Sandile Memela
Sandile Memela

Those who control the mind control society

Those who write what people read control the public mind.

Those who control the public mind control the present and future.

If you want to control society, you must control information and knowledge production.

All that the average man knows, especially in the historically disadvantaged communities, is what he or she reads in the media.

Those who write what you read are bloggers, columnists, journalists and the so-called social media commentators in privately owned media, including Facebook and Twitter.

They control what people think about their own experiences and reality.

Those who control the public mind are those who shape its understanding of the present.

What has always amazed me is why the historically disadvantaged should care about what the historically advantaged have to say about the historically disadvantaged in this country. After all, what do the former know about the latter? They’ve always lived separate lives in separate worlds.

The historically advantaged, including media editors and journalists largely live in previous whites-only worlds where the historically disadvantaged are tolerated as workers, cleaners and gardeners.

In fact, they have moved further into gated communities except for those who cannot afford it.

They neither speak nor understand indigenous languages.

They rarely visit historically disadvantaged neighbourhoods to socialise with the formerly oppressed or to build bridges of reconciliation. They are very uncomfortable in allegedly over-crowded beaches during the festive season.

The Institute for Justice & Reconciliation recently released a report confirming the growing distrust between the historically disadvantaged and the advantaged.

In fact, the historically advantaged don’t care for the historically disadvantaged except when they threaten their material interests or invade what they consider to be their exclusive spaces, including restaurants, schools and neighbourhoods.

When you realise that historically disadvantaged people are the only ones who give the historically advantaged the false power they have, you see that Steve Biko was right:

“The only weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

The historically advantaged use the media and its publishing houses as effective instruments of mental control.

Well, you will rightly raise concern about what this means for the media professionals among the historically disadvantaged. There are many who have risen to a position of power and influence in the media.

But these historically disadvantaged people look at the world through the eyes of the advantaged. That is a prerequisite for success and security.

Worse, the historically disadvantaged don’t listen to their own, if groups still exist. In fact, it is very hard for them to recognise the historically disadvantaged as gurus, experts, prophets and other figures of authority.

It is for this reason that the difference is the same between disadvantaged and advantaged media practitioners and professionals in the privately owned media. The paradigm is the same. They write in the same language, on the same platforms and say the same wrong things.

The historically disadvantaged media professionals feel validated and affirmed when the historically advantaged support and agree with what they have to say. After all, they aspire and wish to be advantaged too. In fact, the historically disadvantaged echo the sentiments and views of the advantaged. This is a means of survival.

So where do we go from here?

The writing and content in the media is predictable. For instance, it is about promoting economic growth and the unfettered rule of the so-called markets.

Also, it peddles stereotypes and prejudice as protecting “standards”. Whose standards?

It does not question racism, land dispossession and economic injustice but assumes the status quo is perfect in South Africa.

As for human rights, what is that?

It does not matter that this year marks the 20th anniversary of our world-renowned Constitution. Worse, the historically disadvantaged don’t know what this entails.

It is for this reason that the historically advantaged are the ones who are now leading the struggles of the historically disadvantaged.

People only know what they have been taught. There have not been enough workshops to teach the historically disadvantaged about human rights and genuine transformation. They are expected to know this through osmosis.

Well, how do you defeat an “enemy” who controls your mind, your future?

To entrench racism, land dispossession and promote economic inequality and injustice, you must control what the public reads. If you want to control society, control what it thinks through what you write and publish? And we know who owns and dominates this space. It is the historically advantaged.

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