Davidsonville: Perhaps, Identity-Doublespeak, not ‘Coloureds’ to blame!

Davidsonville: Perhaps, Identity-Doublespeak, not ‘Coloureds’ to blame!

Neville Alexander in arguably his last work poignantly reminds us “But societies and the global village have changed so radically that to continue to analyse and describe things as though we still living in 1848 or 1948 or even 1984 is to be woefully blind and self defeating”. (Neville permit me to add things and people)

The Roodepoort Primary School impasse is not a unique challenge but it is symptomatic of what we dealing with because we as a collective refused to deal with the thorny subject of political identity over the last 21 years.

Ebrahim Harvey in his City Press article bemoans the fact that it is 21 years into a non-racial democracy. It is exactly here that I wish to start arguing, this non-racial reality so easily advanced by all and sunder is never unpacked. Does non racial imply a doing away with race? Or does it mean we still have races? Is racism possible where there is no acknowledgment of race?

Perhaps it is as I have coined it the Democratic State engaging in “identity-doublespeak”. We not asking what a non-racial democracy means at experiential level, particularly since we in 2015 still use apartheid identity markers for our collective human agencies. No one is asking the 1994 Democratic State why it’s holding on to these denotations.

Let me also in the beginning condemn any racial slurs and attacks from any side veiled or bold, because that simply does not belong in our non – racial society.

Harvey commits the same error so many do to subject the Roodepoort Primary School situation in isolation to the intolerance of ‘Coloureds’. They accuse ‘Coloureds’ for not wanting an ‘African’ (Black) principal. Yet whilst this may or may not be the case, to pretend communities are no longer stratified as previously apartheid defined whilst we hold on to racial classifications for identity constitutes a major contradiction.

The second error committed by most who comment on this Roodepoort Primary School saga is the conscious denial of the community, which is known as Davidsonville. The denial of this geographic location is a central problem for it articulates a mind that says it is not Davidsonville its Roodepoort. When we let Davidsonville stand for what it is as a community maybe our approach will alter and we may find solutions. People take pride regardless to how their communities were formed. SOWETO for example will never become Johannesburg South; it has an intrinsic value that the people of Soweto attached to that transcends its apartheid description. Can we allow Davidsonville as a community to be afforded the same respect?

The third error committed is on the part of the MEC Panyaza Lesufi. In an earlier note I had to caution the MEC that he cannot call the Davidsonville community racist, but identify rather elements in the community. The MEC furthermore is on record for having expressed his confirmed opinion on the ‘Coloureds’ of Davidsonville who intent to remove ‘Black’ officers currently operational at the police station. I had to caution the MEC that he should have left this to the MEC of Safety and Security to pronounce because his utterances on safety and security matter as MEC for Education further racially polarizes this unfortunate situation.

Another mistruth advanced is that only ‘Coloured’ parents refuse their children to go to the designated Lefureng – Protea School. This sophism fuels the belief that it is the ‘Coloured’ community who proves troublesome, when ‘African’ parents were interviewed on SABC who for no dissimilar reasons expressed their displeasure with the closing of the school and the bussing of pupils to others schools.

I concur with Harvey that the Department has to answer questions on the process for the appointment of the principal. The department equally must explain why an acting principal was not considered fit for the job irrespective of his/ her racial identity The department must explain why the process for appointment is claimed as flawed and not according to standard procedure. This may prove the legitimacy of a the impasse.

What is perhaps lost in the translation is the subject of political identity in a non-racial post apartheid society.

It is my submission that we cannot expect to hold on to the apartheid racial classifications for our collective human agencies (black, white, coloured and indian) and expect this dream of a non-racial reality. All these terms are necessarily racist and entrenches the praxis of racism.

Race as a formal construct is not thousands of years old, but was captured when Immanuel Kant produced his German ‘rassen’ articles in 1785. Kant had much opposition when he categorized people in this race classification strata in which the ‘white’ colour proves superior, yet Kant’s stance found friends until we in 2015 undeniably believe in race for identity. It is important to note that by the end of 1945 Eugenics was long declared defunct and race as scientific notion proven non- existent.

Our problem is the Democratic State of 1994, has yet to lead in affording people space and time to engage on the issue of political identity.

