By Mfungelwa Sithole
The spirit of liberation within Azania was burning and South Africa got burnt by the flames of rebellion. The writer Lunga Tlou introduces us to the two state analysis in he’s article, “Pimp My Ghetto”. The two opposing forces (states) are of an oppressed people (Azania) and the ones doing the oppressing (South Africa). The people of Azania are fighting for the freedom to self-determine their own destinies and their land. In the words of Mangaliso Sobukwe: “We must fight for freedom – for the right to call our souls our own.”
The people are fighting for their souls to call them their own in their own land. The trustee of blackness who is the oppressor does not want to give up trusteeship on the lives of the native – the black man. At each corner where the black man has tried to rid himself of the chains of whiteness it has been met with resistance. The oppressor loves order as it allows him to continue with the exploitation. The call for a free decolonised education is a call for unity of thought amongst the African masses to free their minds from the control of oppressor.
Closing off such a turbulent year with so many great experiences within the black movement, we owe it to the masses to close off 2016 with an Article focusing on the biggest issue of the year, which is the noble and just cause by students in their cry for a Free Decolonised Education.
The following issues/topics are a few that have been talked about in the movement to attain a free decolonised education:
- Educating the Africa Child
To an oppressed people, education teaches them about themselves, their oppression, their oppressor, common reason for their oppression, their alliances and how to liberate themselves. Meaning any kind of education that moves from their culture, language and identity as Africans is nothing but, miseducation. You have seen by now what education means to us: the identification of ourselves with the masses. Education to us means service to Africa (Mangaliso Sobukwe, 1949). Education to us means knowledge that can be applied to solve our societal issues, ideas of how we can liberate ourselves. The only knowledge that will achieve this is one that makes us look into ourselves not away from ourselves.
2.Decolonising Our Minds
We need to understand that the colonisation of the mind is about us hating ourselves. The knowledge fed to us is so violent that we hate our own language, culture and knowledge. The dominant culture instills itself so much that we accept it as being normal. That we relegate ourselves to a position of inferiority and the dominant culture of whiteness as superior, because the only knowledge we have been taught is about them and nothing about ourselves. The process is about misinforming us about our own culture in order to maintain our oppression. It’s so we can internalise oppression and start to justify it since all we know is them.
Our ideology emanates from our culture hence you find Africans justifying being oppressed because the ideologies they are using are from the oppressor’s culture – the dominant culture of whiteness. When the oppression has been done thoroughly the oppressed will be found speaking in the defense of the oppressor as they lack their own ideology – their own culture.
The need for decolonization is a call for self-determination. When we start to learn about ourselves and our oppression, we are re-humanizing ourselves. It’s about organising society from the viewpoint of our culture and highlighting our own contributions to humanity in order to build pride within black people. It is then we can claim our land so, we can build the Africa we want. The organising of Africa will be done through an African eye with philosophes that are African orientated. It’s a complete move from capitalism to Pan-Africanism as the only movement to unite us. Steve Bantu Biko: “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” We can never use the ideologies that were used to oppress us to free ourselves.
Decolonisation is freeing ourselves from all forms of oppression from the mental to the physical.
3. Institutional Autonomy
Universities have been viewed as ivory towers and independent of the societies they serve. But we must remember the role of the university is to nurture people’s aspirations. The university is the ground where solutions to societal issues are developed and the preservation of a people’s knowledge, culture, identity and history occurs.
The concept of institutional autonomy is nothing but, modern day fascism. The issue with privatisation of institutions is to ensure that people do not have a say about the institutional culture and the knowledge it disseminates. The current setup of universities oppress the African child as it excludes any knowledge that comes from black lives as it is not viewed as relevant knowledge in modern day rational thinking. Universities are grounds for suppressing black bodies in order to have them internalise western culture as the only form of living life. This type of thinking is setup to destroy African culture, its knowledge systems and everything that is African.
The insane resistance to change by the white power structure is because, if the knowledge and the culture at these institutions can change to be more Afrocentric the power they have over black people ceases to exist. The miseducation of the black minds is to maintain oppression and justify the oppression through a westernised or eurocentric curriculum that would have black people believe they do not exist outside of whiteness.
