IN A SPEECH littered with offensive references to ‘men’ and ‘man’ that ignored the substantial role played by African women, both during the struggle against apartheid, and the fight against colonialism, Prof PLO Lumumba gave students a one-sided sermon on African history, that avoided her-story. Outside the largely, empty Sara Baartman hall, EFF martials assaulted several LGBT protesters. This in front of a massive crowd of gatherers from the LGBT community which included students, academic staff and allies, who waved Rainbow flags, and sang songs.
Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, appeared embarrassed, as she addressed several news teams covering the event, wearing dark shades and avoiding eye contact. She claimed the organisation was ‘not responsible’ for the views of its guests, even though inside, Lumumba’s speech was being met by loud clapping and even applause by EFF supremo, Julius Malema.
Now eager to appear straight, monogamous and even liberal, Malema orchestrated a flipflopping equivocation, joining other EFF staff in trotting out chicanery — what was once the preserve of the traditional far-right. Yes, you heard that right, the liberal “marketplace of ideas”. Malema’s sophistry translates into a disclaimer that the professor’s views are merely ‘his own opinions with which one may agree or disagree’.
Would he be so accommodating if his guest were an outright religious conservative who thinks abortion-on-demand is murder? A white supremacist who believes black persons are inferior?
Trouble with such an expedient and calculated viewpoint, is that anti-hate speech clauses in our Constitution limit speech that is ‘hateful, incitement to violence and propaganda for war’.
The SCA had earlier this month dismissed an EFF application for leave to appeal an interdict , brought , to restrain the party from ‘inciting people to invade private property’. The leader of the red berets however, has escaped several applications brought regarding hate-speech.
The most obvious case being a highly publicised action by Afriforum against various “Kill the Boer” statements. One can only remark that if the boot was on the other foot, would our justice system think differently? There is certainly double-standards at play.
Our country’s enfeebled justice system thus appears to have moved the bar of hate speech, shifting the burden of evidence onto applicants, who are now forced to prove actual harm. The infamous Jon Qwalane case, in which a former Sunday Times columnist was found guilty of homophobic statements by the SAHRC for equating homosexuality with bestiality, was thus overturned on appeal by the SCA in 2021, ‘because nobody died as a result‘.
It is unclear whether the SCA’s obtuse and frankly, outrageous ruling extends to recent statements made by Prof Lumumba, to the effect that LGBT persons should also face the death penalty? Should hate speech, or speech clearly aimed at overthrowing our own democratic system, and the values it purports to uphold, be protected?
Can one really campaign for South Africa to be replaced by Lumumbabwe?
Adam Haupt’s stock ideas are derivative and contrived. Deserve to be rejected by anyone supporting freedom of expression. There is no rock without drums. Without the cross-pollination of African rhythms, there would be no jazz music, and likewise hip hop. Ditto, Die Antwoord.
In a piece published on The Conversation, the UCT academic launches into support rather than an appraisal of several allegations of ‘cultural appropriation’ leveled at South African alternative hip hop group Die Antwoord. Immediately reaching towards conclusions and an opinion-based misapplication of what he terms ‘dominant and marginalised subjects’, which borrows heavily from the work of a solitary UK academic Rina Arya, in the process, dishing out the Encyclopedia Britannica whilst ignoring the work of continental theorists.
Haupt thus appears oblivious to the earlier writings of literary theorists such as Julia Kristeva and Roland Barthes, who once championed the idea of inter-textuality. For Kristeva intertextuality was a “mosaic of quotations” where “any text is the absorption and transformation of another”. Roland Barthes argued “a text is made of multiple writings” because writers “blend and clash” existing meanings.
Books are not written in a vacuum. According to Michel Foucault, they are “caught up in a system of references to other books”. Each of these theorists made the same point: “the meaning of a text owes more to other texts than the writer who puts their name to the work.”
The concept may be applied here to music culture, language and even fashion. In fact, Haupt’s criticism was once leveled at Eminem.
Rapper Marshall Bruce Mathers III, was slammed for ‘appropriating’ rap music, a genre which ‘began at block parties in New York City in the early 1970s, when DJs began isolating the percussion breaks of funk, soul, and disco songs and extending them’. That’s right, black rappers, appropriated Disco, the Bee Gees, ‘white boy music’.
