A critical analysis of challenges and opportunities in modern day South Africa
The history of colonial settlement in South Africa is written in the blood, sweat and tears of the native people of this land. After the end of Anglo-Boer war in the early 1900s, the white minority race decided to further subjugate and marginalize the native in their Union of South Africa. The racial discrimination was institutionalised in 1948 by the National Party through the policy of apartheid which was mainly for economic, social and political separate development of the races. The following opinion piece seeks to examine and explore mainly three underlying intersecting socio-political and economic dilemmas which are a foundation on which the white supremacist South Africa was built and maintained even post-apartheid. These challenges namely are; Racism, Sexism and Classism.
It is an unfortunate circumstance to note that besides the Central African Republic, this is the only country in the entire continent which does not have a name. South Africa is a geographical location, it so happened that we found ourselves south of the African continent. Therefore, in the quest of inventing the future and in pursuit of social and cultural revolution, it is imperative to consider the name of the envisaged country and ultimately the society we want the following generations to inherit.
Occupied Azania: Neo-colonial South Africa is a symbol which epitomizes that the struggle for complete liberty within the people of South Africa is yet to be achieved and fulfilled. The arrival of first settlers at the Cape in 1652 was the beginning of many problems soon to be faced by the natives of this land. The colonial establishment of Van Riebeek and his men was solely motivated by the imperialist tendencies which were sweeping the continent of Europe at that time. Each nation wanting to expand its dominion had to extend its domination to other foreign terrains to ensure capital stimulation, and secure a future for the generations to follow. Nonetheless, those who are dominated must resist and rebel against any forms of injustices perpetuated against them.
Prior to the post-1994 delusion of a racially equal society, South Africa had predominantly sustained the white supremacist ideals and ideas in its social construction over the years. However the counter efforts of African people in fighting the unjust social system of exclusion can never be in vain.
Racism can be defined as a subjugation of a group of people by another group of people solely based on the differences with regards to biological skin pigmentations. Furthermore, the group of people who has the authority to subjugate generally has economic, social and political power that ensures the other group(s) of people are kept in a state of servitude. This section will focus on the institutional racism post-1994 in South Africa mainly to expose the lies we have been told that racism was abandoned during the first democratic elections in 1994.
Institutional racism in South Africa is still prevalent and it keeps on persisting with the democratic government. This can be traced to two major industries which have failed to undergo a drastic change in their patterns: the historically white institutions of higher learning, and the Financial sector. The historically white institutions of higher learning have failed to transform for the past 25 – 26 years of democracy, from the academic content to the university spaces, including the buildings and the colonial statues. This has led to the growing number of alternative methods of producing knowledge within the academic spaces where indigenous knowledge systems are slowly and systematically finding expression in critical social research and in the academia through the uses of native languages.
Sexism [femicide and gender-based violence]
South Africa is a white racist, capitalist and patriarchal society which during the dawn of democracy attempted to undo these social injustices caused by many decades of discrimination and suppression. The prevalent domestic violence perpetuated against women, particularly African women, can never be analysed outside the context of historical realities of the African people in totality. After the discovery of natural resources in Kimberley and later in Johannesburg during the late 1800s, numerous African men from all over Southern Africa was forced to go and work in these mines and abandoned their families. Therefore, migration played a huge role in the fragmentation of African families where by default, women and children were forced to head their families.
The violent history of South Africa is written in blood of African natives. The fragmentation of the African family by imperialistic tendencies through forced labour is the point of departure in trying to explore and examine how gender-based violence materialize. The notion that only men were able to do physical work, whereas women were subjected to household chores, enabled African society to allow men to view women as their property. Therefore, to properly contextualize and root out the sexism, femicide and gender-based violence in South Africa, history can never be disregarded.
Society is constantly evolving, and classical theorists like Max Weber and Karl Marx both theorised how this change occurs. For the purpose of this opinion piece, I intend to examine how capital, through industrialization, stimulated the patterns of social change. There is no discrepancy that modern South Africa is a capitalist society which is built in the arduous work of Africans. The fallacious middle-class in South African economic hierarchy is a white men’s creation to never allow Africans reach the elite or upper class. The working class or the lower class are African.
The economic patterns of Africa vehemently reject the capitalist hierarchy of society. Africans in their nature are socialist. Therefore, we opt to discard any social and economic forces which seeks to further subjugate and turn any human being into subservient role in society. The envisaged society will be a “State-less” society for we know a State to be ‘a product of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms’.
This was submitted as part of the Activate call for writing – Read more here.