Sentletse Diakanyo
Sentletse Diakanyo

The imagined threat of ‘die swart gevaar’

It is often difficult for human beings to readily discard particular views and prejudices that had long been imprinted in their minds through socialisation and experience. Often our worldview is informed by these particular conceptions, however preposterous they may be. People interpret facts before them according to their well-ingrained conceptions of what reality is and should be.

It was actually not surprising to see the panic-stricken reaction to the article I wrote that “We are not all Africans, black people are!” People responded not to the salient features and actual content of the article but to their own irrational fears of what could be implied and the motivation behind whatever it is they imagined was implied in the article. This is a problem with living in a paranoid society that is still haunted by its demons of its racist past.

There was a deliberate intent not to discuss the issues raised in the article, but rather to embark on mindless attempts at character assassination in order to distract other readers who had full control of their mental faculties and the ability to regulate their emotions.

There is a technique used by authoritarian and repressive regimes to suppress awful truths from being disseminated in society. These fascists employ underhanded methods against their opponents, the dismemberment of character, the advancement of “die swart gevaar” propaganda and the scaremongering. In some instances character assassination entails the hurling of childish insults and name-calling.

We have seen how apologists of the apartheid state of Israel are always are swift to silence any hard truths about the Jewish nation and the general influence of Jews in the US as “anti-Semitism”. These defenders of Zionism and apartheid Israel invoke archaic memories of the Holocaust through alarmist posturing and theatricals, while not dealing with the truth confronting them. We have seen how the SA Jewish Board of Deputies tends to get its knickers in a knot at every legitimate criticism of Israel. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been labelled anti-Semitic for daring speak the truth about the sad situation in the Middle East. Judge Richard Goldstone had been subjected to indiscriminate and vile attacks by Israel apologists because he revealed to the world the war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza.

The New York Times in 2010 also reacted in similar measure of intimidation of Julian Assange when Wikileaks posted classified American military documents that exposed the US war crimes in Iraq. Their journalist made it his mission to personally target Julian Assange when he could have committed his time and energy to investigating war crimes exposed by Wikileaks. Assange was subsequently accused of terrorism and had threats made on his life by simple-minded US politicians because he exposed their duplicity when he released US diplomatic cables. He is now facing what appear to be manufactured charges of sexual assault, molestation and rape in Sweden.

It is laughable that the very people who accused me of wanting to take the country back to the era of racial discrimination and apartheid thuggery, are the very individuals who deal with unpalatable views through the employment of the same repressive tactics of that apartheid era. They became purveyors of untruths and malice reminiscent of PW Botha’s apartheid regime which instilled in whites the paranoid belief that blacks would take over what belonged to them, kill them, rape their women and lead the country to anarchy. The same irrational fear clearly persists today.

These hysterical respondents seem to believe that because racial categorisation was used in the past for nefarious ends, that because the apartheid regime enforced through brute force the preservation of white privilege and entrenchment of white supremacy and Afrikaner Nationalist ideology, these very same things would be repeated by liberated Africans. Africans are not the “barbarians and savages” they had been portrayed to be in the past through “die swart gevaar” propaganda or through collective brainwashing of minorities back then.

The nauseating hysterics in the country at the moment in reaction to anything race related serves to confirm the popular mistrust that exists within the very fibre of our society which pretends to be united, even without any coherent elucidation and deeper understanding of that which unites them.

In South Africa, the question of race is unnecessarily sensitive. To readily summon the ghost of Verwoerd when the subject of race is raised shows the level of immaturity, childishness and irrational paranoia among the minorities. Then there are those obsessed with political correctness, those who attempt to ingratiate themselves to whites through pretences of promoting unity, reconciliation and the preservation of the pretentious Kumbaya moment. What they are doing is placing a Band-Aid over a festering wound and creating the false impression of healing. Unity and reconciliation should never be promoted under false pretences. Openness about the reality that confronts a nation trying to make sense of the aftermath of apartheid should be promoted. We cannot be speaking in hushed tones because we fear to hurt the fragile feelings of some.

The paranoia that existed during apartheid towards African Nationalism cannot be tolerated. It is stupid of any person who claims to have progressed beyond the concept of racial polarisation to be troubled by the fact that black people are called “Africans”. South Africa is a constitutional democracy that affords all individuals protection from racial discrimination. There is legal recourse for any individual who falls or imagines him/herself a victim of racial discrimination. It is absolute nonsense to even attempt to create the impression that a discussion about race has a sinister motive for “reverse discrimination”. The infantile outbursts that seek to alter the truth must stop, lest some increase the risk of their vital arteries bursting from unnecessary self-induced stress. I am not sure how many pacemakers malfunctioned as a result of this nonsensical excitement.

After all the noise, the kicking and screaming, the fact remains what they were and what will continue to be in the near future. The Broad Based Economic Empowerment Act and the Employment Equity Act is unequivocal in its definition of black people, who are “Africans, coloureds and Indians”. The mid-year population estimates by Statistics South Africa clearly distinguishes the population in terms of how it’s racially defined: Africans, whites, coloureds and Asians (Indians and Chinese). What’s with the hysteria?

Those who see their commitment to Africa as being defined by the identity — “Africans” — should refocus their energy towards understanding and embracing all that is African; closing the racial gap and making a concerted effort to not merely tolerate other races but be part of them. That today we still have the majority of whites in South Africa who struggle to pronounce African names, never mind speak fluently at least one African language, is a shame. It raises questions about the claimed “Africanness”, commitment to national unity and general patriotism. I would advise Sarah Britten, Chris Roper and their legion of hysterical supporters to commit themselves to the abovementioned and let their actions speak louder than their words and hysteria.

Let Africans be! Let us pride ourselves in this diversity we forever preach about and the multi-racialism that is not imagined but real. Racial paranoia and hysterics are “counter-revolutionary” and distract the nation from its commitment to transformation, unity and general harmony among all races.