“Even though the captive flesh/body has been “liberated” and no one need pretend that even the quotation mark do not matter, dominant symbolic activity the ruling episteme that releases the dynamics of naming and valuation, remains grounded in the originating metaphors of captivity and mutilation so that it is as if neither time not history, nor historiography and its topics, shows no movement, as the human subject is “murdered “over and over again by the passions of a bloodless and anonymous archaism, showing itself in endless disguise.”(Spillers 1987, p 68)
The name South Africa can be traced back to 1910. It is during this period that white supremacy consolidated itself. This consolidation of white supremacy was effected through the Union Act. The Union Act inaugurated the name South Africa through the territorial merging of Boer republics and British colonies to form the so-called republic of South Africa. From the above-mentioned thesis, I deduce that the name South Africa is a white supremacist name. Of course white supremacy existed way before 1910. The importance of 1910 lies in the institutional entrenchment of white supremacy through European unitary modern-state in the interest of the Dutch and British conquerors and their descendants.
This paper is a critical engagement with what I designate the illusion of post-apartheid South Africa. The thesis which I defend is that because South Africa is a white supremacist name predicated on the loss of sovereignty and the deprivation of land of the conquered African people, to posit the transcendence of Apartheid is a false idea, as what is needed is a post-conquest epoch in the form of the restoration of land and sovereignty to the conquered African people.
The Boer republics and British colonies are both on the land of the conquered African people, who were conquered and deprived of this land. So, the name South Africa was constructed on the land belonging to the conquered African people. This paper is divided into two sections. The first section will discuss, Hegel and South African historiography. The second section analyses the difference between post-conquest and post-apartheid epoch. I now turn to the first section.
Hegel and South African historiography
“This model of linearity must have seemed entirely fictitious, wholly absurd and abstract to cultures which had no sense of a deferred day of reckoning, a successive concatenation of events and a final goal”(Baudrillard 1994,p 7)
In the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel discusses the movement of Spirit toward self-consciousness and freedom. In order to attain to self-consciousness and freedom Spirit moves through different stages. The ultimate purpose of this movement is self-consciousness and the attainment of freedom. Here, we observe a dialectical (i.e. thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis being different stages, each stage being transcended) progression towards a synthetic unity and transcendence of contradictions.
It is also here that we observe a teleological (i.e. telos being the objective) conceptualisation of history. This teleological conceptualisation of history is premised on the fiction of progress as envisioned by Enlightenment Logocentrism (logos being reason i.e. being too centred on reason). The Enlightenment obsession with reason and its alleged ability to rescue man from unfreedom and barbarism to a better future is grounded in European linear temporal modality. As time marches on and the past is sublated, history becomes an archive which records the progressive improvement of human existence.
Man is portrayed as relatively in control of history and that history reflects his/her purposes, plans and achievements. History is viewed as moving from one epoch of struggle and suffering to one of improved human existence. The exception is the nostalgic romaticisation of the past in the form of the Golden Age as represented by Vico and “Heidegger’s search for roots”. The prefix “post” is employed to symbolise and denote the transcendence of one bad epoch into a better epoch. The ultimate telos of history and human existence is improved existence for humanity in general.
Through reason man is said to be able to master nature, time and history so that they reflect his/her intentions and attainment thereof in a dialectical progressive fashion as Marx posited. Man can improve his/her material existence and resolve conflicts which are the substance of dialectical progression. The contradictions which propel history are ultimately resolved and man is ushered into a relatively harmonious and materially improved era. In a nutshell, this is Hegelian teleological historiography of which South African historiography is reflective.
According to this modality, there is no regression, the future is viewed as always better than the sublated past and soon to be transcended present. But, on the contrary, the current situation in post-apartheid South Africa reflects the opposite of improved material existence – the eruption and spreading of shantytowns and socio-economic inequalities are the order of the day. In the apt words of a French thinker: “everyone remains aware of the arbitrariness, the artificial character of time and history” (Baudrillard 1994, p 8). This inexorability of the march of dialectical progression, thesis, anti-thesis and synthesis becomes a fiction of abstract Dialectics.