- The State sleeps with Capital
We need to understand the relationship between the state and capital. Capitalists have the economic power to buy people; simply put capital has captured the state. So there is no such thing as the state being independent from capital. That is why we have a government that is too quick to deploy police to defend institutions/private property but, not the people. You start to learn about the collusion between the government and the private sector – monopoly capital.
To give modern day examples under this so called “democracy”, the black government sent police to shoot down black striking mine workers for demanding a living wage from a white owned private mine. This was a labour relations issue between employer and employees so, what was the police doing in a labour issue? The police were protecting profits of the white monopoly capital.
A most recent case is the government’s de facto state of emergency on university campuses. The state and capital would rather kill students than give them #FreeDecolonisedEducation. As we have seen with the long detainment of DUT FeesMustFall Student, Bonginkosi Khanyile who still lies behind bars, almost 3months.
5. Transformation My Right Foot!
The modern rationalist thinking world would like to mislead us into believing that our problems with institutions, originates from the lack of blackness in management. So in their view, to address this issue there needs to be more black faces in management for it to be transformed.
This theory has a plantation mentality to it as it assumes that the slaves feel oppressed because the person holding the whip is not of their skin colour. Even if the person holding the whip is black it’s still slavery and the plantation is still a place of their oppression.
The transformation project is about assimilating black faces into management positions, creating a few house slaves that will be used as a shield by the plantation master. The slave’s outcry will be “we are being exploited and want to share in the wealth we are creating” and the master will say if you work hard enough you can become one of us referring to the house slaves.
This renders transformation flawed as it does not address the oppression maintained by the master (dominant culture). It does not change the foundation that the institution was built on, which is anti-blackness. Transformation does nothing for the black man as he’s situation remains the same. After all, the term transformation was coined and mostly gets used by the oppressor. This is why the Movement speaks of Decolonisation.
6. “Not all blacks are homogenous”
The differentiation of blacks is the enemy’s strategy to divide and conquer as it reduces the power of mass struggle. Blacks do not stand to gain anything by being divided, which is why such self-defeating conduct is discouraged…
The enemy will make us believe that the suffering of our people has nothing to do with so, we do not build a critical mass. The divisions in our struggle will be on skin colour, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, class, church denomination and the biggest one, party politics. For instance the oppressor will have us fight over skin colour where its light skinned Africans versus dark skinned Africans which will reduce the ability to identity as one people who have a common oppressor.
We refuse to be divided – all struggles of black people are intersectional and they are all a rejection of the system.
7. TBB – The Black Bourgeois
The “black elite” is a danger to the revolution as they want to maintain the system as is, since they benefit from it. They have assimilated into whiteness and have now become watch dogs for the oppressor. They are only black in skin colour but, they behave in an anti-black fashion.
They themselves, like their white masters suffer from the superiority complex. They will be found making utterances such as “if everyone is educated, who will do hard labour?”. They want to keep the vast majority in servitude, oppressed and underdeveloped, so they can maintain their exploitation.
These individuals have internalised whiteness and see black suffering as a norm not a man-made situation. They will further say “their laziness is the reason why they are poor”, forgetting that black people do hard labour and get paid peanuts (poverty wages) which is why you find them protesting for a living wage like in Marikana. So there is no correlation between poverty and laziness but, it’s a structure dictate that keeps them poor.
The “black elite” with their fancy degrees look down on Blackpeople as these behaviour modification institutions have managed to turn them into coconuts, black people on the outside and white on the inside. They believe in classism and individualism. They feel unconnected to their people’s struggle to free themselves as they have been white washed. They do not lift a finger to assist their people in fighting the enemy to end their suffering. They are what Amiri Baraka refers to as a “Catch 27”; the problem is that they don’t know the real problem.
8. Militarization Our Struggle – The Makunyiwe Macala Principle
Kwame Ture once said; Organisation is everything. In every struggle a people must organise their revolution for a conscious struggle. People cannot continue to struggle unconsciously. We need to organise for power.
