By Nancy Monnya Inspired by Binyavanga Wainaina, the Kenyan writer who passed on recently Remembering one of his most powerful pieces “How to Write About Africa” – A satire about Africa How to Write About Africa Because you are so tired of the […]opinion politics
“Through a vision I saw nations emerging from the ocean. Once as the sea lay calm, throwing off only trembling waves. A strange race emerged from the ocean… He reported to the Assembly: O my lord, the country is infested with bad bugs. We have […]history politics
“How can he be considered great, since he has been a philosopher for so long and has never yet disturbed anybody? (Nietzsche in Untimely Meditations, p 194) “…it is only by means of the common characteristic of being German that we can avert the downfall […]history philosophy politics
“How can he be considered great, since he has been a philosopher for so long and has never yet disturbed anybody? (Nietzsche in Untimely Meditations, p 194) “…it is only by means of the common characteristic of being German that we can avert the downfall […]history philosophy politics
“How can he be considered great, since he has been a philosopher for so long and has never yet disturbed anybody? (Nietzsche in Untimely Meditations, p 194)
“…it is only by means of the common characteristic of being German that we can avert the downfall of our nation which is threatened by its fusion with foreign people and win back again an individuality that is self-supporting and quite incapable of any dependence upon others” (Fichte in Addresses to the German Nation, p 4)
This title is informed by a Garveyite attempt to marry Lorenzo Veracini’s postulation (in a “radically” revised form) in Decolonising settler colonialism, namely, “kill the settler in him and save the man” with James Baldwin’s short story called “Going to meet the Man”. The first part of this title also reverberates with what I esteem to be the fundamental essence of Poqo/APLA’s philosophy of De-colonisation which is embodied very well by the slogan “one settler one bullet” and its political praxis which unfolded mainly around the 1960s.
Regarding the second part of the title of these “notes”, “the man” to be met is the white man who historically epitomises the vicious violence this European anthropo-ontological category “the man” unleashes on the “the man-not” to deploy Tommy J Curry’s term in The Man-not. “The man” here is a European anthropo-ontological category (in the sense of the European particular idea of being human and understanding of being in the world) which gains its coherence and stability through its “genocidal posture” towards “the man-not”. We take seriously the analysis in Resisting State Violence by Joy James that at the core of white supremacy is genocide. This is of course in line with what Patrick Wolfe calls the logic of elimination of settler colonialism in Settler colonialism and the elimination of the native.
The third part of the title of these “notes”, namely, “Dispatches”, is derived from the title of one of the great Tony Martin’s books, The Jewish Onslaught: Dispatches from Wellesley Battlefront, while Notes of a native son is a title of one of James Baldwin’s short pieces in which he grapples with his “integrationist anxieties” as explicated by Harold Cruse in The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual. The difference between James Baldwin’s integrationist native son and our “native” son as Garveyites will become transparent as the discussion unfolds. What is of significance regarding the third part of the tile of these “notes” is “the native”. The etymological and philosophical significance of which will be disclosed in the first section of these “notes”. These “notes” are divided into two sections, I now turn to the first section.
The native and its discontents.
“Blacks are still hopelessly naïve if they do not yet understand that the whites never did, and do not now, intend to include Blacks in the doctrine of human equality.” (Chancellor Williams in The Destruction of Black Civilization, p 301)
“But the more authentic question was not whether the slaves were human. It was rather what sort of people they were and could be. Slavery altered the conditions of their being, but it could not negate their being” (Cedric Robinson in The Historical Archaeology of the Black Radical Tradition, p10)
In Discourse on Colonialism, Aime Cesaire posits that colonialism seeks to “thingify” the colonised. If the “middle passage” inaugurates in its “wake” an anti-black world in which the black is not human but a tangible thing/commodity, then the Afro-pessimists have “internalised” this “thingified status” in their conceptual apparatus – We are not joining the club. The “its” in the title of this section is not meant as a suggestion that we too have “internalised” the “thingified status” of the native. This is because our fundamental point of departure is that, despite conquest since 1652 and the “political ontology”( in the sense of the construction of the relations of beings in terms of the interest of power of the white settlers, for example the idea of white settlers as superior human beings and the natives who are dismissed as a “child race” that is either subhuman or not human at all as imagined by the white settlers) of white settler colonialism, the Indigenous conquered people remain human on their own terms (they are still Abantu/Batho). Because we believe that Wade Nobles is correct in defining power “ as the ability to define reality and impose it on other people as if it is their own definition”, our analysis is firmly grounded in the vehement rejection of “white settler colonial power-to-define”. This vehement rejection should be followed by the destruction of the material reality of white settler colonialism which is premised on “white settler colonial political ontology”. By the latter we mean a “historical phenomenon” in which categorical relations which due to asymmetrical power are transformed into structural relations in which race and domination are the societal principle and mode of organisation.
It is fair to argue that despite the geographical difference in their experiences, Afrikan people in the Diaspora and on the continent suffer “collective degradation” in the form of Maafa at the hands of whites (due to their lack of power as the great Amos Wilson always pointed out, for instance in Black Power). This means that, it does not matter what whites think and say about Afrikan people, provided that they cannot translate their racist fantasies into a corresponding material reality something, which due to their power, they have been doing for the last many “centuries of anomie”, euphemistically called European Modernity.
This section will provide an etymological and philosophical analysis of the word and the category( in the sense of a socially constructed particular being) “the native” and its relation to white settler colonialism as it unfolded in “South Africa” since unjust conquest in 1652. We will not concern ourselves in these “notes” with the so-called “native question”. This is because it is our view that the so-called “native question” is nothing but a “forgery” of the white settler “racial regime”, to deploy Cedric Robinson’s concepts in Forgeries of Memory and Meaning. Because it is a fabrication by the white settlers, to say that it is racist is to be redundant. We will thus turn the tables around on the white settler racial regime and discuss “the white settler question” and how to resolve it (thus methodically speaking, we will proceed by way of description and then prescription). Here we concur with Richard Wright that there is no “Negro problem but the white problem”. The reason for this is simply that the fundamental problem in “South Africa” is the presence of whites, their identity, and their idea of reality and structure of racial domination based on unjust conquest since 1652, all of which are not only un-Afrikan but are anti-Afrikan (thus the impossibility of a “white Afrikan” despite the “existence” of the “Afrikaners” who are nothing but “white counterfeiters”).
In discussing the correlation between white settler colonialism and the native, we will critically analyse the relation between history and the emergence of categories. To paraphrase Cedric Robinson, we will critically explore the relation between white settler colonial “racial regime” and “the invention of the native”. As far as white settler colonialism is concerned the category native denotes a member of the “uncivilised” Aboriginal race as well as a non-European sub-person, to utilize Charles Mills’ concept in Kant’s Untenmensch. This is the white settlers’ politico-ontological classification of the native. The category native in the sense of a member of the “uncivilised” Aboriginal race is “echoed” by the “Natives” Land Act of 1913. For the purposes of this essay this will be the native in the first sense (politically speaking). The category native in the second sense is a non-European sub-person (socio-ontologically speaking). These two senses of the category native are the politico-ontological constituent elements of white settler colonial discourse which justified conquest in 1652 and sustains it today, despite the “loud nonsense” of the “white destroyers” Liberal constitutionalism and Human Rights Ideology”. “Uncivilised” here implies “without law and government”; of course as understood by white settlers in their colonial imagination. This is linked to the racist argument of the lack of reason on the part of the native as imagined by white settlers (thus sub-personhood) which has ramifications such as the attribution of “ontological defectivity” to the native and the complementary inhumane treatment of the native by whites.
We will follow Welsing in The Isis Papers, where she regards racism as white supremacy. This is because whites need white supremacy and white supremacy needs whites. This implies that, revolutionarily speaking, to be anti-white supremacy one has to be anti-white, physically speaking and not merely socio-ontologically. White settler colonialism is a structural/systemic manifestation of white supremacy in South Africa. The fundamental philosophical anthropology of white settler colonialism is the systemic and systematic doubting of the human beingness of the Indigenous conquered people, and the political praxis of the former is the material reality of white settler colonialism in the form of a dialectical relation between white privilege and the racial domination and exploitation of the Indigenous conquered people.
The category native in the first sense (political sense, namely the existence of a political order through ideas such as sovereignty, law and a form of government) is indicative of the white settlers’ “grudging concession” to “native title”. Here the white settlers seem to concede to the prior existence of sovereign title to territory of the Indigenous people before “conquest”. “Grudging concession” because this concession is accompanied by its negative antithesis, namely, the “terra nullius” doctrine or the empty land thesis (the historical “forgery” of the Bantu migration around the same time as the arrival of whites and their “racial regime”). There is a reason why the terms, namely, native title, conquest, and terra nullius are in inverted commas. This is because these three terms constitute some of the elements of the doctrine of Discovery which rationalised white settler colonialism, as explained by Robert J Miller in SYMPOSIUM: The future of international law in indigenous affairs.
Etymologically, the word native bears connotations of birth. Genealogically speaking the condition of possibility for the existence of both white settler colonialism and the category native in both senses is conquest since 1652 in unjust wars of colonialism. Thus, 1652 marks the “horrible date” of the birth of the native in both senses. But we must bear in mind that the native as representative of the Indigenous people existed for thousands of years before the “two thousand seasons” of the “white destroyers” to paraphrase Ayi Kwei Armah in Two Thousand Seasons. Cheik Anta Diop demonstrated this very well with the origin and first contribution to civilization by the African Grimaldi in Civilization or Barbarism. The difference between the category native in both senses as constituted by white settler colonialism and the native as representative of the Indigenous people is that the former is a “work” of white settler colonial racist “Social Imaginary” while the latter is a “signification” of an Indigenous “Social Imaginary” to paraphrase Cornelius Castoriadis in Imaginary Institution of Society. Put simply, the category native in the latter case is Umuntu/Motho, while in the former case, in both senses, is an ontological “forgery” (to rely on Cedric Robinson’s term) by the white settler “racial regime”. In other words, as Umuntu/Motho the native had many “moments before the master” and his “season of anomie” to borrow Wole Soyinka’s title of one of his novels.
Anthropo-ontologically speaking the category native in the first sense signifies a “grudging concession” that the native is a being whose prior birth since time immemorial as a human, though defective (a la colonial imagination), is a “tie that binds”, to paraphrase Makhosezwe Magubane, this native to the land. The “Natives Land” Act of 1913 epitomises this anthropo-ontological sense of the native. Since the above argument is true, from the perspective of the black radical tradition we are “within our rights” (we are being sarcastic here) to pose the question: was there an “epistemological rupture” when the ANC changed its name from the South African “Native” Congress to the African National Congress (note not nationalist) and its civil rights pursuits? Or have its founders always been “civilised natives” who accepted that “white settlers are here to stay” and thus wanted only to be granted rights within the white settler racial regime? This questions are germane because we believe that this pursuit led to the abandonment of the pursuit of the reclamation of “native title” (with the exception of the Garveyite/Africanist Lembede’s period) but to its watered down version (the current one informed by the break with Lembede’s Africanism through the current one’s “Freedom Charter”) called “land redistribution” within a Liberal constitutional citizenship framework (leading to historical “forgeries” such as “we the people of South Africa” and the “land belongs to all who live in it/South Africans” a la the “Freedom Cheater” to use Motsoko Pheko’s term). The Indigenous conquered people are “cheated” of their “native title” by the “civilised natives” who have accepted that “whites are here to stay” (in the name of the so-called “broad nationalism”) – as if this catastrophic and contingent historical fact is immutable and irreversible. What these “civilised natives” call “freedom” is nothing but inclusion into a reconfigured white settler colonialism (in the sense of the so-called “new” South Africa based on a non-racial constitutional democratic order) through a “negotiated” change of “the terms of order” of white settler colonial “racial regime”, to rely on Cedric Robinson in The Terms of Order. Land is the foundation of power, “freedom” without power is a meaningless illusion. What the Indigenous conquered people need is power as opposed to “freedom” and “equality”; which are “the terms of order” of a racist Liberal constitutionalism (which, misleadingly claims to be “non-racial”, thus making its racism more efficient and deadlier). Race-first De-colonisation as our alternative mode of decolonising white settler colonialism, on the other hand, seeks to reject through a “Chimurenga” (Indigenous conquered people’s politics must be wrested from the rampant judicialization under the hegemony of the current self-styled supreme constitution), “the terms of order” of white settler colonial “racial regime” and restore a Post-conquest/-settler Azania based on Indigenous people’s terms as an autonomous Afrikan nation.
As already alluded to above, the category native in the second sense denotes a non-European sub-person. Non-European here signifies not/not-yet “human”, not/not-yet Christian and therefore barbaric. This is because, due to “the role played by the missionaries in conquest” to paraphrase Nozipho Majeke’s title of her book, since 1652, Europeanization, “humanization” Christianisation and “civilization” amount to the same violent process of white cultural warfare. An Indigenous conquered people’s counter-discourse to the category native in the second sense and the resultant process of epistemicide is the philo-praxis of Ubuntu/Botho.