How is South African history and politics envisioned? In this regard I posit that South African history is viewed through the lens of Hegelian teleology. This implies that South African history and politics are viewed in a dialectical fashion. Conquest and Apartheid are regarded as the epoch of struggle and suffering while post-apartheid South Africa is the transcendence of the former epoch of struggle and suffering into a “new” South Africa of democratic dispensation and the nonsense of rainbow nation. The epoch of conquest and Apartheid is viewed from a liberal perspective. This means that this epoch is regarded as one of the violation of civil liberties, thus of struggle and suffering.
For Hegel, this would imply that Spirit has not attained self-consciousness and freedom. Thus, Spirit struggles through despotism and bondage towards self-consciousness and freedom. Apartheid is seen as a regime of race discrimination and the Apartheid State is regarded as fascist and committing human rights violations. Here we observe a classical example of liberal democracy. Individuals are cast as autonomous beings and as bearers of inalienable civil liberties. It is the duty of the State to respect and protect these civil liberties. So in order to resolve the problem of conquest and Apartheid, the State should respect and protect civil liberties of its subjects and not violate them.
This is how the illusion of post-apartheid South Africa was deduced. Post-apartheid implies an epoch of democracy and democratic State which respects and protects the inalienable civil liberties of its subjects. This is regarded as the epoch of improved human existence and social relations. Hegel would posit that in this epoch Spirit has attained to relative self-consciousness and freedom. We are now a “new” united South Africa of a rainbow nation!! Freedom and self-conscious shared national identity and a colour-blind nation!! What an outrageous illusion. I posit that post-apartheid, liberal democracy and rainbow nation are some of the fictions through which white supremacy as the ruling episteme shows itself in endless disguise. I now turn to the second section of this paper.
Post-Apartheid or Post-Conquest?
Post-apartheid implies that the conquered body/flesh to paraphrase Spillers is “liberated” and these quotation marks indeed do matter. These quotation marks matter because the post 1994 democratic dispensation did not effect liberation for the conquered body/flesh. The conquered body/flesh here denotes African people who were conquered in the unjust wars of colonialism and deprived of their land and sovereignty. The reason why I argue the contrary is that the conquered body/flesh is yet to restore sovereignty and land which, despite “liberation”, are still in the hands of the beneficiaries of the ruling episteme which is white supremacy.
The conquered body/flesh lacks sovereignty and land “so that it is as if neither time nor history, nor historiography and its topics show no movement”. White supremacy, as the ruling episteme, shows itself in endless disguise such as rainbow nation, liberal democracy and constitutional supremacy. The constitution which protects or, to put it more aptly, “constitutionalises” the immorally attained privileges and rights through conquest, and its self-styled supremacy is just one of white supremacy’s endless disguises as a ruling episteme.
For example, section 25 of the constitution “constitutionalises” the institutional entrenchment of white supremacy, which was effected through the territorial merging (Boer republics and British colonies) of the land of the conquered African people. The conquered body/flesh needs land and sovereignty, not the fiction of “liberation” through democratic dispensation. There is no such a thing as post-apartheid South Africa. Apartheid was just an enhancement and solidification of conquest which precede it by many years.
The illusion of post-apartheid South Africa is a reflection of misguided Hegelian teleological historiography. There is no “post” which reflects transcendence, but only a reconfiguration and repurposing of conquest and white supremacy, which continues to show itself in endless disguise. Apartheid cannot be transcended because it is just a reconfigured version of conquest, which the name South Africa symbolises. Thus, if South Africa is a symbol of white supremacy and land deprivation through conquest, we cannot sublate apartheid through democratic dispensation without the restoration of land and sovereignty to the conquered African people.
The name South Africa evokes memories of land deprivation and loss of sovereignty and the institutional consolidation of white supremacy on the land of the conquered through the institution of European white supremacist unitary modern-state. Apartheid is just a later reconfiguration and enhancement of conquest through land deprivation and loss of sovereignty. Apartheid is not the beginning of the problem nor is it the main problem. On the contrary, the beginning of the problem is conquest through land deprivation and loss of sovereignty and the resultant consolidation of white supremacist conquest through the territorial merging of Boer republics and British colonies under the name South Africa.
Thus, what is needed is the restoration of land and sovereignty, not a liberal-democratic bill of rights which is a reflection of the reconfiguration and preservation of white supremacy. The ruling episteme reconfigures and preserves itself through the propagation and entrenchment of atomistic individualism and human rights discourse. The epistemic status of the conquered African people without land and sovereignty is overridden by “the ruling episteme that release the dynamics of naming and valuation”.