We have had spontaneous struggles from #RhodesMustFall, #FessMustFall, #OutsourcingMustFall and currently #FreeDecolonisedEducation. All these movements are important in our struggle for self-determination but, the drawback has been that they are not coordinated struggles. This leads to small wins against the system rather than collapsing the whole system all together at once. It means we need a couple of revolutions to free ourselves when we could have done it in one push.
In these struggles we have been brutalized by the state and capital with their arms of force mainly the police and private security. The only thing we have been able to do is run from teargas, rubber bullets and black boots. The aftermath is black lifeless bodies and injured scores of our people, we never responded to this brutality at the hands of the police and private security. In the words of Malcom X: “They attack the victim and then the criminal who attacked the victim accuses their victim of attacking him.” We allowed the state and capital (The System) to shed our blood whilst they walk away untouched and unscarred.
It’s high time we meet them on the frontlines equally prepared and equipped as they are when they come to attack us. We have to build our own police and private security response unit that will protect our masses. It must be a registered private security entity of our own to ensure that our people can have a peaceful demonstration. These crazy institutions have police and private security “protecting” them and no one is protecting us. We cannot rely on their moral conscious as they do not have it and have no interest in protecting us. It is time to adopt the Makunyiwe Macala Principle in its truest sense by invoking the Spirit of the Black Panther Party in us and our struggle.
9. Criminalizing Our Struggle
The labelling of our struggles as being criminal is to justify the killings and the brutalization of black people. It is to dehumanize the people that are out in protest; their orders are to reduce our struggles from a noble genuine human course to being a nuisance dished out by a bunch of savages. Their actions are about making it easy to beat and kill black people as they have been lessened from the level of a human being.
Once they have managed to categorize them as “criminals” they seem to be given permission to do as they please with black bodies by this anti-black society. The criminalization of our struggle is to instil fear in the minds and hearts of the black masses. When we are struggling against the entire system we are aware that all of its arms are unjust to us and in one or the other they are instruments of our oppression.
In the words of Kwame Ture, “all oppressors are concerned with is order so that they can continue with their exploitation. What we must be concerned with is justice, and the only way we can have that is by disrupting the order so that the continued exploitation ceases.” we can never struggle on their terms it means we are not doing anything to shake the system. Hence they try to scare us with prison but, they must know “it’s an honour to face jail for a just course” (Martin Luther King Jr).
At the same time we need to create a fund of our own to cover legal fees for comrades that have been detained. It’s high time our “black professionals” used their education to the service of Africa; these so called black organisations must play a more meaningful role in our struggle. Organisations like BLA (Black Lawyers Association) are key players in this anti-black legal system.
In closing a lot of crime against the black man has been legal hence it continues freely, for instance Apartheid was law of the land to oppress us. With that being said it being legal it does not mean it is just so, the dominant culture creates laws that allow them to oppress the masses.
- Violent Protests
We must set the record straight there is no such thing as a “violent protest”, the very nature of protests is peaceful. The source of violence is never from the protestors but, from the state/capital whether it be police or private security forces. Their “crowd control” measures are a source of violence they only include teargas, rubber bullets and black boots to disperse the peacefully protesting crowd.
The response of the power structure, being a heavy handed tactic of brutality on protestors, is the real violence in all protests. Protests are a sign of discontent by the people against their oppression and serve as a legitimate call for the power structure to come to the table to have a discourse with the people about their suffering in order to put an end to it.
The only way the white power structure will respond is the only way it has historically responded to black oppression by suppressing it through violence. The response by the power structure leaves people with no other alternative but to turn & fear them rather than confront the violence/oppression they dish out. . The masochists believe in silencing voices of oppression, hence these protests are continuously met with violence.
Capital wants to the make us believe that we as the public are unable to produce quality in order for them to sell us lies. They say “free things” do not have quality so, the assumption is that something can only have value and be of quality if it has a cost… This argument by privatisationalists holds no water, as there isn’t any direct relationship between quality and cost.
It was only after the 17th May 1954, when Brown won the case against the board of education that separated public schools for blacks and whites as the courts declared this practice to be unconstitutional. This is when the racists took their children to private schools, claiming that public schooling is inferior. This view of the commodification of education is from the bourgeoisie that believes in maintaining the status quo as is, since they benefit from it. They believe the value of knowledge is how much the education costs to acquire it, not what the knower can do with the knowledge.