We will not for the purpose of this short “notes” delve into the very important and sophisticated philosophical explication of this philo-praxis as proffered by Ramose in African Philosophy Through Ubuntu. For the purposes of these “notes” we want to register the fact that Abantu/Batho “negated the negation” of their humanity as epitomised in the category native in the second sense. This they did by simply stating and believing firmly that indeed “makgowa ga se batho” (loosely translated as whites are not human). Thus, they have proven not to be Afro-pessimist. This is because African philosophically speaking, they fundamentally reject a reality as defined by whites/makgowa in which as Abantu/Batho they are regarded and treated, in this order, as not human and instead they turned the tables around and defined whites/makgowa on their Indigenous terms as not Abantu/Batho and therefore not human. That is how the Indigenous conquered people negated “the normativity of whiteness and white recognition” (to use Lewis Gordon’s terminology in Black Aesthetics, Black Value) and maintained their Ubuntu/Botho. This is an instantiation of “combative epistemology” (which, among other things, renders whiteness exotic/not-native and thus “not normal”) to paraphrase Archie Mafeje’s title, Africanity: A combative ontology.
This first stage of changing “categorical relations” is the epistemological and ontological foundation (in the sense of the idea of or particular understanding of reality and of being in the world) of the De-colonisation of white settler colonialism, which should be followed by a corresponding change in “structural relations” which should when successful lead to a “structural rupture” with 1652 (thus Black Power replacing white power). And this is how, the present writer believes, Poqo/APLA’s revolutionaries prosecuted their political praxis of “one settler one bullet” by destroying whites and their racism, in this order. This is because how you define something influences how you relate to and behave towards it. Marimba Ani demonstrated very well in Yurugu that European thought, which is structured by its power and control-obsessed cultural asili (the germinating seed of a culture), explains why the Europeans behave the way they do towards the cultural Other/Afrikan people. With this firmly in mind we now turn to the last section of these “notes” where we discuss our alternative mode of De-colonisation by and for Afrikan people and the “fate” of whites.
Race-first De-colonisation: so much worse for the whites?
“Racial regimes are constructed social systems in which race is proposed as a justification for the relations of power” (Cedric Robinson in Forgeries of Memory and Meaning, p 188)
“For the white people, still masters of this world, do not have to yield. They have never changed their real attitude toward black people during all the passing centuries, and there is absolutely nothing upon which to base the belief that they will change in the centuries to come” (Chancellor Williams in The Destruction of Black Civilization, p 301)
It is important to note at this stage of our analysis that in the title of this section we use the category “whites” as opposed to “white people”. A perceptive reader who has closely followed our argument will comprehend without difficulty the philosophical distinction between these two categories. Thus, as far as Abantu/Batho are concerned, this case of “whites” as opposed to “white people” is a case of “no humans involved” to echo in reverse Sylvia Wynter. After all, it is “the man” as a representative and acting on behalf of “whites”, in Sylvia Wynter’s piece, who reduces Afrikan people to the human-not/” the man-not”, thus “no humans involved”.
Patrick Wolfe once posited that “settler regimes are difficult to change”. Lorenzo Veracini on the other hand, interestingly, stated that “settlers carry colonialism in their bones”. Both these white thinkers provide us with only a historical and political analysis of settler colonialism and not a philosophical critique of whites in terms of their culture and worldview as we do in these “notes”. We, as the “Indigenous people” conquered in unjust wars of colonialism since 1652, firmly assert and believe that “makgowa ga se batho” (loosely translated as whites are not human). The logical question to pose in the light of the above is: how do you decolonise white settler colonialism? This problem of how to decolonise white settler colonialism is the thematic of this last section of our “notes”.
Wolfe also posited that settler colonialism is characterised by the “logic of elimination”. Veracini on the other hand, again interestingly, postulated that settler colonialism is characterised by the statement “you go away”. We will in this section, from the perspective of the black radical tradition, specifically Garveyism and Africanism, discuss settler colonial studies’ postulations, incorporate them where they are useful and offer an alternative where they prove useless. Our fundamental pivot for this purpose is the logic of elimination.
For our purposes we will reframe the logic of elimination by reducing it to two aspects, each with its two elements. The first aspect is the physical one, which consists of the following elements: expulsion and killing in cases of resistance. The second aspect is the socio-ontological one, which comprises of “going native” and “saving the man” as its two elements.
Our fundamental argument is that the first aspect of our reframed logic of elimination captures and was historically embodied and practiced by Garveyism and Poqo/APLA’s revolutionaries. Garveyism embodied the first aspect and particularly the element of expulsion through the well-known Afrikan revolutionary slogan “Africa for the Africans, those at home and abroad”. Poqo/APLA’s revolutionaries translated into political praxis the first aspect especially its second element through the slogan “one settler one bullet”. In Azania, Muziwakhe Lembede is an African philosopher and an Africanist who faithfully echoed Garveyism. The present writer would like to acknowledge the heavy influence of, and to register his deep admiration for, this Afrikan and Africanist warrior.
“Race-first philosophy of De-colonisation” as our alternative mode of decolonising white settler colonialism is firmly and solely based on the first aspect of the reframed logic of elimination and both its two elements as already alluded to above. This philosophy is informed by the radical idea that to de-colonise white settler colonialism we must “de-settle” all whites/white-settlers, and not to pursue and encourage their conversion and assimilation. The question of the practicality of this “thesis of de-settlement” is dismissed as nothing but “white settler and black bourgeois anxiety” which are reflective of their “affective attunement” to whiteness and the racial regime’s status quo.
In other words, if the fundamental nature of settler colonialism in its logic of elimination is genocide and the occupation of the territory of the native and the violent “instruction” “you go away”, then our Race-first philosophy of De-colonisation seeks to turn the essence of settler colonialism’s logic of elimination against whites/white-settlers. Put simply, the fundamental objective of our alternative mode of de-colonisation is to restore sovereign tittle to territory and epistemological autonomy by expelling all whites/white-settlers and killing those who stand in the way of our efforts to recover the territory (we don’t have to rely on the principle of recoverability in terms of the Just-war doctrine to accomplish this national liberation struggle’s fundamental objective). This Race-first philosophy of De-colonisation should be the ideological foundation of another Chimurenga to restore Uhuru in a Post-conquest/-settler Azania (the land of black people without whites/white-settlers, literally).
Our radical point is that this Chimurenga must be literally anti-white to be thoroughly anti-white supremacy/power. This radical point is indicative of “Afro-pessimism” which is based on an African-centred philosophy, namely, that whites “will not”, and “not cannot”, “disrobe their whiteness and settlerness” which are informed by the power and control-obsessed European cultural asili, their binary-opposition-based and de-spiritualised European worldview as argued convincingly by Marimba Ani in Yurugu. Based on this philosophy, we confine ourselves to the historical and political fact of the persistent “will to power” of whites and not their ontological potential to change for the better (their supposed change for the better, if or when it happens, must do so in Europe among other Europeans lest they “self-destruct”, as they seem to need it among themselves – what with their history of internecine wars based on “internal racism” which is “temporarily suspended” by the presence and domination of the “cultural Other”/Afrikan people). We concur with Cedric Robinson in Black Marxism that racism is endemic to European civilization. Thus we firmly hold the view that whites are irredeemable/not-worthy-of-redeeming (only Afrikan people who are victims of white supremacy are deemed to be redeemable and therefore worthy of a second chance to reclaim their Afrikaness). The point is not to waste our time trying to rescue or destroy the endemically racist European civilization (its “internal racism” will take care of this…), but rather to restore Black Power through which we can make/force whites to leave us alone. (Thus Europe for the Europeans and Afrika for the Afrikans). The radical and fundamental question is not whether whites can change for the better but rather what do you do with whites who clearly don’t-want/resist to change as you would like them to? For our purposes, philosophically speaking, their change for the last “two thousand seasons” has been a conservative one; namely, a change that conserves through strategic reconfiguration their white power and global white supremacy.
Concurring with Marimba Ani we posit that, historically and politically speaking, it is the cultural asili of whites which is the basis of white power/supremacy, hence their “not willing” to destroy this asili and thus change for the better. This reflects their bio-cultural survival thrust as a racial collective group in the world among other racial collective groups, to which they have always been hostile. Welsing in The Isis Papers has demonstrated with conviction that these “white destroyers”, to deploy Armah’s term in Two Thousand Seasons, want by any means necessary to preserve their racial, cultural identity and power. The few “race-traitors” who now and then “go native” are mere insignificant exceptions which have co-existed with global white supremacy. To focus on and celebrate them is to miss “the totality of white power”; they are a mere “entertaining” diversion.
Once all whites/white-settlers are completely “de-settled”, there will be more than enough room for some of our fellow Afrikan people in the Diaspora to come back and physically “re-commune” with the land of their living-dead. Our Race-first philosophy of De-colonisation is informed by the historical example of the Haitian Revolution. The opening of the Haitian empire to be a home for all the black people brutalised by whites is the living-dead’s revolutionary tradition that we wholeheartedly embrace and that our philosophy of De-colonisation seeks to continue. Because this process of “de-settlement” is based on Garveyism, it will have to be taken to its logical conclusion by being extended to the Arab-occupied parts of the Afrikan continent. The Arabs are not Afrikan but are conquerors who invaded Afrika around 639/40 AD. Thus Afrika as a whole is under siege both in the North and the South. When settler colonialism is theorised it is important from a Garveyite perspective to deal with the Arabs who just like their counterparts in the South of the continent are not Afrikan but are what Chancellor Williams in The Destruction of Black Civilization calls Asiatics. They are both conquering foreigners from the continent of Asia. After all, Europe is not a continent but a part of Asia. The cartographic inflation of Europe reflects white supremacy and thus white-superiority-inflected collective self-representation. As Garveyites the “civilizational differences” between the Arabs and whites and their conflicts are not important, but what matters is that they are both not Afrikan, are anti-Afrikan and conquerors of Afrika to be dealt with in terms of Black Power.
The second aspect of the reframed logic of elimination consists of “going native” and “saving the man” as its two elements. As Garveyites, our radical submission is that this second aspect together with its two elements is based on what Ayi Kwei Armah aptly calls “ruinous openness” or what I designate “naïve generosity”. As Garveyites we take seriously Garvey’s advice that in a world of wolves one cannot be a sheep and expect to survive. From a “return to the source” perspective, we should use the memory of the Afrikan founders (with Black Power) of the 18th Dynasty of Kemet (the land of the blacks/ the so-called Egypt), as a weapon, who expelled from Afrika settler colonisers called the Hyksos who also conquered and ruled over the living-dead. Following Ifi Amadiume’s notion of “historical depth” in Re-Inventing Africa, we can clearly discern the fact that “the destruction of black civilization” by settler colonisers (most of whom came as visitors and then turned into conquerors) has been going on for more than “two thousand seasons”.
The idealism that white settlers will abandon settler colonial sovereignty by returning the land to its rightful owners and thus “disrobing their whiteness and settlerness” is captured by Sobukwe’s metaphor of the tree and Biko’s table metaphor. We think that we have to look at the political contexts within which these offers of “ruinous openness” were made to whites. The 1960s and 1970s in “South Africa” represent white settler colonial periods during which the military power (white power) of the “white destroyers” was at its apex. If this is true, then the logical question to pose is: were these offers of “naïve generosity”, despite Poqo/APLA’s political praxis based on “one settler one bullet” a public transcript (ideas and acts of resistance which are regarded by the dominated as genuine in their relation to those who dominate over them) or a hidden transcript( ideas and acts of resistance on the part of the dominated which are meant to deceive the dominant group)? If it is the former then both Sobukwe and Biko mastered the hypocrisy of whites or what Marimba Ani calls “rhetorical Ethic” and turned it against them as we want to turn the logic of elimination against these “white destroyers” (this can only happen when one thoroughly studies the thoughts and mind of whites, but not with the view to redeem them). In other words, in their context of domination by whites, they mastered very well the “arts of resistance” to paraphrase David Scott and “were not what they seemed” as Robin D. G. Kelly would put it. If these offers of “ruinous or naïve Afrikan humanism” were hidden transcripts, then we, as Garveyites, respectfully disagree with both in this regard and consider the effects of epistemicide even regarding some of our great minds. We choose to heed the urgent call to practice what the great John Henrik Clarke called “the selfishness of survival”.
