8th July 2020
A Voice from the Grave
What a Mess!
I am absolutely perplexed (confused) today.
Reading the heading ‘ANC riddled with racism – Duarte’ in ‘The Citizen’ on 6th July 2020, I felt relieved and experience a sense of vindication. We as activists for the total liberation of South Africa, with a particular focus on the Classified Coloured People, descendants of the Khoe and San, who continue to be oppressed in a democratic order were called ‘Racist, Counterrevolutionaries the absurd accusation that we (Classified Coloureds) Resist Transformation’ by some ANC leaders in Gauteng. Resist Transformation means that we must undergo Transformation and the question is, ‘To what must we be transformed too?’ The amount of contradictions or paradoxes in policies, regulation, governance including the law has reduced our people to mere spectators as far as the socio-economic activity is concerned. All the racial slurs and majoritarian domination simply make it impossible for us to find the historical ‘Facts and Truth’ of our existence amidst a host of defamation and identity attacks. A number of unthinkable revelations once more confirmed that South Africa stubbornly refuses to uproot the ties to colonial and apartheid policies, law-making, discrimination and ‘othering’ of African Indigenous people, of course, African Indigenous identification is now a contested ideology if we correctly analyse and scrutinize the unintelligent comments of legislators. We need to urgently break the mould of racial categorization and racial castigation if we are going to pass on a healthy society to the future, nevertheless, keep on reading this communication and offer your thoughts. The confusing messaging in the corridors of power by both academia and politicians necessitates that we ‘#RethinkSA’ and decolonize our thought-processing, far beyond our own prejudices because there is way too much historical and cultural conjecture (speculation).
The current situation reminds me of a particular voice which continues to speak loudly in my consciousness, as I’m trying to help develop a new liberation trajectory (route) for us to travel, away from the ill-fated racial misunderstanding we currently find ourselves in as South Africans and especially those who are Classified Coloured. The Voice from the Grave is non-other than Dr Leonard Martin which speaks gaudier (louder) now more than ever before when he asked the questions: “…are we All African Indigenous? Where are we actually heading?”
I was reminded by a friend Bulelani Mkohliswa (Leader of the New Nation Movement) of a conversation the late prolific mind, Dr Leonard Martin introduced in early March 2017 where he was asking the question to a group of Khoe-San leaders, open quote “Leadership: Kindly clarify to me the meaning of the new term introduced in Phillip’s (Anthony Williams) interview on SABC: that we are all “African-Indigenous”. Is this a term we can embrace uncritically? What are the consequences to the Khoi-San discourse? I need clarification? Have we abandoned Khoi-San history? Are (we) introducing new terminology as part of “engagement” and readiness to “negotiate”? Where are we actually heading????” These were all heavy and loaded questions and I need to respond to the voice from the grave.
I cannot remember if I responded comprehensively to his critical analysis as far as our (Classified Coloured) identity is concerned. Nevertheless, I thought it imperative or critically to respond to his concerns at this juncture since I read the very intriguing and complex comments by Jesse Duarte, Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC in the newspaper when she mentioned that ‘…racism is still embedded within the ANC because some of its leading members still continue to pre-judge certain racial groups believing they benefitted from the apartheid past.’ Jesse said: ”The marginalization of Non-Africans (my interest) is a challenge in the ANC”. The reference to ‘Non-Africans’ is not only controversial but perplexing too. The reference Non-African has a historical context and we should appreciate it in its full framework. It is interesting to read that Jesse also struggles with these controversial labelling in post-apartheid and we can clearly perceive that she is having big contestation within her own party, because she made similar observations in November and December 2019.
Historically, when it was referred to Africans, it was always an identification to those of Bantu-Nguni descent. I will not say ‘Black’ because politically, we are all supposed to be Black. So, the government policies which focuses on ‘Blacks in general, but Africans in Particular’ is now effective thrown a curveball (something which is unexpected, surprising, or disruptive), that means it has no legal standing and the discrimination against Classified Coloured People is legally unjustified and against the Bill of Rights which states ‘everyone is Equal before the law and has the right to Equal Protection and Benefit of the law.’ I must confess that I do not entirely subscribe to the constitution because it is the source of our oppression and we will discuss it in the subsequent communique. Classifying people into arbitrary races of Coloured, Black, or White is stereotyping. Every group is essentially very diverse, and by lumping people as different as the Zulu, Xhosa, Venda, Twana and Coloured under the single heading “Blacks” disregards the wealth of their cultures and it ignores the differences between their historical encounters with colonialism and apartheid. Our identity, cultures, languages, and heritage has been stripped of us, so calling everyone ‘Black’ is a miscarriage of cultural justice.
Personally, I do not subscribe to the colour labelling of Africans because it’s a colonial invention and I will not give it credibility by calling myself Coloured or others Black or White. These are all contested ideologies as it should be and it needs our collective denunciation. When I presented on the ‘Land’ question in parliament on the 11th September 2018, I heard a similar argument from Floyd Shivambu questioning me on why Khoe and San want to divide African people. I was shocked because whenever the EFF or other politicians make reference to Africans, it ‘always’ means Buntu-Nguni, we are ‘never’ included. So, I have great difficulty excepting the notion that the Khoe and San or Classified Coloureds are Non-Africans, its nonsensical. It’s important to understand that African is ‘Not’ a race, it’s an identification of people’s geographical location, not their ethnicity or skin colour. It is said that when you are born in Africa, Africa is also born in you and so the love affair with your native country commences. Moreover, being African seems to be more than simply a coincidence of birth, it is a conscious choice too. The dictionary defines an African as – adjective – of or relating to Africa or its Peoples, Languages, or Cultures – noun – A native or inhabitant of Africa, A person of African ancestry. If African refer to Bantu-Nguni in South Africa only, what about the rest of the people on the continent?
If we argue that Non-Africans are Bantu-Nguni’s exclusively, where are we from, are we not from Africa? We must begin to grapple with history, the historical gaps, the misinformation, and blatant false fabrication of our history as Classified Coloureds and the collective correction of South Africa and African history. If we are Non-African, as academia and politicians are suggesting, which continent are we from? How did we get to Africa? Logic dictates, that if someone is from a particular continent, that person is identified by the geographical location they originate. So, unmistakable, the Khoe and San or Classified Coloureds are African Indigenous because they are historically located in Africa, but particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Once again, being African has nothing to do with your racial construct, civilization, or the colour of your skin, it has to do with geographical space.
So, I would like to take this opportunity and assure the ‘Voice from the Grave’ that we will never abandon our activism until the Khoe and San (Classified Coloureds) are equally free and completely restored. We have an obligation to teach the full history to everyone who cares about Justice, Fairness and Equality.
Anthony Phillip Williams
Indigenous First Nation Advocacy South Africa (IFNASA)