These Uncle Toms have the audacity to ask the students “where will the money to fund the free quality education come from?” Here is a clue, from the same place that funds your children to go receive private education and study abroad. The same place that gives your wives allowances as if they are the taxpayer’s responsibility. We can also recover the money that was misused by your fellow comrades through illegal tenders with inflated prices.
The unaccounted for spending within the state and its entities and the insane bonuses issued by parastatal’s to executives even when they are making losses and must be bailed out. What about retrieving the money the private sector stole with the former regime from the state. The illicit financial flows by multinational companies alone if recovered would cover the fees of the students.
It’s not that the money is not available there is neither political will nor leadership to recover it. Money is not the problem; the lack of creativity is the problem as the politicians are unable to apply their minds to this issue. We must not be surprised by this as the politicians themselves lack accountability to the people that being said we can never expect them to make anyone accountable for anything.
But on the issue of politicians we seem to have a monopoly on corrupt leadership. The scum of our race dominates us, these pigs seek individual luxury in the mists of mass suffering of the masses (Kwame rephrased).
To quote from Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe; “They will probably try to cut us off from one another, censor the press, use their propaganda machinery to malign the leaders, mislead the people and spread falsehood about the campaign.” In our struggle we can never rely on the media as a source of information or a moral indicator of the movement as it is an anti-movement since the white power structure owns the media.
There is no “independent media” because the ruling class owns it & can never disseminate any information that they do not approve of. It is not in any way or form, an independent entity for social change but, it is an instrument by the oppressor to maintain disunity against the masses to discourage mass struggle.
It has made itself a trustee of the “voiceless” meaning struggling people but, it lies as it’s only a machinery to protect the elite that oppress the African masses. The media is not a neutral party they are part of the oppressor’s camp (industrial complex) and their role is to justify the oppression of the people by the dominant culture (White monopoly capital) and void black suffering/silence us hence we are said to be “voiceless”.
What they are concerned with is profits not justice nor are they concerned with telling the truth about our suffering and our quest to liberate ourselves. The people we are struggling against are the ones that own the media that is why the revolution is never “televised”. Let us not forget that the media has the ability to turn the truth into a lie and the lie into the truth.
Allow me to close by firstly quoting Mangaliso Sobukwe, “I wish to make it clear again that we are anti-nobody. We are pro-Africa. We breathe, We dream, We live Africa, because Africa and humanity are inseparable.” We seek to build knowledge systems, institutions, people, societies and nations that seek to humanize everyone.
The method were following is African Nationalism or rather Pan-Africanism as Kwame Ture defined it as “the total liberation and unification of Africa under scientific socialism”.
Recent examples of African unification is the decision by the East African trade bloc to use Swahili as a common language of trade within the bloc, it’s the creation of a common African identity.
Mangaliso Sobukwe indicates the role of academia in the oppression of the mass, “It is interesting to note that the theory of “Apartheid” which is today the dominating ideology of the state was worked out at Stellenbosch by Eiselen and his colleagues.” You now need to realize the same setup that created Apartheid is the same setup that exits to this day. The anti-black knowledge that these institutions disseminate is the same knowledge that created Apartheid and the fuel behind racism. This dehumanizing education system must be collapsed altogether to liberate ourselves.
- Sinethemba Sembene Mandyoli, Selected speeches of Robert Sobukwe and a mini-biography: https://ilizwe.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/speeches-of-r-m-sobukhwe.pdf [Accessed: 23 November 2016].
- Kwame Ture, Pan Afrikanism and the New World Order – Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qlPecr3zZk [Accessed: 23 November 2016].
- Amiri Baraka, Amiri Baraka Speaks to the Importance of Africans in American History; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f02_7kBL9Z8 [Accessed: 23 November 2016].
About the Contributor
Mfungelwa “Funkie” Sithole is a Co-founder of Awakened Minds, an entrepreneur & a poet. He is a Pan Africanist who writes in his own capacity.