek deur vele stereotipes t.o.v. wit Afrikaanssprekendes, in Suid Afrika. Daar is nogsteeds diegene wat vir hulself en kinders ‘n toekoms en sleutelrol sien in die land, as ware Afrikane. Die historiese rol van mense soos Beyers Naude, Van Zyl Slabbert, Willie Jonker, Ingrid Jonker, Breyten Breytenbach, Nico Smith, Max du Preez, o.a.- en vandag nog, Melissa Steyn, Christi van der Westhuizen, Carl Niehaus, Klippies Kritzinger, Gerrie Lubbe, en so kan mens aangaan, illustreer die rykheid van die rol wat wit Afrikaanssprekendes speel. Hierdie hier-wees, gewortel wees is integraal tot die rykheid van hierdie land en kontinent, en daarom staan hierdie besluit in die tradisie van hierdie rol, wat vorentoe nog gespeel sal word. Titus se aanstelling bring verrykende, maar verruklike moontlikhede, met sy skerp intellek, passie vir die taal en die kultuur, maar ook fyn aanvoeling en vir die omgewing waarbinne Afrikaans, as Afrika taal gaan groei. Hierdie is ‘n groot stap in die tuiskoms, nie soseer van Bruinmense nie, maar van Afrikaans, van alle Afrikaanses. Dit was ‘n lang pad, Danfred, seun van die Boland, maar wees verseker daar lê ‘n langer pad voor.... in die woorde van Adam Small, eertydse dosent aan UWK....
Die pad gaan tussen kliprante en aalwee,
swaar swartvlerk voëls styg op en skree,
in wolke stof stap veewagters en vee;
die pad gaan tussen mols-en mierhoop, singel
om pikswart vroue wat hul ringe rinkel
na die godverlatenheid van ‘n negosiewinkel;
die pad gaan op die middag hier plek-plek
onder swart lugte waaruit blitse lek
en die onrus roffelend om die hart laat trek;
die pad gaan tussen doringbos en –boom,
swart bessies, nou and dan ‘n modderstroom,
die pad gaan deur ‘n donker, donker droom
Adam Small: Sê Sjibbolet.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Daar sal egter ook gekyk moet word na die feit dat dit bloot die punt van die ysberg is. Daar is wydverspreide weerstand vanaf wit studente teen 'integrasie' van koshuise. Nou moet ons verstaan: dis 14 jaar na Madiba as president ingehuldig is, die huidige studentecorps is gebore in die middle na laat 80, toe dinge al skuif in die land, so hulle het nie 'onder apartheid' groot geword nie.
Aan die anderkant is daar daai klomp Heidedallers,Noord Kapenaars, Karoonaars, wat Afrikaans praat en leef, wat op Vrystaatkampus kom, niks erg het aan politiek het nie en dan by koshuise (juis omdat hulle nie wit is nie !) nie welkom voel nie, of uitgelewer is aan siek sadistiese seniors. Die realiteit is dus dat die volk nog nie deur die veranderinge in die land gewerk het nie. Die opvoeding van ons kinders kan egter nie op die spel geplaas word twv hierdie rassisme nie...dit moet veroordeel en uitgeroei word met wortel en tak.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Dis baie insiggewend dat die ATKV en die 'nuwe' ANC besig is om vir mekaar ogies te maak en nader na mekaar te skuif, na die Polokwane Rubicon. Die Beeld berig dat die twee organisasies met mekaar gesels oor groter samewerking.
