White supremacy trended on Twitter yet again this week when an open letter to Cyril Ramaphosa, the newly appointed president of the ANC, went viral on social media.
The letter, authored by Sophia Kapp, a white South African woman, is but another composition of the haughty instructive inflexion that has long been the monotonous signature tune of whiteness in South Africa.
Sadly, it is an opus in perfect tune with the falsetto harmony of the rainbow nation, where the bellow of white privilege and power remains the lead and the cry for socio-economic justice is still in the wings.
In a perfect expression of what black consciousness leader Steve Biko described as “the superior-inferior white-black stratification that makes the white a perpetual teacher and the black a perpetual pupil”, Kapp, suggests a “few pointers” to the new president of the ANC.
“No homestead. You hear that. You have a home?” Kapp pens in her note to Ramaphosa “You want another house, build it with your own money, not ours. If you need a fire pool, let me know, Jabulani and I will come and dig you one for a couple of hundred rands”.
The racial underscore! Her pointers pivot around commonly recited anti-Zuma stanzas and predictably there are no verses on radical economic transformation or land return. Or poverty.
But the following libretti from Kapp is worth listening to. “Take it from me,” she writes to Ramaphosa. “When a white, Afrikaans tannie from the suburbs of Pretoria is happy and relieved that you are the winner of this race, it says a lot about the state of affairs in this country”.
Indeed it does. Ramaphosa will need to take care not to get tripped up by the counterrevolutionary chorale of white praise-singers, many of whom want to fade out any radical momentum in the ANC and the economy in a faster time than Wayde van Niekerk achieved in the 400m Olympic race earlier this year.
In its classic, unoriginal score of white noise, the racist group AfriForum has called on Ramaphosa to “introspect”. In its everyday script of the preservation of white privilege, AfriForum draws Ramapahosa’s attention to the protection of property rights as a key mechanism by which the governing party can contribute to the prosperity of all in South Africa.
Clearly this clan is deaf to the resolution taking at the ANC’s 54th conference where the party pronounced loudly on land expropriation without compensation. In its communication, the organisation also verbalised the need for equal treatment of all citizens, regardless of their race. Certainly, this is a false note for an organisation that has served as the choirmaster of Afrikaner preeminence.
Ramaphosa’s mandate from the ANC conference is of radical economic transformation, orchestrated around progressive policies including land return without expropriation, free tertiary education and the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank, which will disrupt the patterns of white ownership over the economy.
White dominance is under threat and its cheerleaders will unite, through whatever means possible, to direct, dilute, downgrade, disrupt and delay the ANC’s implementation of radical economic transformation.
This master script by white detractors is an accord that is out of harmony with the unity of purpose voiced by the ANC collective on the radical economic transformation and should not be entertained as it will hold economic liberation captive.
Algerian political theorist and writer Frantz Fanon said: “The white man wants the world. He wants it for himself. He finds himself predestined master of this world. He enslaves it.”
Mike Brown, Nedbank chief executive, was another one who penned an open letter to Ramaphosa last week, in which he stated that the Nedbank team looks forward to engaging with the new ANC president in “addressing the pressing needs facing our society and meeting the legitimate aspirations of all South Africans”. Interesting.
Financial institutions in South Africa have hardly been bastions of socio-economic wellbeing, nor have they been front row voices in calls for social or economic justice. Interesting too is the use of the phrase “legitimate aspirations”, from a player in the financial arena, who like its peers, has hardly been a legitimate front row voice in the call for social and economic justice. It is telling too, that the Nedbank letter raises “concern” about the pressure the proposed free tertiary education will place on the country’s “already significant financial challenges”.
The language of whiteness in a post-apartheid South Africa, remains a loudhailer of self-righteousness and lack of moral introspection.
Little has changed to the melody since apartheid days. Frantz Fanon’s words on the white voice are exquisitely poignant. He said: “All around me the white man, above the sky tears at its navel, the earth rasps under my feet and there is a white song, a white song. All this whiteness that burns me.”
The supersizing of the white narrative must be snuffed out. There is a convenient muteness on serial white corruption and radical economic transformation, as well as a hush on apartheid economic crimes and crimes against humanity. The anti-President Zuma choir is the place where whiteness in a post-apartheid era has chosen to express its voice. It is a sad indictment of white consciousness.
Some say that I am anti-white. Well as long as white South Africans remain anti-radical transformation, not only of the economy but over the decolonisation of societal relations, values and conversations, I will not discard my anti-white badge. For as long as my fellow white South Africans move without moral pause or compass in a post-apartheid epoch, I will own my anti-white ballad.
Dear Rampahosa, if I was to write an open letter to you, all I would say is honour the voice of the ANC and that of ordinary black South Africans and their liberating lyrics, rather than the threatening battle cries of reactionary forces, who may sing your praises now but who change their tune when you begin to advance the mandate of radical economic transformation as you have been mandated to do.
Kim Heller is a social commentator