Its hard being a highly educated white male in a contemporary South African social order. At the tender age of 8, the ANC became a governing force, liberating this young author and the land upon which he lived. The world rejoiced, the people cheered and I eventually learned how to conjugate a verb. I grew up, side-by-side with black guys, constantly aggrieved that I couldn’t beat them at a 100m sprint, but emotionally unattached to our differing pigments. The blissful ignorance of youth shone brightly; contextually unaware of the past, yet ambitious enough to succeed at all costs. Life was good, Mandela was doing the rumba to an applausive crowd, Francois Pienaar was lifting trophies, Darren Scott didn’t have AIDS and here I was; dreaming of a bigger future. And here I am. Im highly successful, I have two degrees framed above my bed, I make an admirable living, im politically astute and my grasp on social issues is both poignant and opinionated. I’ve worked my arse so far to the bone you can actually see my pelvis if I wear a g-string and I’m damn proud to be where I am. So why, in this tumultuous time of racial divide, am I feeling guilty for being white?
The ANC’s mandate is covered in the Freedom Charter, a somewhat contentious document in its wording, but undeniably a skeleton on which to build a unified nation. It stipulates that the land belongs to all those who live in it, except of course the estimated 5 million illegal immigrants that have hop scotched our ferocious borders. These include affirmative action, Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment and various other bits and bobs of racially orientated legislature. Apartheid sucked, Verwoed’s a poes, we get it. And I believe for the moment it is of clinical importance that such laws exist in order to level the playing field. But how many times can I say “sorry”, extend not just an olive branch, but a whole fucking grove, before free handouts are abolished? When does the responsibility of achievement and economic freedom fall on the laps of my black brothers, as opposed to taking from the white guy?
Enter Julius Malema, a man who makes Idi Amin look like Bill Clinton in sweat pants. This weekend the intellectual juggernauts of the ANC Youth League descended upon Midrand for their elective conference. And besides trashing a hotel to the value of over a million rand, they discussed nationalizing mines, banks and forcibly removing white farmers from their legally purchased land. The complaint is that “Africans” don’t have claim to what is rightfully theirs, and those evil Mercedes producing, Microsoft programming, Johnnie Walker drinking devils of the West are pillaging “their” resources. But how do you lay claim to ancestral birthright?
The problem is in the definition of heritage. In fact if we look at our deep-seated history we find that the Khoikhoi (or Khoi San) were the first inhabitants of the land, migrating around the central and western parts of the country. Until the 1500’s what we know today as South Africa actually housed none, to minimal amounts of black tribes. The Nguni and Zulus moved down the east coast in the late 1500’s. When these burly black men encountered the San, they murdered, raped and enslaved them, taking their land, or at least the land in which they dwelled and turned them from hunter gatherers into foot massagers and bell boys. Wow sounding a bit like that time-that-shall-not-be-named *Cough Cough Apartheid Cough*. The Pedi’s, of which Julius Malema is a proud heir , didn’t reach our borders until the 1800’s, but I guess as long as you’re black youre entitled to everything under the African sky, without having to develop it yourself.
Our principle basis for land reform is the “willing buyer, willing seller” initiative. Since 1994, 95 percent of all fully functioning farms given to previously disadvantaged individuals have failed completely in production and are now either vacant, baron, or non functional. But as long as they have land, who really needs food production? Eating after liberation is a prudent mantra. The state owns roughly a quarter of SA’s land, but we know they aren’t going to part with any of it. So now King Jules wants to take it without compensation, without proper training and without any direct birthright to it, regardless of when the owner purchased the property? Seems fair!
He also wants the mines and banks. Lets lay claim to everything, even the minerals trapped kilometers below ground, that superior European technology excavated at considerable economic investment, the minerals the Pedis would have totally dug up if it wasn’t for Johan Van Niekerk and Willem FlikBliksem. The banks are largely owned by international companies and taking them would completely cripple our economy, so Im not breaking into night sweats about that just yet, surely common sense will prevail? Yes, because our country is known for its overwhelming logic and sound judgment.
But my issue is not restitution. Blacks were heavily disadvantaged during the struggle, and they need compensation. But who? And for how long? To what end? But more importantly everytime something goes wrong in this country; take a bit of responsibility. The ANC has been in power for over 17 years and every single state owned institution has gone to shit through corruption and mismanagement. Its your fault, you’ve ousted the whitey so now he holds 2.4 percent of governmental positions. Yet its always the “racist white agenda” that’s to blame. Fuck that. I had nothing to do with racism until you called me one. The weight of this country’s future is bestowed on your shoulders ANC and you cant simply take from the white and give to the black in order to right wrongs, we’ll only regress as a nation. So please stop blaming me for all the fuck-ups. I wasn’t as involved in Apartheid for those first 8 years as you’ll have me believe. Lets focus on educating the youth, equipping them with skills, stop Julius Malema talking about white people worse than Voldemort about muggles, and actually seeing the good that whites can bring to the country, and then this rainbow nation can finally have a pot of gold at the end of it, that we can all enjoy together.
FOR THE RECORD: Im proud to be white, im thankful everyday. Not because of pre-1994 doom and gloom, but for the great achievements white people have made through the years. You can try and make me feel shame Julius, but it only makes my resilience stronger. A shaky flake of history shouldn’t determine the way you see us as a collective. We’re not all General Hertzog in disguise!