The Precariousness of Black Despair

The Precariousness of Black Despair

Tell me, how do you effectively communicate to people that you do not believe in the world and the systems that govern the world? How do you say, “This shit don’t work! I want out of this never-ending nightmare of a system called neo-liberal democracy!”. This is the uncomfortable internal conversation I have with myself every time there are general elections in South Africa.

There are many intellectual arguments I can make about why voting legitimizes coloniality and colonial systems of governance but man(!) this is personal. This moves past the headspace and passed intellect to my life’s source. It tugs at the core of who I am and who I am not allowed to be. Free. It's about the precariousness of my Black despair. It is about the criminalization of my despair and brokenness at the savage treatment of Black bodies in supposedly libertarian political systems of governance. It is about the impatience we are dealt when we mentally breakdown because of the unrelenting violence. When do I get to be sad about the fact that ‘our Black political leaders’ have put me in a white political system of governance that does not resonate with my humanity? Is there room within this sanitized freedom for me to renegotiate democracy and the nation state?

So I am in deep despair. Black despair. In a state of mourning. Knowing that when you are not allowed to feel injury, being in a state of deep despair and mourning is resistance.

-“You ungrateful bitch! Do you know how many people died for you to have this vote?” they ask me.

I keep quiet. Over the past few months I have learned the filthy habit of neatly folding myself into pockets squares. Also, what do you say to someone who is drunk on counterfeit promises? Death as a measure of the ultimate sacrifice (paid for me) is the biggest weapon utilised by the ruling class to subdue the youth into compliance. Plus, I’m pretty sure that those who died, died for my freedom and human dignity and not a meaningless “X” every five years. Check Biko, he is very transparent about that. And so was Mam’ Winnie. Not leaving behind Chris Hani. No emotional blackmail can ever twist my arm to vote for people who hate me.

Nothing cements my hatred for democracy and politicians like those township and village visits from wealthy politicians during elections. Kats rolling in a convoy of expensive cars and multiple bodyguards to visit the poor. With bodyguards? Because you need protection from your own people. You are scared of the people you claim to love. How can you represent me if you cannot walk among me and mines without a gun? Then you give me a T-shirt with the face of a man who massacred exploited miners in Marikana? I don’t want none of your sociopathic games. Including the one where you earn almost one million a year but dress up as domestic workers as some mysterious symbol of radicalism.

I don't want to play your games. I want out of the social contract. Any political system that can place power at the hands of a rapist or a serial murderer is not a political system I will participate in. The paternalistic nature of neo-liberal democracy exhausts me. I don’t want morally bankrupt, corrupt, violent, delusional, colonial individuals and state formations making decisions for me. I don't believe in the Nation state. I don't believe in borders. Nor of capitalism and the destructive ways it forces us to value people based on how they can help us climb the social ladder. I don't want your South African regional imperialism and patriotism which rests on Afrophobia.

I don't believe in this world. I don’t want to exist in this world. I want complete self-determination outside of the Nation state. I want to be able to curate my own world and my reality instead of existing within white supremacist hetero-patriarchal cis-normative neoliberal imagination. There is no life or growth or clean air within the belly of the beast. No peace and human dignity can reign within the white imagination because it is predisposed to violence and destruction.

So I don’t vote. I am in constant despair. When I tell the truth I am told to shut up because voting is the only vehicle that transports change. I try and explain democracy is the source of my pain. People are drunk with the kool-aid. Red kool-aid just like the blood in Marikana. Dripping down their chins. “Your vote is your voice”, they laugh and sing. Bantu education did not equip us with tools to redefine ourselves and Rainbowism is our sweet novacane.

Deep despair. Deep dark black velvet(y) despair.

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Wanelisa Xaba

Wanelisa Xaba

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