Take the context of Apartheid which was all about preventing cross-pollination and hybridity to the point where ethnic identity was preserved on bantu reservations by the selfsame logic used by Haupt – ‘for your own good’ and to ‘stop whites going native’.
It may feel good to object to the postmodern intertextuality and cultural hybridity of Die Antwoord, whose work he criticises for being associated with Afrikaans, but doing so places the writer alongside other puritans, Strydom, Verwoerd, Vorster and Malan. The academic merely demonstrates how fatuous, pompous and censorious he has become in a mode of writing that eschews the requirements of rationality and evidence-based research, to posit that the mere position of the subject within, generalised and unequal power relations, is enough to aver, racism?
In Haupt’s weird weltanschauung the reception of words such as biltong, blatjang, dagga and kwagga into Afrikaans are the result of a plot to eradicate a language he calls Kaaps, forgetting that the Dutch Creole emerged as a Gamtaal, an attempt, often by sailors, to communicate, so elegantly described by Daniel Defoe in his novel Moby Dick.
Haupt goes so far as attacking Yolandi Visser for painting her face with makeup, and the result is somehow redolent of ‘Swarte Piet‘, a Dutch character associated with the ‘colonial gaze’.
Women have been deploying makeup for centuries. It is a false equivalence to raise the spectre of Hollywood ‘blackface’, in other words, a ‘white actor playing the role of a black person’, since Yolandi is clearly just being Yolandi. There is no harm caused by her self-expression. Nobody is out of a job. So far as the misguided academic is concerned, artists and musicians labelled white should be placed on mute, and should not express themselves, because, well, they are white and he is not?
Haupt’s assertion of linguistic imperialism is tenuous at best, appearing to rely on the fact that similar accusations may have been written up, by other academics, and thus he engages with another logical fallacy, that of circular logic (circulus in probando), a problem inherent to deferred investigation and meaning, in an obvious scholastic bias — inauthentic criticism which at the end of day, rings hollow, since Zef is a style which emerged from the polyglot and patois argot of Parow, not the armchairs of moral policemen like Haupt.
Zef may have a passing association with so-called Afrikaaps, but saying this language or mode of expression should be reserved for certain people, is like saying all language is copyrightable, which is clearly not the case. Nobody is going to fine you for speaking German without a license. Doing so would place one alongside those who seek to suppress language. In fact such activity would resemble the self-same stratagems of those dastardly colonialists.
Culture is always fluid, it does not live in a museum and deserves to be seen within an intertextual continuum. Die Antwoord are a living cross-referential subject-object, not a mere expression or mode of power-relations. Speaking and singing are not always an expression of two basic stereotypes — the oppressor or the oppressed, — as if we are all mere government bureaucrats rather than artists creating living works of art, books, music videos? Haupt’s position is essentially anti-humanist for it seeks to subjugate his subject, fixing and doctoring the other’s creativity to his own fanciful interpretations.
We are anything but stereotypes.
The cheap parlor game played by Haupt invariably involves throwing around stock objections, bald assertions which may be based upon Marxist class analysis, and thus contrived academic notions of power and power relations — ideas obviously gleaned from narrow contemporary proponents of historical materialism (where all history should be strictly-speaking the history of classes). The result is a major contradiction — an historical dislocation and distortion leading to internal inconsistency.
Inconsistency which, at the face of it, tends to break-down the minute one bothers to actually read history — engaging with facts instead of mere, discourse. He could do better by getting to grips with Post-Marxism, which provides an anti-essentialist approach in which class, society, and history are no longer treated as unitary, universal, pre-discursive categories?
If apartheid wasn’t about cultural purity, what was it, mere materialism?
By the same token do we avoid food which isn’t cooked by Gogo?
Is there really an ever-present ‘grand narrative’ always reducible to geopolitical categories such as colonialism and empire?
Whither ones own private meaning, existence and right to language?
Do we have to remind Haupt to object whenever he encounters a black man in a French suit wearing an English collar and tie? Ditto those Celtic tattoos you just acquired at the local tat-shop. Why would anyone want to deny Die Antwoord‘s right to freedom of expression, if not to pursue a personal vendetta, or simply to get ahead in academia? Power-relations are not corrected by an inversion of power. We can turn the map of the Earth around, but we cannot change the fundamental fact of our common humanity.
So herewith my attempt at another definition. If the shoe fits wear it:
Wokeism is the purposeful misreading of history to score short term popular goals. Blind scholasticism without reference to actual evidence and research. The person who claims to be awake, is more than likely, still asleep.
