South Africa has experienced a wave of unrest not seen since the Apartheid era. Most of the protests are student-led, but so-called “service delivery” protests continue unabated.
The 2015 #FeesMustFall were aimed at forcing the government to keep its long-held promise of free education and were mainly peaceful. That changed in 2016.
Those who led the protests have openly stated they are animated by the following: A fight against poverty, hence the “Fees Must Fall” protests, pushing against the cost of tuition at state universities; an overt hatred for Whites and an equally overt anti-Semitism along with a good dose of public violence, such as burning university chemistry laboratories and libraries.
A war on statues
Popular anger has found expression (often directed by the ruling African National Congress and opposition neo-Communist Economic Freedom Fighters activists and others) in defacing, removing or even destroying any statue perceived to be “White”. These include statues to military veterans and even a statue to horses killed during the Second Anglo-Boer War. This seems to have abated, but only for the moment.
Monuments to WWI and WWII South African dead, statues of Paul Kruger and the Boer General and later South African Prime Minister Louis Botha have been vandalised as well. Many are protected national monuments, making their vandalisation twice a crime.
This movement got into the international news when a very fortunate student with a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, decided to try get Cecil John Rhodes’ statue taken down, a move that failed. Later, he insulted a White female waiter in Cape Town, causing something of a ruckus, especially when it turned out she was waiting tables to be able to study, while he was able to live it up.
And the intellectual level of this movement was shown up by a truly crazy video that went viral on YouTube. In the video, a student demands that science be “decolonised”, which according to her, means simply got rid of. Among the gems of wisdom dropped in the tightly-controlled debate (a la the late Fidel Castro’s Cuba) she said:
“Western modernity is the direct antagonistic factor to decolonisation, because Western knowledge is totalising.It is saying that it was Newton and only Newton who saw an apple falling and out of nowhere decided that gravity existed and created an equation and that is it!”
The student apparently wasn’t worried by the fact that Newton used Hindu-Arabic numerals. So must they be thrown away, too? They’re not African!
“So, decolonising the science would mean doing away with it altogether.”
That’ll help South Africa’s manufacturing sector no end! (Notably the Research and Development departments!)
The question is, are these movements, considering they are based on racial hatred, a new form of fascism? Or are they extreme left-wing? All certainly use Communist terminology and speak in terms reminiscent of Marx’s class war doctrines.
Whichever category one puts them in; they are bad news for the country. This is because they are the intellectual leaders of the future, and listening to their idiotic, hate-filled rhetoric, this does not bode well for the future of South Africa.
History as propaganda
Unfortunately, the present government is far from innocent in the rise of the “destroyer dolts”. The fact is they have falsified history and while the historiography of previous regimes was indeed White-centred, it was still history.
Today, the government simply lies about what happened. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, speaking at the Centenary of the Arque la Bataille Memorial, before the centenary of Delville Wood, South Africa’s worst military loss to date, said this:
“Throughout history, our forefathers fought various wars of resistance and wars of liberation in South Africa and in other countries, and endured hardship so that future generations can inherit a better country.”
At the Delville Wood Memorial in France, one political leader gushed on SABC Television that “Black and White had fought side by side” in the Battle of the Somme. Of 3,153 men of the 1st South African Infantry Brigade who entered the wood, only 780 answered roll call after the unit was relieved, making it the heaviest loss in South African military history.
Did Black soldiers die at Delville Wood? No. Now one might certainly think it would have been a better thing if the British Empire had treated Black people the same as Whites, or Asians. But the historical fact, unpalatable though it may be, is that it didn’t. In fact, during the month of the Delville Wood fighting, no Black South African members of the “Native Labour Corps” died. And while we’re at it, most English-speaking White soldiers would likely have considered themselves more “English” than “South African”. National identities develop over time.
And while we might wish it had been different, it wasn’t. (Nor was it different in Canada, Australia or America.) So re-writing history to make it “nicer” might feel good, but the dangers far outweigh the questionable benefits.
As for all of South Africa’s internal wars being wars of “resistance and liberation”, was Shaka Zulu, founder of the Zulu nation, fighting a “war of liberation” when he attacked exclusively Black chiefdoms and started a demographic disaster called the Mfecane, where entire areas of South Africa were depopulated and people fled as far as the Great Lakes? Whom exactly was he “resisting”?
An official media handout from the South African National Defence Force on the 350th Anniversary of the Castle of Good Hope (Cape Town castle, and essentially the only castle that was ever used as such in South Africa) says:
“The Castle of Good Hope will on Friday the 9th of December 2016, hold a national tribute in honour of three indigenous warrior-kings, their majesties King Cetshwayo kaSenzangakhona of amaZulu, King Langalibalele kaMthimkulu of amaHlubi, King Sekhukhune of BaPedi and Gorochougua clan freedom fighter and Khoe (khoisan) leader Doman all of whom, at different periods, were captured and incarcerated at the castle after having led various wars of resistance against the land and cattle dispossessions that ensued following the arrival of Dutch and later British settlers in South Africa.”
The problem with this is there is some truth mixed in with the lies. King Cetshwayo’s Zulu Kingdom was invaded by the British for no legitimate reason and his incarceration was unjust. But “resistance against the land and cattle dispossessions”?
Sorry, but history is never like that. The problem with this history-as-propaganda, which the ANC government is now pushing with all its might, is simply that it is not history. In the case of the famous Boer “Great Trek” (which was a series of migrations in covered ox-wagons similar to the American Pioneers) the Boers invariably traded with local people and bought land. The defeat of Shaka Zulu’s half-brother, Dingane, at the battle of Blood River was caused by the murder of Boer envoys followed by a Zulu attack on Boer encampments. So who was oppressing whom in that case? As for the Boer victory, it was a very close-run thing, seen as a miracle by the Boers.
To try to reduce the past of any country to “oppressors and oppressed” is to mislead the people, and such mislead youth are now quite ready for a race-war. And it will be the fault of the Marxist propaganda machine churned out by the ANC.
Even if we manage to avoid the race war, we will still find ourselves in the position of the former Eastern Bloc ex-Communist nations, Russia included. They were brought up to see their histories as struggles against oppressor kings, bishops and nobles. They were taught that national heroes were criminals and criminals were heroes. Now the poor people have to re-rewrite the histories, trying to figure out who were the good guys, who were the bad guys, and how to decide.
Everyone knows the impact of Hitler’s hate speeches against the Jews. And telling people all your troubles came from one sources – the Whites – is hardly different from Hitler’s blaming Germany’s woes on the Jews.
The “Fallist” movement has already caused harm to academe in South Africa. Some students missed writing their exams while others wrote them late or had to write more in a shorter time than otherwise. All this after enduring protesters’ violent scuffles with police, tear gas, stun grenades and similar disruptions.
Is this the legacy of the New South Africa? Is this where the peaceful settlement and the nation-building, inclusive concepts of Nelson Mandela and his generation of leaders has got to? We shall see, but unless the ANC government, with its flagrant abuses of power, corruption and wastage is removed from leadership and removed soon, sadly South Africa is on the road to being just another African disaster story.
Start preparing your gifts to South Africa’s starving children and be sure to support the UN’s resolution (coming soon) to send a peacekeeping force to this country.
Unless this madness ends quickly.
Christopher Szabo is a freelance journalist based in Pretoria, South Africa.