The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.
If you haven’t yet noticed, South Africa is going through an ethnic “cleansingesque” civil war that the government is doing very little to stop.
The country is enduring a mass culling and massacre unlike any other after 1990. We all thought that when everyone raised their fists for change, and Nelson Mandela was finally president of the the republic of South Africa, a new dawn was upon us. We believed that a rainbow nation was being birthed and the past was immediately sanctified with apartheid warlords such as FW De Klerk being exonerated against crimes against humanity and life going on as usual.
One thing I have learnt the more I have invested in my mental health is that healing takes time. Most Black South Africans did not get the mental health support and assistance they needed after such a traumatizing experience caused by the segregation cause by the Apartheid regime. Instead, they got indoctrinated by western religions and missionaries that came and worked to scrub out our identity and history in the name of Jesus and demonized our spirituality that is a fundamental part of our nature. South Africa is one of the most ancestral sacred lands in the world; spirituality and ubuntu was the cornerstone of the society — before the invasions that is. The indigenous communities of South Africa jumped through too many extremes that could be distressing to any soul. The destruction of the African home began through labour when fathers from Zululand had to go into the cities to work in the mines. They would leave for months on end — people’s lands were taken away and they were forced into labour under apartheid laws. This became a new slavery together with religion reprogramming the minds of the natives, thus contaminating the African Zulu cultural fabric and diluting the indigenous culture with Western perceptions of morality resulting in femicides, homophobias, sexism, corrective rapes, joblessness and ultimately poverty.
Our precolonial history was lost in the haze of white supremacist delusion. I remember school being really shit. Yes, there was the education aspect and I had some excellent teachers. But, we got policed for our hair, language and color. It was past 1994, but the racism and superiority complex was firmly set and not about to change or be up for negotiation. This was the way it was — even in the new “free” South Africa, where victims are afraid to speak out about racism. In fact, perpetrators gaslight victims and tell them how to feel about it. It’s in moments of misunderstanding where we find out how people really feel about someone and, over this week, I have watched even my personal facebook morph into a monster with friends saying the most racist things.
I was incredibly shocked to realize I had so many racist friends. I realized that most who are being racist don’t see it, and are terribly hurt if we set our boundaries because their culture has taught them that we have to be a constant accessory. People that think we were sitting around and the west came in to save us tend to hate chatting with me because I know my history. Somehow my level of intelligence is a surprise. We had a thriving society. I am a Zulu, raised with highest level of respect for another human being. Therefore, when it comes to respecting other people and their property, stealing or looting is a no no. The only time I have seen looting glorified is through the British Museum where our Azanian Artefacts dating thousands of years back are flaunted in the cellar of the museum with no shame. Imagine if African kids could see that. When we are abstractly creative now we are called demonic. We can’t even see ourselves. Our very spirit was looted first, our very culture demonized, and we went on to do it to each other. So, when I think of South Africans, I feel so much pain. I wonder, “How have we carried all of that mental slavery so well until now?”
As we speak, we are on the brink of a terrible civil war raging through my home province of KwaZulu Natal. Durban is where I started doing music. It is the city that saved me, and introduced me to the world. I would meet international students who would show me life in a new way — out of the country side — which I never thought was possible. Now it is all burning down. We all knew it was coming with the inequality over all these years, and after a 4th lockdown, and a South Africa dealing with =/-70% unemployment in the youth and approximately 55% of the populations living in extreme poverty, we’ve been well in the red zone. People are ravenous and with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government — looting R600 billion of COVID-19 relief funds meant to help the people recover and help restore confidence especially during a pandemic in a place that is currently being torn by the COVID-19 Delta variant — something was bound to pop off.
The straw that broke the camel’s back has been the imprisonment of Former President Jacob Zuma for being in contempt of the constitutional court who wanted him to appear, which he refused. He stated that he felt the judge appointed would be biased, and he was not the only one who didn’t appear. President De Klerk, if you hear us…
Baba Zuma is somewhat of a struggle hero for lot of people. Charismatic, the people love him. Umsholozi got the love, we can’t deny that, but he also has been involved in countless cases of corruption including the infamous R246 631 303 Nkandla homestead. Moreover, his administration has impacted the development of South Africa terribly. He is also a Zulu, and his imprisonment bruised a lot of Zulus as he was the first Zulu president, and the argument was that since people like De Klerk have been seen taking first class flights and not paying for their crimes against humanity — not even with an ankle bracelet — why, then, should Zuma be locked up?