Neville Alexander’s Unity Movement opposed the now defunct, multi-regionalist theory of human evolution and proposed that all of humanity was the result of a common stream, not separate and distinct ‘race groups’. Given that non-racialism is now the basis for our Constitution one would think that Alexander’s ideas were relatively secure on our nation’s campuses?
Not so, according to Nicoli Nattrass and Jeremy Seeking, who write about the influence of a “contemporary American antiracism … being promoted with a missionary zeal.”
They write in the Daily Maverick: “American antiracism does not simply mean being anti or against racism. It means adopting a racialised and profoundly American worldview that frames all disadvantages experienced by “black” people as the result of “systemic racism”, meaning the institutional and cultural promotion of “white supremacy”. Contemporary American antiracism entails a rejection of non-racialism. It emphatically asserts an essentialist apartheid-style understanding of ‘race’.”
“At the University of Cape Town (UCT), in a city where anti-essentialist ideologies of non-racialism — including radical as well as liberal and African nationalist ideologies — have a long history”, this contemporary American antiracism, they claim, is being promoted as a religion.
The imported, ‘racist conception of race’ flies in the face of science, since as scientists have elegantly put it, ‘adaptive traits such as hair and skin colour are not indicative of a separation between the species’, we are all one race, the human race, or as the late Robert Sobukwe put it, ‘there is no plural in race’. Issues such as discrimination, whether institutional or otherwise, are thus the product of racism, not race per se, since clearly race, is the ‘child of racism not the parent’.
Consider the Apartheid regime’s ‘separate and distinct’ race groups were tragically claimed to be the product of spontaneous human evolution, which they alleged had arisen in isolation on different continents. Race theorists, early paleontologists and bureaucrats such as Piet Koornhof, the so-named Minister of Plural Development, a man often drawn in cartoon caricature, spent their time on SABC pronouncing upon the classification of black persons as Non-White. ‘Plurals’ and similar such pseudoscientific nonsense, were terms often cast in direct opposition to apartheid’s many critics.
As a direct result of the Unity Movement’s interventions — and whilst Alexander was incarcerated on Robben Island, and a story often told by Alexander — the ANC adopted non-racialism as one of its central pillars, his having persuaded Madiba of the merits of the idea. Alongside a discourse similarly advocated by Sobukwe, the history of our country is in reality, an epic journey from the oblique multi-racialism of the Freedom Charter to the clear non-racialism of our Constitution. Nevertheless, the racist conception of an essentialist race identity persists.
You can read about my dis-enrollment from the ‘white race’ here. And the manner in which an anti-racist bigot and oxy(moron)on the bench acting in cahoots with the apartheid system, has censured me for simply advocating Alexander’s ideas, this whilst over-ruling several acts of Parliament, all of which provide a legal basis for non-racialism.
STUDENT bodies have resoundingly rejected calls for ‘mandatory vaccination’ on our nation’s campuses. Coercion defeats the purpose of constitutional guarantees, including bodily integrity and freedom of movement, not to mention academic freedom. The students say immunisation programmes should be voluntary and recognise individual rights at the same time the needs of the majority are taken into account.
This hasn’t stopped several motions for vaccine mandates and/or vaccine passports from being proposed by UCT Senate and other universities. And it hasn’t stopped far-right legal professionals from arguing essentially for the scrapping of article 12 alongside the introduction of internal passports which recall South Africa’s introduction of the so-called ‘dompas’.
If these proposals are anything to go by, we could end up adopting a version of the ‘China Model’ of social control, in which vaccine points scores determine both social status and access to resources in society, and all this without so much as a debate on campus nor even a democratic process within the hallowed halls of the National Assembly? A system which lends itself to all sorts of abuse. Post something the authorities don’t like, and beep, you’re just an anti-vaxer, denied access to public transport.
Right-wing juristocrat Professor Pierre de Vos thus penned yet another article published by Daily Maverick, this week in which he purports to present case precedent and various authorities in support of the limitation of one of the foundations of our constitutional dispensation.
According to article 36 of the constitution, rights may only be limited by a ‘law of general application’, — the rights under article 12 were considered important enough by our nation’s founders, for them to be listed as non-derogable during a state of emergency. In other words, one may infer that the mere declaration of an emergency or disaster is not sufficient to consider their limitation, and that one cannot argue, as many SABC talking heads have over the past week, on the basis of the mere roll-out of so-called ‘mask-mandates’.