The second element of the second aspect of our reframed logic of elimination is Veracini’s “kill the settler in him and save the man”. While the first element of this second aspect is “going native” in the sense that there is an orientation of converting to the culture of the Indigenous people by white settlers (superficial and opportunistic in many instances, what with “whites” who embrace Afrikan culture and thought and still hate Afrikan people), Veracini’s postulation in our view is one in which white settlers remain European only in another form. In other words with Veracini’s case of “saving the man” we have a case of “trans-formation”; that is a change of form through a subtle retention of substance. After Sylvia Wynter’s critique in On How We Mistook the Map for the Territory of the hegemonic “overrepresentation” of Western “man” as the human as such, as Garveyites we remain “hermeneutically suspicious”( a suspicion based on our heritage which is the epistemological foundation of our reflections) of the category “man”. Following Marimba Ani’s critique of European thought, we “suspect” the operation of the ideology of Universalism with regard to “Veracini’s man”. How can we, as Afrikan people, take lightly the subtle imposition and internalisation of Western concepts and categories after Oyeronke Oyewumi’s critique in The Invention of Women and Nkiru Nzegwu in Feminism and Africa: Impact and Limits of the Metaphysics of Gender? Kwasi Wiredu’s call for conceptual decolonisation is heeded as we embark on “due reflection” with regard to “the man”. Anthropo-ontologically speaking, “the man” and Umuntu/Motho are not philosophical equivalents. “The man” is the European species of being human and has a distinctive mode of being in the world which is informed by the particularity of European values, norms and interests usually masquerading as universal in terms of European cultural Imperialism. Because “the man” is a European phenomenon, Diop’s Northern cradle’s heritage in The Cultural Unity of Black Africa should be factored in, in comprehending the man’s “attunement”/affective disposition to the world and to “the cultural Other”, to deploy Heidegger’s term in Being and Time. Due to the European worldview and culture, which we argue “the man” is immersed in, we “suspect” that “the man” will replace through the back door the settler who is “killed” and removed through the front door in Veracini’s decolonisation of settler colonialism.
From the perspective of the black radical tradition, our point is to “decolonise” Veracini’s idea of decolonisation of settler colonialism, not to redeem it of course but by demonstrating in terms of African philosophy that his idea of “saving the man” is irredeemably flawed as far as Afrikan people are concerned. Based on Sylvia Wynter’s and Marimba Ani’s critique, Afrikan people vehemently reject the idea and prospect of co-existing with “the man” in a Post-conquest/-settler Azania based on Isintu/Setso which is foreign to “the man”.
For us, “the man” will still be umlungu/lekgowa in another form and in terms of our Race-first philosophy of De-colonisation umlungu/abelungu/lekgowa/makgowa are not Abantu/Batho. The fundamental essence of this philosophy is a reality defined by Abantu/Batho in which whites/white-settlers and “the man” are not human. It is not just a question of empirical description which reduces whites/white-settlers and “the man” to a phenotype, as reflected in statements such as “the pumpkin race and those through whose ears pass the rays of the sun” to quote Mazisi Kunene in Emperor Shaka. But rather it is the particular “white mode of being in the world”, to quote Chabanyi Manganyi in Being Black In the World, of makgowa/abelungu, how they relate to the world and other beings in the world based on power, control and domination due to their European cultural asili and worldview. The particular white reality as defined by makgowa/abelungu which encourages this “white mode of being in the world” is un-Afrikan and to be more precise anti-Afrikan.
By way of conclusion, in line with our Race-first philosophy of De-colonisation, after expelling all whites/white-settlers and killing those who resist expulsion (especially those who on the basis of a racist delusion/”right of conquest” regard Azania as “their fatherland” as explained very well in The Rise of Afrikanerdom by Dunbar Moodie), we will “eliminate” the idea and prospect of co-existing with “the man”. But as Garveyites, with Black Power in Post-conquest/-settler Azania, we are “going to meet the man” and this time as his equal in terms of economic and military power to stop him from reducing our fellow Afrikan people in the Afrikan Seed/Diaspora to the human-not/ “the man-not”. Thus, as Garveyites De-colonisation means the restoration of Black Power, as explained by Chinweizu, in the sense of building a super-state on the continent which will be based mainly on economic and military power to protect the life and dignity of all Afrikan people on the globe currently dominated by whites and soon to be dominated by their fellow Asians. For us, Race-first Pan-Africanism (Garveyism), as excellently explained by Tony Martin, is not just an ideology which informs our national struggle for liberation in “South Africa”, but it is also the social philosophy and the fundamental organizing principle of Post-conquest/-settler Azania. As internationalist Azanians at home with racial national self-consciousness of “the ties that bind us” with our fellow Afrikan people abroad we are “going to meet the man” to make it clear that:
“…. just as it is a crime, routinely punished by white power, for blacks to kill whites, it must be made equally a crime, routinely punished by Black Power, for whites to murder Blacks. Hence whites must be taught that they can no longer murder blacks with impunity” (Chinweizu in Pan-Africanist Wisdom since Boukman, p 21)
“…if the natives were to rise and sweep every white person…. into eternity, there would still be left a fearful balance to their credit” (E D Morel in The Black Man’s Burden, p 122)
Because we believe that the Azanian struggle for national liberation is inter-generational, these “notes” were written (mainly but not only) in memory of Sharpeville and the Poqo revolutionaries, may their spirit, as the living-dead, be avenged one day by the living and the yet-to-be-born. Izwe Lethu…
By Masilo Lepuru
“A people who lose their historical memory becomes a very fragile people. They regress. It is historical memory that permits them to be a strong people”. (Cheikh Anta Diop, in Great African Thinkers) “Black people reject this… it is a solution given to us […]history politics
“A people who lose their historical memory becomes a very fragile people. They regress. It is historical memory that permits them to be a strong people”. (Cheikh Anta Diop, in Great African Thinkers)
“Black people reject this… it is a solution given to us by the same (white) people who have created the problem… and blacks are beginning to rid their minds of imprisoning notions which are the legacy of the control of their attitudes by whites”. (Steve Biko, in I Write What I Like)
This essay will argue that the Indigenous conquered people’s idea of time is the basis on which they conceive of the idea of justice. The European conqueror’s notion of time is one based on a linear notion of time. What this means is that the European conqueror views time as a process of progression from one point to another point. This is the European conqueror’s idea of time which is abstract and “rational”. The abstractness and the “rationality” of a linear notion of time lacks the idea of symbolic connection between the past and the present, as what the European conqueror observes is a serial and successive motion towards an unknown future. The basis of this linear time is the European conqueror’s world-view which differs from that of the Indigenous conquered people which is based on the Afrikan worldview that is fundamentally spiritual.
The European conqueror’s world-view is one based on binary-opposition. This binary-opposition is not complementary. It is through this binary-opposition that the European conqueror is able to fragment time and construct the ideology of progress on which the myth of Rationality is based. For the European conqueror there is no relationship between the natural and the supernatural which is not the case as far as the Afrikan worldview and epistemology are concerned, as confirmed by Barry Hallen and Kwasi Wiredu[i]. This leads the European conqueror to construct a form of knowledge through which he can control and dominate nature and that which is regarded by him as still part of nature such as the Indigenous conquered people. Hegel captured this racist sentiment when he dismissed the Afrikans as part of nature and thus not part of “world history” as he imagined it. By being regarded as still part of nature, the Indigenous conquered people are categorised as “uncivilised”. This is because Marx considered as one of the criteria of “civilization” in the European sense of course, the technological conquest of nature. The Afrikan worldview on the other hand advices against conquest of nature, but rather promotes harmony with it as the source of life.
The relationship between the natural and the supernatural can only be conceived on the basis of complementary binary-opposition which characterises the Indigenous conquered people’s worldview which seeks harmony with humanity and nature. The European conqueror’s worldview prohibits the inclusion and connection with the supernatural; it regards the connection thereof as “irrational” and “primitive” and not conducive to the passion for control and domination which characterise the European conqueror’s culture and “civilisation” in general and its overt manifestation in scientism (obsession with science which is regarded as the only rational way to understand reality and gain knowledge).
This is the basis on which the idea of abstract and “rational” time is constructed and endowed with the ideology of progress. Progress here, for the European conqueror implies a movement away from the “irrational” and the “primitive” in terms of Evolutionism as promoted for instance by Anthropology, which ultimately leads to the breaking of the connection between the natural and the supernatural. In a nutshell, the European conqueror’s notion of time is based on his worldview which rejects the connection between the natural and the supernatural, by regarding it as ‘irrational” and “primitive” and thus attempts to construct a linear time which he regards as progress-driven and therefore rational. This is as a result of the European conqueror’s materialistic worldview which strips the universe of spirit; which escapes his quantitative/mathematical idea of reality. In this sense that which is regarded as still operating differently from the European conqueror’s linear time, which is abstract and rational, is subjected to violence and destruction unleashed by his Rationality which seeks to transform everything into its own image.
The Indigenous conquered people on the other hand conceive of time very differently from how the European conqueror conceives of it. The former’s notion of time is fundamentally, but not completely, circular and symbolic in nature. The symbolic and the circular time of the Indigenous conquered people is based on their worldview which is premised on binary-complementarity. The metaphysics on which they derive their notion of time is holistic in nature. What this means is that, for them, there is a cosmic connection between the natural and the supernatural. Thus their notion of time is informed by this cosmic connection between the natural and the supernatural. This symbolic nature of their notion of time involves a constant communication and relationship between the natural and supernatural, that is, the yet-to-be-born, living and living-dead who were also subjected to the unjust and immoral conquest, violent destruction, control and domination.
The symbolic nature of time of the Indigenous conquered people is based on the “ontology of invisible beings” which implies the connection and acknowledgement of the influence of the supernatural entities such as ancestors, spirits and Gods of the Indigenous conquered people. Thus, the connection between the ancestors of the Indigenous conquered and the living conquered people is always maintained. This is precisely how the Indigenous conquered people conceive of justice. For the living Indigenous conquered people, justice involves the memories of the historical injustice the Indigenous conquered’s ancestors suffered at the hands of the European conqueror.
The possibility of the re-membering of the memories of the Indigenous conquered’s living-dead/ancestors in the conceptualisation of justice is informed by the symbolic nature of their notion of time. Thus, for the Indigenous conquered people the ideology of progress is a colonial strategy used by the European conqueror to get rid of the memories of historical injustice and thus to break the connection between the Indigenous conquered living and their living-dead/ ancestors. The re-membering of the memories of the historical injustice suffered by the Indigenous conquered’s living-dead/ancestors is not probable in the abstract and rational linear time which grounds the European conqueror’s notion of law. If these memories of historical injustice are ever referred to, they are often disrespectfully treated as a “past event” of misguided resistance to “civilization” or collateral damage of the “introduction” of this “civilization”. This is why even the current white beneficiaries of white settler colonialism can merely dismiss this “past event” by claiming with shameless confidence that “they were not there” (they never occupied that point in time, but only have to do with the current point in time which is disconnected from the former) and thus have nothing to do with it, despite benefiting daily at the expense of the Indigenous conquered people from the very system of white settler domination which is based on this “past event”. They will continue to enjoy white privilege precisely because as Patrick Wolfe[ii] argued, white settler colonialism is not an “event” but a “structure”, thus it persists over time.
In this abstract and rational linear time, there is obsession with progress which leads to the legal insignificance of what happened to the Indigenous conquered’s ancestors as the European conqueror’s time marches forward to an unknown future, but that unknown future is assumed to be a “better” one. The logic behind the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was based on this white settlers’ notion of time, which understandably led to their “forgiving” of their “past brutalities” against the Indigenous conquered people on the basis of whose notion of time this “forgiving” is unjustifiable. This also explains the immoral tendency among the European-conqueror/current-white-beneficiaries-of-conquest and their colonial ideas in referring to the historical injustice of the Indigenous conquered people’s loss of sovereign title to territory and epistemicide as “past injustice”, “wrongs of the past” and “past discrimination”, and the living Indigenous conquered people as “previously disadvantaged groups/people”.
This is the basis on which the European conqueror can conceive of the passage of time as capable of granting him the ownership of the land taken away from the Indigenous conquered people’s ancestors during unjust and immoral conquest. For the European conqueror, the passage of time can “bring into extinction” the legal right of the Indigenous conquered living to the land of their living-dead/ancestors. This is the substance of the European conqueror’s Rationalistic/reason-obsessed jurisprudence which is markedly different from the Indigenous conquered people’s Afrikan law and jurisprudence; which are informed by Ubuntu as Ramose so convincingly demonstrated[iii].
The Indigenous conquered people, in this case, specifically the Bantu-speaking people who were deprived of their land, hold that molato ga o bole. This Ubuntu legal maxim, in a nutshell, argues, in this context, that time cannot grant the European conqueror a legal right over the land which was taken away from its rightful owners since time immemorial, namely, the Indigenous conquered’s living-dead/ancestors, in unprovoked and unjust wars of colonisation since 1652. This maxim also captures the argument that memories inform the Indigenous conquered people’s notion of justice. This means that despite the passage of time since the dispossession of land of the Indigenous conquered’s living-dead/ancestors, the Indigenous conquered living will not forget that a historical injustice was committed against them and their living-dead/ancestors, despite attempts on the part of the European conqueror to make the Indigenous conquered living break their symbolic connection and communication between them and their living-dead/ancestors.
