Friday, February 09, 2007
"Banned for Blackness"
I was travelling through Nepal late last year when my friend Kopano emailed this picture to me. My initial response was to label this man as "confused" in terms that relate to W.E.B. DuBois' theory of "double consciousness".
But as I looked at the picture longer it occured to me that maybe more can be made of it. An alternative reading, perhaps.
Maybe he is mocking whiteness in the post-apartheid era. A kind of AZAPO inspired Black consciousness mockery that boldly says "I own and can manipulate your Boer/white identity."
But this is most likely an overly fanciful interpretation. And even recklessly wishful. After all, we live in the second decade of democracy where the failure of Blacks to escape poverty is a matter relegated to massaging white capital for mercy.
And the policy driver is a once-upon-a-time communist who is now proud to label himself a "thatcherite" and "renaissance" man. Well he does put the word "African" before "renaissance" but the Enlightenment induced delusion remains mostly Eurocentric right down to the accomodationism that lends indigenous identity to a collage of historically competing races.
Frantz Fanon warned of nationalists who would bring their coffee-cafe ideologies from the West. He went beyond the conflicted "double consciousness" of DuBois to warn us about the machinations of the 'liberalized' middle management stooges who guard the business of neo-colonialism.
So it does not really matter, the tee shirt or the suit and tie, this is the era of duplicity where spreadsheets hide the cost of selling liberation consciousness to markets. The tee shirt, and the suit and tie, belong to the same circle of propped-up and compromised "shufflers".
Looking back I am reminded of these lines from Mandlenkosi Langa's poem "Banned for Blackness": "Look up, black man, quit stuttering and shuffling Look up, black man, quit whining and stooping ... raise up your black fist in anger and vengeance."
I wonder what Langa would say about Mbeki's "I am an African" speech, or his "boot strap" politics that posture around his on-occasion lament about "what is ugly and repulsive" in South Africa.
I also wonder what Malcolm X would say about the construction of Barack Hussein Obama and his "shuffling' to the tune of the Washington Consensus.
And whether DuBois would even care that Mbeki and Obama are just two weighted and lopsided jockeys in the 'race' of capital and whiteness.