De Vos argues: “While a policy requiring all (non-exempted) staff and students to be vaccinated will not directly coerce anyone to get vaccinated, it will present individuals who are not keen to be vaccinated with a difficult choice and would therefore interfere with their right freely to make decisions about their own bodies. “
READING some of the latest ‘academic’ defenses of Lushaba in the ‘petit press’, one could be forgiven for thinking that he had delivered an important speech at UCT pronouncing on the supremacy of politics over law, utilising dialectical materialism to thoroughly debunk so-called legal institutional analysis, in the process setting the Holocaust in its rightful place, a mere peccadillo involving white people.
Robins erroneously writes: “As Roper indicates, the wider context of the lecture, and the logic of Dr Lushaba’s overall argument, do not in any way support Holocaust denial, and he certainly does not seek to argue that Hitler and the Nazis committed no crime in their acts of genocidal violence.”
“Instead, the lecture is a critical reflection of the racial blind spots of his discipline of political science, and why it was only after the Holocaust that genocide came to be recognised by scholars and human rights lawyers as a crime against humanity.”
If this were the case, then why did Lushaba not come right out with it, and say so, why beat around the bush? Why slip into an obnoxious, bigoted statement denying Hitler’s culpability for crimes against genocide, or should that be humanity? To use an ignoramus like Roper as an authority, would be to ignore his earlier statements made concerning Negritude and Césaire, a man whose work he rejected in a public address made in 1996, in the process claiming that the term itself was ‘racist’.
As I wrote previously, the result is not simply a moral vacuum in which the only historical crimes of any import are those against black persons, (and vice versa) but worse, a descent into reductionism, racial categorization and the logic of the late BJ Vorster, whose grey shirts were allied to the Nazi Party.
Equally problematic is his approach to proven facts like the 13th Amendment to the US constitution. Sorry Sir, while the amendment may have had the effect of extending the category of human being, it tragically did not state so in its wording. The same error appears in Roper’s fatuous piece devoid of truth yet upbraiding the media for breaking the story.
This shoddy approach to evidence-based research in favour of polemic and opinion-making easily embraces racist bile.
While I agree with Robins: “the lecture raises substantive issues about the relationship between the Holocaust and black histories of colonial violence that are certainly worthy of academic and public debate”, I categorically disagree with its intention and true purpose.
The trouble with his long-winded mitigation argument, sans facts, is the obvious attempt to drown out objections. Thus it is not what Lushaba actually says, and what is recorded, but rather an intellectual interpretation of events, one which seeks to spin an obvious faux pas, which passes for a response. In exhalting Hitler’s purported innocence, and ignoring that the intended audience are not pHd candidates per se, but rather first year students, both gaslight instead of enlightening the public. His students deserve a lot better than lies.
“One possible charitable interpretation of Dr Lushaba’s comment is that he understands the word “crime” quite literally to mean a legally proscribed, punishable offence and that he was claiming that under Nazi law it was not a crime to kill Jews” writes David Benatar.
To add fuel to fire, Lushaba proceeds to claim our objections are in the minority, blames the media, and stands by his words. One would at very least expect an apology, but that would mean climbing down from his seemingly ‘unassailable’ academic pedestal, a pedestal from which he has seen fit to launch racist invective.
There are undoubtedly many valid criticisms of racism and colonialism, however, a critique of racism which concludes that in order to combat racism, one has to suppress women, or homosexuals for instance, would not be a valid critique.
Similarly, a criticism of traditional approaches to political science, a critique which starts by inferring all law is subordinate to politics, but then falsely concludes the findings of war crimes made under Nuremberg were wrong, is not an educated segue into modernist and post-modernist discourse, but rather, a moribund approach to dialectical materialism, one which invariably leads into antinomian and relativistic terrain.
It is the exact same terrain in which our own TRC findings have been subordinated and reduced to irrelevance by political cadres and apparatchiks of Lushaba’s ilk, emanating from our nation’s academic institutions.
