Dear white people, let’s talk about your Ubuntu
I generally don’t think that talking to white people is of any use. Whites are impervious to black dialogue – ask saint Nelson Mandela. They kept him in jail for twenty-seven years when all he wanted was to talk. I am, however, moved to speak to whites by the self-congratulatory euphoria around Nkosikho Mbele, the petrol attendant at that fuel station whose parent company is accused of atrocities for profits in Nigeria.
It may strike whites as odd to hear that Nkosikho did what we have been doing for the last 400 years for white people in this country without any form of acknowledgment. Pardon me when I’m flabbergasted by the discovery that whites also know such notions such as Ubuntu and reciprocity.
This is puzzling. Yes, I know some good-hearted blacks also donated to the crowdfunding, after all, good feelings are infectious. But blacks giving blacks is not news; we pay black tax all the time. The novelty is in whites giving to blacks. Does this suggest a flicker of hope for an ethical coexistence?
What would it take to move from helping as an act of self-service to helping as a signifier of common humanity?
Pardon me, but I’m genuinely intrigued by this turn of events. I mean the whole country is electrified by these acts generosity and camaraderie in a country bereft of good news. I mean the GDP figures are limping defying the Ramaphoria. Let’s not talk about the forever northbound price of petrol and the opposite movement of the employment graph.
Back to Nkosikho our man; who popped out a R100 in the normal duty of black service to whiteness and he is rewarded by over R400 000 by the last count. There is collective agreement that he deserves the reward; I leave aside for a moment the thorny matter of the paternalism of how the cash must be used and held.
Point is; our white brethren and sistren have opened their collective wallets for a good cause. Pardon me yet again, but this is unprecedented if we consider what has gone down here for the last 400 years or so. White has responded to black generosity with genocide. Ask the early indigenous inhabitants of the cape what happened after they nursed to health the scurvy-ridden Jan van Riebeeck hordes.
I write principally because I believe the newfound spirit of generosity, reciprocity and good neighbourliness must not go to waste. Now that we know whites are capable of empathy and understanding, may we address the matter of the stolen land and cheap labour blacks been forced to give whites since the arrival of Jan on our shores? No, dear whites you can’t back off now. Let’s do this.
Let me put it this way; the act of giving R100 to a white person to ensure their well being is not a strange phenomenon. It’s how white wealth and comfort has been created and sustained to this day in this country. Who guards white homes and suburbs?
Next time when you take your dog for a walk check who is sitting freezing in the wooden box at the corner of your street. I’m not being facetious this time around; I’m dead serious. The whole system set up by whites since they arrived here is designed to ensure blacks serve whites or face starvation.
Bambatha at the turn of the last century tried to resist being forced into the labour market to be a paid slaves of whites; for his efforts, he was beheaded. So we have become landless servants of whiteness in our country. Even our instincts are now geared towards automatic service to whiteness; if you think I’m exaggerating go to any taxi rank and observe how the white hobo who occasionally saunters in the rank is treated compared to a black beggar. In fact, we blacks are shamed by white suffering. That’s how deep it goes it has become second nature. Whites, in general, take it as the natural order of things and thereby rendered it invisible; this service to whiteness.
The point I’m trying to make is simply this; we know now that you are sensible people with a generous spirit of Ubuntu. I hereby remind you of the outstanding acts of Ubuntu due to us blacks. Or to put the same thing differently; if your Ubuntu has to stop being acts of violence or acts of white invincibility and arrogance to become real Ubuntu; then let’s start from the begging; don’t you think its time you returned the land of black people? Don’t you think its time you started a big crowdfunding process to pay reparations for the slave labour extracted from black people to create heaven on earth for whites?
I don’t know if in your haste to help our brother Nkosikho for helping a white woman in distress you missed to see that the petrol attendants own safety is in a perilous condition? Nkosikho lives in fear in his own community. It follows that like many millions of black people he is trapped in a never-ending circle of violence and fear. He says it himself; we are told by the Backabuddy that; “Nkosikho has asked that the money is administered by Backabuddy for his safety, as he does not live in a safe area.”
Dear whites; have you paused and asked why our beloved petrol attendant lives in an area which is not safe? Let me remind all that; twenty thousand black people are murdered in the black township annually in this country. Nkosikho and million others like him; decent people who just want to go with their lives have no one to lend them a helping hand to ensure they are not met with violence. They live with violence.
Many may ask, but what does all this have to do with whites doing crowdfunding for a good cause? Well; the fact that blacks live in these conditions is a direct outcome of land theft. In fact, the black ghetto which is actually a slaughterhouse for blacks was created by whites so that they may have safety and security whilst we blacks burn in the ghetto hell. But this indictment of the white community doesn’t come from me; it comes from one who is so great that I can’t fit in his sandals.
Steve Biko was strident in his judgment of the culpability of white people in black suffering; he wrote; “Township life alone makes it a miracle for anyone to live up to adulthood. There we see a situation of absolute want, in which black will kill black to be able to survive. This is the basis of vandalism, murder, rape and plunder that goes on while the real sources of evil — white society — are sun-tanning on exclusive beaches or relaxing in their bourgeois homes.”
My fellow whites, the hell we catch in the township is your creation!
That is the truth white South Africans must face. It’s not palatable; basically; without making amends for the twin original sins of theft of the land and labour no act of help from white to black is legitimate. In the prevailing spirit of generosity; I will spare you the impossible third element of the debt owed to blacks by whites; which is the destruction of the African being by both slavery and colonialism.
White South Africans want our country to act normal when its not a normal society. The clamour for normalcy is so powerful that even most black South Africans pretend we are normal society. It’s understandable; it’s impossible to breathe if you are woke all the time to see the ugly truth of who we are. Making this country normal means in the main one thing; the return of the stolen land.
* Andile Mngxitama is President of Black First Land First (BLF) and a Black Consciousness activist.