The 1910 Segregation State identified its ‘client’ until the 1913 Native Land Act spoke. The 1948 Apartheid State equally identified its ‘client’ until Act 30, of 1950 Section (c) declared people that always existed ‘Coloured’.

The Democratic State of 1994 is not expected to do exactly what its previous States did, but has the responsibility to break with the markers of (black, white, coloured and indian) for identities. In my assessment the 1994 State ought to have leaned on the 1955 Freedom Charter, which proved unambiguous when it articulates ‘ THE PEOPLE’.

The 1994 Democratic State talks about non-racial reality yet it addresses, serves and continues to identify its people with the outdated apartheid markers for identity. Whilst one may speculate the reason for the Democratic state holding on to these apartheid racial classifications as a means to measure or track progress, I contend when we afford an opportunity to frankly engage the subject of political identity as afforded by the State we will develop the vocabulary to reconfigure identities and find new expressions.

Our Constitution speaks in Section 1 B of this non- racial reality. The African National Congress as the leading party prognosticates non-racialism, but its in praxis a lived experience of multi-racialism, which unequivocally acknowledges race for identity.

This identity-double-speak is not escaping even the DA as official opposition. Its Vision 2029 states ‘we see a non-racial south Africa where all races are recognised’.

Thus, Davidsonville and the Roodepoort school impasse is perhaps the fulcrum of our identity challenge and symptomatic of a much bigger and brewing reality that is being stirred and education is not the epicenter for it manifests in other areas.

For as long as we engage in this identity – double- speak in refusal of engaging on the pertinent subject of political identity in South Africa we will have the incidents and unfortunate occasions of Davidsonville.

Clyde N.S. Ramalaine
Political Commentator & Writer

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How does being MUSLIM and Coloured help reclaim the Western Cape for non-racialism?

How does being MUSLIM and Coloured help reclaim the Western Cape for non-racialism?

– Identity-double-speak, the undoing of the quest for a non-racial identity-

Permit me to congratulate the new ANC – Western Cape leadership as most recently confirmed. The elections appeared smooth and though it started late, it was without incident. This is a major sign of progress under the leadership of ANC Western Cape Chairperson Marius Fransman who in this season was elected unopposed. Citing this as progress, is against a background of a period of jostling, internal positioning and even racial overtures among those who share the respective denotations of Coloured and Black as determined by the apartheid state. It is therefore a salient moment when elections can take place in matured sense and the results are confirmed with that same spirit. Let me than congratulate all elected office bearers in what I call progressive PEC elections of 2015.

I have taken it upon myself to write in response to the most recent interview of the ANC – Western Cape General Secretary Faiez Jacobs as captured in the TNA Publication of July 2, 2015 and subsequent interviews carried in among others the City Press and Mail & Guardian. I will use the caption ‘We can reclaim the Western Cape’ as my central point.

This claim is not as vacuous as some makes it out to be because I share the view and have opined on this over a year ago, that the Western Cape is not out of reach. If we can sit today and talk about the vision of reclaiming a Western Cape, it is indeed a fresh breath of air, yet one that must be contextualised.

Perhaps we must first admit a few things as we delve into my questions. I have chosen in this article to ask perhaps some penetrating clarifying questions.

Today the ANC Western Cape leadership is on record for admitting that there was a time when its provincial leaderships were torn apart by individual tussles that rendered the mandate and role of this structure defunct and frail to ever regain power. I do not need to remind us that the ANC- WC leadership back then refused to admit these political tussles.

Today the ANC- Western Cape leadership is at liberty to admit that there was a time when the very political jostling for power at leadership level had clear racialised tendencies which defined the scope of the leadership tussle along African and Coloured platforms of opposition. Back than this was never admitted if it was flagged the ANC Western Cape leadership proved dismissive of that and harped back to the era of the UDF as the basis for its unity.

Having cited these two aspects namely individual interest and racial group interest as part of the reasons for the compromised mandate of the ANC Western Cape leadership, I will postulate there is another aspect which I choose to call the hidden divider immanent in FAITH.

I do not expect many to agree on this my postulation yet it’s a fundamental aspect that which already has a history but will increasingly manifest with disastrous implications. I even expect the usual dismissiveness as was before, yet I am not intimidated to express my thoughts for the quest of the provincial secretary is to engage

. …. I am MUSLIM and Coloured….

