Category Archives: South Africa

Open Letter to the Mayor of Durban

Dear Mr. Nxumalo, Mayor of Durban, South Africa

I have been informed that you are trying to be helpful to the poor, by way of being charitable, and sensitizing richer people to donate whatever they can to improve the conditions under which the poor live. From what is being reported, it does seem that you are not interested in listening to what the poor themselves are saying with regard to deal with their living conditions.

I do have many questions, but the one that really dominates is the following: why is it so difficult for you (and others in your administration, in the justice system, locally and nationally, in your party, locally and nationally) to look at people who are protesting on the basis of values (like solidarity, for example) that most Africans, nay, most humans, are proud to share? Is it not possible to put aside what capitalism, colonialism, apartheid, slavery, drilled into our minds, and listen with the kind of care, love, compassion someone like Francis of Assisi once did as a way of reminding us what we do have in common. One does not have to be a former catholic believer to admire someone like Pope Francis giving examples of humility, compassion, generosity, recently embracing a disfigured person. Or have you so imbibed the concept of power as power only when exercised with impunity, that you do not see how closely you are reproducing what went on during apartheid?

In his novel, KMT –In the House of Life, subtitled, an epistemic novel, Ayi Kwei Armah has provided an enlightened response. In this novel, Ayi Kwei Armah tries to understand why Ancient Egyptian Civilization fell apart. In a nutshell, it boiled down to a struggle between two antagonistic understandings of how to advance knowledge (and humanity). On one side there were the keepers (using knowledge as a way of accumulating power) and the sharers (using knowledge as a way of promoting solidarity, and the continuing emancipation of humanity).

Mr. Mayor, have you ever entertained the idea that, given your position, you could play a significant role, not only in Durban, but beyond, toward a complete and total emancipation of humanity, from the predatory practices of capitalism? What has been missing in Africa, since the years of Independence? What has been missing in South Africa, since the end of Apartheid? In all these cases can one seriously talk about transition when those who most benefitted from the predatory liquidation of Africa organized themselves to carry on with the predatory system? The predators are keepers and reproducers of the knowledge that made them powerful and super rich. The residents of Kennedy Road, Cato Cress Manor are trying to make you understand their messages about sharing in solidarity, not through charity. The latter is a healing message, the former is a transaction aimed at keeping the poor poorer and the rich richer.

There is a world of difference between solidarity and charity.
The latter calls for silence
Acquiescence, submission
Acceptance of poverty
As something akin to predestination
Solidarity
Calls for audacity
In liquidating misery
Poverty
Forever everywhere
Not just in one corner of a territory

The poorest of the poor
Took to the streets because they had no other way
To be heard in their own voices
By themselves, for themselves

In today’s world dominated by violence
The voices from the poorest of the poorest
Are healing voices seeking
To heal wounds, visible and invisible

Mr. Mayor, it is easier to focus on the visible wounds, the ones everyone can see and understand, but the deepest wounds tend to be the ones that are invisible from the outside. Real healing means going as deep as possible in those hidden wounds, with the help of those who are vocal and those who have been so badly wounded that, more often than not, they would rather keep quiet.
There is one humanity, indivisible. In the end, each one of us will be asked, whatever our beliefs what did we do in order to heal that which appeared irreparably destroyed.

Jacques MF Depelchin
Researcher/teacher
Salvador-Bahia
Brazil
Hugh Le May Fellow Rhodes University (August-December 2012)

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED IN SOUTH AFRICA TO CONGOLESE WHO ARE PROTESTING A FRAUDULENT ELECTION

ABOUT BARBAROUS ACTS WHICH OUTRAGE THE CONSCIENCE OF CONGOLESE
COULD SOUTH AFRICA BECOME THE ISRAEL OF AFRICA?

There are times when something outrageous happens, such as the illegal arrest of 150-200 Congolese in Yeoville (Johannesburg january 21-22), that persons of conscience are not sure that they got the information correctly. In the land that invented apartheid, could it be that something more pernicious than apartheid is being born? This is being written with many questions in mind, but also fully conscious that, given the whole history of Africa, over the past 500 years, knowing what happened during that history requires something that challenges one’s conscience to rise to the level of the outrages that have been inflicted collectively, systematically, with greater and greater impunity to humanity on the continent of its birth. Enough is enough says this conscience.

