Beware, We Are Being Demobilized!
Recently I joined a panel discussion with Mark Heywood, Prof Ntsebenza and Mandisa Shandu as the chair. The discussion was: 'Can the Constitution significantly advance the rights of the poor?"
From a Black Consciousness perspective, there are few difficulties with how the question is framed. First it speaks in generalities in order to avoid naming the elephant in the room. It substitutes the word Black with the word "the poor". Not only does it deface every Black person in the room, it takes away a people's consciousness of themselves and of their condition, it removes their agency.
It reverses the gains made by Steve Biko when he subverted the word Black which was meant to denigrate and demonize Africans.
It is a choice of words and language deliberately used in order to make whites comfortable while Blacks remain uncomfortable.
The use of the word poor is designed to open the backdoor and sneak whites into the conversation, it helps to obscure and trivialize the Black story enough to allow whites to participate and even champion ways of resolving the Black question without being implicated by it.
In a strange twist, referring to Blacks as "the faceless poor" it allows white liberals to profit from our misery, establishing well-funded NGO's. The only time Blacks feature as Blacks not as "the poor" are in the glossy magazines, proposals and reports sent to donors by whites in exchange of the dollar.
Biko says "Black Consciousness is the most positive call to emanate from the Black world for a long time. Its essence is the realisation by the Black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression - the Blackness of their skin - and to operate as a group to rid themselves of the shackles that bind them to perpetual servitude. The first step therefore is to make the Black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth".
So don't call us in generalities, we are not poor, in fact we are rich, our wealth is in the hands of the oppressor. The closest thing you can call us if calling us Black is too much for you, call us the oppressed.
You demobilize and depoliticize us by your generalities. We rally together around the cause of our oppression, i.e. according to Biko, the Blackness of our skin.
So we reject your Rainbowism, it is an instrument of oppression. We reject your constitution, your flag, your national anthem and your courts, they are all instruments of demobilization and oppression.
Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, speaking at Helen Suzman's Lecture, acknowledged the failure of the constitution in delivering on its promise to equalize society particularly its promise for access to education and to land.
Advocate Dali Mpofu acknowledged at UNISA recently that section 25 of the constitution makes the whole constitution unconstitutional.
We are not poor we are rich but we are oppressed and our wealth is in the hands of our oppressor.
We are not faceless communities; we are Black people.
The cause of our oppression is the source of our mobilization, the Blackness of our skin! If we mobilize on the bases of anything else, we have already failed!