The conquered African people without land and sovereignty are “given” the right to practice their culture without land!! For the conquered African people, culture cannot be practiced without land. For them land is not just a resource for material existence, but a foundation for the practice of culture and religion. Thus, land deprivation is not just a physical conquest, but it is also an epistemicide. What the conquered African people need is a post-conquest epoch in which there is a restoration of their land and sovereignty.
Thus, until the post-conquest epoch is attained, “the dominant symbolic activity, the ruling episteme (white supremacy) that releases the dynamics of naming and valuation, remains grounded in the originating metaphors of captivity (conquest) and mutilation, so that it is as if neither time not history, nor historiography and its topics shows no movement” as the African people remain conquered without land and sovereignty.
Post-conquest and Black Power
A post-conquest dispensation should be grounded in Black Power. Our admonition for Black Power is premised on the fact that White Supremacy cannot be eliminated only through changing of face in positions of governance. White supremacy operates at both the discursive level as well as the material level. In other words, white supremacy is predicated on a Symbolic Order characterised by the equation of blackness with inferiority and whiteness with innate superiority.
It is this Symbolic Order which accounts for lack of initiative and confidence among blacks which explains the prevailing obstinacy of White Power. In the light of this, we must be cognisant of the fact that the restoration of land and lost sovereignty will not result in the immediate elimination of inferiority complex among blacks. Black Power can be achieved at two levels, which are the discursive or epistemological as well as the material. We have to comprehend the fact that White Power is grounded in a set of ideas which construct blackness negatively, in a form of the projection of the negative essence of Whiteness.
In other words, Whiteness is a parasitical identity which flourishes through reifying blackness as its antithesis. For Whiteness and thus White Power to flourish it needs a negative blackness which is nothing but a White invention so as to make Whiteness a stable and self-conscious identity. Whiteness becomes what it is because it is not black. This is a dialectical and parasitical identity which requires the participation of blackness through reconciling themselves with how Whites socially construct them. James Baldwin affirmed the above by positing that “he never invented a “nigger”, white people invented a nigger because they needed one “but that he does not need a “nigger” and that he is not one.
Baldwin is indeed correct because, at the descriptive and historical level what whites designates as a “nigger” or “kaffir” has nothing to do with blacks but has everything to do with white fantasies. The fantasy that “niggers” or “kaffirs “are blacks who are inferior, who lack reason, civilisation is completely mythological. Afrocentric historiography promoted by giants such as Leo Hansberry, Cheikh Anta Diop, Molefi Asante, Credo Mutwa, Chinweizu, Ivan Van Sertima, Yosef Ben-Jochannan, John G. Jackson, Chancellors Williams and John Henrik Clarke, have proven that before the advent of a white man blacks were “civilised to marrow of their bones”. We know that at the discursive level it is infeasible to enslave and colonise, a person who is a pioneer in both humanity and civilization without inventing a negative image which will rationalise the brutalisation of this pioneer. In other words, there is a clear connection between the discursive practice and material practice of White Power.
At the level of practice White Power invents negative images about blackness such as the myth that blacks are savages which need a white to civilise. At the material level this discursive practice of blacks as savages rationalises the enslavement of blacks and their conquest which results in land dispossession and loss of sovereignty. The discursive practice of White Power is necessary as it becomes a “self-fulfilling prophesy”. In other words, it is not that blacks are inferior; but that they are told that they are inferior and, then, they behave as though they are indeed inferior thus affirm the mythology of white superiority. What this demonstrates is that White Power is grounded in epistemological power, which Wade Nobles put it, is “the ability to define reality and have other people accepts this definition as if it were their own”.
The project of Black Power must be multifocal, because White Power is multifaceted. Blacks have to secure military power and industrial power in order to guarantee their survival and complement this with an Afrocentric project of the reaffirmation of African culture and identity. This Afrocentric intellectual project should aim mainly at eliminating black inferiority complex and thus annihilating White Symbolic Order which generates negative black images to advance White Power. Blacks must produce what they consume and create military power, because as Samir Amin has demonstrated in the book called the Liberal Virus Euro-American imperialism will lead to barbarism through the destruction of humanity.