READERS MAY be familiar with my correspondence with the previous UCT Vice Chancellor, Max Price, and the follow-up penned to his successor, Mamokgethi Phakeng, written after a seminar ‘Let’s Talk About the History of Racism in Science: Darwin’s Hunch and the Search for Human Origins’ by Christa Kuljian
It turns out that a PhD student at UCT with a thesis focus on “Museums and the Construction (of race identity)” tracing human remains in museums and universities, Wandile Kasibe was denied access to records and collections.
“In May 2017, I approached UCT Anatomy Department requesting to be granted access to records and human remains collections that were unethically collected for race ‘science’.
“I submitted a formal application to access information on 9 July 2017 and received a reply denying my request on 18 August 2017 from the curator of the collection, Dr Victoria Gibbon, as follows “The committee has taken a unanimous decision to deny your ‘Request to Access University of Cape Town’s Anatomy Department Collections and Records’”.
Kasibe adds that on 22 August 2017, he expressed his ‘disappointment that the committee had taken a decision to deny me access, thus creating an ethos of exclusion that is in direct contravention of the freedom of information at the University. ”
A motion before the annual UCT Convocation, calls for the institution to establish ‘a dedicated fund to support research into the troubled legacy of apartheid race science including;
1. The varied relationships between the University of Cape Town and the segregationist and racial ideologies of the Colonial and Apartheid eras.
2. The experiences documented, archived or oral – of previously disenfranchised students and staff members at the University of Cape Town since its establishment in 1916.
3. Acts of exclusion, those of commission and omission, including, but not limited to the University of Cape Town’s allocation of resources, access to facilities and curriculum design and content during the Colonial and Apartheid eras.’
As a person affected by academic exclusions, conducted during the apartheid-era state of emergency, the banning of lecturers and the several en masse bannings of campus organisations, I can only hope that the resolution is passed and that both campus administration and UCT student body are serious about addressing our past.
In a further development, Judith du Toit Director, Office of the Vice-Chancellor acknowledged receipt of the open letter, and states for the record “I have followed up on the matter of concern, namely that Emeritus Halton Cheadle serves on the University Senate, and established that he is not a member of Senate.”
To which I responded via email: “Am I to understand then, that Mr Cheadle is not a member of Senate but rather a member of convocation consisting of “c) those former professors and associate professors elected by the senate to be emeritus professors or emeritus associate professors” ?
“In the event, the question remains, does UCT administration support the repugnant apartheid race science and multi-regionalist/multiracialist view of certain members of convocation?”
“I also note here for the record, the ‘ethos of exclusion’ pertaining to the legacy of apartheid race science at the institution, inter alia, the UCT anatomy department ‘skeleton collection’, and previously referred to in my letter.”
THE world’s first bio-brick grown from human urine signals an innovative paradigm shift in waste recovery.
The brick is the brainchild of University of Cape Town (UCT) master’s student in civil engineering Suzanne Lambert.
Dr Dyllon Randall, Lambert’s supervisor and senior lecturer in water quality at UCT, comments: “The bio-bricks are created through a natural process called microbial carbonate precipitation. It’s not unlike the way seashells are formed.”
In this case, loose sand is colonised with bacteria that produce the enzyme urease, which breaks down the urea in urine while producing calcium carbonate through a complex chemical reaction. This cements the sand into any shape, whether it’s a solid column, or now, for the first time, a rectangular building brick.
TOKENISTIC, OBJECTIFYING, VOYEURISTIC INCLUSION IS AT LEAST AS DISEMPOWERING AS COMPLETE EXCLUSION’
It was as early as April 2015, just a month after the inception of RMF, that what is now known as the Trans Collective flagged the issue of a rigid loyalty to patriarchy, cisnormativity, heteronormativity and the gender binary within the space. In our founding statement we made it clear that ‘we recognise that colonization has had a severe impact on how we perceive gender and gender expression and thus we are reclaiming our space in the globalised decolonisation movement and calling for our narrative to be instructive going forward’.
However, we had been coerced to construct a smaller decolonial enclave that would run parallel to RMF because of what had become apparent as a gulf in consciousness of many, particularly black cishet men, organisers where the understanding of the colony and how it operates did not connect with an understanding of patriarchy, heteronormativity and gender essentialism as colonially demarcated powers.
Often times, there was an outright refusal to acknowledge that the condition of being a womxn, queer, trans, disabled and so forth is not incidental to blackness but that these conditions are collateral to blackness. So suffocating is this, that we have had to submarine from active membership. We refuse to avail our bodies and psyches for the violence that has infiltrated the decolonial project through patriarchy, cisnormativity, heteronormativity and the gender binary.