Die Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereniging (ATKV) het uiteraard 'n tipe geskiedenis wat deel is van die groter komplekse storie van Afrikaans in Suid Afrika. Die feit dat kultuur en taal menigmale (en ook vandag nog onder die ANC) as 'n wapen in die ideologiese stryd opgeneem word om die heersersklas se posisie bestendig, het nie by die ATKV verby gegaan nie. Baie Afrikaanse bruinmense sou met reg skepties wees oor betrokkenheid by die ATKV juis vanwee hierdie rol en geskiedenis. Dinge is egter baie maal meer kompleks as wat dit mag lyk. Dit is veral so ten opsigte van taal en kultuur en in besonder die Afrikaanse taal. Hierop gaan ons nie op hierdie stadium in nie, maar wil dit bloot stel (asof ons dit nie weet nie) dat Afrikaans se ontstaan en ontwikkeling, as 'n Afrika-taal, ten diepste gewortel is in die konteks en ervaring van die kolonialisme in die slawekwartiere, aan die Kaap. In 'n post op Beyond Identity, The Purity of the Afrikaners, word gestel,
Also, the Afrikaans language spoken by Afrikaners, was actually originally spoken by slaves. Just like in the United States of America, where Black English or Ebonics developed from the broken English Southern dialect spoken by Black Americans, Afrikaans developed in the same way. The Afrikaans language, although Dutch based, absorbed many Khoikhoi, Malay, and Indian words. As white colonial children were raised by non-white slave mammies and had mixed-race children for playmates, one can see how the white settlers abandoned their Dutch language for Afrikaans instead. The very fact Cape Coloureds still speak Afrikaans, even though their ancestors did not participate in the Great Trek, shows that the language did not originate amongst the Voortrekkers, as Afrikaner white supremists claim. Cape Afrikaans (spoken by Coloureds) and Orange River Afrikaans (spoken by white Afrikaners), although baring dialectic differences, are similar enough to be regarded as the same language and mutually intelligible. Thus, Afrikaners ironically, speak a language with non-white origins.
Strenggesproke is die Afrikaanse taal en kultuur dus 'n produk van 'n unieke Afrika bricolage, maar en dit is die kritiese punt, wat op progressiewe wyse ontwikkel en voortwoeker, binne nuwe kontekste en onder nuwe heersers. Die poging tot opeis en ideologisering van hierdie rykgeskakeerde organiese proses, deur Afrikaner Nasionalisme, onder die Britse Empire en later die konsolidasie, onder Nasionale Party bewind het gelei tot ongekende ekonomiese welvaart en sosiale ontwikkeling in die wit gemeenskap, maar ook tot die doelbewuste verarming en politieke marginalisering van die bruinmense. Hierdie politieke magspel kon egter nie weerbarstigheid en lewenskragtigheid van Afrikaans onder bruinmense demp en uitdoof nie. Dit het voortgeleef ( ten spyte van grootskaalse verengelsing)in ons gemeenskappe, onder ons kinders in hulle hip hop (check out Prophets of Da City-POC, Black noise, BVK) en in ons politiek, opvoeding en godsdiens. Dit is om hierdie rede dat die herdefiniering van Afrikaanswees, en daarom van Afrikaans-gegronde instellings krities belangrik is in die ontwikkeling en heropbou van ons land, vandag. Die rol van bv 'n instelling soos, Stigting vir Bemagtiging deur Afrikaans, is sentraal in die transformasie en ontginning van bestaande instellings, ter wille van hierdie proses van herdefiniering. Soos die artikel in Die Beeld dan ook stel, is die kwessies van armoedebestryding en welvaartskepping op die tafel. Dit moet egter skerper belyn word: Die geselsies moet aangeknoop word met progressiewe mede Afrikaansprekendes (soos die span by SBA) en die begunstigdes in die prosesse moet bruinmense wees, bruin kinders wat op die plase en in die landelike dorpies, maar ook agtergebly het in die tradisioneel bruin lokasies en eenvoudig, Afrikaans leef. Die ANC (die huidige heersersklas) is egter nie so 'n sleutelrolspeler in die verband nie en sal uiteraard die proses stuur in die rigting van die beurse van die 'comrades'. Wat nodig is, is dat sleutelleiers, wat nog in voeling is met die community, wat hulself onderskei het in hul velde, hetsy, ekonomie, opvoeding, regsgeleerdheid, religie of sport en kultuur ernstig opgeneem word in die 'geselsies', oor taal en kultuur.