Marcus Garvey made it that the language which the white man understands is one of power, and that whites have demonstrated throughout history that they either exterminate where there is resistance or subjugate and exploit. The reason why I accentuate both military power and industrial power is because as Chancellor Williams in the Destruction of Black Civilization has demonstrated Africans have neglected the importance of military power despite their familiarity with superior technical skills. In other words, the project of Black Power must be based on a solid intellectual approach which seeks to extirpate black inferiority complex through the production of knowledge which seeks to promote and valorise African culture and identity.
This project is the decolonisation of institutions of higher learning which are centres of White Cultural Power. But the above can happen if we are decolonised at the material level. Black Power must be solidly grounded in decolonisation at the discursive level (education and knowledge produced by blacks to affirm African culture and identity in order to eradicate black inferiority complex)) and at the material level through restoration of land and mineral wealth and sovereignty. In other words, there is a clear correlation between education and land.
Western democracy and White Power
The 1996 constitution is said to have authorised the Post-apartheid democratic dispensation. In other words, this constitution created an epistemological and epochal rupture with Colonial-apartheid past. The assumptive logic of this paradigm is that because blacks were excluded from the 1961 and most famously from the tricameral 1983 constitution, the current inclusion of blacks in the 1996 constitution marks the beginning of a new democratic society characterised by equality. It is as if the 1996 constitution is a social contract between members who work together to create a new society which they envisage in the Rawlsian sense (i.e. John Rawls is liberal philosopher who wrote a book called Theory of Justice).
But what this approach fails to understand is that Apartheid was not the major problem blacks were facing and that therefore the inclusion of blacks in the 1996 constitution does not amount to a resolution of black domination and control. In order to fully understand the prevailing situation of white domination and control over blacks at both the economic and symbolic level, we have to grasp the dynamic essence of White Power. In other words, the white man changes his tactics and not his heart. Ani Marimba in Yurugu is correct when she states that for white people it is about domination and control.
Blacks form the economic pillar of the South African economic system through their provision of cheap labour-power. Thus when they are on the streets fighting against a system of white domination and control the economy will eventually collapse, and this is what blacks have been doing since 1652 and spectacularly in the 1980s which led to the ‘extension” of the so-called universal rights to blacks and thus the Bill of Rights and the Interim and the Final constitutions.
The illusion of Post-Apartheid is grounded legally in the inclusion of blacks in the current constitution and thus the recognition of the right to vote for blacks. The dynamic nature of White Power is characterised by the fact that whites realised that the South African situation was Manichean in the Fanonian sense, where you are rich because you are white and you are poor because you are black, is setup for a “black revolution” as Malcolm X would put it.
Thus in the interest of preserving White Power, whites made the concession of including blacks in the constitution but made the demand of withholding material power through section 25 of the constitution. Fredrick Douglass is correct when he posits that freedom is what you take, and that it is never given. The kind of freedom which Douglass is postulating is one attained through “black revolution” as opposed to a “negro revolution as discussed by Malcolm X in the Message to the Grassroots speech. Codesa in South Africa is a spectacular example of a “negro revolution”, in other words a “non-violent” revolution which is a contradiction in terms.
The 1996 constitution which formed the foundation of the “negro revolution” is a legal colonial document, as it is well grounded in Western political philosophy of Liberalism and Western culture which atomises individuals thus, “everyone has a right to”….This constitution masquerades as an all-inclusive document at the discursive level while it exclusive at the material level. But this is not surprising as this is the historical logic of Liberalism as Marcuse has demonstrated in Negations and Charles Mills has posited in The Racial Contract. In crude terms, as Patrick Bond has demonstrated in the Elite Transition, this constitution is a class project consisting of white masters and their house-negroes (Fanonian African-petit bourgeois), thus the “negro revolution”.
The westernised black elite’s passionate leadership in assimilation into White Power is celebrated through the metaphor of the “Rainbow” with its conspicuous absence of black. Is it feasible for a legal colonial document, called the constitution, to inaugurate a democratic dispensation for the liberation of blacks from white domination and control? The logical answer is in the negative. In order to understand the social ills which are plaguing a society you have to critically analyse the foundation of the society. The legal foundation of the so-called post-apartheid society is the 1996 constitution. A thorough and historically critical analysis of the constitution reveals the fact that the drafters of the constitution intended to advance the interests of the Bourgeois segment of the society consisting of white masters and their house-negroes.
