Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bruin initiative and being proudly South African

A lot has been said about Bruin Belange Inisiatief, (CCI) and that it is a reversal to an outdated, old South African identity, a relic of the past, best left behind. Apart from an emotional bitter attack from Jonathan Jansen, which unfortunately said more about himself then about BBI; 'on the ground' there is a positive vibe about this initiative.

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.

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