Our role has now evolved into speaking back to RMF and keeping it accountable to its commitment to intersectionality precisely because it is positioned as a black decolonial space. We are black, queer and trans simultaneously. These are not severable and we deserve to be freed from their colonial baggage simultaneously too.
Following a year of literally wrestling with patriarchy and trans antagonism in the shadows of running from stun grenades, tear gas, jail cells and private security, the Trans Collective has decided to give content to what has been popularly known as ‘radical black feminist militancy’.
On the occasion of the well-attended RMF exhibition, RMF aligned trans people once again put themselves on the line by physically disrupting the cishetero patriarchy within the movement generally and the erasure and tokenism in the exhibition particularly.
First, the Trans Collective demanded that the organising committee remove all the images, videos and texts of and by trans people. As it turns out that only 3 out of more than 1000 images that ended up making it onto the exhibition roll featured a trans person’s face somewhere on them. This is truly disgrace on the exhibition selection committee and particularly those ‘black intersectional feminist’ cis womxn who sat on it for the purpose of ensuring due representation. Even more damning is that it is clear the RMF and the exhibition’s idea of intersectional representation has the faces of 4 or 5 black cis womxn repeated in a spectacular show of false inclusivity.
It is disingenuous to include trans people in a public gallery when you have made no effort to include them in the private. It is a lie to include trans people when the world is watching, but to erase and antagonise them when the world is no longer cares. We have reached the peak of our disillusionment with RMF’s trans exclusion and erasure. We are done with the arrogant cis hetero patriarchy of black men. We will no longer tolerate the complicity of black cis womxn in our erasure.
We are fed up with RMF being ‘intersectional’ being used as public persuasion rhetoric.
We are saying down with faux inclusivity – RMF make it clear, to the world, that we are not welcome here. RMF will not tokenise our presence as if they ever treasured us as part of their movement. We will not have our bodies, faces, names, and voices used as bait for public applause. We are tired of being expected to put our bodies on the line for people who refuse to do the same for us.
Secondly, in a bid to actualise our disgruntlement, a small group of us manoeuvred our way through the crowd, naked and decorated in red paint, grabbed the microphone from the cisgender man who was addressing the crowd outside. We proceeded to enter the exhibition venue and blocked all entrances with our naked and adorned bodies. One of the placards which we placed on top of our bodies read “Go on, jump over us one more time”, making a reference to how trans people in RMF and other fallist movements have been walked over during the last year.
As we lay at the entrances, the crowd festivities outside were continuing. At this point, one of us rose up, interrupted the speaker, took the loudhailer and proceeded to call out the patriarchy, the trans-antagonism, sexual violence that has come to be unchecked within RMF. Furthermore we called out the fact that we have had our bodies and psyches on the line in fallist movements, but are continually erased in narratives by cisgender people. The statement ended by cautioning the attendees that anyone who would enter through the blockaded doors to see the exhibition would be stepping over trans bodies and that they would have to reconcile themselves with the implication that they valued the content of the exhibition more than the trans bodies on the floor and their plight.
We then took the continuing activities outside as an instruction to actualise the work that was being done by our bodies and blockading by communicating our erasure on the exhibition content. We replaced the images with placards which told a truer story of RMF. A story of trans erasure, trans antagonism, unabated sexual assault and complicity. We left other images with marks of red paint as a display of our presence. We may not have been included in the exhibition role in a meaningful way, but it must be clear to all viewers of the exhibition that raging trans people had been in that space.
We must, however, state unequivocally that our disruptive intervention at the RMF exhibition should not under any circumstances be construed as a rejection of RMF or a departure away from decolonisation. We maintain that decolonisation is necessary for a reclamation of our humanity as black queer trans people. Our intervention is an act of black love. It is a commitment towards making RMF the fallist space of our dreams. It forms part of the journey towards the ‘logical conclusion’ of the decolonisation project. There will be no Azania if black men simply fall into the throne of the white man without any comprehensive reorganisation of power along all axis of the white supremacist, imperialist, abliest, capitalist cisheteropatriarchy. To our minds this interpretation is line with this commitments that RMF has made in its mission statement to in March 2015:
“AN INTERSECTIONAL APPROACH
We want to state that while this movement emerged as a response to racism at UCT, we recognise that experiences of oppression on this campus are intersectional and we aim to adopt an approach that is cognisant of this going forward. An intersectional approach to our blackness takes into account that we are not only defined by our blackness, but that some of us are also defined by our gender, our sexuality, our able-bodiedness, our mental health, and our class, among other things. We all have certain oppressions and certain privileges and this must inform our organising so that we do not silence groups among us, and so that no one should have to choose between their struggles. Our movement endeavours to make this a reality in our struggle for decolonisation.”
