The Times Newspaper
October 20, 2011.
The Times Editorial: We all know the stereotypes about race that surface in conversations around the braai (barbecue) or the dining room table when we are among our own, like-minded, kind.
But when public officials, in positions of power and responsibility, use race to deny, blame and negate the value of others it becomes dangerous.
Such talk, whether in private chatter or a public utterance, is unacceptable.
But it is an especially sad day for this country when a judge, being interviewed to occupy a leadership position on the bench, uses race to dismiss the ambitions of a brother judge.
Yesterday, during a Judicial Service Commission hearing in Cape Town, Judge Isaac Madondo, ambitious to become Judge President of KwaZulu-Natal, told the interviewing panel that Judge Chiman Patel was less worthy of the job than he. "We were all oppressed but we were oppressed differently," Madondo said, arguing that the job should go to a black African candidate.
His dismissal of Patel was not on the basis of his judgments and views on the judiciary.
If the commission appointed Madondo, could Indian South Africans expect an unbiased judge if they were to appear before him?
Also, can we then expect any better from Julius Malema, who used an extremely derogatory term ( amaKula ) in reference to Indians when he addressed residents of Thembelihle, in Lenasia, yesterday. Lenasia is home to a significant Indian community.
What is Malema's intention in using such language - perhaps to incite a Rwandan-style genocide?
We are no rainbow nation. That much is clear. And the glibness with which supposed leaders manipulate race and dispossession to fight their causes will surely come back to haunt us all.
We have already witnessed the shocking atrocity of foreigners being attacked and killed in South Africa. This time, if we are not careful, it will be our people who are targeted.
Comment: I am amused by this race noise on so many levels. I have written here about who is considered an African or black or both in South Africa and it remains one of the most read posts here.
My take now is that I don't give a f*ck whether real Africans think me and mine belong here or whether we are African or not.
I reject their nonsense because their capitalized step-over and step-up politics is a spurious class warfare.
What you see above is not a principled race consciousness like the kind Biko preached. What you see are fat cats of the dark kind fighting over capital advancement.
In this class warfare the poor are still poor and the poor black are still poor and black.
So you won't find me sweating over a real African judge being racist to an Indian judge who dedicated his life to the anti-apartheid struggle nor will I loose sleep over Julius Malema calling Indians "coolies".
I have resisted idiots of this kind all my life and the fact that these two idiots just happen to be real Africans means nothing to me and mine.
Somewhere in 2006 I was nominated by my colleagues (mostly black/African) to be the assistant dean at the university where I was teaching.
The nomination did not sit well with some of the black/African faculty and their position was supported by almost all white faculty who thought me anti-white. These folks nominated a black/African candidate they thought more appropriate and labeled me an "Indian and not an African" and, therefore, not qualified for the position.
At one meeting where both I and the other candidate were being questioned by a panel made up of faculty and staff the 'question' of my race unsuitability was raised by non other than the other candidate himself.
The irony (if there was any) was that white faculty who thought they were being pushed out because of affirmative action supported the other candidate and his line of argument.
In the weeks that followed the situation grew ugly. Racist notes were pushed under my office door and the rumor mill were throwing out all kinds of stories.
Some of those who supported me faced similar pressure and more than just a few left and joined the real African candidate.
I decided to withdraw my candidacy because it had become a circus and I just did not want to be put into a position with so much racist division and hate.
The university eventually closed the position and did not make an appointment.
I left that institution just months thereafter.
My experience reinforced what I already knew. There is no such thing as non-racialism and no matter how much we fool ourselves into believing it will disappear it won't until the capitalized structure that makes it "commonsense" is destroyed.
And we are not free.