In other words, the underprivileged blacks who are materially excluded benefit only incidentally, and this is the essence of bourgeois politics which is characterised by self-seeking crass individualistic accumulation of materialistic possessions and conspicuous consumption of white master’s commodities. The adoption of GEAR by the westernised black elite who practice bourgeois politics is a case in point. This westernised black elite (who are culturally alienated from African communalistic Ubuntu philosophy of inter-subjectivity and interrelations) through the adoption of GEAR “joined the party” of Global White economic Power at the expense of the underprivileged blacks whom they say they leading or have led to “freedom”.
These westernised black elite don’t operate within the Africanism of Lembede, as they don’t pursue the political objective of Africa for the Africans and the passionate love of African culture and African people (especially the poverty-stricken Africans).Instead they serve as the intermediary between the White Supremacist slave masters and the racially dominated and exploited Africans. Their main political function is to “open” the African continent and its wealth to the criminal white masters, who then give them “crumbs” as a form of remuneration.
They have abandoned the Pan-Africanist project of African self-determination which was promoted by Lembede and Sobukwe. They have also abandoned Garvey’s advice of economic self-sufficiency, instead of de-linking from the corrupt and criminal white slave master’s “international economic system”, they have agreed to integrate the “South African” (as a Pan-Africanist I don’t subscribe to this White Supremacist name as I have demonstrated above) economy into this system thus ensuring the underdevelopment of the Africans as Walter Rodney has demonstrated. It’s about time that we lose our hope in these criminal and corrupt westernised black elite and their bourgeois politics of self-seeking accumulation of materialistic possessions at the expense of the majority of Africans. This type of politics has nothing to do with Black Power and the liberation of the Africans; it is an immoral and selfish type of politics which will not take us anywhere except to ensure our neo-enslavement by White Supremacists through a Neoliberal free market capitalistic mode of production.
We cannot be led to African liberation by culturally degenerate and decadent westernised black elite; if anything they will spread this cancer of European crass individualism even more. If their white slave masters are what we call white colonialists, then these westernised black elite are nothing but black colonialist as Chinweizu has posited. Only the “beautiful ones who are yet to be born “as Armah envisaged who are deeply grounded in African communalistic value system and culture (i.e. Ubuntu ethical system) will save as from this pathological cultural condition we find ourselves in now.
Logically speaking Mogobe Ramose postulated a constitution must serve as a “mirror”, in other words it must reflect the ideals, aspirations and culture of people as it is them who should produce it in line with popular sovereignty. But this is not the case with the 1996 constitution, which is in line with Neoliberal free market fundamentalism. It is a document which legally authorise the invasion and pillaging of South African land and mineral wealth by multinational corporations.
These Multinational corporations “manage” the so-called democracy. It is through the constitution that the Reserve Bank is independent thus insulated from popular consultation and participation, which means more leeway for the Reserve Bank to be in cahoots with the Neoliberal banking system in exploiting blacks and maintaining White economic Power. The judiciary is also “independent “thus insulated from popular participation and consultation in the election of judges. This results in the appointment of judges whose judgements agree with prevailing status quo.
This brings into sharp focus, the incongruence of the leadership by technocratic (the highly skilled and educated) elite with popular democracy. But a critical reading of Western philosophy from Plato’s philosopher-king to Hegel’s world-historical individuals reveals the fact that bourgeois politics through technocratic elite is grounded in Bourgeois social thought and philosophy. The “masses” are held in contempt and are regarded as ignorant and illiterate, and therefore in need of the leadership of the “enlightened ones” (who are usually power-driven and culturally and morally decadent).
In the light of the above, Mogobe Ramose is correct in positing that the multinational corporations are “economic sovereigns” which have more power than ordinary people who elect their “leaders” into positions of power unconditionally. But the so-called leaders are in agreement with the prevailing status quo of international and global White economic Power. These leaders flourish through the corrupt bourgeois political party system which is grounded in the Western version of democracy.