Furthermore, we want to be clear that each and everyone of the trans people who put a stop to the RMF exhibition was entitled to. Trans people have an equal stake in the Rhodes Must Fall movement. We have contributed to building the movement from scratch and we will never hesitate to reconfigure it to be in accordance with our needs and wants as trans people and with the tenets of the decolonisation project. We are the trans people who have given Rhodes Must Fall the revolutionary language of ‘womxn’, ‘non-binary’, and ‘trans*’.
We are the trans people who lobbied tirelessly for the inclusion of black radical feminism as one of the three pillars of the movement, alongside Pan Afrikanism and Black Consciousness. We are the trans bodies who had invested their time conceptualising and running the Intersectionality Audit Committee. We are the trans people who spent hours at Azania enriching the movement with knowledge about the difference between sex, gender and sexual orientation, gender essentialism, intersectionality, feminism and patriarchy.
We are the trans people who have time and time again allowed the violence of being probed, violated, exposed in order to grow and enrich the movement – at the expense of our psyches and bodies. We are the trans people who have spent time tolerating trans misogynoir and transphobia in order to facilitate the learning and growth of individuals in the movement. We are the trans people who have put our bodies on the line for all black people at RMF, only to have to face the same oppressor, merely with a different name, alone while organizing under the banner of the Queer Revolution and the Alternative Inclusive Cape Town Pride. We are the trans people who stripped naked at Azania house with cis women when cishet men were victim blaming a rape survivor, yet were erased the next day.
We are the trans people who have loved RMF even when it did not love us.
THERE was something unbelievably cool about Nelson Mandela’s South Africa. It wasn’t merely that a country on the Southern tip of Africa, which had spent the past forty years in the racial stone-age, had made a giant leap forward into non-racial democracy, or that after decades of war and civil conflict, citizens black and white, were prepared to set aside their differences in rebuilding a nation.
It was the vision and promise of a world in which race no longer defined us, in which human rights exceptionalism and a “We the People” constitution marked us all, as somehow morally superior. Citizens with something to write home about, compared to those poor devils living in countries where similar conflicts had ended up in turmoil and worse, a racial conflagration. Not only did we put an end to the death penalty, but we buried our nuclear weapons programme, embraced gay rights, women’s rights, environmental rights and embarked on a course of national reconciliation.
There is something unique to the story of the birth of modern South Africa. In 1994, the very same year that we voted for our first black President, the Rwandan Genocide occurred, resulting in nearly 1 million deaths. In another part of the world, Jordan and Israel, found time to put aside their differences and declared peace. Peace looked as if it could catch-on around the globe, as a cri de coeur, (a cry from the heart), and for many it was Nelson Mandela in a Springbok jersey which symbolised such hopes and dreams.
Now some 22 years later, the country has never been so polarised as before. The sight of burning campuses, the latest round in which paintings have been torched — by protesters at UCT waving the banner of decolonisation — has brought home just how fragile this simple dream appears. In the face of ongoing inequality, racism, poverty and global economic turmoil will the country once again stumble into civil war? Will political leaders take us forward into a new era, via the path of peace, or will we repeat the tragedy, of yet another cycle of violence, or worse, an institutional lustration and blood-letting that has tacit support from those in power?
Clearly the current administration under Jacob Zuma is out of touch with events in the country. In such times a direct address to the nation would be in keeping with the gravity of the situation. Instead we have seen the disruption of the President’s annual SONA address, as the executive takes responsibility for misappropriation of public funds, and Zuma hides behind the trappings of office.
It needs to be said, that while there may be a black majority government, the same government has shown itself to be beleaguered, under siege from its own electorate. A change in leadership, a new President, could bring hope and renewal, but for so long as we have a lame duck in Zuma, the nation appears leaderless, its policies increasingly dictated by opposition groups, and an opposition which equally appears unable to form a government without a split in the majority ruling party.