The xenophobia and crude violence meted out against dark-skinned, poor Africans is not over yet. Pearlie Joubert, in her article, Murderous welcome for refugees, are right there on the spot (as allways), higlighting the horror of desperate people at the hands of South Africans.
I could (again) go on and lament this, and rightfully add my voice of revulsion and protest. After all, I am a Protestant. The Protestant Social Centre, in Antwerpen highlight in their year report on their work in supporting asylymseekers, 'Hierin mag een protestantse, protesterende en profetische geloofvisie niet ontbreken als mensen in de knoei komen, dichtbij of veraf.' It would however be better for us, also to look deeper into what lies behind this and whether we are in fact, dealing with the fundamental root causes. It's one thing to erect a tenttown haphazzardly or to mobilise volunteers and groups of people of wellbeing, to hand out food; it remains however another thing to work towards sustainable solutions for all concerned. I think on this level the shallow pleas of our leaders on the African-ness of us all or to invoke the fading memories of leaders 'ín exile' in these countries, in the face of our evident opulence and illusions of the great South African (economic) dream, has proven to be just that, illusions. A naive few still believe these and continue to imagine the new African National Congress as the custodians of the interests of the poor. They are not. Their interest is business, big business and yes, for them, even the legacy of our struggle, the legacy of the commitment to the poor is for sale.
What is the alternative? I heard that the National Party, the erstwhile custodian of apartheid, has risen from the dead. Initially I thought that this was a sick, April fool's joke in August, but unfortunatly it is not. They might even be the called the 'Herstichte Nasionale Party of the new SA'. But then, maybe in their ressurection, they also might point to the frightfull deepening of the social divisions, to the point where people indeed find the past more hopeful, than imagining something new; this is where a reclaiming of the past, an essentialist identity provides solace and hope to rally around. This is disturbing, but at the least it symbolises what some knew all along: apartheid is not dead, yet. The establishment of the Bruin Belange Inisiatief (Coloured Interest Initiative), some argue, might also be a case in point, yet, I would suggest that harnessing social support around the question of identity and the material needs of people, is not in itself problematic, only where it excludes the other and are rooted in a racist heritage, ideology and vision. Here we might find an example of a progressive identity based movement that could play a key role in reminding us all what the struggle was all about-equality for all, irrespective of skin-colour. Here we might also find an affirmation of the complexity of Africannes, combined with a commitment to deal with real material needs of people. It is possible that we might find here an experiment of the kind of alternative movements, identity movements that could more effectively challenge the hegemony of the agents of a system that only benefits the few, who ironically, still call themselves, comrades. My definitions of 'bruin' might be broader then what the proponents of BBI envisioned, namely a new broader hybridity, which acknowledge that beyond the stale, outdated white-black binaries, we are all mixed, whether it be culturally, socially and genetically. It might be at this level that links could forged to challenge a cruel system that put the poor up against themselves, but also system that threatens to dehumanize, destroy us all...
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