Friday, 11 March 2011


I WAS shocked by the article ‘Manuel slams ANC spokesman on ‘coloureds’ remarks’ (The Namibian, 3 March) for being such a racist article itself! While addressing a racist incident in South Africa, the journalist made some disturbing racist statements:

1) The article refers to ‘… a mixed-race group of people.’ This is the language of the mentally-challenged apartheid ideologues and the fascists with their delusions about ‘racial purity.’ Some of the recent incidents in Windhoek show how mentally challenged the racists are. The question of racism remains relevant to us in Namibia since we are dealing with the same kinds of issues here.

2) ‘Coloureds – descendants of the British, Portuguese, African tribes and others – were forcibly concentrated in the western region…’ The coloured people were subjected to the Group Areas Act, but were never ‘forcibly concentrated’ as they have always lived in that region. It would seem that this racially-challenged article was written by some journalist who clearly does not understand the history of southern Africa. The historical fact is that most coloured people originate from the Khoi-San, while the descendants of Malay slaves make up the second biggest group in this tribal/ethnic category. The tribal label ‘coloureds’ was invented by British imperialism (to cover up its mineral theft) and perpetuated by apartheid (to continue the looting).

3) ‘…coloureds have helped the opposition Democratic Alliance take control of local government.’ In a democratic society, people can vote for whoever they prefer. Only an autocratic mindset expects coloured people to only vote for one political party. The coloured people in the Western Cape are split right down the centre in that the middle class support the ANC and the working class does not. It is primarily a social class issue in the context of high unemployment in that region.

The ANC’s secret economic negotiations with the apartheid regime agreed on downgrading the secondary industries (especially clothing) and this led to massive job losses in the Western Cape.

The coloured working class has not forgiven the ANC for this betrayal. In any case, the Western Cape has a long history of modern left-wing politics (since 1934) and the people there have never been impressed with black nationalism. So, the insinuation in the article that coloured people in the Western Cape are racist for not voting for the ANC is far-fetched. Since when does black nationalism represent real liberation when it seems to be only interested in going on with the plundering? Perhaps black nationalism is so invested in these tribal categories to cover up its own looting.

For the record, it is mainly due to the voting of ‘white’ South Africans in the Western Cape that the right-wing DA is in power there and it is interesting to speculate about how come the media focus on coloured people. Is it easier to scapegoat a small group perceived to be politically and economically weaker? In the Northern and Eastern Cape, the coloured people vote for the ANC because of different political dynamics. So, maybe one cannot generalize about this issue.

We should also say to Jimmy Manyi and all the black nationalists of southern Africa: there is an ‘over-supply’ (like commodities?) of coloured people in the Western Cape because their ancestors have lived in southern Africa for 15 000 years! We want black nationalists to get rid of their oppressive idea that they are the only true Africans.

Jimmy Manyi, as an example of a black nationalist, does not grapple with the real causes of unemployment and ends up making racist remarks. Besides dehumanizing and degrading coloured people, Manyi promotes a divisive and potentially violent discourse. His statements reveal the disastrous nature of racial affirmative action instead of social-class affirmative action. Black nationalism does not have the answers and represents a danger to progress with its social conservatism.

With regards to the title of this questionable article, it might also be noted that Manyi is not an ANC spokesman, but a South African government spokesperson. ‘Spokesman’ is such a sexist word. Besides being sloppy journalism, this article is factually incorrect and outright racist.
What a pity that the name of the journalist was not printed.

Finally, we should say again that our refusal to accept tribal/ethnic labels is part of the ongoing struggle for social justice in southern Africa. We should build anti-racism. Non-racialism remains our great contribution to humanity.
J B Cloete