I was drawn to this conclusion particularly since the new general secretary Faiez Jacobs in his first official press briefing, by way of introducing himself categorically states he is a Muslim and Coloured. This off the cuff perhaps innocent but very true statement appears irrelevant. It even appears as a leader who is transparent, yet it raises  more questions. Why would it be important for a newly elected official of the ANC Western Cape to state his faith, why would anyone’s faith come into the leadership of the ANC which is and remains an organisation that claims being a broad church that includes all? I must hasten to add that it is the right of anyone to make known where they belong in their faith association, the constitution imbibes the right to free association. That is not what, I am questioning, what is being questioned is what is the meaning of this claim of I AM MUSLIM?

How does this claim help the reclaim of the Western Cape for the ANC as advanced by the newly elected Provincial Leadership member? Particularly since Muslims remain a minority in the Western Cape. Would it have been acceptable if the new general secretary was for example a Cameron Dugmore (Cadre Dugmore forgive me for using you as an example) and he would introduce himself as I am a Jew and white?

If there is a primary reason for this what is the role of faith in the Western Cape ANC politics? Has the faith played a hidden less acknowledged but very active and conscious role in dividing the very core of the ANC in its fundamental mission of reclaiming the Western Cape? What has been the role of the faith in the collapse of branch structures, the side-lining of leaders who are of a different faith persuasion if any role at all?

What is really implied with being Muslim, when we all know Muslims holds the corner on small business as part of the Western Cape economy? What are the political and  economic means of this statement of identity for leadership articulation? Did the general secretary necessarily or unbeknown to himself perhaps deliberately painted the ANC Western Cape as Muslim organisation? If so why? More important did this pronouncement potentially disqualify possibly 80% of the Western Cape who are by majority Christians? Faith is a very contentious subject and has always proven the epicentre of intolerance

…. I am Muslim and COLOURED…. The second aspect of the general secretary’s statement is his categoric status of being Coloured. However, there exists no Coloured identity in biological or scientific evidential sense, what cannot be disputed is that there exists a political identity called Coloured since Act 30 of 1950 (c) defines a people in this identity. It is the latter that we still wrestle with in the season of Rachel Dalozal that forces us to engage the subject of identity as a racial reality. It is of particular concern in this epoch when the 1910 Segregation State identified its client as evidenced in the 1913 Native Land Act and the 1948 State also its client as evidenced in Act 30 of 1950 (c ) with the classification of a Coloured identity and the 1994 State is yet to do the same.

The denotations for ‘Black’, ‘Coloured’, ‘White & ‘Indian’ have all racial negative connotations of prejudice regardless which one is used as departure point. The one exists because of the other and finds meaning in the other. I am on record to have said, for example ‘Indian’ in South Africa as an identity is hardly an ancestry issue but has undeniable political and economic apartheid informed means which speaks to a time when Indians were regarded as second best to the white identity, as the budget spending per school going child in apartheid shows.

If the new general secretary today boldly declares he is Muslim and COLOURED, is this not an acceptance of this racial denotation of a people who was never afforded a space, time and place to define themselves? It becomes problematic, to understand the general secretary because he is emphatic that  non-racialism remains the fundamental focus. However, non-racialism is the antithesis of a race based identity and therefore if used in this setting suggests what I have before dubbed identity-double-speak.

For the ANC – Western Cape general secretary to pronounce on his identity as Coloured can it be argued he potentially did not understand the on-going internal challenges, even rejection by the very people of this denotation for this term Coloured? Or has he categorically defined his acceptance of his identity as that which defines this group? If so why and for what reason?

Again I am compelled to ask, why would it be essential for Jacobs as ANC Western Cape leader to tell us he is Coloured? What is the value of this claim? How does this claim help the subject of reclaim of the Western Cape? Assuming we may ever arrive at a place in which the apartheid identifier for identity ‘coloured’ is no more part of the post-1994 State definition for identity and Jacobs is no more a ‘coloured’ can we assume his identity will only than be Muslim? If the latter is the case what are the implications if not ramifications for political leadership to articulate as categoric as Jacobs did on his identity and how does this help the cause of reclaim of the Western Cape?

