“South Africans will kick down the statue of a dead white man but won’t even attempt to slap a live one. Yet they can stone to death a black man simply because he is a foreigner.”
UBUNTU is clearly foreign and totally alien to South Africa. I write this article to release some of my pent up anger and anguish, caused by what Zimbabweans and other Africans have been subjected to over the past few weeks in that land just south of the Limpopo called South Africa. To those who know their history, the irony is not lost in that the Great Zimbabwe Empire, and hence modern day Zimbabwe, actually had its roots in Mapungubwe, South Africa, just south of the Limpopo. But today black South Africans now use colonial boundaries to determine who is welcome and who should be killed for being a “foreigner” in South Africa.
How can Africans be foreigners in any part of Africa? Have black South Africans ever heard of Pan-Africanism or Kwame Nkrumah? Have black South Africans ever heard of the Front Line States that bore the brunt of the racist Apartheid regime? Do black South Africans know that Zimbabwe and other African states housed their ANC leaders during their Apartheid struggle? Do they know that Zimbabwe and other African countries also provided them with economic and military support and asked for nothing in return?
Zimbabwe’s land reform, which had been planned to commence in 1990, had to put on hold so as not to jeopardize the talks which eventually led to South Africa’s transition to majority rule in 1994. Did we ask for anything in return for our sacrifices? So what have black South African’s sacrificed in return? Not even a thank you. In helping South Africa topple the Apartheid regime, Africa had a unity of purpose, we knew that Africa could not be truly free until South Africa was free, but these black South Africans either have selective amnesia or have clearly not been emancipated from their mental slavery.
Illiteracy, ignorance, limited intellectual capacity and poverty are a dangerous combination, as we’ve seen with the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. For all his shortcomings and critics, Julius Malema correctly identified the root of South Africa’s socio-economic problems as being “White Capital”. Yet the majority of black South Africans mistakenly believe that their continued poverty is a result of the influx of foreigners, and has nothing to do with the Apartheid economy which is still very much intact. The black South African can vote, but thanks to their constitution, they cannot do anything to redistribute wealth or correct the imbalances of the skewed Apartheid economic system which continues to concentrate wealth in the hands of the white minority and marginalizes the black majority.Advertisement
Funnily enough that same constitution seems to be just a piece of paper when it comes to barbarically butchering other Africans. I watched Malema’s recent speech in parliament where he put the blame for the xenophobia squarely on Zuma’s shoulders, and what Malema may lack in eloquence, he certainly makes up for in substance. He spoke against xenophobia and this clarity of thought seems to be beyond the majority of black South Africans. This is the other thing I don’t understand, where are the supposed black South African intellectuals who should be articulating the real problems, why are they not vocal? Are there any?
How do you explain such primitive thinking where an African country still has about 85% of its wealth being held and controlled by 8.9% of the white population (4.6 million), and the majority of the black population (41 million) only controls 15% of the economy? And yet they actually think that the problem lies in foreigners taking up opportunities in this 15%. Am I missing something here or has the bar of stupidity truly been lowered to a new level? I think the problems may actually lie deeper than this shear ignorance and breathtaking stupidity. I think black South Africans actually suffer from Blancophobia, which by definition is the irrational fear of white people, which is why “South Africans will kick down the statue of a dead white man but won’t even attempt to slap a live one. Yet they can stone to death a black man simply because he is a foreigner”.
Someone once correctly referred to modern day South Africa as a “cappuccino society”, a mass of black at the bottom, a thin layer of white froth at the top and a sprinkling of cocoa on the top. Following the 1994 transition which “liberated” the majority of black South Africans, 75% of whites in the country had a matric qualification and just 10% had any higher education. But by 2014, almost all white children are passing matric while 60% of those aged 20 to 24 are enrolled for higher education. The comparative figures are that fewer than 50% of black children are going on to pass matric and only 14% of those aged 20 to 24 are currently enrolled for higher education.
