THE sad truth of South Africa’s second decade of democracy is that racism has prevailed. You see it in the vindication of those who once fought for white supremacy – to date not one apartheid general has been brought to book – you see it in the slur against Asian-Africans – so-called Chinese of South African descent, who by some weird twist of fate have now been reclassified “black” only to be scorned for not conforming to the original apartheid system which labeled them “coloured”. The list continues, as fellow South African’s fight each other over the meaning of these terms – black or white, African or not. For some, only those who belong to the two dominant Nguni clans – Xhosa and Zulu – deserve to be accorded status as black Africans. Those from minority groups, whether black or white, are now surely the next target of racist attacks, of the kind which has lead to the burning of human flesh in public.
There is nothing heroic in attacking ones fellow South African, and to call it Xenophobia only elevates the crime which is racism outright, plain and simple, finished and klaar. Others would call Xenophobia sheer stupidity, the inability to contemplate the South Africa of today in any other terms besides newspeak — a country in which so many have become mixed-up from birth. A place in which cultural affinity rather than tribal affiliation is what should identify us, as lovers of particular soaps, readers of certain books, listeners of particular radio programmes, all tellers of tales.
WHILE the outrage expressed by certain journalists of a paler complexion, at Friday’s re-launch of the Forum of Black Journalists (FBJ) is understandable (some white journalists were denied access while others were barred entry) – this blogger can only shake his head and remark at the hypocrisy of all concerned.
SANEF launched into a full scale uproar at Friday’s event, with a reaction which some called “rather stage-managed”, and yet the corporate editors forum continues to turn a blind eye to similar situations involving journalists in the lower ranks employed by its own affiliates.
SANEF have yet to comment on several allegations of discrimination against Media24 — a labour case has been lodged before the Labour Court in which it is alleged the company maintained and continues to maintain a system of racial profiling and racial segregation, particularly in one of its newspaper divisions, amongst other things.
As a struggle journalist who experienced the system of racial segregation first-hand, and having fought against racial prejudice, one would have thought the SANEF at least possessed the temerity to issue a letter of support. Not even a statement from the Freedom of Expression Institute has managed to galvanise these corporate sycophants into action.
Yes, the FBJ are being hypocritical in railing against the legacy of the apartheid system while at the same time, denying others the same right. No less than a show of solidarity amongst brothers will dispel this concern — If the FBJ is a product of the system, then surely it should not be prolonging the system any longer than is absolutely necessary?
Any structure based upon race is an obvious anomaly in the new South Africa, but is such a thing as the FBJ an incongruency out of step with the times? As many still argue, such structures are needed to address unique issues and special concerns raised by black journalists. To argue otherwise is to ignore the conditions under which black journalists have had to work, so the FBJ has my support.
SANEF on the other hand, are clearly nothing more than a gang of reactionary nincompoops driving around in expensive limo’s and as Polokwane has shown, increasingly out of step with the masses. SANEF has also been quick to criticize structures such as the FBJ — those which it perceives as a threat to the colonial legacy of baaskap under the current neo-conservative agenda while dragging heals on others.
What is good for the goose is surely good for the gander? Unfortunately SANEF does only what is necessary when it is convenient to do so and when its actions are unlikely to eat into the profits of its affiliates. Sheer hypocrisy of the highest order, amongst those who should know better.