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“Disturbing whiteness and land claims”
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“Disturbing whiteness and land claims”

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Bonolo MadibeOvercoming the effects of colonisation and building equality means creating peace and justice for all members of society, writes Bonolo Madibe, 20, a Correspondent from South Africa now living in the UK.

Donald Trump’s uneducated, divisive and, quite frankly, fascist views have been accompanied by those of Oxford scholar Ntokozo Qwabe.

Recently, Qwabe made headline news after he wrote on a café bill “we will give tips when you return the land”, which in turn led the white waitress to whom this message was directed to break down crying. According to Qwabe, the waitress’s tears were “irrelevant”, and responses to the woman’s tears only displayed embedded patriarchy and whiteness. However, what this has illustrated is that one thing both Trump and Qwabe have in common is their skilful ability to utilise race as a divisive tool in society. Sounds incredibly similar to apartheid, doesn’t it?

The reality is that welcoming this kind of critique into the discourse of race relations has become very destructive. Despite Qwabe’s attempt to highlight the stark inequality that still exists between black and white South Africans, his comments have in fact taken the focus away from the true cause of this matter; the system.

There is no doubt that post-apartheid South Africa now has a burgeoning black middle class, however white South Africans still hold a majority of South Africa’s wealth. The notion of ‘claiming back our lands’ as a means of solving this problem seems to be an idea that is counter-productive as opposed to progressive, something the ANC fought greatly against during apartheid. Zuma’s Nkandla case alone proves that once race is taken out of the equation, inequality becomes a class problem, a concept Qwabe himself admits his actions do not address. Qwabe has – and continues to – benefited from the very institutions he seeks to tear down.

Qwabe is not a radical revolutionary and his actions have done nothing other than taint Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement’s legacy of building a rainbow nation. Instilling and inciting violence and race base hatred, or “disturbing whiteness” as he calls it, not only illustrates Qwabe’s bigotry, but it only further highlights his hypocrisy. You cannot achieve ‘justice’ for one race through the unjust treatment of another race. There is no doubt that colonisation has had a harrowing impact on the colonised, but belittling somebody, attacking them and reducing them to tears makes Qwabe no better than the very colonial institutions he is fighting against.

Peace and justice cannot be achieved through self-destruction. The history of South Africa itself has proven that creating a division between the races in society only leads to greater tensions and even greater inequality. The focus should not be on claiming back lands or “disturbing whiteness”, but it should instead be on how the leaders of South Africa have continually let down the very people that have shed blood, sweat and tears for a better South Africa and an better tomorrow for the future generations of the nation. The focus should be on how the political systems of South Africa should be shifted from an economic apartheid to one that emphasises equal opportunity for all, as opposed to utilising race to achieve short-term goals that will have an even more destructive long-term impact on the progression South Africans have worked so tirelessly at achieving.

photo credit: Receipt love at The Three Families. via photopin (license)

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About me: I was born in South Africa, but I have lived in the UK since I was nine years old. I current study Development and International Relations at the University of Westminster in London, and I hope to pursue a career in human rights and women’s rights centred International Development.

I have always had a great passion for writing and anything that provokes my creativity, and I hope to incorporate that into my life in the future.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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