In die verband hou ons met groot belangstelling die ontwikkelinge in en deur die ATKV fyn dop, prof Hans du Plessis, maar meer nog, het die tyd aangebreek vir visionêre bruin leiers om, aan stuur van sake, Afrikaans te laat gedy in die publieke ruimtes.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Dit bly egter 'n skande in die Nuwe Suid Afrika, wanneer die mense wat desperaat soek na skuiling, veral in die lig van ons Minister van Finansies se aankondigings van 'n gesonde begrotingsoorskot, op straat of in tente woon. Vlugtelingskampe binne die nuwe Suid Africa, in Kaapstad. Dit terwyl Kaapstad beskou word as die mekka van toerisme in Suid-Afrika (en Afrika) en sekerlik besig is om hul vere reg te skud vir 2010. Die 'skoonmaak' van onsienlike 'squatter areas', is egter gewoonlik deel van die (ongepubliseerde) voorbereidings vir die wêreldskouspel, terwyl ons voortdurend herinner word aan die ekonomiese vooruitgang vir die gasheerland en -stede. Soortgelyke wêreld byeenkomste word gemeet aan die inkomstes en die skouspel van die 'beautiful game', maar die prys wat die armstes moet betaal deur nuwe 'forced removals' in die 'nuwe' Suid Afrika, word verswyg.
Kom ons gee 'n ander perspektief, uit die tent so to speak. Wanneer mense vir jare, geduldig op 'n waglys is, en geduldig hulle onderwerp aan burokratiese rondslomp en nog steeds en ten spyte daarvan, hulself beroep op die ('ons') demokraties verkose regering, maar dan skielik hoor iemand anders, wat nou die dag in die Kaap ingetrek het, staan voor in die ry, dan is daar moeilikheid. Wanneer die ontwikkelinge en voorbereidings van die Wereldbeker 2010, van hierdie mense verwag om, geduldig te wees, want, so hoor hulle, 'ons kom by julle uit', dan is daar iets wat besig is om te verrot in die moraliteit van die 'nuwe' Suid Afrika. Wanner nuwe stelsels, administrasie en nuwe vorms (in Engels nogal) konstant die doelpale skuif, dan is daar iets diepers aan die gang, 'n magspel waarbinne die armstes 'disposable nappies' word. Wanneer hierdie mense uiteindelik beland op die straat en in tente, soos vlugtelinge in hul eie land, dan is daar iets fout met die weegskale, veral Trevor Manuel, as daar van oorskotte te sprake is en die 'fundamentals' in plek is. Miskien moet ons eerder weer luister na wat Cosatu sê oor die surplusse, want in die 'nuwe' Suid Afrika skree dit ten hemele. Dit is 'n Suid Afrika waar sy eie arm mense, nogsteeds die prys moet betaal, in tente, terwyl die haar nuwe elite, by die Polokwane's, mekaar as comrade aanspreek en die hande gulsig vryf, vir die volgende Duitse vuurwa.
Miskien is dit dan geen wonder waarom die behuisingskwessie, soos dit manifesteer in Delft, so kompleks is nie. Die 'nuwe' Suid Afrika is kompleks.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Whilst both Pres Mbeki and Me Pandor stressed that the content is up for debate, most of these reactions react to a supposed imposition on a highly diverse SA populace. The more appropriate question however seems to be: what are those values that bind us together, as South Africans and how do we package it, succinctly and on the level of our children. What make us unique and proud? Its here that the values of the constitution cuts across our differences, as the symbol of our national consensus (at least for now)
One thing we all, including our Prez etc have to remember, though is that we should not overestimate this little pledge in terms of what can achieve. As the flag, the anthem, and the constition itself, its value lies in the mythology and symbolism of representing the ideals we measure ourselves against and live for. As with the constitution, it also becomes the standard we call our leaders, including government towards, even where they are called to task.
Whilst the Jake White and his stars have the world at their feet, SARU is at it again. This time SARU sees it fit to offer De Villiers a contract from hell, with , amongst other draconian clauses, a salary way beneath what White received. SARU seems to get it wrong every time we ascend the world stage, which leaves one wondering about a possible third force... This is a moment in the history of rugby where they could capitalize on the successes of Jake and the boys, in taking the game to the nation, in building a bigger pool of talent and supporters. Of course, such a boost will also make the sponsors smile. But no, like so many times before, they dropped the ball.