The attempts at the breaking of the symbolic connection and communication between the Indigenous conquered living and their living-dead/ancestors through the rationalisation of the law is pointless as far as the use of “memory as a weapon” is concerned, for the Indigenous conquered people’s struggle for a Post-conquest Azania. The Indigenous conquered people will always maintain the symbolic connection and communication between them and their ancestors, and they do this on the basis of what Ramose designates “triadic structure[iv]”. This, according to Ramose, is composed of the living, the living dead and the yet-to-be-born and the accompanying communication between them. This is in accordance with the Afrikan worldview which is fundamentally spiritual. Thus, the search for justice is based on this “triadic structure” as Ramose calls it. Ramose posits that, “justice is determined by supernatural forces. Their determination seeks to restore harmony and promote the maintenance of peace. This determination by the supernatural forces is consistent with the metaphysics of Ubuntu law. This consists in a triadic structure of the living, the living dead (supernatural forces) and the yet-to-be-born. This metaphysical structure ensures communication among the three levels of being. On the basis of this structure, justice determined by the supernatural forces is declared on their behalf by the living who are in authority[v]”.
The 1996 constitution upon which the so-called post-apartheid “new” South Africa is based is another attempt at breaking the symbolic connection and communication between the Indigenous conquered living and their living-dead/ancestors through the “property clause” which is found in section 25 of the 1996 constitution. This is not to be interpreted as implying that the present writer is merely concerned with a mere aspect of this constitution, but as it can be gathered throughout this essay, we are of the view that the entire constitution is a product of racist and violent European Modernity which takes the form of white settler colonialism in South Africa. Such a narrow critique which limits itself to one aspect to the exclusion of the “totality” we believe is tantamount to what Cornelius Castoriadis calls “legal cretinism[vi]”. The focus on section 25 in this article is informed by the idea that this particular section captures the fundamental problem of/in South Africa, which is territory/land and the legal technicalisation of issues of historical injustice. This clause, among other things, demands that the restoration of land to the Indigenous conquered living be accompanied by compensation to the white settlers who acquired it through unjust conquest without compensation. Put simply, this section embodies what Robert J Miller calls the doctrine of Discovery[vii]; as its underlying assumption is that due to unjust conquest since 1652 by the Dutch and British “discoverers”/white-settlers the Indigenous conquered people are no longer the rightful owners of the their territory since time immemorial, but are now mere “native occupants” at the mercy of the white settler legal owners whose property is to be expropriated. It is “as if” the “native occupants” “now” want to be legal owners. This explains why when these “native occupants” “occupy” private property mainly of white settlers are misleadingly labelled as “illegal occupants”/squatters and are “subjected” to evictions in terms of white settler law informed by white settler history which distorts their memories and identity just as it distorted their law by renaming it “customary law” and “subjecting” it to the supremacy of the current constitution. The present writer rejects this interpretation of the clause as contradicting the Ubuntu legal maxim of molato ga o bole; which is the basis on which extinctive prescription, as per the European conqueror’s law and jurisprudence, is rejected.
At any rate, the present writer must emphasise his hostility to the terms of this section 25; namely, expropriation with/without compensation. These terms amount to what Ayi Kwei Armah correctly calls the “loud nonsense of the destroyers (whites)”[viii]. In terms of the Azanian tradition’s critique of the current constitution, a constitution which is rejected in its entirety, the fundamental problem is one of restoration of sovereign title to territory and not expropriation in whatever form. This is part of the Azanian tradition’s rebellion against the white settler’s power to define a reality in which the Azanians are regarded as not human and without notions of law and governance; a “child race” in need of white settler colonial trusteeship.
The entire current constitution and its predecessors of which it is a mere reconfiguration are products of conquest, that is, their condition of possibility for existence is land dispossession. And as manifestations of epistemicide, their fundamental objective is to preserve white settler colonialism, both materially and epistemologically. The name South Africa is based on, and represents, loss of sovereign title to territory by the Indigenous conquered people; thus, the current constitution of South Africa is a legal mechanism which sustains conquest and it is not a legal framework which marks a “structural rupture” with 1652. Thus both the white settler colonial name South Africa and the current constitution indicate a material and epistemological symbiotic relation of what Francis Cress Welsing calls racism/white supremacy[ix] in Afrika since the “catastrophic” coming of the Europeans.
Thus, because molato ga o bole, the move to the “new” South Africa is not an authority on which the European conqueror can argue that acquisition of the legal right to the land is attained “constitutionally”. What this means is that section 25 is an “injustice clause” as it is a colonial legal mechanism through which historical injustice of land dispossession is “constitutionalised” based on the white settlers’ notion of linear time. This section 25 captures clearly the white settlers’ jurisprudence and notion of time. The intimate connection of these two is captured by the white settlers’ notion of extinctive prescription which is the exact opposite of molato ga o bole. In terms of this notion, if one loses possession of a certain property over time one eventually loses the legal right over this property. Thus, because the Indigenous conquered people lost possession of their territory during the time of wars of white settler colonialism and its legislative consolidation through Acts like The Glen Grey Act and The Land Act of 1913, they have lost sovereign title to it which is now vested in the white settlers who are now regarded as the rightful owners whose property is regarded as expropriated and therefore the conditions of with/without compensation. This section avoids the fundamental question of historical justice; namely, when and how did white settlers come to be property owners whose property is assumed to be expropriated?
Our submission in terms of the “black radical tradition” (Afrikan nationalist tradition) as opposed to the “black liberal tradition” (Non-white assimilationist tradition) in this regard is that the fundamental question is not one of land redistribution but one of restoring sovereign title to territory. Once sovereign title to territory is restored, then, the Indigenous people as the rightful holders of sovereign title to territory since time immemorial can “re-enjoy” one of its privileges; namely, the “absolute” collective/national right to decide what to do with their land without white settler colonial “guidance”. Once the entire territory (as the foundation of Black Power) is restored to them and by them, they can then exercise Afrikan national self-determination by collectively, as a nation, determining on their own terms, how and to whom the land must be “redistributed”. After all, power is the ability to include and to exclude on one’s terms and in one’s interests. Thus to speak of land redistribution before the restoration of sovereign title to territory is to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. First the Azanians in terms of Race-first Afrikan nationalism must resolve, through a Chimurenga, the fundamental antagonism of South Africa as an unjust conquest-based white settler State, restore a Post-conquest Azania in its place and then address issues of belonging and constitution of a Post-conquest Azanian nation which are usually categorised as “nation-building”. This Post-conquest Azania should be faithful to its meaning, namely, “the land of the blacks”, this time “only for the Afrikans, those at home and abroad”. This is because Race-first Afrikan nationalism as the ideology of nation-building should be global in scope – if it is to avoid being a reactionary force and to defeat global white supremacy as one of its enemies.
This is why section 25, which contradicts the Ubuntu legal maxim of molato ga o bole, is a colonial legal obstacle which prevents the transition to a Post-conquest Azania in which the rightful owners of land, namely, the Indigenous conquered living will have restored their “absolute” legal right to the land of their living-dead/ancestors. The monetary demands of this ‘injustice clause” are irrational and immoral as they defeat the Afrikan nationalist objective of the restoration of Black Power of the Indigenous conquered people who are currently highly underprivileged because of, among others, the unjust dispossession of their bio-culturally important resource; namely, the land and its mineral wealth. The Indigenous conquered people cannot, without self-contradiction, be expected to pay for what, without a doubt, belongs to them since time immemorial. To paraphrase Ayi Kwei Armah, the Indigenous people know with a great degree of certainty that “here they began and here they will continue….”[x]
By way of conclusion it is important that we emphasise the fact that the fiction of the “transition” to the post-apartheid “new’ South Africa is based on the lie of progress, which, in this case, implies that the movement from the point of apartheid to the point of “post”-apartheid democracy, as per the linear time of the European conqueror, implies an improvement. Besides, the fundamental problem was never apartheid, which was just an overt manifestation of white settler colonialism, but conquest since 1652 which is the foundation of white settler colonialism in its different manifestations such as segregation, apartheid and post-apartheid. However, this “transition”, which was nothing but the reconfiguration of white supremacy, has been demonstrated to be an illusion which is based on the celebration of Black economic empowerment (and not Black Power) and Rainbow nation in the midst of South Africa being subject to Euro-American Imperialism under Neoliberal free market fundamentalism and “business-managed democracy” as argued by Sharon Beder[xi].
The urgent need for De-colonization in the form of the restoration of sovereign title to territory and epistemological autonomy, which will restore Black Power to the Indigenous conquered people, is possible through the rejection of the entire current constitution with its ‘injustice clause”. The Indigenous people can then restore their material and epistemic autonomy beyond European Modernity and its Rationality which has victimised them in a number of ways as discussed above. Until then, it is not yet Uhuru and thus the urgent call for another Chimurenga for a Post-conquest Azania.
By Masilo Lepuru
“A people losing sight of origins are dead. A people deaf to purposes are lost” (Ayi Kwei Armah in Two Thousand Seasons, 1973, p xiii. My italics) “How indeed would a living understanding come to those, who have fled knowledge of the source?” (Ayi Kwei […]history politics
“A people losing sight of origins are dead. A people deaf to purposes are lost” (Ayi Kwei Armah in Two Thousand Seasons, 1973, p xiii. My italics)
“How indeed would a living understanding come to those, who have fled knowledge of the source?” (Ayi Kwei Armah in Two Thousand Seasons, 1973, p xvi. My italics)
This short article endeavours to “return to the source” of the current South African legal system. It will demonstrate from an Afrikan-centred perspective, and in terms of the Afrikanist tradition as historically exemplified by Muziwakhe Lembede, Mangaliso Sobukwe and Peter Raboroko in The Africanist Case, the “proper” genealogy and evolution of this system (the “improper” one being the one “imaginatively produced” mainly by white settler scholars which is “overrepresented”, to deploy Sylvia Wynter’s locution/parlance in How We Mistook the Map for the Territory as “objective” and “valid”, at white settler “institutions” of higher learning, which characteristically elides/omits Conquest and its attendant structural ramifications). This article is informed by the “radical” idea posited by Audre Lorde in Sister Outsider, that “ the masters tools (the ruling legal paradigm of the conquering white settlers and its constitutional framework) can never dismantle the master’s house” (white settler State and society). And that both the master’s tools and house must be “dismantled” by the Indigenous conquered people, by “returning to the source” as Amilcar Cabral puts it in Return to the Source.
Because the South African legal system is complex, this article will refer briefly to its fundament; the white settler constitutional framework. This framework is regarded in this article as a subtle and perilous attempt at a legal sophistication and consummation of unjust Conquest originally “ungoverned by law and morality” as Mogobe Ramose states it in I conquer, therefore I am a Sovereign, but based on violence. The notion of “legal consummation”, that is, perfecting Conquest through law, is derived from Three Hundred Years by Hosea Jaffe. I now turn to “restore” Conquest and its concomitant structural ramifications to the “universe of juristic facts” to deploy Ramose’s phraseology above.
Violent Conquest as the originary “Catastrophic confrontation” is the material historical foundation of the South African legal system and it inaugurated the legal “paradigm antagonism” (which masquerades as a “healthy” “legal pluralism”) which is the foundational nature of this system. A Post-Conquest Afrikan legal system premised on the autonomy and supremacy of Afrikan Law can only be attained through a counter “Catastrophic confrontation”. Because the originary “Catastrophic confrontation” (which eventuated in the loss of sovereign title to territory, autonomy and supremacy of Afrikan Law) initiated by the conquering white settlers preceded and proceeded outside the white settler constitutional framework, its counterpart (counter “Catastrophic confrontation”), this time spearheaded by the Indigenous conquered people (which must restore sovereign title to territory, autonomy and supremacy of Afrikan Law), must be extra-constitutional, that is, it must proceed outside the current white settler constitutional framework. Put simply, it must be regarded by the Indigenous conquered people as “extra-legal” and not “illegal”, because by proceeding outside the terms and “guidance” of the ruling legal paradigm and its current framework, the latter will be “disqualified” as a “judge”. The originary “Catastrophic confrontation” was an “invitation” on the part of the conquering white settlers to the Indigenous conquered people to “reply in kind” which was gladly “accepted” by our living-dead. This postulation is not facile and romantic but is philosophically derived from the revolutionary “heritage” of the living-dead (which is a memory that must be used as a weapon by the living), to enlist Tsenay Serequeberhan in Our Heritage and The Hermeneutics of African Philosophy, which they bequeathed to the living and the yet-to-be-born. This is what Cheik Anta Diop in Great African Thinkers stated in this regard, “A people who lose their historical memory becomes a very fragile people. They regress. It is historical memory that permits them to be a strong people”. Thus the living must “return to this heritage” to be strong enough to “avenge the spirit of the ancestors” to quote Marimba Ani in Yurugu.
The fundamental point of departure in this article is that before Conquest (which resulted in the sovereign title to territory of Abantu/Batho being forcibly usurped by Abelungu/Makgowa) which began in 1652, Afrikan Law based on Isintu/Setso of Abantu/Batho was the supreme law of the land second to no one. This Indigenous supreme law of the land is an “imaginary institution” engendered by an Afrikan “Social Imaginary” which “instituted” Afrikan society since time immemorial. Afrikan Law (Molao/Umthetho predicated on Ubuntu/Botho) was on an autonomous evolutionary path until it was “disrupted” by white settler Conquest since 1652.White settler Conquest eventuated in the “subjection” of Afrikan Law (attempts at its racist distortion and degradation such as being renamed and invented as “Customary Law”, both the so-called “living and official”) to the law of the conquering white settlers.