When the court ordered Zuma’s arrest, people came to his homesteads in protest to protect him from the police. It really became a stand off resulting in the firing of a top ranking Zulu army general — Beloved Mgiliji — who attended the Nkandla standoffs without the Royal permission. Zuma eventually handed himself in, and was escorted by policemen to prison at nearly 80 years old.
Some Zulus and ANC supporters began to protest against the discrepancies, but then the movement took a turn for the worst when the impoverished in the communities took it as opportunity to loot in attempts to survive, as they were victims of the harsh lockdown with no jobs and no one to turn to. Then, another wave of destructive looting ensued where white and Black-owned establishments were raided. Over the past few days, it’s escalated to gunfire, grenades, facilities being torched down; shops, malls, utilities, infrastructure being destroyed; and deaths.
There are killings occurring between Indians and Blacks in Phoenix, which is a predominantly Indian community. The complications stem from so much pain that we can’t even see each other as one. Indians have killed Blacks — brother fighting brother. It reminds me of the 1990 horrendous civil war between the ANC and IFP where entire families were wiped out. I have friends who are orphaned today because of those days, and it horrifies me to see us going in the same direction so quickly without any intervention. When we fail to learn from history and when it is not told correctly, it has a nasty habit of repeating itself and that’s where we find ourselves today.
I am calling for the people to unite and see each other at a human level. Right now, everyone’s blaming each other and it has gotten serious. Due to the disruption of businesses and looting, there are food shortages, and there are reports of places only allowing white people in, and turning Black sisters and brothers away. Given how volatile the situation is, I believe these actions are just tempting fate. My Zulu culture taught me to see the human first, and imagine if it was I, and how would I feel if my things were stolen. So, I wouldn’t dare because I know how to put myself in someone else shoes. That is what ubuntu taught me. The Zulus could be used as a scapegoat for something that seems way bigger than a bunch of hungry people looting. The destruction of property by grenades seem orchestrated. I am calling for the world to help raise awareness. Soon the reality is going to sink in that no one is going to have jobs, and the famine is going to kill while everyone is busy pointing fingers at one another. South Africa is such a beautiful place that has really gone through the most. Help us put pressure on our government. We need answers. Why are we not protected. Even when a Black man is president.
As I write this, news just broke that 14 were killed in Phoenix. I don’t know what the count will be by the time this gets to you. It’s time for us to emancipate the African spirit and unite. We cannot be our true selves if our spirits are caged. I created a genre called Afrorave, which embeds my indigenous language, Zulu, through rave music like techno, dnb, left field bass. The drums are Africa. They help me send a message to kick out my pent up energy and frustration positively. It is about revolting against the unnatural. Being me has had to be a revolt and I am not the only one. I speak about all these issues we go through in the Black community — which we act like doesn’t exist — yet, we have been through the most injustice in this realm for centuries. I question the commodification of spirituality (religion) and its impact on the African child. I believe it is now time for our resurrection — a time where we can be all we want to be and not be stuck in this small-minded loop pitting us against each other when we are so valiant together.
I hope I have managed to paint the picture that the inequality has led us here. The destruction of our heritage and the lack of unity is killing the world. And this is only the beginning — every place embroidered with toxicity is about to go through its own purge and I feel the youth is being called upon to take charge, as our leaders seem non-existent and complicit in our demise. Are we too scared to love or is this a fucking zombie apocalypse because this is how it looks like right now. We were constantly told by missionaries that heaven is in the sky, but I have grown to know that heaven is in the mind. When we heal the African mind and consciousness, we will know true freedom. But, to get there, you gotta own your spirit. Freewill is all we have. The rest we leave here on earth. All you take is your spirit, so treat it well and treat others well too, and life will be good to you. On the other side of the coin, there is karma. She deals with all of us accordingly. Be kind. And as I was taught, especially now after trying everything else, why not return to ubuntu. Umuntu wumuntu ngabantu, which translates to “I am because you are.”