For many, rugby still represents the sentiments of the old SA. The visionary appointment of De Villiers has set the tone for a new era, where it seemed as if the tide was turning. Finally, all of us are valued and respected for our contribution, as it should have been all the time. Now, it seems, as if the coach of colour is not equally valued, irrespective of his credentials, irrespective of whether the world and potential supporters is viewing every move in South African rugby, with keen interest. Whilst White is grandstanding with his stars, with only one (confused ?) player of colour, on the front pages representing (South) Africa, the back pages are telling a different story, a story of humiliation and injustice. It's time for SARU's officials to start stand up and some-one need to stick their neck, for goodness sake. Its time to not only to grandstand, but to put the money where the mouth is and value our best in equal measure, irrespective of whether the person is White, coloured or black.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
In a very interesting article, in The Star (13 Feb 2008), an extract from his book, To the Brink, Xolela Mangxu, Executice chair of the Platform for Public Deliberation, rips apart, the kind of 'racial nativism', that he finds currently in the political imaginations of the ANC, but also currently in South Africa.
What is this nativism ? He writes 'By its very nature racial nativism is exclusionary and inevitably leads to political intolerance, which has manifested through the racial labeling of political critics as traitors...'
This position he juxtaposes against, what he calls 'the long traditions of racial syncretism that have always characterized South African political and intellectual history'. Here 'natives' are all the people born in the country, irrespective of their struggle history or where they stand in relation to government. This sentiment echoes in the Freedom Charter, which unambigiously states, 'South Africa belongs to all who lives in it, black or white'. He describe the Pan Africanist leader Robert Sobukwe or Steven Biko as 'never racial essentalists'. Sobukwe states, 'When I say Africa is for the Africans I mean those of any colour, who accept Africa as their home....'
This book is indeed an essential read for all of us....
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Yes, let us commend new Stormers coach, Rassie Erasmus, in the team selection for Saturday's game against the Bulls. Rassie, this is not a vindication for Bruinmense in the Cape (you have too much of a maverick-hard headed streak in you), this is the affirmation of what has been argued so many times, here at BDF: transformation and excellence (or merit), is not opposites. If other coaches like you, can open their eyes and see the bigger pool of talent, form and flair then we all can have winning teams to be proud of. The argument of many who push this line (transformation or merit), at the root, departs from the racist notion that the appointment, nomination or election of any one other than a white person was on the basis of something other than merit, and therefor means the lowering of the standard- hence the counterargument for merit and excellence as the sole criteria. Should there be a bruin or black person, then it was not on the basis of merit, but on the basis of 'transformation' or 'politiek'. When a white player is chosen, then its on merit. When Rassie and the Stormers selectors however looked at the whole pool and found on form, 15 men in black/blue, where 6 is not white, then people start to get worried, he was pushed, he is bucking under 'political' pressure. Well, he didn't, he simply enlarged the pool he can draw from, which gives him more options. He tried combinations with practice games against weaker teams, to blood new talent into the system. He was willing to widen his horizons.
On the other hand, we have national coaches, who don't look at the broader, the whole pool and with 'oogklappe' only see what they've been conditioned to see. It is at this point that brave administrators, have to pull out and uphold those lofty ideals that we've agreed upon during unification. Norman Arendse is one of them. All that we as a sport-loving nation are to expect from Norman is to keep the vision of a transformed, inclusive and representative pool of form and talent in front of Mickey Arthur. Between you and me, Prez Norman, maybe some-one like Gibbs, need to the time off to find his form, if ever again. You're right, Monde Zondeki should have been included, so should have been Charl Langeveld, great to see Robin Petersen, back in the pool again, but we need to development, broaden and keep pointing to the bigger pool. Keep it up Norman !
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Just stumbled across an article by Kwame Anthony Appiah on the Public conversations website, where he looks at Identity, Politics and the Archive. This type of contribution ties in with some recent posts on Beyond Identity where Ross Rayners raise some interesting issues and discussions, we often consider out of bounds.