”Customary Law” is a racist “work”/”imaginary institution” of a white supremacist settler “Social Imaginary”, which while “instituting” a white settler society through Conquest “overrepresented” European/white settlers’ Law (Roman-Dutch law and English common law) as superior and universal (worthy of being studied at European/white settlers’ “institutions” called universities). This Conquest resulted in the “imposition” of European cultural reality and its supporting institutions, at the expense of Afrikan cultural reality and institutions which preceded the former by thousands of years ( a very significant fact to accentuate which Ifi Amadiume denominates “historical depth” in Re-inventing Africa) and which bolster this reality for the survival and prosperity of the Indigenous people.
Conquest by white settlers is the condition of possibility for the current “legal pluralism” of the South African legal system. In other words, but for Conquest Afrikan Law would have evolved on its own terms and retain its autonomy and supremacy. This “legal pluralism” is not a pluralism of respectful and equal legal paradigms, but a “paradigm antagonism” between the ruling legal paradigm of the white conqueror and the subjugated legal paradigm of the Indigenous conquered people. It is perhaps banal except for purposes of accentuation to state that these legal paradigms are premised on dissimilar philosophies, cultures, values, world-views and cosmologies and pursue incompatible power interests. And this fact accounts for this “antagonism”. This legal “paradigm antagonism” is a manifestation of “the primary antagonism” of Conquest which resulted in the structural correlation (unequal power relation) between its constituent elements; the white conquering settlers and the Indigenous conquered people. This “legal pluralism of Conquest” misleadingly appears to be a “healthy” mutual coexistence of two legal paradigms (to employ Sylvia Wynter’s phraseology above, this “legal pluralism” is the map/mere symptom, while the “primary antagonism” of Conquest and the concomitant legal “paradigm antagonism” are the territory/ the real cause or problem, in any event this “antagonisms” resulted in and resulted from the loss of title to territory). A “healthy” mutual coexistence of these two legal paradigms is impossible, because the ruling legal paradigm of the white conqueror is embedded in a racist European culture and world-view. The resolution of Conquest through the restoration of sovereign title to territory, outside the white settler constitutional framework, is the only way to restore the autonomy and supremacy of the legal paradigm of the Indigenous people to the exclusion of the legal paradigm of the white settlers. In other words, the two legal paradigms are “irreconcilable” and are thus incapable of reaching a higher synthesis (in the Hegelian sense in the Phenomenology of Spirit), one must give way to the other, without any form of naive entertainment of the illusion of “mutual recognition”(just as the present writer holds firmly the view that Abantu/Batho and Abelungu/Makgowa are “irreconcilable”, notwithstanding the farce of the TRC and the “racist romance” of the Rainbow nation which are meant to alleviate the anxiety of Abelungu/Makgowa about Abantu/Batho and thus maintain white supremacy). The cultural and world-view differences and contradictory power interests of Abantu/Batho and Abelungu/Makgowa, and of their two legal paradigms, are the fundament of their “antagonism” and “irreconcilability”.
When white conquerors “arrived” in Azania, which they renamed “Zuid Afrika/South Africa” (as per racist white power to define, a symbolic “moment” of Conquest), they were already immersed in a power-driven and control-seeking asili of their European culture and materialistic world-view (asili is a germinating seed of a culture as Marimba Ani calls it in Yurugu). Their ruling legal paradigm is imbricated with “internal racism” (which in Azania reached its apex with the so-called South African war/Anglo-Boer war) of the Europeans which Cedric Robinson traces to the medieval era in Black Marxism. Traces of the history of the power-driven asili of European culture and a world-view premised on oppositional dualism and the racism that originates within European civilization itself are explicable through Cheik Anta Diop’s Two-cradle theory (designated as such by Vulindlela Wobogo) in Cultural Unity of Black Africa. According to Diop, the Indo-Europeans of the Northern cradle were conquest-driven nomads characterised by xenophobia and violence; the “governing” traits of Aryan culture and world-view. The racist “xenophobia” of the contemporary white settlers (as the descendants of these Indo-Europeans and beneficiaries of Aryan culture and world-view) is “arrogant” as it shamelessly expresses itself in a “foreign” land (our Azania).
This explains why Dutch settlers call themselves Afrikaners, while fragmenting and classifying the Indigenous people as the “conquering” Bantu tribes (this is a white settler nationalist strategy of denying Afrikan nationalism and our national identity in order to compensate for the white settlers’ racial and numerical inferiority as Francis Cress Welsing explicated it in the Isis Papers) who “came to” Zuid Afrika (now South Africa, which is their racist invention) “from somewhere” in Afrika, which these white settlers regard as “their fatherland” in terms of Afrikaner nationalism as explained by Dunbar Moodie in The Rise of Afrikanerdom (a racist delusion and impossibility of being indigenous like/than the Indigenous people). This white settler nationalist strategy not only fragments the Indigenous people but fragments the Indigenous territory as well. There is “Afrika”, a “cartography of uncivilization” and “Zuid Afrika” the “fatherland” of the so-called “great trekkers” who were simply extending “discovery” from the Cape, their initial point of entry, into the interior under the disguise of “liberating” themselves from British domination (which was nothing but an extension from Europe into Afrika of European “internal racism”)
Let us briefly trace the genealogy and evolution of Conquest which laid down the foundation for the hegemony of the ruling legal paradigm of the conquering white settlers. While we do this, it is important to bear in mind that the ruling legal paradigm of the white settlers is based on Conquest and that it is an extension of what Robert J Miller in SYMPOSIUM The future of international law in indigenous affairs: The Doctrine of Discovery, the United Nations, and the Organization of American States, appellates “international law of colonialism” and its attendant doctrine of Discovery. Conquest traces its genealogy and evolution to “international law of colonialism”. The first stage of this evolution is what I denominate the “papal period”. The predominant trait of this period is the issuing of papal bulls. European popes issued bulls to divinely sanction the conquest of what they designated “non-European infidels, pagans, savages, and enemies of Christ”. Perhaps the “eminent” bull issued during this period is Romanus Pontifex as explicated by Valentine Mudumbe in The Invention of Africa. This bull was issued in 1436 (way before 1652 when the Dutch settlers “arrived” in “South Africa”) by Eugenius IV.As Robert J Miller exposits, this bull authorised European nations to “invade, search out, capture, vanquish and subdue all…pagans and place them into perpetual slavery and to seize their property.”(My italics). The second stage is the “secular period”. It is during this stage that the later white conquering settlers of “South Africa” featured predominantly, that is both the Dutch and English.
We have above alluded to the doctrine of Discovery. According to Robert J Miller above, this doctrine comprises of numerous elements. For the purposes of this short article the present writer will distil only four of these elements. These elements are “actual occupancy and current possession, native title, civilization and conquest”. Relying on Miller above, we will now briefly explain the import of these elements by demonstrating how they are germane to our present genealogical “exploration” of the South African legal system.With regard to the element of actual occupancy and current possession, “to turn first discovery claim into a recognised title, a European country had to permanently occupy and possess discovered lands. This was usually accomplished by building forts or settlements”. As far as native title is concerned “after first discovery, indigenous nations were considered by European legal systems to have lost full property rights in their lands. They only retained the rights to occupy and use the lands”. Civilization as another element meant that “European ideas of what constituted civilization and the belief of European superiority over indigenous peoples were important parts of Discovery. Europeans thought that God had directed them to bring civilization, education, and religion to natives and exercise paternalistic and guardian powers over them”.
The fundamental pivot of our discussion is Conquest since 1652, which was a concretization of conquest as an element of the doctrine of Discovery through which “Europeans could acquire title to indigenous lands by military victories”. In 1652, Van Riebeck the Dutch “discoverer” and his fellow “discoverers” (the founding fathers of a nation of “they, through-whose-ears-pass-the-rays-of-the-sun”/”the race of the glowing ears”, to quote Mazisi Kunene in Emperor Shaka the Great) decided to “settle” on Izwe Lethu (thus, began Afrika’s time of trouble, to echo the great John Henrik Clarke, the Conquest of Isizwe/Sechaba of the Palm race/Indigenous people). To prevent other Europeans from occupying Azania these Dutch “discovers” “actually occupied it and ensured its current possession”. These Dutch “discovers” scored “military victories” against the Indigenous people (who replied in kind), in unjust and immoral wars, they hypocritically called “defensive wars”. Azanians wondered then and still wonder what these Dutch “discovers” were “defending” since there was no land and cattle on their ships (but mainly weapons of physical and cultural warfare such as guns and “Christian bible and cross”, a very lethal and efficacious combination as far as the “institution” of global white supremacy is concerned) of their criminal campaigns euphemistically designated “journeys of discovery.” Van Riebeck regarded the Indigenous people as “lazy and stinking dogs” which were in need of “civilization” (European cultural reality and its supporting institutions)
Land is a foundation of power. “Power begins at the level of conception” to echo Kwame Ture. One is, fundamentally speaking, powerful to an extent that one is in control of one’s definition of reality; predicated on one’s culture, law, world-view, values and interests and supported by concomitant institutions. Conquest eventuated in the “imposition” of European cultural reality and its supporting “imaginary institutions” as “imagined productively” by the conquering white settlers (to paraphrase Cornelius Castoriadis in Imaginary Institution of Society and Nicolas Veroli in Imagination and Politics; A Study in Historical Ontology). The white settler constitutional framework is a settler extension of the “international law of colonialism” as “imagined productively” by these white settlers in “South Africa”.
The white settler constitutional framework is a white settler “imaginary institution” which was used to “institute” and maintain this “institution”of white settler society. It is an “imaginary institution of Conquest” thus serves to sustain this Conquest through the ruling legal paradigm of the white conqueror which is “overrepresented” as value and culture-neutral and thus of universal benefit (resulting in the “loud nonsense” such as “our Constitution” and “the best Constitution”). This framework is an “institution” of a racist white settler “Social Imaginary” whose fundamental purpose is to supplant Indigenous autonomy (Indigenous people’s self-rule and regulation since time immemorial) with white settler heteronomy (rule and regulation by white settlers, a time-bound historical accident, soon to be negated).
The first white settler constitutional framework was the Cape 1853 one (all the later constitutions are mere reconfigurations of this one, with the same fundamental objective of sustaining Conquest, their material foundation), which “included” the Indigenous people who accepted European cultural reality and its institutions, the so-called “civilized natives”, the “culturally misoriented” to quote Kobi Kambon in The African Personality in America; An African-centred Framework. Conquest began in 1652 with the violation of Afrikan Law as the supreme law of the land (this explains why today “customary law” is “subject” to the current constitution, which regards itself as the supreme law of the land) when the land was “actually occupied, to ensure it current possession”, during and as result of “white settler defensive wars”.
The Afrikan warrior nationalists/primary resisters (our living-dead, who unlike the so-called “civilized natives” were regarded by the white conquering settlers and their converts/Amakholwa/Badumedi as “uncivilized pagans and savages”), were during this period in the midst of Indigenous defensive wars of liberation to reverse Conquest. They waged these Indigenous defensive wars of liberation outside this white settler constitutional framework (because unlike their counterparts above, they did not “believe in” this framework and the European cultural reality which undergirds it), but on the basis of Afrikan cultural reality and its supporting institutions as they “productively imagined them” and “believed in them” as we should today. This is how they wanted and would want Azanians today (in terms of triadic ontological spiritual communion between the living-dead, the living and the yet-to-be-born, as the struggle for liberation is intergenerational) to resolve “the primary antagonism” of Conquest and its concomitant legal “paradigm antagonism”, because this entire framework is not “our own liberator” .It reflects what Kush Ngubane critiques in Conflict of Minds, namely, a racist situation whereby white settlers prescribe a destiny for the Afrikans whom they have always regarded as children/child race and “the lie that as a herrenvolk, the Boers had been anointed to lead the darker and therefore lesser creatures of God to salvation and civilization”, to quote Don Matera in Memory is a Weapon. This is so, notwithstanding the “loud nonsense” of expropriation with or without compensation (because Abantu/Batho know that “Afrika lefase la bo ntat’arona le tserwe ke makgowa” as Letlapa Mphahlele puts it in Child of the Soil) which accepts this framework “as if” it is a tool that can “liberate us”.
