Mhambi has been redeployed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

On Xolela Mangcu and the flames of anger

The whole David Bullard incident has put South African 'white' racism on the post mortem table again. It's prodded, dissected, analyzed. It's very repulsive everybody says. And part of the problem is that its not dead.

I agree.

My own view is that Bullard should never have been allowed to write the article, because of its extreme offensive and vicious tone. Given our history it is unacceptable and he should have been fired.

I agree with basically everything that the Caxton Professor, Anton Harber has said in regard to the Bullard incident.

I also share the view expressed by Xolela Mangcau, that it was the offensive and crude insinuations of lazyness and violence, and not the notion that Africans have benefited from colonialism that is the problem with the article.

Mhambi has made no secret of the fact that I dig Xolela Mangcu's columns. Mangcu is deeply hurt about the Bullard incident and especially many white people's reaction to it. I can understand why.

Today he wrote a piece Racism relapse: white SA on brink which is very worrying.

Mangcu says: "I still have the hope that sanity will prevail in the white world. I still have the hope that the all-too-easy defensive reflexes of racism will give way to long-term thinking about the safety of all those defenceless children, who will be left to reap the whirlwind of hate.

But right now, racism is not a black people’s problem, ridiculous charges of reverse racism notwithstanding. No white people are being sent to the guillotines in this country, which was routine practice throughout all those years they kept quiet as we survived the hellhole of the real racism of apartheid. We need visible action from the white community, perhaps a march against racism organised and led by white people.

But is it really possible that the events of the past week would not rouse white people into action? If so, then I’m afraid my friends will have been proved right. There will be no coconuts left to defend white folks from the flames of anger that could still come to engulf us all in “the fire next time”.

Mangcu extols Max du Preez as a leader who whites should follow.

"Max du Preez responded to this social reality thus: “The Polokwane show and Zuma-mania didn’t upset me, nor did the Selebi/Pikoli/Scorpions debacles. Not even Eskom’s disastrous outages shook my faith in my nation’s future. But the possibility that there is a large section of our nation still producing the likes of the Video of Shame Four, the Skielik killer, the Waterkloof Four, is the most depressing thought I’ve had in decades. Especially because that community is my own.” "

Mhambi hoped the Afrikaans community to react strongly to the Reitz video, which thankfully they did. I have had a careful look at the nature of Afrikaans racism on this blog. It's rife and its ugly.

But I think Mangcu and Du Preez are expecting whites to behave in a manner which just does not accord with how humans are.

I have said this before and I will say this again. In the UK, a country that sees itself as a model of racial tolerance, if all the things happened that Du Preez list here, racial incidents will ignite. The army would be on the streets.

Why do 'white' South Africans have to act to a different standard?

It's not just Eskom, Selebi, Pikoli cases thats fueling the flames. Even more damaging of white perceptions of black government is Mbeki's Aids denial, the Frere incident, the collapse of our schools, the xenophobic killings of African migrants and now again the callous behaviour towards Zimbabwe. If an ANC government does not care for black people, what kind of a message does that send out?

For Mangcu to say racism is not a black problem is to take a very limited view of the way South Africans treat each other. Racism does not have to aimed against whites for whites to take note of it and draw the obvious conclusions.

I spent a month in Yeoville recently and many black South Africans admitted brazenly - in a manner that would raise an eyebrow in a Ventersdop kroeg - that they were going to wipe out all the African foreigners there. We must just wait and see I was told.

As I have said before, I think racism is indeed on the increase. And we should fight it. A march against all racism is a very good idea.

What we are seeing is not a relapse. Although very nasty people will latch on to these moments. The Bullards will out. But we have something new as well.

I have witnessed grave doubts and even bitterness in whites about the ANC government from the most unlikely sources. From people who when I was a student reached out to black South Africa, who physically battled right wing students bigots. Who went into the townships, and wore African pendants and ANC colours proudly around their necks at risk of their personal safety, at right wing universities in an Afrikaner Pretoria.

It's a whole new tribe of 'racists', Rian Malan style. They like black South Africa but have ever decreasing faith that the ANC can govern the country and a rising fear.

And now these doubts are being expressed by the likes of Ferial Haffajee.

In some ways its strange we have not reached this point earlier. Writers like Anthony Altbeker has warned for some time now that crime is driving us apart. Andre Brink predicted a massacre two years ago.

Perhaps the only reason racist whites have been quiet is exactly the fear of what Mangcu is threatening.

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Reggie said...

Why, so it seems, are you arguing that its only white people that are fed-up with the things you ( and Max) raise ? Or, that its only white people that are negatively affected ? Mangcu himself, has been on the forefront of blasting the Mbeki government and his views. To be opposed to Mbeki is not the same as being racist.

Wessel said...

I'm not arguing that at all.

Excuse me Reggie, but since when is the likes of Ferial Haffajee and Rhoda Kadalie white?

I have also regularly highlighted Xolela's columns were he criticised the government and Mbeki.

If you think I think that it's only whites are negatively affected I invite you to read the post again. And also read what I have written about rising poverty, xenophobic killings of black foreigners etc.

And I have a problem with this race based argument in general. There is a huge difference between Afrikaans and English speaking white experience in this country.

Which is why I had 'white' in quotation marks.

What I am saying is in reaction to Mangcu's article on white racism (I think racism is endemic among all South Africans) and what I apparently did not express properly is that racism, suspicion and lack of trust is increasing in general and that its not surprising at all.

Also that its unrealistic to expect that in these conditions that it won't flourish. The surest way to fight racism is to provide a country through good governance where citizens can live in security, with opportunity and free from poverty.

Neither do I think that other South Africans do not make negative inferences even about their own race group because of the goverment's behavior. It seems to me that one of the big problems in this country is that many citizens don't value themselves.

You can't expect others to treat you with dignity if you don't treat yourself with dignity.