This is despite the fact that the white share of total tertiary enrolment has dropped from roughly 40% to 20% since 1994, while the black share has increased to 65%. Between 1994 and 2014, the rate of unemployment among white people increased from 3% to 5.7%. For example, 29% of black South Africans are currently unemployed. Black people are therefore five times more likely to be unemployed. The white unemployment rate is low, even when compared to a host of international benchmarks. At first glance, these low levels of white unemployment stand at odds with the white exodus from the civil service and the shifting employment equity profiles of large corporations. In 1994, 75% of the white population earning over R500,000 per year were formally employed, receiving salaries and bonuses. By 2009, this figure had been completely reversed and 75% of whites in this income category were self-employed, either as owners of a business or as consultants or agents.
The point of whites turning to entrepreneurship can be further reinforced by data that suggests that, while a black university graduate is more likely than a white graduate to find a job within 12 months of graduation, white graduates are four times more likely to start and operate businesses. It is important to note, however, that only 10% of white adults fell into the R500,000-plus-and-above income bracket in 2009, while 50% were estimated to receive an income of less than R100,000 annually.
With increasing levels of education, high levels of entrepreneurship, and low levels of unemployment, it follows that white poverty levels are low. The proportion of white South Africans living in poverty declined from approximately 2% in 1994 to less than 1% in 2014. The figures for black South Africans were significantly higher, having declined from about 50% in 1994 to 45% by 2014. This is despite the fact that the roll-out of taxpayer-funded welfare grants to more than 15 million mainly black South Africans saw the extent of desperate poverty, measured at $2 (R18.50) a day, decline from a peak of 17% in 2002 to 5% in 2010. With such high education, employment and poverty differentials evident, high income differentials must be expected.
However, the most striking way to point out such inequality is to measure how many cents a black South African is likely to receive in income for every rand received by his white compatriot. In 1994, on a per capita basis, black South Africans could expect to receive approximately 12 cents for every rand received by a white South African. In 2014, 20 years into South Africa’s democracy, black South Africans were receiving only 13 cents for every rand received by white people.
The key drivers of such continued inequality are not only white wealth or “White Capital” but also rather, abysmal education and labour-market outcomes for black South Africans. White South Africans have seen their education profile improve rapidly since apartheid ended and are, today, four times more likely to be in higher education than their black compatriots, who receive an appallingly poor standard of schooling. Secondly, employment equity and empowerment policies have not driven whites into unemployment or poverty on a significant scale. Whites resident in South Africa are more likely to be employed than residents of the world’s leading economies.
Herein lies one of the great paradoxes to emerge from the 1994 transition: as the focus of government policy turned to drive black economic advancement, the whites were driven into entrepreneurship, which today explains their continued relative economic prosperity. They also had access to “White Capital” without which they would not have prospered. If black South African’s want to drag themselves out of poverty, they need to invest heavily in education to truly integrate themselves into the economy, and make most of the opportunities out there.
Senseless killing of other Africans does not address the real root of their problems, “White Capital”, and the still intact Apartheid economy. Any first year psychology student will tell you that black-on-black crime is fuelled by self-hate; you have to hate yourself immensely to do what the black South Africans have been doing to other Africans. Knowing your history well, and knowing its significance may help these black South Africans to actually value themselves, and more importantly to value other African lives. The following is a short course of African history to show that our African history did not begin with colonialism and slavery.
The Real Ancient Egypt
Through a clever distortion of historical facts and subsequent proliferation of misinformation, the so-called historians have skewed archaeological facts and historical timelines to hoodwink the world into believing that Egypt was built by Mesopotamians and Syrians. The roots of “Western” civilization – technology, religion, culture and science – are to be found not in Greece, but in Black Egypt. In fact as early as 9,000 BC to 500 A.D., black empires, from the prehistoric Zingh of Mauritania to ancient Khemet of Egypt, were at the forefront of development in technology, politics and culture.
Ancient Egypt actually has its origins in the oldest astronomical site in the world called Nabta, which was created some 6500 years ago. It consists of a circle of stones which allowed the people to determine when the solstices occurred as well as the rainy seasons. Human remains were also found at Nabta, but only the jawbone was left available, after the Egyptian museum in Cairo confiscated the rest of the remains. Bear in mind that Egypt is now effectively an Arab country who support the thesis that Egypt was founded by Mesopotamians and Syrians.
