Perhaps this week we shall attempt to reveal ourselves. To stop living behind carefully constructed words even as they are painstakingly considered. Let us for a change try something rather radical. Honesty. Let’s be honest about who we are so that we can build a meaningful relationship. We know now that it is an open secret – a secret everybody well knows. But so that we are all on the same page. So that we are all understanding the same words from the same hymn book even if we dare not sing that awfully tedious powerless song…
Senzeni Na? What have we done?
The question still remains. What have we done? This time however the question is not from victims clothed in the blanket of a moral higher ground. Righteousness. Black victims of haphazard, thoughtless violence perpetuated by the machinery of the Apartheid government. It is not a cry of helpless individuals trapped under the well soled Veldskoene of a prepubescent child. It is instead much like the crazed, bewildered dry wide eyes of a mother who has just discovered by some mysterious turn of the wheel of fortune that she has somehow unintentionally killed her own off-spring, sold them off to the highest bidder in a valiant attempt to love and protect them.
What have we, in fact, done?
“There is no future here” says a woman in a taxi travelling from Norwood to the city of Johannesburg. “Our children are hooked on the pill, there’s no life. All they ask for is two rands so that they can get the pill, from the Nigerians. Everybody knows it’s the Nigerians, but when violence breaks out, people attack the Somali traders as if they’re the ones who’ve introduced this pill to the community. The Somalians are good to us, they help us even buy food on loan, they are helping the community. But we are too afraid to tell Nigerians to stop, instead we attack the very people who are helping us, because they are weaker. We are not against foreigners. But someone has to say something about the drug problem. Look” She says pointing to the bridge filled to the brim with soiled blankets used by the homeless to sleep. “Johannesburg has become an open bedroom. Everywhere you look there are people sleeping, wasting away under the bright light of the sun? Who is going to lead our country in the future? What is going to happen to us?” She asks to a quiet audience in the taxi. No one has the answers.
Senzeni Na? What is our only sin now?
We all know the Hym no? After a few repetitious lines the hymn goes on: our only sin is being black. Is this still our only sin? “They’ve given us a chance” says a prominent Johannesburg artist “White people have given us a chance to change our future and we have failed. Now they are coming back in and taking over. What have we done in the past 22 years? What have we achieved? I don’t blame white people for taking over” He says pointing at the well-lit street in the not so newly gentrified Maboneng district. “What have we achieved? The politicians know that they have failed, which is why they allow developments like this one to take place to make it look like they are doing something when they are not. Paul Mashatile (former Gauteng Premier of Gauteng) and others is in on this game, they have shares in what’s going on in Maboneng”. So if this is what we think…
Who has the right to conquer, who, now?
The same artist later tells me of an incident involving Kenney Kunene, you know that guy. He’s famous for a party he once hosted in which his patron were treated to Sushi served on well carved female bodies. That one. He approached him one day, when he was still a public supporter (or literal founder) of the newly minted political party, yes the new red: The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), this after his own attempt at launching a party failed. The story goes that Kenny Kunene was referred to “said” artist by another former member of the EFF who shall remain nameless. Kunene wanted to commission the artist to do a painting similar to “The Spear” by Brett Murray in order to humiliate the former leader of the DA Helen Zille for 80 thousand rand. His motivation to the artist was this: they (EFF) needed to defend uBaba, another name for the current president of the country, Jacob Zuma. This of course was before both Kenny and the unnamed former EFF member fell out with the EFF. The painting never materialized
Senzeni: What is a Negotiated Settlement?
As far as we know the EFF and the ANC are on polar opposites of the power spectrum. One party has it, the other wants it. The ANC won’t just give in. So the EFF is threatening to take it by force. The EFF has promised that once it gets the power it needs it will take back the land. The question is: from who?
This is somewhat reminiscent of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA 1 and 2) between the ANC and the National Party and the subsequent Multi Party Negotiations in ’93 which led to the elections. Did the ANC not receive its share of the loot? Did we not sign power sharing agreements then? Did we not formally sell our land on the dotted line then? Why is it that when we talk about the economy of South Africa we always say dejectedly that it is still in the hands of a white minority? Why is this still the case? Kanti what were we negotiating for back then? Who will fix that? The EFF? Was this not fixed back in ’90s already?
What we have done: The Sunset Clauses.
Last year, former president Thabo Mbeki explained to a group of school children that the ANC offered sunset clauses ( a measure within a statute, regulation or other law that provides that the law shall cease to have effect after a specific date, unless further legislative action is taken to extend the law. Most laws do not have sunset clauses and therefore remain in force indefinitely, except under systems in which desuetude applies) to the National Party. In it, it was agreed that political parties that got 10% and above in the 1994 elections would form part of the government of national unity as to avoid a winner-takes-all situation, but also to ease the NP’s loss of power. Was that all that was negotiated for nearly a decade if not more? The sunset clauses seem to have been the opposite of what we were told they were about. The inverse of popular opinions. Perhaps it was a 20 year “free-styling” period, after which the status quo shall resume.Otherwise how do you explain the ANC? The EFF? The DA? How do you explain these parties? They don’t make sense to me.
See, I think history is repeating itself – and unfortunately it seems “we” have been hoodwinked into believing we have conquered.
Pherphas we should change this old anti-apartheid hymn to something more current. Perhaps we should try to honestly answer this question: Senzani Na?
What are we doing?