Steve Biko captures our sentiment regarding this framework, when he states in I Write What I Like, in relation to the Bantustan idea, that “black people reject this…it is a solution given to us by the same (white) people who have created the problem…and blacks are beginning to rid their minds of imprisoning notions which are the legacy of the control of their attitudes by whites”. Aime Cesaire in Discourse on Colonialism further buttresses our sentiment by positing that “in dealing with this subject (colonialism, in our case the white settler constitutional framework to be more specific) the commonest curse is to be the dupe in good faith of a collective hypocrisy (of the white settlers and their “mis-governing” “civilized natives”) that cleverly misrepresents problems, the better to legitimize the hateful solutions provided by them” This is how the brilliant Ayi Kwei Armah in Two Thousand Seasons corroborates our sentiment:
“For there are ears straining against the loud nonsense of the destroyers(whites),ears that have heard all the sweet and easy sounds of death and found them false”(Armah 1973, p xvii. My italics)
Because after all:
“Of our first home we have more certainty. That it was here on this same land, weknow. This land is ours, not through murder, not through theft, not by way of violence of any trickery. This has always been our land. Here we began. Here we will continue even after the thousand season’s scattering and the thousand season’s groping through the white death sometimes openly, often covertly ,seductively now, brutally at other times , changes means, but always seeks one end; our extermination” (Armah 1973 ,pp. 3-4.My italics)
“Remember this; against all that destruction some remained among us unforgetful of origins…”(Armah 1973, p xv. My italics)
By Masilo Lepuru
“In our land the law of the nation reigns supreme.” (Mazisi Kunene) Francis Cress Welsing argues that “if you don’t understand white supremacy, everything else that you think you know, will only confuse you”. In implicit agreement with this fundamental argument, Wade Nobles further […]history politics
“In our land the law of the nation reigns supreme.” (Mazisi Kunene)
Francis Cress Welsing argues that “if you don’t understand white supremacy, everything else that you think you know, will only confuse you”. In implicit agreement with this fundamental argument, Wade Nobles further argues that power “is the ability to define reality and to impose it on other people as if it were their own definition”. Thus, in this context, white supremacy and white power are the fundamental points of departure. The Settler-colonial emergence of “customary law” will be explored within this context. It is important at this early stage of this critical exploration to understand the significance of the historicization of creation of categories. The category “customary law” only emerges with the advent of Settler-colonialism. Thus, “customary law” is not a natural phenomenon but a historical creation. As a historical creation it evolves out of Settler-colonial Social Imaginary (a racist one at that due to the culture of the white settlers). In other words, “customary law”, as we know it, is not a historical creation emanating from the African Social Imaginary.
When one critically explores the issue of “customary law”, the fundamental question to pose is: what is the condition of possibility for its existence? In our context, the unjust Conquest of the indigenous people is the condition of possibility for its existence. White supremacy is a global system of white domination and in “South Africa” it takes the form of Settler-Colonialism which began in 1652. “Customary Law” and “South Africa” are racist products of white power to define. Conquest manifested itself in two forms, namely, epistemicide and land dispossession. Epistemicide simply defined is the violent attempt by the settlers to distort and obliterate the culture, values, law and knowledge of the indigenous people conquered in unjust wars of colonization, and the attendant imposition of reality as defined by the settlers. This is a reality created by the racist “Social Imaginary” of the white conquerors.
“Customary Law” came into existence as a result of this process of epistemicide. At its very core, the issue of “customary law” is intimately intertwined with the question of “Izwe Lethu”. This is because Conquest and Settler-colonialism create a structural relation (a relation of unequal power) between the white conquerors and the indigenous conquered people. The fundamental antagonism of Conquest operates at two levels, namely, the material level, whites settling on the land of the indigenous people as well as at the epistemic level, settlers imposing their law(s) through a violent process of settlement.
It is important to understand that “Izwe Lethu” and “the land is ours” are not necessarily ideologically equivalent. “Izwe Lethu” is embedded in the Africanist tradition which regards the land as belonging solely to the indigenous people conquered in unjust wars of colonialism by white conquerors (an irrefutable historical fact). “The land is ours” while seeming like an “English translation” of “Izwe Lethu” can, in a subtle way, promote the Charterist tradition, which in terms of the Freedom Charter (a product of white power to define, as it was not drafted by the indigenous people but by self-appointed white trustees) regards the land as belonging to those who live in it; both the white conquerors and the indigenous conquered people (an obvious historical absurdity).
It is through Conquest at the epistemic level that the white conquerors impose European “customary law” (this is a critical reversion of a racist white projection, returning the projection to its source) on the indigenous people. By European “customary law”, I mean both the so-called common law and Roman-Dutch law which were imposed since 1652. Both these forms of European “customary law” developed in terms of the “customs” (by “customs”, which embed “customary law”, the Europeans, originally white missionaries and later anthropologists, meant backward and not yet scientific practices of the indigenous people after dismissing Africans as non-rational animals) of the European conquerors. Perhaps one of the lethal “customs” of these European conquerors is to define their law(s) as universal thus superior and the law of the indigenous people as particular thus inferior.
Theirs is (English) common law and that of the indigenous people is preceded by the adjective “customary” (African Law is not embedded in “customs” as understood by white racists but is grounded in Isintu or Setso as indigenous products of African Social Imaginary which are totally foreign to racist settlers). This is a subtle way of relegating African Law to a backward status of immaturity. As far as the Indigenous people are concerned there is nothing inferior and backward about Molao or Umthetho (of course Africans acknowledge that their Law is not perfect but insist on improving it on their terms as per their understanding of self-determination). The antagonism between the universal and the particular is important to comprehend as premised on the fallacious claim to Progress by the Europeans. In “South Africa”, for instance, African students (whites excluded as I believe there is no such thing as a white African but only whites in Africa; a point which raises the logical question, why are whites in Africa?) study “Law” at European colonial universities like Wits, which happen to be on the African continent (due, of course, to white supremacy). They are never told that by “Law” it is meant European “customary law” (these African students are studying the “Law” of the “civilized” whites, and this is the origin of cultural alienation and self-hatred among these students.). This is a “Law” which conceives of itself as law as such; a model to be emulated by the “inferior” and “immature” indigenous people. This is how the racist settlers arrogate to themselves the exercise of reason and classification to the exclusion of the indigenous people who are regarded as animals without reason and still immersed in nature. The great warrior-ancestor John Henrik Clarke once correctly posited that the first step towards a revolution is the rejection (on the part of the oppressed) of the classification by the oppressors.
European “customary law” was imposed since 1652 in the name of white “civilization” (“civilization” of course meaning white life and its customs). It is through this process of white “civilization” (which disrupted the autonomous evolution of indigenous civilization which preceded it by thousands of years as the great Cheik Anta Diop has firmly demonstrated) that the so-called white “civilizers” invented “customary law” of the indigenous conquered people. The white “civilizers” who regard themselves as racially superior (the human as such) fabricated “the white man’s burden” to rationalize their trusteeship of the so-called “uncivilized” indigenous people. This is because, in terms of the European doctrine of Great Chain of Being, the white “civilizers” regard themselves as both human and superior and dismiss the indigenous people as not human and inferior. This racist categorization of the indigenous people as not human and inferior is fundamental to the European self-conception. The Europeans derive “psychic benefit” from defining themselves in self-aggrandizing terms and derogating the indigenous people in negative racist terms (this is the cultural and psychological aspect of white supremacy which Marxists don’t comprehend by reducing racism to an epiphenomenon of class struggle).
Concomitant with the above-mentioned doctrine is the idea of Evolutionism. It is in terms of this idea that the white “civilizers” regard themselves and their law(s) as highly advanced and that of the indigenous people as backward. This racist illusion is predicated on the white “civilizers” linear notion of time. The racist illusions of white “civilization” and trusteeship originate from the doctrine of Discovery. This doctrine evolved out of papal bulls (issued by European popes and providing divine sanction to the so-called journeys of discovery around the 1400s) which authorized “European nations” to conquer and “civilize” the so-called “non-European savages, infidels and barbarians” (who were dismissed as the enemies of Christ and “lesser breeds without law and self-governance”; of course as understood by these very arrogant Europeans). This doctrine is grounded in “international law” (to be precise, the law of the colonizing nations). At the core of this doctrine is racial hubris. The white “civilizers”, in order to rationalize their campaign of white cultural warfare and genocide, could not and still cannot (without contradicting themselves) put themselves and the indigenous people at the same level of being and intellectual capacity. The hierarchy of being and reason is necessary if white supremacy is to make sense and sustain itself.
“Customary Law” is a racist colonial invention. The racist invention of the “cultural Other” and “customary law” are complementary. Colonial Indirect Rule and “customary law” go hand in hand. The Conquest of African Kings and Kingdoms (as originally based and sustained by African Law which was evolving on own its terms) as symbols and memory of Black Power and the invention of chiefs as agents of Indirect Rule explain the origin of “customary law”. The Repugnancy principle and case law legal requirements which regard “customary law” as valid to an extent that it is in accordance with the white “civilizers” notion of law, justice and morality are a reflection of the racist logic of white trusteeship. African Law, as a Law created by the Africans in terms of Isintu or Setso (Ubuntu or Botho) to solve their problems and meet their needs, was on an autonomous evolutionary path until it was violently disrupted by Settler-Conquest. And reduced to the unenviable racist status of the backward law of the “immature” and “uncivilized”.
The restoration of “Izwe Lethu” (African sovereign title to territory and self-determination) is the condition of possibility for the concomitant restoration of the supremacy of African Law. Thus, revolution is a historical necessity to restore both sovereign title to territory and the disrupted autonomous evolution of African Law and its supremacy. Until then, it is “not yet Uhuru” as Settler-colonial sovereignty persists and “customary law” is “subject” to European constitutional supremacy and its racist logic of white trusteeship as reflected in the current constitution. The current constitution is embedded in European notions of law, politics, culture, philosophy. The fact that some “blacks” were involved in its drafting only attests to the absurd degree of cultural alienation and contempt of these “blacks” (what Biko called non-whites). These “blacks” succumbed to white epistemology of domination to the extent of “witnessing” the absence of Ubuntu or Botho in this colonial racist document. Africans, as a proud and self-respecting race, have to reject this white master’s tool with the same vehemence that our living-dead, like Sobukwe, rejected the so-called Freedom Charter whose spirit this tool reflects. I want to conclude these combative hermeneutics by re-membering (relying on the wisdom of the living-dead in terms of African spirituality) Muziwakhe Lembede who provides a prescient critique of Liberalism which this white settler-colonial document embodies. This is Lembede in his own words:
To mislead the world and make it believe that the Whiteman in South
Africa is helping the African on the road to civilized life, the
Whiteman has arrogated to himself the title and role of Trustee of the
African people. The effects of Trusteeship alone have made the
African realize that Trusteeship has meant, as it still means, the
consolidation by the Whiteman of his position at the expense of the
African people, so that by the time national awakening opens the eyes
of the African people to the bluff they live under, White domination
should be secure and unassailable.
Biko S. B., I Write What I Like.
Castoriadis C., The Imaginary Institution.
Cabral A., Return to the Source.
Diop C. A., Civilization or Barbarism.
Koyana D. S., Customary Law and the role of the customary courts today.
Kunene M., Emperor Shaka The Great.
Lembede M. A., “Congress Youth League Manifesto,” in Freedom in Our Lifetime: The Collected
Writings of Anton Muziwakhe Lembede.
Marimba A., Yurugu.
Miller R. J., International Law of Colonialism.
Nobles W., What makes us human in the context of Education (video lecture)2007 https://eu0.proxysite.com/process.php?d=AyaXz0mnIEmjzWzQCIxc3lAhKBj5OxH8UDLTKtuoUMvoionsxbwE&b=1
Raboroko N. P., TheAfricanistCase. https://www.sahistory.org.za/sites/default/files/DC/asapr60.5/asapr60.5.pdf
Ramose M. B., The King as Memory and Symbol.
Serequeberhan T., The Hermeneutics of African Philosophy.
Welsing C. F., The Isis Papers.
By Masilo Lepuru
“There is a task which the Dutch-Afrikaner has in common with his English-Afrikaner compatriots as a bearer of white civilization, but there is also the special task which rests upon him in his own area, namely Dutch-Afrikaner culture…” (Die Burger as quoted in T. Dunbar […]history politics
“There is a task which the Dutch-Afrikaner has in common with his English-Afrikaner compatriots as a bearer of white civilization, but there is also the special task which rests upon him in his own area, namely Dutch-Afrikaner culture…” (Die Burger as quoted in T. Dunbar Moodie “The Rise of Afrikanerdom”)
“The Afrikaner People was planted in our land by the hand of God, and is destined to continue to exist as a People with its own character and particular calling” (Die Volksblad as quoted in T. Dunbar Moodie “The Rise of Afrikanerdom”)
This paper is a critique of the persisting existence of white supremacy under the banner of “post-apartheid south Africa”. Thus, it is at the same time a call for the restoration of an Azanian civilization through a national liberation movement embedded in Race-First Pan-Africanism. It is an analysis which calls for a freedom from white supremacy and a freedom to concretise the slogan “Africa for the Africans those at home and abroad” as Marcus Garvey envisioned it. This is a vision of a future Africa without the white settlers (and the Arab settlers) which I subscribe to as a Garveyite.