A study on the previously mentioned jaw bone led to an interesting conclusion: the Nabtians were of sub-Saharan descent, not of Middle Eastern descent. This was deduced on the basis of the size and structure of the teeth and jaw compared to different ethnic groups. This conclusion undercuts the mainstream theory that Egyptian society was founded by Mesopotamians and Syrians. The idea that the Egyptian society was truly of African descent may seem revolutionary to others, but is self-evident to me. Have you seen where ancient Egypt was and where the first pyramids were built geographically?
The Nabta had knowledge of astronomy, the calendar year, and the science needed to construct the circle to track their knowledge. They migrated north to form the ancient Egyptian Civilization which began with the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3050 – 2686). This was followed by the most important stage of the Ancient Egyptian Civilization which was called the Old Kingdom (2686 – 2181 BC). Major advances in architecture, art, and technology were made during the Old Kingdom, fuelled by the increased agricultural productivity made possible by a well-developed central administration.
Some of Ancient Egypt’s crowning achievements, the Giza pyramids and Great Sphinx, were constructed during the Old Kingdom. If you analyze the hieroglyphics, paintings and statues of the time, these all depict Africans. The Sphinx itself has “negroid” features and the one-metre-wide nose on the face is missing. Examination of the Sphinx’s face shows that long rods or chisels were hammered into the nose, one down from the bridge and one beneath the nostril, and then used to pry the nose off towards the south. Why was the Sphinx deliberately disfigured by removing the one feature which would invariably complete the already obvious “negroid” features?
After the Old Kingdom came the First Intermediate Period (2181 – 1991BC) followed by the Middle Kingdom (2134-1690BC) then the Second Intermediate Period (1647-1549BC). It was only at the pinnacle of the New Kingdom (1549 – 1069BC), when the pharaohs established a period of unprecedented prosperity that military campaigns were waged and Egypt expanded its territories into Messopotamia and Syria, this is when the paintings in Ancient Egypt began depicting races other than African Egyptians.
You see the African Egyptians were the first to venture outside of Africa and conquer the lands to the north east of Egypt of Mesopotamia and Syria. Before this time, Egypt was basically African. Only during the New Kingdom did the Assyrians (Syrians), Libyan Berbers, the Greek, Luwian and Phoenicians invade and take over control of Egypt. This was later followed by the Roman invasion around (30 BC) and subsequently followed by the Arab invasion (639 AD) who crossed over from Palestine and ended the Græco-Roman rule over Egypt.
So the ethnic make-up of today’s Egyptians is a result of thousands of years of invasions and intermarriages between different ethnic groups which is also why the genes of the original black Egyptians will probably be found in most of the Egyptians today. If you compare the racial mix of Americans in less than 300 years, then the racial mix of today’s Egypt, given its history is not much of a surprise. Why is Cleopatra the most celebrated Egyptian Pharoah, having only ruled from 69BC to 30BC? It’s because she was of Greek origin and reinstates the misconstrued conception that the original Egyptians were black.
The real Ancient Egyptians were similar to today’s Ethiopians. They’re right next door so similarities are obvious if you look at Tutankhamen, Hatshepsut or Nefiriti (who looks like Iman by the way). The so-called Nubians are today’s Sudanese. They are all very African yet have very distinct physical features which can easily be identified as either Ethiopian or Sudanese. The Europeans had mistakenly put all Africans under the umbrella colour of black for their purposes of slavery and colonialism, and certain historians have tried in vain to misinform the world that the Nubians were black and the Egyptians were not, when it should correctly be interpreted as the Sudanese were, and still are, darker than the original Egyptians, yet the original Egyptians were still black. Talking about deliberate distortion and destruction of African history…
Deliberate Destruction of African History
The destruction and distortion of African history took on new proportions with the attempted destruction of the Manuscripts of Timbuktu when the French colonized Mali. The objective of the French was to wipe out any trace which shows the existence of an ancient African civilization which did not fit into the views that Africans were inferior. Timbuktu was the “Oxford” of its time, and over a million manuscripts have been re-discovered in Mali and about 20 million more in West Africa overall.