MY UNSOLICITED CAUTION:

  • ANC elected Office bearers must become more aware if not conscious of the audience when they talk about their personal identities they plausibly are defeating the very aim for which they are on record to work.
  • Any uphold of the denotations of racial classification ( black, coloured, white or indian) defeats the overarching aim for non- racialism.
  • Being Muslim and being Coloured respectively hold their own respective natural concomitant fissures that lend it to dividing more than uniting.
  • How does Jacobs’ statement help those of us who do not share his categoric MUSLIM and COLOURED identity constructions as invitees to the table of discourse. Particularly those of us who have no different to a Faiez earlier than him stomped the same grounds  and shared the apartheid spatial context and its divisive designations?
  • Perhaps my caution is that we desist to have any Faith in a covert or overt sense dictate the meridian of engagement and even practical life of the ANC in the Western Cape.

I dare assert we are on a precarious trajectory if identity assumes a faith definition, particularly when faith is an exceptional intolerant means for acknowledging diversity and building organisation unity.  We dare no polarise the Western Cape political context with our short-sighted and insensitive faith descriptions for identity.

It can hardly be used as a base to work for reclaim of the Western Cape, because after this opening of the ANC Western Cape, general secretary’s identity declaration we may have just scored an own goal, for which the Opposition smiles.

Clyde N. Ramalaine (An ANC Voter – Fellow 80’s Student leader – Woodlands High – Mitchells Plain ( 1985)

Unpacking Identity as understood by the Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma presidencies !

What can we learn from our democratic presidents and their understanding of identity for South Africa?

 

The problem of race is not going away and apartheid racial classification appears stubbornly immortalized in this claimed non-racial society. South Africa despite having made bold a celebrated egalitarian constitution that points to non-racialism and the non-racial identity in future of pursuit, have held on since 1994 and all post-democracy presidencies to the very race descriptions in claim of necessary economic redress.

 

I have deliberately sought to understand the subject of identity in this note with the Presidential Leadership as base. We therefore look at our three elected presidents namely Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma to see if we can understand their interpretation of race in our long walk to a non-racial identity as contained in our constitution. The primary reason for this is to learn lessons and to see how the discourse on race even identity beyond apartheid is shaped, articulated, reasoned, modelled and perhaps made a lived experience for these presidents.

 

Looking back through our shaded lens of 21 years of democracy and political freedom, it is perhaps time to understand the subject of race as experienced in definition of our presidential leaderships.

 

  1. Nelson R. Mandela, iconic one-nation reconciler pragmatist

 

No one will falter one for arguing the Nelson Mandela era of presidential leadership imbibed the idea of reconciliation and nation building. So dramatic was this era that we quickly became defined by the mouth of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the ‘rainbow nation’. Efforts during Mandela’s tenure were essentially about building a common nationality defined by an acknowledged and reconciled past. The symbolism of this era comes exemplified in what some consider watershed moments such as off cause our first democratic elections (national in 1994 and municipal in 1995). The act that gave rise to the establishment of the Truth Reconciliation Commission. On the sporting front the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 1996 African Nations Cup. Mandela’s visit to Betsie Verwoerd, wife of the architect of apartheid in Orania.

These moments attempted hegemony of unity in euphoria and the birth of a one nation although one can easily tear this apart as a unity for some at the expense of others. Yes, reconciliation at the expense of truth and a euphoric oneness in challenge of a real dividedness underpinned by race consciousness evidences for identity.

It is difficult to distinguish Mandela in his post-prison epistemology on race. Mandela though acknowledges race as a defining reality for identity but he does so as an apartheid sin. It does not appear that he spends much time as president on focusing on the chasms of this race classification as an experiential reality for he is persuaded that South Africa is one nation weaved together in proverbial quilt of diversity.

 

His aim thus is to locate the race classifications in the toolbox of diversity, yet a diversity of necessity, suggesting South Africa needs this diversity if we have any hope of a future of living together.

 

He therefore as a pragmatist is comfortable to accept Tutu’s ‘Rainbow Nation’ cliché for it bodes well for his prism of diversity in oneness. It can thus be argued that if Mandela ever defined the South African society he led, he did so with an epistemology of a diversity and not an emphasis of race classification of ‘black’ and ‘white’ overt sense. It was therefore possible to be convinced that we had under his presidential leadership touched the intangible of a non-racial identity though in my assessment in a superfluous way and on white terms. Less critically engaged, not consciously deconstructed wrapped in a romanticism given content in euphoria.