The fundamental problem is the juxtaposition of different cultures (a chaotic cultural mosaic), especially that of the white settlers and the indigenous people, which is authorised by the current constitution in its recognition of group rights. The suggested solution to this problem is the foregrounding of African culture as the only culture created and defined as such by the indigenous people in a Post-conquest Azanian civilization (in other words, in this envisioned Post-conquest Azania there will only be African culture to the exclusion of all other cultures).
The fundamental object of my critique is the current constitution and its self-styled supremacy. My main point is that the current constitution and its supremacy are reflective of the white settler’s conquest; both physical in the form of land dispossession and epistemicide. This is because land dispossession in this regard is the condition of possibility for the imposition of a cultural and legal system. The supremacy of the current constitution is a continuation of European cultural Imperialism or warfare (which began in 1652 through settlement by the Dutch white strangers) in a benign form due to its false inclusion of the indigenous people conquered in unjust wars of white settler colonialism. This inclusion is false in the sense that while the indigenous people are granted formal recognition by this current constitutional framework, their structural material reality is still one of a conquered people and a racially dominated people who are regarded as not human. Thus, instead of the post-apartheid constitutional era constituting freedom for the indigenous people conquered in unjust wars of colonialism waged by the white settlers, it is a reiteration and reconfiguration of white supremacy which began in 1652.
As Dr Frances Cress Welsing once stated, “if you don’t understand white supremacy, everything else which you think you understand and know will confuse you”. Thus, it is important to bear in mind that for every critique of the conditions of the oppressed people, white supremacy, as a global system of white racial domination, should be the fundamental point of departure and return. This is to affirm the fact that white supremacy permeates every aspect of a racially dominated people (for example law and culture), in this case the indigenous people conquered in unjust wars of white settler colonialism.
In line with the analysis as explained briefly above, I will critique the predominance and supremacy of the current constitution as a clear manifestation of white supremacy in law and culture. Following Ngugi wa Thiongo, I will argue that the current constitutional framework is embedded in Eurocentrism and I want to move (eliminate) this centre of the Europeans as white settlers. The cultural and legal hegemony of white settler colonialism must be eliminated if the indigenous people are to attain their cultural freedom. My critique is informed by Jacob H Carruthers’ premise that white supremacy is a form of “intellectual warfare”.
And that since white supremacy is a form of intellectual warfare, the current constitution just like its previous versions is an instrument of white supremacy both in terms of law and culture. Thus, if the current constitution is an instrument of white supremacy as an intellectual warfare as I postulate, then the indigenous people should, in my view, reject this current constitution in its entirety. This, in my opinion, is the first step to freeing themselves from white supremacy and the illusion of post-apartheid south Africa and to restore Azania; a name which, as per its definition, excludes the white settlers (Azania just like Kemet means the land of the blacks). This paper is divided into two sections. I now turn to the first section.
The white settlers’ constitutional framework as a form of European intellectual warfare.
“In our land the law of the nation reigns supreme” (Mazisi Kunene)
“…. the whole Afrikaner cultural movement……many of the leaders…. refused to treat the constitution of South Africa as a political question distinct from their cultural commitments” (T. Dunbar Moodie)
In line with Koyana, my analysis begins from the fundamental premise that African Law as produced by the indigenous people, before white settler colonialism which began in 1652, was the supreme law of the land. In other words, before 1652, because of the sovereignty of indigenous culture, the indigenous people were able to exercise what Aime Cesaire designates “historic initiative” and construct a law that reflects who they are and advances their interest and, most importantly, solves their problems. 1652 in this regard marks the formative stage of white supremacy through settlement by what Kunene designates the “white strangers”. Thus 1652 marks a period when these “white strangers”, who are still in our midst today, imposed their epistemological paradigm through conquest. These “white strangers” imposed their European customary law (both common law and Roman-Dutch law) which they regarded, in their arrogance of conquest, as universal and superior. This led to the “white strangers” calling it “the common law”; which was certainly not common but strange to the indigenous people.
What is important in this regard is to comprehend that the condition of possibility for European customary law being made “common” was violent and unjust conquest. The idea of law as understood by the “white strangers” as unjust conquerors was violently imposed on the indigenous people. This violent imposition through conquest was informed by the racist illusion that the indigenous people are “lesser breeds without law” or “a nation without laws”.
Thus, the laws of the “white strangers” which constitute the substance of the constitutional framework starting with the Cape 1853 constitution were introduced through violent and unjust conquest. This violent and unjust imposition resulted, gradually, in the decline of African Law. African Law was distorted to serve the needs and interests of the “white strangers” as white settlers (through the system of Indirect Rule). This decline in the supremacy of African Law was because land dispossession eventuated in the vitiation of the sovereignty of indigenous culture and its people. Indigenous culture is the fundament and fountain-head of African Law. The two are organically intertwined to an extent that a decline in power of either one results in the simultaneous decline of the other. The point I am striving to make is that African Law is embedded in African culture. Precisely put, molao or mthetho is grounded in the philo-praxis of Botho or Ubuntu (the philosophy of Ubuntu or Botho as a practiced way of living and lived experience).
A constitutional framework is a mere organisation of a given law. Thus, a constitution can either be written or unwritten depending on the history and culture of a people. The fact that it is unwritten does not mean that it does not exist. Simply because logically speaking people think before they write, a writing process is just one process of storing or recording one’s thoughts. The oral tradition is another process of recording a given people’s thoughts over generations. The white settlers who defined humanity in terms of reason and the tradition of writing posited that because the indigenous people lack reason and did not codify their African Law they are not civilized. The imposition of European customary law was regarded by these white settlers as an incorporation of the indigenous people into white civilization. This meant that the indigenous people became human and civilized to the extent to which they accepted European customary law and white civilization. Civilization was defined on the terms of these white settlers so that white civilization is a form of redundancy (as whiteness and civilization became synonymous). Being civilized and being human meant being white.
In 1853 in the Cape colony the civilizing white settlers cultivated their first constitutional framework. Since the white settlers did not exterminate completely the indigenous people they conquered in unjust wars of settler colonialism, they were forced to create a mechanism to deal with the presence of the indigenous people. The British settlers in the Cape colony invented a constitutional framework to deal with the so-called “native question”. Because these British settlers to this day take their presence for granted they failed to realise that in fact it is the other way around. The actual problem is the “white settler question”. To “administer” the so-called natives they imagined, the British settlers incorporated into their constitutional framework a non-racial right to vote. Because of unjust conquest the Cape was a colony which meant that the indigenous people now racially subjects to the white settlers voted on white terms. Even though the right to vote was non-racial the only segment of the indigenous people which managed to vote was the westernised one. This is because to vote one had to attain a certain level of education (European colonial indoctrination) as defined by the white settlers and possess property as an individual in terms of the white settlers’ Individualism and materialism. Thus, the slogan “equal rights for all civilized men”, for Rhodes the infamous white settler initially meant “equal rights for all white men” as attested to by Makhosezwe Magubane in his book The Making of a Racist State.
The Dutch settlers who left the Cape colony, because they couldn’t practice their version of white tribal culture and law, continued with unjust conquest by creating their so-called Boer republics. It was in these so-called republics that they also created their own constitutional framework which reflected their culture and law. Their constitutional framework was characterized by the slogan “no equality in State and Church”. As Dutch settlers they chose this slogan to “administer” the natives. Despite their disparity in legal and cultural temperament, the white settlers were and still are today agreed on the racist idea that they are superior human beings with law(s) which are superior. This means that an ontological Great Chain of Being is complemented by an epistemic Great Chain of Episteme/Knowledge. If they are superior beings then what they produce or create must reflect their ontological status (by being superior as well). This is a self-portrait which is false but makes the white settlers feel good about themselves and rationalise their exercise of power over the indigenous people.
In 1910 after a devastating tribal warfare between the Dutch settlers and the British settlers there was a reconfiguration of the initial constitutional framework. This time around the Dutch settlers and the British settlers suspended their “white family fight” and decided to “administer” the so-called natives as a united white family of conquerors. This time even the “civilized indigenous people” were not allowed equal rights as there was “no equality “in the south African Unitary State called south Africa. Only “civilized men”, that is white men, had equal rights, as south Africa became through this reconfigured constitutional framework called the Union Act a “white man’s land”.
Afrikaner Nationalism triumphed officially in 1948 when the Nationalist Party won the elections held within a white democratic dispensation (a democracy in which only whites can vote). In 1961 the Dutch settlers who called themselves the Afrikaners, as if conquest indigenized them, decided to break away from the British Commonwealth and distance themselves through white tribal nationalism from their fellow British tribe. Afrikanerdom reached its apex with the 1961 constitutional framework. This time this constitutional framework was reconfigured not by the British settlers as in 1910 but by the Dutch settlers. In line with their Calvinist fantasy of being the “elect” or the “chosen ones”, the Dutch settlers posited that their “ungodly white God” has planted them on the land of our forefathers to rule over the indigenous people as their white trustees. This reconfigured constitutional framework excluded the indigenous people, their culture and law.
The Dutch settlers through this reconfigured constitutional framework wanted to fully express their “Afrikaner national spirit”, which is overtly anti-African. It is anti-African in the sense that it is premised on these Dutch settlers treating the Africans as children whom they have a duty to lead and civilize. It is also anti-African because it takes for granted their presence which was made possible by land dispossession. For them, since conquest, they regard the land of the indigenous people as their “fatherland” even though their forefathers got this land through genocide and rape of the forefathers and foremothers of the indigenous people.
The rape of our foremothers resulted in the birth of the coloured people. The resistance against conquest and economic exploitation by the indigenous people led to the presence of the Indians in the 1860s. The 1983 constitutional framework was reconfigured again, this time to make room for the coloured people and the Indians. This reconfigured constitutional framework took the form of a “pyramid of Being”. This manifested itself in a form of an ontological stratification which consisted of the white settlers occupying the apex of the pyramid, followed by the coloured people and then the Indians. The indigenous people were nowhere to be found in this constitutional and ontological arrangement. The constant spirit of this ever-reconfigured constitutional framework of the white settlers was that the indigenous people are not human and are thus “lesser breeds without law.”
Following Dr Frances Cress Welsing in her Cress Theory of Colour Confrontation, one can posit that the white settlers incorporated both the Indians and coloured people to compensate for their numerical inadequacy to maintain white domination. The constant reconfiguration of the classificatory framework of white supremacy explains the dynamism of this system of white rule. Who counts as white or black is constantly changed to meet the dictates of survival of this system of white domination.
In 1993, with the so-called Interim constitution, the white settlers and strangers recruited from the indigenous people what Tsenay Serequebeharn designates “westernised Africans”. These “westernised Africans” are nothing but “irredeemable” victims of the white strangers’ intellectual warfare. They are race-traitors who have fully accepted the white strangers’ and settlers’ epistemological paradigm; which has always been the basis of the white settlers’ constitutional framework since 1853. These race-renegades willingly became witness to the reconfiguration and reiteration of the white settlers’ white supremacist constitutional framework around the 1980s through their secret meetings with these white conquerors.
With the cooperation of the race-traitors, the white strangers reconfigured their constitutional framework to include the indigenous people. Without of course overthrowing the asymmetrical power relation between the white settlers and the indigenous people, they introduced a Bill of Rights. This Bill of Rights, or rather Bill of Whites, classified the indigenous people as merely “everyone” (in line with Liberalism and abstract and universal Individualism). The indigenous people were stripped of their unique humanity as Abantu or Batho and were assimilated into some abstract idea of individualism which is a cultural tradition of the white settlers.
In praise of their cultural alienation, the race-traitors through the illusion of Liberal non-racialism participated in the refinement of the reconfigured constitutional framework of the white settlers. As obedient slaves they were concerned more with pleasing the white masters than with “returning to the source”. In their cooperation in the reconfiguration of the constitutional framework, these westernised Africans didn’t deem it “strange” that Abantu or Batho are not in the 1996 reconfigured constitutional framework they helped to refine. Because these race-renegades are “estranged” from their Setso or Isintu, they accepted a reconfigured constitutional framework based on the white strangers’ epistemology of domination.
Instead of “returning to the source”, that is restoring the supremacy of African Law of their ancestors, these culturally alienated race-traitors chose in 1996 to be witnesses again to the continuation of European intellectual warfare, as the epistemological paradigm imposed through domination was used (with their help) as the basis for the so-called final constitution. These collaborators with the white strangers participated in a “ceremony” (the so-called negotiations) during which the strange laws of the white strangers were used to reconfigure the constitutional framework to be the now supreme final constitution. In terms of this so-called final and supreme constitution the so-called customary Law is regarded as “subject” to this supreme constitution and has a very low status. This word “subject” also reflects the status of the indigenous people. The indigenous people are still a conquered people both culturally and legally. Because they are not sovereign their law is also not sovereign, they are merely a “subject race” under white supremacy with its self-styled constitutional supremacy over African Law. And this marks the triumph of the Democratisation paradigm over the Decolonisation paradigm. With this, I now turn to the last section of this paper.
Let the “Ceremony” be found for the Decolonisation paradigm to triumph.
