Do something, President Zuma

Do something, President Zuma
  • PublishedMay 21, 2015

“The only way to express ourselves in the new world is by being together. I don’t like to be a colony. If we do not get together, we will disappear from world history” – Romano Prodi, then president of the European Commission, writing in the Guardian, 16 February 2001

Last month I promised to continue the discussion on whether or not we succeeded in the task we set ourselves at New African to help the African regain his self-confidence. But, sorry, we cannot do it this month because a serious emergency has arisen in South Africa to divert our attention. So to South Africa, and Namibia (the “mini South Africa” up north), we go this month. I hope our readers know where the Orange River is, or we may have to employ the wisdom of the Mexican-American comedian, Paul Rodriguez, who says, “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography”. I agree.

Like him or hate him, the mercurial Julius Malema, leader of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, can speak truth to power – and to ordinary people as well. On 20 April, he went to Alexandra and told the people matter-of-factly: “Today, I’m not proud to be South African. I am totally ashamed, because today Africans are eating fellow Africans. We are all Africans. Africa, we are one. We must be ashamed. Unemployed people criticising foreigners for taking their jobs should rather ask the ANC. Go ask the ANC for a job. It protects white privilege and leaves you in poverty.”

The EFF leader has grown taller during this spate of madness that has descended in the streets of South Africa, if not in the heads of some South Africans. I agreed with Malema when, with President Jacob Zuma sitting only a breath away from him in Parliament, he told the South African leader that his body language was not right when he was condemning the latest spate of Afrophobia in Durban where four African immigrants had been burned alive, ostensibly in protest against the joblessness of the locals.

Let’s all agree on one piece of terminology. What we see in South Africa is not “xenophobia” – which, according to my dictionary, is the “intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries”. What is happening is the intense or irrational dislike of people from other African countries – only! So whoever coined the term “Afrophobia” was bang on.

To buttress this point, in mid-April I saw a European TV reporter in Johannesburg interviewing two of these sorry South Africans who blame their misfortunes on “foreigners”. They were carrying crude knives, and when asked about the knives, they answered: “When I meet a foreigner, I will kill him.” But there was a “foreigner” standing right in front of them, interviewing them to boot! Yet because the TV reporter was white, the fact that he came from England or France did not matter. He was not a “foreigner” because he was white! May the good Lord help these wretched South Africans to see beyond their feeding spoons!

How, in hell, and for how long, do they think they can continue to burn alive fellow black Africans? How do they think they came to gain their freedom from apartheid? Didn’t all Africa stand together? Didn’t all Africa give them refuge in our countries, and look after them? Didn’t many Africans pay the ultimate price when their countries were bombed by the apartheid goons in revenge for harbouring black South Africans?

President Zuma knows this fact. He told Parliament in mid-April: “…Others came to South Africa as refugees having run away from conflict or wars in their countries of origin, in the same way that many South Africans left this country at some point and lived in other countries on the continent and beyond. We were treated with generosity, dignity, and respect by our brothers and sisters from the rest of the continent. We will never forget that hospitality and solidarity.”

My greatest disappointment lies with the South African leadership that has shirked the responsibility of teaching the generations under them the sacrifice other African countries made towards black emancipation in South Africa – to the point where today Africans are seen as “foreigners” deserving to be burnt alive in Durban and Johannesburg, to the point where “one wonders where some South Africans get their airs and graces from when the whole region paid the price for their freedom”, as the Zimbabwean writer, Paul Mangwana puts it.

Airs and graces – don’t they remind me of Ian Smith, once the prime minister of Rhodesia? He wrote in his memoirs, The Great Betrayal: “I must say that I have met the odd arrogant Englishman on a few occasions, never more so than when they carry with them the stamp of the British Foreign Office.” You can replace Englishman with South African. That is what they have sadly become in 20 years of freedom.

So, do something, President Zuma. Please do something! “Africa, we are one,” as Malema says. Don’t let the murderers in Durban who burnt the four Africans alive go scot-free. If you ask me, I would say, let them hang to set an example to future murderers like them. Let them hang so they know what it means to die a slow death. And those who stood by, cheering, ululating, and urging the murderers on, or pushing the victims back into the fire, let them get their just recompense!

Do something, President Zuma, including improving the lot of the black majority, in a country where no less than 88% of South African companies are in white hands. Do something more than feeble condemnation, otherwise, what is happening will continue with impunity into the future. To heal, South Africans need more than mere words. 

Why do I say so? Because the condition they claim to protest against – joblessness and the general state of poverty engulfing black South Africans – is not likely to be resolved any time soon when white capital is in control, and the owners of white capital are not keen to share the bounties of the country. This is why the burnings are so misdirected. For example, 20 years after the end of formal apartheid, white farmers are still unwilling to share the land with their fellow black citizens. Some day very soon, the land issue is going to explode catastrophically in their faces.

The same, I dare predict, will happen in Namibia. I have just returned from Windhoek, the Namibian capital, and the news there is not good either (see this month’s cover stories). In Namibia, too, the minority white population is not being clever. They think they will find safety in total domination of the country – dominating the economy, dominating the ownership of land, coopting the black elite, and in the process forcing the black government to protect white privilege. They think this is an insurance policy for now and ever more.

Well, I pity them. The resentment building up in the black population against them is huge, and growing. They may be able to tame the current generation, but some day the current leadership will not be there and their successors may not be as docile as their fathers have been. 

The English say, “A stitch in time, saves nine”. The Germans and Afrikaners dominating the space in Namibia should embrace the long arm of wisdom. Anything else will be tantamount to unnecessarily stoking a smouldering fire.