These manuscripts date back to 12th to 16th century period and are Africa’s intellectual legacy of recent times. An amusing anecdote had one of these ancient scripts on mathematics sent to France to be translated where the University found that the mathematics in the script formed part of the second year mathematics in the Engineering Degree course. The so-called myth that Africa never had any written history was exactly that, just another myth. There are many more valuable artefacts, scrolls, art and items of historical value which were destroyed in the same systematic way, to which extent we will never fully appreciate.
Besides the Egyptian Pyramids and Great Zimbabwe, other surviving African historical sites include Tichit Walatta ruins in Ghana, the medieval city of Benin, Sungbo’s Eredo walls, the buildings of Timbuktu, and many other sites yet to be discovered. We need to celebrate and write our own African History and highlight and market the African States, Kingdoms and Empires which existed before the Atlantic slave trade.
The Kingdom of Nri (1043–1911) was the West African medieval state of the Nri-Igbo, a subgroup of the Igbo people, and is the oldest kingdom in Nigeria. The Oyo Empire (1400–1895) was a West African empire of what is today western Nigeria. The Benin Empire (1440–1897), a large pre-colonial African state of modern Nigeria. The Kaabu Empire (1537–1867), a Mandinka Kingdom of Senegambia (centered on modern northeastern Guinea-Bissau but extending into Casamance, Senegal) that rose to prominence in the region thanks to its origins as a former province of the Mali Empire. The Bonoman (11th Century–19th Century) – Earliest known Akan state.
The Ashanti Empire (1701–1894), a pre-colonial Akan West African state of what is now the Ashanti Region in Ghana. The Kong Empire (1710–1898) centered in north eastern Côte d’Ivoire that also encompassed much of present-day Burkina Faso. The Bamana Empire (1712–1896) based at Ségou, now in Mali. The Sokoto Caliphate (1804–1903), an Islamic empire in Nigeria, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’adu Abubakar. Founded during the Fulani Jihad in the early 19th century, it was one of the most powerful empires in sub-Saharan Africa prior to European conquest and colonization. The Kongo Kingdom (1400–1888) was a quasi-imperial state as is evident by the number of peoples and kingdoms that paid it tribute. The Luba Empire (1585–1885) arose in the marshy grasslands of the Upemba Depression in what is now southern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lunda Empire (1660–1887) in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, north-eastern Angola and northwestern Zambia. Its central state was in Katanga. And of course the Mutapa Empire or Empire of Great Zimbabwe (400–1700) which was a medieval kingdom located between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers of Southern Africa in the modern states of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
As can be seen from the above, most of the African empires peaked in power in the late 18th century, paralleling the peak of the Atlantic slave trade. The brutal kidnapping of millions of Africans was to replace the indigenous Americans that Europeans had wiped out. The African empires were forced to implement a culture of permanent and perpetual civil warfare in order to generate the required numbers of captives required to satisfy the demand for slaves by the European colonies. Far from “civilizing the natives,” Europeans replaced communitarianism, cooperation and spirituality that prevailed across Africa with a corrupt, aggressive and inhumane form of civilization. The slave trade broke the back of African civilizations and economies whilst creating capital for plantation owners that kick-started Europe’s industrial revolution.
Black South Africans’ need to learn their history first and foremost and understand that the real root of their socio-economic problems is not with fellow Africans with whom they have a shared history, but is more to do with “White Capital” and the Apartheid economy which continues to exists to this day. South Africa needs to take steps to address this elephant in the room, unless they are planning to surgically remove themselves from the rest of Africa or build the great wall of South Africa to keep other Africans out. They seem to have learnt well from the Apartheid system which they are now applying to their fellow Africans.
Whilst we condemn what has happened across the Limpopo, as Zimbabweans we also need to address far worse atrocities which occurred in our land. Until Gukurahundi is dealt with in an open and transparent manner there will be no closure on this sad chapter in our history.