It seems at least to me, that Appiah is presenting a strong argument, which see social identity as much more than the usual mixed race, or mixed culture arguments. But this is not the point that he is making. He is simply saying that national identity is ( and never was) a homogeneous state of being. He writes 'By and large people, do not live in mono-cultural, mono-religious, mono-lingual, nation states and, by and large, they never have.' He quotes Ernest Renan in defining a nation as a 'soul, a spiritual principle....' which consists of two things, namely, 'the common possession of a rich heritage of memories, whilst the other is a present agreement, a desire to live together, the willingness to continue to value the heritage that one has received, undivided.' The reality, Appiah continues later, is however that the past is not innocent. Its rooted in our choiced recollections (the archives), therefor the stories we tell to ourselves and our children. These stories are of course representing the one we still remember or want to remember and in the public sphere the choices of those in power, being told primarily, via the education system and national media. Hence his conclusion, that nationality or national identity then, our South African-ness is work in progress, as we delve into our archives, albeit colonial, to recollect and retell the stories of those also written out of history, but also as we commit to our construction of our future story together, an archive that remains to be written.
Monday, January 28, 2008
I heard her on radio as we were on our way back from holiday in Cape Town at the beginning of Jan 2008, telling her story of the First for woman Kilimanjaro project and we hoped to see anything in the media, to no avail. We commit to keep track of this amazing truly South African women, as she takes on the mountains of the world. We are right behind you Deshun!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
This is indeed a great challenge as on the one hand coloured communities are highly religious, yet also entangled in various pie in the sky churches. Spirituality is central to the develop communities.
Unasuming, coming on as a sub, he saved the day for us, as we were heading for another defeat on the soccerfield. Elrio van Heerden, hailing from the Eastern Cape, made Bafana's fans smile as he netted an impressive long range shot of 25m, late in the second half. The game against Angola, was to set the pace for our Afcon campaign, but also World cup 2010. The hope is that talent like van Heerden be given the chance to show their mettle, hopefully helping Bafana to survive the group of death (Group D), possibly bringing the cup home. This is a long shot, of course, but why can't we dream ? Go boys !
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
birthday of Bruindevelopment Forum-BDF. Of course, the conversations on
Bruindevelopment comes a long way, and will continue after BDF. Thanks
to all the visitors and those that left comments and sent emails. I
however, cannot remember the exact date of our first post, but know that
it started somewhere in January 2007. ( It shouldn't be too difficult to
look this up in the archives). Anyway, the story of BDF started in an
informal conversation, on the question what and how are we to respond to
the plight of bruin communities, progresively and positively, but also
without the usual racist undertones or crude ethnic nationalism that
sometimes undergird, political processes, like voting and party
formation. This is not the agenda of BDF. Starting with the blog,
hesitantly and without a clue or background of webdesign, journalism or
serious writing, was a risk. We do it hesitantly for a second reason: we
need to bear in mind that some would argue that this conversation is
irrelevant or even an embarrasing relic of the past. Afterall, we want
to move on in the rainbow-nation, or on the other hand maintain our
struggle identity and credentials, in the new South Africa ( or even new
This is however not the full picture of our current reality. Race
categories of Coloured, white, Indian, African, are still with us,
officially. We've also refered to the reality that more and more young
professional and connnected people would describe themselves as loudly
and proudly as Coloured, struggling with the older generation of
comrades and activists, who (still) call themselves black. So, what are
we to do with this? Should we deny, or write it away or simply omit it,
consciously- this upsurge of consciousness ? The book edited by Zimitri
Erasmus, Coloured by History, shaped by place, helped us to find some
theoretical framework for our conversation. This book, based on a
conference, held in the late 1990's, at the UCT aimed to deal with this
question, whilst aiming to get beyond populist and superficial
explanations of coloured identity formation. The one explanation namely
of defining Coloured people as mixed has been shown to reify the
colonial myth of pure races. Like Erasmus and others, we argue for the
salience of cultural creativity and hybridity, shaped by the social
context. South Africa's new context, as refered to earlier, shapes new
identities, which selectively appropriate a wide array of cultural,
spiritual, ethnic, georgraphical resources, in order to shape. identity
in a postcolonial context, a context of global capital, and flows of
information and cultural goods. In sense, for all of us, an expreience
of diaspora, of exile challenge all to re-imagine new identities, as the
basis for development and social transformation. In this respect,
Manuel Castell's analysis of the Network society and the Power of
Identity is relevant, as it helps to provide a lense to be able to read
our current context and the processes of identity formation.