Written By
Baffour Ankomah

Baffour Ankomah is New African's current Editor at Large. He has spent much of his 39 years of journalism at the magazine, having served as its Assistant Editor for 6 years, Deputy Editor for 5 years, and Editor for 15 years, retiring from active service in 2014. In 39 years of his journalism career - Africa and his many causes have been his passion. His personal column, Baffour's Beefs, which has been running continuously in New African since 1987, is a big hit and a must-read for the magazine's worldwide readers. He is now based in Zimbabwe, where he and his wife Elizabeth run their own media consultancy and fashion house called "African Interest" which trades under the trademark "I am African".

14 Commentaires

  • Why are whites being lied about ????? When what is happening in this country is by the current government !!!!!!

  • You have put it well, Baffour! It is Afro phobia, not Xenophobia! What the South Africans are doing against fellow black Africans in South Africa cannot go uncondemned. It is pity to note that the black South Africans do not know their real enemy. Their real enemy is the capitalist system which has nothing do with the poor. The main concern of the system is making super profits and never the welfare of the people. If black South Africans want economic and social relief, then they should fight against their real enemy.

    • Capitalism is a European economic system, and even before this system was brought into existence Europeans were already enslaving Africans and destroying African civilizations. Europeans (whites) have an invested interest in manipulating black consciousness and falsifying African history in order to get Blacks to serve their own selfish interests. How many times do we have to tell you we’re not interested in joining your cause before you people get it? We don’t want or need your system, your values, your culture or your ideologies.

      • Still sailing in the same boat, Asarhondo!We need to fight against the oppressive systems of the world. But the fight need to start from within ourselves. We need to change the mind set. We need an African mind set which values our African cultures, ideologies, customs, norms and other values. It’s only when we are true Africans that we can really wage war against our real enemies for our true freedom!

    • people are not solely oppressed by capitalism…. What about European culture. All people have not had their culture stripped, language’s destroyed. Show me a group of Whites with non European culture, language in Europe…..show and prove. You marginalize the African people. You have no respect for African history, culture so how can you respect African people? You sir are the racist. You wish to marginalize the struggle of Black’s by distorting their history. Name me the other races who dies in European Dungeons on the coast of west Africa.

      • I am no racist, my dear Asarhondo. I think we are sailing in the same boat. I am for African liberation from the western fetters. I am myself black and stand for black fraternity all over the world. South Africa’s Xenophobia or Afro phobia is against black fraternity.

    • why do Africans hate to stay in their countries?
      Only South Africans, Namibians and Botswanians stay in their countries!
      I hate charlatans like Bafour Ankomah who preach to hell and back that the West is bad yet they would kill you if you take them from London and drop them to their preferred heavens of Harare, Havana or Pyongyang!!!
      0ne Mugabe acolyte was recently scolded by Dr Tomas Mapfumo for preaching Mugabeism from the lofty comforts of Albion!!!!!! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aae51aaabe0afb74fc8e27e8459fdfdeef14bb950237a77d23ecd466be1f9b17.png

      • The answer to your question, dear Zvobgo, is obvious. Africans hate to stay in their countries mostly because of poor economic conditions.The reason behind the scenario is the ruthless neo colonialism which grabs the continent’s wealth leaving it in dire poverty. Who loves to stay in such a situation?

  • There is not one Pan African government on the continent. Add to that, all the media outlets are owned by Caucasians,.SA where whites are less than 5% of the population. If class was the main problem we wouldn’t have this less than 5% white SA population dominating the country and owning and controlling nearly the entire economy. There’s not a place in the world with whites at the bottom or Blacks at the top of the social ladder (not even in Africa). Whites are dominate all over the globe not by coincidence but by deliberate race-based global organization and alignment. The empirical evidence and record shows that white hegemony is the major problem in the world, not “class”.

    This article is focused on a bad narrative. Focus on getting a Pan African SA government.

  • The article makes a lot of sense to all politically focused africans.
    It is pointless to blame our mentally distorted brothers in South Africa,because they have no idea about their past.And the late Steve Biko once reasoned that “the most dangerous weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.Based on that,one does not wonder why the black south africans would mistake a fellow black for a foreigner in a country where you have europeans,indians,jews and arabs being considered as sacred humans.
    But again,the south african black elites,including the late venerated Mandela,should take the biggest share of the blame for having betrayed not only south africans but the entire continent.

  • This is a master piece lecture. Please serialise this literature for posterity. It is as informative as it is educative. Who can swallow Baffour’s Beef!!!

    • Bafour dines with dictators like Mugabe


    Dry tears I cry
    For brothers and sisters
    Maimed down
    In the south

    For wet tears
    I shed for brothers
    Whose brevity
    Looked Apartheid
    In the eye
    And exorcised its spirit

    Dry tears I cry
    For brothers and sisters
    Who I housed
    When Apartheid
    Stripped them of grace
    Ate unto their soul
    Draining them
    Of any dignity left
    Through those long walks
    In the night seeking refuge

    For wet tears
    Still wet
    The fresh mounds
    Of red Earth
    On the graves of death
    Apartheid brothers lain

    The dark monuments
    That’s the apartheid grave
    Still paints
    The soul and heart
    Of the Khoi and San
    Whose damp beauty
    Is yet to wipe
    The tears of downed
    Brothers and sisters and children
    Sisulu,Mandela too

    Dry tears i cry
    For brothers maiming brother
    The river flows freely
    From the north
    Only dries in down south
    Let its course
    Slither unhindred
    Sample fruits freely

    For wet tears I cried
    For Mandela
    In his incarceration
    On the Robben Island
    Liberating Us
    In his fast
    From The chained

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