It is almost hilarious - the idea of freedom when we live in the oxymoron that is South Africa. When we are not wading through the slave waters of blackness in the whitewashed rhetoric we are confronted with one simple truth - black people are the oppressor (too). I was reading an opinion piece the other day on Jacob Zuma's expropriation plans and what that means for whites and blacks. I was struck by a thought, do we actually want the land back? And if we do, what will we do with it?
"We introduced methods of farming that were not known in Africa, where people dug a hole in the ground. covered it up with soil and went to sleep under a tree in the shade. We made agriculture a science... We kept this knowledge from the African, how to farm scientifically and on a scale big enough to contribute strongly to the national economy. We did this so when the African demands and gets his land back, he should not be able to farm it like we do. He would then be obliged to teach him how. Is that not power?" The is an is an excerpt from 'What a white man told me in Zimbabwe in 1980'. The answer to that, is yes. That is power.
Without getting into a rant about the years of work that whites have put into keeping us oppressed while making it appear as though we actually won freedom, what we should be saying is "teach us then." That is what the oppressed government should be doing - making them teach us how to function in this warped system so we can eventually create one that works for us. Instead, the Zuma led government and various governments throughout Africa want to simply grab the land in the middle of the night, only for us to sit with the burden of what to do with it. What the government does instead, is use land to keep us quiet so we do not question the millions of other ways they are complicit in keeping us chained. We saw Zimbabwe. We saw X. Instead of learning, we fumble down the same path.
But we convince ourselves that it isn't really that bad. You have a pretty good job, you can pay your rent every month. You are fine. Our timelines have convinced me that we do not want to merely swop champagne, chrome filters and more life to till the soil. No. What we want is ownership of our country, our economy, to feel that we are a true part of this country that we fought so hard for. My suspicion, is also that what we want even more than those things is the benchmarks of success we see white people enjoy... The landrover.
Why is it that, and pardon the wild generalisation, when a black person finally sheds the shanty towns with student loans on his back, the first thing he wants to do is buy the Mercedes Benz? Why is it that instead of spreading the wealth to our poorer cousins, we trap it on Instagram for the nod of success from peers we barely know? Because want to be seen.
Perhaps it is because no one has taught us the true value of money, of power. We see black faces in government, in more and more boardrooms, but are we in charge of the conversations that matter? No. Instead they give our leaders big cars, and big meetings and we are given little pieces of money and power and convinced that they mean freedom.
While white people started this cycle, it is black people who are perpetuating it. Instead of spreading the wealth, we have created an elite with every ordinary Thabo trying desperately to reach it, as opposed to reaching for the true goal - freedom (even from each other). So Massa, thank you for the expropriation bill, but I'd rather have a seat at the table. Thank you for the politics, but I'll take the economy instead.