 

If those with the denotation of white for their human agency today bemoan that era, it is because they felt they got away and were no more guilty for either colonialism or apartheid, the latter the second coming of the first in what Joe Slovo called ‘colonialism of a special kind’.

 

Mandela was clearly pregnant with this one nation in diversity making it work society notion. The symbolism of Mandela as a beyond race president is the venerated place he assumed in global sense. It was thus not possible for him to be overtly race conscious in descriptions of ‘white’ and ‘black’ when these celebrated him with the same almost dead-beat contesting intensities.

 

We must also hasten to add that Mandela was an iconic global leader and thus did not spend much time with SA as its president. The world thus becomes the proverbial theatre for this Mandela miracle of careful choreographic display – the glue that keeps together what in apartheid could never be kept together. I have elsewhere dared to contend we have never had a domestic president until the current incumbent.

 

The sum total of Mandela’s utterances is perhaps best articulated in his own words not in 1994 or beyond but in 1963 at his famous Rivonia Treason Trial when he categorically asserts, ‘…I have fought against white domination, I will fight against black domination, …” This historic perhaps unique articulation comes closest to Mandela on identity measurable in power of race definition.

 

This summarizes Mandela in his epistemology on race which later on became actualised when he became the first democratic president of a politically free South Africa as a pragmatist, hardly fixated on race in articulation. The acceptance of the ‘Rainbow Nation’ notion which obtained its own identity and meaning under the Mandela leadership, may in a romantic sense speak to the accepted diversity component, yet it really sandwiches the ANC’s belief in multi-racialism, from which struggles to untie, thus struggle to give direction on non-racial identity as committed to in the constitution

 

 

 

  1. Thabo M. Mbeki – the nationalist postulates a ‘two-nations’ African society

 

Mandela’s successor was Thabo M. Mbeki, who makes his introduction to what we will call his legacy not in his own time but already in Mandela’s time. When he presents his now most famous I AM AN AFRICAN speech in 1997.

 

Nothing will be more distinct in defining the Mbeki presidential leadership but his pregnancy with a long-brewed philosophical African Renaissance vision. This posits him in the same space as others before him like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and even Julius Nyerere to some extent.

South Africa was now violently pulled out of its euphoric dream, when Mbeki began to talk about his ‘two nations’ in one geographic space notion. He made it bold when he cites, when you in a helicopter ride over Pretoria you are confronted with the two nations that defines South Africa even at the time of its celebration of a rainbow nation status. He goes further and identifies these ‘two nations’ along clear racial identities of white and black economically empowered and those not disempowered, privileged and denied.

 

Thus he sees these structural inequalities in what I shall choose to call the dialectic tensions that continue to be associated with these identities.

 

Not only did Mbeki distinguish ‘two nations’ as that which makes up the diaphragm of the South African society but he also added a further distinction of African. This sets the tone for some to argue that he drew even a conscious and perhaps unnecessary distinction among the Biko cohort of black (African, Coloured and Indian), thus polarizing the context of this black definition, which later exposes chasms of divide, when Indians become the true signpost of economic freedom and Coloureds registers victims of a new economic oppression only because they not ‘black’ enough in this epoch.

 

To interpret Mbeki than and SA at that point in our meandering coursing of a democratic path with non-racial as the destination is to see he recognizes identity through the lens of race measurable in economic opportunity.  He consciously sees a white identity for their undue and illegitimate privileges shared under apartheid that continues uncontested in a constitutional democracy.   He registers dissatisfaction with this and throws down the gauntlet that he will work for the eradication of this anomaly. Mbeki’s tools for working will be the very apartheid economy- the means policy and a state fiscus, which becomes the means of redress.

 

He identifies the black identity in suffering, disenfranchisement and bereft of economic empowerment but he captures this identity in description of African, a distinction in being-apart-of-yet-a separate-to-distinct-from the general ‘black’ composite, which the constitution in footnote status gives content to.

 

We not sure at this point of our unfolding democracy if the aim is an attempt at a race- free end-product if and whenever that end is, or the conscious acceptance of apartheid race classification categories in which racism is isolated as the element this consciously racial society must do without.

