Nation-building and fight against racism still a work in progress

EFF supporters protest outside the Clicks store at the Sandton City mall earlier in Septemnber, causing it to close.
EFF supporters protest outside the Clicks store at the Sandton City mall earlier in Septemnber, causing it to close.
Image: THULANI MBELE

Shockingly, there are still companies like Clicks and Unilever which allow racist and insensitive adverts to go public. The TRESemme advert has raised the anger of the majority of South Africans and rightly so.

On the other hand, it’s not surprising, because SA has dealt sufficiently with neither racism nor nation-building.

For much of the past 25 years, the ANC has been consumed by a single-minded pursuit of control over state resources through political power.

They have not understood that the utility of state power is nation building and that, where this does not happen, state power soon dissipates. This dissipation of state power happens through the loss of legitimacy.

Consequently, violence and atrocity become the order of the day. SA is awash with violence, a disturbing sign that the legitimacy of state power is waning dangerously.

Under the ANC, violence in all its forms strangles all quarters of our society. There is the violence of an economic structure which harks back to the bad old days of colonialism.

There is the violence of a justice system which has run roughshod over the cultures, visions and aspirations of a vast section of the population.

There is the violence of racism, which was and is still a tool of economic extraction. There is the violence of a political system immersed in greed, corruption and political domination by those who call themselves our liberators.

The violence has slipped into the deep bowels of our homes and our families, where it poisons our children, kills our sisters, tortures and twists the souls of our brothers.

When the legitimacy of state power wanes, as it has in  SA,  other organs are quick to fill the void. This may be anything from rogue political parties to roaming gangs of organised killers and criminals.

The one thing often common among such hordes is that they attempt to gain legitimacy through violence. However, they never gain legitimacy. What they often manage to create instead is an atmosphere of chaos and fear. By the time people realise it, they are at the mercy of a violent and unrepentant regime.

Enter the political exhibitionist, the EFF, a thoroughbred product of the ANC ever on the lookout for the political moment to snatch. It specialises in riling our people up and presenting violence as a legitimate tool.

The EFF uses the vile language of violence and chaos, the only language which seems to be on the rise in SA. We must not be surprised if in our complacency we have allowed such groupings as the EFF to gain ground, to feed off our collective anger and to use violence as political currency.

The foolish TRESemme advert may not know what fuel it has provided to a fire which threatens to overwhelm our country. And in a moment of anger no explanation, no thought and no admonition will be heard.

By the time people realise it, they are at the mercy of a violent and unrepentant regime

If recent history is anything to go by, this is not the last incident of racism in the country. Unlike the racism of the past, which was legal and outright, most of the current incidents of racism seem to be remnants of untransformed minds.

These are minds that have not gone through the necessary re-education which should be part of our ongoing national effort. But who cares about building a nation when leaders are too busy filling their pockets with loot or protecting each other when exposed?

The gross negligence of the ruling party has created the environment for racism to thrive underneath a veneer of normality and an atmosphere ripe for parties like the EFF to rally the masses towards a semblance of antiracism action.

“No, we are not yet a nation. We are a patchwork quilt of cultures. When we are being nice to ourselves we say we are united in diversity. The ego needs a powerful massage. The lie wants to be deepened,” Fred Khumalo wrote in his article in the Sunday Times at the weekend.

This is a shocking observation by Khumalo. Perhaps even more shocking is the realisation that we may have failed dismally to create a coherent society. The fight against the artificial socio-economic divisions built by colonialism and apartheid seems to have been lost.

Tragically, the EFF seems hell-bent on ensuring that we never become a nation. By legitimising violence and bullying against Clicks, it employs the instruments of tyranny too well. However, frankly, both racism and tyranny are still not welcome here.



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