Far too many suffer from self-imposed inferiority complex. This is because they pay too much attention to what others have, especially the advantaged.

They feel inadequate because they are looking at what others have: money, houses, furniture, clothes, cars, food and positions.

As they say in the in the townships, “Bhek’indaba zakho wna!” – just focus on yourself.

What the next person has or does not have has absolutely nothing to do with you. Just stop this envy, competition and rivalry.

You have what you have. Enjoy it. It belongs to you.

Don’t use your blessings or curses to compete and compare yourself with others

When you are competing and comparing you are going to struggle and feel bad about yourself. You will not be happy.

Well, not all disadvantaged people own large pieces of land. Many of the previously advantaged do not own big farms.

All they own are flats, apartments and small suburban houses just like the increasing number of previously disadvantaged who are making inroads into the middle class.

They, too, are caught in a debt trap. It is just that they do not go around complaining about it. After all, life in the advantaged is about individualism. Your problems are your problems and don’t belong to the community.

Thus the disadvantaged should not generalise. The material conditions of a few advantaged families should not be a lame excuse for not owning a farm.

Skin colour should not make the disadvantaged feel robbed or dispossessed.

Even in the townships and rural areas there are people with bigger houses. They have much more.

But this should not make anyone feel inferior.

We are not born inferior to anyone.

In fact, all men and women are born equal.

What people accumulate in the course of their life does not make them superior. People are not small or big because of what they have or don’t.

You become small because of what you think of yourself. It has got nothing to do with the next person be they advantaged or disadvantaged.
Alas, there is the issue of land dispossession and economic inequality. What I know is that this matter is in the capable hands of the leadership. If they do not address it fast enough, it is because the citizens are not mounting enough pressure. This is an issue for another day.

But there are countless men and women who have raised families in match-box homes, in degrading human conditions. Miraculously, their children have walked out of their poverty with confidence. You would think their parents owned mines.

Your circumstances do not determine the quality of your mind or level of self-love.

It is all about attitude. It is what you think of yourself and how you carry yourself.

The disadvantaged must learn to be comfortable in their own skin. They don’t have to over-react to every so-called provocation.

But there is too much focus on what people have and what they don’t have.

Worse there is a blatant misdiagnosis that poverty is a priority problem in the country.

The poor will always be among us. It was Steve Biko who said that material poverty is bad but coupled with spiritual poverty it is devastating.

We have to teach people self-love and respect. In fact, Biko’s Black Consciousness was about nothing else but self-love that will lead to mental liberation.

You can be rich but if you don’t respect yourself it means you lack self-love. This is an embedded inferiority complex. You can be poor, too, but if you don’t have self-respect you suffer from an inferiority complex.

Biko died trying to teach self-confidence to disadvantaged people.

It is either they got his message or they did not.

We cannot call self-disrespecting and inferior people BLACK people. Blackness is a matter of mind, a state of self-consciousness. It is about taking responsibility for everything that happens to you. The good or bad happen because of how you perceive yourself.

So we can’t be wasting time defending people who compete and compare themselves to others.

The real blacks must critically look at themselves. Each and every one – irrespective of background, race or creed – is unique. So, don’t compare yourself to the next person.

So why are you looking at the next person. This is the root of your self-hate. Just deal with your inferiority complex. There is nothing as refreshing or intimidating – depending on how you at things – as someone who is bristling with self-confidence.

Don’t make inferiority a national problem.

You have been given everything you need. It is your responsibility to appreciate it and make it shine. You will shine and be radiant.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m all for redistribution of the land – to those who want it – and sharing the country’s wealth to improve quality of life.

But this will not matter if people are full of anger, resentment and competition brewed by an inferiority complex.

You can be rich looking down on others because of what they don’t have. You can be poor looking up to rich people because of what they have.

You can be disadvantaged and envy the advantaged. You can be advantaged and psychologically crippled because of guilt over your family’s history.

It all boils down to an inferiority complex. Get over it now.

You are dragging this nation down.

We are all free now. And we have been free for over two decades. Interestingly, it is a matter of mental choice whether you see yourself as free or not.

What I know is that some disadvantaged did not wait for apartheid to fall before they were free.

Freedom – just like an inferiority complex – is a state of mind. It has got nothing to do with what you have or don’t have.

It is either you get it or you don’t. We are talking about Biko’s message of mental self-liberation.


Sandile Memela

Sandile Memela

Sandile Memela is a journalist, writer, cultural critic, columnist and civil servant. He lives in Midrand.

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