This Western version of democracy is in line with Neoliberal free market capitalistic system which is immoral and corrupt. Marx and South African history of politics have demonstrated that capitalism is a criminal system, which was created through massive criminal acts such as robbery, genocide and rape of Africa and Africans, and thus it is a violent system which is maintained through the threat of violence (what Walter Benjamin calls “law-preserving violence”) or the carrying out of this threat. Thus the solution is Black Power through the restoration of land, sovereignty and a new indigenous constitution which should be grounded in a Pan-African socialist democracy. It is either this or barbarism, in other words Black Power or perish.
Majority of poverty-stricken Africans have discerned the fact that the “Negro revolution”(CODESA’s “negotiations” which were nothing but the carrying out of instructions given to the westernised house-negroes by their white slave masters during private meetings as well documented in texts written by Allister Sparks, Sampie Tereblanche, John Pilger and others) has betrayed their ideals and aspirations of African liberation and self-determination through the restoration of land and sovereignty. This is the reason why we see what is called Baipei and Matyotyombe, what the white slave masters and their house-negro lawyers call “land-grabbers”.
In my opinion the Baipei are commencing a necessary phase toward a “black revolution” which is violent as opposed to the “non-violent” Negro revolution. The westernised black elite have used “Negro revolution” to achieve their selfish class objectives at the expense of the majority of Africans thus; this call for an alternative which is a “black revolution”. Following Georges Sorel, there is a need for a black revolutionary violence in order to eradicate white and black bourgeois moral and cultural decadence. But even though revolutionary violence is cathartic in the Fanonian sense in that it will restore the African’s sense of humanity and human dignity and extirpate black inferiority complex which Lembede sought to eradicate through the ideology of Africanism, this violence must be strategic. In other words, this black revolutionary violence must be used when it is necessary, for example when we are met with the white man’s resistance which is certain to happen.
This is our African land we cannot just destroy everything, because unlike the Europeans who will go “home “to Europe, this is our home and we will need a lot of things to rebuild an African society that is sovereign and avoid the risk of needing “aid”(capital and other resources) from the very white people we have taken away power from, as this will be slavery by consent.. And by the way as Africans we will not have to “drive the white people into the sea” (a foolish classical Black Liberal fear) as most of them will have voluntarily left the African land anyway. When the white man arrived he called himself a European who is bringing civilization, which he lacks anyway, to Africans whom he called “natives“. So he made it clear where his loyalty lies. Thus we are not flattered by the decedents of these conquerors who now suddenly call themselves “White Africans”. There was never such a thing as “White African”, the arrival and presence of whites in Africa is a symbol of anti-blackness and anti-African mode of existence and culture and most importantly anti-Black Power through the white man’s systemic systematic destruction of African Empires which represented Black Power.
The main reason why the alternative of “black revolution” is necessary is because it is fatally naïve of us to assume that the white man, who is obsessed about Power, since he emerged from the 1400s, will just “give” us our land “non-violently”. The white man is proving to be obstinately obsessed about Power by using section 25 of the constitution, through which he wants compensation should land be “expropriated” from him. The white man already assumes that this African land is his due to colonial conquest which was remarkably violent.
Malcolm X has demonstrated that land is the basis of a nation, thus it is through the return of the land that Africans can recreate an African nation that is independent and sovereign. The mere fact that the white man withholds land is demonstrative of two things, the first one is that he is using “colonial discourse” to claim that Africans lack reason therefore don’t understand how to better use land and the second one is that the white man understands very well that land is the basis of independence and Black Power. In other words, without land and mineral wealth on the land we will not take away economic Power from the white man and we will not afford fees in order to receive a decolonised education in a decolonised African land and eliminate the white man’s Cultural Power.
We have to understand that it is a foolish contradiction in terms, to pursue a decolonised education in a colonised land. The main function of a decolonised African education in a decolonised African land will be to eradicated black inferiority complex through a solid study of African history and the search for African self-identity and the production and dissemination of African knowledge to advance the interest of Black Power. Education is primarily about Power and you cannot have Power until you get your land back and restore sovereignty and self-determination. In other words, Education and Land =Black Power. Thus, in conclusion, there is no such a thing as Post-apartheid, in any event our main objective is Post-conquest and Black Power and not Post-apartheid and a democratic dispensation run by white slave masters and their puppet westernised black elite(i.e. house-negroes and black colonialists).
By Masilo Lepuru