Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mbeki's alienation from Coloured people

Rhoda Kadalie, slammed President Thabo Mbeki's speech on the Cape flats on Freedom Day. In a Cape Times article, Mbeki's babbelas blast, she is quoted to have said: "He's very alienated from the coloured people of the Western Cape. They are cannon fodder - they are neglected, marginalised and feel left out of the equation.The only time these people matter is when elections come closer." The question is not whether she is correct in her assessment of the Mbeki speech, but whether this statement is rings true of the current president and his government. There will be many answers to this critical question. Within the ruling elite and the political classes the answer would be that such statement is alarmist and devoid of any truth. They would argue that the Coloureds, in terms of government policy is counted amongst the 'designated groups', 'black' and therefore high on the current government's priority list. They would also, with a sigh of irritation, paradoxically dismiss the reality of a unique Coloured perception of reality. Coloured for most of them would be a relic of the apartheid past, a creation of the Population Registration Act and therefor irrelevant as a social category within the 'New SA'. In any case, for them there are only 'black', as a relevant political consciousness over against white hegemony.

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

Spam forced us to change settings

Due to a series of spam hits, we have been forced to change the settings. It will therefore not be possible to post anonymous posts (registered forum members and bloggers only), whilst we have also decided on moderation before comments is published. Hence, it will take a bit of time before your comments will show on the blog. This is unfortunately the type of game we're in. Keep trying though !

Monday, April 7, 2008

Allan Boesak still believes in reconciliation

The recent comments by Jodie Kollapen on the assumed failure of reconciliation, has sparked an intense debate, on the question whether its still relevant to speak of it. Prof Allan Boesak contends that indeed we are at a crossroads with regards to this discourse, but at a deeper level, experiencing the reality of it. In his most recent contribution in the Beeld, he deals with this crucial question. His article, incisively, grapples with the reality of today, the disillusionment with the 'new South Africa', but he goes further, by adding a faithful, hope-giving perspective on our current crisis. Indeed, our current challenges are not unique to societies in transition, in fact, it could be argued that we are doing much better then anticipated by many doomsday prophets; but the challenges remain grave and serious. This calls for people with grit and determination to remain hopeful in the quest for a society that thrive and allow her children to blossom. It requires from our public leaders to turn their conversations of despair, into a discourse of hope, of a future worth believing in.

Friday, April 4, 2008

En waar pas die bruin mense in ?

We felt that this article is so relevant for our conversation that we've included it in full, courtecy of Die Beeld. Under the heading "En waar pas die bruin mense in?", dated Apr 02 2008, prof Richard van der Ross, former rector of the University of the Western Cape, deals with the question of identity, but also the complext matter of creolization. The issue of 'mixture', as argued previous posts, to understand the identity of bruinmense, may however not be helpfull, as it is premised on the myth of 'pure' races. Our arguement has been that this is not helpful as,(at least genetically) there seems to be a substantial and growing body of knowledge which indicates that essentialist racial purity does not exist. This discussion is not over yet and we need to come back on this. For now let's hear prof van der Ross:

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?