The defining act that set off the Great Trek was the British Empire only offering to pay slave owners one third the estimated value of a slave. Oh, and there was the inconvenience or requiring slave owner presence in London to receive their compensation.
This is the uncomfortable truth behind the toxic quasi-nationalism fueling many of the despicable comments in opposition to the Black Lives Matter rhetoric that dominates South African cricket right now.
“Boer anger grew in 1815 when the British hanged five Afrikaner settlers for starting a rebellion. The rebels claimed that the British favored African rights over those of Afrikaners when officials attempted to arrest a man for beating his African servant. The fact that British missionaries had lobbied the government to protect African rights was a cultural insult to the neo-Calvinist Boers and their beliefs in a divinely chosen society built upon racial and religious purity.
When the British government outlawed slavery in the British Empire in 1833, it promised to compensate former owners, but only at one-third the assessed value of the slaves. Claimants had to travel to London in order to petition for compensation. It was the efficient British administration, the clash of cultures, and the division of Europeans over African policies that helped cement Afrikaners’ decision once again to move beyond the grasp of the Cape-based government.”
When the belief that certain humans are should be property and are there to be owned and dominated into the service of other humans is woven into the very fabric of a cultural identity, how can we expect any less than outright dismissal of a thought movement that proposes something different?
That’s why Ntini ran instead of catching the bus. Because we, people of colour who have seen how unconscious racism can be, understand the futility of speaking up when outnumbered.
You put your head down and get on with it, faithful to the idea that dedication to excellence in your craft will warrant some degree of equality among your peers in your profession.
“If I am good enough, they will pick me” is a constantly shifting criteria, though. Sometimes your attitude is deemed not right because you tried to do the job on your own when you knew that the opportunity wouldn’t be granted again. There’s zero room for error when those you are trying to impress are looking for a reason to exclude you.
Black lives matter isn’t a call for people of colour to be elevated higher than white people. It’s an attempt to shock the unconscious public with the reality of casual racial oppression.
People of colour are paid less, given fewer opportunities and yet are still expected to be thankful thousands of our parents had to die before institutionalised racism was thought to be a bad idea.
At least the British granted the Boers extensive land rights in compensation for the atrocities committed during the South African War. Colonialism and the associated war fund to subdue the rebels and maintain order was a costly drag on His Majesty’s bottom line, Imperialism was a lot more lucrative.
The handover of power was also done gradually, allowing the Brits to capitalise on the natural resources while helping the Afrikaner construct the state infrastructure it needed to facilitate the trade in gold and diamonds without the extra expense of managing a colony.
It’s difficult for South Africans to go all-in on BLM when our government is inclusive and representative. It should be noted, however, that freedom for all citizens to vote and assemble recognised political parties was granted under duress. There was also little time – four months – granted for proper organisation and the efforts of the South African Independent Electoral Commission to pull together the 1994 elections should go down in democratic history right next to George Washington stepping down after two terms.
It’s understandable that the popular response to the idea of sustained racial oppression is to highlight the seeming inaction around the brutal farm murders.
Are the same number of column inches, amount of broadcast time or legal effort dedicated to the plight of other vulnerable citizens? All lives matter, mos, so then every murder matters equally.
Black Lives Matter doesn’t seek compensation for the robbery of human rights and dignity. To me at least, it is a movement seeking only validation of the continued suffering and immediate action to identify and eliminate it wherever it is reported.
Put it this way: all farm attacks matter deeply to every decent human in South Africa because it’s a brutal loss of a human life and the murderers should be punished to the full extent of the law. But I didn’t see Pat Symcox making statements about the daily brutal murders of our women and children.
Black Lives Matter is a call to be heard, understood and have our opinions respected. That includes the opinion that people of colour are not treated as equals in our places of work.
Women and the LGBTQI+ community fight for equal rights. As Michael Che put it in his comedy special Matters black people only want to be seen as human, not less or more than. That special was released in 2016. The struggle never ends.