 

This is clearly a conundrum and at least suggests a dualism, for how is it possible to acknowledge race in distinction of others yet find coherence of embrace where racism will be not present, particularly when we consider firstly that race remains a myth at theoretical level and secondly our chequered past attest the fullness of this heresy.

 

Was it therefore a fateful exercise to even attempt to argue for a non-racial future, where race is an accepted reality? Certainly Mbeki as an avid reader and scholar on wider than economics research definition must have come across the denunciations of race as true reality of being as articulated by the theories on race. For we know that race may exist in a cultural sense, however the existence of race cannot be supported by a scientific evidence. Mbeki must have known fallacy of Eugenics as an out-dated paradigm declared so by the end of World War 2.

 

One fully understand why Mbeki stood firm on his ‘two nations’ and even a African preposition, for the class divide of SA speaks directly to the past reality of advantage under apartheid in variance of racial classification leaving the African as the scorn of benefit in that historical trajectory.

 

It is than under his leadership that the first stage of black economic empowerment emerges as a conscious and unequivocal tool for redress of such historic and prevailing circumstances meted out in race of ‘black’ and ‘white’ denotations for identity. The subject of class inequality weighed heavier for Mbeki. It defines his prism of race and thus race becomes a class defined reality, that when one deals with the class disparity you would have dealt with the real divide, and therefore the race problem, the reason for discrimination will not continue to exist once the economic divide is dealt with. It appears from this my conclusion on reading Mbeki that race exists and should coexist yet so without racism which is caused by the helping hand of an imbalanced economy.

 

In resurgence of an asserted black identity akin to the late 60’ and early 70’s black began to ring loader and louder in the corridors of economic opportunity – yet whilst this was undergirded by a clear policy position of the ANC to build an undeniable and unapologetic middle class, that middle class is identified with the denotation of black. Needless to say black economic empowerment soon manifested in androgyny and distortion where the black composite articulates a real discrimination of degrees of black identity.

 

‘Black’ thus have traction, and is given content as a part of an economic power matrix with legitimate justification as speaking to the historical past of disempowerment for those who share a description in denotation of their human agency as black.

 

So unwelcoming and less palatable for some Mbeki’s analysis of ‘two nations’ society was that he never was celebrated for holding aloft the 2007 Ellis Webb Rugby Trophy despite South Africa winning the cup, unlike Mandela who is eternalized for donning the green and gold in 1995. Thus with the advent and throughout the tenure of Mbeki we saw a shift on what identity means if compared to Mandela.

  1. Jacob G. Zuma: Cultural – Traditionalist even Drumbeat Society

 

The Zuma presidency enables another shift in what constitutes identity. The ANC’s policy of Black Economic Empowerment after rethink when only a handful of close in proximity to political power benefits in continuance of kinship however defined now becomes BBEE broad based Black economic empowerment.

 

The key point here is that the empowerment remained black with and added preposition of broad. However identity for the Zuma administration takes a cultural- traditionalist notion. Therefore whilst identities as uncovered by Mbeki in his two nations state analysis still holds, Zuma drops the muddled African dynamic of Mbeki and gives identity a cultural presence if not cloak.

 

He at first does not focus on the created fissure in the collective identity of the South African society as postulated by Mbeki in his two nation state analysis. Zuma opts to consciously link back to Mandela as maximum symbol and a nation built on reconciliation, dealing with the triplets of unemployment, inequality and poverty. This he shows when he goes to the Gauteng Westrand and hand out houses to whites who are poor and destitute. Another example of this is him immediately responding to the desperate mother of a drug addict son in Eldorado Park who writes to him as a father figure.

 

Zuma articulated the ever-pervasive dream of a society free from class, race and gender description, not overtly in denotations of black and white casts.

 

Zuma for his part has not come to the nation’s presidency and became overnight cultural – no he was always a traditionalist and therefore his understanding of that traditionalist notion is cloaked in what I choose to call a cultural means. We must distinguish between the academic school of cultural studies for identity, and Zuma’s rudimentary African cultural experience that has a tribal context to it.