In fidelity to humanity
Keeping it free from insanity
Rooted in solidarity
Never forgetting the fragility
Of conscience, Memory,
Herstory, history, humanity
Shall rise eternity
As its horizon
And for that reason, always remember the preamble and article 1 of te Universal Declaration of Human Rights passed by the UN General Assembly in 1948 :

From the preamble :
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

From Article 1:
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

1. This is being addressed to all those who are concerned about the present state of humanity anywhere, but especially on the African Continent. It is also addressed with greater urgency to those who can do something toward healing the bodies and spirits of those who have been violated (and continue to be violated) in their bodies, their spirits. This continuing suffering directly and indirectly linked to the legacies that have dehumanized the African Continent must cease.

2. This is being addressed to those whose functions at any level, financial, economic, educational, juridical, cultural religious, political, medical, social, directly and/or indirectly impact the lives of those who continue to be dehumanized simply because they refuse to submit to dehumanization as practiced under the various misleading banners of “humanitarian interventionism” in their charitable and/or militarized forms.

3. This is being addressed especially to those who have wielded, for centuries, political power with impunity because the returns were too high to let go. This kind of political power has reproduced itself in various guises. This kind of power has been so overwhelming that morality, ethics disappeared and became just words. During these centuries, Africa saw slavery come and go. It was abolished, in a manner. It was followed by the partition of Africa into colonies. The physical and mental borders created by colonialism came to an end, in a manner, with independence. Now globalization has followed the continuation of colonization and apartheid on a planetary scale.

4. Did Africa as a whole ever built a collective memorial to those bodies and spirits that, against the odds, maintained the conscience of humanity? How come that when consciences, anywhere in Africa and beyond, follow what is called for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by revolting against injustice, political and financial highway robbery, in short, how come such revolt of consciences get punished as if following the conscience of humanity has become a crime, especially when it happens in Africa?

5. Is this a sign that there is now humanity of the rich and humanity of the poor? The latter being put in place through humanitarian wars, through courts which are meant to bring peace in those places that are now being colonized by the new form of expanding the murderous legacies of slavery, colonial rule, apartheid?

6. Could all of this be happening precisely because those transitions from slavery, colonialism, apartheid were never dealt with properly, i.e. in the spirit of Mâât, in the spirit of always aiming for justice and truth. Could it be that on the continent where Mâât was invented, there are now forces being harnessed to liquidate all those who are trying to follow what their conscience tell them to do?

7. Could it be that the forces that managed to get away with impunity through those transitions that were not attended in the spirit of Mâât, have decided that they shall always achieve impunity regardless of the crimes they continue to commit in the name of things that mean one thing for the rich and another thing for the poor?

8. Is it not possible for South Africans in any position of political, cultural, legal, religious, social, educational, moral and/or ethical authority to remember that, years ago, under apartheid, there were Congolese and people all over the world who risked their lives, whose conscience revolted against the injustices and untruth, so that humanity could be healed. Is it not possible for these South Africans to rise in solidarity, not just for the Congolese, but also for all Africans who are now being bludgeoned to physical and psychic death so that globalization may triumph and, just like it happened under slavery, colonialism and apartheid, get away with impunity, once again?

9. Raising questions must lead one to stop, think and invent new possibilities, see other ways of achieving the maintenance of one humanity, through peace, justice, truth. Is it not time to stop the insanity that began with Atlantic and Oriental slavery; an insanity that has led, non-stop, to the creation of weapons that are obliterating, little by little, humanity in an instant; an insanity which through repeated impunity for crimes against humanity has continued unabated. Is it not time to encourage those who are outraged by injustice, barbarous acts against their own country to rise up to their conscience as they learned from the lessons of Patrice Emery Lumumba and the African heroines and heroes who gave their lives so that humanity can be healed forever, on the continent of its birth. Only thus shall civilization leads one away from the growing barbarism being witnessed today.