In coming back to Bruindevelopment forum, we aim to provide space for
conversations that transcend racist ideology, by grapple seriously with
a postcolonial context. In this respect, we want to keep on reflecting
on the role of media, popular culture as well as other cultural
indistries, aiming at stimulating some interesting conversation, or at
least, alternative perspectives and stories, specifically then, from the
Bruin perspective then. We would want to network with others on this
conversation, talking, debating and telling stories, thus building
community. Of course, we cannot be everything to everybody and certainly
we cannot provide for the needs of all in this space. In this respect we
would be quite willing to refer and link this small conversation to
other links. May this year be a time of some wonderful conversation and
we invite even those who would disagree, with the aim at honestly
dealing with our very complex context.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Greyling plaas tereg die aanstelling binne die konteks van die land se Grondwet, en verwys later na 'regstellende aksie' en 'transformasie'. Hy is van mening dat transformasie (asook 'regstellende aksie' ?) 'n kode woord is vir 'nie-wit', wat dan iets verklap van die reaksie elke keer as hierdie woorde in 'n gesprek kom.. Sy argument is egter ten diepste gegrond op 'n storie waar hy sy wit bevooregting, onder apartheid erken maar terselfdertyd sy skuld daaraan ontken after all: Dit was nou eenvoudig die konteks- en so meen hy, het hy nie 'n sê gehad of 'n keuse daarin gehad nie. Dit was genade onverdiend. Hy vertel: 'Dit was onvermydelik dat ek destyds in die ras-bevoorregte wit skool sou wees. Dit was die konteks van die tyd. Dit was nie my skuld nie, maar dit was 'n werklikheid-'n onregverdige, rasgegronde werklikheid.' Hieroor het hy, volgens hom nie 'n keuse gehad nie- 'n keuse na die ander kant sou tewens 'mal' en 'dom' wees en hy sou oor die keuse, les bes 'in die tronk beland het'.
Die probleem met hierdie denkwyse, Ferdi, is dat jy wel 'n keuse gehad het en dat jy/julle gekies (gestem) het vir die onregverdige, rasgegronde werklikheid en daarom bevoorregting. Mense soos de Villiers het nie 'n keuse gehad het nie en moes agter die sinkplate en op die 'gravel' velde oefen en speel. Hulle was aan die ander kant, nee, die onderkant van die bevoorregting, terwyl mense soos White, Erasmus en die ander wit afrigters, soos wat jy hulle noem, inderdaad onregverdig bevoordeel is. Hulle kon die belastingsgeld en aandag van apartheid in ervaring en 'bewese sukses' sukses omskep. Dit is die verlede en baie sou wou hê dat ons dit daar laat. Dit kan egter nie. Dit is dan juis die Grondwet wat hierdie verlede as vertrekpunt en verwysingsraamwerk het waarbinne ons vandag leef en werk, moet die doel om hierdie ongelykhede reg te stel. Ons lees die eerste drie sinne in die Preamble:
'We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of our past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land.'
Maar meer nog, die skeefgetrekte werklikheid het nie in 1994 skielik verdwyn nie en dit is hier waar regstellende aksie en transformasie inpas. Die vraag is hier hoe dit reggemaak word daar waar ons werklikheid nog steeds skeefgetrek staan vanuit hierdie verlede.
Miskien is die hele argument bietjie uitverband geruk, want die feit is toe hulle (die 'beste' afrigters in ons land dan) die kans gehad het om aansoek te doen, toe het hul keuse (demokratiese reg) uitgeoefen om nie aansoek te doen nie.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
The matter between the community members of Delft on the one hand and Thubelisha Homes and the provincial government on the other hand has been postponed again. The Burger reports that the frustration of members of the community is rising.
The challenge of housing relates to many other social challenges that we face in our communities and the manner in which this case is handled hopefully don't indicate the priority that housing has amongst our political leadership. Lack of housing and overcrowding exacerbate the drug scourge, HIV/AIDS and the shocking conditions under which our young people have to study. By living in the 'yard' and on 'flats' impacts on their self-image and dignity- this situation is the festering sore on which gangsters and other predators thrive.