 

Identity thus for Zuma, in his leadership is made plain in a tribal context, not narrowly but experientially. It is then no surprise that this presidency proved brave to conclude on the challenges of chieftaincies and claims of kingships of many South African groupings. Mbeki set the commission on this in motion, but Zuma made the pronouncements. He did no different on the KhoiSan issue of identity when he made overtures to these groupings from a traditionalist cultural and tribal context. He acknowledged the Adam Kok V as Griqua King and has set in motion a number of initiatives to build on this cultural identity of KhoiSan people in South Africa. Yet Zuma does not shy away from comfortably lecturing whites on their privileges; however he makes a distinction on his prism of this white identity and contains it in an Afrikaner – Dutch description.

 

It becomes important to hear how Zuma look at the prism of Zuma’s race interpretation. It is perhaps important to note from the onset Zuma does not deny race, but he is not overtly trapped in unless it has a traditionalist context Firstly he does not deny race description for identity, yet he prefers the identity in traditional context.

 

However, he delineates ‘white’ in pockets of Afrikaner –Boer- Dutch description. He made it emphatic when he at the January 8 statement in Cape Town made bold that “South Africa’s problems started when Van Riebeek came here. It must also be said the Zuma very seldom if ever addresses the ‘white’ Anglo- Sexan or those from English description. Thus he does not address white capital unless it has an Afrikaner face.

 

Zuma’s epistemology on those who share the denotation of those defined as black is neither filled with romanticism or philosophical content, but this president identifies those with the denotation black for their identity marker as Tribal – Africans with a rural dimension of history. It as if the president has concluded there are no blacks in SA unless they come from these rural hinterlands, he is prepared to engage them not in their western attire but in their traditional setting.

 

He sees those that Act 30 of 1950 denote as Coloureds as the derivatives and descendants of the Khoi-San ancestry and thus they must find their space and claim it for he will engage them when they have made the identity marker as historical in ancestry.

 

Zuma sees Indians as from an Indian ancestry perhaps with Ghandi as maximum symbol.

 

We again saw this traditionalist cultural notion with our last instalment of very unfortunate xenophobic violence incidents where the presence of the King Goodwill Zwelithini took centre stage and ultimately exerted himself in articulating the SA foreign policy on migration. One could not help but see Zuma as a subject of the King and thus affording the Zulu Royalty to have that latitude. This again points to this presidency as one with an epicentre as a traditionalist in uphold of tribal cultural identity.

 

May, I hasten to add, is this another reason why he in South Africa is perhaps looked down upon as backward, uneducated and simply not fit for the presidency, many cannot find resonance with this traditionalist who sees identity through cultural meaning.

 

We can also say under the Zuma presidency we have seen the subjects of polygamy flourish where an increasing number of men across all class divides and from the ruling elites have opted for more than one spouse.

 

It is interesting that Zuma’s trajectory of a cultural – traditionalist spin on identity is not unique in this era, but an increasing global phenomenon. The whole of Europe is re-discovering and restating its celebration of their monarchies and dynasties. The British Monarchy has never been this buoyant and celebrated when it was at its weakest in an around September 1997, at the time of the death of Princess Diana when there were threats of the people storming Buckingham Palace.

 

However the challenge of race in South Africa seems embolden in this epoch. The challenge is these identifiers to define people are archaic and militates against the future we talk about of a non-racial identity. You know we are in trouble when my son at the tender age of seventeen upon enrolling at Wits in 2015 for the 2016 academic year intake, is confronted with an official application form that has defined him already, as either black, Coloured, White or Indian or Chinese without his permission.

 

Thus continuing the long nights of the 1910 and 1948 States defined its client. Which respectively comes embodied in the 1913 Land Act and the 193 Land Act is the embodiment of this race identifier and Act 30 of 1950 that defined people as Coloured.

 

We have a serious challenge to give content to this aspect of identity and its concomitant identifiers for construction let alone reconfiguring in a non-racial society.

 

The denotations to describe the human agency under apartheid had specific and conscious meaning. None of these descriptions stand in its own shadow neither is any free from contamination of the power and class politics of our history, present and future.

 

Recognizing the need to keep colonialism and apartheid accountable in redress and the unequivocal necessity for this redress, we cannot escape the reality of an elongated presence of race classification the same we work against and fight for in our stance of non-racialism.

 

Thus the very means by which apartheid was given life – at the hand of a fallacious racial classification – is in democracy becoming the narrow means by which redress is negotiated, expressed and made a living coursed experience.

 

Clyde N. S. Ramalaine

Independent Commentator