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Kgebetli Moele

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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

Imagined Liberation: A review

Imagined LiberationThere are many factors that propel life forward, just as there are many that qualify and give life purpose, individually and collectively. We hardly question them, but find ourselves willing or unwilling contributors and sustainers of these factors in our lives. I have never asked who made the shoes I am wearing. I have never asked why I was born black, or why it is that I found myself living on this dark continent, just as I have never asked why and who called this The Dark Continent.

Yet, we humans have tried to answer questions beyond our basic function of living. We have probed outer space. We know the relationships and living conditions of whales. With all this knowledge, one would believe that human beings would have near perfect interrelations. Yet even in this Global Village we are still as strange as the Caveman.

In Imagined Liberation, Heribert Adam and Kogila Moodley ask vital questions about what has affected our daily lives since Adam. Presenting their case through the prism of three countries, their study attempts to give answers and solutions to the problems of xenophobia, citizenship and identity, and ask how we can be better human beings in sophisticated cosmopolitan cities and nations. Reading Imagined Liberation, I realised one fact: It would be an easier task for human beings to tame a shark and teach it how to communicate rather than teach a human being to be Human.

The misinterpretation of religions belief as a form of xenophobia in Germany, where Christianity is threatened by Islam. Northern Ireland takes the stand, where equal people have fought tooth and nail merely because they are separated by their religious beliefs. In India it is the Muslims and the Hindus and in Rwanda the Hutus and Tutsis. The break-up of Yugoslavia and the wars that resulted. The list goes on and on through history, and there will always be additions in the future.

However, Imagined Liberation fails to give answers or even theories that can serve as the starting point to finding solutions about why it is so easy to separate human beings.

Since 1980, illegal immigrants from Mozambique have moved in numbers to South Africa and there had never been an attack on them. We accommodated them and many became citizens. Why suddenly this violence against immigrants? We have been living with Zimbabwean immigrants from 1995 and Malawian immigrants since 1986. Maybe there were unreported incidents.

Why is it that today we have labelled ourselves xenophobic? What is the root of the problem and what are the related issues, primary and secondary? Why is it that different religions clash with each other? These are the questions that the authors of Imagined Liberation fail to probe and answer, thereby failing their study.

But the answers are there: In South Africa where the poor and the disenfranchised’s anger is labelled as black hate. All the supposedly xenophobic attacks occurred informal settlements, where poor South Africans occupy land illegally with immigrants who are taking low paying jobs and further driving the minimum wage, set out by government but not regulated across all industry. That these immigrants are making a living below the minimum wage and surviving angers a South African, who cannot accept lower than minimum wage. This rage builds, it roots itself and flowers and you can feel it in the children at a foreign-owned spaza shop, even while they are buying from the foreign owner. The owner smiles, making the transaction, as angry money is still money.

It just needs one incident to explode; the news that foreigners were attacked in Mshengoville, west of Tshwane, ignites the anger brewing in an informal settlement in Germiston, Harvest Time. Then the government will say that there are individuals trying to destabilise the country. I don’t see xenophobia, I see econophobia, people waiting to live, waiting for RDP houses, waiting for services, waiting for justice and equality, hence we have service delivery protests, we have dwindling voter registration and a diminishing voting queue.

As diverse a country as South Africa is, as any nation is, our human separation is an onionskin. Far more dangerous are the thoughts, the principles and the social values and conditions that thrust us forward. They are the marrow that separates human beings.

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Helpless and Hopeless

30 Nights in a Shack

 
In the South African political context, one cannot help the feelings of complete helplessness and broad-based hopelessness. They are brought about by the political leaders we have – not that we chose, because we never really choose them – but they advance through the party ranks until they are in our daily lives with their flamboyant ways or byways. We have them and at times we even bet with our lives to defend them.

Our complete helplessness and broad-based hopelessness are more magnified on that day that one is in a voting booth with ballot paper and he has to mark with an X. It is in that moment that the fact mock smiles in the face of a South African citizen. You are looking at that paper and your X on that paper is going to affect your life not only for the coming five years but for the rest of your life, as years add to your life regardless of negativity or positive growth.

Our complete helplessness and broad-based hopelessness were evident in the last national elections, as most of the people that I know were not interested in voting and nationally the voting queues were non-existent, furthermore it is reflected in the service delivery protests that we routinely have.

I know that there is an accepted notion that we South Africans are xenophobic but I am telling you for a fact that we black South Africa do not hate anybody. Yes, we have languages and cultures that separate us, each with its superiority complex, but the xenophobia attacks have been mislabelled by the media’s failure to interpret the situation and conditions: disenfranchised, helpless and hopeless South Africans looking at black Africans working harder and accepting underpaying just to survive and while the labour skills employees take advantage of this fact.

It is an international phenomenon where migrants from poor countries migrate and then accepting underpaying jobs. Why weren’t there xenophobic attacks where affluent black Africans live? We have lived with migrants from Mozambique since I was five years old (the time that I became aware of their presence).