Another concern should be the danger that power hungry, politicians would want to milk this cow for political gain. This case will be followed closely as it would give indication of where the ongoing battle between homeless communities and the political and economic elites of the day stands. The court need to speed up the process so that poor and homeless communities know where they stand ( or sleep)
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
This is certainly no walk in the park, but inevitable and unavoidable, as the image of our 'dieners' are in tatters. In local communities we are terrorised by druglords, who pay off cops with a drink at the 'smokkelhuis' down the road, law abiding aunties laugh at you when you call the station. They've learnt that the 'van' will come a few hours later (if ever!) and many times with the cops inebriated. How can these clowns be respected?
Of course this is a long term process, touching many levels of the system, but as a start Comm Williams should talk to the communities, denouncing corruption and ill-discipline, he should lift the embargo on crime statistics and invite and implement independant research into trends and international benchmarks. Pull in the ex-cops and soldiers, if need be. This is your time now, chief, take command of your troups and win this war...one of our most important, if not the most important.
Of course, it is impossible to answer this question in the space of a few lines on a blog. But lets at least start to problematise matters as another contribution to this difficult debate. The notion of 'black consciousness', relates to the work of the Black Consciousness movement (BCM) in the late 60's and early 70's, under the inspirational leadership of Steve Bantu Biko ( I write what I like). He argued that the white colonial masters were dividing the oppressed, under the terms 'Africans', 'coloureds' and 'Indians', giving different levels of priviledge to them, thus dividing them. These racial groups were called the non-whites, or non-Europeans. It is in this racist context, of being a non-entity, where whiteness was equated to purity and blackness to evil, that Biko advocated an affirmation of the inherent beauty and power of a collective consciousness, black consciousness. Some of us, who remember the 1976 riots, would recall the emotional energy behind the slogan, 'Black Power'. Being in primary school in Paarl, during this time, this rallying call, united Africans, Coloured and Indians alike, in the revolt against all the machinery and instruments of white power, with the ultimate aim a more human face to us all, not black and white. In the 80's we then see a revival of the notion of non-racialism, broadly under the inspiration of the Freedom Charter, organized under the United Democratic Front (UDF). The new rallying call was simply Amandla (power) with the response Ahwetu (loosely to mean 'to the people'). During this period, activists and politically conscious people, amongst the African, Indian and coloured groups, would continue to call themselves 'black' or simply 'comrades'. This remained until today, especially amongst the older generation of our communities, who were not only active the struggle, but also others who were simply politically conscious. it remained a positive affirmation of collective political consciousness.
In the new South Africa, things however changed. The leaders and activists of the UDF and later, the mass democratic movement of the late 80s, early nineties had to make way for the 'exiles', who took over the leadership, because so it was understood, they 'suffered and struggled more'. Former black comrades, now discovered that they did not suffer enough and back came the notions of African, coloured and Indian in the nomenclature of officialdom, still under the broad rubric of 'black', but now facing new challenges, elites and political configurations. Also, newer generations, born after official apartheid, re-invented new meanings of the notion of colouredness, but also blackness and so forth, a process that is evolving and affirming the identity in seemingly positive and not mutually exclusive ways. Being Indian, Coloured or whatever is not an affirmation of being against whoever or not affirming the historical place of black consciousness challenging whiteness. This is the postcolonial fluidity of hybrid identities, that are emerging in the face of new challenges in late modernity, as it also unfolds in Southern Africa. It seems that over against the prevalence (still) of whiteness (irrespective of the demise of the National Party) in media and economy as well as the arts, blackness still has to be affirmed, keeping in mind the complexity of identityformation in the postcolony, so that we all (irrespective of the identities we hold dear) can attain a new consciousness. This might sound like semantic confusion, and maybe it is, given the rapid transformations we face and the need, maybe for new language and meaning. But we cannot escape the difficult task of grappling with what ever we inherited, in order to overcome the contradictions in it. It is only through this struggle, that we can come to a place where we bestow upon the whole South Africa and the world this gift of a human face (Biko).
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