“It is to the advantage of both native and European, Hertzog declared, that the white man guarantees his own ‘national existence and his civilization’…. In south Africa European is synonymous with civilization, and the extinction of the white man must inevitably be the extinction of civilization” (Herzog as quoted in T. Dunbar Moodie)
“It was Mgobhozi, the great hero, who stood up and said:’ My lord I hear your words and their truth I respect. I know too, your wisdom has seldom erred; Yet I feel it is wiser to kill at once the fearful vermin. Destroying it now before it devastates our lands and race…. Each story I have heard about this nation fills me with terror…. Have you judged correctly these bloodthirsty foreigners? Such people dig deep into a nation’s life. They strip the wealth and power that once was its greatness.” (Mazisi Kunene)
By Post-apartheid barbarism, as the title of this paper suggests, I imply the illusion of the so-called “new south Africa” which consists of different cultures which are juxtaposed to create and propagate the fantasy of the “Rainbow-nation”. Under the tyranny of Liberalism, and its hypocritical myth of tolerance and equality, these juxtaposed cultures (chaotic cultural mosaic) are deemed to be equal and deserving of respect. These cultures cannot be harmonised because within the system of white supremacy the culture and laws of the white strangers are regarded as superior and are therefore hegemonic. Thus, the supposed equality of these juxtaposed cultures of the “Rainbow people” is merely an abstract formal recognition that is granted by the white settlers’ reconfigured constitutional framework.
The British settlers’ culture, values and legal thought are the basis of the current constitutional framework. The current constitutional framework proudly regards itself as informed by Liberalism which was brought to our shores by the white settlers through conquest. The Dutch settlers also wanted to express their own white tribal spirit as the Afrikaner nation or “the People”. During the “ceremony” of the 1980s these Dutch settlers “negotiated” for their cultural rights as an Afrikaner people. They didn’t want to be swallowed by the cultures of both the British settlers and the so-called natives. Their relentless pursuit of group rights paid off as the reconfigured current constitutional framework does allow them to practice cultural self-determination. It allows them to teach in Afrikaans.
Thus, with the Democratisation paradigm which is the basis of post-apartheid non-racial dispensation, “everyone has a right to practice one’s culture”. Even if the practice of one’s culture leads to anti-African consequences. But south Africa does not consist of “everyone”. It consists of nations; the conquering nation of white settlers and the conquered nation of the indigenous people. And these two nations have cultures which are not only antagonistic as a result of the history of conquest and racial domination but also cannot be harmonised by mere legal declaration of cultural equality.
The existence of the cultural practices of the conquering nation of the white settlers makes it impossible for the indigenous people to practice their culture in an authentic manner. The celebration of the so-called “great trek” by the Dutch settlers and blood river commemoration, the statue of the arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes are examples to the indigenous people of their national and racial humiliation and dehumanization at the hands of white settlers. These must be eliminated completely if the indigenous people are to negate the Maafa that was visited upon them by both the Dutch and British settlers. The Afriforum case about the renaming of street names is a case in point. The Dutch settlers objected to the changing of street names bearing the names of their so-called heroes, such as Paul Kruger.
The cultures of the Dutch settlers and British settlers are anti-black. Their very symbolic architecture and semantic field are derogatory of the indigenous people. The idea of blackness as symbolic of evil, words such as blacklist, black market are just examples of the racism inherent in the culture of these settlers. These are not merely words and symbols, but they have a powerful, though taken for granted, impact on how these settlers see themselves and their relation to the indigenous people. This impact is not only conscious but also unconscious so that even if these settlers were to try to abandon the use of these words and symbols they would still have to deal, I think unsuccessfully, with their unconscious influence.
In other words, due to the history of conquest by these white settlers, their practice of culture is contrary to healthy and authentic indigenous existence and dignity. This is to imply that the culture of these white settlers including the Indians they brought to our shores in the 1860s are not abstract and neutral. But are embedded in a history which reminds the indigenous people of their humiliation at the hands of these white settlers and junior partners from India. The conquest of the civilization (the Dravidian civilization) of our ancestors in India and the creation of the untouchables by the Hindu caste system is part of Indian culture which explains Indian Anti-Africanness. These cultures are a reminder of the barbaric nature with which the white settlers conquered the indigenous people.
As a Garveyite, I posit that, since both the white settlers and Indians have their motherlands, they should leave our continent and practice their cultures in their motherlands. In that way our motherland will consist of an African culture which is created and defined as such by the Africans themselves under conditions of cultural freedom and self-determination. This means that Orania, Liberalism and the Hindu caste system mentality will be eliminated in our motherland to give way only to the culture of the Africans those on the continent and abroad. As a Race-first Pan-Africanist, my point of departure is race self-respect and race power. My aim is not to convert the Indians and white settlers into Abantu or Batho. I want them to keep their cultures and race in their respective motherlands.
This is how I suggest we eliminate the current chaotic culture mosaic which is celebrated by the current constitutional framework as though it benefits everyone in post-apartheid south Africa. Conquest resulted in the presence of white settlers, Indians and coloured people. Thus, the current chaotic cultural mosaic of the “Rainbow nation” is because of the barbaric and violent settlement by the white conquerors in 1652. Because the indigenous people are a majority in this country called “post-apartheid south Africa”, as an Africanist, I argue that African culture as created and defined as such by the Africans should not only be the dominant culture but the only culture. All the debates about different culture groups seeking recognition and hoping that the law of the white conqueror, called the constitution, will rescue them will fade away as soon as a supreme African constitution constitutes an African society based solely on African culture by the Africans for the Africans those at home and abroad.
In the current post-apartheid non-racial dispensation, the constitution regards itself as a document which is value-free and universal enough to be able to harmonise the chaotic cultural mosaic through granting recognition and equality to all cultures in south Africa. It declares that “everyone” (instead of Abantu or Batho who are not even mentioned by this document, settlers and Indians) has a right to practice one’s culture. What the current constitutional framework evades to confront in its abstract Liberal universalism is the fact that the practice of culture by the white settlers means the continuation of conquest of the indigenous people. As argued above, the history of their culture in south Africa, as they call it, is one of conquest and the dehumanisation of the rightful owners of this land; the indigenous people.
This is not to suggest that the culture of these white settlers became anti-African as soon as they landed on our shores to take by force our land. As Ani Marimba has demonstrated in Yurugu, the culture of the white strangers (Europeans) is aggressive and obsesses about domination and control over the cultural Other, in this case the indigenous people. Marimba’s exposition is corroborated by Vulindlela Wobogo’s explication of Diop’s Two Cradle Theory. This Theory demonstrates the cultural origin of racism. In terms of this Theory, the Northern cradle, which is the cradle of the white strangers, is xenophobic and violent due to their nomadic origin in a European cold environment as explicated in detail by Diop in The Cultural Unity of Black Africa. This is manifested very well by the current constitutional framework which states that indigenous law is “subject” to the constitution. As we already know, the word “subject” has connotations of domination and control. As Fanon in Racism and Culture puts it, “there are therefore cultures which include racism and cultures which do not”.
In other words, the hypocrisy (which Marimba calls the Rhetorical Ethic) of the current constitution as an instrument of European intellectual warfare lies in stating abstractly that “everyone”, including the indigenous people who are said to be included in the constitutional framework, has a right to practice their culture. But their law which emanates from their culture is subject to this supreme constitution. Even their culture in a way is subject to this constitution in terms of the so-called limitation clause. This is because, within the system of white settler colonialism, the indigenous people and their culture are regarded as barbaric. Thus, the indigenous people can practice their culture and law to an extent that this is in line with the current constitutional framework (informed by the norms and values of the white settlers).
The hypocrisy lies in the fact that structurally the indigenous people are regarded as not human by the white settler colonialists; thus “everyone” doesn’t really include them. Because to be “everyone” (who really counts), one must first attain the status of the human. But this cannot happen within the structure of racism/white supremacy, since the non-humanity of the indigenous people is the very basis of white supremacy. In other words, the system of white supremacy is coherent to an extent that whites are superior human beings and the indigenous people are their exact opposite.
The settlement by force by the white strangers since 1652 and everything they created to buttress their delusion of inherent superiority is the fundamental problem of the indigenous nation in its struggle for national liberation. As Cesaire in Culture and Colonisation puts it, “but it must be realised that…. solution is impossible under the colonial system because such a mingling cannot be expected from a people unless that people retains the historic initiative, in other words unless that people is free”. In other words, the solution is Decolonisation. Decolonisation in this respect implies Post-conquest in the form of the elimination of the white settlers and the restoration of land and sovereignty.
This restoration of land, which must be renamed Azania, is the first step of national liberation. The renaming of this land Azania is in line with Fanon who in Racism and Culture states that “a plunge into the gulf of the past is the condition and source of liberty”. As soon as the land is restored and renamed Azania, an Azanian constitution in line with African culture, as explained by Chancellor Williams in The Destruction of Black Civilization, will be restored. This Azanian constitution will constitute an Azanian society based on African culture so that this Azanian constitution, unlike the current one of the white strangers, will serve as a mirror only for the Azanians. It will do this by reflecting their culture, law, values and aspirations as an African nation.
In line with what Williams, in the book referred to above, calls African constitution, the Azanian society of the Post-conquest era will be based on an African constitutional framework. In the spirit of what Serequebeharn, in The Hermeneutics of African Philosophy, calls an indigenous reorientation, the sovereign Azanians will have to reconfigure or critically update the African constitution as discussed by Williams in his book. It is my postulation that the African constitutional framework must be restored and reconfigured along two lines. The first line is the organising ethical maxims of our Setso or Isintu. These maxims are the pillars of the philo-praxis of Ubuntu or Botho. The primary thing which this African constitutional framework will have to address is the question of who belongs and why?
The only members of the Azanian society will be Abantu or Batho, that is the people of African ancestry and who are loyal and proud of their Setso or Isintu. Thus, this constitutional framework will clearly exclude whites and Indians. This is because it will be based on Race-first and not Race-only Pan-Africanism. The relation between the members of the Azanian society will not be premised on abstract rights and individualism (as is the situation within the current constitutional framework). But amalungelo and ditokelo within this Azanian society will be granted and distributed together with the attendant responsibilities and duties based on motho ke motho ka batho /umuntu ungu muntu nga bantu and feta kgomo o tshware motho. This means that the granting of rights and the enjoyment thereof will be on condition that, in line with motho ke motho ka batho, you demonstrate your humanity by recognising the humanity of others within the Azanian society. Thus, if you choose to behave like a phologolo (like an animal), which is the opposite of motho, the Azanian society will exclude you from the realm of Abantu or Batho (the pale of humanity) thus strip you of your rights. As far as Azania as land is concerned, the sharing of the land will be informed by the ethical maxim feta kgomo o tshware motho. This means that, as Ramose puts it in Globalisation and Ubuntu, “in a situation where you a confronted with the choice between property and human life, ethically speaking you must choose human life”. As Kunene in Shaka Emperor The Great puts it, “for indeed life among foreigners is not like that of the Palm Race (indigenous people). People kill their own friends and relatives for land! But the Palm Race has never heard of such things. How can one man possess land as though it was life itself? Is land not the vast endlessness where man lives?”
Another line on which the Azanian society must be organised, in terms of African constitutional framework, is the African Nation. The idea of the African Nation will be based on what Ramose calls Triadic ontology. This is the notion that being consists of three levels; the living, the living-dead and the yet-to-be-born. This is in line with what Marimba and Carruthers call the African worldview which is premised on cosmic interconnectedness. This accentuates the spiritual nature of being and the cosmos. Thus, in this spiritual sense, an African Nation will not consist only of the living but of the living-dead, who fought for the living, and the yet-to-be-born, for whom as the living we must lay down a foundation for their future. Both the spiritual idea of the African Nation and the philo-praxis of Ubuntu or Botho will restore our African culture and insulate us from European Individualism and materialism. And this is how we defeat European intellectual warfare and restore our African personality and historical personality as Cabral calls it. And what Manganyi calls our mode-of-being-in-the world.
If the above is not accomplished, the current constitutional framework will persist in its arrogance of arrogating to itself the role of a “doctor” who seeks to “cure” the indigenous law and culture which are declared unconstitutional, thus “sick” (in need of being aligned with the white settlers’ culture and law which are regarded by them as progressive and advanced in terms of their logic of Evolutionism). It is only after restoring Azania that as blacks (Azania means the land of that blacks, so by definition excludes whites and Indians) we can restore African culture. This African culture, as Cesaire posits, is “above all a unity of artistic style in all the manifestation of a people”. And this will eliminate barbarism which, as Cesaire puts it, “is a lack of style or a chaotic mixture of all styles”.
This lack of style or a chaotic mixture of all styles is what I designate “post-apartheid barbarism in the form of the fantasy of the “Rainbow nation”. Post-conquest Azanian civilization will be based solely on African culture, by the Africans, only for the Africans those at home and abroad. But for this fundamental objective of the struggle for national liberation to be realised, “revolution” is the “ceremony” that must be found only by the indigenous people, to paraphrase Sylvia Wynter.
By Masilo Lepuru