Many things have happened in our beautiful country that have shaken me – I washed my hands with the knowledge that we will replace the President after his terms – but only two that have stirred me: PetroSA and recently Jack Bloom. How can PetroSA not have a plan to maintain the fuel price below nine rand? Do they even have a barrier that the fuel price must never go beyond? Or will the fuel price keep rising at will? Do they have crude oil reserves? Did they have to privatise Sasol? Do they have an idea what are they doing?

FYI: the apartheid regime maintained the fuel price under international sanctions.
Every time I think about PetroSA my heart bleeds.

The second is Jack Bloom’s 30 Nights in a Shack: A Politician’s Journey; hence I write this rant. Jack Bloom’s book magnifies our helplessness/hopelessness to Apollo status treating the conditions of the poor as something like bungee jumping for the thrills and satisfaction/reputation-building of the other. Having lived a shack life for years, there was nothing surprising in the book, the resilience and hopeless hope of the South Africans living in squalor not for 30 nights but years. I felt that the 30 nights were Bloom’s ego trip:

I can do something new within the SA political arena so South Africans can notice me.

Sure, some of us have noticed after reading the book and we are sane enough to have noticed that even in the DA lead Western Cape there are shacks that Jack Bloom did not care to stay overnight.

Why?

You can make a counter point but while driving to the Mother City on the N2, I witnessed Western Cape’s own Shack City. If Shack Cities are the ruling party’s negligence, why are they in Western Cape, the home of DA?

This is the hopelessness that the DA has gave me for my vote: remember the Blade Nzimande/Helen Zille issue? Blade bought a R2 million car and Helen drove a Toyota costing less than half a million. The worst thing happened, Helen and the DA went after Blade’s character. Blade did not do anything wrong, the only thing wrong was the handbook that said Blade and Helen can drive a car to that value, which was the issue that Helen and the DA should have gone after and changed. Four years later the handbook is still standing and they all drive million rands worth of cars.

I hear you ask a question: why does it bother you and not Nkandla? First because I gave the DA my vote after struggling to make that cross and carefully weighing the options that I had. COPE stimulated our nerves offering us a new kind of hope and help but they only proved that the apple falls not far from the tree as we continued bowing our heads to the status quo.

When EFF exploded in our face, I did not wear red because long before the red came Malema one morning stopped talking about mine nationalisation without giving us his final resolution on the issue – to this day he doesn’t say a word about nationalisation – I was not surprised, I accepted that he shook the Golden Hand.

Somebody caused me a lot of pain using few words that were meant for me to laugh:

“Today in our politics we have a triangle, the red monkeys and the blue
monkeys following the potbellied Lords while singing about what is on their
table.”

Everybody laughed but it is not a laughing matter to me. He just stabbed an un-healing wound.

Former president Thabo Mbeki once said that there will be no shacks by 2015 but 2015 is here and he is nowhere to answer to the billion shacks that we still have. What was his plan of action and why hasn’t it been implemented?

The important question that Jack Bloom fails to answer after his bungee jumping, mindblowing experience: has the 30 Nights solved the problem? Is there a bulletproof plan that the DA can implement into the Western Cape, that will eventually force the ruling party to adopt it and eradicate Shack Cities of our beautiful country?

No, because it was just a reputation building mission.

Then the worse fact about 30 Nights in a Shack is the last chapter: HOW YOU CAN HELP. Jack Bloom shifts his responsibility to YOU. Then I lack respect for his stay in a shack, for him as a leader and for the book because since February 2014 there have been more shack fires, shacks to rebuild and shacks built. Jack Bloom’s new motto – “Go experience it for yourself” – does it really need to be experienced and what after the experience, Mr Bloom? Publish a book, YouTube the videos and have a laugh? “This is Black poverty, ha ha ha.”

Our complete helplessness and broad-based hopelessness are not about living in shacks. It is not about the present day economic apartheid, no but it is about the politician’s journey – from Mandela to Zuma and from Leon to Maimane – and this political journey is not concluded in 30 simple nights in a reserved and secured informal settlement treated as if it was a three-star hotel overnight stay.

This political journey is not about looking at the government as the new goldmine where you have a limited time to get as much gold in your reserves as possible.

We need a new crop of politicians to walk this Political Journey.

Again, my complete helplessness and broad-based hopelessness choke me. It mocks me for uttering those words. But yes, YES, we need a new crop of politicians. It mock smiles in my face – whatever it is. I am choking being reminded of one ANC member carrying a banner that read: ANC WILL RULE UNTIL JESUS COMES BACK and I can’t help it, I am helpless to this choking fact.

There is a song in my ears: THE HOLY SPIRIT MUST COME DOWN AND AFRICA WILL BE SAVED and I know we all need it because all the politicians are on a journey of personal fulfilment and enrichment within this country, this beautiful country finger-puppeteer by Hands; Golden Hand, Tender Hand, Bank Hand, … Hand and … Hand.

Hands that have the possessive power to strangle any PRINCIPLE out of a principled politician that they become political skeletons, so that we, South Africans, have to put our trust and hope in skeletons.

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